Ham and White Bean Soup with Rosemary

Ham and beans are a natural pair. When salty ham and the fibrous beans are combined in a soup they are simply magic. Ham and White Bean Soup with Rosemary adds aromatics rosemary and garlic to create rich flavors. This soup, like most soups and stews, is best made a head of time and refrigerated overnight.

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Ham and White Bean Soup with Rosemary
(Mark Kelly, 2014)

Makes about 6 quarts

2 pounds dried white cannellini beans
1 pound dried white navy beans
8 medium yellow onions, chopped
2 stalks celery, chopped
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
6 garlic cloves, minced
1 very large sprig or two smaller sprigs rosemary
4 quarts fat-free, lower-sodium chicken stock
3 large bay leaves
1 ham bone
3/4 lb. cooked ham in large, thick pieces
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper

In a medium bowl, cover the beans with water by at least 1-inch and leave them in the refrigerator overnight. Drain and rinse well with cold water.

In a large stockpot over medium heat, saute the onion with olive oil until they are translucent, about 10 minutes. Season the onions with salt and pepper. Add the celery and cook for another five minutes. Add the garlic and cook for an additional 2 minutes. Add the ham pieces and cook for 5 minutes. Add the beans, rosemary, chicken stock, ham bone and bay leaves. Bring to a boil and then simmer for 1 hour, until the beans are very soft.

Remove the rosemary, bay leaves and the ham bone, scraping any remaining meat from the bone back into the soup. Remove about one-third of the beans and some of the broth and pulse in a food processor until coarsely pureed. Return the pureed mixture back to the soup and let stand for at least one hour, or for best results refrigerated overnight, before reheating.

Reheat the soup and season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve hot with crusty bread and the hot sauce of choice.

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Grilled Spicy-Orange Chicken

The acidic, spicy marinade for Grilled Spicy-Orange Chicken impart a distinctly Asian flavor to these super tender chicken pieces. Allowing the chicken to marinate for at least for hours allows the fairly small amounts of citric acid and rice wine vinegar to break down the proteins in the chicken without “cooking” the meat as in a ceviche.

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Grilled Spicy-Orange Chicken
(Mark Kelly, 2014)

Serves 6 to 8

2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
6 bone-in chicken thighs, skin-on
Juice of 1/2 large orange
1 Tbsp Sriracha
1 Tbsp freshly-grated ginger
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 Tbsp chile paste
1 Tbsp toasted sesame oil
1/2 cup canola oil
1/4 cup rice wine vinegar
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper

In a small bowl, combine orange juice, Sriracha, ginger, garlic, chile paste, sesame oil, canola oil, and rice wine vinegar. Whisk together until thoroughly mixed.

In a large bowl or zip-top bag, coat the chicken with the Spicy-Orange marinade. Refrigerate for about 4 hours. Remove the chicken and shake off excess marinade. Allow the chicken to come to room temperature before grilling. Season the chicken with salt and pepper, to taste.

Heat grill to medium for indirect grilling. Grill the chicken for about 10 – 12 minutes per side, or until the internal temperature reaches 165F. Allow to cool for about 5 minutes before serving.

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Ham Panini with Caramelized Onions

There are many ways to use leftover Easter ham. Ham sandwiches are a favorite leftover choice. Ham Panini with Caramelized Onions is a twist on an old family favorite that features a spread with mustard and caraway seeds in it.

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Ham Panini with Caramelized Onions
(Mark Kelly, 2014)

Serves 4

1 large focaccia bread, cut into quarters and then sliced in half
3 Tbsp mayonnaise
1 Tbsp spicy brown mustard (such as Gulden’s)
2 tsp caraway seeds (ground in a mortar and pestle to release oils)
1/2 large red onion, sliced thin
3 garlic cloves with one end cut off
4 roasted red pepper slices, cut into strips
4 large slices cooked ham
4 slices Alpine Lace Swiss cheese
Extra-virgin olive oil
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper

Preheat oven to 350F.

On a rimmed baking sheet toss the onions and garlic cloves in 2 tablespoons of olive oil to coat. Season with salt and pepper. Bake for 45 minutes, stirring after 20 minutes and each remaining increment of 5 minutes. Remove from oven and allow to cool.

Squeeze the garlic into a small bowl and mash with a fork until smooth. Add mayonnaise, mustard, and caraway seeds. Whisk to combine and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes before assembling sandwiches to allow the flavors to meld.

To assemble the sandwiches: Spread the mayonnaise-mustard mixture evenly on the cut-side of each piece of focaccia bread. On one half of each sandwich place the ham pieces. One the other half of each sandwich place a layer of the caramelized onions, pepper slices and a slice of cheese. Put the four sandwiches together and cook, using a panini press, for about 5 minutes, until the cheese has melted. Serve immediately

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Beer and Cheese Dip

This Beer and Cheese Dip can be made beerier or spiced up to taste with the addition of more Guinness Stout or Sriracha. Plan ahead and make this dip a day ahead for the best results.

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Beer and Cheese Dip
(Mark Kelly, 2013)

1 bulb garlic
2 tsp extra-virgin olive oil
12 oz. reduced fat cream cheese (1 1/2 packages), softened
6 oz. Guinness Stout Draught at room temperature
1 Tbsp Dijon mustard
1 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
2 Tbsp Sriracha
2 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese
3 green onions, thinly sliced plus more for garnish
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper

Preheat oven to 400F.

Cut the top off of a bulb of garlic. Discard top. Place the bulb on a foil-lined rimmed baking sheet. Drizzle with oil and season with salt and pepper. Roast for 1 hour until golden and the cloves are tender. Set aside to cool slightly. When cool enough to handle, squeeze the garlic cloves into a bowl and mash them with a fork until they are smooth.

In a food processor, combine the roasted garlic, cream cheese, beer, mustard, Worcestershire and Sriracha; process until smooth. Add the cheddar and green onions, salt and pepper to taste. Pulse to combine. Transfer to a serving bowl and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes or overnight to allow flavors to combine.

Serve with crispy pretzels, pita chips or fresh vegetables.

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Grilled Lamb Chops

There is nothing fancy or intimidating about preparing good old-fashioned grilled lamb chops. Find some good quality chops (Ample Bites buys lamb chops at Costco). Marinate the lamb chops for a few hours in olive oil with minced garlic and minced rosemary. Remove them from the refrigerator, season them and grill them. It’s that simple.

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Grilled Lamb Chops

(Serves 4)

8 – 12 bone-in lamb chops about 1 1/2″ thick
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 large sprig rosemary, leaves minced
4 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper

In a large zip-top plastic bag, combine chops with the garlic, rosemary and olive oil. Toss well to coat. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours. Remove one hour before grilling and let stand on a large rimmed baking sheet. Generously season both sides of the lamb chops with salt and pepper.

Preheat grill to high for direct grilling.

Grill the lamb chops for 4 minutes. Turn the chops over and grill for an additional 4 minutes to medium-rare. Remove and let stand for 5 minutes before serving.

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