Ham and Split Pea Soup

Before I get too far into this post let’s take a pause and acknowledge that food like split pea soup sounds pretty unappetizing and something of the nightmares of small children – or in my case, a hesitation to try it until in my thirties.  But really – give it a try!  Set your prejudice for split peas aside for an afternoon and open your heart.  You won’t regret it.

Split Pea Soup with spoon

The inspiration for this soup comes from my dad.  Probably once a week I find myself on the phone with him swapping recipe and meal ideas, and recently admitted that for the better part of a decade I had been throwing away the ham bone after I served a ham for dinner – my dad was appalled!  He convinced me to try making a soup out of the ham bone, just once, to see how good it was.  And he wasn’t wrong!  Next time you make a ham, save that bone and all the meat on it.  If you don’t feel like making ham soup right away, the bone freezes and defrosts really well for later use. 

This recipe is a play off the America’s Test Kitchen version – here’s a quick run down of the recipe, as it’s a little lengthy and you’ll need a few hours to prepare from start to finish.

  • Ham bone is boiled in 16 cups of water, then bone is removed and meat is shredded off the bone (see the photo below)
  • Split peas are added to the stock and simmered until soft but not mushy
  • While the bone is simmering, vegetables are sautéed to be added later to the soup
  • Diced potatoes are added near the end, with the sautéed vegetables and shredded ham, and simmered just until soft

Shredded Ham

Shredded ham off the bone, after simmering in water to make stock for the soup

Split Pea Soup

This little treat is amazing served immediately, reheated the next day or even frozen and then defrosted at a later date.  Give it a try!  Hopefully this makes a split pea soup convert of you, like it did for me and encourages you to save that ham bone to make soup.

Ham & Split Pea Soup
Serves 8
This split pea soup with ham is a warm and hearty meal and is great reheated the next day.
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Prep Time
30 min
Cook Time
3 hr
Prep Time
30 min
Cook Time
3 hr
Ingredients
  1. 1 ham bone (2-3 lbs)
  2. 16 cups water
  3. 4 bay leaves
  4. 1 tsp thyme (dried)
  5. 1 lb split peas (dried)
  6. 3 T olive oil
  7. 2 white onions, diced
  8. 3 carrots, diced
  9. 3 celery ribs, diced
  10. 1 T butter
  11. 3 garlic cloves, minced
  12. 1/4 tsp white sugar
  13. 6 small new potatoes, medium diced
Instructions
  1. Place the ham bone in a large stock pot and add the water and bay leaves. Cover and heat over medium-high, bringing to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and simmer, covered, for 2.5 hours until the meat falls off the bone.
  2. Remove ham bone and meat from the stock; add the thyme leaves and split peas, stir, and simmer for 45 minutes.
  3. Let the ham meat cool, and shred it into bite-sized pieces. Set aside. Throw the bone away.
  4. While the ham is simmering, heat a large fry pan over high heat, and add the olive oil. Add the onion, carrot and celery and sauté until the vegetables begin to brown. Reduce the heat to medium-low and add the sugar, garlic and butter, stirring to combine. Continue to cook for 30-40 minutes until the vegetables are deep brown, stirring every 5 minutes. Once the vegetables are cooked, remove the heat and set aside.
  5. Once the split peas are cooked, add the sauteed vegetables, potatoes and ham to the pot. Bring the soup to a simmer and cook for 20 minutes, or until the potatoes are tender.
  6. Season with ground black pepper and serve.
Notes
  1. This soup is delicious made ahead and served the next day.
Adapted from America's Test Kitchen
Adapted from America's Test Kitchen
In Bryna's Kitchen http://www.inbrynaskitchen.com/

Baked Ziti with Sausage

Many years ago I picked up a magazine in the checkout line of the grocery store that has served as the inspiration for many good recipes over the last decade.  The magazine was geared towards “lighter fare” so I’ve tended to add back the fat to many of the original recipes, adding my own spin and more flavor.  This baked ziti is a perfect example of that and has become my favorite pasta recipe and is perfect to serve a big group – even 10 or 12 people.  It’s a delicious blend of tender pasta, spicy italian sausage, a simple homemade tomato sauce and lots of mozzarella, all baked together and topped with fresh basil and parmesan cheese.  

baked ziti with sausage 1

 

This dish is ideal to serve at night when the temperature starts to dip and you’re looking for something to warm you up, or for a Sunday football game with friends, or to deliver to a friend in need of a meal.  It’s easy to prepare in advance and bake right before serving, and the leftovers are just as good reheated the next day.

baked ziti with sausage 2

 

Baked Ziti with Sausage
Serves 10
This baked pasta dish with tomatoes, sausage and cheese is perfect to serve a crowd and can be prepared in advanced, then baked just before serving.
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Prep Time
30 min
Cook Time
30 min
Total Time
1 hr
Prep Time
30 min
Cook Time
30 min
Total Time
1 hr
Ingredients
  1. 1 pound pasta in corkscrew shape
  2. 1 pound mild italian sausage
  3. 1 onion, diced
  4. 3 cloves of garlic, minced
  5. 2 cans of petite diced tomatoes (14.5 oz each)
  6. 2 Tbsp tomato paste
  7. 1 cup shredded mozzarella
  8. 1/4 fresh basil leaves
  9. 1/4 cup shredded parmesan
  10. Salt and pepper
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Boil a large pot of water, season with water and add the pasta, cooking to the package instructions. Remove from the stove, drain, rinse and return to the large pot. Set aside.
  3. While the pasta is cooking, heat a large saucepan over medium heat, and add the sausage, breaking into small pieces.
  4. Add the onion and garlic to the sausage, and cook until the sausage is browned and the onions are translucent.
  5. Add the canned tomatoes and paste to the sausage, stirring to combine.
  6. Bring to a simmer and cover, cooking for 10 minutes, stirring 1-2 times.
  7. After 10 minutes, remove the cover from the sauce and combine with the pasta in the original large pot, stirring carefully.
  8. Prepare a large glass 9x11 baking dish by spraying with cooking spray.
  9. Add half the pasta to the pan, then top with the mozzarella cheese, then top with the remaining pasta.
  10. Bake the pasta for 30 minutes until heated through.
  11. Rough chop the basil. Serve the pasta in a large bowl, and top with chopped basil leaves and parmesan cheese.
Notes
  1. This delicious dish is easy to prepare gluten free by substituting gluten free pasta and ensuring the sausage you use is labeled as gluten free.
Adapted from Cooking Light
Adapted from Cooking Light
In Bryna's Kitchen http://www.inbrynaskitchen.com/

Lowcountry Boil

When the weather is hot and humid and I can’t dream of heating up my cool, air-conditioned home with heat from the stove or oven I’ll make just about anything that involves outdoor cooking.  Once the appeal of grilled meat and veggies from the grill wears off it forces me to be more creative about preparing outdoor meals and one of our favorite meal discoveries in the last few years is now an all-time favorite – Low Country Boil!  This meal has a few names depending on the part of the country you live in (one less appealing option: Frogmore Stew) but the components are pretty much the same – fresh shrimp, corn on the cob, kielbasa sausage, small red potatoes and an onion, and Hot Sauce and Old Bay Seasoning for flavor.  That’s it!  

Low Country Boil 4

All the ingredients are boiled in hot water (on our outdoor stove) and served on the picnic table over newspaper, no silverware required.  Or you can class things up a bit and use plates and forks… whatever floats your boat.  Great served with crusty french bread and a glass of rose.

Low Country Boil 3

 

 

Low Country Boil 1 

Lowcountry Boil
Serves 8
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Prep Time
10 min
Prep Time
10 min
Ingredients
  1. 6-8 cups of cold water
  2. 1/4 cup Old Bay Seasoning
  3. 5-10 dashes hot sauce (like Frank's Red Hot)
  4. 2 lbs small red potatoes
  5. 1 onion, peeled and cut into 8 pieces
  6. 6 cobs of corn, shucked and broken into half
  7. 1 lb kielbasa sausage, cut into 2 inch pieces
  8. 1 lb raw shrimp, deveined and with shells on
Instructions
  1. Place the water, hot sauce and Old Bay seasoning in a large pot.
  2. Heat over high heat and bring to a boil.
  3. Add the potatoes and cook for 10-15 until soft enough to pierce with a fork.
  4. Reduce the heat to medium-high, then add the onion, corn and sausage, and cook for 5 minutes.
  5. Return the water to a boil, add the shrimp and stir, then turn off the heat. The shrimp will cook quickly given the high temperature of the water.
  6. Remove the pot from the heat and let sit until the shrimp turn pink.
  7. Remove all ingredients from the pot and thoroughly drain.
  8. Serve immediately with french bread.
Notes
  1. This meal is naturally gluten free as long as you use a gluten-free kielbasa sausage - this is easier said than done so read your labels carefully!
Adapted from Men's Journal
Adapted from Men's Journal
In Bryna's Kitchen http://www.inbrynaskitchen.com/

Chicken Marsala

DSCF6767

Chicken Marsala is an Italian dinner entree made with chicken, mushrooms, shallots and wine.  While it takes a little while to prep the ingredients and cook the chicken, mushrooms and sauce, the effort is well worth it.

I don’t remember ever eating Chicken Marsala growing up and was exposed to it only a few years ago when a friend gave us a meal from one of those joints that preps all your dinner ingredients for you into packages for you to cook at home.  This gave me a pretty good idea of the basics on how to prepare this dish – coating and sautéing the chicken in seasoned flour, sautéing the mushrooms in butter and wine, and thickening the sauce with the flour that coated chicken – and after a few rounds of experimentation and some recipe research, the recipe below is now a go-to weeknight meal for us, and reheats really well for lunch the next day (if you’re into that sort of thing).

We love to eat this chicken meal on top of warm mashed potatoes – whether you choose to make those from scratch or buy a package of them prepared, potatoes add an extra element of flavor and help fill you up.

 

DSCF6768

 

Chicken Marsala
Serves 4
Chicken Marsala is a delicious meal of chicken, mushrooms and wine sauce, and can be served over mashed potatoes or with a side of vegetables.
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Prep Time
20 min
Cook Time
20 min
Total Time
40 min
Prep Time
20 min
Cook Time
20 min
Total Time
40 min
Ingredients
  1. 1 lb chicken breast, diced into bite-sized pieces
  2. 1 package (8oz) button mushrooms, cleaned and quartered
  3. 1/4 cup gluten free Bisquik OR flour
  4. 1 tsp salt
  5. 1/2 tsp pepper
  6. 1/2 tsp dried oregano flakes
  7. 4 Tbsp olive oil, divided
  8. 2 Tbsp butter
  9. 1 shallot, finely minced
  10. 2 cloves of garlic, finely minced
  11. 1/2 cup dry white wine OR Marsala wine
  12. 1 1/2 cup chicken stock
Instructions
  1. Mix Bisquik, salt, pepper and oregano in a large bowl.
  2. Clean and quarter mushrooms, setting aside in a small bowl.
  3. Finely mince both shallot and garlic, combining and setting aside in a small bowl.
  4. Dice chicken breasts into bite sized pieces, place in the bowl with the dry ingredients, and mix to coat.
  5. Heat a large pan over medium heat, coating with 2 Tbsp olive oil.
  6. Remove chicken from the bowl covered in flour and seasoning and place in the hot oiled pan.
  7. Sauté chicken until lightly browned, and remove from pan to a large dinner plate.
  8. Pour remaining 2 Tbsp olive oil into pan with 2 Tbsp butter and heat through.
  9. Add mushrooms and cook 3-5 minutes until beginning to soften and brown.
  10. Add garlic and shallot, stirring to combine with the mushrooms, and cook for 2 minutes.
  11. Pour the wine into the pan and stir to loosen the cooked bits from the bottom of the pan, bringing to a simmer.
  12. Pour the stock into the pan, stirring to combine, and bring to a simmer.
  13. Once the liquid in the pan is heated through and starting to simmer, return the chicken to the pan, stirring to coat all pieces of chicken with the sauce, and cook for 5 minutes to heat the chicken through.
  14. Serve with mashed potatoes or a side of vegetables.
In Bryna's Kitchen http://www.inbrynaskitchen.com/

Chicken Pad Thai

IMG_1759

Pad Thai from Sawatdee is one of our favorite meals so we set out to recreate it at home. We were able to find pieces of the restaurant’s original recipe online and with a few tries were able to get the flavor right. Following a great deal of recipe research and experimentation, we have found the perfect recipe.  The noodles are soft but not mushy, you can taste the egg without being overwhelmed by the flavor, and the sauce… oh the sauce.  It’s flavorful with mild heat, which can easily be turned up with the addition of more garlic chili sauce to meet your needs.

Please note that we use two 12 inch frying pans to cook this meal, so all ingredients should be prepared and put into two bowls for easy addition while cooking. If you use only one pan and cook all ingredients at one time you risk steaming the meal instead of frying it due to overcrowding of the pan.

Listen, I’ve come a long way on the path of exploring spicy food.  Two years ago I had never tasted Pad Thai for fear of the heat, and today, I cook it at home weekly with an increasing level of spice.

I’ve shared this recipe with a number of food lovers and confirmed it’s a keeper!  You won’t be disappointed.

Chicken Pad Thai
 
Recipe Type: Dinner
Cuisine: Thai
Author: Bryna Krentz
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
Serves: 6-8
Ingredients
  • MAIN INGREDIENTS
  • 1 package Thai rice noodles (14-16oz)
  • I lb chicken breast, diced into 1 inch squares
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 6 eggs, beaten, divided into two bowls
  • 1 package bean sprouts
  • 1 lemon, quartered
  • 6 green onions, diced
  • 1/2 cup salted cocktail peanuts, crushed
  • 1 lime, quartered
  • SAUCE INGREDIENTS – IMPORTANT TO DIVIDE INGREDIENTS BELOW INTO 2 BOWLS
  • 1 tsp garlic, finely minced
  • 1 tsp garlic chili sauce (red sauce found in the Asian aisle)
  • 1 tsp dried chili flakes
  • 1 Tbsp seasoned rice vinegar
  • 2 Tbsp fish sauce
  • 3 Tbsp sugar
  • This recipe makes a mild “Minnesota spicy” dish – if you prefer something hotter, add more garlic chili sauce and chili flakes.
Instructions
  1. Remove noodles from packaging and place 1/2 each in an 11×17 pan. Cover with room temperature water and let sit for 90 minutes. Test noodles for “doneness” with the “finger test” – remove a noodle from water and wrap 2-3 times around your finger. Noodle should wrap easily and not be stiff.
  2. Prepare sauce by mixing all ingredients in a bowl, or in 2 bowls, dividing ingredients equally between the two.
  3. Dice chicken and season liberally with salt.
  4. Rinse bean sprouts with water and set aside.
  5. Prep all other ingredients and set aside in 2 bowls per ingredient.
  6. Heat two 10-12″ frying pans over medium heat. Add oil and heat.
  7. Add eggs to each pan and stir constantly. Add chicken when eggs are nearly cooked through and cook 3-4 minutes until cooked through.
  8. Add noodles to each pan, then add sauce and juice of 1/4 lemon. Stir noodles to combine ingredients and cook for 2-3 minutes until sauce is absorbed.
  9. Add bean sprouts to pan, stirring to incorporate, cooking for 2-3 minutes until heated through.
  10. Add green onions and stir, cooking 2-3 minutes.
  11. Top dish with crushed peanuts and remove from heat. Let sit 5-10 minutes before serving.
  12. Serve pad thai with lemon and lime wedges, additional crushed peanuts and sriracha sauce for additional heat.
  13. Refrigerate leftovers, which reheat well the next day.
 

 

Beef and Broccoli

 

DSCF6513

I love Chinese food, but my inability to eat gluten keeps me away from most Chinese restaurants.  In an effort to revisit some of my favorite flavors without the risk of stomach pain I’ve made March the month to try new Chinese recipes… This meal is good enough to wipe out my nostalgia for take-out Asian food in a little white box.

This recipe would be great with some mushrooms added as well, if that’s your style.

DSCF6524

This meal is easiest to make if you prep the sauce first, then prep the ingredients, then sauté.

 

Beef and Broccoli
Recipe Type: Dinner
Cuisine: Chinese
Author: Bryna Krentz
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
Serves: 6
A delicious and easy dinner, and it’s gluten free!
Ingredients
  • 2 heads of broccoli, chopped into bite sized pieces
  • 1/2 half white onion, very thinly sliced
  • 1 lb round steak, sliced into 1/4 inch strips
  • 1 1/4 cup water
  • 1/4 cup gluten free soy sauce (can easily substitute original soy sauce)
  • 1/4 tsp garlic powder
  • 3 T brown sugar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 T cornstarch
  • 1/4 cup water
Instructions
  1. In a small bowl, whisk the 1/4 cup water and cornstarch.
  2. In a small saucepan, mix 1 1/4 cup water, soy sauce, garlic powder, brown sugar and salt. Heat over medium until it begins to boil. Whisk in the cornstarch and water mixture, heating until the sauce begins to thicken. Simmer for 1-2 minutes, then remove from the heat.
  3. Place broccoli in a microwave safe bowl, add 2T water, and cover. Microwave for 1 minute. Remove and uncover.
  4. Slice onions, then beef.
  5. In a frying pan, heat 2 T vegetable oil over medium heat.
  6. Sauté the beef in two batches until browned. (Cooking in two batches will allow the beef to caramelize rather than steam, due to overcrowding of the pan). Remove cooked beef to a plate.
  7. Add 2T veg oil to the same pan, add the onion and broccoli, and cook until browned and beginning to caramelize, but yet not soft.
  8. Return the beef to the pan with the vegetables, and cover with the sauce. Toss together, heating through.
  9. If holding this dish on the stove for an extended time, add 1/4 c water to ensure the sauce does not become too thick.
  10. Serve over rice.