Winter meets Spring!

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I love that spring is here and the snow has quickly melted!! But my refrigerator still has remnants of cold day ingredients along with all my spring ideas. So today I brought them together for a bit of fresh and a touch of comfort.

I am lucky to have the ‘Love of My Life’ come home almost every day for lunch, so we can share my creations together. Today we started our lunch with a hearty yet healthy salad. Meatless but full of flavor!

Cucumber Sandwiches

My Honey and I Love cucumber sandwiches and to me that screams spring! By adding a little fresh dill, some creamy goat cheese and reducing it to a slider, we have ourselves a delicious bite!

To end our little lunch together, I served up some soothing split pea soup with ham and carrots! Just to speak to the lingering chill in the air!!

Grilled Vegetable Salad with Mushroom Surprise
I’m not a fan of bag lettuce, so once a week I buy several varieties of lettuce. I cut, clean, mix and portion them in zip-lock bags for easy access and portions. The lettuce I used this week was… baby spinach, arugula, red leaf and shredded cabbage.
2 bunches scallions, cut into 1″ pieces
6-8 Brussels Sprouts, shredded
1 large carrot, cut julienne
5  cups mixed lettuce

Toss the scallions, brussels sprouts and carrot with olive oil, a little salt and pepper. Then roast them all for added flavor; baking at 375 degrees for 20 minutes or until brown.

Next I have a trick for what I call ‘Mushroom Croutons’… It is another cheat for me, but delicious and the perfect addition to any salad.

I drain two large cans,( that’s right, I said it…cans) of mushrooms (stems and pieces). Then I wrap them in a tee towel and squeeze (squeeeeeeeeeeeeze) out as much moisture as possible. I place them on a cookie sheet and put them in the oven for about 5 to 10 minutes while the veggies are still roasting. Next I toss them in flour and salt, add a little olive oil to a skillet and crisp them up. Perfect in salads as an unexpected delicious bite!

I toss all the ingredients with my favorite vinaigrette, drizzle on some of my balsamic reduction, and top with the mushroom croutons! (Serves 2-4)

Little Cucumber Sliders
12 to 16 slices of long thin baguette bread
2 Tbs of creamy goat cheese
2 Tbs of cream cheese
1 Tbs of minced onion
1 tsp of fresh chopped dill (soon from the garden)
dash of garlic powder, pepper and salt. (I like Himalayan Pink)
24 to 36 slices of seedless cucumber
3 slices of ham cut up

Mix the goat cheese, cream cheese, dill, onion and seasoning together. Spread over all the little pieces of bread. Divide the ham on half of the bread and top each half with two cucumbers. Give a quick and light sprinkle of salt on the cucumbers then finish by topping the other pieces of bread on top. Presto, cucumber sliders!

Split pea soup

My husband has two clients that always give him BIG ‘bone in’ hams every year, so needless to say, I begin with a ham bone!

Place the ham bone in big boiling pot and cover with water and reduce by 1/2 to 1/3
add 1/2 cup chopped up celery to the stock with the ham bone
(do not add salt in the beginning, ham has enough salt, so wait till it reduces and decide how much later).
Remove the ham bone and strain the broth, then return the broth to the stock pot.
Add 2 bags of dried split peas if you have at least 12 cups of broth and 1 bag if you have 6 cups of broth
2 – 3 large carrots cleaned and diced
1 onion diced
salt and pepper to season

Simmer on medium until soup becomes thick and peas emulsify in the soup. Cut up the ham that came off the bone and add at the end. A hearty dish for the chill in the air.

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