Easter Leftovers III: Soup Time

Leftovers often mean soup. Any time there’s a big portion of meat served, it’s almost a guarantee that soup will be one of the eventual leftovers.

Soup went two ways with this ham.

First, I went with split pea soup. It’s pretty traditional to use ham with split pea. I used ham stock that I made from the ham bone, plus I sauteed pieces of meat that then boiled in with the peas.

The last time I made split pea soup, it came out much thicker than I like. This time? It came out thinner than I like. I’m still learning. To compensate a little, I chunked up the soup by  adding some mixed vegetables near the end.

I’m very proud of the other direction I went with soup leftovers. This was a riff on a “Portugese Kale and Sausage Soup” that I’ve made many times. The soup works well with basically any smoky meat and any dark green. I’ve used sausage, kielbasa, and now ham, and I’ve used kale, spinach, mustard greens, turnip greens, and beet greens.

I sauteed onions and the ham, added spices and broth, and added the greens… and then the secret ingredient that really makes this soup special: brown mustard. If you’re looking for more of a zing, you could add hot sauce, cayenne pepper, or even horseradish. We tend to leave it to the individual servings to spice up.

Both of these soups freeze & reheat well.

Easter Leftovers II – Fried Rice

This one is a recipe we just used fresh in our house – the only leftovers went with my husband to work the next day!

I used the basic fried rice recipe found here.

I actually didn’t change anything, except that I had a bag of “mixed vegetables” in my freezer, rather than just peas and carrots.  I also added scallion microgreens, in addition to the fully-grown scallions that the recipe calls for. It was delicious.

Easter Leftovers I – Breakfast Muffins

I had a very large quantity of ham left over from Easter, by design. As I mentioned in my last post, I’ve been cooking for a few additional people outside of my family, and due to the logistics of handing off the food, I’ve been utilizing a lot of my freezer-friendly recipes. This is one of them.

These  “Breakfast Muffins” are basically mini crustless quiches. Here’s what you do:

Spray a muffin tin with cooking spray. Then place any of the chunky fillings you intend to use – in this case, ham, but it could be sausage, mushrooms, potatoes, onions – in each of the cups.

In a mixing bowl, beat some eggs. I used 10 eggs, which actually turned out to be a little too much. For a standard-sized tray of muffin tins, 8 is probably the sweet spot. Add some milk – non-dairy works fine if you’re avoiding dairy – and any spices you wish to add. Then, whisk in any cheese you plan to add, as well as any greens you wish to include. In this case, I used kale that I froze back in July.

Pour the egg mixture into the muffin tins and bake at 375 or so for … longer than you’d expect. I checked these three times before they were really done. Depending on how evenly your oven heats and whether or not your add-ins were frozen, the range could be from 20 to 40 minutes. Eyeball it. Check with a knife – if it comes out clean, you’re good. You’ve got this.

Once they cool, these muffins can be eaten right away, but I like to wrap them up and freeze them. They’re super convenient for mornings where you’re in a rush but need a hearty breakfast.

I somehow managed to fail to get a picture of the finished product, sorry! Next time.

Scenes from an Easter Kitchen

Easter is a big deal in my family – an unsurprising statement for a part Polish girl from a large family. Celebrations always include an absurd amount of food, particularly golabki, babka, pierogis, kielbasa, chrzan… I’m not sure I’ll ever get used to the spellings, but the food tastes like home.

The past few years have been tumultuous. Typically, we have all of us (30 or more) for brunch at one of the houses that can hold all of us. It’s been this way my entire life, yet the past few years have been interrupted. In 2014, I was 38 weeks pregnant and Easter was being held an hour and a half away. On the advice of my doula, I stayed put, cooked like crazy for the two of us, and ate with wild, pregnant abandon.

2015 marked Little Chef’s first Easter, at nearly a year old, and the last Easter at my Grandmother’s house before she sold it.

In 2016, my mother broke her leg severely in February. By Easter, she was out of the rehab center but was living with my grandmother in her wheelchair-friendly senior apartment. Gram went to Easter at my aunt’s, but I brought a full Polish Easter to the apartment to share with Mom, my husband, my son, and my brother.

2017 looked like we’d be back to normal, but my aunt got sick shortly before Easter and decided she couldn’t host. The family scattered to have separate, smaller gatherings, and I hauled all of the makings of a good Polish Easter to my mom’s condo. We invited my in-laws over and had a wonderful feast.

2018 saw the revival of my aunt hosting Easter, though several of my cousins are traveling abroad at the moment, so it was fairly quiet (for us). Here I was, with a free ham from Shop Rite, a driving urge to cook and blast Jesus Christ Superstar, and all that was requested of me was my lemon raisin babka.

You know where this is going, don’t you?

After a long stretch of disillusionment, I began attending church again over the past couple of years… regularly so in the last year or so. I’ve gotten involved with a ministry there that involves cooking meals for people who are homebound, which has been a source of contentment for me. (Surprise – I like to cook. Who knew?) Well, since I didn’t need to host Easter this year, I set up Easter dinners for all of the  people we serve. I also made beans for the Easter Bunny BBQ and muffins for coffee hour.

It felt glorious. By the end of it, I was exhausted and tired of smelling ham, but it was all worth it.

I’ve spent this week creatively using the leftovers… more on that to come.

Happy Easter!