Sunday, October 25, 2009

Roasted Tomato Soup

Here's one of those recipes based on a classic that I've modified. Classically roasted tomato soup would be done with fresh tomatoes but good fresh tomatoes are hard to come by in Maine for most of the year so I've used canned tomatoes. I've also added my own twist with roasted sweet red peppers.

  • 2 14oz cans of tomatoes, diced or whole
  • 1/2 roasted sweet red pepper (the kind in a jar, use fresh if you have it but I didn't)
  • Olive oil
  • 1 clove garlic
  • Sliver of onion (I'm not sure how much, it was about an 1/8 inch slice off the half onion in my fridge)
  • 1/2 cup chicken stock
  • Italian seasoning
  • Kosher salt
  • Ground black pepper
  • Bay leaf
1: Drain the cans of tomatoes, reserving liquid for later.
2: Lay tomatoes, onion, and garlic on a baking sheet, drizzle with olive oil. Cut tomatoes in half if you are using whole canned tomatoes
3: Bake at 400 degrees for 15 minutes or until caramelized
4: Combine reserved tomato juice and chicken stock in your soup pot.
5: Place tomatoes, onion, garlic, and roasted peppers in your food processor and blend until at your preferred level of smoothness (I like a little chunky).
6: Add tomato mixture to your soup pot. Add the bay leaf and season with the Italian seasoning, salt, and pepper to taste.
7: Bring to a boil, reduce to medium and simmer about 10 minutes so the flavors meld together.

Served with some nice crusty toasted bread it's hearty but still very healthy.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Quick and Easy - Pesto Chicken

Here's a simple recipe to put together. It's what I made for dinner tonight when faced with only nothing planned and a package of chicken. I ended up using less than half a small jar of pesto, so it's good if you have some leftover in the fridge.

Jar of pesto
Chicken pieces of choice

1: Place chicken in shallow baking dish.
2: Spoon pesto over the chicken.
3: Bake at 350°F until done, this will depend on the cut and weight of the pieces, here's a chart or better yet use a probe thermometer to cook until the internal temperature is 165°F.
4: Share and enjoy.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Split Pea Soup: Delicious Comfort Food

Pea soup in one of those wonderful, hearty foods that make you feel really good on a cold wet day. It also has the benefit of being very cheap and easy to make in a crock pot (even cheaper is the ham is from leftovers). This dish does take several hours to cook but being a crock pot recipe you can throw it together in the morning and just leave it simmering on low all day, it doesn't need constant attention.

I saved the bone form the ham I made last week to make this soup, it's a great way to use up leftover ham.

  • 2 cups dried split peas
  • 1 ham bone, and/or leftover ham
  • 2 cups chicken stock
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup diced onion
  • tablespoon butter
  • 1 clove garlic minced
  • 4 cups water
  • Bay leaf
  • Italian seasoning
  • Salt
  • Pepper
How to make it:
1: Saute the onion and garlic in the butter until transluscent.
2: Add peas, ham, stock, water, lemon juice, and bay leaf to your crock pot.
3: Season with Italian seasoning mix, salt,  and pepper to taste
4: Simmer on low 6-8 hours or high for 3-4 hours until the peas break down and the soup thickens (actual time may vary depending on your crock pot, however pea soup can't really be overcooked so err on the side of more time)
5: Serve with thick slices of bread or fresh biscuits.

Save a little  time:If you need to save some cooking time try this. Soak the peas overnight (or while your at work) in about 6 cups of water. Drain excess water before using. Reduce the amount of water you add to the crock pot to 3 cups. This can cut the cooking time by about 1/3.

1: Try making this with turkey ham or your favorite smoked sausage
2: This recipe can easily be made vegetarian as well. Leave out the ham, saute the onion and garlic in olive oil, and swap the chicken stock for vegetable. It's just as delicious.
3: If you don't like sauteing the onion and garlic you can substitute some onion and garlic powder instead but you won't get as rich a taste.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Maple Ham Glaze

Today I made ham and eggs for dinner. The ham was a lovely smoked ham (non-aged) from the pig my family raised last year. You can use this glaze on any ham but I reccomend you get a bone-in ham that hasn't been spiral cut and stay away from reconstituted hams. I will refer to Alton Brown for more tips on selecting a ham:

The hams from our pig were quite strongly smoked so I really love to pair them with a rich sweet glaze. For cooking your ham, refer to the package instructions to see if it is partially, fully, or uncooked to know how long it'll need in the oven. I cooked my ham until the internal temperature reached 160 since while it was cold smoked it wasn't truly cooked and I'd rather be safe than sorry. This recipe is for a medium sized ham, about 3lbs.

Maple Glaze
  • 1/4 cup dark brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup (the real stuff)
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon dried ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • dash of cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground pepper (give or take a bit, it was 2 grinds of my peppermill)
Mix all the dry ingredients in a bowl and add the maple syrup, stirring until its a thick gooey glaze. Apply to your ham 10-15 minutes before it finishes cooking.

Serve your ham with whatever sides you prefer. I like some eggs over easy with nice runny yolks.