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by on January 26th, 2015

White Bean Soup with Ham

Don’t you love having a leftover ham bone to cook!



Ya, know what I love about buying a ham, baking it, glazing it, slicing it and eating it? Well, it’s the bone that is left over.

A couple of weeks ago we had dinner at a friend’s house and she made a great white bean soup. That got me thinking about a bean soup I use to make years ago; so I decided to dig out my old recipe, dust it off and use that ham bone for something other than just a pot of beans. For my recipe I use to add chopped fresh tomatoes but this time I added a can of Rotel and we really liked the results.

After any “ham holiday” I always wrap my bone (I leave a lot of meat on it) and throw it in the freezer. Then one day when I’m cleaning out my freezer I find this wonderful gift wrapped piece of meat.

Normally a ham bone always meant a pot of beans. But, many years ago I took a class where we made bean soup. Wow, I thought, something added to that pot of beans makes a delicious soup and this has become my favorite soup to make with a ham bone and I really think I like it better than just a plain old pot of beans.

I guess you could always throw a ham bone in a pot of split peas, lentils or even black eyed peas; but then you just have a pot of peas. What do you do with your leftover ham bone? And, I hope you don’t say I buy boneless.

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by on January 20th, 2015

Zucchini White Chicken Lasagna

I love anything with a creamy béchamel sauce.



Fifteen Spatulas  gets all the credit for this recipe and if it weren’t for all the hours I spend looking around on the computer I would have never come across this blog. This is a blog that I bookmarked a couple of years ago because I liked her recipes and food pictures.

No pasta noodles in this lasagna; it’s full of grilled zucchini strips. I upped the garlic (of course) and added some nutmeg to the sauce.

I have to say it seems like it took me a long time to make this dish but in reality probably not.  I had just come in from the store with a car full of groceries and my greens and fresh carrots I had bought at the farmer’s market. I didn’t even get the groceries put away before I started cleaning the carrots, then the beet greens and then I made the sautéed beet greens and at the same time started the sauce for this recipe, and trying to grill the zucchini at the same time.  Sometimes, I do cause my own problems.

I would say if you want to try this recipe, start with a clean kitchen, maybe slice and grill the zucchini the day before; I did have my chicken already baked and thawing from when I froze it last month. The recipe seems to be quick to throw together if you have everything done in stages.

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by on January 15th, 2015

Savory Pecans

Great with cocktails and a few other things.



When my parents were still living I always knew when we visited in the fall I would be taking home pecans; 200# was the most I ever took home.  I would have them cracked while there and knew it would take me a couple of months of shelling them before I was done for the year and we would have a freezer full to last me through all the catering events. One year, I waited a little too long to finish shelling and the pecans were in plastic bags and not a breathable mess bag so I had to dump them outside. There were so many pecans that it took the squirrels about 2 months to take them away. Guess by the time they were finished they claimed me as a friend for life. Now, why do I still like those pesky little critters.

I will always remember when we were visiting at the right time of the year, with a yard full of pecans (they had about 6 trees), we would walk around the yard with my mother or dad picking up pecans. Now, to me, that is the most relaxing times I can remember. Picking up pecans are like searching for those hidden Easter eggs we looked for as kids. Walk, talk, stoop, pick up, talk, walk and it was a great way of finding out things going on in their lives. Way before, I’m sure, someone invented a pecan picker-upper. My dad took a pole and attached a “slinky” to it and he would push it down on the pecan and the slinky would pick it up and when the slinky was full enough it would get dumped in a bucket. I really miss those moments and I cannot look at a pecan in a shell and not think of their place in Tennessee. We always thought our dad was a renaissance man and one day I’m posting all the remarkable things I remember about him.

I no longer get those pecans so when I do have some given to me by my sister, I hoard them and use sparingly.

There are a lot of savory nut recipes out there and one of my favorites is The Best Bar Nuts in NYC that was printed in a Union Square Cookbook. I love those but the recipe below I use only pecans when making it and they are so easy to make. These can be eaten as is or chop and put in a salad. The original recipe I started with did not have the sugar; I decided to add it to add a little sweetness to use in my salad.

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by on January 10th, 2015

Sauteed Cabbage and Kale

Start the New Year off with a lot of greens.



Did you start your New Year off with black eyed peas and cabbage?  And, did you add in some hog jowl.  I love Southern traditions and I would never think of NOT eating those foods on New Years day.  I need all the luck I can get.

The black eyed peas are eaten for luck and I have read that if you want to have good luck every day, you must eat at least 365 peas. Not sure if I got that many peas into my mouth, but I tried. The cabbage greens represent money and who wouldn’t want more money in the new years.  The truth about the cabbage or other greens is probably the fact that they are late garden crops and may have been the last thing left in the garden at the end of the year to put on the table.

Friends came over for New Years day and she brought the BEP and cabbage so I had some in the refrigerator that had not been cooked. I had the intentions on New Years day of adding in some baby kale and instead of boiling my cabbage I was going to sauté it. So, by Monday I was ready to cook my peas and cabbage and knew that we were going to the movie and even though we always eat popcorn, we are always hungry when we get home. What better to rewarm than a pot of peas and some sautéed cabbage.

My secret ingredient to this recipe is Bangkok Blend spice from Penzeys Spices that a friend gave me for Xmas. I did maybe 1/4 teaspoon of the blend and it really transformed the cabbage dish to something a little more special. Maybe that means I will get a little more money than normal this year.  Oh, I forgot, I do get 1.5% increase on my social security check. I will try not to spend it all in one place.

If, you have not tried sautéing cabbage (instead of boiling it), give it a try, it’s quicker and retains more of the green color and for this recipe the kale just barely cooks.

Here is what is in the Penzey Spice Bangkok Blend in case you can’t find it –ancho chili pepper,garlic, ginger, Tellicherry black pepper, galangal, crushed red pepper, lemon grass, cayenne, paprika, basil and cilantro. Wow, that’s a lot of stuff in one little jar.

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by on January 5th, 2015

Southwest Pasta with Black Beans and Cotija Cheese

You can never have too many pasta recipes. 




Doesn’t it seem like when we are invited to a dinner or potluck it’s hard to come up with something different to make. I know I have a problem and I’ve been cooking for a very long time. I’m always in search for something unusual that someone else might not show up with. And, when it comes to pasta dishes it seems like you see the same ingredients — tomatoes, peppers, onions etc. I really like the idea of the enchilada sauce in this recipe mixed with the yogurt or sour cream and then the addition of the Cotija cheese and green olives.

This is a great room temperature pasta main dish, side dish, or I guess it could pass for a pasta salad. Either way, it’s delicious.

The colors from this pasta blend from Pappardelle’s come from blue corn flour, red chili peppers, green jalapeño, dried spinach, paprika, grape skins extract and some turmeric. I really wanted the pasta to retain the beautiful colors even though it might be covered up with the enchilada sauce mixture; but it did not.

In our area this pasta is sold at Berings hardware in Houston, but they also sell in farmer’s markets across the US. So check out your state to see if you have one of their vendors close to you selling in a farmer’s market or store.

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