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.

Asparagus with Balsamic Butter Sauce

Asparagus with Balsamic Butter Sauce

Are you a fan of Allrecipes? I am! I have found some pretty fantastic recipes on the site, including this one for Asparagus with Balsamic Butter Sauce. It makes for a nice, flavorful side dish. A perfect addition to your Easter (or any) meal.

Find the recipe here.

Asparagus with Balsamic Butter Sauce 2

Corn Salsa

Corn Salsa

Corn Salsa

This colorful salsa, eaten with tortilla chips is a tasty snack. It is also a nice addition to tacos, fajitas, or rice bowls. It can even be eaten on its own as a side dish or salad of sorts. It keeps well in the fridge for a week or so.

Poblano  chiles (fresh or roasted) can be substituted for the bell pepper and jalapenos.

Corn Salsa

1 pound frozen corn
1/2 large onion, small dice (red onion looks pretty with corn)
1/2 green bell pepper, small dice (you could also use red bell peppers)
2 jalapenos, or to taste, minced
handful fresh cilantro, chopped
juice of 1/2 lime
kosher salt, to taste

Heat a large skillet over high heat. Add the frozen corn and cook, stirring often, until heated through and starting to char. Cooking it this way really brings out the sweetness of the corn. Let the corn cool completely.

Once the corn is cooled, add the remaining ingredients and mix to combine. Taste and add more lime juice or kosher salt, if needed.

Spicy Cranberry Sauce

Spicy Cranberry Sauce

Making cranberry sauce from scratch is almost as easy as opening a can. The result tastes so much better than anything you find in a can. If you are having turkey for Thanksgiving, you have to have cranberry sauce as well. The two just go together. I like to make the cranberry sauce a day or two before serving. That gives the flavors time to develop.

My family are not crazy about cranberry sauce, so we always have leftovers. I never know what to do with them. What are your favorite ways to use leftover cranberry sauce?

Cranberry Sauce

Spicy Cranberry Sauce

1 12-ounce bag of fresh (or frozen) cranberries
1 cup water
1 cup sugar
1 – 2 jalapenos, seeded and minced
1 1-inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and minced
juice and zest of 1 lime
1 cinnamon stick
pinch of salt

Place all of the ingredients in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and cook for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Cool completely before refrigerating. Remove the cinnamon stick before serving.

Spicy Cranberry Sauce

Spicy Watermelon Rind Salad

Watermelon Rind Salad

Friday evening I saw a Facebook post from Rosewood Market in Columbia, SC that read, “Come by and try a famous Bradford watermelon for yourself!” I quickly messaged them to see if they were selling Bradford watermelons and they replied that they were. Even though I was exhausted from a long, crazy day, I loaded my 5 year old up in the car and we rushed to Rosewood Market to get a Bradford watermelon. I bought one of the 4 they had left. I could barely contain my excitement.

Bradford Watermelon

So, what is the big deal about the Bradford watermelon? Well, it’s a southern heirloom watermelon known for its incredible sweetness and taste that was thought to have been lost to history. It’s rebirth is a fascinating story. Read about it here and here.

Unfortunately, my Bradford watermelon didn’t turn out to be good. It was way overripe. Juice poured out of it with the first cut. As with overripe melons, the flesh deteriorates, as does it’s flavor and texture. My watermelon was not edible. What a huge disappointment! In order to salvage what I could, I removed the seeds and processed the rind. I’m planning on sharing the seeds with some friends and with my son’s school’s Greenhouse Club. I will even try my hand at growing a Bradford watermelon in my garden next year. I have plans for the rind, as well. I started off with this salad.

Spicy Watermelon Rind Salad

rind from 1/4 – 1/2 watermelon (depending on size)
1/2 small red onion, thinly sliced
1 – 2 jalapenos (to taste), seeded and minced
handful of fresh basil leaves (or Thai basil), chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1/4 cup rice vinegar
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 – 1 teaspoon salt (start with 1/2 tsp. and add more, if needed)

Cut the watermelon rind into strips about 1-inch wide. Cut off the outer green skin. Next cut off any remaining pink/red flesh. Slice the rind thinly. You want about 4 cups of slice watermelon rind.

Combine the sliced watermelon rind, onion, jalapenos, and basil in a bowl. In another bowl (or measuring cup) combine the rice vinegar, sugar, and salt. Pour the mixture over the watermelon rind salad. Mix to combine. Let sit at least 15 minutes before serving.

Swiss Chard and White Bean Soup

Swiss Chard and White Bean Soup

This nutritious soup is simple and quick to prepare. Pair it with a salad or sandwich for a light lunch or dinner. It also makes an excellent first course before the main dish.

 Swiss Chard and White Bean Soup

1/4 cup olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
6 – 8 cups vegetable broth (depending on how brothy you like your soup)
1 15.5 ounce can white beans (I use Cannellini or Great Northern, but Navy would be fine too)
1 15 ounce can diced tomatoes (I like petite diced)
1 bunch Swiss chard (both stems and leaves), chopped
salt and pepper, to taste

Heat the olive oil in a Dutch oven or soup pot over medium heat. Add the onions and cook until they begin to soften. Add the minced garlic, and cook 1 minute more. Add the vegetable broth, white beans, tomatoes, and Swiss chard.  Bring to a simmer and cook until the chard is tender, about 10 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve.

Collard Greens Chips

Collard Greens Chips

These collard greens chips are so good that I think they deserved their own blog entry. If you like kale chips, you will love these too. Collard greens are a little thicker than kale, so the chips are a bit more substantial and more crispy than kale chips. Almost like potato chips. : )

Collard Greens Chips

1 bunch of collard greens (about 4 cups)
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/4 teaspoon sea salt

Preheat oven to 350° F. Make sure the oven rack is positioned in the middle of the oven.

Wash the collards and remove the stems. Tear into bite-size pieces. Spin dry in a salad spinner. Blot any remaining moisture away with paper towels.

In a large bowl, toss the collards with olive oil until thoroughly coated. You may need to use your hands to make sure every piece is coated. Sprinkle with salt. Spread in a single layer on a baking sheet.

Bake until the chips are crispy, about 15 – 20 minutes (mine were perfect at 18 minutes). Watch them carefully so they don’t burn. Stir the collard chips about halfway through cooking to make sure they bake evenly. Remove chips from the oven and let cool a few minutes before serving. Store leftovers in an air-tight container.