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Welcome to My Kitchen

Pantry cleaning: Toss outdated items

Series: Recipe Column | Story 60

January 4, 2018

Happy 2018. Long time readers may remember, I like to start the new year by sorting out my pantry, making plans to use items nearing a pull date or donating to the food bank so they don’t go to waste. Of course past dated items get tossed out, but I am happy to report I found no such items this year.

I encourage you readers to do a pantry sort out as well. Not having unusable or unwanted items cluttering your cupboards makes meal preparation easier. Donate unopened non-perishables. Toss stale and past dated items, then you can see what you have on hand.

I like to try new culinary items and came across French's Brand Crispy Jalapeños. The re-sealable container has several recipes and the website has many recipes for dips, appetizers and main dishes. The crisp pepper wafers carry considerable heat so don’t overdue a good thing, but do try them in your recipes calling for Jalapeños.

With turkey left from Christmas, I varied a recipe to make Crispy Jalapeño Enchiladas. Cooked chicken or browned ground beef could be substituted in this recipe, or well drained black beans if you want a meatless main dish.

Crispy Jalapeño Enchiladas

2 1/2 cups diced cooked turkey

1 onion, chopped

1 tbsp cooking oil or butter

1 cup mild salsa

8 flour or corn tortillas (10 inch)

2 cups grated cheddar cheese, divided

1 cup Crisp Jalapeños, divided

1 can (10 ounces) enchilada sauce

1 cup sour cream

In a large skillet, sauté onion in cooking oil until translucent. Stir in turkey and salsa. Simmer until excess moisture evaporates. Add 1/2 cup Crispy Jalapeños.

Divide meat mixture between 8 tortillas. Top each with 2 Tbsp grated cheddar and roll up.

Meanwhile, combine enchilada sauce, sour cream and 1/2 cup Crispy Jalapeños. Spread 1/2 cup mixture in bottom of a 13 x 9 inch baking dish.

Place rolled up, filled tortillas in baking dish. Spread with remaining sauce and sprinkle with remaining cheese.

Loosely cover dish with foil and place in preheated 350 degree oven. Bake 15 minutes, remove foil cover and bake 15 to 20 minutes more, or until bubbly at center. Remove from oven and let stand 5 minutes before serving. Yield: 8 enchiladas.

Note: recipe may be divided between two, 9 inch square baking pans. Freeze one to thaw and bake later.

Leftover ham bones make a delicious base for split pea or bean soup. A slow cooker is a great kitchen appliance for preparing all kinds of soups. I like to remove as much fat as possible for both bean or pea soup, so I simmer the bones in 8 cups water in a slow cooker for 6-8 hours. Remove the bones and meat to cool a bit. Refrigerate the broth to set the fat, then skim to remove. Meanwhile, when cool enough to handle, remove meat from bones and dice. Meat and broth is now ready for your favorite recipes. I chose to make split pea soup, and Kelly’s Split Pea Soup from Fix-it and Forget-it, Feasting With Your Slow-Cooker, by Dawn J. Ranck and Phyllis Pellman Good, is my favorite for slow-cooker preparation. Her recipe calls for Canadian bacon and chicken broth but I use the ham and broth and add some celery as well. The recipe is printed it here with my variations.

Kelly’s Split Pea Soup

2 cups dry split peas

1 quart ham broth

1 quart hot water

1 large onion, chopped

2 large carrots, peeled and diced

2 stalks celery, trimmed and diced

2-3 cups diced ham

1 tsp salt

1/4-1/2 tsp ground black pepper

Combine all ingredients in slow-cooker. Cover and cook on low 8– 9 hours.

Optional: if you prefer a creamy soup, remove about half of the soup and let it cool slightly, then puree in blender. Return to slow cooker and cook 30 minutes more. Yield: 8 servings.

Sandwiches were most likely the first use of left over turkey or ham, but once the meat is down to small pieces, family members tend to leave them for easier fare. Diced ham or turkey can be turned into delicious wraps. Cranberry-Apple Meat Wraps are a lighter version, welcome after a season of heavy celebration foods.

Cranberry-Apple Meat Wraps

2 cups diced ham or turkey

1/4-1/2 cups whole berry cranberry sauce

1 crisp apple, cored, quartered and sliced very thin.

1/3 cup sour cream or mayonnaise

4 flour tortillas (10 inch)

4 Tbsp cream cheese or mayonnaise

Optional: 1/2 tsp poppy seeds or 1 Tbsp sesame seeds. Thinly sliced green onions.

Combine meat, cranberry sauce, sliced apple and sour cream; and any of the optional ingredients you like.

Spread each of the tortillas with cream cheese or mayonnaise. Divide meat mixture between tortillas and spread over two thirds of the tortilla. Roll up from the filled side. Cut each in half to serve. Yield: 4 wrap sandwiches.

Note if you enjoy extra tangy flavors, add 1 tsp raspberry vinegar or other fruit vinegar to the meat mixture.

What are your favorite starting the new year recipes and kitchen hints? Did you receive a wonderful kitchen gadget or appliance as a gift and have a review and/ or recipe to share? I noticed on Facebook, some folks now have Insta-Pots. Share your successful cooking experiences and recipes. Readers are always interested to know the pros and cons of new products. Do they work well cooking for one or two people, or for large families? What claims to fame, do the products not live up too? Do they have to be watched closely or are they self-regulating. Send all recipes and reviews to: Welcome to My Kitchen, c/o The Odessa Record, P.O. Box 458, Odessa, WA 99159 email or drop them in the Welcome to Kitchen mail tin in The Odessa Record office. With the freezing temperatures, it is a good idea to keep a faucet trickling and avoid pipes freezing under ground.


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