France’s yellow split pea soup

This soup was made for my Soup & Sandwich Swap event, which you can read about HERE for more recipes and pictures.

France’s yellow split pea soup

1 lb dried yellow or green split peas
1 lb cubed turkey ham diced (ham and ham bone can also be used)
1 1/2 cup carrots peeled diced
1 1/2 cup potatoes peeled and diced
1 large onion diced
6 cups chicken or vegetable broth
1 tbsp fresh thyme leaves
Bay leaves
Salt and Pepper

Rinse and soak the peas overnight according to the package directions.

Combine all ingredients in a slow cooker and cook on high 6-8 hours on low.

Stir occasionally. Additional broth may be necessary if the soup becomes too thick.

Remove bay leaves and allspice and serve.

Feasting on Fall Flavors

Tonight called for a dinner that would warm us from the crisp and cool temps in the air. I figured now was a good time as any to prepare a fall dinner to highlight the season’s flavors. With apples, thyme, maple syrup, and sweet potatoes on hand, we thoroughly enjoyed the bounty that graced our table. I didn’t use any particular recipe but rather, used the ingredients in my pantry to come up with a meal. Bare with me as I share what I did to create our dinner…

Roasted Maple Sugar Pork Tenderloin

This past Sunday I visited my favorite spice shop, The Spice House, and picked up a new seasoning to try. Their “Gateway to the North Maple Sugar Seasoning” was perfect with pork with hints a sweet and savory flavor. To prepare my pork tenderloin, I generously coated them with this seasoning… and roasted them on top of a bed of chopped apples, onions, a few garlic cloves and added a couple bay leaves and springs of thyme. After baking covered in a 350 degree oven for an hour, remove the pork from the apple/onion mixture and pace on a separate baking sheet.

Savory Applesauce

With a roasting pan of apples, onions, garlic, bay leaves and thyme left to play with, I thought a savory spin on the traditional applesauce would serve as a nice accompaniment with the pork. With this in mind, I removed the bay leaves and thyme from the pan and used a potato masher to get a finer texture on the apples, onions & garlic. What’s wonderful about this mixture is that it doesn’t need to be seasoned since the juices and maple sugar seasoning that coated the pork have filtered down into them. Once you’ve mashed it to your preferred texture for applesauce, you’re set! Place the savory applesauce in a serving dish or individual ramekin and garnish with a fresh thyme stem.

Maple Pecan Sweet Potatoes

We love sweet potatoes at our house, even more than the russet, white or Yukon gold variety. While we’re on a fall flavor kick, I roasted some sweet potatoes and scooped out the soft flesh into a casserole dish. To add some additional sweetness, I stirred in about 1/4 cup of real maple syrup and salt to taste. Top it with chopped pecans and bake in a 350 degree oven for 20-30 minutes.

To round out our meal, I added some steamed broccoli for color and to add to our daily veggies for the day.

Cold Fresh Corn Soup/Gazpacho

I made this soup for my Sauvignon Blanc Wine & Dine event. It pairs nicely with this crisp wine, especially in the summer months!

Cold Fresh Corn Soup/Gazpacho

1 bag frozen corn
1 can sweet corn
5 sprigs fresh thyme
1 cup diced onion
3 cloves garlic minced

2 bay leaves
Salt to taste
2 tablespoons butter
2 cans evaporated milk
2 cups water, divided

In a large pan, melt butter and saute onions, garlic, corn, thyme and bay leaves.
Once soft, remove thyme and bay leaves.
Place 1/4 of the mixture in a blender with 1/2 cups of water.
Blend corn & water mixture until smooth.
Strain mixture into a large bowl or another saucepan.
Continue blending and straining corn until done.
Place strained corn soup in a bowl, cover and chill 4-24 hours.

Chicken Adobo

Chicken Adobo
(Filipino soy sauce chicken)

Chicken drummettes or any cut of chicken
2-3 cloves chopped garlic
1 medium to large chopped onion
1 cube chicken buillion
garlic salt
black pepper
1-2 bay leaves
white distilled vinegar or rice vinegar
soy sauce

1. In large pot or dutch oven, heat pan with about 2-3 tablespoons of cooking oil (veggie, corn, canola will do)
2. Add chopped garlic and onions to the pot – cook til translucent.
3. Add chicken to the pot – cook til you can’t see any raw-ness on the outside.
4. Season chicken with garlic salt, black pepper, chicken buillion cube and bay leaf.
5. Add soy sauce – I start pouring and count to 5, then stop.
6. Add vinegar – I start pouring and count to 5, then stop.
7. Stir and let it simmer away for about 20 minutes.
8. Depending on the cut of chicken you use, you may have to skim any fat that have risen up from cooking.
9. You can also continue cooking it until all the liquid is gone, and then it naturally fries itself in the oils left in the pan.
10. Serve over hot steamed rice, preferable Jasmine.

** We find that adobo tastes better a day or so after, when the chicken has completely absorbed all the flavors. This recipe can also be used for pork (preferably pork belly) and beef.

Adding Spice to a Chilly Night…

It is yet another cold blusterous day in Chicago… so what better way to warm up the belly with some heat! Tonight I made my version of a cajun shrimp & pasta dish.

Cajun cuisine originates from the French-speaking Acadian or “Cajun” immigrants in the Acadiana region of Louisiana. It’s considered a rustic cuisine that was developed out of necessity usually involving a main dish, rice and vegetables. There is a common misconception outside of south Louisiana that Cajun food is hot and spicy. An authentic Cajun dish will usually have a bit of a “kick” but will not be eye-wateringly hot.

Cajun cuisine is sometimes confused with Creole cuisine, and many outside of Louisiana don’t make the distinction. Creole is more city – urban, cosmopolitan, and inspired by the Spanish, Italian, and African influences of New Orleans – while Cajun dishes have more of a French influence, filtered through common (to Louisiana) ingredients and techniques.

Here is my recipe for Cajun Shrimp & Pasta:
(as you can see, I’m getting better at food porn!)

1 lb raw shrimp, peeled & deveined
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 small onion, chopped
1 cup of sliced bell pepper strips
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/4 paprika
1 tablespoon dried parsley
1 bay leaf
pinch of thyme
salt & pepper to taste
1/2 can tomato sauce
2 tablespoons tomato paste
penne pasta
shredded italian cheese blend for garnish

— Prepare pasta according to directions on package.
— In bowl, season raw shrimp with all the seasonings; set aside.
— In a shallow pan, saute garlic and onion in some cooking oil.
— Add shrimp and cooked it it starts to turn pink.
— Add tomato sauce and paste. Stir.
— Season with salt & pepper to tastes.
— Add bell pepper strips. Cook through.
— When pasta is cooked & drained, add to pan.
— Toss to combine. Plate & garnish with cheese.