Monday, September 14, 2009

Ham Soup

Well during the weekend I made good use of some left over roasted ham. I turned it into a delicious comforting soup. My family and I were all under the weather. It came out great despite the electricity going off and on. Its been raining like crazy here in Texas. Anyway here is the recipe for my tasty soup :

2 pounds left over ham on bone or fresh
1 medium sweet onion, chopped
4 large carrots, washed and roughly cut
1 large potato, chopped into even pieces
3 medium cloves of garlic, chopped
1/4 cup sofrito**
2 Tbsps. Olive Oil
1 1/2- 2 cups of fresh cilantro
1 4oz. can tomato sauce
Spaghetti noodles (to your liking)
2 packets of Goya Ham Flavored concentrate*
2 packets Goya Sazón*
Goya Adobo to taste*
salt and pepper to taste
8 cups of cold water


1. Carve the ham off the bone and chop into even pieces, set aside. (Don't throw away the bone!)

2. In a large pot heat 1 Tbsp. of olive oil on medium heat. Add the garlic, onions, cilantro, and carrots and turn up the heat to med high and saute for 3 minutes. Remove and set aside.

3. Add the other Tbsp. of olive oil to the pot and add the ham, saute for 3 minutes. Then add the sofrito, tomato sauce, and Goya packets, turn heat down to medium.

4. Add the garlic, onions, cilantro, and carrots back to the pot. Add the ham bone as well. Then add water to pot and adobo, salt and pepper to taste. (NOTE: Do not add too much salt, the ham and Goya products contain salt as well.)

5. Turn heat up to high. Once it starts to boil, reduce heat to medium and cover, let simmer for 1 hour.

6. Once the soup has been simmering for one hour add the potatoes and simmer for 45 minutes longer.

6. When the potatoes are done, add the noodles and turn up heat to med high and cook for 10-13 minutes longer.

7. When soup is finished discard bone and ladle into bowls. Serve with fresh french bread. Enjoy!

* The Goya packets and Adobo can be found in the Spanish isle at your Grocers Market.

** Sofrito

It is a staple in Puerto Rican cooking and the base for nearly all the food. Here is my recipe:

1 large green bell pepper, chopped
1 medium onion, chopped
4 garlic cloves, smashed
1/2 cup green pimento stuffed olives

What I do is stick everything into the food processor until smooth. Others prefer the texture of the chopped sofrito. It has a pungent smell so keep it in a tightly sealed container. I prefer glass because it the smell will permeate and stay with plastic. It keeps in the fridge for a good while.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Belgian Chicken

Well yesterday evening I made Chicken Braised in Belgian Ale with Cabbage. I decided on this because it looked like a good comfort food and budget. So this cooking through cookbooks will most likely be a monthly deal. I will also change it from dinner to a lunch and have some one watch the little ones. They made it very difficult to cook the other night. Other than that (and the lack of juniper berries...expensive) everything turned out delicious.

It took me about 3 hours to do the cooking, mostly because of the kids. I also made homemade mashed potatoes with real butter and half & half to accompany the dish. The brew I used was a Leffe Blonde it was a nice fruity like ale went very well with the chicken. I was disappointed that I didn't get to use juniper berries in this dish. It called for 3 berries and it cost about $8.00 for 3 oz. of dried berries. So I went without I really don't plan to make a bunch of juniper berry dishes. Perhaps in the future when I make it again and have a little more money I'll spring for them.

I made the potatoes first with russets and set them aside. Then I went on with the chicken, and remembering from the Julie & Julia movie... Julia Child was right if you dry the meat it does brown better. I didn't have a dutch oven I used my gigantic chicken fryer pan instead it worked just fine. Although do want to eventually get a dutch oven. There are tons of kitchen cookware and gadgets I want. One thing at a time though.

Overall I was pleased with the out come. It was definitely a comfort food with the slow braised chicken, onions, and carrots in that lovely simmering ale sauce. Then I used some French artisan bread to soak up everything else. Bliss...

Here is the recipe I used from from The Best Of Cooking Pleasures from Cooking Club America:


1 Tbsp. butter
1 Tbsp. vegetable oil
1 (4-6 lb.) chicken, cut up
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. freshly ground pepper
1 large onion, coarsely chopped
1 large carrot, coarsely chopped
1 large garlic clove, chopped
2 Tbsp. all-purpose flour
1 (12 oz.) bottle Belgian Ale or other full-bodied beer
1 cup reduced-sodium chicken broth
3 juniper berries, crushed and chopped
2 thyme sprigs
1 bay leaf


1 (2 lb.) head green cabbage, quartered, cored and slice (1/2 inch)
1 Tbsp. olive oil
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. freshly ground pepper

1. Heat butter and vegetable oil in large non- reactive Dutch oven or heavy pot over medium high heat until butter is melted. Sprinkle the chicken with the salt and pepper. Add the chicken in batches to Dutch oven; cook 10 minutes or until browned. Remove chicken and pour out all but 1 Tbsp. of drippings from the Dutch oven.

2. Reduce heat to medium. Add onions, carrot, and garlic cook and stir 5 minutes or until softened. Sprinkle vegetables with flour; cook and stir an additional minute

3. Add beer and broth. Bring to a boil. Add juniper berries, thyme,and bay leaf; return chicken to pot. Reduce heat to low; cover and simmer 40 minutes or until chicken is tender and no longer pink.

4. Meanwhile blanch cabbage in large pot of boiling salted water for about 3 1/2 minutes. Drain and cool under running water.

5. Place chicken on platter. Remove and discard thyme and bay leaf. Skim fat from liquid. Increase heat to med-high; boil 10 minutes or until sauce thickens. Return chicken to pot and cook until hot.

6. Meanwhile, heat olive oil in large skillet over medium heat. Add cabbage salt and pepper cook 5 minutes. Spoon cabbage on plate and , top with chicken and sauce.

Serves 6

Monday, August 17, 2009

Let the Cooking Begin!

Well my best friend April gave me a wonderful idea inspired from watching the movie Julie & Julia. Instead of cooking my way through Julia Child's Mastering the Art of French Cooking, I will pick some recipes from various cookbooks. The other difference will be that I will only do this perhaps twice a month maybe 3 times. I have two small children that will definitely make it a challenge to get around the kitchen. So I will write down how it turned out and how I feel about my meals.

I have like 13 ethinic cookbooks, and there are sooo many recipes to choose from. I am particularly interested in Balinese cooking. I've had a book for a while now. So I might start with that, I will be cooking in another 2 weeks though when I get my next pay check. Balinese ingredients seem a little pricey depending on what I cook, but I look foward to it. I love spicy exotic things. I also was thinking about making some Korean dishes as well. I got a Korean cookbook as a gift and I feel bad because I haven't made anything from it. I guess my 1st month of cooking will be Asian.

I can't wait to start. I am doing this for me I don't expect to get famous or really make any money from this (although that would be nice :D ) I love cooking and feeding my friends & family and enjoying eating what I made with them. So until next time!

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Ice Cream Cake

Well its ungodly hot here in Texas and I thought perhaps a cool dessert would be good right about now. Its simple and delicious and cheaper than purchasing a small $30.00 ice cream cake! This home made version will cost you about $6.00-10.00 depending on ingredients. Its all made using your favorite box cake and ice cream! :D

1. Bake cake using two 8 inch pans and let cool.

2. In another 8 inch pan place a sheet of aluminum or wax paper a little bigger in the pan inside and fill with softened ice cream of your choice, let re-freeze over night or 4 hours. This should be done ahead of time to make things faster.

3. Remove ice cream from pan, you can use a little warm water to release the ice cream. Fill the sink with some warm water and swish the pan gently, the release the ice cream.

4. Trim the top of one of the cakes so the ice cream will lay flat on the center when you assemble it.

5. Lastly, working quickly, put your favorite frosting on it and put it back in the freezer until you are going to serve.

Note: Take it out about 15-20 mins before cutting makes it easier.

Some cake variations are:

Reese's Cake: Use chocolate cake, peanut butter ice cream, milk chocolate frosting, and top with Reese's cups or Reese's pieces

Death by Chocolate: Use chocolate cake with chocolate pieces baked in, triple chocolate ice cream, dark or regular chocolate frosting, and top with more chocolate.

Fresh and Fruity: Instead of ice cream you can use sherbet, use a white or fruit cake, frost the cake in whipped topping, and then top with fresh fruit.