Open Face Sandwich Board

Hi all– My buddy Janet came over for lunch today so we could plan a project we’re working on together.  so instead of making her a sandwich (a little dull), I set out all the fixings on a board so we could pile up our own open face sandwiches (more fun).  And we had mini ice cream cones from the market for dessert– only 110 calories each ((but I wont’ tell you how many we ate!!).

It isn’t really a “recipe”– just an idea!

Thick sliced sour dough loaf
Sliced turkey
Sliced ham
Colby Jack cheese
Fresh mozzarella
Sliced avocado
Orange marmelade
Seedy mustard
Sea salt
Fresh apricots (for munching, not sandwiches)

Find an ample board or platter and start arranging!  Good bread and whatever options you can find in your kitchen to pile on top!  It’s that simple.


Farmer Egg & Potato Breakfast

Good morning Breakfast Buddies– We have a group at church called MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers).  I obviously do not fall into that category!!  But lucky for me, there is also a older mentor mom at each table.  So I get to hang out with all those fun moms and their adorable kids on Tuesdays.

We start off each get-together with breakfast (a highlight for us all)– and last week I brought along these eggs and potatoes all baked up together.  Delicious!  And happily, you throw it all together the night before and in the morning, just pop it into the oven!

6 cups frozen hash browns*
1  1/2 cup grated cheddar
2 cups ham, cut to small bits
1/2 cup green onion, sliced (about 4)
8 eggs
3 cups whole milk
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. freshly ground pepper

Make this ahead the night before you want to cook it up for breakfast.

Spray a 9″x 13″ baking dish with cooking spray.  Spread the hash browns on the bottom of the dish.  Then layer on the cheddar, ham and green onion.

In a mixing bowl, whisk the eggs until they are blended.  Then whisk in the milk, salt and pepper.  Pour the egg mixture over the ingredients in the baking dish.

Cover it with foil and set it into the fridge overnight.  The next morning, let the dish sit out for 30 minutes and then take off the foil and bake up the whole thing at 350 degrees for 60 to 65 minutes.  Enjoy!

*Use the shredded hash browns, not the chunky kind!

Potato Ham Chowder

Hi there–  Heading out this afternoon to spend a week in San Francisco to hangout with our kids and those SF grand-kids.  Can’t wait!  So I’ve been trying to amass a pile of leftovers in the fridge to leave behind for Larry— including this potato soup.

Hearty and hot from the soup pot, it’s chock full of tender potatoes, corn, carrots and those little bits of ham.  Serve it up with a bright salad and a chunk of sturdy bread– dinner!

2 tab. butter
2 tab. olive oil
2 carrots, peeled and sliced
1 yellow onion, peeled and chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
28 oz. chicken broth
4 medium russet potatoes, peeled & cubed
2 cups milk
1 tsp. thyme leaves
2 cups ham, cut to bits
2 cups corn, fresh, frozen or canned
2 tab. cornstarch
salt & freshly ground pepper to taste
garnish: cheddar & green onions

Heat the butter and olive oil in a soup pot.  The drop in the cut carrots and onion and cook for 5 minutes until they are tender.  Add the minced garlic and cook a minute more.

Then add in the chicken broth and cubed potatoes.  Bring the simmer back up to a low boil and let it cook for 10 minutes until the potatoes are tender.

Add the milk, thyme, ham and corn and bring the soup back up to a simmer.  In a container with a tight fitting lid shake the cornstarch with 1/2 cup water.  Pour it into the soup, stirring until the soup thickens (about 3 or 4 minutes)  Taste it — and add salt & pepper until it’s just right!

Carrot & Parsnip Red Lentil Soup


Hello there– How are you doing– eating healthier after all the Christmas food splurge??   This big pot of soup was an attempt at a hearty veggie dinner –until I decided to chop up the end of the Christmas ham and add it to the pot.  With or without ham, it’s a warming winter meal– best eaten by the fireplace with a big chunk of wheaty bread.

2 tab. olive oil
1 yellow onion, peeled & chopped to bits
2 cloves garlic
2 large parsnips, peeled & grated
2 more large parsnips, peeled and chopped
3 carrot, peeled & grated
3 more carrots, peeled & chopped
3 pints chicken broth (48 oz.)
1 cup water
1 tsp. cumin
1 cup red lentils
salt & freshly ground pepper to taste
1 cup ham, chopped to bits (optional!!)

Heat the oil in a soup pot.  Throw in the onion bits and cook a couple minutes until it turns translucent.  Then add the garlic and cook a minute more.  Add the chopped parsnip and carrots and cook 3 or 4 minutes until they start to soften.

Then stir in the grated parsnips and carrots, the chicken broth, water, cumin and red lentils.  Stir it now and then so the lentils don’t stick to the bottom of the pot.

Put on the lid and bring to a boil.  Then reduce to a low simmer and let the soup cook 30 minutes until the vegetables are soft and the soup thickens.  Stir in the ham and season to taste with salt & pepper. Enjoy!


Ham, Pear, Goat Cheese Spinach Salad


Hey there– I picked up one of those heavy, foiled wrapped spiral hams at the market last week, the kind you glaze with caramel and serve on a platter pink and salty.  It was for a Saturday brunch with friends– along with mimosas and yeasty waffles.  And the happy news is that there were leftovers!

So Sunday lunch turned into a green leafy salad with slices of that ham, pear and a few extras to round out the plate.  With a toasted chunk of whole grain bread, it was a cozy lunch sitting around the coffee table on a quiet Sunday.

5 cups baby spinach
1/2 cup farro
1 pear, cored & sliced
10 slices of ham
sprinkle of crumbled goat cheese
dried cranberries

1/4 cup olive oil
2 tab. cider vinegar
2 tab. maple syrup
salt & freshly ground pepper to taste.

Layer the ingredients for the salad on a platter.  When you are ready to serve the salad, put the ingredients for the dressing in a container with a tight fitting lid and shake it until it is thoroughly blended.  Drizzle the dressing over the salad and dig in!  (makes 2 dinner salads)img_4775

Roasted Cauliflower Soup


Hello there– Cauliflower.  I’ve seen so many recipes using cauliflower lately.  It must be having a moment.  So when I ran across this roasty chowder made of cauliflower, I thought it was just what we needed for dinner.

After a soup-less summer, I love pulling out the soup pot this time of year.  It’s cozy.  It’s warming. There are usually lots of leftovers for other meals.  And soup just seems friendly.  Hope this rich roasty soup makes it to your table…

1 head cauliflower (about 2 1/2 pounds)
1/4 cup olive oil
salt & freshly ground pepper
1/4 cup butter (1/2 stick)
1 yellow onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup sliced ham cut to bits (optional)
1/3 cup red & orange bell pepper, chopped fine
1/4 cup flour
3 cups milk
14 oz. can chicken broth
1 tsp. thyme leaves
1 bay leaf
1 cup cheddar, grated (I used Colby-Jack)
1/4 cup grated parmesan romano


Cut the cauliflower in half.  Take out the core and discard.  The chop the rest to small bite size pieces.  Put it all in a bowl and toss with the 1/4 cup olive oil.  Spread he cauliflower on a baking sheet that has been sprayed with cooking spray and then generously salt & pepper it all.  Put the cauliflower in a 425 degree oven for 20 to 25 minutes until it just starts to brown and is tender to eat.  (Watch the you don’t burn it!)

While that’s cooking– melt the butter in the bottom of a soup pot.  Throw in the chopped onion and ham.  Cook on medium for 3 or 4 minutes until the onion is transparent and soft.  Add the garlic and cook a minute more.  Put in the red and/or orange pepper and cook another minute.

Stir in the 1/4 cup flour to coat everything in the pot.  Then turn up the heat to medium high and slowly pour in the milk, stirring as you do to make a thickening sauce.  Add in the chicken broth and keep stirring until the sauce is thick and rich.

Then put in the thyme, bay leaf, cheddar and parmesan romano.  Stir it all up and turn the heat to low to let the flavors meld for about 5 minutes.  Stir every minute or so.


Raspberry Orange Ham Sauce


Hi there– Just pulled the last of the Easter ham leftovers out of the freezer.  The thing about leftovers is that they don’t seem so sad if you give them a little extra trimmings to make them seem not-so-leftover.  Do you know what I mean?

So to wake up this dish, we splashed on a little raspberry orange sauce.  It was just fine.  —And the leftovers of the sauce can be used on ice cream or pancakes or in a smoothie…  Leftovers galore– I’m just glad to have them!

1 cup orange juice
1/2 cup raspberry jam
1/2 cup honey
1 tab. butter
1 tsp. cornstarch
1/4 cup water
1 cup fresh (or frozen) raspberries


Mix the orange juice, raspberry jam, butter and honey in a sauce pan.  Bring it to a boil on the burner and then turn down to let it simmer for 15 minutes. Then in a container with a tight fitting lid, shake together the cornstarch and water until they are all blended.  Stir this into the simmer sauce and stir until it thickens, just a couple minutes.

Pour in the raspberries and let it sit to warm them.  Serve it warm over your cooked ham.


Caramelized Onion Quiche

IMG_7732Hey there– This recipe is an oldie around here– Got it back in 1975 when we were first married from a neighbor who hailed from New Zealand and lived across the way in our little seminary housing apartments. And I’ve been making it ever since.  We call it quiche, but it’s a decidedly un-French version.

But I love it because it never fails and is one of those recipes you can switch around to whatever ingredients you have in the fridge– spinach?  bacon?  Swiss cheese?  broccoli?  zucchini?  Whatever.  And I’ve used it without the crust to make tiny frittatas in mini muffin pans.  It’s an old stand-by.  I think you might find the recipe super useful too…

1 pie crust:
1 cup flour
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 cup butter, cold
1 egg yolk

Mix the flour and salt, then cut in the butter and the egg yolk. — You can do it with a pastry blender by hand, but the big electric food processor  does it so much easier. Blend until it forms a ball of dough.  Just with your fingers press the dough gently into a 9″ or 10″ pie/tart pan.

Bake it at 350 degrees for 15 minutes to set the crust and keep it from getting soggy when you add in the quiche mixture.


1 tab. olive oil
1 tab. butter
2 onions, coarsely chopped
1/2 cup ham, chopped to bits
1/4 cup green onion, chopped
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup mayonnaise
2 eggs
1 tab. cornstarch
1  1/2 cup cheese (pick your favorite)
dash freshly ground pepper

Heat the olive oil and butter in a skillet and add in the onion.  Cook until it’s caramelized, golden and browned, about 10 minutes.  Layer the onion in the bottom of the partially baked piecrust.  Then throw the ham into the skillet and cook it 3 or 4 minutes to crisp it up a bit.

Layer the cheese, then ham, then green onion over the onions in the pie crust.

Whisk together the milk, mayonnaise, eggs, cornstarch and pepper.  Pour this over the ingredients in the pre-baked pie crust and pop it all into the oven at 350 degrees for 35 to 40 minutes– just until it starts to brown nicely on top.

Good eaten warm from the oven– or cold for a picnic!

Ham & White Bean Soup

IMG_6711Hey there–  Well, it’s soup time around here.  Again.  Why do I love pots of soup so much?  Glad you asked.  I’ll tell you.  They don’t cost much to make– this one’s built around a hambone leftover from Christmas that’s been nestled in our freezer, just add beans and veggies…  And soup makes the house smell good while it’s simmering and the pot lid’s rattling on the stove.  It’s homey and cozy and even a big bowl doesn’t make you feel like you’re overeating.  A full pot of soup guarantees leftovers so you’ll be off the hook for making dinner one night later in the week.  Plus soup supper is the meal to indulge in a chunk of sturdy bread smeared with butter.  Are you convinced?

splash of olive oil
1 large onion, cut to bits
1/2 red bell pepper, chopped
2 carrots, cut to small chunks
1 tab. thyme leaves*
5 garlic cloves, minced
1 meaty ham bone
2 14 oz. cans chicken broth
3 14 oz. cans small while canellini beans, drained & rinsed
salt & freshly ground pepper to taste
green onions

Heat the olive oil in a soup pot.  Throw in the onions, carrots and red peppers.  Stir it up for 5 minutes and then add in the thyme, garlic. chicken broth and the ham bone.  Let it simmer for 30 minutes.

Remove the ham bone and take off all the meat you can muster up. Cut it to bits and throw it back into the soup pot with the rinsed white beans.  Season with salt and pepper to taste and simmer for 15 minutes more.  Serve it up hot with a sprinkling of green onions and a big chunk of the aforementioned bread.  Enjoy!

*If you don’t have thyme, use any herb you love– dried basil or oregano you have in the cupboard.  (We just happen to have a scrubby little thyme bush in the side yard, so it’s a favorite of mine.)

Breakfast Tacos

IMG_5983Buenas Dias!   It’s taco time–for breakfast.  If you think breakfast burritos are a little too heavy duty first thing in the morning, here’s a nice little alternative.  Start with tortillas and eggs and add whatever taco-ish ingredients you like for breakfast–and that you happen to have in the fridge.   These are quick (less than 15 minutes) and everyone can fill their tortilla to their own liking.  I love tacos.  I literally could eat them for breakfast lunch and dinner.  Hope you like them too.

8 small corn tortillas*
4 slices turkey ham**
4 eggs
salt & pepper
a few drips of hot sauce

Lightly toast the tortillas in the toaster oven for just a couple minutes.  While they are warming up, cut the turkey ham to small bits and brown it in a skillet sprayed with cooking spray (you can use butter or olive oil if you like the real thing).  Beat the eggs in a cup with salt & pepper and a few drops of hot sauce.  Then pour them over the ham and gently fold them in to cook up firm and golden.

Set the torillas on plates and spoon on the eggs, topped with cilantro, cheese, avocado and tomato***.  That’s it.  So breakfast yummy!

* I love the new tiny “street taco size” tortillas made by Guerrero (if you live in California).
**Any ham will do, of course, I just like my inexpensive, almost healthy turkey ham.
— or bacon, who wouldn’t love this with bacon?!
*** or whatever other Mexican food-ish things you love to eat.

Nectarine, Blueberry and Crispy Ham Salad

IMG_3802Hi all–  Last week we had a big eating weekend.  Out for Chinese, then out again for Lebanese food the next night.  Spaghetti with friends and a  big shower brunch.  Ugh.  So Sunday night Larry suggested, “How about salad dinners this week?”  Sounds good to me.  Quick and cool is always good in August.  Here’s Monday night’s dinner…

1 cup ham, cut to small pieces
2 tab. olive oil
4 nectarines, cut to polite little pieces
1 cup blueberries
1 can cannellini (small white) beans, drained & rinsed
1/2 head red leaf lettuce
2 cups baby arugula

1/2 cup olive oil
1/4 cup tarragon vinegar
1 tsp. seedy brown mustard
1 tab. apricot preserves
1 tab. sugar
salt & fresh pepper to taste

Drop the ham bits into a hot pan with the olive oil and cook until they crisp around the edges.  Layer the lettuce, arugula, cannellini beans, nectarines, blueberries and then the ham on a large platter.

Shake together the dressing ingredients in a jar with a tight lid until it’s well blended.  Pour over the salad just before you set it on the table.

Light summer supper.  Hope you enjoy it!


Sweet & Spicy Ham Avocado Sandwich

IMG_1793Hi all– Here’s a sandwich that is quick enough to whip up when you’re just home alone for lunch, but pretty and yummy enough to serve up to friends alongside a big salad.  it’s sweet, salty spicy, topped with creamy avocado.  Pretty perfect.  I think you’d like it as much as I did.  I can see a lot of these sandwiches in my summer ahead…

2 slabs sourdough bread (or any sturdy bread)
4 slices ham (we used turkey ham*)
2 tsp. seedy mustard
4 tsp. apricot jam
1 avocado

This makes a couple sandwiches, for you and a eating buddy.  Toss the bread into the toaster while you put the ham into a non-stick skillet at hight heat.  Cook the ham until it’s hot and crispy (just a minute or two).  Mix the mustard and jam together and smash the avocado.  Then put it all together layering bread, ham, jam & mustard and avocado on top.  Easy and delicious.

*I love that turkey ham.  I get a chunk at the grocery store for about $5 and the butcher slices it up for me.  When you crisp it in a pan, it’s the next best thing to bacon, with a whole lot less fat.  And I can use one package for 3 or 4 meals– in soup, fried for breakfast, sandwiches, tossed in a salad…

Yellow Split Pea Soup

IMG_8494Hi all–  Happy to get out the old soup pot after all that Christmas eating.  This dinner is quick and simple– but it warms you up on a cold January night.  Just drop it in the pot and you can read by the fire while it simmers itself into soup.

olive oil
1 pound bag yellow split peas
1 large onion, chopped fine
2 carrots, peeled and cut to small bits
1 cup ham, chopped to small pieces
2 cloves garlic
1/2 orange bell pepper, chopped
1/2 tsp. salt & a little freshly ground pepper
3 tab. cornstarch

IMG_8486Heat a pan with a big splash of olive oil.  Drop in the onion and carrots.  Stir a cook for 4 or 5 minutes until the onions are tender.  Add in the ham and garlic and cook a couple minutes more.  Then pour in the split peas, orange pepper, salt & pepper and 8 cups of water.  Simmer for 25-30 minutes.  It you like your soup a little thicker (and I do), shake the cornstarch in the covered container along with 1/2 cup water and stir it into the bubbling soup a couple minutes until it thickens.  Set a sprig of thyme (or any pretty herb) on top and set it on the table…

Potato, Ham and Spinach Tortilla

IMG_7997Hi you all–  This is all a bit confusing.  Our years in Spain, I learned to make Spanish tortilla–not to be confused with the Mexican variety we consume by the millions here in California.  It’s a potato-egg confection, similar to an Italian frittata. This version has a decidedly American bent.  All that aside, I just submit that it’s really good, homestyle, warm food for a winter’s evening.

3 russet potatoes, peeled and cut in 1/2″ chunks
1 yellow onion, minced
olive oil
garlic salt
4 eggs
dash salt
1/4 tsp. freshly ground pepper
1 cup smoky ham, cut in bits
1 cup spinach, chopped to slivers
1/2 cup cheddar, grated

Thoroughly cook the potatoes in a nonstick pan with the olive oil.  About half way through, throw in the onion & ham and season with garlic salt. Meanwhile, crack the 4 eggs into a large bowl and season with salt and the ground pepper.  Beat them together and after the potatoes are beginning to brown take them off the heat and let them cool for 10 minutes.  Then drop the potatoes and spinach into the bowl of eggs and let them sit for 5 minutes to really coat the potatoes.

Here is the fun part.  Wipe out the pan so it’s smooth and clean.  Add a couple tablespoons of oil heat the pan.  Pour the eggs and potatoes into the heated pan and cook on medium heat until the bottom is browned and the eggs are mostly set.  Then cover the top of the pan with a large plate and flip it over onto the plate.  Slide the tortilla back into the pan cooked side up and let it cook on medium low for another 5-8 minutes until the bottom is browned as well.

You can eat this cold like Spaniards do for picnics or make tortilla sandwiches on thick slabs of crunchy Spanish bread.  But I like it best piping hot and sitting by fireplace with a bright salad.  Que aproveche!

Corn, Potato and Ham Chowder

Hi friends– OK, it’s really soup weather around here at last.  It makes my heart happy that my soup pot is pulled out of the cupboard once more.  We’ve been eating this corn chowder since we were first married–37 years!  So we’ve had a few pot-fulls.  Making it again after a long soupless summer is like having an old friend drop in for dinner.  Here it is:

1 cup turkey ham, cut to bits (any ham will do)
2 tab. olive oil
2 tab. butter
1 yellow onion chopped
2 russet potatoes
1/2 cup green bell pepper, chopped fine
1/4 cup flour
2 15 oz. cans cream corn
4 cups milk
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. freshly ground pepper
sprinkle of grated cheddar
Sprig of something green for a garnish

Put the oil and butter in the soup pot and heat it up.  Drop the small chunks of ham and onion into the hot pan and let them brown a bit, about 4 or 5 minutes.  Meanwhile, peel and cut the pototoes into polite little chunks.  Cook them in the microwave with water and a 2 shakes of garlic salt for about 7 minutes until the a cooked through, but still firm.  Then sprinkle the flour over the cooking ham and onions.  Turn the heat up medium high and add the milk one cup at a time, stirring all the while until the sauce thickens.   Pour in the creamed corn, green pepper, salt and pepper.  Simmer on the lowest setting (this can scorch easily) until it’s nice and not.

Serve it steaming with a handful of cheddar on top. It’s pretty to add a bit of green.  We have a thyme plant on it’s last legs in the side yard, that worked just fine.  Make some bran muffins and a leafy green salad and it’s dinner!

Ham Ricotta Sandwiches with Apricot-Mustard

Hello all–  A while back we had a family Tea Party to shower our dear Katie with gifts and wish her well before her wedding to Nathan.  Everyone brought sweets or yummy sandwiches to munch with our tea.  It was a happy celebration.  God Bless you Katie.

1 loaf of small “cocktail” size bread (or cut regular bread slices  into 4 squares)
7 leaves of red leaf lettuce
50 slices of ham*
1 16 oz. tub of ricotta
1/2 cup apricot jam
1/3 cup brown mustard with seeds**

First mix together the jam and mustard in a small bowl.  On the small slices of bread layer a piece of lettuce, 2 slices of ham, a tsp. of ricotta and a small spoonful of the apricot-mustard.  Put them on a pretty plate for a tea party –or just gobble them on the spot for lunch!

*I accidentally picked up a package with turkey and ham mixed, so the sandwiches in the picture have a slice of each.
**I love “Maille Old Style Whole Grain Dijon Mustard”– it is the seediest!

Earlier this summer, we saw a display for fruit flavored mustards in the Salumeria store in San Francisco and picked up some blackberry mustard.  Yummy.  But I like this apricot-dijon combination even more.  I think it would be great on a plain a ham sandwich on ciabatta or a grilled cheese and ham on sour dough.  I’m going to experiment…