Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Cheesy Ham and Potato Soup

Finally.  This week has been crazy.  I'm feeling much better, by the way, but what a bug that was.  I'm guessing it was food poisoning because at least 15 other people got it that were at my aunt and uncle's.  I know stomach flu is contagious, but once I was feeling bad I stayed away from people, and didn't even come close to some.  Who knows.  At least everyone is feeling better (I hope).

Monday was a full day of work, then the first night of volleyball.  I really missed playing volleyball, didn't get to last year because I was pregnant.  However now that I have a kid, I feel really guilty playing so much because that's time away from him.  Something is going to have to give, because I have volleyball Monday and Wednesday, and then teach aerobics Tuesday and Thursday.  At least I'm home by 6:30 on aerobics night.

That also leaves little time to blog.  Sorry.  I did attempt to last night, but Blogger wasn't letting me on, kept coming up with an error message.  I finally got my new camera going, so I wanted to show you some pics.

Since I don't have a ton of time this morning, I'm just going to post my yummy new soup recipe that we used to get rid of leftover ham.  Much like the cheesy chowder I made a couple weeks ago, this is not a healthy recipe.  More of a comfort soup.

Courtesy of

Cheesy Ham and Potato Soup

3 1/2 c potatoes, diced (I kept the skin on)
1/3 c celery, diced
1/3 c onion, finely chopped
2 c ham, diced and cooked
3 1/4 c water
2 T chicken bouillon granules
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
5 T butter
5 T flour
2 c milk
2 c shredded cheddar cheese (I used mild and sharp)

Combine potatoes, celery, onion, ham and water in stockpot and bring to boil.  Cook over medium heat until potatoes are tender.  Stir in chicken bouillon, salt and pepper.  In separate saucepan, melt butter over medium-low heat.  Whisk in flour and cook stirring constantly until thick.  Slowly stir in milk so as not to allow lumps to form and all milk is added.  Continue to stir until thick (4-5 minutes).  Add in cheese and stir until melted.  Stir the cheese mixture into the stockpot and cook until heated thoroughly.  (It will get thicker as it cools and is reheated)

Such a rich and creamy soup... so good on a cold day.  And when you have a ton of ham to use up.  I think the only thing I'd do differently is use chicken stock instead of water and bouillon cubes or granules.  Those things are pretty nasty, have you ever looked at the ingredients?

Here's a pic of the soup:

And couple random pics of Tyler:

Ignore the crazy lady with her eyes closed... that's Tyler's daycare creation on his head

Here's supper last night, English muffin pizzas with sauce, leftover ham, and spinach.  Mozzarella cheese was sprinkled on top after the picture.

That's all for now... off to work!

  • Sunday, November 27, 2011

    Stomach flu!!

    What a way to end my lovely Thanksgiving weekend.

    Yesterday we headed up to my aunt and uncle's house in north central Iowa.  I felt a little nauseous in the car but figured it was just some motion sickness or something.  Then we ate a great meal- turkey and the usual- but I didn't really feel much better.  Then about an hour later it, along with breakfast, came right back up.  And about an hour later it came right out the other end, if you know what I mean.  It was horrible.  My stomach felt like someone was wringing it out like a towel.  I've never had that before.  Needless to say, we did not stay too long.

    It was not a fun ride home, curled up in the back seat.  Thank goodness for my brother's girlfriend Mollie, who rode with us part of the way and helped with Tyler.  I went to bed as soon as I got home and slept for about 11 hours.  Apparently Tyler had really bad diarrhea in the middle of the night, but didn't seem to affect his temperament.  My dad got pretty sick too, and then today I guess my mom wasn't feeling great and Mollie got sick!  Stupid flu.

    I did feel much better today, just really tired.  Needless to say, I don't really have any pictures for you today.  I did make some soup tonight, but the pictures are on the new camera, and I haven't had time to figure that out yet.  So I'll get you the pics and recipes this week sometime.

    I'm off to bed again... hope your holiday weekend was happy and healthy!  And free of the stomach flu!  

    Friday, November 25, 2011

    Thanksgiving Part 2

    I just enjoyed a piece of the pumpkin cheesecake.  And then another one.  Still tastes ok, don't worry.

    So on to Thursday morning.  As soon as we got up, I started the cranberry sauce in the crockpot.  This one was fairly easy, just had to peel some apples.  

    • 4 medium Gala apples, peeled, cored, quartered & sliced
    • 1 (12 oz) package fresh cranberries
    • 5 tbsp brown sugar (or more to taste)
    • 1 tsp grated orange zest
    • 1/4 cup fresh orange juice
    • 1/4 cup chopped crystallized ginger
    1. Place all of the apple pieces and cranberries in a large bowl and stir in brown sugar and orange zest.
    2. Pour orange juice into the bottom of a large crockpot (slow cooker) and add the apple mixture.
    3. Cover, turn the crockpot setting to Low, and cook for about 8 hours (or on High for 5 hours), stirring occasionally and breaking up the apple slices and cranberries with a wooden spoon as they soften.
    4. Stir in crystallized ginger. Taste and add an additional tablespoon or two of brown sugar if you find the sauce to be too tart.
    5. Serve warm or room temperature.

    The only thing I changed from this recipe was that I added two bags of cranberries.  I love cranberry sauce, and this one hit the spot.  This made a big batch so I was sure to have leftovers.  Tonight I had a turkey sandwich on wheat with provolone cheese and cranberry sauce.

    Let me take a moment and give a shout-out to my wonderful hubby.  He spent a ton of time on the turkey, and it was well worth it.  He started on Tuesday night, with brining the turkey.  I know he used apple juice and a bunch of spices to brine it, but that's as specific as I know.  Then he dried it out the next night to get the skin crunchy?  Then onto the smoker it went on Thanksgiving morning.  I believe he used apple wood chips.

    Here's pre-smoker turkey:

    and here is the masterpiece:

    This was THE best turkey I've had, so juicy and flavorful.  Good job honey!!

    Now my next recipe.  Again I turned to Allrecipes for a salad dressing.  I wanted to use up some spinach and thought I'd attempt making my own dressing.  I used this recipe for the dressing, but not the salad.  The strawberry selection isn't the greatest in November so I used dried cranberries and mandarin oranges, then made some candied walnuts to sprinkle on top.  

    Spinach Salad Dressing

    • 2 tablespoons sesame seeds
    • 1 tablespoon poppy seeds
    • 1/2 cup white sugar
    • 1/2 cup olive oil
    • 1/4 cup distilled white vinegar
    • 1/4 teaspoon paprika
    • 1/4 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
    • 1 tablespoon minced onion

    I put all the ingredients in a shaker (that we use for protein shakes), shook it up and let it sit in the fridge for a couple hours.  

    When I served the salad, I just put the dressing on the side, so the spinach didn't get soggy.  Tasted great.

    Here are some other shots from the day:

    Spiral ham 

    Thumbs up from Hubby

    Makeshift crib for Tyler since cousin Beau was in his crib

    We had a pretty great day, just hanging out, playing cards, watching football and having a couple beverages.  I'm very thankful to have such wonderful family and friends in my life.  I just look forward to the times we get to get together and hang out. 

    We ended the get-together with some Scattegories.  I'm surprised our brains worked after all the food and drinks.  

    Somehow, my mom and I made it up to midnight, and ventured out to Walmart to catch some Black Friday deals.  It was crazy!!  

    We pulled up and there were hardly any parking spots, but we managed to snag one right by the door.  Then when we got in, we didn't really wait around too long, and they had exactly what I wanted.  I was after a nicer camera so we can finally get some quality pictures on here.  They only had 3, and I got one of them.  My mom was after a Kindle Fire, but those were gone right away.  

    My mom- scared of all the crazy people!

    We walked around for a bit looking at other deals, since the lines were ridiculous.  At one point, I looked over and saw that someone was checking out at the jewelry counter, so we headed over to check it out.  Sure enough, she was ringing people up, so we just checked out!  haha We walked past super long lines on our way out and headed home to bed.  We got there about 11:50 pm, and were home at 12:30.  Score.

    I still don't have the camera up and running, so stay tuned for some high quality pics.

    This morning we just kind of bummed around and my mom made us a lovely egg dish with some leftover ham, green peppers and onions.  

    That was good fuel for the rest of the day.  My mom and I headed out to shop downtown Manchester and hit up some stores that were having free wine testing.  I sampled quite a bit, it was all delicious.  I might have been a little tipsy after the last store.  I ended up buying a bottle of cranberry wine at one of the stores. 

    All the other meals that were not listed were leftovers.  Right now just hanging out watching some Forrest Gump.  Such a great movie.

    Think we're all caught up now... two more days of weekend left!  Woo hoo!!

    Thanksgiving Part 1

    Happy belated Thanksgiving everyone!  I took a couple days off of blogging to get ready for the Thanksgiving celebration- lots of cleaning and baking.  Everything went very smoothly.  And little Tyler is feeling much better by the way, he went to daycare on Wednesday and had a great day.  Apparently he missed all his friends because they said he played with the other kids all day.

    I decided to break up the Thanksgiving posts into two parts since there are so many recipes I want to share.  The meals leading up to Thanksgiving were pretty unremarkable- I only took two pictures.

    Tuesday night was pretty crazy.  After teaching my aerobics class, I went home to watch Tyler so Hubby could run some errands, then went to the grocery store when he got home.  It was so late by the time I got home, and neither of us had eaten, so we just put together a sandwich using up the scraps we had in the fridge.  We only had two pieces of bread so we had to split a sandwich.  Ham, roast beef, hot pepper cheese and spinach on wheat.

    This was about the best half of a sandwich I've ever had, and that's probably because I was so hungry.  For breakfast I had a lemon Chobani and lunch was just a bowl of soup.  And then 9 hours later I had the half of sandwich.  Not a good idea to go that long without eating, but we were just so busy.

    Then Wednesday night was all about the baking.  Supper was some sausage and corn Glory Days pizza from our freezer.  Man that comes in handy when we don't have time to make a decent meal.  And it's so darn good.  We're definitely going to attempt our own sausage and corn pizza in the near future.

    So on to the good stuff.  The first thing I made on Wednesday night was actually for today's brunch (even though some family members- DAD- got into them yesterday).... I made some pumpkin scones using some of the starter from my Amish Friendship bread.  I didn't feel like making the same bread, so I found this website.  Holy recipes.  You can make all kinds of different stuff with the starter, and I chose to make some scones because I thought that would be a nice change of pace.  By the way, this website also has the recipe for the starter, so you don't have to rely on a friend to give you the starter.

    I pretty much followed the recipe to a T, and they turned out yummy.  Left out the raisins/currants, and I did forget to sprinkle sugar on them before baking, so I threw some on afterwards.  Wasn't quite the same, but they still tasted good.

    from Friendship Bread Kitchen

    Pumpkin Amish Friendship Bread Scones

    Prep Time: 15 minutes
    Cook Time: 12-15 minutes
    Servings: 8
    Yield: 8 scones
    1 cup Amish Friendship Bread Starter
    2 cups flour
    2 teaspoons baking powder
    1-1/2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
    1/4 teaspoon salt
    1/2 teaspoon baking soda
    1/2 cup chilled butter
    1 egg, beaten
    1/2 cup canned pumpkin
    1/2 cup raisins or currants (optional)
    2 tablespoons turbinado sugar for topping (optional)
    1. Preheat oven to 400° F (200° C).
    2. In a mixing bowl combine flour, baking powder, pumpkin pie spice, baking soda and salt.
    3. With a pastry blender, cut in butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Make a well in center of dry mixture; set aside.
    4. In another bowl combine starter, pumpkin and egg. Add egg mixture all at once to dry mixture. Using a fork, stir just until moistened. Knead in raisins or currants.
    5. Turn out dough onto lightly floured surface. Shape into 4” x 12” rectangle. Cut rectangle into quarters (4” x 3”) and cut each piece on the diagonal to form 8 wedges.
    6. Place wedges 1 inch apart on ungreased baking sheet. Top with turbinado sugar if desired.
    7. Bake for 12 to 15 minutes until golden.
    8. Serve warm with berry butter.
    9. ENJOY!

    Sticking with the pumpkin theme, the next thing on the list was a marbled pumpkin cheesecake.  OMG.  This was my first attempt EVER at making a cheesecake.  Usually I'm not a big fan, because they're either too sweet or too rich, but this one was amazing.  Helps that I love pumpkin stuff.  I pinned a swirly cheesecake on one of my Pinterest boards, but the recipe looked a little cumbersome, so I pulled on off of Allrecipes instead.  And based on the reviews and the fact that over 20,000 people liked the recipe, I was pretty confident that it would be a good one.  I did change some things around based on some of the reviews, and I added more seasoning because I like the spice to come through.

    The other thing I did differently was put a pan of water on the lowest rack in the oven to help with the humidity in the oven during the baking. Proud to say there were no cracks.  I forgot to take a picture of it before people started cutting into it... it was so pretty. 

    adapted from this recipe at Allrecipes

    Marbled Pumpkin Cheesecake
    2 cups crushed gingersnap cookies
    1/3 cup butter, melted
    2 (8 ounce) packages light cream cheese,
    3/4 cup white sugar, divided
    1 teaspoon vanilla extract
    3 eggs
    1 cup canned pumpkin
    1 T ground cinnamon
    1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
    1 teaspoon ground ginger
    1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
    1.Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). In a medium bowl, mix together the crushed gingersnap cookies and butter. Press into the bottom, and about 1 inch up the sides of a 9 inch springform pan. Bake crust 10 minutes in the preheated oven. Set aside to cool.
    2.In a medium bowl, mix together the cream cheese, 1/2 cup sugar, and vanilla just until smooth. Mix in eggs one at a time, blending well after each. Set aside 1 cup of the mixture. Blend 1/4 cup sugar, pumpkin, cinnamon, and nutmeg into the remaining mixture.
    3.Spread the pumpkin flavored batter into the crust, and drop the plain batter by spoonfuls onto the top. Swirl with a knife to create a marbled effect.
    4.Bake 55 minutes in the preheated oven, or until filling is set. Run a knife around the edge of the pan. Allow to cool before removing pan rim. Chill for at least 4 hours before serving.

    Well that's all for now, look for Part 2 coming soon with a spinach salad recipe and cranberry sauce!!

    Sunday, November 20, 2011

    Chicken Korma and Cheesy Chowder

    I finally have some new recipes for you.  I somehow managed to make a couple meals in the last couple days, even though Tyler was not too happy this weekend.  Thank goodness for Grandma Pat.  She really saved the day, coming over to watch Tyler on Friday and then helping out Saturday and today.  He has been running a fever on and off throughout the last couple days, and the congestion has moved to his head, so he's a nonstop snot faucet.  He keeps rubbing his nose, then his eyes, then his ears, so he has a lovely red rash all over.  I looked in his ears with my otoscope, but could hardly see anything because there was so much wax.  I'll check again tomorrow, but I'm pretty sure this is all viral anyways.  No green mucus or snot, no extreme high temp fevers (besides the first day) and he seems to be getting a little better.  If he's still running a fever tomorrow and being extremely crabby, I guess we'll have to take him in to see the doctor.

    He's been very fussy at night, waking up a couple times a night- I feel like we're back to the newborn days!  Just amazing how my body adjusts to very little sleep.

    Back to the blog... as you'll notice, I did not have time to switch the blog from blogger to wordpress, guess that will have to wait for a rainy day.

    So let's start with Friday night's project: Chicken Korma.  Hubby and I both love Indian food, but I've never really tried to make anything authentic (not that I really know if this is authentic or not).  I had some Smart Chicken from Hy-Vee, but this package was made up of bone-in thighs.

    At lunch time on Friday, I threw together the ingredients and put them in my crockpot on low.  By 6 o'clock, the chicken had fallen off the bone and the potatoes were soft.  I made some long-grain organic brown rice and supper was made!

    It was decent... the cloves were definitely potent and kind of overtook everything, but I didn't mind.  The chicken was so tender and juicy, but the consistency was kind of watery, even though I added the Greek yogurt.  It was a good meal- mostly because it was so easy!

    Chicken Korma (adapted from Stephanie O'Dea- A Year of Slow Cooking)

    1 pound boneless, skinless chicken (I just threw in 4 whole thighs- bone-in)
    1 large potato, cut in 1/2-inch chunks
    1 large onion, coarsely chopped
    1 (14.5-ounce) can stewed tomatoes (I used petite diced tomatoes)
    1 garlic clove, minced
    1 teaspoon curry powder (I used more like 1 1/2 T- we like curry!)
    1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
    1 teaspoon kosher salt
    1 cinnamon stick (didn't have this)
    1/2 cup sour cream or plain yogurt (to add later)  (I used plain Greek yogurt)
    cooked white or brown long grain rice for serving

    The Directions.

    Use a 4-quart slow cooker. Put the chicken into the bottom of your pot. Add potato and onion. Pour in the tomatoes, and add garlic and all spices. Cover and cook on low for 6-8 hours, or high for 3 to 4. Discard the cinnamon stick, and stir in the sour cream or yogurt. Serve over rice.

    After a quick supper I was off to Bunco with the girls, but didn't stay very long because I was so worried about Tyler.  That night was a pretty long night too, and of course we had to work the next morning.

    After work, the three of us traded off holding Tyler and cleaning.  We are hosting my immediate family for Thanksgiving so we're trying to get this place looking respectable.  Or at least livable.  We ordered some Chuong Garden for lunch, and I enjoyed some cashew chicken with a crab rangoon and egg drop soup.  I actually displayed some self-control and only ate half of it!

    Supper was a homemade pizza, using pizza crust from a tube (one of Hubby's impulse bread-in-a-tube buys).  I'm glad he bought it, because it tasted great.  Toppings included: sauce, Italian sausage, pepperoni, ham, green peppers, green olives on my side, and cheese.

    Today I made our Sunday morning usual- pancakes.  I had a couple blueberries left so I tossed some into the last couple pancakes.

    That was the perfect fuel for vacuuming and cleaning the bathtub.  Just have to do the wood floors and I'll be ready!

    I made up a little afternoon snack for Hubby and I, since Grandma had to go home.  I pretty much just cleared the fridge of our taco fixin's.  2 ounces of low fat cream cheese, 3 ounces of plain Greek yogurt, refried beans on Hubby's half, taco sauce, cheese and chopped spinach made a nice snack with some blue corn tortilla chips.

    I had been craving some soup since it's been a little chilly out, so tonight I made some Cheesy Chowder.  I didn't feel like typing the recipe, so I just took a picture of it.  The recipe comes from one of my favorite cookbooks- the Hope Lutheran Church cookbook.  Many recipes from family and friends.

    Here's the recipe:

    I pretty much stuck to it, except added more of each veggie except the potato- I just used one cut-up potato. I also added some hot pepper cheese along with the American.


    Time for bed, gotta get as much sleep as I can, since who knows what time Tyler will wake us up next!

    Thursday, November 17, 2011

    Sick kid again

    Ugh, I'm behind on my posts again.  This time its because of a sick kid.  Wednesday we had to pick Tyler up from daycare in the morning because of a fever and lots of congestion in his lungs, pretty croup-y sounding.  He's been pretty grumpy and not eating or sleeping well the last two days, so most of my time has been in the recliner holding him.

    Since I got about 4 hours of sleep last night and no nap today, and it's already 11, think I'm just going to post some pics to show you the highlights of the last couple days worth of food.  Workout-wise we had a pretty good workout on Tuesday night- my calves were killing me on Wednesday.

    Chicken parmesan using panko crumbs- there's a tiny bit of whole wheat spaghetti noodles under there

    Chicken wrap on spinach tortilla- cheese, chicken, black beans, salsa , plain Greek yogurt, spinach

    Vanilla yogurt with blueberries, granola and chia seeds

    Quesadilla  (pretty much the same as the wrap) and a sick baby with a bib to catch the  gallons of drool

    My mom (Grandma) came over tonight to watch Tyler tomorrow so that we don't miss any work again.  That's the crappy part about owning your own business- no sick days or personal days.  You don't show up, you don't make money, and in our case, you neglect patients and they don't get the care they need.  

    We'll see when the next post goes up, hopefully when the baby is better!  

    Monday, November 14, 2011

    Amish Friendship Bread

    This day started off great... Tyler slept until 6:30.  And he woke up and was happy and giggly, but that was only because he had one monster of a diaper.  Bath time in the morning today.

    I started my day off with one of my favorite Chobani flavors- lemon.  Lemon tastes like it should be a decadent dessert, especially when topped with shredded unsweetened coconut (and chia seeds).  Fareway doesn't carry it though, so I only get it once and awhile when we go get groceries at Hy-Vee in Dubuque/Cedar Rapids/Waterloo.

    We were so pumped and ready to go today since we were rested, but ended up having a pretty slow day.  I used that to my advantage and left a little early before lunch to go to the gym.  I did a quick treadmill workout and it felt awesome.  Here's what I did, broken down into minutes:

    1-5:  Warmup at 4.0
    5-8:  6.0
    8-10:  6.5
    10-11:  8
    11-12:  6.5
    12-13:  8
    13-14:  6.5
    14-15:  8
    15-16:  6.5
    16-17:  4.0 incline 2.5
    17-18:  4.0 incline 5
    18-19:  4.0 incline 7.5
    19-20:  4.0 incline 10
    20-21:  5.5 incline 7.5
    21-22:  5.5 incline 5
    22-23:  5.5 incline 2.5
    23-24:  4.0 incline 0
    24-25:  3.5 incline 0

    Short and sweet.  Came home and had a grilled ham, roast beef and cheese sandwich with a little jalapeno mustard and some baby carrots on the side.

    We did have a busy afternoon eventually, so that made the afternoon go by quickly.  For supper, I randomly threw some stuff together, with the sole purpose of getting rid of the broccoli in the fridge.

    Again, this is random.  I heated up some cut-up frozen chipotle seasoned chicken in a skillet and added about 1 cup of water, some garlic powder and 1/3 cup of teriyaki sauce.  When it started to boil, I added the broccoli, a container of pineapple tidbits and 1 1/2 cup of uncooked brown rice.  I turned down the heat, covered it and cooked for about 10 more minutes then let it sit for awhile until most of the liquid was absorbed.

    It was ok, by that I mean edible.  The chipotle chicken was a little weird with the teriyaki flavor (surprise surprise) but that's the only cooked chicken I had- I didn't want to use our precious smart chicken for the dish.  I should have put more seasoning and more teriyaki sauce in it, as it was kind of blah.  Texture-wise it was ok.

    Dessert was a batch of Amish friendship bread I baked up.  Have you ever gotten these?  It's some big secret starter (which I'm sure I could find online) that you let sit for 10 days then add more sugar, flour and milk to it to make a bigger batch that you separate out to give to 4 friends or keep yourself.  Then from the remaining batter you make 2 loaves of bread.  I would give you the recipe but you kind of need the starter to make it.  If you want a starter, let me know... I have 4!

    The bread is tasty, but definitely NOT healthy.  Lots of sugar, white flour, etc.  It would make a good gift.  To someone who has a healthy pancreas of course.

    Think I'm going to head to bed to finish up my new book- it's a pretty easy read since I started it last night.