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Saturday, July 16, 2016

Ham and Bean Soup

    Today I made Ham & Bean Soup for the first time. I used all leftovers for this, other than a bag of dried navy beans. I had all the vegetables in the house, and leftovers from a spiral ham. I started with a receipe from Taste of Home magazine special, Make & Take (pg 84). I didn't have the ham hocks that recipe called for, nor did I remember ahead of time to soak the beans overnight.
     I got a special deal the other day on a pressure cooker. Mine is an InstaPot 7 in 1 Multi-Functional Cooker. It's a pressure cooker, rice cooker, slow cooker, yogurt maker, steamer, sauté and warmer. I used the pressure cooker to cook the beans. Once it got ready and heated up, it only needed 4 minutes cook time, then it cooled off.
     The Taste of Home recipe called for draining the beans, then adding 8 cups water to make the soup. I wanted a base with more flavor so googled a recipe, and sure enough, others used chicken broth. This recipe was also from Taste of Home. You can find it here:
     There were a few noticeable differences. Both called for a mirepoix of celery, onions and carrots. The online recipe sauted the vegetables in butter. That sounded better, so I did that. I should have done it a little longer than I did. The onions were translucent when I stopped, but the celery and carrots still had a bite to them and needed longer to soften. I did not add the chili powder, garlic or bay leaf that the online recipe called for. I stuck with the Campfire Bean & Ham Soup recipe that was just dried navy beans, onions, water, cooked ham, (the ham hocks I didn't have), celery, onions, basil and pepper. It called for 2 cups celery which when eaten, seemed a bit much, so would reduce the amount next time.
     Once the vegetables were done sautéing, you just add the liquid, the ham and the cooked beans. Mix and simmer for 15 minutes. Serve with fresh bread.
     In the end, this is what I came up with, modified for what changes I'd make for next time:

Ham & Bean Soup

1 lb dried navy beans
1 small onion, chopped
4 cups chicken stock
2 cups water (more to soak/cook beans)
4 cups cubed fully cooked ham
1 cup chopped celery
1 cup chopped carrots
1/2 tsp dried basil
1/2 tsp pepper
1 tub Knorr vegetable homemade stock concentrate
1 packet Swanson Garlic & Herb Flavor Boost

Place the beans in an ovenproof dutch oven; add enough water to cover by 2 inches. Bring to a boil. Boil for 2 minutes. Remove from the heat; cover and let stand for 1-4 hours or until the beans are softened. Alternately, you can cook them quickly in a pressure cooker. (If you don't want to use dried navy beans, you can use 4 cans great northern or navy beans, rinsed and drained.) Once beans are cooked, drain and rinse. Do not save water.

In a large saucepan, sauté the carrots and celery in butter. After a few minutes, add onions. Saute until all vegetables are tender. Stir in the remaining ingredients, if you want you can reserve the 2 cups fresh cold water depending on how thick you'd like your soup. I found the 6 cups liquid (4 cups chicken broth and 2 cups water was perfect. Original recipe called for 8 cups and I never used the reserved water.) Mix well and simmer all soup for 15-20 minutes.

Serve hot with fresh bread.

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Corn Bread Bun Chili Dog

This recipe I found on Facebook from BuzzFeed Food. Here is a link to a video of the recipe being made:

I love the idea of baking the hotdogs into corn bread buns. I'm not as thrilled with the chili. I'm not a fan of beans, although they are good protein and cheap. But for a budget dish, having more hotdogs and especially all that ground beef doesn't make this budget friendly. I think you could easily get away with an inexpensive brand of canned chili, like Hormel. EDIT: After a trip into town today, a can of Hormel chili (beans or no beans) was $1.99. I ended up buying a can of Best Choice (store brand) 10.5 oz Hot Dog Chili Sauce for 79¢.

Corn Bread Bun Chili Dog
Serving Size: 6

Boxed corn bread batter
6 Tyson Ball Park Bun Size Franks

Hot Dog Chili
1 pound ground beef
½ white onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
Salt and pepper, to taste
2 tablespoons chili powder
1 tablespoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon cayenne
1 teaspoon red chili flake
1 Tyson Ball Park Bun Size Frank, cut into chunks
1 can diced tomatoes
1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 can pinto beans, drained and rinsed

1 cup cheddar cheese, shredded

1. Preheat grill or grill pan to medium/high heat. Cook Ball Park Angus Beef Franks just until they show grill marks. Set aside.
2. Preheat oven to 400˚F/200˚C.
3. Pour cornbread batter into a greased and parchment lined 9x13 baking dish. Place 6 hot dogs evenly over batter, only gently pushing them into the batter.
4. Bake for 17-20 minutes until bread is set and lightly browned.
5. Heat a saucepan over medium high and sauté onions and garlic until turning translucent, 2-3 minutes.
Add ground beef to pan and break up with spoon to crumble. Cook until meat is no longer pink and cooked through. Season with salt and pepper and all of the dried seasonings.
6. Drain the beans and add them to the seasoned meat along with the diced tomatoes and hot dog.
7. Simmer for 20-30 minutes.
8. Cut the cornbread along the side of each hot dog, leaving a bit of space on both sides to form a bun.
9. Spoon a hearty scoop of the Hot Dog Chili over and sprinkle with cheese.
10. Enjoy!

Ham & Cheese Frittata

    Everyone is tired this morning, after staying up late for Independence Day fireworks, so I decided to make them all a breakfast frittata. I quickly googled a recipe. I found Alton Brown's recipe on Food I will let you look there for the basic recipe and I'll just tell you what changes I made.
     I had green onions, or scallions in the fridge, so I cut them up. I had slow roasted a spiral ham the day before for the holiday, so I diced some of that up. I got the 6 beaten eggs ready. As this cooks rather fast, so it helps to have all your ingredients prepped before cooking.
     Now I don't have asparagus in the house (and I live 16 miles from the nearest grocery store, so I try to cook with pantry/fridge/freezer staples that I have lying around, with special emphasis on using up leftovers. Instead of regular parmesan cheese, I used Sun Dried Tomato & Basil grated parmesan cheese. I added the parmesan cheese to the beaten eggs, along with salt & pepper.
     I melted butter in an oven safe sauté pan while starting the broiler on the oven. I added the scallions to the butter to sauté, then added the ham. After they'd sauted for a couple minutes, I added the beaten egg mixture. You only need to move it around the pan enough so that the entire bottom of the pan is covered with the eggs, and move the ham and scallions around evenly so they won't all end up on one side of the frittata. Otherwise, don't touch it and let the bottom of the egg mixture set and start to cook and form a crust. This won't be very thick, under half an inch. At this point, I added what leftover real bacon bits I had, and sprinkled the top with grated Colby jack shreaded cheese. Once the bottom half of the frittata is cooked, remove from the stove and put it under the broiler. It only needs a couple minutes under the broiler until the top is lightly browned and bubbly.
     Prep time for this was about 5 minutes, and total cooking time was maybe 8 minutes. The family ate is up while still warm, with no leftovers. If you don't have green onions/scallions around (as I usually don't), I'd add chives at the same time you add the shredded cheese (instead of the chopped parsley Alton Brown's recipe called for). This recipe is a great way to use up leftovers, both meat and veggies. You could always add a few extra eggs to make it a bit thicker. You could also add a splash of milk to thin the beaten eggs a bit like you do when making scrambled eggs.
      This could easily be for brunch, lunch, or dinner as well as breakfast.

Sunday, July 3, 2016

Hearty Lunch - Meatball Sandwiches

     Today I thought I'd share with you my inspired idea. While at Menards (large chain hardware store) recently, in their small food section, I ran into their bake and serve breads. I bought two bags of Cabatta rolls (small rectangular). You bake these for 6-8 minutes at 400ºF, for fresh rolls.
     Not long ago, I had a meatball sub sandwich from Subway. It wasn't as good as I thought it should be. I happen, as a staple, have a bag of small Italian meatballs in my freezer. I also had a jar of Marinara sauce in my pantry. All I had to do was buy slices of mozzarella cheese.
     I heated up the rolls as per package directions. I then sliced them in half and toasted them under the broiler briefly. This is so the bread is a bit toasty on the inside so it won't be soggy and mush under your meatballs. Doesn't have to be light brown, just need to dry the bread out a bit. I halved the meatballs and heated them up in a small pot. I halved the meatballs to they'd lay flat in the sandwich and would be less likely to fall out and down the front of your shirt while you're eating. I heated the meatballs halves first, seasoning just a touch with Nature's Seasoning (salt, pepper and a few extra spices.) Once they were heated through, I added the jar of marinara sauce. I added some freshly grated Italian seasoning and heated this all up.
    Time to assemble the sandwiches. Put both halves of each roll on a sheet pan. Add meatballs and sauce carefully to one half of a sub, without spilling on the sheet pan. Top with a slice of mozzarella cheese. Broil all the rolls (both the empty half which will toast and brown nicely) just until the cheese is melted. Remove from the oven and sprinkle the tops with ground oregano. Top meatball bottom with toasted top roll. Eat while still warm. :)