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.


Minestrone Soup with Ravioletti

Minestrone Soup with Ravioletti

This is a riff on my Minestrone recipe. I bought some ravioletti (mini ravioli) on clearance at Aldi for 74¢ and thought it would be a nice, hearty substitution for pasta. I adore it. I have also made this soup using tortellini.

Ravioletti

If you want a brothier soup, feel free to add some additional vegetable broth or water.

Minestrone Soup with Ravioletti

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
3 stalks celery, chopped
2 carrots, peeled and sliced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 can (6 oz.) tomato paste
8 cups vegetable stock
1 can (15.5 oz.) kidney beans, rinsed and drained
2 – 3 tsp. dried basil
1 can (14.5 oz.) diced tomatoes and their juices
2 medium zucchini, quartered and sliced
1 cup fresh spinach, roughly chopped
1 package ravioletti (mini ravioli), your choice of filling
salt and black pepper, to taste

Heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onions and sauté until they start to soften 3 to 4 minutes. Add the celery and carrots and cook until tender, another 4 to 5 minutes.  Add garlic, sauté for a minute. Stir in the tomato paste and cook yet another minute. Add veggie stock, kidney beans, basil, and diced tomatoes. Raise heat and bring the soup to a boil. Add the zucchini and ravioletti; return the soup to a boil. Lower heat and simmer, stirring often, 8 to 10 minutes or until the zucchini and ravioletti are tender. Stir in the spinach and season the soup to taste with salt and pepper. Take off the heat and serve.


Shrimp Laksa

Shrimp Laksa

Laksa is a spicy noodle soup that is popular in Singapore and Malaysia.  There are a gabillion different variations of it.  Some have a curry-coconut broth while others have a sour fish broth or tamarind-based broth.  Laksa can be made with seafood, chicken, beef, and/or tofu. This particular Laksa recipe is one I came up with after scanning about 20 other Laksa recipes online.  It’s not all that authentic, but it is quick, tasty, easy to prepare, and the ingredients can be found in most American grocery stores.

Shrimp Laksa

1 tablespoon canola or vegetable oil
1 medium onion, quartered and thinly sliced
1 clove garlic, finely minced
1 1-inch piece of ginger, peeled and finely minced (or about 1 tablespoon of ginger paste)
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1/4 teaspoon ground turmeric
1 tablespoon (or to taste) sambal olek (sriracha can be substituted)
4 cups broth (vegetable, chicken, shrimp, etc…)
1 13.5 ounce can coconut milk
1 pound shrimp, shelled and deveined
1 package rice vermicelli, cooked according to package directions
fish sauce, to taste
fresh cilantro
fresh lime wedges
chopped fresh chiles (optional)

Heat the oil in a soup pot over medium heat and sauté the onion softened.  Add the garlic and ginger and cook for another minute.  Add the cumin, coriander, turmeric, and sambal olek (or sriracha).  Add the broth and bring to a boil.
As soon as the soup comes to a boil, reduce the heat and add the shrimp and coconut milk.  Let cook until shrimp is pink and cooked through, about 3 – 4 minutes.  Season to taste with the fish sauce, about 1 tablespoon.

Divide the cooked rice noodles in bowls and ladle the soup over the noodles.  Sprinkle with fresh cilantro and serve with lime wedges and chiles (optional).


Jambalaya with Sausage

Once or twice a year, I am able to get sausage super cheap at Publix by pairing coupons with a sale (BOGO). I have been using http://www.southernsavers.com to match coupons with sales for years now. I think the website/app is a wonderful tool to help save lots of money. It certainly helps me stick to my grocery budget.

By getting the sausage for a steal, I was able to make this batch of Jambalaya with Sausage for under $5. Thrifty. It’s a super easy recipe that makes plenty to have again another day.

Using the frozen vegetable seasoning blend is very convenient and helps get dinner on the table in about 30 minutes. Great for a weekday meal.

Jambalaya with Sausage

12 ounce package rope sausage (I used Hillshire Farms Beef Smoked  Sausage, but Andouille sausage would be perfect)
10 ounce package frozen vegetable seasoning blend (I used Publix brand with onions, celery, sweet red & green peppers, and parsley)
4 cups (32 ounces) chicken broth
14.5 ounce can diced tomatoes (with their juices)
2 cups long-grained white rice
2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon your favorite Cajun seasoning mix (homemade or store-bought)
1/8 teaspoon ground cayenne, or to taste

Slice the sausage into 1/4-inch slices. Cook over medium-high heat in a large soup pot until evenly browned. Remove the sausage and drain on paper towels. Set aside.

Add the frozen vegetable seasoning blend to the hot sausage drippings. Cook, stirring often, until heated through, about 5 minutes. Add the chicken broth, diced tomatoes, rice, Worcestershire sauce, Cajun seasoning mix, and cayenne to the pot. Stir well and bring to a boil. Cover the pot and reduce the temperature to low. Cook 20 minutes or until rice is tender and all the liquid has cooked out. Fluff with a fork and serve.


Summer Vegetable Tart

Summer Vegetable Tart

This is an easy tart to utilize all those summer vegetables. If you have a small eggplant, that would be a nice addition in the roasted vegetable mixture. A balsamic reduction would be excellent drizzled over the finished tart.

Vegetable Tart

Summer Vegetable Tart

1 sheet puff pastry dough, defrosted
1 large sweet onion, sliced into rings
1 red bell pepper, cored and cut into strips (or rings)
1 large zucchini, ends removed and sliced
8 ounce package mushrooms (I used Baby Bellas), cleaned and sliced
olive oil
2 ounces goat cheese, crumbled
1 tablespoon capers
handful fresh basil leaves, torn
salt and black pepper

Preheat the oven to 400º F.

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Place the sliced onion, red bell pepper, zucchini, and mushrooms on the baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Roast in the oven for 10 – 15 minutes until the vegetables are softened. Remove from the oven and let cool slightly.

Line the baking sheet with a fresh sheet of parchment paper. Unfold the puff pastry on a lightly floured surface. Using a rolling pin, gently roll out the puff pastry into a rectangle (try not to get it too thin). Place the puff pastry on the lined baking sheet.

Place the roasted vegetables on the puff pastry, leaving a border. Sprinkle the crumbled goat cheese, capers, and torn basil over the roasted vegetables. Drizzle the tart with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Summer Vegetable Tart (before baking)

Bake for 20 – 25 minutes until the crust is golden. Serve warm.


Crockpot Tomatillo Chicken

I stopped at a Hispanic market Friday night and bought a bag of minature tomatillos (Tomatillo Milpero) and some beautiful serranos. The Tomatillo Milpero were so cute. There was no noticeable taste difference compared to regular tomatillos.

I do like to cook in the crockpot in the summer to avoid heating up the kitchen. I based this recipe on my favorite Salsa Verde recipe. It’s great served with Cilantro Lime Rice and black beans.

I made enchiladas with the leftover chicken and sauce. They were fantastic too. To make the enchiladas: Spread a little of the leftover tomatillos sauce in the both of a baking dish. Shred the chicken and mix it with shredded cheese and a little of the tomatillo sauce. Divide the mixture between 8 warmed corn tortillas and place them in the baking dish. Cover the enchiladas with the remaining tomatillo sauce and bake in a 350º oven for 15 – 20 minutes, or until bubbly and hot. You can sprinkle some shredded cheese on top the last 5 minutes or so of baking, if you would like.

You can complain about getting two different meals out of one.

Crockpot Tomatillo Chicken

4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (about 2.5 pounds)
2 pounds tomatillos, husks removed, cut in half (also remove the stem if still attached)
1 onion, roughly chopped
2  cloves garlic, chopped
2 – 4 whole serranos, stems removed
1 tablespoon white vinegar
salt and pepper
1 tablespoon olive oil

Place the tomatillos, onion, garlic, and serranos in the crockpot. Season with the vinegar, salt, and pepper. Place the chicken breasts on top of the tomatillo mixture. Season with salt and pepper. Drizzle the olive oil over the top of the chicken breasts.

Cook on low for 6 – 8 hours or on high for 3 – 4 hours until the chicken is tender. Before serving, remove the chicken from the crockpot. Using a hand blender, puree the tomatillo mixture in the crockpot. Serve the tomatillo sauce over the chicken breasts.