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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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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Basics of Making Homemade Broth

– johanna | November 2nd, 2012

Filed under: RECIPES - Soup / Salad, THE BOOKSHELF

I began making homemade broth a resourceful way to utilize the  remnants of the Thanksgiving turkey. Boy, did it make some tasty soup. Thus my resolve to never buy canned soup again; and, I have held to that resolve. Brewing broth used to be a once a year rite of Thanksgiving. Then throughout the year each time we baked a whole chicken the carcass and innards went into the stew pot with water. Over the years I started buying more whole chickens. I roasted them whole or cut them into the various parts to use in dishes throughout the week. The theory being they are cheaper that way. It was like a buy one, get one free kind of deal by making broth from left over fryer chickens.


Most often a whole chicken is boiled in water to make homemade chicken soup. Adding vegetables will give both flavor and depth to the broth. The chicken is virtually robbed of all its flavor when boiled. The best way to use boiled chicken is in soups or heavily seasoned dishes like casseroles or chicken salad.

Whole Chicken Broth:
1 fryer chicken
2 onions
1 carrot cut into large chunks
1 celery stalk, whole
2 tablespoons salt

Remove the chicken from the wrapping. Rinse throughly with water (run the water through the inside of the chicken also). Rub both the outside and inside with course salt. In a large deep pot add the fryer, vegetables,neck and gizzards (no liver) from pouch that comes inside the chicken, and salt. Add just enough water to cover by 1 to 2 inches.

Bring to a boil over medium high heat. Reduce heat and simmer for 2-3 hours or until meat falls off the bones and the bones look pale and clean. Skim the foam off the top.

Strain broth through a large mesh colander into a large bowl. Allow broth to cool. Skim the fat from the top of the broth.


Rotisseri chicken purchased from a restaurant or a chicken baked at home can be utilized to make chicken broth. Even though the wing pieces do not have much meat they will add more flavor to the broth than using just the bones. I like to add every part of the leftover chicken that has not been gnawed on.

Chicken Pieces Broth:
1 chicken carcass with bones (Include and leg and wing pieces)
Neck and gizzards (excluding the liver), if available
Vegetables: onions, celery, carrots, leeks

Place bones in a large deep pot. Add enough water to cover the bones by 1-2 inches. Bring the water to a boil over medium high heat. Reduce heat and simmer 2-3 hours until the bones are pale and clean. Skim the scum off the top.

Strain stock through a mesh colander into a large bowl. Allow broth to cool.


– Use the broth in recipes that call for chicken broth.

– When using homemade broth in soups flavor with fresh herbs, spices, and vegetables.

– To make chicken stock simmer broth 2-4 hours to reduce the liquid. Broth will become thicker with a more condensed flavor.

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Tomato Red Bean and Barley Soup

– johanna | August 3rd, 2012

Filed under: BUDGET MEALS, RECIPES - Soup / Salad

During my search for a viable Asian foods shop I came across a tasty Vietnamese restaurant whose specialty is Pho soup and a Spicy Lemongrass Chicken. The highlight though is in the way they serve the meal. The pot of boiling soup is placed in the center of the table accompanied by several smaller bowls of condiments. It sounds silly to be excited over a pot of soup and condiment bowls but it was the one thing that perked my interest in South Korean cuisine.

Every Korean meal is pretty much the same. Each person has their own bowl of rice. There is a large bowl or pot of soup in the center of the table. The smaller bowls and plates are for sauces, meats, and vegetable dishes. There is always some form of Kimchi- a meat or vegetable fermented with red pepper paste. I thought the idea of serving soup with every meal genius. Soup can be filling and if made properly very healthy. I would definitely prefer my kids asking for another ladle of soup rather than a second helping of pasta. So now I always try to have soup on hand. It comes in handy when we come home late from Karate and I have come to enjoy a small bowl for lunch.

2 tablespoons oil
1 medium onion, chopped
6 cloves garlic, chopped
1 tablespoon oregano
2 stalks celery or 1/2 teaspoon celery seed (smashed)
3 potatoes, peeled and chopped into bite sized pieces
3 carrots, sliced
1/2 yellow or red pepper, chopped
1/2 cup barley
6 cups beef, vegetable or chicken broth
1-2 (15-oz) cans diced tomatoes, or three cups fresh tomatoes, chopped
1 tablespoon Herbs from Provence or Italian Seasoning
1 (15-oz) can red kidney beans
1 (6-oz) jar marinated Artichoke hearts

Heat oil in a large stock pot over medium-high heat. Add onion and saute over medium heat until translucent. Add garlic. Saute another minute or two until fragrant. Stir in carrots, potatoes, yellow pepper, oregano and celery (or celery seed). Then pour in broth, tomatoes, barley, and herb mix. Bring to a boil over medium heat.  Boil for 10-15 minutes. Add the artichokes with marinade and beans. Bring to a boil. Continue to boil for about 25-30 minutes until soup has thickened slightly. Taste. Season with salt and pepper. Continue to simmer until the vegetables are tender.

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Greek Salad

– johanna | March 2nd, 2012

Filed under: RECIPES - Soup / Salad

Romaine lettuce, torn into bite sized pieces
Baby Mixed Greens
Tomatoes, sliced into wedges
Banana Pepper
Red Onion, sliced
Feta cheese

Toss chopped lettuce and greens in a bowl. Arrange the tomatoes, olives, peppers, cucumbers, and onion slices on top of the lettuce. Sprinkle with cheese.

Serve with Greek Salad Dressing

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Balsamic Greek Salad Dressing

– johanna | February 24th, 2012

Filed under: RECIPES - Soup / Salad

While on holiday in Florida we visited the Greek shops on the sponge docks of Tarpon Springs. We stuffed ourselves with Gyros and salad at Yianni’s and then walked off enough room for a tasty treat down the street at Hellas. If you are in the area looking for authentic Greek food then Hellas restaurant and bakery is the place to go. The chocolate baklava cheesecake was sensational. It was so rich it took three of us to finish it off.

This week when I was trying to come up with a salad to serve at my son’s Blue and Gold Banquet for Cub Scouts I decided on my Americanized version of a Greek salad with lettuce. Here is the dressing I use.

Source: Adapted from The Pioneer Woman

1/4 cup Olive Oil
2 Tablespoons Red Wine Vinegar or Balsamic vinegar
1 clove Garlic, Minced
1/4 teaspoon Salt
Freshly Ground Black Pepper
1 whole Lemon, For Squeezing

In a small bowl combine the oil, vinegar, garlic, salt and pepper. Whisk until completely blended.

Toss dressing with salad. Drizzle salad with a little lemon juice.

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Shanghainese Wonton Soup

– johanna | January 20th, 2012

Filed under: RECIPES - Soup / Salad

Wonton soup is always on the menu for Chinese New Year mostly because it is my favorite. The simple broth with a small wrapped up surprise is delicious and comforting on a cold winters day.

Dinner time topic? What would you wish for if you could have one wish?

Source: Joylicious

Makes 48-55 wontons

7 oz shrimp, shelled
14 oz ground pork
1 package wonton wrappers
1/2 egg white
1 tablespoon corn strach
1 teaspoon sesame oil
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon rice wine
1 teaspoon ginger, minced
1 teaspoon sugar

6 cups chicken stock
1/2 teaspoon white pepper
1 teaspoon sesame oil
cilantro and green onion, chopped for garnish
1 teaspoon salt

Wash the shrimp, squeeze out the excess moisture and chop coarsely. Mix together with the ground pork, egg white, cornstarch, sesame oil, salt, sugar, rice wine and ginger. Take your wonton wrappers and wrap them in a moist towel, this keeps the wrappers from drying out. Wrap one teaspoon filling in each wonton wrapper. You can fold them as the way I’ve shown or just gather and twist the edges together to form a little purse.

Bring the chicken stock and salt and white pepper to a boil and pour into a soup bowl. Bring 5 cups of water to a boil and drop in the wontons. Cook until the wontons rise to the top, about 5 minutes. Remove the wontons from the water and place in the prepared chicken broth. Top with scallions, cilantro and drizzle with sesame oil. Serve immediately.

***** A trick my mom would always use to adjust the flavorings for the filling is she would make a wonton and cook and taste it first. That way you’re able to adjust the flavorings according to your taste (i.e. add more salt to the filling or more sugar or more wine).

***** My mom use to steam the wontons and then place them in the broth. This keeps the wontons from falling apart and becoming over cooked. If you choose to steam the wontons you can use a bamboo steamer (as pictured) and steam for 10 minutes on high heat. You can also eat the wontons plain without the broth and serve them alongside a dipping sauce.

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Chicken Chili

– johanna | January 13th, 2012

Filed under: RECIPES - Soup / Salad

Photo: Property of “Not Without Salt

Chicken chili is what you get when chicken cacciatori is on the menu, but the masses demand chili. My children tend to shy away from soups with excessive amounts of broth. They would much prefer a heartier stew or chili.

As with most chili recipes this one also has some kick to it. It is just perfect for my milder taste buds. However, if you think it is not hot enough increase the red pepper flakes to 1/2 – 1 teaspoons.

Source: Not Without Salt
2 large yellow onions, medium dice
2 tablespoons butter
3 cloves garlic, finely minced
2 red bell peppers, cored, seeded, and large-diced
2 yellow bell peppers, cored, seeded, and large-diced
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon dried red pepper flakes, or to taste
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper, or to taste
2 teaspoons kosher salt
2 (28-ounce) cans diced tomatoes
2 (15-ounce) cans black beans
1/4 cup minced cilantro stems
3 cups chicken cooked, shredded

Cook the onions in the butter over medium-low heat for 10 to 15 minutes, until translucent. Add the garlic and cook for 1 more minute. Add the bell peppers, chili powder, cumin, red pepper flakes, cayenne, and salt. Cook for 1 minute. Add diced tomatoes and their juice to the pot. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer, uncovered, for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Add cooked chicken, black beans and cilantro stems to the chili and simmer, uncovered, for another 20 minutes. Serve with the cilantro and sour cream.

– Add 2 diced celery sticks
– Replace the black beans with white beans and kidney beans.
– Omit the bell peppers substituting 3 stalks celery finely chopped.
– This recipe works great with leftover turkey from the holiday.
– For a vegetarian version omit the chicken and add 1/2 cup lentils.

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Spinach Cobb Salad

– johanna | January 6th, 2012

Filed under: RECIPES - Soup / Salad

Cobb salads have always been my favorite. The egg, bacon, lettuce and dressing taste so satisfying and filling. We were in the rut of serving lettuce with carrots and celery for so long salads became really boring. I have since tried to remember that a salad is just another way of eating a sandwich. Anything you would put on a sandwich could be combined to make a salad.

Cobb salads traditionally consist of boiled egg, meats and cheeses. I love a sprinkle of blue cheese and a couple slices of beets.

Egg, sliced
Red Onion, sliced
Bacon, chopped
Ham, chopped
Mushrooms, sliced
Pine nuts
Salt and pepper

Place spinach in a large bowl. Top with egg slices, onion rings, ham, bacon, mushrooms, and nuts. Season with salt and pepper. Drizzle with a little vinegar and oil.

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Herb Salad with Orange Vinaigrette

– johanna | December 30th, 2011

Filed under: RECIPES - Soup / Salad

Salads can be an impressive addition to a dinner party menu. I brought this salad to a Christmas party recently to rave reviews. I love the contrasting red, green and orange colors in this wintery orange salad. I tried a simple oil and vinegar dressing the first time I bought the salad mix. The garlic The salad mix has a bitter bite so the dressing did not win me over. I like the sweetness of the orange vinaigrette much better. The dressing is subtle but adds just enough flavor to compliment the herbs.

1 package mixed baby greens and herb salad mix
1/2 cup walnuts, toasted
1/3 cup crumbled blue cheese
1/2 red onion, thinly sliced
2 tablespoons sunflower seeds
1 large orange
Orange Vinaigrette

Spread walnuts out on a baking sheet. Bake at 350 degrees for 5 minutes.

Pour salad mix into a large bowl. Sprinkle with cooled walnuts, blue cheese, and seeds. Arrange onion rings and orange wedges on top. Toss with vinaigrette before serving.

Orange Vinaigrette:
1/2 cup juice from 1 to 2 oranges
1 shallot, sliced
1-1/2 cups olive oil
1 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

In a small bowl, add orange juice and shallot. Slowly drizzle the olive oil, whisking constantly to emulsify. Season with salt and pepper. Mix again before adding to salad.

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