May Madness

Enjoy this collection of soups, main dishes and sides this month.


Black Bean Soup


1 medium yellow onion, chopped

1 garlic clove, minced

2 celery stalks, finely chopped

1 carrot, shredded

1/4 c. red bell pepper, finely chopped

1 (14.5-oz.) can chicken broth

2 (15-oz.) cans black beans, undrained

1/2 tsp. salt

1/2 tsp. cumin

1 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice

1 1/2 Tbsp. cornstarch


1. In a dutch oven over medium heat, stir together the first seven ingredients. Cover and simmer for 10 minutes.

2. Stir in one can of beans, salt and cumin and continue to simmer for 5 more minutes.

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3. Use an immersion blender to puree the soup.

4. Add the remaining can of beans.

5. In a small bowl, mix together the cornstarch with 1 1/2 tablespoon of cold water. Stir into the soup. Add lemon juice and stir once more. Simmer soup for a few more minutes to thicken.

Apron Strings Notes: Add a dash of chili powder or cayenne to spice it up. Add 1/2 cup of your favorite salsa to enhance the flavor.

Jeff’s Slow Roasted Pork Shoulder


1 (4-lb.) pork shoulder

3 Tbsp. olive oil

1 clove garlic, minced

1/2 tsp. salt

1/4 tsp. ground black pepper


1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Set the pork shoulder on a rack in a roasting pan.

2. In a small bowl, stir the olive oil, garlic, salt and pepper together. Evenly spread the mixture over the pork shoulder using a pastry brush.

3. Roast in oven for 20 minutes then reduce heat to 325 degrees F. Continue to roast for about 4 hours or until a meat thermometer inserted into the middle of the meat reads 185 degrees F. 

4. Remove the roasted pork from the oven and let stand for 30 minutes. Slice and serve.

Sugar Snap Peas


2 lbs. fresh sugar snap peas

1 Tbsp. olive oil

1 1/2 tsp. kosher salt

1/2 tsp. ground black pepper


1. Prepare the peas by removing the stem ends and any strings.

2. In a large sauté pan over medium heat, heat the olive oil. Once hot, toss in the peas and evenly sprinkle the salt and pepper over the top. Turn the peas to evenly coat them. Sauté peas for about 5 minutes, tossing every minute or so. They will be crisp tender when done.

3. Remove to a serving dish and lightly sprinkle with sea salt if desired.

Tuscan Bean Soup


2 Tbsp. olive oil

1 medium yellow onion, diced

2 carrots, thinly sliced

2 stalks celery, diced

1 medium zucchini, sliced

1 yellow summer squash, sliced

1 clove garlic, minced

1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes

1/4 tsp. dried thyme

1/4 tsp. dried rosemary

1 (32-oz.) container chicken stock

1 (14-oz.) can cannellini beans, drained

1 (14-oz.) can petite diced tomatoes, undrained

3 c. kale, stems removed

2 tsp. salt

1 tsp. black pepper

1 Tbsp. granulated sugar

1 Tbsp. white wine vinegar


1. In a Dutch oven, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add onions, carrots, celery, zucchini and squash. Sauté for 5 minutes.

2. Add garlic, red pepper flakes, thyme and rosemary. Stir and cook 30 seconds.

3. Stir in broth, beans and tomatoes. Bring to a boil then reduce heat to simmer and add chopped kale. Cover and simmer for 15 minutes.

4. Using an immersion blender, blend about half the soup. Add salt, pepper, sugar and vinegar. Stir and serve.

Baked Beef and Cheddar Dish


1 Tbsp. olive oil

1/2 tsp. kosher salt

3 c. wide egg noodles

1 1/2 c. sour cream

1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese

1 lb. ground beef

1/4 c. red pepper, finely chopped

1/4 c. yellow onion, finely chopped

1 Tbsp. tomato paste

1 tsp. Italian seasoning

1 (14.5-oz.) can petite diced tomatoes

2 c. shredded cheddar cheese


1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Prepare a 2-quart casserole dish with cooking spray.

2. Cook egg noodles according to package directions for al dente. Drain and pour into casserole dish.

3. Toss noodles with the sour cream, 1/4 teaspoon salt and Parmesan cheese.

4. In a large skillet over medium heat, brown the ground beef and crumble. Add the bell pepper and onions and continue to cook an addition 3 minutes until they soften. Stir in the tomato paste, Italian seasoning and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Add diced tomatoes, stir and simmer for 3 minutes.

5. Pour beef mixture over the top of the noodles in the casserole dish. Evenly sprinkle the top with cheddar cheese. Bake for 20 minutes, remove from oven and let stand 10 minutes before serving.

Apron Strings Notes: Shredding a fresh block of cheddar cheese makes all the difference in this dish.

Loaded Cauliflower


1 lb. fresh cauliflower florets

4 oz. sour cream

1 c. grated cheddar cheese

2 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled

2 Tbsp. snipped fresh chives

3 Tbsp. butter

1/4 tsp. garlic powder

1/4 tsp. salt

1/4 tsp. ground black pepper


1. Add florets to a microwave-safe bowl, add 2 tablespoons water and cover with plastic wrap. Microwave for 8 minutes. Drain and dab any remaining water from cauliflower with a paper towel.

2. Add cauliflower to a food processor and blend until fluffy. Add butter, garlic powder and sour cream and process a few more minutes until it resembles mashed potatoes. 

3. Pour into a serving bowl and stir in chives, salt and pepper. Add half the cheddar cheese and stir until combined. Top with remaining cheese and bacon. Microwave for 3 minutes or until the cheese is melted.

Apron Strings Notes: Instead of microwaving in step 3, consider broiling in the oven for up to two minutes. Make individual servings by placing the cauliflower in individual serving cups.

Spicy Southwest-Style Stuffed Peppers


1 lb. ground turkey

1 c. baby spinach, stems removed

1/2 tsp. ground black pepper

1/4 tsp. cayenne

1 tsp. paprika

1/2 tsp. chili powder

1 clove garlic, minced

1/2 tsp. cumin

5 green peppers

1 Tbsp. pine nuts


1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Cut the tops off the green peppers and remove seeds.

2. Brown the ground turkey. Finely chop one of the green peppers and stir into the ground turkey. Stir in spinach leaves and continue cooking. Stir in pepper, cayenne, paprika, chili powder, garlic and cumin. Continue cooking for one minute.

3. Place green pepper halves on a baking sheet and stuff with turkey mixture. Top with pine nuts. Bake for 20 minutes.