Do inventory. This is the perfect time when you are stuck at home. You will be amazed at what you forgot is in the freezer. Maybe some chicken parts and a few steak bones for soup, or a package of stew meat. You get the picture. I found a ham bone from the holidays and a half package of split peas. (I keep my dried beans in the freezer as well as flour and nuts because I live in a hot climate)
Time to make soup.
Split-Pea and Ham Soup
This is my easy and uncomplicated version. It makes a delicious soup. Serve with some rye bread.
1 lb dried split peas
2 quarts cold water
1 meaty ham bone
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon dried marjoram or thyme
2 onions, chopped
3 stalks celery with tops, chopped
3 carrots, chopped
3 medium parsnips, peeled and diced
1 potato, peeled and diced
In a large stockpot, combine all the ingredients. Cover, bring to boil and then simmer for 2 hours, stirring occasionally.
Remove the bone to a plate and let cool. Cut off any meat still clinging to the bone. Dice the meat. Retrieve any pieces of meat that are floating in the soup and dice. Using an immersion blender, puree the soup. Return the diced meat to the stockpot and reheat the soup for serving.
Easy Chicken Cordon Bleu
4 (6-ounce) boneless, skinless chicken breast halves (about 1 1/2 pounds)
1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
6 ounces sliced Swiss cheese (4 slices)
4 ounces thinly sliced Black Forest ham
1 cup all-purpose flour
2 large eggs
2 tablespoons milk
1 cup fine unseasoned dried panko crumbs
1 tablespoon dried parsley flakes, plus chopped fresh parsley for garnish
3 tablespoons olive oil
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
Cut each piece of chicken in half horizontally and place each piece between 2 sheets of plastic wrap. Using the smooth side of a meat mallet, pound out to a 1/4-inch thickness.
Place the 8 chicken pieces on a cutting board and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Divide the cheese evenly between 4 pieces of chicken. Arrange ham slices evenly over the cheese; top with remaining 4 pieces of chicken. Tuck in any cheese or ham that extends over the edges. Secure chicken pieces together using toothpicks along the edges to form a “sandwich.”
Place flour in a shallow dish. In another shallow dish, mix together eggs and milk using a fork. Place panko crumbs and parsley in a third shallow dish. Dip a chicken “sandwich” in flour, shaking off any excess. Dip chicken in egg mixture, followed by the panko crumbs; transfer to a plate. Repeat process with remaining chicken “sandwiches.”
Heat olive oil in a large ovenproof skillet over medium-high heat. Place chicken “sandwiches” in skillet and cook, until browned on one side, about 3 minutes. Turn chicken and cook 2 minutes more.
Transfer the skillet to the oven. Cook until cheese is melted and bubbly and chicken is cooked through about 5 minutes. Remove toothpicks and garnish with chopped fresh parsley. Serve immediately.
1 bunch asparagus, trimmed
1 cup grape tomatoes, halved
1/4 teaspoon granulated garlic
Juice of half a lemon
1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
1/2 teaspoon dried tarragon
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
Combine all the ingredients in a glass baking dish and roast the vegetables until tender about 15 minutes.
2 pounds mushrooms (button/cremini), roughly chopped
1 large sweet onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 quarts homemade or store-bought beef broth
1 cup heavy cream
1 tablespoon all-purpose seasoning blend, recipe below
3 tablespoons butter
5-8 sprigs of fresh thyme
Sea salt and fresh ground pepper, to taste
Homemade Croutons, recipe below
Melt butter in a large soup pot over medium-high heat. Add the diced onions and sauté until tender (about 5 minutes). Add in the minced garlic and continue to cook for another minute. Reduce the heat to medium and add in the chopped mushrooms and the thyme Cook until the mushrooms release some of the water content, stirring frequently about 10 minutes.
Next, add the beef broth, all-purpose seasoning blend, sea salt, and fresh ground pepper. Cook this mixture for an additional 15 minutes then reduce the heat to low. Remove the thyme sprigs. Blend the soup using an immersion blender. Add the cream and heat over low. Serve with croutons.
All-Purpose No-Salt Seasoning Mix
1 tablespoon garlic powder
1 1/2 teaspoons dried basil
1 1/2 teaspoons dried parsley
1 1/4 teaspoons dried savory
1 1/4 teaspoons ground thyme
1 teaspoon ground mace
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 teaspoon dried sage
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
Mix garlic powder, basil, parsley, savory, thyme, mace, onion powder, black pepper, sage, and cayenne pepper in a bowl; store in a sealed jar.
2 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon onion powder
1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
1/4 teaspoon dried basil
6 slices day-old bread, cubed
In an ungreased 13-in. x 9-in. baking pan, combine the butter, oil, and seasonings. Heat in a 300° F oven until butter is melted. Remove from the oven; stir to combine.
3 cups finely diced leftover baked ham
2 hard-boiled eggs finely chopped
1/4 cup finely diced celery
1/4 cup finely diced bell pepper
1/4 cup finely diced red onion
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup sour cream
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
Ground black pepper or cayenne pepper to taste
Combine the mayonnaise, sour cream and Dijon in a large mixing bowl. Add the remaining ingredients and stir until completely combined. Cover and chill until serving time.
Serve on a salad plate over shredded lettuce or on a sandwich made with pumpernickel bread.
I am a home cook that hates to waste food. I also don’t like heated up leftovers. So…I try to think of ways to reinvent my leftovers. In the past week, I had cooked asparagus, green beans, Swiss chard, Italian sausage and mini bell peppers to use up. The new recipes turned out just fine.
Ham and Asparagus Quiche
This is a good dish to use up some of your leftover cooked vegetable sides. We like this dish for a lighter dinner and I serve it with a salad.
Press in the Pan Crust
1 ½ cups all-purpose flour or Bob’s Red Mill Low Carb or Gluten-Free Baking Mix
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
4 oz (1 stick ) unsalted butter, cut into cubes
3-4 tablespoons cold water
1 cup heavy cream
1 cup baked ham cubes
1 cup chopped cooked asparagus
½ cup chopped cooked green beans
¼ cup cooked sliced mushrooms
2 tablespoons chopped chives
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
To make the pastry
Place the flour, salt, and butter in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse until the butter is cut into little pieces. Slowly drizzle in the cold water by tablespoons until the dough comes together.
Remove the dough from the processor and press onto the bottom and sides of a 9-inch pie pan. Place the pan in the refrigerator for an hour or two.
Heat the oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit. Bake the crust for 10-12 minutes until the edges begin to brown.
Reduce the oven temperature to 350 degrees F.
To make the filling
In a medium mixing bowl combine all the filling ingredients. Pour the mixture into the partially baked pie crust. Bake in a 350 degree F oven for about 35-40 minutes until set. Let rest 10 minutes before cutting.
Sautéed Swiss Chard
This was the original recipe, I made for a side dish.
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1/2 medium onion finely chopped
2 large bunches of Swiss chard, washed in several changes of water
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Salt to taste
Drain the washed chard very well. With a knife, remove the chard stems that run up the middle of each leaf.Save them for soup.
Cut the leaves into smaller pieces.
Heat the oil over medium heat in a large skillet. Add the onion, garlic, and black pepper.
Heat for 3-5 minutes, stirring occasionally until the onions are tender.
Add the chard leaves and cook, covered, for 3-5 minutes until the leaves are wilted and brightly colored. Add a tablespoon of water to the pan if it seems like the leaves are getting too dry.
Add salt to taste and serve as a side dish. Reserve leftovers to make the patties for another meal.
Swiss Chard Patties
2 cups leftover cooked Swiss chard
2 tablespoons flour
1 scallions, minced
1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese
Combine all the ingredients in a medium bowl. Heat a stovetop griddle or a large frying pan. Oil the griddle. With a muffin-scoop drop batter onto the hot griddle.
Cook until lightly brown on the underside, Turn the patties over and cook until lightly brown. These patties make a delicious side dish.
If you have patties leftover, they make a great breakfast. Heat the patties in a skillet. Top each with a fried egg.
Sausage and Peppers with Spaghetti Squash
4 cooked Italian sausage links
6 mini bell peppers, assorted colors
1 small yellow onion
1 ½ cups homemade or store-bought Marinara Sauce
One 2 lb spaghetti squash
3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 large garlic clove, minced
¼ cup chopped fresh parsley
Salt and pepper to taste
Preheat oven to 375°F and halve squash lengthwise. Use a spoon to scoop out and discard the seeds from the middle of each half.
Arrange the squash halves in a baking dish, cut sides down. Pour 1/2 cup water into the dish and bake until just tender, 30 minutes.
Remove the dish from the oven and drain the water from the baking dish. Set the squash aside to cool.
Cut the onion and peppers into thin slices. Cut the sausage into ¼ inch circles.
In a medium skillet, heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Add the onions and peppers and cook until tender, about 5-6 minutes. Add the Marinara sauce and sliced sausage. Heat the mixture until hot.
With a fork rack back and forth across the cooled squash to remove its flesh in strands…like spaghetti!
Heat the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a small skillet. Add the garlic and cook for one minute. Add salt and black pepper to the skillet and then add the squash strands. Stir-fry for a few minutes until the squash is hot. Don’t overcook. Add the parsley, mix and serve with the sausage and peppers.
Springtime means ham and lamb in the meat department. They are often on sale now in the market or from your local farm. Ham is always a good buy and supplies plenty of leftovers for several meals. Spring also brings us lots of new vegetables and fruits, so I look forward to using them and developing new recipes with them. I am especially taken with my newly discovered rutabagas. They are very similar to potatoes but contain many less carbs. I decided to try making my potato salad recipe with them and it turned out very well and so delicious. Fennel is also in season and there are so many good ways to prepare it, either cooked or raw. Try out some new vegetables this week and see how you like them.
Glazed Spiral-Sliced Ham
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup apricot jam
1/4 cup Dijon mustard
5 lb Spiral Cut Fully Cooked Ham
Preheat the oven to 275 degrees F.
Place the ham cut side down onto a sheet of aluminum foil. Let stand at room temperature 30 minutes.
Mix together the brown sugar, apricot jam and mustard in a small bowl. Brush half of the glaze onto the ham using a pastry brush.
Reserve the remaining glaze. Enclose the foil around the ham and place on a rimmed baking sheet also covered with foil (for easy cleanup).
Roast for 75 minutes in the preheated oven, or if your ham is a different size, figure 15 minutes per pound.
Take the ham out of the oven, pull the foil away and brush the remaining glaze onto the ham.
Place the ham back in the oven without enclosing it in the foil.
Bake 15-20 minutes more or until a meat thermometer inserted into the thickest portion registers 140°F. Let rest 10 minutes before slicing.
Rutabaga “Potato Style” Salad
1 ½ lbs rutabaga or red potatoes, peeled
2 hard-boiled eggs, chopped
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons pickle juice
1/4 cup minced bread and butter pickles
1/2 cup finely chopped sweet onion or scallions
2 celery stalks, finely chopped
1/2 cup olive oil mayonnaise
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
Salt and black pepper to taste
Cut the rutabaga or potato into thin slices, about 1 x 1 inch, or cut the vegetables into cubes if you prefer that cut.
Place the rutabaga in a large pot with a lid. Cover with cold water and add 1 teaspoon salt.
Bring to a boil, lower the heat and cook with the lid ajar about 15-20 minutes until the rutabaga is fork tender.
Drain and place the rutabaga in a medium serving bowl. Add the pickle juice and let sit at room temperature for an hour or so.
Add the remaining ingredients, mix well and taste to see if the salad needs salt.
Cover the bowl and chill in the refrigerator for several hours before serving.
Sprinkle the top with some chopped parsley and a little paprika, if you would like to garnish the salad before serving it.
Fennel Salad With Avocado Dressing
2 plum tomatoes, cut into wedges
1/4 of a large fennel bulb, cut into one inch cubes
2 tablespoons finely diced red onion
1/4 cup toasted pine nuts
Avocado Dressing, see link
Combine the tomatoes, fennel, onion and pine nuts in a medium serving bowl. Add a few tablespoons of dressing to the top of the salad.
Serve with the remaining Avocado dressing on the side.
Inviting friends for lunch is a relaxing and easy way to entertain. The menu can be a few simple combinations that can be prepared ahead of time and assembled just before your guests arrive. This will give you plenty of time to spend with your guests. No fancy desserts needed. I usually just serve fruit.
Creamy Mushroom Soup
As made below, the soup will be a great menu choice for your friends who eat a vegan or vegetarian diet. Walnuts and dried mushrooms are used to thicken this soup without flour. However, if you would like it to be even creamier and non-vegan, add 1 cup of heavy cream.
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
4 oz dried morel mushrooms
4 oz dried chanterelle mushrooms
4 oz sliced cremini or button mushrooms
1 onion, diced
2 shallots, minced
½ cup diced celery
3 cloves garlic, minced
½ teaspoon dried thyme
½ teaspoon salt
½ cup dry sherry
8 cups vegetable broth
1½ cups chopped walnuts
½ teaspoon ground pepper
2 tablespoons sliced fresh chives
In a medium Dutch Oven or large saucepan, place the dried mushrooms and cover with 5 cups of water. Cover the pan and bring the water to a boil. Remove the pan from the heat and let the mushroom rest in the water for 30 minutes. Drain. Rinse out the pan.
Heat the oil in the pot over medium-high heat. Add the onion, shallots, celery, garlic, thyme and ½ teaspoon salt and cook, stirring occasionally, until tender, 7 to 10 minutes. Add the soaked dried mushroom and sherry; increase heat to high and simmer, stirring often, until the sherry has evaporated, 2 to 3 minutes.
Add the broth, pepper and walnuts. Bring to a simmer and cook for 30 minutes.Remove the pot from the stove. Puree the soup in the pot with an immersion blender or in a regular blender (in batches, if necessary) until very smooth. Return the pot to the heat. Add the fresh cremini mushroom and simmer the soup for 20 minutes more. Serve the soup topped with chives.
Creamy Avocado Dressing
If you would like a thinner dressing, add up to a 1/2 cup of water.
3 ripe medium avocados, peel and pit removed
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1/4 cup olive oil
3 cloves garlic
2 teaspoons sea salt
1/4 teaspoon coarse black pepper
1/2 cup water
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley or 1 tablespoon dried
2 tablespoons honey or sweetener of choice
Place all the dressing ingredients in a high-powered blender or food processor.
Process until completely smooth.
Use as a dressing over salad or serve as a dip. Great on tomatoes.
Any of the following ingredients can be arranged in an attractive way on individual salad plates.
All these ingredients are delicious with the Avocado Dressing.
Soft greens/lettuces to line the plates
Sliced Pears, dipped in lemon juice
Sliced cooked beets
Sliced cooked hard-boiled eggs
Celery sliced on the diagonal
Red onion, sliced thin
Thin strips of baked ham or turkey
Thinly sliced plum tomatoes
Radishes, sliced thin
Toasted pistachio nuts or any toasted nuts
Roasted Pumpkin Soup
1 medium cooking pumpkin, about 3 ½ – 4 cups roasted pumpkin flesh
1 tablespoon olive oil
3/4 cup chopped leeks
2 celery stalks, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
4 cups vegetable stock
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
½ teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
1 ½ cups whole milk
1-2 teaspoons honey
Chopped chives for garnish
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Place a sheet of parchment on a baking sheet with sides.
Cut the pumpkin in half and remove the seeds. Fill the pumpkin wells half way with water and place on the prepared baking sheet.
Place in the oven and roast until tender, about 45 minutes. Cool and then scrape out the pumpkin into a bowl. Set aside,
Pour the olive oil into a Dutch Oven and heat over medium-high heat.
Add leeks, celery and garlic; cook and stir until the vegetables are tender, stirring occasionally.
Stir in the pumpkin, broth, pepper, salt and spices. Bring to boiling; reduce heat. Cover and simmer for 30 minutes. Remove from heat.
Process with a hand immersion blender in the saucepan or transfer half of the pumpkin mixture to a blender or food processor; cover and blend or process until smooth. Repeat with the remaining half of the pumpkin mixture. Return all of the pureed mixture to saucepan.
Stir in the milk and heat through, but do not boil. Stir in enough of the honey to sweeten the mixture to taste.
Serve warm garnished with chopped chives. Makes 6 (3/4-cup) servings.
Don’t forget to save the bone for soup.
6 lb ready-to-eat, cooked ham, bone-in, uncut (NOT spiral cut), shank end or butt end
1/2 cup apricot preserves
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
1 tablespoon Dijon country whole seed mustard
Heat the oven to 325° F.
Place the ham, fat side up, in a roasting pan.
Bake the ham for about 20 minutes per pound, about 2 hours for a 6 lb ham, or until an instant read meat thermometer registers at least 140° F (60° C), the safe minimum temperature for a fully cooked ham.
In a medium bowl whisk together the apricot preserves, brown sugar, apple cider, mustard and thyme.
About 30 minutes before the ham is done, spoon the glaze over the entire ham.
Cover the ham loosely with foil and let it stand for 15 minutes before carving and serving.
You can also put this dish in the oven with the ham at the lower temperature to cook the two dishes at the same time. Put the gratin in the oven when the ham has an hour and a half of cooking time remaining.
2 pound rutabaga (peeled, thinly sliced)
1 cup heavy cream
½ teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon dried thyme
Salt and pepper
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
Coat a 7×11 or an 8×12 baking dish with cooking spray. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Place the sliced rutabaga in a saucepan and cover with water. Add 1 teaspoon of salt and bring to a boil.
Cook for 3 minutes in the boiling water, drain and set aside.
Combine the cream, garlic powder, thyme, ¼ teaspoon salt and ¼ teaspoon pepper with a whisk.
Pour one-third of the cream into the bottom of the baking dish.
Place a layer of rutabaga slices on top, followed by one-third of the cheese. Dot with one-third of the butter.
Continue to layer ending with a layer of cheese.
Bake in a preheated 350F/180C oven until bubbling on the sides and golden brown on top, about 30-40 minutes.
Remove from the oven and cover loosely with foil to rest for 10-15 minutes before serving.
Sautéed Green Cabbage Steaks
1 small head green cabbage
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, divided
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, divided
Celery seed for garnish
Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Immerse the whole head of cabbage in the boiling water until the outer leaves begin to loosen.
Remove the cabbage from the water and drain. Cut the stem end off and carefully peel away as many outer leaves as will come off easily, usually 8 to 12 leaves will be large enough for stuffing. Reserve those leaves for another use.
Cut the remaining cabbage in half and cut two half-inch thick slices from the cabbage halves.
Melt the butter in a saute pan over medium-high heat. Add the cabbage steaks, sprinkle with half the salt and pepper. Cook for 10 minutes.
Turn the cabbage steaks over with a wide spatula, sprinkle with the remaining salt and pepper and cook for 10 minutes more.
Sprinkle lightly with celery seed and serve.