Tag Archives: cheese

Ham and White Bean Soup

 

As the days grow colder and shorter, sometimes there is nothing quite so amazing as a steaming bowl of soup.  Soup is wonderful for so many reasons.  You can easily sneak all kinds of healthy veggies and ingredients into soup.  Soups are generally very kind to the budget, with frugal ingredients like beans and grains, and the ability to save about-to-expire produce.  Soup feels good on a sore throat, and is mostly healthy (if broth based, not fatty/creamy).

And soup just tastes great.

This ham soup starts with a rich & nutritious broth made from the ham bones, but if you don’t have the time (or the bones) you can use pre-made stock as well.  You can also substitute in any type of veggie you prefer, though I recommend sticking to about 2 cups of some sort of leafy green, and 1 cup of another harder veg for contrast.

Ham and white bean soup simmering

Ingredients:

  • 1 ham bone + 6-8 oz meat
  • 2 large carrots
  • 1/2 bunch kale
  • 1 large can white beans, or 2 small cans
  • Optional: 2 tbsp chicken bouillon

Scoop of ham and white bean soup

Step 1: In a crock pot or stock pot, simmer the ham bone in enough water to cover for 8-12 hours, during the day or overnight.  Strain the liquid, pull any remaining meat off the bone and shred it, and return it to the pot.  Discard the bones.

Scoop of ham and white bean soup with veggies

Step 2: Bring the stock to a boil, and add the kale and carrots.  Drain and rinse the beans to get rid of excess sodium and add to the pot.  Simmer for 15-20 minutes, until carrots soften.

Ham and white bean soup in bowl

Step 3: If needed, add in the bouillon.  This soup seems simple, but the base is so flavorful from being stewed so long.

Ham and white bean soup with cheese and bread

I suggest serving this with thick, soft Italian or multi-grain bread, and you may or may not want to shred some cheese over top.  I added just a touch of Vermont white cheddar, and it was absolutely scrumptious!  Even the fiancee, who just kind of tolerates soups, loved it and had seconds.  If you’d like your soup a little thicker, add less water and mash up one of the cans of beans before adding it.

 

Chicken & Cheese Enchiliadas

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It’s no secret that I love all Mexican foods. I’ve written about how I made the perfect refried beans, many variations on tacos, and the simple pizza-like toastadas. I’ve been meaning to tackle a particularly intimidating recipe for a while: enchiladas.
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You may not think enchiladas are intimidating, but for whatever reason I kept thinking it would be hard to make these. Then the s.o. requested it, I had a big stack of tortillas in the fridge, and so I was like, ok it’s time.
Turns out, they weren’t so scary after all. And damn delicious.
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Ingredients:
2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
7 tortillas
2 tbsp taco seasoning
2 tbsp butter
1/2 cup refried beans
1 cup shredded cheese mix
1 can tomato sauce
1-2 tbsp sriracha
I used large flour tortillas here, I know corn is the norm. But trust me, no one was upset about these. Give it a try, or go ahead and use corn if that’s what you have.
Step 1: Cook the chicken either in the oven, frying pan, or poach in boiling water. Use two forks to shred it finely. Cook in a pan with a little butter and taco seasoning.
Step 2: In each tortilla, spread a few tbsp beans, a handful of shredded chicken, and sprinkle on some cheese. Roll up, and place with the seam-side down in a sprayed oven-safe pan.
Step 4: Once the pan is full, sprinkle more cheese over top, then pour the tomato sauce over everything. Use as much as you need to cover the tops, but not to soak them. (Sidenote, I hate the taste of regular enchilada sauce at restaurants, that’s why I went the homemade tomato sauce version. If you like it or have a jar of enchilada sauce at home, feel free to use that.)
Step 5: Squirt on a thin layer of sriracha and/or hot sauce, and bake at 350 for 30-40 minutes.
We ended up having two each, and the leftovers didn’t last more than a day. These could be made in the crock pot as well, simply assemble and leave on low all day. Make sure to add extra sauce so they don’t burn if you go that route.
Serve with a little sour cream on top to cut the spice if that’s your thing.
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You could make the vegetarian by adding extra grilled veggies or tofu instead of chicken, and just feel free to add in some onions and peppers regardless of what else is in there.
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What’s your favorite Mexican food?

Elk burgers — new food for July

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As July’s food item I’ve never tried, Elk nominated itself by being present at a farmer’s market I attended during 4th of July weekend. It sounded delicious and was only $10 a package from a local rancher, so I couldn’t resist. It was ground elk, so I’m sure I could have tried elk meatloaf or elk chili, but I had a hankerin for a good, juicy burger, so there you go. If you can’t or don’t want anything so fancy as elk, ground anything works for this plain ol classic burger recipe.
 
Ingredients:
1 pound ground elk (any meat)
4 tbsp seasoning of choice: I used Weber’s burger seasonings that include onion, black pepper, garlic, etc.
Buns
Burger toppings
 

Step 1: Divide ground elk into 4 even patties of about 1/4 pound each. Mix 1 tbsp seasoning into each and mix well. Shape into patties with your hands, or a press if you’re fancy enough to have one.

Step 2: If you’re lucky enough to have a grill, light that bad boy up and cook em that way. If you do not, a regular frying pan works. Cook on medium heat for about 10 minutes, then flip. They’ll be nicely browned and sizzling. Cook the other side another 5-7 minutes. We like some pink inside so it took about 15 min total.

Step 3: Add your toppings. I love avocado but none was available. But we had the classics, so my elk burger included: sliced American cheese, lettuce, tomato, & ketchup.

My boyfriend the carnivore (“meat man”) had a double, and declared it one of the best burgers he’s ever had. Since I’d say that number is probably in the hundreds, I consider it a great compliment. Elk is salty and tender and delicious. It’s like beef, but different. Just try it sometime, and if you like beef I bet you’ll like this even better.

 What’s your favorite burger?

Make your own pizza, male and female style

You may think I’m weird for saying this, but I don’t like pizza that much. I know, how un-American of me. I will eat it if it’s around, and I get an occasional craving for a weird one like chicken bacon ranch, but in general if asked what I want for dinner, the answer will not be Little Caesars.
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My current S.O. could literally live off pizza and burritos. So we found a compromise, making our own pizza. That way I can have the things I want on it (veggies) and control the sauce, and he can have what he wants (as much meat as possible) at the same time. This is our version of men are from Mars, women are from Venus, in the kitchen.
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Ingredients:
1 tube pizza dough (about $2 at grocery store)
1 jar pizza sauce (~$2)
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Toppings of choice: Female half
Spinach & mixed greens
Onions & peppers julienned
Zucchini
Mozzarella cheese
Pineapple
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Toppings of choice: Male half
Deli ham
Ground beef (pre-cooked, left over from burritos actually)
Bacon
Mozzarella cheese
Pineapple
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Step 1: Cook the meat if needed, spray a 9×13 oven safe pan. Roll the pizza dough out flat and press to the sides of the pan.
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Step 2: Spread on as much sauce as you like. I don’t like most pizzas because I end up scraping a cup of sauce off my slices, so I put it on thin.
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Step 3: Layer the toppings.

Step 4: Cover in as much cheese as you can handle. Because cheese is sent from heaven to make all foods taste better. Some calories are just worth it.

Step 5: Bake at 425 for ~20 minutes or until crust is brown and crispy and cheese is bubbling.

This recipe is as varied as your imagination, nearly any meat or vegetable can be a pizza topping, so if you like it then go crazy! You can use veggies left over from other meals. It’s easy to make a vegetarian (or even vegan without the cheese) pizza.

You can fold the dough in half to make a smaller deep-dish pizza. Try a bunch of variations and find what you like best.  No matter what you put on yours, its likely to still be much cheaper and healthier than a purchased one.

Creative leftovers: Butternut Squash Mac n Cheese

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The best recipes in my opinion are the ones that either get eaten the first time around, or lead to easy leftover combinations. I hate to see food go to waste, and unfortunately when you’re cooking for only 1 or 2 people that can happen quite often.
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You make something that tastes great the first time, and the second time, but by days 3 and up you are sick of it. So it sits in the back of the fridge, hidden by water bottles and fresher produce until you clean out your fridge tri-monthly and get grossed out by the mold and bacteria on it.
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Therefore I try to cook things which easily lend themselves to meal makovers to dress up the leftovers and make it feel like a whole new meal. So I took some macaroni & cheese I’d made earlier, leftover chicken, and bruchetta topping (since the bread was now mush) and mixed it up for a super-easy, quick & healthy lunch.
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Less wasted food = more money in your pocket = win-win.
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Ingredients:
2 diced roma tomatoes
1/4 white onion, diced small
3-4 oz cooked chicken breast (or meat of choice, or no meat if you prefer)
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Mix all ingredients in a bowl. Microwave on high 1-2 minutes. You can sprinkle with extra cheese, or add any kind of cooked veggies you like. Enjoy!

 

Butternut squash mac-n-cheese (Bonus snack)

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So I came across a recipe for butternut squash macaroni and cheese, and since it is getting into the fall season (and sounded delicious) I decided to try it. I had most of the ingredients, I just needed to buy the squash and some cheese. Of course, I made it my own as I always do. You can find the full nutrition info here.
 
Ingredients:
1 small butternut squash, peeled, seeded and cut into cubes (Save the seeds for a bonus snack!)
1 1/2 cup skim milk
1 cup chicken stock
1 tbsp brown sugar
Sprinkle black pepper & salt
1/2 pound macaroni of choice (I used elbow)
2/3 pound fresh Cheddar
1/2 cup skim cottage cheese
1/4 cup Parmesan
1/2 cup breadcrumbs
 

Step 1: Get water for pasta boiling. Meanwhile, peel and dice squash. Put squash, stock and milk in a pan, simmer 10-15 minutes until squash is fork-tender. Boil the pasta ~ 8 minutes and drain.

 Step 2: Put squash into blender (or mash) to make it smooth. Add salt, pepper, sugar.

 Step 3: Put macaroni into a greased pan, pour squash over top. Add cheeses and mix well. Cover with foil & bake at 350 for 20 minutes.

Step 4: Uncover, sprinkle bread crumbs and parmesan on top. Bake uncovered for another 20-30 minutes, until golden and crispy on top.

 Step 5: Let cool, scoop out a helping and enjoy!


Bonus snack!
While peeling and dicing the squash, save the seeds. Rinse thoroughly to get rid of slimy part. Sprinkle sea salt over top. Toast the seeds in the oven at 350 for ~20 minutes, stirring at least once. The seeds are light and smoky, and taste like fall! I could eat bushels of these things!



Crock Pot salsa chicken tacos

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I have heard so many recipes raving about how easy and delicious Crock Pot salsa chicken is, it is on nearly every Crock Pot recipe list I’ve seen. So one day before leaving for school, I decided on a whim to try it. Turns out, all these people know what they’re talking about! It was amazing by itself over rice, and it is even better shredded on a taco!
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Ingredients:
3-4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
2 cups salsa
1 flour tortilla
2 tbsp refried beans
1/2 onion, sliced
1 cup diced bell peppers
2 tbsp taco seasoning
1/2 cup shredded lettuce
1/4 cup sharp cheddar cheese
1 tbsp sour cream
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Step 1: Put the chicken and the salsa in the crock pot. Cook on low at least 6 up to 10 hours. The chicken will be slightly browned, lightly salsa flavored, and fall-apart tender. It tastes amazing on its own, serve with a vegetable and a starch side dish.

Step 2: Put a tiny amount of olive oil or stock in a frying pan, and fry the onion and pepper until soft. Add the taco seasonings, cover and cook another 2 minutes.

Step 3: Smear refried beans on half the tortilla, heat in microwave 20 minutes. Add cheese so it melts, and about 3-4 oz of the chicken. Then pile on the veggies and smear the sour cream on the other half. Pour salsa on top, roll up and enjoy!

This is super filling, and all the flavors combine into a taste bud party in your mouth! Makes enough for several meals, probably 10 tacos depending on how much you stuff them. The meat could also be used for quesadillas or tamales.


 

Supercharged Double Turkey BLT

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I had some turkey lunchmeat that needed used, plus 1/2 an avocado, salad makings, and turkey bacon. I had wanted to make a BLT, but now I knew that I could make it super-extra delicious!
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Ingredients:
2 oz turkey meat
2 slices whole wheat bread
1 slice cheese
1/2 tomato
Handful torn romaine
3 slices turkey bacon
1/4 avocado
4 slices cucumber

Step 1: Cook the turkey bacon, turning once.

Step 2: While cooking, pile on the meat, cheese, tomato slices. On the other piece of bread, add the greens, cucumber, avocado chunks and lettuce.

Step 3: Add the cooked bacon. Very carefully, flip the pieces of bread together. Excellent combinations of flavors, lots of fiber and vitamins from the veggies! As always, just omit the turkey for a vegetarian lunch option.

Slow Cooker Cheddar Broccoli Rice

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This is a super easy side dish, requiring only a few hours in a crock pot. It goes well with most anything. The end result is creamy, cheesy, and delicious.
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Ingredients:
1 cup rice
2 cups broccoli
1 full bag shredded cheddar cheese
1 1/2 cup water

Step 1: Pour 1 cup rice into crock pot. Add 1 1/2 cups water.
Step 2: Add as much broccoli as you want, I put in about 2 cups pieces.
Step 3: Cover with shredded cheese.
Step 4: Cook on high 2 hours, stirring occasionally, or until rice is fully cooked and cheese is melted.

Makes about 5 cups, enough for 3-6 sides depending on what else is in the meal. You can cut down the amount of cheese here for less fat, or add in a can of cream of chicken soup for extra creaminess.

Parmesan popcorn

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I am a huge popcorn addict, I can literally eat about five microwave bags in one night. But stovetop popcorn is the best! It’s healthier, cheaper, and you get to decide how much to make. There is nothing else like it. Toppings can kick the popcorn up a notch, and cheese is always super delicious! Best part, it is pretty healthy overall.

Ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 cup popcorn kernels
  • 2 tbsp butter flavored salt
  • 1 cup grated parmesan cheese

Step 1: Put the oil, kernels and salt in a pan (one you don’t mind ruining…) and put the heat on high. Make sure you shake and swirl the pan often, especially once the kernels start popping.

Step 2: Once the kernels slow down and you count 3-4 seconds between pops, turn the heat off. Wait until you don’t hear any more popping, and pour into a large bowl.

Step 3: Coat the popcorn with 1/2 cup of the cheese, and proceed to inhale it.

Once you get about halfway through, add more cheese and shake to cover. The picture is what was left after 20 minutes of devouring, I wanted a picture for this blog before demolishing the rest! A great movie night snack. I imagine other types of grated cheese would also be delicious, and I have heard that adding spices like garlic or cayenne is tasty too.