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    Entries in Colors! (8)

    Friday
    Apr132012

    Ham and Beans

    Last week I told you I’d show you a fabulous way to use your leftover ham from the holiday weekend. My favorite way to make use of it is ham and beans.  Heck, I’ve even been known to make a ham with the driving motivation being the subsequent pot o’ beans.  Although, I’ve also been known to make a roast just for the ‘leftovers’ French dip, so it’s possible my judgment is a little faulty.  Regardless, these beans are to die for.  In fact, my house smelled so good while making them that Otto was sure to keep his nose unobstructed so he wouldn’t miss one whiff.

    Here’s what you’ll need:

    Beans
    Celery
    Onion
    Garlic
    Ham stock
    Ham bone
    Ham
    Salt & Pepper
    Water

    I know there are no measurements listed there.  This is one thing where measurements just don’t really apply, but don’t be scared, I’ll show you how it’s done.  The first thing you need to do is sort through your beans and make sure there aren’t any pebbles or anything in there. 

    You can use any kind of bean you like.  I decided to go with this lovely 13 bean mix, my thought being, ‘Look at all those pretty colors.  That will make a beautiful soup!’.

    After checking them over, rinse them and cover them with plenty of water, then leave them overnight. 

    The next day, drain and rinse them.

    Then put them into a pan and cover with about 1 inch of water. Bring them to a boil, stirring occasionally.  After about an hour, I was starting to question my logic in choosing colorful beans.  The whole pot had just turned a kind of grayish brown color. 

    When they’ve simmered for about an hour, they should be mostly tender.  This is a good time to add your ham bone.  If you haven’t recently made a ham, you could use a couple of ham hocks instead. 

    Simmer for another hour, stirring occasionally to make sure the beans don’t start to stick to the bottom of the pan.  Add the celery, onion, and garlic to the mix and continue stirring and simmering.  If it gets too thick at any point, go ahead and add more water. 

    After another hour, it should be getting thick, and the beans should be starting to fall apart. 

    Time for the secret ingredient that makes these absolutely amazing.  Ham stock. 

    What is ham stock?  It’s the liquid that cooks off of your ham.  In my case, that usually also includes pineapple juice, brown sugar, and spices.  Anytime you make a ham, always save the liquid and bone.  If you’re not going to use them right away, freeze them.  So, once the ham stock is in, dice up some ham. 

    Stir it into the pot and cook it for about 20 minutes. At this point, the beans should be thick, creamy, and delicious.  Check for seasoning, adding salt and pepper if necessary. 

    So much for my theory of colorful beans being pretty. 

    The whole pot ended up brown, but oh well.  After smelling these all day, color hardly matters.  I still like the bean mix anyway.  It brings different sizes and textures to the mix, and the lentils and split peas totally break down and help thicken it. 

    I don’t really have any serving suggestions… perhaps pair it with bread?  Personally, just give me a bowlful and a spoon, and I’m happy. 

    What food do you make just for the leftovers?

     


     

    Wednesday
    Apr042012

    A Little Somethin' Froggy on the Side

    When I mentioned to Seeley that I was thinking about making frog eye salad, she made it quite clear that she wouldn’t be eating anything with frog eyes in it.  Perhaps she’ll come around when she sees that the ‘frog eyes’ in this recipe are actually just pasta.  Traditionally, it’s made with canned fruit and marshmallows and coconut, but as you know by now, we don’t really do traditional around here.  I decided to use the basic recipe, but to put in my favorite fruits.  You can put whatever you want in it, and it’ll be sure to make a fabulous side to go with your Easter ham.  And speaking of Easter ham, be sure you save the liquid that cooks off and the bone and extra meat, and next week, I’ll show you a fabulous way to use them.  Now, onto fruity, creamy, delicious frog eye salad. 

    Here’s what you’ll need:

    1 cup acini de pepe, uncooked
    ¾ cups sugar
    ½ teaspoon salt
    3 Tablespoons flour
    1 ¼ cups pineapple juice, drained from canned pineapple
    1 Tablespoon lemon juice
    2 eggs

    Whatever fruit you want to put in.  I used strawberries, kiwi, blueberries, and mango.

    Drain your pineapple.  I used all of the juice from a big can of tidbits and a small can of crushed, but used only about half of the actual tidbits.  If you don’t have quite enough juice, you can add another kind of juice or even water to get you to 1 ¼ cups.  Put the pineapple into a container or bag and into the fridge until you need it later. 

    Cook your pasta for the least amount of time on the package directions. 

    Drain it, and stir in a tablespoon of butter.

    In a medium saucepan, whisk together the flour, sugar, and salt.

    Whisk the eggs and lemon juice into the pineapple juice. 

    Pour that into the dry ingredients and whisk them together over medium heat. 

    Cook, stirring constantly, until the mixture becomes thick.  If you run your finger through it on the back of the spoon, it will not run back together.

    Pour that over the cooked acini de pepe and stir them together. 

    Cover with plastic wrap directly on the surface and refrigerate overnight. 

    The next day, it’s time for the fruit.  This is how I like to cube a mango.  Cut both sides off, avoiding the pit. 

    Then run a knife along the inside, not going through the skin, making little cubes. 

    Turn the whole thing inside out, and then you can just scrape them off with a spoon, or even your fingers, into a bowl. 

    Dice up the strawberries. 

    Blueberries just have to be rinsed.

    And last, but not least, is the kiwi. 

    Cut off both ends and stand it upright.

    Cut down the sides, removing the peel in strips.

    Quarter it and dice it.  (I used 2 kiwis)

    Look how pretty that is!  Lovely colors for springtime. 

    Add your pineapple to the bowl and stir all the fruit together. 

    Pull your pasta mixture out of the fridge.  It should be quite solid. 

    To 2 cups cream, add 2 teaspoons vanilla and 3 Tablespoons sugar. 

    Whip until… voilá!

    With a spatula, loosen up the pasta mixture a bit.  It’s pretty solid, so you’ll kind of have to chop and smoosh. 

    Fold in the whipped cream in batches.  At first it will be more stirring/smashing than actual folding. 

    But eventually, the mixture will start to come together, and you’ll be able to fold properly. 

    Now, add your fruit.  Oh dear.  Do you see the same problem I do?  Obviously my bowl isn’t big enough.  Oh well, I have confidence in my abilities! 

    Fold in your fruit until everything is incorporated.  And there you have it!  Frog Eye Salad.  It’s sweet, creamy, fruity, and delicious. 

    Don’t you just love all the beautiful colors? 

    What’s your favorite springtime side dish?