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Christmas Leftovers: Ham and Split Pea Soup

23 Dec

We always have ham for Christmas dinner. And we always have tons of leftovers. While ham sandwiches and reheated slices of ham are tasty in their own right, I wanted something with more flavor and more vegetables incorporated in. So, I turned to ham and split pea soup! It’s perfect for those cool nights in December and it’s fairly healthy. I’ve tried several different recipes, but this one is my favorite!

Ham and Split Pea Soup

Based on the recipe from Food Network, photo from Food Network


  • 1 pound dried split peas
  • 1/2 pound dried lentils
  • 1 ham bone, with some leftover meat attached
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 cup finely chopped yellow onions
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped carrots
  • 2 teaspoons minced garlic
  • 1 pound leftover ham, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • 8 cups water
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 teaspoons fresh thyme


  1. In a large pot, melt the butter over medium-high heat.
  2. Add the onions and cook, stirring, for 2 minutes.
  3. Add the carrots and cook, stirring, until just soft, about 3 minutes.
  4. Add the garlic and cook, stirring, for 30 seconds.
  5. Add the ham bone and ham and cook, stirring, until beginning to brown.
  6. Add the dried peas, dried lentils, salt, pepper, and pepper flakes, and cook, stirring for 2 minutes.
  7. Add 8 cups of water, the bay leaf and thyme, and cook, stirring occasionally, until the peas are tender, about 1 hour. (Add more water as needed, if the soup becomes too thick or dry.)
  8. Remove the bay leaf and discard.
  9.  Serve immediately or store in your refrigerator to enjoy later!



Easy and Healthy Holiday Dinner

16 Dec

I was tempted to call this the Quick, Easy, and Healthy Holiday Dinner, but the cooking time for the ham is quite long, even though it requires very little prep time. So, this menu is quick on prep time, but a bit long on the cooking time.

Anyway, I love the citrus notes throughout these dishes. It really ties it all together!


Orange Glazed Ham

Sauteed Zucchini

Maple Orange Glazed Sweet Potatoes

Orange Glazed Ham


  • 1 (14 to 16-pound) smoked ham on the bone
  • 6 garlic cloves
  • I cup orange marmalade
  • 1/2 cup Dijon mustard
  • 1 orange, zested
  • 1/4 cup freshly squeezed orange juice


  1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Place the ham in a heavy roasting pan. You will need to bake your ham for 20 minutes per pound. Bake your ham for one hour less than the total baking time. For example, if you have a 14 pound ham, it needs to cook for 280 minutes (14 x 20 = 280), so you would initially bake for 220 minutes (280 – 60 = 220).
  2. While the ham is cooking, prepare the glaze. First, mince the garlic in a food processor fitted with the steel blade.
  3. Add the marmalade, mustard, orange zest, and orange juice and process until smooth. Reserve 3 tablespoons of the glaze for the zucchini.
  4. Once the ham is done with its initial bake (total baking time – 60 minutes), take the ham out of the oven and pour the glaze over the ham.
  5. Bake for 1 hour, until the ham is fully heated and the glaze is well browned.

Sauteed Zucchini


  • 3 medium zucchini, slice 1/4 inch thick
  • 3 tablespoons glaze (reserved from the ham glaze)
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil


  1. Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat.
  2. Add the zucchini and the glaze and toss to coat.
  3. Cook for 7 minutes or until desired doneness.

Maple Orange Glazed Sweet Potatoes


  • 2 1/2 pounds unpeeled sweet potatoes, cut into 1/4-inch-thick slices
  • 1/3 cup fresh orange juice
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • 1 tablespoon salted butter
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon


  1. Place the sweet potato slices in a 2-quart microwave safe casserole dish.
  2. Combine the orange juice, maple syrup, cloves, and cinnamon in a small bowl. Pour juice mixture over potatoes. Top with the tablespoon of butter.
  3. Cover loosely with plastic wrap, and microwave at HIGH 5 minutes.
  4. Stir, recover with the plastic wrap and microwave for an additional 5 minutes .
  5.  Uncover, and microwave for 5 minutes or until potatoes are tender.

And, with any leftover ham, you can make ham and split pea soup (I will post that recipe next week!).


Gingerbread Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting (Ornament Cupcakes)

8 Dec

This was my first foray into decorating cupcakes with something other than frosting. It was mostly successful.

Gingerbread Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting (Ornament Cupcakes)

Based on the Epicurious Recipe


  • 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/2 teaspoon allspice
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 stick (1/4 cup) plus 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup unsulfured molasses
  • 1 large egg, beaten lightly
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 8 ounce cream cheese, softened
  • 1 1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • Colored sugar, sprinkles, M&Ms, laffy taffy, Twizzlers, and candies for decorating


  1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
  2. Into a bowl sift together the flour, the ground ginger, the cinnamon, the cloves, the allspice, and the salt.
  3. In another bowl cream 1/2 stick of the butter, add the granulated sugar, and beat the mixture until it is fluffy.
  4. Beat in the molasses and the egg, beating until the mixture is smooth.
  5. In a measuring cup combine the baking soda with 1/2 cup boiling water and stir the mixture to dissolve the baking soda.
  6. Stir the mixture into the molasses mixture (the mixture will appear curdled) and stir the molasses mixture into the flour mixture, stirring to combine the ingredients well.
  7. Line muffin tins with paper liners and spoon the batter into the liners, filling them halfway.
  8. Bake the cupcakes in the middle of the oven for 20 minutes, or until a tester comes out clean.
  9. Transfer the cupcakes to a rack and let them cool.
  10. In a bowl cream together the cream cheese, and the remaining 2 tablespoons butter, add the confectioners’ sugar and the vanilla, and beat the mixture until it is fluffy and smooth.
  11. Chill the frosting for 30 minutes.
  12. Spread the frosting on the cupcakes and decorate! I first coated my cupcakes with a layer of colored sugar. Then, I used the candies to create ornaments. Tip: for the laffy taffy, melt it for 5-10 seconds in the microwave so it is more maliable.

Post-Thanksgiving Thursday: Turkey Pot Pie and Turkey Mexican Stew

1 Dec

We are still eating leftovers from Thanksgiving! So . . . much . . . turkey . . .

But, the leftovers are made much more enjoyable by a few good recipes! My two favorites are turkey pot pie and Mexican turkey stew. These recipes are great for leftovers or for everyday cooking.

Turkey Pot Pie

Based on the Cooking Light recipe


  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 2 cups chopped leek
  • 1/4 cup chopped shallot
  • 3/4 teaspoon chopped fresh or 1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1 1/2 cups refrigerated diced potatoes with onions (such as Simply Potatoes)
  • 1/3 cup dry white wine
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 (14-ounce) can fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth
  • 2 cups chopped roasted turkey
  • 1 1/2 cups frozen mixed vegetables
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 2/3 cup half-and-half
  • Cooking spray
  • 1 1/4 cups low-fat baking mix (such as Bisquick Heart Smart)
  • 1/2 cup fat-free milk
  • 1 large egg white, lightly beaten


  1. Preheat oven to 425°.
  2. Melt butter in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add leek, shallot, and thyme; sauté 2 minutes. Add potatoes; sauté 2 minutes. Add wine; cook 1 minute or until liquid evaporates. Stir in mustard and broth; bring to a boil. Cook 4 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in chicken, mixed vegetables, salt, and pepper; cook 1 minute. Combine cornstarch and 2 tablespoons water in a small bowl, stirring with a whisk. Add cornstarch mixture and half-and-half to pan. Reduce heat, and simmer 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Spoon mixture into a 13 x 9-inch baking dish coated with cooking spray.
  3. Lightly spoon baking mix into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Combine baking mix, milk, and egg in a medium bowl, stirring with a whisk. Spoon batter over chicken mixture; spread evenly to cover. Bake at 425° for 20 minutes or until topping is golden and filling is bubbly. Let stand 10 minutes.

Mexican Turkey Stew

Based on the Cooking Light Recipe


  • 3 large Anaheim chiles, seeded and halved lengthwise
  • 2 teaspoons canola oil
  • Cooking spray
  • 1 1/2 cups chopped onion
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 tablespoons ground guajillo chile powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons dried oregano
  • 4 cups water
  • 3 cups fat-free, lower-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 (15-ounce) can golden or white hominy, drained
  • 4 cups leftover shredded cooked turkey breast
  • 1/3 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup roasted unsalted pumpkinseed kernels
  • 1/2 cup thinly sliced radishes
  • 1/2 cup thinly sliced green onions
  • 1/2 cup (2 ounces) crumbled queso fresco cheese
  • Lime wedges (optional)


  1. Preheat broiler.
  2. Place pepper halves, skin side up, on a foil-lined baking sheet. Broil 6 minutes or until blackened. Place in a paper bag, and fold to close tightly. Let stand for 15 minutes. Peel and chop; set aside.
  3. Heat oil in a large Dutch oven coated with cooking spray over medium heat. Add onion to pan; cook 6 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add garlic; cook 1 minute, stirring occasionally. Add chile powder and oregano; cook 1 minute, stirring constantly. Stir in 4 cups water, broth, and hominy; bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer, uncovered, 10 minutes. Stir in Anaheim chiles and turkey; cook for 2 minutes. Stir in cilantro and salt; cook 3 minutes. Ladle about 1 1/3 cups soup into each of 8 bowls. Top each serving with 1 tablespoon pumpkinseed kernels, 1 tablespoon radishes, 1 tablespoon green onions, and 1 tablespoon cheese. Serve with lime wedges, if desired.

What are your favorite ways to use Thanksgiving leftovers?

Thanksgiving Thursday: Sweet Potatoes Two Ways

24 Nov

My husband and I have very different ideas about sweet potatoes. I love savory, he craves sweet. So, this year, I’m making sweet potatoes two ways. Savory Rosemary Mashed Sweet Potatoes for me and a marshmallow-covered Sweet Potato Casserole for him.

Savory Rosemary Mashed Sweet Potatoes

Based on Cooking Light’s Rosemary Mashed Sweet Potatoes


  • 1 1/3 pounds sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks
  • 2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh rosemary
  • 1/4 teaspoon coarse sea salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper


  • Place potatoes in a medium saucepan; cover with water. Bring to a boil; cook 30-45 minutes or until tender.
  • Drain. Place potatoes in a large bowl; beat with a mixer at medium speed until smooth.
  • Add rosemary, salt, and pepper; beat until blended.
  • Spoon into a bowl; drizzle with remaining 1 1/2 teaspoons oil.

Sweet Potato Casserole

Based on Emeril’s Sweet Potato Casserole


  • 3 ½ to 4 pounds fresh sweet potatoes, scrubbed well
  • ¼ cup light brown sugar
  • ¼ cup evaporated milk or heavy cream
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 2 tablespoons orange juice
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon finely grated orange zest
  • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
  • Pinch ground mace
  • Pinch ground cloves
  • ¼ cup finely chopped toasted pecans
  • 3 cups miniature marshmallows


  1. Place potatoes in a medium saucepan; cover with water. Bring to a boil; cook 30-45 minutes or until tender.
  2. Drain. In a large bowl combine the potatoes (you should have about 4 cups), sugar, evaporated milk, butter, orange juice, vanilla, salt, orange zest, cinnamon, nutmeg, mace and cloves and beat until smooth.
  3. Spoon the mixture into a 2 quart casserole dish and sprinkle with the chopped pecans. Arrange the marshmallows in an even layer over the top and bake until the marshmallows are lightly browned, 35 to 45 minutes. This can be made a day ahead, covered, and refrigerated, then returned to room temperature and baked 35 to 45 minutes before serving.

Drunken Monkey Cupcakes and Cupcake Decorating 101

20 Nov

Bananas. Chocolate. Rum. Cupcakes. Perfection.

Drunken Monkey Cupcakes



  • 1 1/4 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 very ripe large bananas, mashed
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 1/4 cup mini chocolate chips


  • 2 1/2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1/2 cup cocoa powder
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 3 tablespoons dark rum or 3 tablespoons Kahlua
  • 1 -2 tablespoons heavy cream


  1. Position rack in center of oven and preheat to 350°F. Line the muffin tin with paper liners.
  2. Whisk flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in medium bowl to blend.
  3. Mix sour cream and vanilla into mashed bananas.
  4. Using electric mixer, beat sugar and butter in large bowl until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes.
  5. Add egg and egg yolk and beat until well blended.
  6. Add flour mixture in 3 additions alternately with banana-sour cream mixture in 2 additions, beginning and ending with flour mixture and beating just until blended after each addition.
  7. Stir in mini chocolate chips.
  8. Spoon batter into prepared muffin tin, filling each liner with 1/4 cup of the batter.
  9. Bake cupcakes about 20 minutes.
  10. Transfer cupcakes to a wire rack and let cool completely.
  11. While cupcakes are cooling, prepare the frosting.
  12. Sift powdered sugar and cocoa powder into a medium bowl.
  13. Using an electric mixer, beat in butter and rum until smooth.
  14. Using an electric mixer, beat in just enough heavy cream to make the frosting the desired consistency.
  15. Decorate your cupcakes!

I’ll be honest, the decorating of these cupcakes was an experiment. I used the typical 1M swirl on last week’s pumpkin cupcakes and I wanted to try something different. So, I put a  #11 tip on my pastry bag and went to town. This is how I learned the most important lesson of cupcake decorating: Have fun and experiment! The second most important lesson: Have fun and experiment with cupcakes that contain “drunken” in the name so that if they look funny, you can act like you did it on purpose – they’re drunken cupcakes!


Thanksgiving Thursday – Deep Dish Winter Fruit Pie

17 Nov

I made this pie last year and it was fabulous. This is, literally, my favorite pie. Ever. That being said, the recipe below is substantially the same one that I found on Epicurious last year. Why? Because it was amazing as-is. No tweaking needed. Well, actually, a little tweaking. I reduced how much filling the recipe makes because I had a veritable ton left over last year. And I hate to waste delicious pie filling!

Deep Dish Winter Fruit Pie

Recipe adapted from Epicurious, photo courtesy of Epicurious


Pie Pastry

  • 1 3/4 cups (8 3/4 ounces) all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 12 tablespoons (6 ounces) cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
  • 3 tablespoons ice water
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice

Walnut Crumb Topping

  • 3/4 cup (3 3/4 ounces) all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup packed (5 3/4 ounces) brown sugar
  • 3/4 cup (3 ounces) raw walnuts, coarsely chopped
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 6 tablespoons (3 ounces) unsalted butter, melted

Fruit Filling

  • 1/2 cup dried figs
  • 3 apples, peeled, cored, and sliced 1/4 inch thick
  • 3 pears, peeled, cored, and sliced 1/4 inch thick
  • 1/2 cup cranberries, fresh or frozen
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch


  1. To make the pie pastry, put the flour, sugar, and salt in a bowl, stir to combine, then put the bowl in the freezer for 10 minutes.
  2. Add the butter to the flour mixture and toss to evenly coat. Cut the butter into the flour mixture using using a pastry blender, two knives as a substitute for a pastry blender or your hands just until the mixture becomes coarse and crumbly and the butter is the size of peas.
  3. Stir the water and lemon juice together, then pour over the dry ingredients and stir just until the dry ingredients are moistened.
  4. Dump the dough onto a well-floured work surface and press it into a 6-inch disk. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.
  5. Roll the chilled dough into a 14-inch disk, then line a 9 or 10 by 3-inch springform pan with the rolled-out dough. Patch any holes and trim off any dough that hangs over the edges of the pan. Chill for an additional 30 minutes while you prepare the crumb topping and the fruit filling.
  6. To make the walnut crumb topping, mix the flour, brown sugar, walnuts, cinnamon, and salt together in a bowl. Stir in the butter, then work it in with your hands until the texture of crumbs. Put the topping in the refrigerator while you make the fruit filling.
  7. Position a rack in the lower third of the oven and preheat the oven to 375°F.
  8. To make the fruit filling, remove the stem from each fig, then boil the figs in 1 cup of water for 5 minutes. Drain and set aside until cool enough to handle.
  9. Slice each fig into 4 to 5 pieces, put them in a large bowl, and add the apples, pears, and cranberries. Separately, rub the sugar and cornstarch together, then add to the fruit and gently toss until evenly coated.
  10. Transfer the filling to the pie shell and top with the walnut crumb. Bake in the lower third of the oven for 60 to 75 minutes, or until the crumb is golden, the fruit juices are bubbling thickly around the edges, and the fruit is tender when pierced with a wooden skewer. If the crumb is getting too dark, cover it with foil.

Enjoy the non-traditional pie amazingness!

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