Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Leftover Christmas Ham? Make Ham and Potato Soup!

I made a ham for Christmas and even after sending some home with my guests, still had a decent amount left. This was a quick and easy way to use it up.

Serves 6

1 Tbsp. olive oil
1 medium onion, diced
1 stalk celery, diced
4 medium russet potatoes, peeled and diced (1/2" dice)
1 c. diced, cooked ham
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. pepper
3 1/2 c. chicken broth
3 Tbsp. butter
3 Tbsp. flour
1 3/4 c. milk
Optional:  1 tsp. Penzey's Northwoods seasoning

1.  Heat the olive oil in a dutch oven, or other large pot, over medium heat.  Add the onion and celery and cook for 4-8 minutes until the onion is just starting to brown.

2.  Add the potatoes, ham, salt, pepper, and chicken broth.  Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and cook for 15 minutes, or until potatoes are tender (a paring knife should slip easily in and out.)

3.  Melt the butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Whisk in the flour and cook for 1-2 minutes.

4.  While flour and butter is cooking, microwave the milk on high power for 45 seconds.  Whisk the heated milk and optional seasoning  into the butter and flour mixture.  Cook for 3-5 minutes, or until slightly thickened.  Congratulations! You've just made a roux, a thickener for soups and stews.

5.  Mix the roux into the dutch oven.  Cook soup over low heat for 1-2 minutes and serve

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Merry Christmas from Abby!

Cranberry Martinis

Serves 8
4 c. cranberry juice
2 c. vodka
1/3 c. pomegranate liqueur
2 limes, juiced
1c. cranberries, frozen


Mix the cranberry juice, vodka, liqueur and lime juice in a pitcher. Refrigerate until well chilled. Pour into individual glasses and garnish with 4-5 frozen cranberries (they'll keep the drink cold instead of ice!)

Merry Christmas!

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Barbecue Chicken Pizza with Pineapple

Serves 4 (serving size – 2 slices)

2 skinless, boneless chicken breasts
1 Tbsp. olive oil
1 1/2 tsp. barbecue seasoning blend, divided (I used Penzey’s BBQ 3000.)
1 c. ketchup
¼ c. brown sugar
3 Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
2 Tbsp. apple cider vinegar
1 Tbsp. siracha
2 tsp. garlic powder
½ tsp. dried mustard
½ tsp. salt
1 pre-baked pizza crust (such as Boboli)
1 small yellow onion, sliced
1 c. chopped pineapple
½ c. shredded cheese (I used gouda, but any cheese that melts easily would work well.)
2 Tbsp. fresh cilantro, chopped

1.      Drizzle the chicken breasts with the olive oil.  Sprinkle ½ tsp. of the barbecue seasoning blend on the chicken and bake at 350⁰F for 30 minutes.  Let cool, then chop into ½ inch pieces.  Raise the oven temperature to 450⁰F.

2.     While the chicken bakes, make the barbecue sauce.  In a medium saucepan over medium-low heat, mix the remaining teaspoon of seasoning blend, ketchup, brown sugar, Worcestershire, vinegar, siracha, garlic, mustard and salt.  Bring to a simmer and cook for 5-10 minutes until slightly thickened, stirring occasionally.  Remove from heat. 

3.      Sprinkle the cooked chicken and onion over the pizza crust.  Add the barbecue sauce, top with pineapple, followed by cheese.

4.      Bake the pizza at 450⁰F for 20 minutes.  Remove from oven and top with the chopped cilantro.  Let cool 5 minutes, cut into 8 slices, and serve. 

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Pesto - The Other Pasta Sauce

Pesto is a tasty alternative to tomato sauce when you're cooking pasta. It's herby, nutty, cheesy and quick to throw together.  If you're growing your own basil, pesto is also a great way to use it up and freezes extremely well. Just pour it into a container, adda thin layer of oil to the top, and freeze.

1/3 c. extra virgin olive oil
1/2 c. chopped walnuts (see note below)
3 garlic cloves, peeled
1 c. loosely packed fresh basil leaves
1/2 c. grated parmesan cheese (parmigiano reggiano would be best)
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. pepper

Note:  Some classic pesto recipes call for pine nuts, not walnuts.  Pine nuts are ridculously expensive (around $6.00 for a 1 cup bag) and walnuts costs signifcantly less.  To me, the flavor is the same, and you're saving a lot of money!

1. Heat the oil, nuts, and garlic cloves in a skillet over medium heat.

2. While the oil is heating, place the basil, cheese, salt, and pepper in a food processor or blender.

3. When the oil starts to sizzle, remove the skillet from the heat (you're just heating the oil and lightly toasting the garlic and nuts). Add the garlic and nuts to the basil mixture. Pour the oil into a measuring cup or other container with a pourable spout.

4. Turn on the food processor/blender and let it run until the mixture is finely chopped. Slowly stream in the oil until a homogenous mixture is formed.  It should be a thin paste, not a runny sauce.

At this point, give it a taste. One of the best things about pesto is that it's very forgiving and you can play with the amount of ingredients as needed. Add more basil, salt, pepper or cheese to get it to the flavor you want. If it's too thick, stream in some more oil to loosen it up.