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Wednesday, December 28, 2011

(Leftover Christmas) Ham and Bean Soup

Ok, I'll admit it. I've been a little obsessed with beans lately. It's only because they are so healthy and cheap.

So I decided to make some ham and bean soup with some leftover Christmas ham.

Step 1: Sweetly convince your mother-in-law to give you the ham bone. Her ham is the best ham ever, so this step is very important.

Once you've completed that step, the rest is pretty easy.

I don't have a lot of pictures of the process, mostly because I threw it all in the crock pot before work this morning.

Ham and Bean Soup
1 leftover ham bone
1 bag (1 lb) pinto beans
1 small onion, diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 tsp red pepper
1 cup cooked ham
10 cups water
Salt and Pepper to taste

First, rinse your beans and soak in several inches of water overnight.

In the morning, drain the water and add the beans to the crock pot. I had to break out my GIANT (as in, about 8 quarts) crock pot to fit this ham bone (and I still had to break part of it off).

Add the onions and garlic on top of the beans. I used some leftover ham into the soup too, so add that, along with the red pepper flakes.

Put the water on top, then add salt and pepper to taste. I know from experience of just cooking beans in the crock pot that it takes several inches of water just to cook beans. I wanted my beans to be broth-y, so I added a few more inches on top of that.

Turn the crock pot on low and let that cook for about 8-10 hours.

After it's been cooking, take the ham bone out. It will look a little like this:

Give that a few minutes to cool, then separate the ham from the bone. You will have to pick through the fat to get to the meat.

Mix that back into the soup and then it's all ready! 

Serve with a nice hunk of homemade bread from your mom and you are good to go!

Monday, October 24, 2011

Pappasito's Pinto Bean Soup

I got this recipe from a friend on Pinterest. I love Pinterest.

Here is the link to the original recipe. However, I find the directions to be a bit confusing, so that is one reason to explain it in my blog.

I cut the recipe down a bit so I only had to use one bag of beans. And for once, I actually know exact ingredient amounts that I used. Enjoy that little treat while it lasts. Here is my altered recipe:

Pappasito's Pinto Bean Soup
1 lb pinto beans (dried)
3 quarts water, divided
1/2 lb bacon, diced
1/3 c. garlic, minced
4 tbsp cilantro, divided
2/3 c. onion, diced
2 1/8 tsp cumin
2 1/8 tsp onion powder
1 1/8 tbsp salt
1 1/2 c. diced tomatoes

Step one: the night before you want to make this, soak your beans in 2 quarts water overnight. This step is very IMPORTANT! Something bad will happen if you don't soak your beans. I don't know what, but it's not good news. So just soak your beans.

Step 2: In the morning, drain your beans and set aside.

Step 3: Cook your bacon:
Mmmm, bacon.

After your bacon is done, remove it from the pan, leaving the fat. Add the garlic, onion, and 2 tbsp. cilantro to the hot bacon grease. Just so your are prepared, the smell of onion, garlic, and cilantro cooking in bacon grease is probably what heaven smells like.

A small note about the garlic. I wasn't sure whether to use a 1/3 c. MINCED garlic, or 1/3 c. garlic and then mince it. I decided for the latter because 1/3 c. minced garlic seemed like a lot. Also, minced came after the garlic, which I believe indicates you measure and then mince. Nonetheless, I ended up using about 10-12 cloves garlic. It definitely was not too much, and I probably could have even used a little more and it would have still been good.

In case you are wondering, this is a clove of garlic:

When I first started cooking with garlic, I thought a clove of garlic was what is actually a HEAD of garlic (all the cloves together). And I wondered why my salsa never tasted right....

Lesson learned.

Moving on.

Onions are cooking and it looks and smells so delicious!

After your onion is translucent, add the onion mixture back in with the bacon. Mix with the remaining 1 quart (or 32 oz/4 cups) water, beans, cumin, onion powder, and salt. The directions say to cook on low until beans are fork tender.

I did mine in the crock pot because beans take a long time to cook. I cooked in the crock pot on high for 5 hours, but the beans could have stood to be cooked a little longer.

Just before serving, mix in tomatoes and remaining 2 tbsp cilantro.

Enjoy!


The verdict: Overall, I thought this soup was pretty good.

It was okay the first day.

The second day it was delicious! It probably didn't hurt that reheating it allowed me to cook the beans a little longer.

I really liked the addition of tomatoes to the soup. I'd never heard of that before, but I loved the flavor of it.

In conclusion, everyone should try this because it is tasty, healthy, cheap, and easy!

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Pizza Stuffed Banana Peppers

The other day, I was feeling a little crazy and decided to add some banana peppers to my veggie sub at Sheetz. (If you don't know what Sheetz is, Google it right now. It's amazing.)

A few days later, I decided to add them to my pizza from Pizza Hut. (Pizza Hut is not that amazing in case you were wondering).

It was love at second taste.

I decided from there on out, I need banana peppers in my life.

So this past Thursday (or Friday, I don't remember), I was craving some more banana peppers and wishing for summer weather back so I could buy some really tasty ones. I was dreaming of the stuffed green bell peppers my mom used to make, and wondering if her filling would be good in banana peppers too. Then I took it a step further, and though how good banana peppers might be stuffed with pizza ingredients. It was a long day dream. About food. Sometimes that's all that keeps me going.

So I went to the farmer's market this morning, expecting not to find anything as it's been getting pretty chilly lately, and what did I find? The last of Mr. Runion's banana peppers (Mr. Runion is a seller at the farmer's market in case you were wondering). I think God knew I couldn't wait almost a year for delicious peppers.

So, this afternoon I set off to make stuffed banana peppers, pizza style. And can I just say everyone needs to do this. These were delicious.

As always, ingredient amounts are approximate. Feel free to use more or less depending on taste.

Stuffed Banana Peppers:
6 small banana peppers (mine were sweet)
3/4 cup marinara sauce
2-3 tablespoons chopped pepperoni
2-3 tablespoons mozzarella cheese
2-3 tablespoons black olives, chopped
Pinch of red pepper flakes
Shredded mozzarella for topping

First wash your banana peppers. Mine are kind of small, but it's the end of the season. What can I say?

Cut the tops off the peppers, remove seeds if desired, and cut peppers in half. Set aside for later:

Add your sauce to a small skillet. You want to get it warm so you don't have to cook the peppers for too long (mushy peppers = blah). Add the mozzarella, pepperoni, black olives, and red pepper flakes. The pepperoni in these was delicious. You might want to use extra pepperoni.

My sauce was some spaghetti-like sauce that I made earlier this summer and froze. It had some sausage in it and was already well seasoned. If you use a jarred sauce, you might want to add some onions, garlic, etc. for some extra flavor.

After the sauce is warm, add it to the peppers, top with a bit more shredded cheese, and bake in a 350 degree oven. I baked mine for about 8 mins, but you can do more or less depending on how crunchy you like your peppers.

Enjoy!

Tortilla Soup

Towards the end of August or beginning of September, I made some tortilla soup with fresh vegetables from the farmer's market to commemorate the last of summer. Except I don't really know if it's tortilla soup, per say. It might be more of a taco soup. Either way it was delicious.

I got too busy to write a post about it at the time, so I'm writing it now. Hopefully I can remember what all ingredients/amounts I used. I'll try my best. 

Here goes:

Tortilla/Taco Soup
1-2 jalapenos, to taste
1 small onion, diced
1 lb ground beef
5 tomatoes
Water
2 ears corn
1 1/2 cups black beans
1/2 tsp salt
1 tbsp chili powder
1 tbsp cilantro
1 tsp cumin powder
Red pepper flakes to taste
Sour cream, shredded cheese, tortilla chips for topping if desired

Now, I really am just purely guessing on the amount of seasonings. I didn't really measure them out when I made it, and even if I did, I wouldn't remember the amounts at this time. So just use the seasonings listed and add to taste. Add a little at a time and keep tasting to see if you need more. That's how I roll anyway.

Ok, first step: chop the jalapenos. Be careful not to rub your eyes or nose after/while cutting them and all that jazz. Use gloves if you have them. Try to make sure you don't have any cuts or peeled skin around your fingernails while you're cutting. Because that juice will burn a little. I may or may not be speaking from experience. 

Anyway, jalapenos:

Look at those tricky jalapenos. They look all sweet and innocent like a green bell pepper. But they're not. As you can see, I like to leave some of the seeds with them when I chop. Mmmm, spice.

Next, cook the jalapeno and onion with the ground beef (excuse my slightly blurry photo): 

Cook that, drain it, and set aside.

Use the method outlined here to turn your tomatoes into the broth. Basically, peel, puree, and add water/salt as necessary to make the broth. 

After you have your broth to the consistency/flavor that you like, add your beef mixture back in.

Cut your corn from the ears like so and throw that into the building soup:

Corn is good in soup. More corn is better. It adds a nice crunch. Add as much as you like. 

Then add your beans. If you use canned beans, use 1 can. However, you can use this method to cook dried beans and have on hand. It's super easy! Less sodium! No more canned beans for me! So I used one of my bags of frozen beans, which is about a cup and a half. If you want some vegetarian soup, add two bags (or two cans) and leave out the beef!

Don't forget to add your spices/seasonings! Like I said, just add a little of the spices listed at a time and keep tasting to get the right amounts.


Let it boil, then reduce heat to a simmer, and cook for about a half an hour. That's it! 

Top with sour cream, a little shredded cheese, and crushed tortilla chips if desired. Enjoy!

Yum.



Monday, August 29, 2011

Stuffed Portabella Mushrooms

Here is a really easy recipe that tastes delicious and looks way fancier than it is!

This is the perfect recipe to impress someone with your cooking skills. Lucky for me, I was planning on making this when I unexpectedly ran into someone I knew. So I invited him over for lunch with us. We got to enjoy his company and he left thinking I was some fancy-schmancy cook. Win-win.

Stuffed Portabella Mushrooms
3 large portabella mushrooms
3 pieces bacon
2 cloves garlic
1 1/2 c. ricotta cheese
2 tablespoons chopped fresh chives
Salt and pepper to taste

First cook your bacon up:

Mmm, bacon.

Once your bacon is done, you can saute the garlic in the grease for a minute or so. Usually I like to add some vegetables to these too, like shredded zucchini, carrot, or spinach. But I didn't have any of that, so I skipped that this time. But if you want to do that (and you should), you can add it in with the garlic for a few minutes.

Then, add the ricotta to a mixing bowl:

Add the chives, bacon, and garlic to the mixing bowl:

Doesn't that look delicious?

Mix it all together. Before you can stuff the mushrooms, you have to cut off the fins. Is that what they're called? I'm not sure. And I don't have a picture, so you will just have to figure that out for yourself.

Then, just load up the mushrooms and top 'em with some shredded cheese if you so desire:

Now, usually I cook these in the oven, but this time I decided to do them on the grill. Don't do that. The grill was too hot (even though it was on low heat) and cheese got really hot and they kind of melted everywhere. They were still good. Just messy.

So, just cook them up in the oven (maybe 350*?) until they are heated through.

Enjoy!



(Notice how it kind of fell apart. But it was still delicious.)

Monday, August 15, 2011

Farmer's Market Vegetable Soup

I love soup. It's so yummy that it warms both my stomach and my heart (snicker). Not canned soup though - that is pretty much crap in a can (though I admit to eating it in a pinch). But homemade soup....mmmm. It doesn't get better than that.

Last summer when I had a much more abundant garden, I didn't know what to do with my all my tomatoes. So my dear, practical, creative, wonderfully homemade (I could go on with the adjectives here) friend Lindsey suggested that I use them to make soup. So that's where this soup comes from.

Now, you might be wondering why in the world I am making soup in the middle of August (although today was a little cooler with a high of a chilly 71*). The short answer is because, duh, it's good. But actually, the real reason is because all the vegetables are in season!! So I snatched all these vegetables up from the farmer's market this past weekend and am making soup for the winter.

My husband told me I was squirrel, collecting all my food in the summer and storing it for the winter. He's funny.


Anyway, because I kind of just threw this together, I don't really have exact amounts of the ingredients I used, so I will try to estimate for you. Here is a picture of everything I used so you can have a visual of the amounts you might need:

I ended up only using two potatoes. But really, you do it as you go and you can use whatever amount of veggies you want. Add more of the veggies you like or less of the ones you don't like. It's all up to you - whatever looks good to you!

Vegetable Soup
1 clove garlic
1/4 c. (or less) onion, diced teeny tiny
About 4 medium/large tomatoes
3 sprigs parsley
1 ear corn
About 1/2 - 3/4 c. trimmed and snapped green beans
About 1/2 c. zucchini
2 small potatoes
Salt and pepper to taste
Water

First, peel the tomatoes. Now, there is a technical way to do this that I believe involves immersing them in boiling water then submerging them in cold water (consult Google if you need more details) but I am too lazy for that because I don't like extra dishes. So I just peeled the skin off with my fingers. It's much easier than it sounds. Enjoy the delicious aroma of tomatoes as you peel them. Here's what they look like after they are peeled:

Now these little buggers are pretty slippery after you peel 'em, so be careful not to drop them. Having these wonderful farmer's market treats fall to the floor would be an absolute tragedy.

Now, nothing bad will happen if you don't peel them. You will just have pieces of skin in your soup, as the skin naturally peels in the heat. For some reason this grosses me out, even though it's not really gross at all. So, if you are even lazier than me, you don't have to peel if you don't want.

Cook the onions and garlic in the pan for a hot minute (pun intended). While you're doing this, chop the tomatoes and process them until they are liquid in the food processor:

If you have a small food processor like me, you might have to puree the tomatoes in a few batches. Once you're done add the liquid to the pan.

It was at this point that I had to clean up my huge tomato mess:


Anyway, after you add this to the pan, you add some water to thin it out and make it the broth. I started out by adding about 2 cups, but you can add more as necessary once it starts cooking. I ended up adding around 1/2 c. - 1 c. more throughout the process:

Then add salt and pepper to taste. Keep tasting throughout the entire process and continue adding as needed:

Pepper is good. Add lots of that.

Let this heat up and then let it simmer while you cut up the rest of the vegetables. This is what it looks like after you add the parsley while it's simmering:

Add the vegetables that take longer to cook (like potatoes and carrots) first so they have longer to cook. It's starting to come together:

In case you are wondering, this is about how much corn comes off one ear. You can get more or less depending on what you like:

After all the vegetables are added, let it simmer until all of them are done, probably about 45 minutes-1 hour. Keep tasting and adding salt or pepper if it needs it or water if it's too thick or not brothy enough:

Once it was done, I stuck it in some Ball freezer jars and it's ready for winter!


Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Chipotle-Lime Pork Chops

Tonight for dinner we made chipotle-lime pork chops using half this recipe for marinade.

This marinade was really simple and the pork chops ended up being so, so yummy.

Chipotle-Lime Pork Chops
1 lime, zest and juice
About 1/8 cup olive oil
1/2 tbsp chipotle chili pepper
1/2 tbsp salt
1/2 tbsp garlic powder
About 1 1/2 lbs meat of your choice

Step 1: Zest the lime. There is a lot of concentration of flavor in the peel, so make sure you don't skip this step! I don't have a zester, so I just used this nifty little thing that also doubles as a juicer:

Then juice the lime. If you roll it around like so before juicing, it will be a little juicier:

Juice the lime:

I'm not really sure what chipotle chili pepper is, but I used this:

Measure out the olive oil then add the chipotle, salt, and garlic powder:

This would be better with real garlic, but alas, I was too lazy and in a hurry. Pour the marinade over the meat and refrigerate for a few hours:

When you're ready to cook them, grill them for about 10 mins on each side or until they are done. Eat and enjoy all the deliciousness!


Sunday, July 31, 2011

Homemade Oven Fries

Have I mentioned how much I love potatoes? Of course I haven't; this is only my second post.

But I do. Oh, how I love their pulpy, starchy goodness. I could eat them every day in any way (except potato salad. blech.)

So today I am posting one of my easiest, fastest, and simplest ways to make potatoes: oven fries!

I got this idea some time ago from a coupon insert (coupons are good for more than just saving money!) and it has become one of my favorite go-to side dishes (or main dishes, if I'm only cooking for myself) because of its simplicity and deliciousness.

Oven Fries
2 medium potatoes
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon grill seasoning (i.e. Mrs. Dash's, McCormick's, etc.)
Other seasoning of your choice

First, preheat your oven to 425*.

Now, you obviously need some potatoes. I usually use about 2 medium, but you can make however much you want and just adjust seasoning accordingly.

Now, you might think all potatoes are the same. But you are wrong. Potatoes from the farmer's market are so much more delicious. I can't name the specific quality that makes this so, so don't ask. Just trust me on this one. Go to the farmer's market for your potatoes.

Moving on. The potatoes I got from the farmer's market were pretty small, so I used about five very small (instead of two medium):

Before you cut them, mix up your spices. The important thing to keep in mind (in case you want to make more or less) is just to keep a proportionate amount of olive oil and grill seasoning.

So grab your grill seasoning. Our favorite is McCormick's Garlic and Onion, but I ran out of it awhile ago. I still have some others around the house, so I haven't bothered to purchase any more. So, for today, I am using this giant thing of McCormick's Garlic and Herb that I got for $1.99 from Ollie's (insert angel songs from heaven):

Add a tablespoon of it to a mixing bowl. Then add a tablespoon of olive oil:

Then, I usually like to just add a few more seasonings. Mostly this is for my own enjoyment. I usually add some pepper, paprika, garlic, and maybe some seasoning salt. You can skip this step if you want. But you need to add the paprika. Paprika is like heaven on earth:

Then, stir the olive oil and the seasonings together. It should look something like this:

You want it to be a little smoother than that. Mine was still a little clumpy, so I just added a bit more oil. This is better:

Then, cut your potatoes into wedges like so:

Add them to the bowl and mix it around so that are the potatoes are coated with the oil mixture:

Finally, lay them on a single layer on a baking sheet (or pizza stone, if you are lazy. like me):

Put them in the oven and cook for about 10 minutes. After 10 minutes, take them out and flip them so they cook more evenly. Cook for about 10 more minutes or until they are soft on the inside.

When they are done, they will be a little crispy and a lot delicious.



Now, dig in!

These are also especially tasty if you add some cheese during the last few minutes of baking. Yum. I didn't do that this time.

Enjoy your meal.


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