Sunday, January 21, 2018

Black Bean and Ham Bone Soup #NationalSoupSwapDay

Happy National Soup Swap Day.  You have come to the right place if you are looking for a piping hot bowl of soup to chase those winter chills away.

Do you still have a hambone in your freezer from the holidays?  Well, today is the day to pull it out because do I have a great soup for you!

Adapted from a recipe published in the Washington Post in 2011, this black bean soup makes a perfect lunch or light dinner.  I served it as the first course of a dinner party I held where one of my guests was gluten intolerant.  Then we enjoyed the leftovers for lunch the following day.

I made this on the stove top but it would be easily adaptable to a crockpot or Instant Pot application.

Don't forget to stop by and see all the wonderful soups being swapped today.  There are soups to keep your family warm and toasty for the rest of this frigid winter we have been enduring.

Black Bean and Ham Bone Soup
adapted from The Washington Post

2 c. dried blacked beans, picked over
1 meaty ham bone
2 (32 oz) boxes chicken broth or 8 c. homemade broth
1 bay leaf
1 T. olive oil
1/2 lg. Vidalia onion, chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
1/2 t. paprika
pinch dried oregano
1/2 cup tomato salsa (my recipe here )
1/4 c. dried sherry
Sour cream and chopped parsley or cilantro, if desired

Place the beans in a bowl and cover generously with water.  Let soak overnight.  Drain and place into a large pot with the ham bone.  Add the chicken broth and bay leaf.  Bring to a boil over medium high heat.  Reduce heat to medium low and simmer for 2-3 hrs., until beans are tender.  Remove ham bone and bay leaf. Remove meat from bone and chop into bite size pieces, discarding any gristle, bone and the bay leaf.

Using an immersion blender, puree about half of the soup.  Alternately, remove half of the soup to a blender or food processor to puree and then return to the pot.  Add the meat to the soup.

Heat the oil in a small sauce pan over medium heat.  Cook the onions and garlic until fragrant and tender, about 10 minutes.  Season with the paprika and add to the soup along with the salsa and sherry.  Cook over low heat for another 10 minutes or until ready to serve.

Garnish with sour cream and parsley or cilantro if desired.  Print Recipe

More Soups to Swap

Saturday, January 20, 2018

Life is Constantly Changing and so is my Weekly Menu

Last Saturday, we ended up going out to dinner with John and Kirsten after Mass.  That means the chili never got made.

Monday, we got an early start home due to weather so made dinner once we arrived home instead of stopping on the way home.  This was a good thing because I had half a rack of spare ribs left from the Cassoulet that I had made.  They got thrown into the Instant Pot with half a head of cabbage and some mushrooms that were languishing in the refrigerator and made a perfect meal after a long drive home.  Find the recipe here.

Since I had no leftover Chili the burritos on Wednesday never happened.  Instead I fried up 2 leftover Chicken Sausages from that same cassoulet with some onions and a portabella mushroom cap left over from making the Rustic Roasted Veggie Tart.

We did (finally) get our date night in yesterday.  It turned into a date day because the only opening for a couples massage using the gift card we got for our 25th anniversary was either at 2 or 3 pm.  We took the 3 pm appointment and headed down to the city early so that we could visit the wine store to get some wines for upcoming events.  We finished at the wine store early so we stopped in and had our son, Tony, who is a bartender, make us a pre massage cocktail.

I was reallllllly relaxed for my massage which was absolutely wonderful.  After our massages, we went back to the bar (as originally planned) for pre dinner cocktails.  Tony had gotten off work and Frank's sister, Roz, met us so we all enjoyed a drink together and had an hour to chit chat and catch up with each other's lives.

Frank and I then left and went to Ruth's Chris Steak House for dinner.  We had also been given a gift card for this restaurant at our Anniversary Party.  I had lamb chops and Frank had filet mignon.  We started with salads and shared an order of garlic mashed potatoes.  The food was very good and I have no complaints. 

That being said....I am not a fan of Ruth's Chris...I think their presentations are lacking.  I don't like having a plate of meat, without so much as a garnish, plopped in front of me.  Where is the beauty of a composed plate?  I'm just not a steak house fan, I guess...I am capable of preparing my own good meal...I want the ambiance and elegance of a beautiful meal in a beautiful setting.

Ruth's Chris did provide us with a small dessert to share and a photo of our evening to help us commemorate the event.  I thought this was a very nice touch.

After dinner, we went next door to the restaurant where our daughter, Nicole, manages and shared a real dessert.  We were home and in our jammies watching Blindspot by 9.  It was a very nice and much needed respite.

This week is a little quieter.  We went for Day 1 of C25K this morning.  I haven't ran in a loooooong time.  It kicked my butt!!!!  We have an absolutely free day today.  Frank is starting to work on my laundry area.

It is hard to get a shot of my laundry area.  It is in a hallway that leads off of our garage.  This hallway, as you walk into it has a closet containing the furnace and hot water heater, next to this is a cut out where the washer and dryer sit and across from the washer and dryer is a coat/utility closet.

The cupboards above the washer and dryer are useless to me as I am vertically impaired. Anything other than what is sitting in the front of the lower shelf is impossible for me to reach.  Frank is rectifying this after I showed him photos that one of my blogging friends posted on facebook.  Of course, I can't remember who posted it and I can't find the post now to give credit where credit is due.

Tomorrow, we may be going out to dinner with Kim and Kurt. Kurt has to work so it depends on how his day goes.

The rest of the week is typical except for Wednesday when we are taking dinner to Aunt Irene after we drop Melody off at her Mama's.

So here is the Weekly Menu.  Please stop by each day to see what's new here on the Farm.  I'm always happy to see you.


Dinner out?

Meatless Monday
Eggs in Hash Brown Nests

Taco (Toddler) Tuesday
Leftover Chili Burritos

Carry out at Aunt Irene's

Pork Roast
Roasted Root Vegetables

Fish Friday
Shrimp Tacos

A Classic Pairing; Revisiting Languedoc #FrenchWinophiles

This month's French Winophiles is hosted by Jason and Jill of L'Occasion.  Last October, also under the guidance of L'Occasion, we visited Languedoc as well.  I found that Cassoulet originated from this region of France and shared a Slow Cooker version along with my wine pairing.

To kick off the New Year, Jason and Jill asked us to revisit Occitanie (formerly Languedoc) specifically the AOP's of Minervois and Corbieres.  You can learn more at their preview post.

They chose this month because January 9th is National Cassoulet Day.  To help us out, the folks at L'Aventure Languedoc sent each blogger a bottle of each AOP to sample.  I did not receive any monetary compensation for this post and all opinions are my own.  Well, I'll be stating my husband's opinion as well.

Another group of which I am a member, The Kitchen Matrix Cooking Project, was also celebrating Cassoulet this month.  I decided to make a Cassoulet using my Instant Pot and paired it with these wines for dinner one evening.  You can find my recipe here.

While I put the finishing touches on dinner, Frank opened and poured both wines.  He tasted each and  jotted down his thoughts:
Gerard Bertrand Minervois 2013:
              • Good legs
              • Lighter color 
              • Black Pepper on the nose
Domains St. Eugenie Corbieres 2016: 
              • Good legs
              • Deeper finish
              • Purple in color
I took a sip of each and added that I found hints of raisin in the Minervois and found the Corbieres to be fruity and dry.

We sat down for dinner and we were surprised how differently we felt the pairings were with the Cassoulet.  Frank absolutely loved the Corbieres with his dinner.  I told him I thought the Minervois was much smoother with the Cassoulet than the Corbieres.  

His response?  Good.

Then he took the bottle of Corbieres and set it in front of him, leaving me to enjoy the bottle of Minervois with my meal.  

Here are what the others are sharing this month.

Please join us this morning at 11 AM ET for chat following #Winophiles on Twitter.

Chicken Pho #SoupSaturdaySwappers #NationalSlowCookingMonth

Today's Soup Saturday Swappers is being hosted by my friend, Sue of Palatable Pastime.  Sue asked us to come up with a Pho-nomenal Vietnamese Soup to share today.

It did not have to be a Pho, although that is what I'm sharing.  Sue suggested hot and sour soup, lau hot pot, congee, among others to be considered for this challenge.

I have never made Pho before.  Indeed, I only just tried it for the first time while in Vegas this past November, and I LOVED it.  What a lovely bowl of comfort.

I was excited to make this soup and knew that my Little Miss would love it....after all, it is just Chicken Noodle Soup with a twist.

Then, my friend Ellen of Family Around The Table, reminded us that January is National Slow Cooking Month and asked us to share a Slow Cooker recipe today.  No problem.  Chicken Pho can be made in a slow cooker.

I filled my crockpot with chicken broth and wonderful anise, cinnamon stick, cloves and ginger. Add the chicken breast and turned it on low for 6 hrs.  Let me tell you, my house smelled amazing!!

Was it easier making this in a slow cooker than on the stove?  Nope, but if you have to go into work it would be an easy way to start this soup, then when you get home you only need to shred the chicken, strain the broth and add the noodles and bok choy.

I used some brown rice spaghetti that I had in my cupboard but you can always use traditional wide rice noodles, if you prefer.  

Serve the soup with the condiments (add ins) on the side for people to add as they wish.  My Little Miss ate hers without any add-ins.  I added the works to mine.

You will find links to the other Pho-nomenal Vietnamese soups as well as Slow Cooker recipes at the bottom of this post. 

Next month we are serving up Cajun/Creole creations for Soup Saturday Swappers.  Interested in joining the fun?  Just leave your email address and blog name in the comments below and I will be happy to add you.  We post on the third Saturday of each month and our members take turns choosing the themes each month.  We would love to have you join us.

Chicken Pho in a Slow Cooker
adapted from

5-6 c. chicken broth
1 T. brown sugar
1 T. fish sauce
5 whole star anise
3 whole cloves
6 thin slices of peeled fresh ginger
1 cinnamon stick
1 lg. boneless skinless chicken breast
3-4 oz. rice noodles
2 baby bok choy, sliced lengthwise
1 c. bean sprouts
chopped fresh basil
chopped fresh cilantro
jalapeno slices
lime slices

Place 5 cups of the broth, brown sugar, fish sauce, star anise, cloves, ginger an cinnamon into the crock of a slow cooker.  Add the chicken breast and cook on low for 6-8 hrs.

Remove chicken to a cutting board.  Strain the aromatics from the broth and place broth into a large pot. Heat the broth to boiling over high heat and cook the pasta per package directions, adding the bok choy during the last 2 minutes of cooking.

While pasta is cooking, shred the chicken with a fork.  Reduce heat to low when pasta is finished and add the chicken to the pot.  Add another cup of broth, if needed.  Cook until chicken and additional broth is heated through.

Meanwhile, plate the bean sprouts, basil, cilantro, jalapeno and lime slices.  Serve the soup with the plated add ins on the side.  Print Recipe

More Pho-nomenal Soups

More Slow Cooker Recipes

Friday, January 19, 2018

Crab and Crimini Bisque #FishFridayFoodies

This month's Fish Friday Foodies is being hosted by Cam of Culinary Adventures with Camilla.

Cam invited us to create and share any kind of shellfish recipe.  She told us to think soups, breaded and fried, sautéed, steamed or even raw.  

We were making assignments for 2018 posts way back in October so I knew that this great theme was first up for the year.

I made this elegant, silky, delicious bisque as our first course on Thanksgiving, knowing that I would save the post for this month's Fish Friday Foodies.

This recipe comes from Bon Appetit.  I modified it very slightly and it was the perfect amount for a first course for 6 adults and 1 toddler.

I used the best quality canned crab that I could find.  The mushrooms are applied in two different styles, using the chopped stems to flavor the broth and then the sliced caps in the finished dish.

I'm excited about this year's first edition of Fish Friday Foodies.  My group has some great themes lined up all year long.  Next month, Sue of Palatable Pastime, has us sharing en papillote.  If you would like to join us please leave your blog name and email address in the comment section of this post or pop me an email at

Crab and Crimini Bisque
slightly adapted from Bon Appetit

1 lb crimini mushrooms
6 T. butter
1/2 of a lg. Vidalia onion
1 garlic clove, minced
2 T. flour
1 (32 oz) box chicken stock
1/3 c. dry sherry
1/2 c. heavy cream
2 egg yolks
1 t. lemon juice
1/2 lb. lump crabmeat, picked over, large pieces set aside

Remove and finely chop the mushroom stems.  Slice the mushroom caps and set aside.  Melt 3 tablespoons of the butter in a heavy saucepan over medium heat.  Add the mushroom stems, garlic and onion.  Season with salt and pepper and cook for about 10 minutes, until mushrooms release their liquid and it evaporates.  Add the flour, cook and stir for 2 minutes, until fragrant.  Stir in the broth and sherry.  Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer, partially covered, for 25 minutes. Strain the liquids into a soup pot.  Discard solids.

Melt the remaining 3 tablespoons of butter in a large skillet.  Add the sliced mushrooms, season with salt and pepper, and cook over med high heat until golden brown, about 10 minutes.  Add to the broth and simmer for a few minutes.  

While soup simmers, whisk together the egg yolks, cream and lemon juice.  Stir in the crabmeat, retaining the large pieces to use as garnish.  Add the cream mixture to the soup, stirring and cooking over low heat until slightly thickened, being careful not to boil.

Divide into bowls, adding large chunks of crabmeat in the center of the bowl. Print Recipe

More Out of the Shell and Into the Pan Recipes

Thursday, January 18, 2018

Black Forest Bundt Cake #BundtBakers

Our host for this month's Bundt Bakers group is Lidia from Nunca es demasiado dulce.  This translates to "It's never too sweet".

Lidia asked us to share our favorite Bundt cake for today's post.  This created a bit of a quandary to me.  I have several "favorite" Bundts.  Like this Milky Way Bundt, that was my very first post when I joined Bundt Bakers in 2014.  Or this Apple Cider Bundt Cake from the Fall of 2015.  The list continues with Orange Cardamom Bundt I created in 2016 and last year I shared this Red White and Blue Bundt that continues to be one of my most visited posts.

But that's the thing.  I love all these Bundts but I have already posted them.  I don't know if I will have another favorite until I make it.  This caused me a moment's consternation when I saw the theme but then I decided that I was overthinking this.   I needn't make my favorite Bundt but merely my favorite cake in Bundt form.

Well, my favorite cake, in any form, is the Apple Cake that my Mom would make me each year for my birthday and I have already shared many takes on this in this group.  So my next favorite cake is a Black Forest Torte.  I love the chocolate layered with cherries and whipped cream.  There is a local bakery in Michigan, Sweetheart Bakery, that has amazing Black Forest Torte.  I have enjoyed that Torte many times but I have never made one myself.

So I went on a search and found this easy, peasy recipe for Black Forest Cake on  It starts with a boxed mix and a can of cherry pie filling.  There are no layers and the original recipe didn't even call for whipped cream but had a chocolate glaze instead.  You merely mixed everything together and put it in your pan.  I didn't even dirty a mixer, just used a wooden spoon, to mix it.

Popped it in the oven to bake and left it to cool until I was ready to serve it up.  I didn't bother with the glaze but whipped up some cream that I flavored with the last of the chocolate cherry jam that our son had made.  

Was it as good as Sweetheart Bakery?  No, of course not.  But was it good enough that it received praise and accolades from my guests....Yep.  Was it good enough that I will be making it again...It certainly was.  Did the deliciousness far exceed the effort taken to make this cake.....oh yeah!!  This is about as easy as it gets!!

I can't wait to see the other favorites being shared today.  You will find links to those recipes following mine.

Black Forest Bundt Cake
adapted from

1 pkg. Devil's Food cake mix
3 eggs
2 t. almond extract
1 (21 oz) can cherry pie filling
1 c. semi sweet chocolate chips
1 pt. heavy cream
1/4 c. chocolate cherry jam

Combine the cake mix, eggs, almond extract and cherry pie filling.  Stir in the chocolate chips.   Spoon into a bundt pan that has been liberally treated with baking spray and bake in a preheated 350* oven for 40-45 minutes, until a skewer inserted removes cleanly.

Let cool in pan for 10 minutes before turning onto a wire rack to cool completely.

When ready to serve, place the cream in a chilled bowl of a stand mixer, fitted with the whisk attachment.  Turn the speed to low and mix until it slightly thickens. Add the chocolate cherry jam, if using, increase the speed and continue to whisk until light and fluffy.  

Place a bed of whipped cream onto each plate.  Place a slice of cake onto the whipped cream and top with another dollop of cream or drizzle with chocolate sauce.  Print Recipe

More Favorite Bundt Recipes


#BundtBakers is a group of Bundt loving bakers who get together once a month to bake Bundts with a common ingredient or theme. You can see all our of lovely Bundts by following our Pinterest board. We take turns hosting each month and choosing the theme/ingredient.
Updated links for all of our past events and more information about BundtBakers, can be found on our home page.

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Oatmeal Scones #FantasticalFoodFight

The theme for our Fantastical Food Fight this month is Oatmeal. 

January is National Oatmeal Month  so our leader, Sarah of Fantastical Sharing of Recipes, asked us all to share a recipe containing oatmeal.

We had also celebrated Oatmeal this month with my Foodie Extravaganza group.  I made some wonderful Carrot Cake Oatmeal in the Instant Pot.  It was tempting just to make some cookies but the New Year is upon us and I am trying to eat a little more healthily.

I found this recipe for Oatmeal Biscuits at Taste of Home. There was no photo available with the recipe but I could tell from reading the ingredients that they would be delicious.

So I mixed them up.

Cut them out.

And baked them up.

They turned out a beautiful golden brown but they were not light and fluffy which is what I think biscuits ought to be.  

I was serving this as part of a breakfast for my family who were visiting from out of town during Epiphany a couple of weeks ago.  They were eagerly awaiting them to come out of the oven as the house was smelling wonderfully delicious.

I pulled them out of the oven and thought "oh well, I can always make toast to go with the sausage and eggs".  I tentatively took a bite of one expecting it to be hard as a hockey puck.  Imagine my delight when I found a tender, airy inside surrounded by the beautiful golden outer layer!!  I broke of a piece and gave it to my niece.  She smiled and grabbed one for herself.  

I suddenly knew why there was no photo with the original recipe.  Nobody would want to make these "biscuits" that hardly had any rise during baking.  As I enjoyed the rest of mine, it occurred to me that they were more the texture of scones.  Problem solved.....I did not make Oatmeal Biscuits with breakfast but Oatmeal Scones.  This, my friends, is what we call a happy accident.  

I put them on the table with breakfast and my great nephew said "Wow, these are good" as he reached for his second one.  They are slightly sweet and delicious all by themselves or as part of a breakfast.  They are ready in less than half an hour so they are perfect to make up in the morning so people can grab them on the way out the door.

Don't forget to stop by and visit the other Oatmeal Creations being shared today by members of the Fantastical Food Fight.

Oatmeal Scones
adapted from Taste of Home

2 c. flour
1/2 c. brown sugar, packed
2 t. baking powder
1 t. baking soda
1 t. salt
1/2 c. shortening
1 1/4 c. quick cooking oats
3/4 c. milk

Place the flour, brown sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a large bowl.  Stir to combine.  Add the shortening and, using a pastry blender, cut into the dry ingredients until it is crumbly with no pieces larger than the size of a pea.  Stir in the oats and milk.  Turn onto a floured work surface and pat into a round approximately 3/4" thick.  Using a round biscuit cutter, make as many scones as possible and place onto a baking sheet covered with parchment or a silicone mat.  Rework the dough into a 3/4" round again, being careful not to overwork it, and cut the remaining dough into rounds and place onto the baking sheet. You may need more than one baking sheet as you want to allow an inch between each scone.

Bake in a preheated 375* oven for 15-20 minutes, until light golden brown.  Print Recipe

More Outrageous Oatmeal Creations