Leftover Ham – Ham and Cheese Muffins & Ham and Split Pea Soup

What to make when you have leftovers? Since making a baked bone in ham butt last Sunday I’ve managed to turn it into several meals this week and the one thing I always look forward to making is Ham and Split Pea soup. The weather is still cold and a warm bowl of creamy soup is comfort food for me and my family.

Another favorite of mine for using left over ham is to make Ham and Cheese Muffins. The muffins pull together quick and go great along side a bowl of your favorite soup. I have even served them up as part of a Sunday brunch.

Ham & Cheese Muffins

Makes 1 dozen muffins

2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
2 eggs, beaten
1 cup milk
1/4 cup (4 tablespoons) unsalted butter, melted & slightly cooled
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese, plus more for garnish
1/2 cup diced ham
• Add some herbs and spices to the dry ingredients to make it more savory
Fresh black pepper, for garnish (optional)
1. Preheat oven 400 degrees F. Line a 12-cup muffin tin with paper or silicone muffin cups and set aside.
2. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt.
3. In a separate bowl, combine egg, milk, and butter. Add these wet ingredients to the dry and mix lightly (e.g., with a wooden spoon, not a mixer) until well combined. Once the batter is smooth, fold in cheese and ham.
4. Spoon batter into muffin cups, filling them about 3/4 of the way. If you like, sprinkle some more shredded cheese and freshly cracked black pepper on top. Bake for about 17 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the muffin comes out clean. Remove muffins from the oven and allow to cool in the pan for 10 minutes, then remove from the pan and finish cooling on a rack. See notes above on storing these.
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Split Pea and Ham Soup

1 pound ham bone
4 cups chicken stock (1 Qt.)
3 cups cold water
1 16 oz. bag split green peas

1 – 1 1/2 tablespoons butter
2/3 cups chopped leeks or green onions
1/2 cup chopped carrots
1/2 cup chopped celery

1 teaspoon granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon thyme
1 Bay leaf
1/2 teaspoon pepper

2 cups milk
1 cup heavy cream or Half & Half
1 cup chopped ham, cooked
Sauté the onions, carrots and celery in butter.
Place the ham bone in a large pot. Add the water, chicken stock and peas and bring to a boil over medium heat, reduce the heat and simmer. Add all the seasonings and continue to simmer the mixture until the peas are very soft, about 1 hour and 15 minutes stirring occasionally.
Remove the ham bone. Use an emersion blender to smooth peas and veggies so they are creamy.
Stir in the milk and cream. Add chopped ham. Simmer, stirring occasionally for another 10 to 15 minutes.
Serve topped with a buttery croutons.
ham and split pea soup

A Chicken in my Sunday Pot and several ways to enjoy it!

With the rising cost of groceries these day chicken still seems to be a good bargain and when preparing a whole chicken you can get the most for your money.

So on a Sunday I sometimes will put up a pot of chicken soup to start. If the chicken is plump enough I can get two or three nice size meals depending what I make.

basic chicken stock

Basic Chicken Stock Recipe

1 Large chicken (about 4 lbs)
2 medium onions, peeled and chopped into quarters
2 medium carrots, peeled and chopped into 1 inch pieces
2 medium stalks of celery, chopped into 1 inch pieces
8 sprigs parsley
½ teaspoon whole black peppercorns
4 1/2 quarts cold water

Rinse chicken under cold water and add the chicken to a large heavy stockpot. Add cold water to cover chicken. Bring the water slowly to a boil then reduce to a bare simmer. There should be very few gentle bubbles bursting on the surface of the water. Skim the surface of the stock to get rid of the impurities (foam).

Add the onions, carrots, celery, parsley, peppercorns to the pot. Continue to simmer the stock for 3 hours, skimming occasionally.

Carefully remove the whole chicken. Strain the stock through a paper towel or cheesecloth lined colander into a large bowl. Carefully discard the hot solids. Let cool. Place in refrigerator for 12 hours to allow fat to rise to the top. Skim fat off and discard. Divide between freezer safe containers. Freeze for up to 3 months if it lasts that long!

Yields 2 quarts

Once you have make the chicken stock there are lots of meal options that can be made: Once the chicken has cooled remove the chicken from the bones and divide. Separate and shred the breast and wing meat into two portions. Then remove the leg thigh meat making a third portion of chicken. Each portion should yield about 2 cups of meat enough for three meals. After a long day at work it’s nice to have one of these meals easy to prepare.

What to make now? Here are a few ideas.

Chicken Soup – your choice, you have two quarts of broth you can add vegetables, rice or noodles and one portion of the chicken or follow your favorite recipe.

chicken & biscuit dumplings

Chicken Pot Pie with 2 Crusts or Biscuits

This is old-fashioned, from scratch, comfort food. This has been a family favorite for years.

1/3 cup butter
1/3 cup flour
1/3 cup chopped onion
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1 3/4 cups chicken broth
2/3 cup milk
2 cups cut up cooked chicken
1 (10 ounce) package frozen mixed vegetables
2 prepared pie crusts (1 top crust and 1 bottom crust)

Heat butter over low heat until melted.

Blend in flour, onion, salt and pepper.

Cook over low heat, stirring constantly until smooth and bubbly.

Remove from heat.

Stir in broth and milk.

Heat to boiling; stirring constantly. Boil and stir one minute.

Stir in chicken and veggies. (Add in 1 – 2 diced cooked potatoes if you like!).

Reserve.

Line pie plate with prepared bottom crust.

Pour in filling.

Top with top crust. Cut slits in center to vent. Flute edges.

Cook uncovered in 425°F oven until crust is brown; approximately 30-35 minutes.

Note: If you don’t have any pie crust available add the filling to a greased 9″ x 13″ casserole and top with your favorite biscuits and bake for 20 minutes.

 

chicken ala king

Chicken ala King

This old fashion meal is total comfort food on a cold winter evening and when you have two cups of chicken available it’s so easy to prepare. Have you ever read about the history of Chicken ala King? Seems there are at least 5 different possibilities of where the recipe originated going as far back as the late 1800’s and it was served in some very prestigious restaurants and hotels. Who would have thought, right?

 Ingredients

1 1/2 cups sliced fresh mushrooms

1/4 cup chopped onion

1/4 cup chopped celery

1/3 cup butter, cubed

1/4 cup all-purpose flour

1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon salt

1 cup chicken broth

1 cup milk

2 cups cubed or shredded cooked chicken

2 tablespoons diced pimientos or small diced red cherry pepper

Directions

In a large skillet, sauté the mushrooms, onion and celery in butter until crisp-tender. Stir in flour and salt until blended. Gradually stir in broth and milk. Bring to a boil; cook and stir for 2 minutes or until thickened.

Add chicken and pimientos; heat through. Serve over toast points, or biscuits or in puff pastry patty shells if you want something fancier.

Chicken Tetrazzini

Named after a famous Italian singer, Tetrazzini is an American dish made with diced poultry or seafood and mushroom in a butter/cream and Parmesan sauce flavored with wine or sherry. It is served hot over linguine, spaghetti, or some similarly thin pasta, garnished with parsley, and sometimes topped with  Parmesan cheese. Tetrazzini can be prepared as a baked noodle casserole, sometimes with steps taken to give it a browned crust.

chicken tetrazzini1

Ingredients:

1 (16 ounce) package uncooked thin spaghetti (not Angel Hair) or pasta of choice

1/2 cup butter & 2 Tb

2 TB Olive Oil

Add any of these items to taste – I have no exact measurements

Onions

Garlic

Mushrooms

1 10 oz. box of Frozen Peas or Peas & Carrots (optional)

1/2 cup all-purpose flour

3 cups chicken broth & 2 cups milk

1 2/3 cups grated Parmesan cheese

4 cups chopped cooked chicken

Handful of chopped parsley

Season to taste, herbs etc.

Butter bread crumbs to top the casserole if you like.

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Lightly grease a medium baking dish.

Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Add spaghetti, and cook for 8 to 10 minutes or until al dente. Drain, and place in the prepared baking dish.

Melt 2 Tablespoons butter and olive oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat.

At this point I sauté the onion, garlic, mushrooms. Remove from pan and set on the side.

Melt 1/2 cup butter in same pan over medium heat.

Stir in flour, pan cook so flour cooks but is not brown

Mix in chicken broth and milk. Cook and stir until the mixture comes to a boil. Stir in about 1 1/3 cups Parmesan cheese, and remove from heat.

Add onion, garlic mushroom mix to the sauce and fold in. Add chopped chicken, parsley or any frozen vegetable you are using

Mix chicken sauce mixture with cooked spaghetti and put into a greased 9 x 13 casserole.

chicken croquettes my

Chicken Croquettes

Easy-to-make chicken croquettes. These croquettes freeze well. This one needs a bit of pre-planning as the croquette mixture needs time to chill in the refrigerator.

Cone shape is traditional for croquettes, but I have made patty shaped ones that are just as wonderful. Try adding some chopped mushrooms too

Ingredients

2 cups roasted chicken, shredded

1 (10 1/2 ounce) cans condensed cream of chicken soup or cream of celery

1/4 cup milk

1 (6 ounce) box chicken stuffing mix

1 large egg, slightly beaten

½ of a small onion, chopped fine

1 stalk of celery, chopped fine

breadcrumbs, for dredging

1/4 cup vegetable oil, for frying (may need more or less)

Sauce

1 (10 1/2 ounce) cans condensed cream of chicken soup

1 cup milk

Directions

Mix well the chicken, soup, stuffing mix, egg, onion, and celery. Refrigerate for 3 hours minimum.

Create a ‘log’ shape from about 3/4 cup of mixture. Gently drop onto the counter to flatten the bottom to form a traditional ‘cone’ shape. (about 3″ high, 2″ in diameter), or form patties for a simpler method.

Roll croquettes in bread crumbs. (At this point, you can freeze them for up to two months or cover them and place them in the fridge overnight to serve the following day. Just bring them to room temperature when ready to use if frying them).

Fry in about 1/4″ of oil in skillet over medium heat turning occasionally till golden brown on all sides and bottom, about 10-15 minutes. For a healthier version, they can be baked at 350F for about 25-30 min (from the freezer, bake 45-50 minutes).

MAKE THE SAUCE: In a small saucepan, stir the remaining can of soup with milk, stirring until warmed and creamy.

Countdown to Christmas – Italian Wedding Soup

10 Days until Christmas

The final Christmas countdown is here. Hope you have all gotten a good jump on your holiday shopping. It’s a gray rainy day here in the Northeast, I have just a few more things to put together for the holidays so on days like this I want a meal that will warm me up but is fast and easy. I just love a good bowl of soup that won’t take all day to cook when I’m busy.
Here are two ways to make this soup, one is quick and easy the other requires just a bit more prep work but either are simple and delicious.

Simple Italian Wedding Soup
This is the standard version of the recipe
Meatballs
1/2 lbs lean ground beef*
1 egg, slightly beaten egg
2 tablespoons fine dry bread crumbs
1 tablespoon grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 teaspoon EACH dried basil leaves and onion powder
Soup
2 32 oz cartons of chicken broth
2 cups thinly sliced fresh escarole or spinach*
1/2 cup (about 3 oz.) Orzo or Acini de pepe (small size soup pasta), uncooked
1/3 cup finely chopped carrot
Grated Parmesan cheese (Optional)

In medium bowl, combine meat, egg, bread crumbs, cheese and seasonings;
shape into 3/4-inch balls. In large saucepan, heat broth to boiling;
stir in meatballs, escarole or spinach, orzo and carrot. Return to a boil;
reduce heat to medium. Cook at a slow boil 10 minutes or until orzo
is tender and meatballs are heated through, stirring frequently.
Serve sprinkled with grated Parmesan cheese and serve with a nice crusty bread for dipping in the soup.
4 to 6 servings

*The quick and easy version is to use * 1 lb (about 30 meatballs in a package) of frozen Italian meatballs in place of making meatballs and substitute 1 10 oz. package of frozen chopped spinach for fresh escarole or spinach.

A nip in the air…Pasta Fagioli

It’s holiday season and the cool temps are here in full force in the Northeast. Over the last six months I jumped on the band wagon and fell in love with the Instant Pot. I started to convert some of my favorite recipes so they could be made in the Instant Pot. One of my favorites is Pasta Fagioli and it turned out fantastic and a lot less time then cooking it on the stove. So If you are looking for a hearty meal soup this is it. You can have this meal on the table within an hour from start to finish.

Pasta Fagioli in the IP

Pasta Fagioli with Sausage

for the Instant Pot

Made in a 6 Qt. Duo Instant Pot

Ingredients

2 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
1 lb. Italian sausage, sweet, hot or a mix of both. Take out of the casing and break up into bits
1 medium yellow onion, finely chopped
2 medium carrots, peeled and finely chopped
2 ribs celery, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
Kosher salt & freshly ground black pepper to taste
2 15-oz. cans Great Northern Beans (do not drain)
1 15-oz. can diced tomatoes
4 cups of chicken broth
1 ½ teaspoons of Italian Seasoning
1 1/2 cups Ditalini pasta (or other small shape like shells)
Freshly grated Parmesan (optional)

Directions

In the IP press Sauté wait until it reads Hot the add oil and heat.
Add sausage meat and cook, breaking up with a wooden spoon, until cooked through, about 5-7 minutes.
Stir in onion, carrots and celery and cook until slightly softened, about 5 minutes.
Add garlic and cook until fragrant, 1 minute more.
Season with salt and pepper to taste
Add chicken broth, beans (with their liquid), diced tomatoes, and Italian Seasoning.
Mix and scrape the bottom to loosen any bits so they don’t stick.
Stir in Ditalini pasta.
Press cancel, then set IP to High Pressure and timer for 4 minutes
Do a Quick Release when done.
Stir, taste and adjust seasoning if necessary.
Serve in bowls garnished with Parmesan Cheese (optional)                                               Serve with some nice crusty Italian bread.

Easy Cooking Sunday’s – The Instant Pot

The last several weekends have been busy so no special meal preparation. We went away to open our summer place in the Pocono’s two weeks ago, then last weekend was Mother’s Day and the family insisted I shouldn’t cook. This weekend is filled with chores so I need an easy peasy meal for dinner. I’ll put on a loaf of bread for the weeks lunches in the bread baker and put dinner in the Instant Pot so I won’t have to bother babysitting while it cooks and I can get some things accomplished.

I’d been putting off from buying an Instant Pot for several years, I just felt I really didn’t need one. The more I read about how I could make some easy put together recipes that didn’t take as long as it would on the stove or oven I decided to go for it. Preparing dinner on a weeknight sometimes takes far too long after a long day at work and heck it’s all in one pot so less dishes. I have found with the slow cookers of recent years that the cooking time is shorter being they now cook at a higher temperature. Doesn’t work for me with the 10 hours I’m out for work and commute time, I didn’t like the thought of warm food sitting on the counter for hours until I got home. So I took the plunge and ordered a 6 Qt IP Duo. There are a ton of IP recipes out there and lots of helpful folks on the FB Instant Pot Community group.

My 6 Qt Duo

I keep trying new recipes each time I use the IP. So far no disappointments.

Today’s dinner will be IP BBQ Ribs, I’ll let you know how they turn out.

Here are some of my cooking adventures with the IP. One day I will tackle that cheesecake everyone in the group has been making that looks so delicious.

 

Above left to right: Zuppa Toscana, Chili with Beef and Beans, Creamy Tomato Basil Soup, Chicken Teriyaki and Pot Roast with baby red potatoes, carrots and mushrooms.