Split Pea Soup in 30 Minutes! Miracle of the Pressure Cooker!


My family loves split pea soup, but it was a long process to make; soaking peas overnight and cooking the soup all day. For Christmas, my husband bought me this wonderful pressure cooker and last night I made split pea soup in 30 minutes. 30 MINUTES!!! And it tasted as good or better than my previous slow cooked version.

The great thing about making your own soup is you’re in control! You’re in control of the salt content. You’re in control of the fat content. You’re in charge of the flavor! Play with the seasonings you add and see where the flavor goes. I always like to encourage people to play with their food!

Split Pea Soup

Makes 6-8 Servings

16 oz bag of dried split peas, rinsed and drained

7 cups chicken broth (I used my home made broth, so again I was controlling the salt and fat content)

1 1/2 cup diced ham (Tip: I bought a small, lean ham. You can use ham hocks. The bone adds great flavor, but they have a lot of fat on them. You an also save the bone from a larger ham and use that in your soup picking off the meat after it has cooked in the soup. Bones add a lot of flavor to any broth or soup!)

2 large carrots, peeled and finely chopped

1 small or 1/2 a large white onion, finely diced

2 garlic cloves, pressed or finely diced

1 teaspoon dried thyme

1 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon black pepper

A couple of dashes of hot sauce

Put all ingredients in pressure cooker pot and give a good stir to mix. Attach and lock on your pressure cooker lid. Turn pressure cooker on high and cook for 30 minutes.

Here’s the nifty part! When the cooking time is done, use the quick pressure release method prior to removing the lid. This quick release will cause the soup to go into a quick boil and mash up the peas making your soup smooth.

Set your pressure cooker to warm and allow soup to sit for 10 or so minutes to thicken up. Your soup may separate some, but just give it a good stir before serving.



Turkey Chili in the Pressure Cooker – A Revelation for me!!!


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I’m one of those weird foodie women that loves getting kitchen equipment as gifts. My wonderful hubby bought me this 8 quart pressure cooker for Christmas this year. My son-in-law has been singing the praises of these things and I’ve been wanting one, so my wish has been granted! Last night I used it to make Turkey Chili and wow, just wow!!! My recipe wasn’t really any different that what I’ve used in my slow cooker or dutch oven on the stove, but the flavor was so much better! Every bite was full of flavor! The meat and beans were infused with the wonderful flavors of the tomato, garlic, onion and spices. It was just so delectable! That being said, I was also able to still keep the fat and salt levels to a minimum. Win! Win!

So if you’re like me an new to the pressure cooker scene, here is a great starter recipe for you! My friend, Lisa, also received one and requested some tips, so here you go my friend!

I’ve also given some choices i this recipe, so if you’re missing some ingredients you don’t have to buy new things and you can play with the spice level. While I added quit a few spicy ingredients, I found this recipe to still be on the mild to medium side.

Turkey Chili in the Pressure Cooker

Makes 4-5 servings

1 pound Extra Lean or Lean Ground Turkey

1/2 large or 1 small red onion, diced

2 cloves garlic, pressed or minced

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 tsp pepper

1 tsp cumin

1 tbsp chili powder

1 tsp ground chipotle chili pepper or more chili powder

1/4 tsp cayenne pepper (Leave out to reduce heat)

1 tsp paprika

1 tsp dried oregano

14 oz can diced tomatoes

1/2 cup beef broth

14 oz can dark kidney beans, rinsed and drained

14 oz can black beans or more kidney beans, rinsed and drained

4 oz can diced green chilies

8 oz can tomato sauce

2 tbsp tomato paste (Tip: I find most recipes call for these smaller amounts, so I buy the tube of paste, not so many of the cans)

2 tbsp Frank’s Red Hot Sauce or a hot sauce of your choice (You can leave this out to reduce heat)

Optional, but yummy toppings: sour cream, diced green onions, shredded cheese

My pressure cooker has a non-stick pot, so I just sprayed it with some cooking spray to start. If your’s doesn’t have a non-stick pot you will want to coat well with oil. I then used the meat (or saute) function to cook the meat, onion and garlic until the meat was lightly browned and onion was tender. Next add all the remaining ingredients and give a stir. Close and lock your pressure cooker. Set to high and let it get fully pressurized then lower heat to low pressure and cook for 15 minutes. I then let the pressure escape naturally and then opened and served.

The whole thing took about 30 minutes and tasted better than slow cooked chili of the same recipe.


Barbecued Asparagus – BBQ Sauce on Asparagus??? Yes!!!


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Last weekend we did an all BBQ dinner for 4th of July.  Our favorite, and probably easiest entry, was the Barbecued Asparagus. Now you’ve probably grilled asparagus before, but have you doused it in BBQ sauce??? It not, you HAVE to try this! It is so very delicious!!! It was the easiest thing in the world and it could easily be done stovetop or in the oven too, if you don’t have a grill handy. I think our family has found our new favorite way to eat asparagus!

Barbecued Asparagus

Serves 4-5

1 bunch Asparagus (I like to buy the thinner spears as they are not as woody as the thick ones)

1/3 cup BBQ Sauce (I usually like my asparagus a little spicy, so I used the Kinders Sweet Sriracha variety)

Trim about an inch off the cut ends of your asparagus and discard. Cut the asparagus into bite size pieces, about 1 inch and place in a medium mixing bowl. Pour barbecue sauce over asparagus and toss gently. We used a grill basket to cook the asparagus in. I like it with the holes and not a solid bottom, so the veggies get the smoky flavor of the grill. Spray your basket with non-stick spray and then add your veggies. Put on a hot grill and cook for 5-7 minutes stirring occasionally. We like our asparagus to still have some crunch to it, but if you like yours softer you can cook it longer.

Enjoy! I hope you’re having a fantastic summer!!!

Watermelon – The Sweet and the Savory!!!


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Nothing tastes better on a hot summer day than ice cold watermelon! I recently got creative with this wonderful fruit and my friend Lisa insisted I post my recipes, so here we go! At our Father’s Day gathering I wanted to serve a creative appetizer, so I drizzled watermelon with a balsamic reduction and sprinkled it with some super creamy goat cheese. Yummm! You get the sweet of the watermelon with the savory of the balsamic and creaminess of the cheese.

Those watermelons are so big that I always seem to end up with some leftover. For some reason it dawned on me to blend up my leftover melon with a little sugar to make a type of nectar that could be used to make a variety of drinks. It could be mixed with sparkling water for a nice refresher or with a little rum or vodka for cooling cocktail! I hope these recipes help to cool down your summer a bit!!!

Balsamic Watermelon With Goat Cheese


1/2 Seedless Watermelon

1/2 cup good quality Balsamic Vinegar

2 tbsp Sugar

1/2 cup Crumbled Goat Cheese (or Feta Cheese for a more pungeant flavor)

In a small saucepan, whisk together vinegar and sugar. Cook over medium heat until reduced by about half and syrupy.  This will take about 5 minutes. After cooking, chill in refrigerator. Cut watermelon into square shaped bite size pieces.  Round shapes don’t work as well for capturing the cheese in your bites. Arrange melon on a plate and drizzle with chilled balsamic reduction and then sprinkle with crumbled cheese. Serve and enjoy!

Watermelon Drinks

1/2 Seedless Watermelon

1/4 – 1/3 cup sugar

You could use a blender or an immersion blender to combine your chunks of watermelon and sugar to make your necter.

Watermelon Margarita – Blend necter, ice, margarita mix or lime juice and tequila.

Watermelon Refresher – Mix necter, lime juice and sparkling water.

Watermelon Mojito – Mix necter, lime juice, mottled mint and rum.


Barbecue Ribs & Cabbage in the Slow Cooker – An Easy Dinner That Satisfies!


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It has been way too long since I’ve posted anything and I forgot to take a picture of the final product, but after posting something on Facebook I had a request to post this recipe. Pork ribs were on sale at my local grocery store, so I picked up a rack. With the cold weather, we haven’t been in barbecue mode, but I have been in slow cooker mode! So slow cooker ribs it is! 

I was looking through one of my cook books and saw a few recipes for ribs with saurkraut. Now that sounds interesting! I didn’t have much saurkraut on hand, but I did have a jar of red cabbage. This sounded even better to me! I must say, it did not disappoint! The ribs were tender and delicious and the cabbage was incredibly tasty!

This meal was super easy to make and was incredibly satisfying! My family loved it! I served it with a side of corn and some fresh baked sourdough bread. I made my own sourdough starter for the first time, but that is another post!

Barbecue Ribs & Cabbage in the Slow Cooker

1 rack of pork ribs (I used loin back ribs), cut to fit in slow cooker, I cut mine in half

1 – 12 oz jar of German red cabbage

2 cups of barbecue sauce (I used 1 cup of Kinder’s Sweet Sriracha BBQ sauce and 1 cup Kinder’s California Gold BBQ sauce) 

2 tsp liquid smoke

Season ribs with salt and pepper and place in slow cooker. Cover ribs with red cabbage,then pour over BBQ sauce and finally, sprinkle on the liquid smoke. Cook on low for 5-6 hours. Cook shorter time for on the bone ribs. Cook longer for fall off the bone meat. Mine was somewhere in between and was very nice to eat.


Thanksgiving – Three Berries in One Wonderful Cranberry Sauce


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One of the things you can do a couple days in advance of the holiday is make your cranberry sauce. I’ll admit that I have often used canned cranberry sauce, because I had yet to find a homemade recipe that made the work of making from scratch worthwhile. That definitely changed after I made this last year!

I recently watched the TV special Pioneer Woman’s Ultimate Thanksgiving again. One of the recipes she shared on that special was Very Berry Cranberry Sauce. I made this recipe last year and my husband and I agree; YUMMMMM! It will definitely be gracing our Thanksgiving table again this year!

It has the usual tangy flavor and bright color that you would expect from cranberry sauce, but this sauce sports more than just cranberries! It also has raspberries, blueberries and a surprise ingredient. Whiskey!!! I was worried that the whiskey would overpower the fruit flavors, but that was not the case at all! That flavor is really not distinctive, it blends in to simply make a great, fruity tasting sauce! The 3 different berries are what really make it!

So thanks to Ree Drummond, The Pioneer Woman! I would like to share her recipe.

Very Berry Cranberry Sauce

2 bags fresh cranberries
1 cup orange juice
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup whiskey (I used Jack Daniels)
1 cup blueberries
1/2 cup raspberries
Put the first 5 ingredients in a large saucepan and stir. Bring to a gentle boil over medium-high heat. When boiling, lower heat to low and allow to simmer for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add remaining berries and cook for an additional 4 minutes. I noticed a lot of whole cranberries still, so I used my potato masher to gently mash it a little and break up the berries. Remove from heat, cool and refrigerate until cold and thick.
The original recipe says it makes 24 servings. I can believe it’s that many small servings. It makes quite a bit.
Super simple and it tastes fantastic! 
Happy Thanksgiving!!!

Thanksgiving Tips – A Wonderful Salad for a Special Dinner


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  As I’ve mentioned before, some of my favorite recipes come from the Taste of Home folks. They have a monthly magazine, website and annual cookbooks that have wonderful, down to earth recipes. I love that their recipes are usually made from a combination of commonly used ingredients, so I often already have all the ingredients in my pantry.

Several years ago, my sister ran across a Taste of Home recipe for a fabulous green salad called Festive Tossed Salad. It’s a little more work than your run of the mill green salad (not that bad though!), but it tastes WAY better than those every day salads. We tend to make this salad for special occasions and family gatherings, since it’s a little more work we usually have someone other than the hostess bring this item. That way the person brining it can focus on that one thing and when that’s all you have to make, it’s not overwhelming at all.

Festive Salad


• 1/2 cup sugar

• 1/3 cup red wine vinegar

• 2 tablespoons lemon juice

• 2 tablespoons finely chopped onion

• 1/2 teaspoon salt

• 2/3 cup canola oil

• 2 to 3 teaspoons poppy seeds

• 10 cups torn romaine

• 1 cup (4 ounces) shredded Swiss cheese

• 1 medium apple, chopped

• 1 medium pear, chopped

• 1/4 cup dried cranberries

• 1/2 to 1 cup chopped cashews

1. In a blender, combine the sugar, vinegar, lemon juice, onion and salt. Cover and process until blended. With blender running, gradually add oil. Add poppy seeds and blend.

2. In a salad bowl, combine the romaine, cheese, apple, pear and cranberries. Drizzle with desired amount of dressing. Add cashews; toss to coat. Yield: 8-10 servings.


A Favorite Thanksgiving Side Dish – Sweet Potatoes and Apples


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About 20 years ago (man, I’m old!), I was at an office potluck and a co-worker of mine brought the most wonderful sweet potato dish. Keep in mind, prior to this I did not like sweet potatoes. My mom didn’t cook them much at all growing up, so my only exposure was that dish where they’re covered in marshmallows and to top it off, I don’t like marshmallows much either! Anyway, this dish my coworker brought was both sweet and savory. In addition to the sweet potatoes, there were apples in the dish.

I asked her for the recipe and she said she didn’t have it. Her mother had made the dish for her to bring, so I asked her to please ask her mom for the recipe. She comes back into work and tells me that her mom won’t give her the recipe. It’s a “secret” family recipe. What’s a girl gotta do to get that stinkin’ recipe!?! Thanksgiving was coming and my friend said that her mom would make those sweet potatoes every year, so I gave her marching orders to hover around her mother and take copious notes. Well she came through!!!

This dish has been a family favorite for the last 20 years and it always gets rave reviews when I share it with others. I’ve taken it to a few church potlucks and the such.

Not only is this dish delicious, it’s also pretty darn easy to make. Nothing complicated, but the flavors come together wonderfully! The recipe I have is pretty rough and these days I usually just make it from memory. It’s kind of a vegetable lasagna as you’re simply layering the ingredients and it’s easy to increase/decrease the recipe based on how many people you’re feeding. I hope you and your family enjoy it as much as we do!

Sweet Potatoes and Apples

4-5 large sweet potatoes, peeled and cut in half, short-ways

2 – 15 oz cans apple pie filling
Butter or margarine
Brown sugar
1 tbsp Brandy
Place sweet potatoes and 1 tbsp brandy into large pot of water making sure to cover potatoes. Bring to a boil and let boil for about 15-20 minutes or until potatoes are tender. Remove potatoes from hot water and slice into ½ inch slices. Spray a baking pan with non-stick spray and spread one layer of sweet potatoes, then thinly cover this with a layer of pie filling (about ½ can or more if you need it), spoon dots of butter over apples about a teaspoon or so 2-3 inches apart. You just want them spread apart. Then sprinkle about 1/3 cup brown sugar. Now repeat these layers. I usually try to end with the brown sugar on top. Bake in a 350 degree oven for 30-45 minutes until warmed through and bubbly. If you’re making a bigger batch, it may need to cook longer.
You really can’t go wrong with the amounts of the ingredients, so play with it and see what looks good to you. It’s amazing how much flavor that little bit of brandy in the water adds!

Thanksgiving Part 5 – The Best Dressing EVER!!!!  Lets Just Say There Is Chorizo In It!!!


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For some odd reason that I don’t understand, I am the only person in my family that likes stuffing/dressing. Who are these people I live with??? Since they don’t much care for it, I rarely make it. Thanksgiving is my one exception though! I ALWAYS make dressing on Thanksgiving and several years ago I came across a recipe that is so fantastic, even my dressing-free family and friends love it. One of my girlfriends stakes her claim on our leftovers every year!

One year we picked up a holiday edition of Sunset magazine and this is where I found my all-time favorite dressing recipe. This dish is extremely colorful and the variety of unique ingredients create a bold, bright flavor. Let’s just say there is chorizo involved! CHORIZO!!!! Geez I love that stuff!!! There is also fresh baked corn bread, mushrooms and butternut squash, just to name a few.
I just know you and yours will love it as much as we do!!!

Southwest Cornbread and Chorizo Dressing

1 butternut squash (1 1/4 to 1 1/2 lb.)

2 tablespoons firmly packed dark brown sugar

1 onion (6 oz.)
1 red bell pepper (8 oz.)
1 fresh fennel head (9 oz.)
1 pound mushrooms
1 pound chorizo sausage (see notes)
1/4 cup (1/8 lb.) unsalted butter
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1 tablespoon chopped fresh sage leaves
1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme leaves
2 large eggs
1 cup fat-skimmed chicken broth 

1. Peel and seed squash. Cut into 1-inch chunks; you should have about 3 cups. In a 3- to 4-quart pan over high heat, combine 1/2 cup water with brown sugar and the squash. Bring to a boil, cover, reduce heat to medium, and cook, stirring once, until squash is almost tender when pierced, 8 to 10 minutes. Uncover and cook, occasionally stirring gently, until most of the water is evaporated, 3 to 5 minutes longer. Remove from heat and let cool.
2. Peel and chop onion. Rinse, stem, seed, and chop bell pepper. Rinse fennel and trim off and discard base of head and tough stalks. Chop enough fennel to make about 1 cup. Rinse mushrooms and slice 1/4 inch thick.
3. Squeeze sausage from casings and break into chunks into a 12-inch frying pan or 5- to 6-quart pan over medium-high heat; stir often until lightly browned and crumbly, 7 to 10 minutes. Pour sausage into a wire strainer to drain; discard fat.
4. Preheat oven to 350°. Add butter to unwashed pan over medium-high heat; when melted, add onion, bell pepper, and fennel and stir often until vegetables begin to soften, 7 to 8 minutes. Add mushrooms and stir until limp, about 3 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in sausage, cilantro, sage, and thyme. Add squash.
5. In a large bowl, whisk together eggs and broth. Break cornbread into 1/2-inch chunks and drop into bowl. Add sausage mixture and stir gently to combine. Scrape dressing into a buttered 9- by 13-inch baking dish and cover with foil.
6. Bake until hot in the center, 40 to 50 minutes. Uncover and bake until top is crisp and golden brown, 10 to 15 minutes longer.
Makes 10-12 servings. 
Cornbread: Preheat oven to 400°. In a bowl, mix 2 boxes (8 1/2 oz. each) corn muffin mix, 3/4 cup milk, and 2 large eggs until blended but still slightly lumpy. I have also used Marie Callender corn bread mix. Just follow package instructions. Pour batter into a buttered 9- by 13-inch baking pan. Bake until top is golden brown, 15 to 20 minutes. Let cornbread cool in pan on a rack.

Thanksgiving Tips Part 4 – Barbecued Turkey – Great Tasting and It Frees Up Your Oven!


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Inside Kel's Kitchen

I think we can all agree that the backbone of a great Thanksgiving dinner is the turkey! I know for me, if I screw up the turkey I feel like I have failed as a Thanksgiving host.

I forget exactly how we discovered it, but about 20 years ago my husband and I discovered the joy of the barbecued turkey. This moist, smokey flavored bird is definitely the star of the meal. An unexpected perk to barbecuing the bird, is that you don’t have a huge turkey hogging up your oven. I have never been blessed with two ovens, so on a big cooking day oven space is at a premium. Since I usually put my husband in charge of the barbecuing, it keeps him occupied and out of the kitchen. Prior to putting him to work on the barbecue, he was always sticking his finger in to taste things…

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