Apr112012

Crockpot Ham and White Beans

Crockpot Ham and White Beans

One thing I really love about big holiday dinners are the leftovers I get to play with for the next several days! I love that I can spend just one day with the main dish, and then use it for several different ones over the course of the next few days (or months if you freeze it!) without having to buy any more.

For Easter this year I made a nice big ham with all the sides, and after dinner was over we spent some time portioning out containers of ham to use for sandwiches and other meals like split pea soup, red beans and rice, and the ham and white bean recipe below.

I like to use this one throughout the year (using a package of diced ham from the store is just fine if you crave it post- or pre-Easter) and the family loves it — even the kid who hates beans asks for seconds!

I get six good servings from this, and you can easily adjust it if you need more.

Crockpot Ham and White Beans

1 lb dried northern beans, sorted and rinsed (do not pre-soak)
1 lb ham (ham bone, diced ham, leftover ham, etc)
2 teaspoons onion powder
1 tsp Cajun seasoning
1-2 tsp kosher salt (or to taste)
1 tsp black pepper
6 cups chicken broth

Put the rinsed beans, ham, and broth in the crockpot. Add onion powder, Cajun seasoning, salt and pepper and stir gently just to combine. Cover and cook on low for 8 hours, until beans are tender. Remove ham bone and pull off meat, put meat back in the crockpot and discard ham bone.

For a thicker soup, remove 1-2 cups of beans and stock and combine in a blender. Add back to the crockpot and stir. Garnish with grated Parmesan cheese.

Mar272012

Chicken Noodle Soup with Dumplings

Chicken Noodle Soup with Dumplings

Our cool evenings are coming to an end so I’m trying to squeeze in as many cold-night dinners as I can. A family favorite is this chicken noodle soup — with dumplings! It may seem like overkill to have both noodles and dumplings, but it’s delicious. You can easily leave out one or the other if you like.

This is very versatile as well. You can easily substitute the raw chicken for cooked leftovers (roast chicken works perfectly).

Or you can make the soup in the crockpot, and do the dumplings separately on the stove: Pour about an inch of chicken broth into a shallow pan and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to simmer, and drop your dumplings in, and cover. Let cook for a few minutes and then serve with the chicken soup out of the crockpot.

I have made dumplings in the crockpot, but it took forever. Doing it separately on the stove is much faster.

Chicken Noodle Soup with Dumplings

Chicken Noodle Soup with Dumplings

1 lb chicken, cut into 1/2 to 1 inch cubes
1 Tb oil
2 Tb butter
1 potato, peeled and diced into small pieces
2 carrots, peeled and diced into small pieces
1 onion, chopped
1 bay leaf
1 tsp poultry seasoning
2 Tb flour
6 cups chicken broth

2 cups egg noodles
1 cup frozen peas

2 cups biscuit mix
1 tsp salt
1 tsp garlic powder
2 tsp dried parsley

Add oil and butter to large pot over medium heat. Add potatoes, carrots, onion and bay leaf and cook for five minutes, stirring often. Season with salt and pepper, and add poultry seasoning. Add flour and cook for two minutes, and then stir in broth and bring to a boil. Add chicken and stir, cooking for about five minutes. Add egg noodles and stir.

Combine biscuit mix with salt, garlic powder and parsley, and add about 1 cup of warm water (you don’t want it too wet or too dry, so you may need to adjust with a little more mix or a little more water). Using two large tablespoons, scoop out a spoonful and drop gently into the pot. I usually get about six dumplings. Cover the pot and reduce heat to simmer, steaming the dumplings for about 10 minutes. Remove the lid, remove the pan from the heat and add the peas.

I would usually serve soup with a yummy homemade bread, but there are enough carbs in this soup on its own!

Mar122012

Easy Pasta Salad

Easy Pasta Salad

Though it’s a very low number, there are a few meals that the girls and I love that Mike isn’t crazy about. These end up being the dinners that I make when he’s out of town for work so I don’t feel guilty about making him eat something he doesn’t like (not that I would, but sometimes it’s been so long since we’ve had one or another that they end up on the menu anyway!).

One of those meals is, to my amazement, pasta salad.

I mention this because he actually used to love it as much as we did. He’s explained that the combination of the oil and vinegar dressing, the cheese, and even the tomatoes just, well, got old. And while I understand tastes changing, this made me sad for one reason: I thought for sure I’d be making it a lot less!

However, he’s been in charge of a gigantic project at work for the last year or so which involves travel to their out-of-state locations. For those nights, I tell the girls to come up with the dinners that they miss, and that’s what we have.

So this past weekend was one of those occasions, and the votes were unanimous: I was making pasta salad!

I started making this about 12 years ago, when the twins were babies, because I could get it done early in the day and have nothing to do in the evening, when the crazies seemed to hit everyone. (Now that I think about it, my hmm… over-reliance? on this easy meal could be one of the reasons Mike got tired of it!)

Easy Pasta Salad

I always double the recipe when I make it because it makes the perfect lunch the next day, too. I finally ended up using my last two boxes of free pasta from last spring!

Easy Pasta Salad

I also just use packaged provolone. You can buy it at the service deli in a big block, but I actually like using the pre-packaged slices. It cubes up just fine, and truth be told, the dryness of the provolone can get a little boring in big chunks, so being able to break them up a little bit is nice.

Easy Pasta Salad

Good-bye, free pasta.

Easy Pasta Salad

Like I said, if you’re feeding more than three people, double the below recipe if you’d like leftovers. (I don’t double the cheese, however, and there’s still plenty of it.)

Heather’s Easy Pasta Salad

1 16 oz package of penne
1 c halved cherry or grape tomatoes
6 oz provolone cheese, cut into cubes

2/3 c vegetable oil
1/3 c apple cider vinegar
3 tsp dried basil
1 garlic clove, minced
1 Tb Dijon mustard
1-1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp sugar
1 tsp onion powder

Cook pasta according to package directions; drain and rinse with cold water. Place in a large bowl and set aside.

In a blender, combine oil, vinegar, basil, garlic, mustard, salt, sugar, and onion powder until well blended.

Pour dressing over pasta and add the tomatoes and cheese, stirring gently until just combined. Refrigerate until serving (at least four hours).