Slow Cooker Pea and Ham Soup

There are some dishes that, despite their humble appearance and ease to make, are really something special.

The ones that make your belly full, and heart warm, and undoubtedly earn a star place on the regular meal plan.

Well, friends, I think I’ve found another of these dishes – as this Pea and Ham soup was rather delicious indeed. It is one of those dishes that I’ve always enjoyed eating, but never actually made, and I had to laugh at my ignorance when I realised that it contains split peas, not green peas!

With simple ingredients, and created easily in the slow cooker, the result was a hearty dinner soup (with lots of leftovers for lunch and for the freezer too). We served ours topped with natural yoghurt, shredded ham from the hock and a sprinkle of parsley. Even the kids loved it – particularly Miss Maggie – who ate bowl after bowl with gusto!

Inspired by this recipe.

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Slow Cooker Pea and Ham Soup
Course Soup
Servings
people
Ingredients
Course Soup
Servings
people
Ingredients
Instructions
  1. Heat the oil in a small frypan over a medium heat. Add the onions, spices and garlic and cook for a few minutes - until the onion softens.
  2. Transfer the onion mixture to a slow cooker. Add the ham hock, parsnips, apples, split peas and 8 cups of water. Stir well, cover, and cook on medium for 8 hours.
  3. Remove the ham hock and shred the meat (discard the bone and fat). Blend the soup using a stick blende until smooth. Stir through the lemon zest and juice, and season to taste.
  4. Divide the soup among serving bowls, and top with some of the shredded meat, natural yoghurt and parsley.
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Our “Eat the Freezer” Week

Over the last weeks months year, our freezer has become a receptacle for quite the manner of things. A bit of this, and a bit of that, hidden within the icy depths.  And while the additions are always placed there with good intention, generally when we have leftovers or something that is about to shortly expire, I don’t tend to keep an eye on what we have placed inside. Meaning a lot inevitably gets thrown out in a year’s time.

But not this time. For I was determined to use up what we could from the freezer before adding anything new. I did have to throw some items away (apparently I am an expired puff pastry hoarder from way back??), but I was pleased to be able to pull together a weekly meal plan recently that used up some of the bigger items just nicely.

Day 1 – Leftover Calzone

We made batch of spinach and feta calzone a month or so ago, and I forgot to halve the recipe.

So I froze the (cooked) leftover pastries, and after 30 minutes or so in the oven they reheated beautifully. Topped with some passata and grated mozzarella – and baked for an extra few minutes, then served with a side salad.

Day 2 – Teriyaki Chicken Bowls

Not only did this dinner use up some leftover chicken thighs I had in the freezer, it also used up a little portion of ramen noodles that I had in the pantry.

And while I know that ramen noodles are traditionally used in soups, I went with a noodle / salad bowl instead.

Chicken, grilled with a little teriyaki marinade, served with  the pre-cooked ramen noodles, carrot, grilled zucchini, greens, coriander and sesame seeds.

Day two….done!

Day 3 – Potato and Leek Soup

Yes, this nondescript tuppaware container held a quick and easy soup dinner for one when my husband was out for the evening.

Just reheat and eat. Served with a toasted English muffin (also from the freezer!!), one half topped with cheese and tomato, the other topped with ham and avocado.

Day 4 – Veal with Marsala Sauce

I was so pleased to find a use for these veal schnitzels that I were tucked away in the freezer.

Last time we crumbed them, but this time I went with something even simpler. Just defrosted and pan-fried, and topped with a marsala sauce (made simply with a good splash of marsala and cream, seasoned). Served alongside potato mash and steamed beans / zucchini.

Day 5 – Savoury Mince with roasted sweet potatoes

I found some portions of savoury mince hiding at the back of the freezer too, that were the perfect base for dinner on day 5. For the kids I used the mince in tacos, which were a big hit, as always.

While for the adults I added some extra spinach to the mince and used it as a topping for a roasted sweet potato. Drizzled with chilli sauce and served with a side salad.

Easy dinners all round!

Day 6 – Beef Massaman Curry

Since discovering that you could freeze roast meats, and that they reheat quite wonderfully, I’ve never looked back. It’s not unusual for us to have portions of roast beef or lamb in the freezer, or even some pulled pork after I’ve made a batch. Tonight’s inspiration came courtesy of one such portion – a portion of frozen roast beef.

I  defrosted the beef overnight, then reheated it gently in a frypan, before adding some store bought massaman curry sauce, zucchini and beans. Simmered until cooked through and the meat was back to its tender self. Served with brown rice, spinach and fresh coriander – and you’d never have guessed that the beef had been in the freezer only the day before!!.   

Day 7 – Chorizo Pizzas

We love these pizza bases, but they come in a packet of 4 (and we don’t always get around to finishing them all). They do, however, freeze wonderfully – and offer a quick and easy dinner at a later time. So day 7 saw us cooking up a couple pizzas – with the added bonus that we could also use  some chorizo that was tucked away in the freezer also.

 These pizzas ended up being a great way to finish off leftover veggies we had in the fridge too – zucchini, spinach, tomatoes and pineapple. All topped and ready to bake!

Day 8 – Souvlaki Bowls

I couldn’t resist adding an extra freezer-inspired meal to our meal plan, when I discovered half a packet of Lebanese bread in the freezer.

 On the menu? Souvlaki bowls! Filled with grilled lamb (that I had marinated in lemon, garlic and oregano), pearl couscous and roasted vegetable salad and greens.  Topped with some natural yoghurt and hummus and, of course, the Lebanese bread – which was perfect for dipping!

And so – our “Eat the Freezer” week came to a close – with our freezer looking  emptier (but happier!) after our efforts. While I’m determined to keep a better eye on things so we don’t get quite the stockpile in the future, I suspect there is also a very real likelihood that I will be doing a Part 2 to this series in 6 months’ time….

What about you? Do you have a favourite ‘freezer’ meal?

Roasted pumpkin, quinoa and feta salad

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It’s safe to say, I’m a salad girl.

Perhaps it was ingrained in me when I was young – when a big bowl of salad would make an appearance on the family dinner table every other night. Although, on reflection, those salads were pretty standard and definitely reflective of the time. No mesculin or interesting tomato varieties – just plain ol’ icerberg lettuce, white onion, carrot and cucumber, topped with sliced cheddar cheese and drizzled with, most probably,  French dressing. Out of a bottle.

Then came high school, when I would usually spend my lunch money on a freshly made salad roll (being sure to ask for ‘no beetroot’ as it made the roll soggy by lunchtime).

Flash-forward to uni, where my love of salad continued. In fact, with a ‘poor’ uni student budget meaning a lot of my meals consisted of hot chips and beer from the uni pub after class, I really looked forward to the treat of a warm chicken salad a few times a week from a  favourite local cafe.

Over the years, my salads have become a little fancier. The local greengrocer stocks a good range of interesting salad leaves, tomato varieties and I should probably take out shares in avocados given the amount I consume!  And while cheddar cheese doesn’t normally feature in my salads any more, other cheeses, such as feta, sure do!

I’ve heard that famous catch-cry  “you don’t win friends with salad”,  but l I beg to differ. For a salad that graced our dinner table over the weekend, when we had some dear friends around for a BBQ, did not disappoint. And I’m pretty sure that our friendship remains intact. Despite salad, a roasted pumpkin and feta salad in fact, being served.

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I could give you the recipe – but there really is not a lot to it. Simply slices of jap pumpkin and red onion, drizzled with olive oil and baked for 30 minutes at 180C. Then drizzled again – this time with balsamic vinegar – and roasted for a further 20 minutes until golden.

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Combined with a cup of cooked quinoa (I used white as that was what I had), a pile of mesculin and a cup of various mini tomatoes which I had halved. Finished with a liberal amount of crumbled feta and a squeeze of lemon juice.

IMG_7961 Yes I think this love affair will be a long one!

What about you? Are you a salad fan?

Chipotle pulled pork and pineapple tacos

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While I’ve not yet travelled to Mexico (and any long-distance overseas travel is probably not on the cards anytime soon) I really do enjoy Mexican food. Perhaps it is because it is relatively simple to create, with a focus on lots of fresh and interesting flavours? Or perhaps it is the spice-factor, that keeps my palate happy?

And these chipotle pulled pork tacos did not disappoint – in  both flavour and spice factor.

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Created with the help of my trusty slow cooker  and time. Lots of time.

With 8 hours taking a large piece of pork shoulder from this…

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To this!

IMG_5565We loaded up the soft tortillas with the pork (of course) and a variety of other toppings – including red cabbage, a spicy green coriander sauce, lime mayonnaise, and grilled pineapple. IMG_5568 And our craving for Mexican food was thereby sated!
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Chipotle pulled pork and pineapple tacos

  • 5 chipotle chillies in adobo
  • Juice of 1 orange
  • 150g pineapple, chopped
  • 1 tomato, chopped
  • 2 tsp minced garlic
  • 2 tsp ground cumin + 1 tsp
  • 2 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 tbs white vinegar
  • 1.5kg boneless pork shoulder
  • a bunch coriander
  • 1 green chilli
  • 3 spring onions
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • zest and juice of 1 lime
  • 3 tbs olive oil
  • To serve: soft corn tortillas, mayonnaise (mixed with a splash of lime juice and sprinkled with lime zest), shredded red cabbage, grilled pineapple slices and lime wedges.
  1. Place pork into the bowl of a slow cooker.
  2. Process the chillies, orange juice, pineapple, tomato, garlic, 2 tsp cumin, oregano, salt and vinegar until combined. Pour over the pork, turning to coat.
  3. Cover and look on low for 8 hours. Remove pork and shred, then return pork to the sauce to keep warm.
  4. Meanwhile, make a spicy green sauce by processing the coriander, chilli, spring onions, ground coriander, juice/zest and oil – until well combined. Season to taste.
  5. Serve the pulled pork in tortillas, and top with cabbage, mayonnaise, spicy green sauce and grilled pineapple – and finish with a squeeze of lime juice.

What about you? Do you have a favourite Mexican dish?