Monday, December 31, 2012

The end of 2012; Soups, Rice and more!

Well most of you who know me well can agree that 2012 has been quite a year!!
From moving to a new area, getting married, starting a new business, and just settling into married life in a rural area.... I've been busy!!

And I've been cooking like CRAZY!!

From my homemade applesauce (image above, Blog to come in January), to making new soups (newest below), to camp cooking (Rice and Pizza), to experimenting with new ingredients and different techniques.

Here's a recipe I've been promising for a while.

Island Rice - Hempire 2012

2 Cups Long Grain White Rice
1 Can BUSH's Low Sodium Black Beans
1 Bunch Green Onion
1 small Red Onion
2 Large Tomatoes, Diced
1 Clove Garlic (Optional)
Lime Juice
Rice Wine Vinegar
Coarse Sea Salt

Cook Rice according to package directions.
Dice Tomatoes, chop red onion and chop green onion.  Mince Garlic.
RINSE Black Beans
Toss Black Beans, Tomatoes, Onions, and Garlic in bowl.
Add a Pinch Coarse Sea Salt
Add a Dash or two of Lime Juice
Add a dash of Rice Wine Vinegar.
Once Rice is cooked, fluff and add a dash of rice wine vinegar.
Let rice cool for a few minutes and then mix in with rest of ingredients.
Season with Extra Lime Juice and Rice Wine Vinegar and Salt to taste.
You should serve this dish at room temperature.

This is the dish that I brought to HEMPIRE (Hem Empire) 2012 and then of course I forgot to send out the recipe!  So here it is!   You can also get creative and add some pineapple or sesame oil!  Sorry, it was so good I forgot to take a picture!!  I like to make up a batch of this and serve it with Chicken Breast.

Something a little more recent that I made is more WINTER appropriate.. And it used my Christmas present!!

Corn, Ham, and Potato Chowder 

2 cups Corn - Whole kernel Frozen
2 cups Diced Ham (Leftover from a Baked Ham the night before)
Ham Jelly (see Day 2)**
Diced Yukon Potatoes (about 4 medium sized)
4 Slices of Thick Cut Bacon, cut into 1" pieces
1 cup chopped green onion
Sharp Cheddar Cheese, Grated, about 1 cup.
3 tbsp flour
heavy whipping cream

Day 1.
In your LODGE PORCELAIN ENAMELED CAST IRON DUTCH OVEN, cook your small ham (bone in shank or butt), adding 1.5 cups water.
Once your done cooking your ham, do not throw out the juices left in the pan!  Instead, remove any meat or debris and let liquids cool overnight.  Chop up at least 1 to 2 cups of ham for other dishes!

Day 2.
Skim the Fat from the Ham Stock.  The stock should have gelled up a bit overnight.  You want to remove all the hardened fat.
Remove the Ham Jelly** (I refer to this as Ham Jelly as this is the BASE for this soup and more!

Clean out dutch oven by rinsing with water and wiping clean.  Then the fun begins!  Remember that all ingredients can be modified to your liking.

Cook bacon until crispy(or at least until the fat is rendered well) over medium heat.
Remove bacon and set aside.
Add onions and a few slivers of garlic and cook for 4-6 minutes or until fragrant 
Do not let the items burn, if the pan is too hot, turn down a degree or two.
Add Corn (if using frozen, let the water cook out for a few minutes).
Add diced Potatoes and let cook for 2 minutes, heating them up.
Add some fresh ground pepper - Yum Yum!!
Add a few pats of butter - UNSALTED BUTTER Please!
Once the butter has been melted, sprinkle all ingredients with flour and mix well.
You've added enough flour when all items are coated - and are still wet and sticky.
Add some water to get the flour to mix (up to 1/2 cup).
Then add the ham (because you cooked your ham in the dutch oven the night before, it should not be too dry to add it now.  If you worry about overcooking the ham, feel free to add it at the last minute).
Add the Ham Jelly and stir well.
This should add just enough liquid to really coat all the ingredients, but now comes the good part - the cream.  We call this a Chowder because of the cream added.  And we do like our Cream here!
So with your wooden spoon, start stirring the pot with one hand, add 1/4 cup of cream, stir again.  Keep adding cream, in 1/4 cup increments.  If you're one of those that thinks Cream is evil, you can either add some water to thin it out or use Whipping Cream, Half n Half or Whole Milk.  But in doing so, you may have to add more cooking time to get the right consistency.
We like to use enough cream to make the chowder a white color, usually about 1.5 cups,
Then, if we didn't have enough Fat in here yet, we're adding a bit of cheese.  Just 1/3 cup of SHARP cheddar cheese...and some more pepper!!  Don't skimp on the pepper!!

The most important part now, is to bring the chowder just up to a boil, then reduce and simmer until the potatoes are cooked, about 20-30 minutes, stirring often as the bottom may start to stick.  If you didn't add the ham before, add it towards the end and then let simmer for at least 5 minutes more.

When the potatoes are tender.... and you're ready to serve, serve in a bowl and top with:
Grated Cheddar Cheese, Green Onions and crumbled bacon. Optional items can include:  Chopped Cilantro or a dollop of Sour Cream!

While I don't have step by step pictures.  I do have this final result.  Man was it good!!!

You can tell we liked it!  I made extra for lunch!  This is going in the "Keeper" pile!

So here we are, on New Year's Eve, ready to say good bye to 2012 and hello to 2013.
We're looking forward to new adventures, new foodie experiences, new travel locations and who knows what else!

Happy New Year!!


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