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Ham & Potato Soup

Ham & Potato Soup

Ham & Potato Soup is calling to you.

Well, actually it might be calling to the ham bone that you hopefully have leftover from Easter.

There’s nothing better for making a few simple ingredients really sing than a good, flavorful, meaty ham bone. Jim used to get a gift box from Honeybaked Ham at work and the ONLY thing out of the box that I laid claim to was the ham bone. Everything else went back to the office for a holiday lunch, but woe to him if he did not first remove the ham from that bone.

If you don’t have a ham bone on hand, don’t let that stop you from making this soup. You can buy them at any Honeybaked Ham store. Sometimes my store even has buy one, get one free so I usually get one for the freezer.

This soup feels a lot more decadent than it really is. By mashing some of the potatoes, we can thicken the soup and make it a velvety texture without adding tons of flour, butter, or cream. Not that there’s anything wrong with butter and cream…

Here’s what you need:

Ham & Potato Soup Ingredients

Potatoes, Onion, Carrots, Celery, Parsley, Fresh Thyme, Olive Oil, Ham Bone, Milk, Flour (GF is fine), Cayenne Pepper, Nutmeg (not pictured), Salt & Pepper. Cheddar Cheese for garnish (not pictured) is optional but highly recommended.

Click here for a Ham & Potato Soup Shopping List

Start with the usual suspects for soup – 1 large chopped onion, 2-3 ribs of celery chopped, and 2-3 chopped carrots.

Heat 2 Tablespoons of olive oil in a large soup pot over medium high heat. Add the onion, carrots, and celery and sauté until tender but not browned, about 5-7 minutes.

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Spring Pea & Apple Salad

Spring Pea & Apple Salad – SO refreshing!

This is a quirky little salad that I thought you should have in case you are looking for something new, interesting, easy, and VERY tasty to add to your Easter brunch or dinner this weekend.

My harpist friend Roz and I were exchanging chicken thigh recipes the other day and she sent me this recipe as a bonus. Roz mentioned that it goes well with lamb but having had it last night, I would say it goes well with EVERYTHING!

Remember those old fashioned Waldorf Salads of fruit and nuts in a thick mayonnaise dressing? This salad is similar in flavor but so much lighter and more refreshing.

Here’s what you need:

Spring Pea & Apple Salad Ingredients

Frozen Peas, Granny Smith Apple, Firm Red Apple (I have a Fuji but pick your favorite), Lime, Mayonnaise, and Fresh Mint.

Click here for a Spring Pea & Apple Salad Shopping List

You need one box or 10 ounces of frozen peas. The original recipe calls for baby or petite peas but I had plain old regular peas in the freezer so that’s what I used.

Run the peas very quickly under cold water to just begin thawing them. No need to thaw all the way. Drain and place them in a mixing bowl.

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Cream of Chicken Wild Rice Soup

Cream of Chicken & Wild Rice Soup. Otherwise known as The State Soup of Minnesota!

Do they have things like State Soups as we do State Songs and State Birds? If not, we should. I’ve already decided that Beer Cheese Soup is the official State Soup of Wisconsin. Since both the recipe for Steak Soup and I hail from Kansas City, I vote we call that one for the State of Missouri. Florida? How about Gazpacho - either traditional tomato or funky Watermelon.

Anyway, I think there can be no doubt, no debate, no argument that if you’ve ever stepped foot in Minnesota, you’ve probably encountered Cream of Chicken & Wild Rice Soup. Wild Rice is a Minnesota thing. People buy bags of it at the airport to take home as souvenirs.

Everyone I know in Minnesota (unless they are vegan) makes some version of this soup.

Here’s what you need:

Cream of Chicken Wild Rice Soup Ingredients

Chicken Breast, Chicken Broth, Onion, Celery, Carrots, Red Bell Pepper, Garlic, Wild Rice/Rice Blend, Frozen Peas, Butter, Heavy Cream, Bay Leaves, Rosemary, Thyme, Rubbed Sage, Sherry (optional), Salt & Pepper.

Click here for a Cream of Chicken & Wild Rice Soup Shopping List

If you have Homemade Chicken Stock or Broth, by all means use it. However, this was a weeknight and I was aiming for using up things in the pantry and also one and only one pot to wash.

We start with the soup basics, chop 1 large onion, 3 ribs of celery, and 4 carrots.

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You should also chop up that red bell pepper but I forgot and had to add it later.

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Kalicious Smoothie

Kalicious Smoothie

Kalicious Smoothies at home! Super Green Goodness in a Glass.

You might be a bit surprised by this…the self proclaimed queen of chocolate and bourbon, drinking a big old glass of green stuff.

It’s true! I became somewhat addicted to the Kalicious Smoothie at Whole Foods this year. I’d pop over there between opera rehearsals and get a big glass of bright green goodness. But you don’t have to get very far into the week to realize that, YIKES, smoothies made at fancy stores are expensive!

So, for about what I spent on one smoothie, I can get the entire set of ingredients to make lots of smoothies at home.

Here’s what you need:

Kalicious Smoothie Ingredients

Kale, Spinach, Banana, Lemon, Apple Juice, and Ice.

Click here for a Kalicious Smoothie Shopping List

Each smoothie takes ½ of a lemon. Remove the peel with a sharp knife or peel it as you would an orange.

The lemon helps keep the smoothie a bright green color in addition to adding flavor.

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Braised Chicken with Yams

Braised Chicken with Yams (Sweet Potatoes) is a One Pot Wonder!

You get the chicken, veggies (mushrooms & onions), side veggies (sweet potatoes or yams), and sauce all in one pot. Plus, it’s very easy to prepare and mighty tasty.

This is another recipe from the big Jacques Pepin Cookbook that I was raving about a few months ago. I’ve tried several chicken and fish dishes from this book all with great success. The recipes tend to be very straightforward and pack a lot of flavor without too many fussy steps or specialty ingredients.

The bonus is that I have just barely scratched the surface with this cookbook. It’s huge.

(I made this dish a few weeks ago so Gus is in the ingredient picture. I thought about redoing this photo but seeing him in his customary chicken guarding position makes me happy so I left it in. I mention this only so you won’t think he is visiting from the great beyond or that I’ve gone totally round the bend.)

Here’s what you need:

Braised Chicken with Yams Ingreients

Chicken Thighs, Mushrooms, Shallots, Garlic, Yams or Sweet Potatoes, Onion, Parsley, White Wine, Olive Oil, Salt & Pepper.

Click here for a Braised Chicken with Yams Shopping List

We start with a little chopping. Finely chop ½ of a medium onion, about ½ cup, and 8 (yes, 8) cloves of garlic, about 2 Tablespoons.

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Turkey & Zucchini Burgers

Turkey & Zucchini Burgers. Oh, with a bonus of creamy Tzatziki Sauce. SO good!

This recipe comes from the Jerusalem Cookbook that was all the rage (with good reason) last year. Full of interesting recipes and stories from regions in the Middle East, it won just about every award a cookbook can win.

I was going to save this recipe for the upcoming Zucchini Season but it’s too good to wait.

We all know that turkey burgers can be boring and dry. Well not these babies! Zucchini keeps them moist and a whole bowlful of green herby goodness adds tons of flavor.

I put a little (okay, a lot) of Greek Tzatziki Sauce on the side. You know, that sauce that comes with Gyros. Not exactly in the same country as Jerusalem but close enough and plenty tasty.

Here’s what you need:

Turkey & Zucchini Burger Ingredients

Ground Turkey, Zucchini, Green Onions, Garlic, Fresh Mint, Fresh Parsley (or cilantro, or both), Egg, Ground Cumin, Ground Cayenne Pepper, Vegetable Oil, Salt & Pepper.

For the sauce you need Plain Greek Yogurt, Sour Cream, Cucumber, Garlic, White Wine Vinegar, Salt & Pepper.

The Tzatziki was a last minute addition so it didn’t make it into the photos, but it’s easy to make. I’ll add the recipe and ingredients at the end of the post and also on the printables.

Click here for a Turkey & Zucchini Burger Shopping List

Click here for a Tzatziki Sauce Shopping List

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.

Grate one medium zucchini to make about 2 cups.

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Grapefruit & Avocado Salad

Grapefruit & Avocado Salad.

Two of my favorite things that you might not think to put together in a salad.

This recipe goes waaaaay back to my childhood. I’m not sure who thought of this combination, but this is a salad that we used to have when I was a kid. And yes, for you parents out there, both my sister and I loved this salad. Okra, not so much, but grapefruit and avocados, YES!

Here’s what you need:

Grapefruit & Avocado Salad Ingredients

Grapefruit, Avocado, Plain Greek Yogurt (or sour cream), and Brown Sugar

Click here for a Grapefruit & Avocado Salad Shopping List

This grapefruit came from the tree in our yard! It’s a huge (taller than the house), old tree that I just learned is an almost extinct variety called “Duncan” grapefruit. It’s a white grapefruit but any kind of grapefruit you have is fine.

A sharp, serrated knife is your best tool for working with citrus. Technically my knife is billed as a tomato knife, but it does a great job on grapefruit too.

Cut off the top and bottom of the grapefruit to create a solid base then go around the fruit vertically with your knife removing the rind and the white pithy part.

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Cut as close to the fruit as you can realizing that you can always go back and cut away any remaining pith.

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Cauliflower Pizza Crust

Are you sitting down? I’m about to blow your mind.

Cauliflower Pizza Crust.

Yes, cauliflower. You aren’t seeing things. I’m not trying to play a trick on you. Cauliflower.

And the best part? IT WAS DELICIOUS!!!!!

As many of you know, since October I’ve been experimenting with eating Gluten Free. I feel better, my stomach feels much better, and people around me are generally happier when I’m not a miserable wreck. However, no gluten pretty much takes pizza out of the picture and I find that unacceptable.

I’ve tried some gluten free pizza crust recipes and they were okay. I wasn’t blown away. I haven’t made any of them twice. Then my friend Greg asked if I’d ever had cauliflower pizza crust. I’ve seen recipes for it all over the internet and on Pinterest since cauliflower is apparently the new “it” vegetable.

The verdict? AWESOME! Even for gluten eaters, this is so good. Jim gave a very hearty 2 thumbs up. And if I hadn’t had to use the word cauliflower so many times in this post already, I challenge that you would never ever have suspected that a vegetable was involved in this crust recipe.

Trust me.

Here’s what you need:

Cauliflower Pizza Crust Ingredients

Cauliflower, Parmesan Cheese, Mozzarella Cheese, Egg, Dried Oregano, Dried Basil, Garlic Powder, Red Pepper Flakes, and Salt. You also absolutely need parchment paper and non-stick cooking spray.

Click here for a Cauliflower Pizza Crust Shopping List

If you have a pizza stone, now is the time to use it. If you don’t have a pizza stone, you will need a large, non-rimmed baking sheet like a cookie sheet. Place the stone or baking sheet in the oven and preheat both to 450 degrees.

For this recipe, to make 1 medium sized crust (about 12 inches) you need 1 medium sized head of cauliflower, about 2 pounds. (I weighed mine at the store just to be sure.)

Trim away the green leaves from the bottom and cut away most of the really hard parts of the stem. Cut the flowers off the head of cauliflower and chop them into big chunks.

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Miso & Honey Glazed Fish.

When I first made this recipe, I immediately thought of my good friend Larry because he likes fish, easy recipes, and recipes with only a few ingredients.

Fish, check. Easy, check. And how about 3 ingredients not counting salt & pepper? Check!

This is a simple but highly flavorful dish. It uses a glaze of honey and Miso, a staple in Japanese cooking that is mostly known in the US as the main ingredient in Miso Soup.

Here’s what you need:

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Fish, Miso Paste, Honey, Salt & Pepper.

Click here for a Miso & Honey Glazed Fish Shopping List

Miso is a paste usually made from fermented soybeans. You can find many varieties of miso in your local Asian market and depending on  your neighborhood, likely in your own regular grocery store. Miso is always found in the refrigerated section so look in the produce or cheese sections first but ask if you don’t find it right away.

For this recipe, we want light or white miso. Since miso tends to naturally be a bit salty, I also looked for one that was free of MSG. If you read the label, you can also find miso that is Gluten Free.

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On a side note, if you haven’t ever shopped at an Asian market you are seriously missing out on a good time. You can find all sorts of fun things there and usually people are very willing to help if you are unsure of the labeling. Also, the produce in my Asian market is MUCH fresher and MUCH cheaper than at my regular grocery store. When I go there I stock up on everything from baby bok choy to peppers and herbs. You can usually find huge, gorgeous bunches of basil, parsley, and cilantro for only about a dollar.

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A Sad Day

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Hi Friends,

I’m sorry to share some very sad news. My best kitchen helper Gus died very unexpectedly today. We’re not sure what happened but he had some sort of cardiac/breathing event after a very routine visit to the vet for blood work. He was totally fine after the vet visit but about 10 minutes after we got home he suddenly became distressed and could barely breathe. I rushed him back to their office (thankfully right around the corner from my house) and they tried mightily with CPR, oxygen, and other means but could not save him.

Since there only about a hundred photos of him here at Idiot’s Kitchen “helping” me cook chicken or posing handsomely with ingredients, if felt wrong to just let this go by without saying anything.

So please allow me this small tribute to my sweet, sweet boy. May there be roast chicken and peanut butter in cat heaven.

Love,

Claudia

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