Monday, January 26, 2009


I had a huge spiral ham bone left over from a meal last week. Today I tackled cleaning up the ham. There was enough ham that I planned on preparing three meals out of it. The cubed ham will be a lovely addition to some homemade mac and cheese and I will add some to the hash browns for Sunday brunch, but the bone was going to be used up for the pea soup.

You could make this soup by just following the directions on the back of the package, or you could hearty it up by adding any left over vegetable that you have around. I have even included chopped spinach or lettuce leaves, and the green stems of leeks when making green pea soup. Experiment , it's soup, you can't go wrong. This soup is even better the second day. If it thickens up on you as pea soup has a tendency to do just add some broth to it.

Split Pea & Ham Soup

2 cups dried split peas, soaked for 1 hour in

cold water, then drained

1left over ham bone/or some diced up ham

5 c. water and 2 cups stock (Vegetable)

2 T. butter

1/2 c. salt pork finely chopped OR 1/2 C chopped bacon

1 med. onion chopped

2 ed. carrots chopped

1 potato diced (Optional)

1 bay leaf

1 sprig thyme



Place the ham bone in the water , add the peas, broth , bay leaf and a few pepper corns.

Bring to boil, skim, cover and cook slowly while preparing the following:

melt the butter add the onions and salt pork or the bacon and fry up until they are softened. Add the carrots potatoes thyme and cook for a few minutes. Add this mixture to the peas. Continue cooking all together for at least an hour or until the peas are soft. Remove the ham bone and trim off any pieces of ham or add cubed ham to the soup. Return to simmer and reheat the pea soup. adjust the seasoning. Serve with croutons or a chunk of bread, although this soup is hearty on it's own.


Actually it's not really a complete vegetable moussaka, although it can be easily adapted to become one. I call it a vegetable moussaka, because I add in 2 other vegetable layers other than the standard Greek Moussaka of just potato layers with meat mixture layer.

This moussaka includes zucchini and eggplant. It is a popular casserole at my house, and it is also often asked for when we have our pot luck dinners. It is a a lovely comfort casserole but also can be special enough to be brought to some one's house.
This version of the popular Greek moussaka, is actually made by my hubby. As most of you know who follow this blog, Ron is not often at home ( working out of town for a minimum of 8 week stints), so the first request that he gets when he comes home is," Dad, will you make us some Moussaka?"

Sorry about the fuzzy picture, I'm still learning how to do close ups, would appreciate any help that anyone can offer! e-mail me.
This time home Ron made 2 Moussakas, and today seemed a good day to defrost one and have a quick meal , that I didn't have to prepare. So the beauty of this dish is also that it can be frozen for later use. A lovely squeeze of lemon and a Greek salad and supper is served!


2 lbs. lean ground lamb
1 c. olive oil
4 medium sized zucchini,cut lengthwise
1 large eggplant cut crosswise (about 1/2 in)
1 large onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves finely chopped
4 T. butter
3 tomatoes, peeled seeded and chopped (or use canned)
2 tsp. salt/pepper
1/3 c. dry bread crumbs
3 eggs, 1 beaten
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
1 1/2 c. bechamel sauce
1 c. ricotta or cottage cheese
2/3 c. grated kefalatiri or parmesan cheese
3 medium- sized potatoes sliced

In a skillet fry the zucchini and eggplant slices-a few at a time- in the oil until the slices are lightly browned. Drain tem on paper towels. ( you can also grill the vegetables on a grill
skillet or bbq. )

Saute the lamb, onion,and garlic in the butter. Add the tomatoes, salt and pepper. Cover and cook over low heat for 30 mins. Remove the lamb mixture from the heat and add to it 3 T.of breadcrumbs, the beaten egg and the parsley. Prepare the bechamel sauce and beat into it the remaining eggs and the cheese.

Butter a large baking dish and sprinkle it with the remaining bread crumbs. Put in the potato slices in one layer and cover them with half of the lamb mixture. Continue with a layer of the eggplant slices, the remaining lamb mixture and the zucchini slices. Top with the enriched bechamel sauce and dish in a preheated 375F. oven for about 45 min. ,or until golden brown.

(If leftover lamb is used for this dish, the cooking time should be reduced from 30 to 10 min. You may also, if you wish, increase the quantity of the zucchini and omit the eggplant and potato or vise-versa or of course just make the moussaka with potato layers you will need at least 12 potatoes if replacing the zucchini and eggplant).

Saturday, January 17, 2009


Ottawa no longer has an Olive Garden Restaurant, I really don't know why they left , I was always under the impression that they were successful, at least they were at lunch time which is when I would usually go there with friends for an all you can eat soup and salad. My favourite was the Tuscan soup, full of spicy sausage, potatoes, lots of kale, yummy, yummy. I recreated this recipe a few times before, and think that I've pretty much got it . After all it's soup, that's pretty basic as far as ingredients go. The nice thing about this recipe is that it lends itself easily to substitutions. For example, you can use spinach or Swiss chard instead of kale, white beans instead of potatoes or add both, hot Italian sausage instead of mild (except, the first time I made it with the hot sausage, most comments were that it was a bit spicy...although I liked it.) How ever, if you are like me and missing this Tuscan soup. and have perfecter the recipe , please feel free to e-mail me and share your version. This is mine


1 pkg mild Italian sausage (or Hot)
1 onion diced
1 large clove garlic minced
dash of olive oil(optional)
5 cups of chicken or vegetable broth
1 lb. peeled and diced potatoes
1 bunch washed and chopped kale, (spinach or Swiss chard)
2 cups milk

Break up the sausage an fry in the soup pot. Add the onion and garlic an continue frying until meat s done. ( I find that the sausage renders off enough fat, but you may want to ad some olive oil at this stage to enhance the flavour. Add the stock and diced potatoes, bring the soup to a boil and then cover and reduce the heat. Cook until the potatoes are tender. Add the kale and continue to cook until kale is soft. (If you are adding some canned white beans, I would do it at this stage.) At the end add the milk check seasoning and reheat to serve, as I particularly like a soup that arrives hot. That's it. Now how easy was that!

Sunday, January 11, 2009


Cherry always has her nose to the ground looking for food.
Boo loves to have her picture taken!

I can't believe that it is already the 11th of January! I haven't blogged yet this new year, but we have certainly enjoyed many lovely meals together as a family over the holidays. I make no apologies for my lack of blogging, but when Ron is home our time is precious, as we never know when the next call will come and he is off to work again. This time he was home only for 11 days, you can't even call that time off restful, as during that time we dealt with Dr. and dentist appointments, cars needing to be serviced, and only a small tiny dent was made in my ,"honey-do", list. But he is a good man, (one of the best!) and deserves a good rest.

So this morning I drove him to the airport as he is off to Denver Colorado for the next 8 weeks! We'll definitely plan on a rest somewhere warm in March.

I'm sitting here with a cup of coffee, and now that I have some time on my hands am thinking that I am not one for reflecting much on the past year, nor have I ever been one of these people that makes New Year's resolutions. I have always been someone who keeps the past in the past and just keeps moving forward. I don't know whether that is a good way to be, all I know is that it works for me! I do things as they are needed to be done. I have no huge urge to make lists or reflections on the first day of the new year. I love that it is a new beginning and look forward to what it will bring. The good, the bad and the ugly, of course i wish for only the good.

So, here is to only good beginnings!