Potato Ham Chowder

– johanna | May 17th, 2013

Filed under: RECIPES - Soup / Salad

I had never made ham stock before. It was just as simple as making chicken broth, throw the bone in a pot cover with water and boil. Add some veggies for additional flavor. Ham stock is surprisingly rich. Make sure to skim off as much fat as possible. You could reduce the 5 cups of ham stock by a couple cups replacing the two cups with water.

Source: Adapted from Yellow Swirl
1/2 onion, diced
4 carrots, diced
4 celery stalks, diced
4-5 large potatoes, diced
5 cups water or ham stock
2-3 cups chopped ham
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 cup chopped broccoli
3 tablespoons minced shallots, or onion
3/4 cups rice flour, or all purpose flour
3 1/2 cups half-and-half, or milk
1 cup chicken stock or broth
Salt and pepper, to taste

Put ham stock in a pot, add onions, carrots, celery and potatoes. Simmer over med heat until veggies are soft, about 20 min.

Meanwhile, melt 2 tablespoons butter in a sauce pan over medium heat. Add 1 cup broccoli and 3 tablespoons minced shallots. Sauté until shallots are tender. Whisk flour into the chicken stock to make a slurry. Pour both the stock and milk into the sauce pan whisking constantly. Season with salt and pepper. Purée the broccoli soup if desired.

When the veggies are tender, add the soup mixture and the ham.

Bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Turn heat down and simmer for about 20-30 more minutes, until potatoes are desired tenderness. Taste and season with salt and/or pepper if needed.

To make the ham stock, put your leftover hambone in a large pot and add an onion, a celery stalk, a bay leaf or two and some parsley. Cover with water, bring it to a boil then reduce heat to a simmer. Simmer it for several hours until all the meat has fallen off the bone. Remove any white foamy stuff that forms on top of the water. Strain out all the cooked bits and reserve the liquid. That’s your ham stock.

Try adding some sweet potatoes in addition to white potatoes for a flavor variation.

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Homemade Ranch Dip

– johanna | May 3rd, 2013

Filed under: RECIPES- Condiments

Ranch Dressing

I have never liked the stuff in the green and white bottles labeled as Ranch Dressing. You have to question a substance that does not rinse off the plate easily. If it has to be scrubbed off a surface I can’t imagine what it is doing to the inside the body.

We switched to an organic ranch dressing without the chemicals and soy, the way nature intended- with real food. I had to drive 30 minutes to the only store around that carried it. Needless to say the family had to endure eating their veggies without it. I was looking at the bottle one day and thought, you know I can make this stuff. It is only some herbs and buttermilk. How hard can it be?

Several recipes later… the only part I do not like is the addition of mayo. I tried making it with all yogurt and some lemon juice. That did not end so well. I also wanted to use ingredients that I will almost always have on hand. Based on that criteria alone the use of buttermilk was ruled out. Chef John’s recipe was a unanimous hit with the kids. Dad and I however, did not like that it had too much mayo flavor. I cut out a couple tablespoons but ideally I like to use use 1/3 cup mayo and 1 1/4 cup greek yogurt. I dislike using the mayo but I have yet to figure out how to replace the flavor it lends.

If you are looking for a good homemade recipe to wean the kids on then this is a good start. Normally I use the variations listed below- milk and vinegar vs buttermilk, oregano in place of the dried and fresh herbs. It is what I have on hand. Once I master the mayo problem I will list it under variations.

Source: adapted from Chef John
1/3 cup plain greek yogurt or sour cream
1 1/4 cup mayonnaise
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1 tablespoon minced fresh Italian parsley
2 teaspoons sliced fresh chives
1/4 teaspoon dried tarragon
1 pinch cayenne pepper
1/4 teaspoon ground pepper
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup buttermilk

Mix all ingredients together in bowl. Serve with cold fresh vegetables, or thin out dip with a few splashes of buttermilk to make ranch dressing.

Tip: for thicker dip reduce the amount of buttermilk slightly.

yield: 1 1/2 cups

– I prefer 1/3 cup mayo to 1 1/4 cup greek yogurt.
– If using real onion use 1/4 cup minced.
– If you do not have parsley, chives and tarragon, sub a teaspoon dried oregano.
– Replace buttermilk with 1 teaspoon white vinegar and enough milk to make 1/3 cup.

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Pork Tacos

– johanna | April 12th, 2013

Filed under: RECIPES - Main Dish

Pork Tacos

I made pork loin one Sunday for dinner with the intentions of utilizing the leftovers through out the week in various dishes. In our home leftover meat is reincarnated in three ways: tacos or enchiladas, salad, soup, stir fry, and occasionally on pizza. These taste just like the tacos served at our favorite Mexican cantina. You can use the same recipe with beans for a vegetarian version.

1-2 teaspoons olive oil
1 medium red onion, diced
About 4 cups leftover diced pork (or use fresh if you have no leftovers, just increase the cooking time)
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp chili powder
salt & pepper to taste
corn tortillas
vegetable oil for frying
cilantro, lime, & shredded cheese to garnish (optional)

Heat the olive oil in a skillet, and saute the onions until translucent. Add the diced pork and sprinkle with the seasonings; stir well to coat. Cook for 6-8 minutes on medium heat until thoroughly warmed.

In a separate pan, heat enough vegetable oil to cover the bottom of the pan on medium-high heat. Fry the corn tortillas 1 minute on each side. Drain on paper towels.

Serve with pico de gallo.

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Hot Fudge Chocolate Sauce

– johanna | April 5th, 2013

Filed under: RECIPES - Treats, RECIPES- Condiments

Hot Fudge Sauce

We hosted an ice cream sundae party not too long ago at the behest of my daughter. We made salted caramel sauce, hot fudge sauce, whipped cream. chopped almonds and peanuts, When I want to make chocolate sauce I turn to non other than David Lebovitz. His chocolate sauce recipe is amazing drizzled over crepes. This time I wanted something like fudge sauce. This recipe fit the bill perfectly. Spread it on cupcakes or use it to make s’mores.

Source: Maya Made
1/2 cup butter
4 ounces semi-sweet chocolate
1/2 cup cocoa
1/2 cup sugar
1 cup light cream
1 teaspoon vanilla

1. In a heavy sauce pan melt the butter and chocolate together.
2. Mix the cocoa with the 1/4 cup sugar and stir in. Add the cream, the the remaining 1/4 cup sugar. Bring mixture to a boil, stirring constantly to prevent scorching.
3. Remove from heat immediately and add vanilla. Cool, then Refrigerate.

* Heat before serving by placing container in pan of hot water until sauce reaches pouring consistency. Should keep for 1-2 weeks.

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Sour Cream Sugar Cookies with Buttercream Frosting

– johanna | March 22nd, 2013

Filed under: RECIPES - Treats

Every year for the past four years my son has requested a clone trooper/Star Wars cake for his birthday. This year began no differently. However, as the date of his birth approached I had a strange request for a birthday cake. He no longer wanted a Star Wars cake. Instead he wanted sugar cookies. Yes, plain old white sugar cookies with white frosting.

Sour cream sugar cookies are fluffy and cake like, a little more special occasion-ish. He has already requested another cookie cake next year. I used the other half of dough to make heart shaped Valentine’s Day cookies for my son’s preschool. I mixed a little raspberry jam into the frosting for coloring. It was really sweet so I think next time I will use fresh strawberries without the added sugar.

Source: Adapted from Recipe Secrets
6 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
1 cup butter, room temperature
2 cups sugar
3 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla
1½ cups plain greek yogurt or sour cream

1 cup butter, room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla
4 cups powdered sugar
Pinch of salt
6 tablespoons heavy cream or milk

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt; set aside.

In another bowl, cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating until each is incorporated. Add the vanilla extract and sour cream and beat at low speed until combined.

Add the dry ingredients and beat at low speed until just combined, scraping down the bowl as needed. Dough will be sticky. Divide dough in half. Flatten into discs, then wrap with plastic wrap. Chill in the refrigerator overnight or for at least two hours.

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.

On a lightly floured surface roll dough out to ¼-inch thickness. Cut the dough into desired shapes using cookie cutters or a knife. Place on baking sheets. Bake for 5-7 minutes, until cookies set and cooked through. Immediately transfer cookies to a wire rack to cool. Cool cookies completely before frosting.

Cream together the butter and vanilla. Slowly beat in powdered sugar and the pinch of salt; beating until smooth and creamy. Add heavy cream, one tablespoon at a time, beating at medium-high speed for a minute or two until light and fluffy.

Store in an air-tight container.

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Bean Sprout Soup

– johanna | March 15th, 2013

Filed under: RECIPES - Soup / Salad

Kongnamulguk is one of my favorite Korean soups. It is said to be very beneficial for colds and hangovers. It was really hard to find the bean sprouts at the local supermarket. At first they did not sell them. Then once they started carrying them (and jars of Kimchi) they were always out. Guess a lot of people like bean sprouts. One day I was grocery shopping and happened to see they were in stock. I grabbed a couple of bags and revamped my menu for Wednesday (Asian night) to include bean sprout soup. Yum!

It took many attempts to finally get it right. I started with the broth from a wonton soup recipe as a base, but something was always missing. I do not like using soy sauce (too many ingredients to be called all-natural). My friend from the Philippines suggested using fish sauce, anchovies, or extra salt. Fish sauce is super powerful. A little goes a long way. Just do not smell the stuff and you will be fine. The mushrooms were essential in giving the soup a rich flavor. Bean sprout soup is satisfying for both breakfast or dinner. Serve with a small cup of rice (optional).

2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon sesame oil
3 cups soybean sprouts, washed
6 cups water or broth
1/2 medium onion, sliced
5 to 7 mushrooms, sliced
1 to 1 1/2 teaspoon salt
1 scallion or bunch of chives (optional garnish)

In a medium-sized pot, saute garlic in soy sauce and sesame oil over medium heat for 2-3 minutes.

Add water and bean sprouts, onion, mushrooms, and salt; bring to a boil over high heat.

Reduce to low heat and simmer for 25-30 minutes. Add green onions and immediately take off heat.

Variations: These variations can all be used simultaneously.
– 1/2 cup kelp (remove before serving). Add with water.
– 7 large dried anchovies (intestines removed) or use dried kelp. Add with water.
– For spicy soup add 1 tablespoon Korean red pepper powder (kochukaru) 5 minutes before turning off heat OR use 1/2 tablespoon dried hot pepper flakes- add with water.
– Roasted sesame seeds, ground in a grinder. Sprinkle to garnish just before serving.
– Boiled egg, sliced. Place on top just before serving.

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Chinese Eggrolls

– johanna | March 8th, 2013

Filed under: RECIPES - Appetizer

It has never crossed my mind to make homemade eggrolls. I guess for me eggrolls are part of the experience of eating at a Chinese restaurant. When I saw this recipe just in time for Superbowl, well it seemed like a good time for a little adventure.

Jaden from the Steamy Kitchen stresses only using frozen eggroll wrappers and NOT the kind in the produce section of the grocery store. Which is exactly the kind I picked up because I failed to read the recipe completely. They were still delicious. They were not a lighter crispy eggroll, more like the bumpy doughy kind; but still delicious. I used half of the filling to make the eggrolls and the other half of the filling to make wontons for wonton soup. You can even use some of the unused wrappers to make fried cream cheese wontons.

Source: Steamy Kitchen

50 Spring/Egg Roll Wrappers (about 2 packages), defrosted unopened at room temperature for 45 minutes or in the refrigerator overnight
1 tablespoon rice flour or cornstarch
¼ cup of cool water
Oil, for frying

1 pound ground pork
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 teaspoon rice flour or corn starch
freshly ground black pepper

2 to 3 cloves garlic, very finely minced
½ head of cabbage (about 11 ounces)
3 carrots, shredded
1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger
10 fresh shiitake mushrooms (or dried black mushrooms soaked overnight), stems discarded
1 tablespoon cooking oil
1 tablespoon Chinese rice wine
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon sesame oil
Freshly ground black pepper

Filling: combine the ground pork, tablespoon soy sauce, teaspoon flour, and season with pepper. Marinate at least 10 minutes.

In the meantime, shred the cabbage and the carrots using your food processor or grater. Slice the mushrooms into very thin strips (or you could use your food processer and pulse a few times to get a fine dice.

Heat a wok or large saute pan over high heat. Add the cooking oil and swirl to coat. Add the pork and stir-fry until no longer pink, about 2-3 minutes. Turn heat to medium-low, push the meat to one side of the pan. Add the garlic, cabbage, carrots, ginger and the mushrooms and stir-fry for 1 minute, until the vegetables are softened. Add the rice wine, soy sauce, sesame oil and black pepper. Continue to stir-fry for another minute. Scoop out the filling to a baking sheet and spread out to cool. Prop up one end of the baking sheet so that it tilts and will allow all the liquid to drain to one end. Let cool for 15 minutes. Discard all of the accumulated juices. Use paper towels to blot the filling to rid of extra oil or juice.

IMPORTANT: Only use 1 heaping tablespoon of filling for each egg roll. These are slender egg rolls, the width of the egg roll should only be 1.25″ diameter.

Keep the rolled egg rolls in neat, single layer and covered with plastic wrap to prevent drying. If you want to stack the egg rolls, make sure you have layer of parchment paper in between the layers to prevent sticking. Keep wrappers also covered with plastic wrap to prevent drying. Refrigerate up to 4 hours until ready to fry or freeze.

To fry the egg rolls, fill a wok or pot with 2 inches of high-heat cooking oil. Heat the oil to 350°F (175°C) or until a cube of bread will fry to golden brown within 10 seconds. Gently slide in or lower the egg rolls, frying 4 to 6 at a time, turning occasionally until golden brown about 1½ minutes. Place on wire rack to drain and cool.

NOTE: To fry frozen egg rolls, do not defrost the egg rolls – just add them to the oil frozen, frying 4 to 6 at a time. Add an additional 1½ minutes to the frying time since they are frozen.

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Lemon Ginger and Honey Hot Toddy

– johanna | March 1st, 2013

Filed under: RECIPES - Beverage

When I first feel the tickle of post nasal drip itching the back of my throat I massage a combo of peppermint, eucalyptus, tea tree, and lemon essential oils on my neck and chest. Then I make myself a mug of hot toddy. Nursing a cup of lemon and ginger tea sweetened with a touch of honey is both comforting and soothing on those first few days of a cold when all I want is to snuggle in my warm blanket.

Traditionally a hot toddy is made using a shot of whiskey, (brandy, or rum) in a base of warm water (tea, or apple cider) and then flavored with lemon and honey. You can also add all sorts of spices such as cinnamon or anise.
The amounts of each ingredient are really a matter of taste. I like more lemon and ginger than honey. My kids like it sweeter. The following recipe is for a non-alcoholic version.

Makes 2 servings
1 cup boiling water
1/2 teaspoon fresh ginger slices
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons honey

Bring water and sliced ginger (and any other spices) to a boil. Press the ginger slices to extract liquid. Stir in lemon juice and honey. Adjust to taste. Strain tea into two mugs.

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Salted Caramel Sauce

– johanna | February 8th, 2013

Filed under: RECIPES- Condiments

One day while Adelin and I were playing barbies we were invaded by three halo men and a lego guy. This real life toy story world of army men, lego guys, and barbies coexisting is a common senario in our home. Apparently it was the lego captain’s birthday. So we gathered all the barbie food that included a turkey, a two layer wedding cake, a banana sundae, and an empty bowl that we pretended had a salad. While the girls were getting ready for the birthday party the house was attacked by bad guys. The lego captain lead his halo men on the mission of protecting the barbie house and its occupants. After a few skillful karate moves the house was secure. During the battle some of the food, cups, and utensils fell off the table. As we were cleaning things up to start the party again, Adelin asks me if we can make a banana sundae just like the fake sundae she was holding in her hand.

Maybe it is un-American but, I have never liked banana sundaes. I do not like bananas in general much less cold bananas. The thought of having sundaes sounded fun so, we decided to invite some friends over for movie night and sundaes, with or without bananas.

Prep Time: 2 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 17 minutes
Yield: 1 1/2 cups

Source: Lick My Spoon
1 cup sugar
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into chunks
1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
1/4 cup water
1 1/2 teaspoons sea salt

Heat sugar and water in a saucepan over medium-high heat; stirring constantly to dissolve sugar. Bring to a boil. Do not stir once it comes to a boil.

Boil until the liquid turns a dark amber color or about 350 degrees on a candy thermometer.

(If using a non-stick pot the edges might turn dark amber before the center. If this happens swirl the pan a bit but refrain from stirring. If you do not have a thermometer boil until most of the liquid is amber and it starts to smell like it is burning. Remove the pan from the heat before stirring in the butter, then the cream.)

When the liquid sugar turns a dark amber color, add all the butter to the pan. The mixture will foam up and thicken. Whisk until the butter has melted. Once the butter has melted, take the pan off the heat.

Add the cream to the pan (the mixture will foam up again) and continue to whisk to incorporate.

Add the sea salt and whisk until caramel sauce is smooth.

Let cool in the pan for a couple minutes, then pour into a glass jar and let cool to room temperature. Sauce will thicken as it cools.

Store in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks. Warm before serving.

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Raspberry Lemonade

– johanna | February 1st, 2013

Filed under: RECIPES - Beverage

Last fall when I was Florida my mom took us to a quaint Tea House for lunch. The food was absolutely amazing. We dined on scones with clotted cream, pineapple compote and strawberry preserves, and a cold strawberry soup for appetizers. For the main course I had the apple cherry chicken with brie and steamed vegetables. Devine. To top it all off dessert was a heart shaped puff pastry with cherry filling, whipped cream, and chocolate sauce. To drink we had water and raspberry lemonade.

For years I have been dreaming about hosting monthly tea parties. I love playing dress up and thought it would be a real hoot to wear fancy hats like they do in the social circles of London. What fun it would be to decorate our hats with bits of flowers, ribbon, or lace like the Bennett ladies on Pride and Prejudice. I was delighted when my daughter asked to have a tea party for her birthday. We found some frilly frocks at the thrift store for each of the girls to wear. I rummaged through my costume boxes for gloves and lace shawls. Instead of decorating hats they made pearl necklaces. As for the food I knew instantly we had to serve raspberry lemonade and tea sandwiches.

Source: Dawn’s Recipes
1 cup fresh squeezed lemon juice (from about 4 lemons)
3/4 cup sugar
1 cup fresh or frozen raspberries
5 cups cold water (adjust to taste)
3 cups ice

In a blender, combine lemon juice, sugar, and raspberries. Purée for several seconds, making sure sugar has dissolved.

Place raspberry-lemon mixture in a pitcher. Stir in the cold water and add ice.

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