Crock Pot Cowpea Soup

Most of you probably just read the title of this recipe and giggled. Yes, cowpea sounds a lot like cow pie. In fact, cow pee makes it seem even more funny. So if you haven’t heard of a cowpea before, let me tell you a little about it. But seriously, you can stop giggling now. Cowpeas are meaty little legumes that come in long pods. Once you pull the string off, you’ll see the tightly packed peas pop out of the pod. They are sometimes classified as a black-eyed pea, but you can also get purple-eyed ones, they can be green, white or dark in color and they are hearty little nuggets to cook. 

When you can get them fresh, you are good to go once they are out of the pod. If you get them dried, then you need to soak them in water overnight for about 8 hours and then rinse them a few times before you throw them in the pot.

Cowpeas are common in a lot of African recipes and provide excellent protein in many soups and rice dishes. These “beans” are also used in a lot of southern recipes in the USA. I even found a great recipe online for chow chow salsa that included canned black-eyed peas, but would be awesome with fresh cowpeas instead.

I thought that split pea soup sounded great to make this week– fresh cowpeas are readily available at my local farmers market right now and if I make it now and freeze it, it will make a great meal later this fall when the weather cools off a bit. I decided not to go the traditional route and cook the soup with a ham hock, but to keep it vegetarian instead. If you’d like to, you can add diced cooked ham or turkey sausage after you puree the soup and then heat it for an additional hour to warm the meat. Either way, the soup is filling and satisfying and an easy meal when served with a crusty bread.

Kudos to you for trying something new. Cowpeas are a nice variation, especially if your family already likes peas and beans. Plus, if you can get them fresh, it’s fun to pull the string and unleash the pea from the cow. Enjoy!

2 c. fresh cowpeas

1 medium onion, chopped

2-3 carrots, chopped

2 stalks celery, chopped

3 garlic cloves, chopped

2 parsnips, peeled and chopped

3 c. water

1 t. salt

1 t. black pepper

1 T. fresh parsley, chopped

Put all ingredients in the crock pot and cook on high for 4-6 hours. Using a hand blender, puree soup in the crock pot. If desired, add 1/2 lb. diced cooked ham or turkey sausage to the pot and heat for one additional hour on low.

Crock Pot Chicken Cordon Bleu

After three days of amazing holiday weekend barbecues, I am ready for something without sauce, sides of beans or cool whip desserts.  I have had the pleasure of attending festivities at friends’ homes so I actually haven’t had to do much cooking! My crock pot has been sitting pretty for a few days now and I will neglect it no longer– it’s time for a new recipe. I’ve had some requests for more chicken recipes, so today I am presenting you with a classic favorite, plus an alternative way to do it.

Chicken Cordon Bleu is a popular dish, but I think it’s more American that French cuisine. Stuffed meat isn’t that new of a concept and there is nothing actually blue in this dish. From what I understand, Cordon Bleu actually means “blue ribbon” in French and is an award given to culinary masterpieces.  Here in the states, I advocate for using deli ham and swiss cheese in your chicken, but if you’d like to make it more exotic, feel free to try prosciutto and gruyere cheese for more bite.

You need to start by venting your frustrations on a piece of meat. Place each boneless/skinless chicken breast in a zipped plastic bag and go to town on it. Use a rolling pin, a mallet, a can of soup… anything that will apply weighted pressure. You want the meat to be tenderized and spread thinner.

If you’d like to make this dairy-free/kosher/healthier, try using different filling in your meat. I suggest trying a combination of fresh spinach, sliced mushrooms and roasted garlic instead of ham and swiss in your chicken rolls.  You can use all the same directions, just substitute your inner components. Feel free to experiment and find out what earns the “blue ribbon” in your kitchen. Enjoy!

4 boneless/skinless chicken breasts

1/4 lb. deli ham, sliced thin

1/4 lb. swiss cheese, sliced thin

4 t. dijon mustard

1 t. celery seed

1 T. dried parsley flakes

salt and pepper

1 c. white wine

Beat chicken into flat, thin pieces. Lay flat and smear with mustard. Layer one piece of cheese and one piece of ham, then start at end and begin rolling chicken. Place each roll seam side down in the crock pot. Sprinkle seasonings on chicken rolls, then pour wine into crock pot, but do not rinse the seasonings back off. Cook on low for 4 hours. Remove rolls from pot and let cool for a few minutes so that juices can settle. Serve hot.

Crock pot Easter ham

This is the easiest ham recipe ever. No joke. I had Easter dinner at my sister-in-law’s house for many years and when I asked for the recipe, I was so entertained to find out that it was so easy! It’s delicious and easy and you can spend your time on all the fancy side dishes for your festival meal instead. Enjoy!

1 2-3 lbs. sliced ham from the grocery store (sold as one package in the meat department, or you can get really thick slices from the deli counter)
1 can chunked pinapple in pineapple juice

Put ham in the crock pot (not on a trivet). Pour can of fruit and juice on top of meat. Cook on low for 6 hours. Transfer meat to a serving platter when it is done cooking and decorate around it with the tasty chunks of fruit.

(seriously, that’s it! it’s easy and yummy and the meat and fruit both taste fantastic!)