I cooked this! Ham Bone Soup with Smashed Navy Beans

Christmas is over, but don’t throw away that ham bone! You can use your leftover ham as the base for this wonderfully hearty, soup. It takes about 2-3 hours on a low simmer to get the ham to the point to where it falls clean off the bone and it’s hard not to eat any of it while it’s cooking–it fills your house with the sweet, smoky aroma of ham!

Category: Easy  Prep Time: 10 minutes   Cook Time: 3 hours

Leftover ham bones from holiday dinners serve as the base for this simple, yet flavorful soup. alternatively, you an use 1-2 ham hocks if you don't want to prepare a whole ham.

Leftover ham bones from holiday dinners serve as the base for this simple, yet flavorful soup. alternatively, you an use 1-2 ham hocks if you don’t want to prepare a whole ham.


  • Bone from cooked ham with remnants of meat attached. About 1 ½-2 lbs
  • 1 pound Navy Beans, rinsed and drained
  • 10 sprigs fresh parsley
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • l large clove garlic, roughly chopped
  • 10 sprigs fresh thyme or 1 Tbs. dry thyme
  • salt and pepper to taste
ham bone soup stock

ham bone soup stock


  1. Place navy beans inside a large stockpot or Dutch oven and cover with 2-21/2 inches of water. Bring beans to a boil. Reduce heat and let simmer for 5 minutes. Turn off the heat and cover for one hour. DO NOT DRAIN.
  2. After beans have cooked for an hour, add the rest of your ingredients. Place ham on top. Turn heat back to medium high–just enough to get the contents simmering again. Cover and let simmer for 2-3 hours or until meat falls off the bone easily when scraped with a fork.
  3. Remove ham from pot and place on a platter. Using two forks scrape off the meat from the bone and shred the ham. Add the ham back to the stock pot. Using a masher, slightly mash the beans. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Note: Soup will be thick. For a thinner consistency add more water during cook time. Refrigerated leftover soup may thicken up. Add water 1 tablespoon at a time and stir until you get desired consistency. Then reheat on high for 2 minutes or until hot.

I Cooked This! Alton Brown’s Green Bean Casserole

For #throwbackthursday, I’m sharing a classic recipe: Green Bean Casserole. In February, I went to @AltonBrown’s #edibleinevitable tour when he stopped in Seattle. Audience members live tweeted Alton some questions and one person asked Alton if there were any other dishes besides cornbread that could be made with a cast iron skillet. The whole audience hissed. Alton said this was culinary blasphemy! Quicker versions of the dish use a couple cans of cream of mushroom soup, but on a weekend, take the time to use fresh mushrooms. And go easy on the salt. A little bit of kosher salt packs a lot of punch in this recipe, from  Alton Brown’s Good Eats: The Early Years.

Green Bean Casserole ala Rachel ala Alton

Green Bean Casserole ala Rachel ala Alton

2 medium onions, thinly sliced

1/4 cup all-purpose flour

2 tablespoons panko bread crumbs

1 teaspoon kosher salt

Nonstick cooking spray

For beans and sauce:

2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon kosher salt, divided

1 pound fresh green beans, rinsed, trimmed and halved

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

12 ounces mushrooms, trimmed and cut into 1/2-inch pieces

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

2 cloves garlic, minced

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg

2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

1 cup chicken broth

1 cup half-and-half

Preheat the oven to 475 degrees F.

Combine the onions, flour, panko and salt in a large mixing bowl and toss to combine. Coat a sheet pan with nonstick cooking spray and evenly spread the onions on the pan. Place the pan on the middle rack of the oven and bake until golden brown, approximately 30 minutes. Toss the onions 2 to 3 times during cooking. Once done, remove from the oven and set aside until ready to use. Turn the oven down to 400 degrees F.

While the onions are cooking, prepare the beans. Bring a gallon of water and 2 tablespoons of salt to a boil in an 8-quart saucepan. Add the beans and blanch for 5 minutes. Drain in a colander and immediately plunge the beans into a large bowl of ice water to stop the cooking. Drain and set aside.

Melt the butter in a 12-inch cast iron skillet set over medium-high heat. Add the mushrooms, 1 teaspoon salt and pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, until the mushrooms begin to give up some of their liquid, approximately 4 to 5 minutes. Add the garlic and nutmeg and continue to cook for another 1 to 2 minutes. Sprinkle the flour over the mixture and stir to combine. Cook for 1 minute. Add the broth and simmer for 1 minute. Decrease the heat to medium-low and add the half-and-half. Cook until the mixture thickens, stirring occasionally, approximately 6 to 8 minutes.

Remove from the heat and stir in 1/4 of the onions and all of the green beans. Top with the remaining onions. Place into the oven and bake until bubbly, approximately 15 minutes. Remove and serve immediately.
Read more at: http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/alton-brown/best-ever-green-bean-casserole-recipe.html?oc=linkback

Alton Brown signs my copy of his book while answering my question about brining!

Alton Brown signs my copy of his book while answering my question about brining!

I just died and went to food network heaven. Me with Mr.Good Eats, Alton Brown!

I just died and went to food network heaven. Me with Mr.Good Eats, Alton Brown!

I Cooked This! Grilled Cedar Plank Salmon


Many South Sound Foodies would say you’re not a true Northwesterner until you’ve cooked and eaten salmon.  I recently found a set of cedar grilling planks for $2 at a garage sale, so I vowed to myself I would try my hand at grilling salmon the moment I saw it on sale at the market. I tried the recipe that came with the cedar planks. It is the first time I cooked salon, so I am no longer a salmon virgin! The paprika and cracked black pepper give the rub a strong, robust, flavor. And the cedar planks infuse a wonderful aroma and delightfully smoky undertones.

Level: Moderate

Cook time: Prep: 4 hours 15 minutes. Cook time: 8-22 minutes



1. Prepare your cedar plank. In a flat container such as a roasting pan, submerge your cedar plank in water. Make sure to put a weight such as a brick on top of the plank to keep it submerged. If desired, mix in a few tablespoons of salt in the water. Some chefs say the salt enhances the flavor of the cedar when it comes time to cook the salmon.  Allow to soak in water for 4 hours

2. Prepare your Dry Rub Seasoning

Dry Rub Seasoning:

In a bowl Combine:

  • 1 TSP ground black pepper
  • 1 TSP granulated garlic
  • 1 TSP dried basil
  • 1 TBS paprika
  • 1 TBS Kosher Salt
  • 2 TBS light brown sugar
  1. De-bone your salmon filet. Video: How to filet a salmon. If you’ve gotten a pre-cut filet from your supermarket or fish monger, you may still need to remove some of the pin bones. To do this, feel along the upper part of the filet. You will feel some hard spots where the bones are located and will see little white spots where the bones may be protruding. Remove these with tweezers. At this point, you may remove the skin, but it is not necessary. During cooking the skin will add an extra layer of flavor and crisp up to add additional texture to the fish. It will slide off easily after the fish is cooked.


4. Place your salmon filet on a sheet of wax paper and coat both sides of the salon, pressing gently to make sure the rub sticks to the fish. Squeeze juice of one small lemon on fish. Keep in the fridge, uncovered, until ready to cook.

dry rub

  1. Preheat your grill.
  • To light a gas grill, open the lid. Turn the gas valve to “on” and ignite the grill as directed by the manufacturer. Turn the burners on high. Close the lid and preheat the grill for 10 to 15 minutes.
  • Reduce heat to medium.

Tip: To test the level of heat, carefully place the palm of your hand at the level of the grill rack and count the number of seconds you can hold it in that position. If the heat is low, you should be able to hold your hand in the position for 6 seconds. If the heat is medium, you should be able to hold your hand in the position for about 4 seconds. If the heat is high, you should be able to hold your hand in the position for 2 seconds.

For charcoal grills,  arrange coals evenly across the bottom of the grill, covering an area 3 inches larger on all sides than the plank the coals are too hot, raise the grill rack, spread the coals apart, close the vents halfway, or remove some briquettes.

  • If the coals are too cool, use long-handled tongs to tap ashes off the burning coals, move coals together, add briquettes, lower the rack, or open the vents. MORE TIPS ON GRILLING
  1. Place your plank on the grill and allow it to heat for five minutes. You know you are ready to cook when you hear a crackling sound and the plank begins to smoke.
  1. Place salmon on the grill and close the lid. Allow to cook anywhere from 8-22 minutes, depending on size and thickness of your salmon. You know your filet is cooked when the meat begins to flake easily when you insert a fork into the thickest part of the filet.
  1. Serve garnished with lemon slices or topped with pesto sauce. Salmon can  be eaten alone or used in a variety of ways. You can top toast with it, use it as a protein in an omlet, add it to salads or pasta or substitute it for chicken in a quesadilla!

Note: This recipe used sockeye salmon, but any variety may be used.


I Cooked This! Grilled Petite Lobster Tails With Garlic Herb Butter



Grilling is a great way to cook lobster. The shell traps in the smoke for some hickory-like favors.

Grilling is a great way to cook lobster. The shell traps in the smoke for some hickory-like favors.

If tuna is the chicken of the sea, then lobster is the filet mignon of the ocean. #NationalLobsterDay was June 15, but the weather is still great enough to grill lobsters just about any day. The quickest and probably the easiest way to cook petite lobster tail is to boil it in a pot filled with salted water for about 3-4 minutes. But the 10 more minutes of prep for grilled petite lobster tails is well worth the wait. Your patience will be rewarded with some extra smoky flavors. Fun Facts about Lobster

Herbed Butter: (Yield: enough herb butter for two petite lobster tails)

  • 1 /2 stick of  unsalted butter, softened at room temperature, plus some extra for melting and dipping
  • 1 clove of garlic, minced
  • pinch of salt and pepper
  • 1 TBS  (or more, according to taste) of your choice fresh or dried herbs (tarragon and dill work nicely here, as do onion chives)

Leave butter at room temperature to soften. The time it takes to soften varies. I find it takes about 2-3 hours in the summer when the house is already warm. You can leave the butter out overnight, or alternatively, you can place the butter in a microwave safe sauce cup and heat on high for about 10-15 seconds. If you use the microwave method, be careful to monitor the butter to make sure it doesn’t melt completely. If you do manage to melt the butter, stick it in the freezer and check it in about 20 minutes to make sure it starts to harden, but is not solid.

Combine all ingredients with the softened butter and stir. Set aside.

grilled lobster tails (2 of 4)

Grilled Petite Lobster Tails

  1. Split and butterfly the lobster tails. This can be done with a good chef’s knife or kitchen shears. With top shell flat on a cutting board, take your knife and piece the shell and continue cutting until you get to the end (tail) Make sure you do not slice through the bottom half of the shell. You want to keep the meat in the shell because the shell contains lots of flavor! Alternatively, you can use a set of kitchen shears to cut the top shell. Open the shell to expose the meat (kind of like you are a heart surgeon spreading open a rib cage).  Here’s a step-by-step photo illustration and a helpful video.
  2. Rinse the lobster tail under cold, running water and remove the vein.
  3. Spread herbed butter on meat and on top and bottom shell of lobster tails with a silicone grill brush.
  4. Preheat a grill to about 500 degress and place lobster tails, meat side down, over medium-direct heat and flip once halfway through cooking. Cook times vary depending on the size of your lobster tail. As a general rule, I use about 2 minutes per ounce. The shells will turn a bright red color and the meat will be firm, but not tough when done.
  5. Remove from grill. Serve with additional  melted butter and a garnish of fresh lemon. If desired, top with a couple shakes of hot sauce.

grilled lobster tails (1 of 4)


What’s your favorite way to cook lobster? Leave you answer in the comments.


I Cooked This! Strawberry Blue Cheese Crumble Salad Drizzled with Honey Balsamic Vinaigrette


It’s mid June. That means summer’s just days away. It also means it’s berry season! I enjoy  growing strawberries out of a plastic container on the patio.  I also love stopping by Spooner Berry Farms Berry stands. They have over a dozen locations throughout the South Sound including Tumwater, West Olympia and Lacey. There’s even a berry stand on the coast in Aberdeen! (Note: You should buy your berries early, as the berry stands are usually sold out by 3 p.m.) They also have U-pick berry fields that are open seasonally.


Chopped strawberries served over salad greens and blue cheese crumbles, drizzled with honey balsamic vinaigrette dressing

However you get your strawberries, there are thousands of recipes out there. One of my favorites is to chop them up and put them in a salad with feta cheese and a balsamic vinaigrette dressing. The combination of acidity from the balsamic vinegar, salty , creaminess of the blue cheese crumbles and tartness of the strawberries might sound strange. But don’t let that stop you from trying it! The secret ingredient that ties all the flavors together is honey. It tames the other bolder flavors, so none of them outshine each other.

Honey Balsamic Vinaigrette Dressing

  • 2 TBS Balsamic Vinegar
  • 1 TBS Honey
  • 1/4 C Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Pinch of course salt and pepper


1. Prepare strawberries: Hull out the centers and cut into chunks

2. Wash and rinse salad greens. Any type of lettuce will do, OR use spinach.

3. Add strawberries to greens in bowl and sprinkle with desired amount of  blue cheese crumbles.

4. Combine honey, oil, balsamic vinegar, salt, pepper and olive oil in a small bowl and whisk to emulsify. Alternatively, you can add all ingredients to a screw top jar and shake vigorously until combined.

5. Drizzle over salad greens and toss to combine.

A flat of strawberries from Spooner Berry Farm

A flat of strawberries from Spooner Berry Farm












Spooner Berry Farms has plenty of other recipes on their website. Have a favorite berry recipe? Share it below in the comments or email southsoundfoodiegirl@gmail.com.


A Spooner Berry Farms berry barn is an iconic summertime image in the South Puget Sound.

I cooked this: Garlic Mozzarella Cheese Bombs

Looking for a quick and easy side dish to serve with dinner tonight? These garlic mozzarella cheese bombs are affordable, easy and take only about 20 minutes to make with items you probably already have in the kitchen! These soft, gooey biscuits have a mild garlic flavor and an “explosion” of cheese.



  • 1 tube of 10-count ready-to-bake biscuits, any variety (I used buttermilk biscuits) Albertson’s brand was on sale for $1.49
  • Three mozzarella cheese sticks, cut into thirds.  (Grocery Outlet recently had a 16-pack on sale for $3.99); $3.99/16= 24 cents per cheese stick
  • 1-2 Tablespoons melted butter
  • ¼-½ teaspoon dried Italian seasonings of your choice (parsley, thyme, marjoram, etc)
  • pinch of salt
  • ½ Tablespoon garlic powder



  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
  2. While oven is preheating, line a non-stick baking pan with parchment paper and place individual biscuits from tube about 2” apart.
  3. Place one portion of each of your mozzarella cheese chunks inside of each biscuit. Fold over sides and pinch to close. Place each cheese filled biscuit on pan seam side down. NOTE: You should only use one third of a whole mozzarella stick in each biscuit. Any more than that and the cheese will bubble out when you bake the biscuits.)
  4. Melt the butter in the microwave in a small, microwave safe container. Glass dipping sauce cups are perfect for this.
  5. Stir in garlic powder, Italian seasonings and pinch of salt into melted butter.
  6. Cook biscuits in oven for about 10 minutes or until rolls have risen and gave a golden brown color.
  7. Brush cooked biscuits with seasoned butter mixture. Serve immediately.