Hearty Ham and Bean Soup

Hearthy Ham and Navy Bean Soup is a great way to use up your leftover holiday ham!

Here I am after all my hard work picking, and choosing and then wrapping dozens of gifts for my kids, their spouses, and my grandkiddos. Right before the chaos began I wanted to take a picture. After all….you know it’s a rush after all the hard work. I’m with 2 sweet little girls all excited to see what is inside each box! They were so cute trying to read names and pass out all the presents to everybody.  

We had a great time on Christmas ripping open the presents and playing with the grandkids and watching their sweet faces when they loved something they got. That’s the best part of Christmas isn’t it? 

Now you might not think this face is so sweet, but when he likes something….it shows on his face…..my son Jeffrey, the hunter. 

Now this is definitely one of the sweetest faces of the day. AND the cutest picture I snapped all day. She wouldn’t take her fairy wings or skirt off even to eat. And I think she loved her Barbie Big Wheels. 

Recipe for Hearty Ham and Bean Soup

1 medium onion diced and sauteed in 2 tablespoons of butter
2 Tablespoons of flour
1 cup diced celery (2 to 3 stalks)
1 cup sliced carrots (3 carrots or 15 mini carrots sliced)
2 cups of diced ham (or boil ham bone and cut and dice leftover ham)
2 cups water
1 – 1 1/2 cups milk (depending on how thick you like your soup)
1 can great Northern beans 
1 can lima or butter beans 
1/3 cup of sour cream 
1/2 teaspoon lemon pepper
salt and pepper to taste
a sprinkle of parsley flakes on top

Saute the chopped sweet onion in 2 Tablespoons of butter with a little squirt of oil till they are caramelized. Then add the 2 Tablespoons of flour and let that cook for a minute. Then add 1/2 cup milk and make a white cream. Then add the water and the veggies and the chopped ham. (If you boiled your ham bone for a few hours beforehand then just use the water from that and cut off 2 cups of ham meat into diced pieces. Let the veggies cook for about 15 minutes. Then add the beans. You can just add 1 can if you are not a bean fan. Then add the rest of the milk and sour cream and seasonings. Simmer on low for another 5 minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste. I will sometimes add some parsley too just for looks at the end. 

Pretty brunch table set up. I got the linens from Kohls and the China from Shopko. I love the runner I found recently to match and the cute little tea lights. My mom got me these little blue egg nog glasses many years ago as a birthday gift. She always made a big deal of family holiday dinners too. I am so glad she did.  

I have been collecting Snowmen china  and table linens for a few years now and have a complete set of cute stuff.  It’s fun to get it out once or twice a year during the December/January months and have everybody over for dinner. 

Here is the cute snowman kiddie table for my 3 granddaughters to eat at. I have 2 cute sets of plates from Target and Shopko.  It is funny how when they are too little to sit at it they want to, and when they are old enough to sit here, they’d rather sit at the big people table. Why is that?

John’s dad playing Santa in his mid eighties was so super sweet. We love him. 

Little Josie, you can barely see her red, glittery, fancy dancer shoes. 

I served my Cranberry Salsa over cream cheese with pretzel crackers and wheat thins. It was a hit with my son-in-law. Check it out HERE.

Anyway, now that Christmas is all over and it’s almost time for New Year’s Day, I am looking for a few more recipes I love to make as comfort foods. Soups are so great when it is cold and snowy. This is one of my very favorites. Everybody will love it, so try it!  And Happy New Year from my family to yours!!

Christmas Desserts

We just had our annual family Christmas Party with my hub’s side of the family. There were lots of fun desserts for the dessert bar. Here are just a few of them.

My Chocolate Bundt CAKE is really yummy with cream cheese icing. I did it a little differently than last years below. I added some of those decadent chocolate balls to the top and just some red and white sugars. 
If you want the recipe for Chocolate Bundt Cake it is HERE.
There were lots of traditional sugar cookies on cute platters and plates….
Some were really fancy with golden doilies underneath! 
Fruit desserts like this Berry-peach crisp (HERE) are always easy and popular for Christmas desserts….Dutch Apple crisp with a little cranberry would be a great holiday dessert too…….. just because of the colors…..
Gotta love a reindeer cupcake. Check out some cute ones HERE  including a gingerbread cake with yummy cream cheese icing. These are so cute and easy too! Doing these along with some white cupcakes decorated with red and green candies and a few light green with cupcake paper toppers would be a really pretty Christmas Dessert display. Your centerpiece could be a few tin or wooden reindeer. 
Another party I went to had a CANDY BAR with glass jars LOADED with candy! It was a blast for the kids to
do their own thing and fill their own ziplock baggie with fun stuff. 

And it looks so pretty on the table doesn’t it? They used lots of red and green candies…..

Of course having a cute table centerpiece makes everything look so darling too! 
I know somebody who would LOVE a candy bar at the NEXT Christmas Party! 
Sweet appetizers are always good. This is a powdered sugar and cream cheese Peppermint Cheese ball rolled in  cookies and candy with graham crackers for dipping.  The recipe is Sugar n Spice Gals.
Pies are always a yummy and pretty Christmas dessert. I love a good pecan pie. But my favorite is cheesecake. 

I love a good pie bar. You can add several kinds of squirt whip cream and ice creams and lots of pie servers. There are so many varieties that you can even buy at the store (Marie Callendars pies are good from the frozen food section, especially banana cream and coconut cream and razzleberry) and then make a few homemade. Everyone will think you made them all.

My sister-in-law makes this yummy crunchy munch. Her recipe for this yummy sweet stuff is  Cranberry Almond Chex Mix. It is really yummy, chewy and nutty. Everybody loved it! Check it out HERE at their blog.

 Now I just HAD to include some pictures of our grandkids and cousins playing the parts of the Nativity. Here are Marisa and Meg doing the shepherds. Aren’t they super cute holding little stuffed animal lambs?

And all the cousins playing the cast of characters. Thanks Aunt Danielle and Uncle Dennis for always putting this together. And Aunt Robin helping too with all the singing and music and costumes. It is such a wonderful night. 

Merry Christmas to All! I hope you have a wonderful time with your families this holiday. Remember to give all your little tykes a big hug. Happy Holiday! 

Pomegranate Almond Green Salad

Martha Stewart had a good looking recipe I thought I would try to go with our Lasagne for Sunday dinner today. Here is Martha Stewart’s recipe. I wanted to doctor it up a little bit.

Pomegranate Almond Green Salad with Raspberry Vinaigrette  

. It would be nice with a crumbly cheese too as an option. Or you could add grilled chicken pieces to it!!

 I sliced up some red onion, mango and threw some slivered almonds and the Pomegranates into a bed of greens for the Pomegranate Almond Salad. Then I drizzled a little bit of Kraft low calorie Raspberry Vinaigrette on top.

2 to 3 cups Salad Greens
1/4 cup Cut up mango 
1/4 cup slivered almonds
`1/4 of a pomegranate (just take seeds out and drop them on top of salad)
slices of red onion (optional) 
Red Raspberry Vinaigrette 

It was yummy.  It went very good with our Lasagne dinner. It would be great for a Christmas party too.

It would also be good with cut up pears or strawberries in place of the mango. And it would be great for a pretty holiday salad!

Cranberry Cilantro Salsa on Cream Cheese Dip

CRANBERRY CILANTRO SALSA….great for a Holiday Party! 

Cranberry Salsa on Cream Cheese Dip

I went to a Christmas Progressive  Dinner Party the tonight and I tried the most delicious dip! It was with fresh cranberries and cilantro with a little jalapeno, lemon juice, sugar and cumin. It sounded so easy. I hung out by this dip the ENTIRE night!  It is embarrasing when I find something I love I just can’t stop eating it!  That’s my downfall! FOOD!  go figure…..

Oh YUMMY is this stuff heavenly!  I could stand here and eat it all day!  I really like it with Wheat Thins because chips fall apart when you try to push them

into the cream cheese….it may be better with soft whipped cream cheese…but it wouldn’t look as pretty on the plate…..

Cranberry Salsa Dip with Cream Cheese

12 ounces or about 3 cups fresh cranberries chopped in blender or chopper
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro leaves, finely chopped
1 small jalapeno pepper, seeded, cored,  and finely diced (cut it in half if you don’t like some HEAT)
3/4 cup sugar (you can add a whole cup but it is very syrupy and sweet…I’d knock it down to 3/4 cup)
1/2 teaspoon cumin
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice (from about 1 large lemon)
1/8 teaspoon salt
2 (8 ounces each) packages cream cheese, light or regular, softened
Wheat Thin Crackers, for serving or Tortilla Chips
Chop about 3/4 cup at a time in your blender on “pulse”…or use a food processor for speed….
You can freeze fresh cranberries in the bag to use all year…did you know that?  Yeah,
the cranberry salsa keeps in the freezer too….so I put half of it away in a tupperware for another party!  
It looks like a lot of cilantro when you are done…so you could go less on it if you wanted….
The sugar is really sweet….It would taste okay to use less if you are watching sugar intake….

My hubs bought the jalapeno and it was large so I only used about half of it
and saved the other half for chili I made the next day….if you don’t like the heat use  1/3 of a jalapeno instead of 1/2. 

I didn’t have a lemon so I used lime juice….It was okay but I think lemon tastes better…
but lime will do in a pinch for sure! 

Pick over the cranberries looking for smashed or bruised ones. Then use your blender for the cranberries or a  food processor and  finely chop about 3/4 of a cup at a time.  Put into a bowl and add the sugar. Then chop the cilantro, jalapeno and add them in and mix up. Then add cumin, lemon juice and salt and mix. Transfer the mixture to a covered bowl or tupperware and refrigerate for 2 hours so cranberries lose  their tartness.

When you are ready to serve, put the block of cream cheese on a really pretty plate.  Top with the cranberry mixture.  Surround the plate with wheat thins crackers.  So very Yummy! 
I wonder if it would be good on a fresh turkey sandwich…hmmm….I’ve got a
turkey in the freezer too…I think I’ll have to experiment on that!! 

  It’s a great Christmas or New Year’s dip not only because it is red and green, but it always tastes fresh and tart and sweet for a fun party or for anytime! It is also great as a relish on turkey sandwiches!