Lentil Soup with Ham

Lentil Soup with Ham2

I cooked a ham for Christmas dinner this year. When I cook ham, I usually buy a very small boneless ham because only two of us will eat it. This year I bought a bigger, semi-boneless ham. It was actually less expensive than a smaller ham, but now I have tons of leftover ham. I’ll freeze some and then get creative with the rest. This should be interesting. : )

Lentil Soup with Ham

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 onion, diced
2 stalks celery, diced
2 carrots, peeled and diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup dried lentils, picked over and rinsed
8 cups chicken(or vegetable) broth
1 medium zucchini, diced
1 cup of ham, diced
salt and pepper, to taste

In a soup pot, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Add the onions, celery, and carrots. Cook until the vegetables are tender. Add the minced garlic and cook 1 minute longer. Add the dried lentils and chicken broth. Bring to a simmer and cook for 20 minutes. Add the diced ham and zucchini and cook until the lentils have reached the desired level of  tenderness, 10 to 20 minutes. Season the soup to taste with salt and pepper.

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Southern-Style Green Beans

I’m 45 years old and until recently have never really cooked green beans with bacon. I don’t generally think vegetables need meat (or extra fat) added to them, but maybe the years of living in the South have rubbed off on me because here I am adding bacon to my green beans and cooking them until they are super tender. They taste great this way and are a nice variation to the way I usually prepare green beans (toss them into some salted boiling water and cook about 10 minutes until they are crisp-tender).

Southern-Style Green Beans

4 slices bacon, chopped
1 pound fresh green beans, washed and ends trimmed
2 cups water
1 bouillon cube (vegetable or chicken)

Cooked the chopped bacon in a pot until crisp. Remove the bacon, leaving the bacon fat in the pot. Set the bacon aside. Add the green beans, water, and bouillon cube. Bring to a boil and then reduce the heat to medium-low. Cover and then cook for about 1 hour or until the green beans are very tender. Stir in the reserved bacon and serve.

Shown here:  Southern-Style Green Beans alongside baked chicken and hashbrown casserole.


Crockpot Pineapple Pulled Pork

Crockpot Pineapple Pulled Pork

It’s hard to believe I never used a crockpot until a few years ago. I was totally missing out. There are some things that are just so much easier to cook in the crockpot, meat being the first thing that comes to mind. It’s my go-to method when I need shredded chicken, beef, or pork.

I have been experimenting with different ways of preparing pork roast in the crockpot. This one turned out well. The pineapple juice made the meat even more tender and the sweetness complimented the flavor of the pork (I think pork need a little sweeness).

I pulled the pork and made sandwiches with it on Rosemary Focaccia and topped with Pickled Collards for crunch and acid and a drizzle of BBQ sauce. So good. It would have been better if I hadn’t totally mucked up the focaccia (I ran out of flour and subbed whole spelt flour….turned out very dense), but even good cooks mess up sometimes. It’s OK. Learn and move on.

Crockpot Pineapple Pulled Pork on Rosemary Foccacia with Pickled Collards

Crockpot Pineapple Pulled Pork

1 4 – 5 pound Boston butt pork roast
1 medium onion, thinly sliced
1 20 ounce can crushed pineapple with juices
Favorite dry rub (or use recipe below), about 1 tablespoon per pound of meat

Rub the pork roast with the dry rub. Layer the sliced onions on the bottom of the crockpot. Place the seasoned pork roast on top of the onions. Dump the pineapple and juices over the pork roast. Place the lid on the crockpot and cook on low for 10 hours or on high for 5 hours. The meat should be very, very tender.

Remove the cooked pork from the crockpot, leaving much of the pineapple and onion. Remove any fat. Shred the pork with two forks.

Crockpot Pineapple Pulled Pork Spice Rub

Dry Rub

2 tablespoons brown sugar
2 teaspoons paprika
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground black pepper

Combine all the ingredients. This makes a perfect amount for a 4 – 5 pound roast.