Monday, April 30, 2012

Brown Sugar-Mustard Ham Glaze

I am always a little behind the times when it comes to holiday meats.  My family doesn't usually have ham for Easter, but I can't resist getting one on deep discount while they are on sale.  Same with turkeys or turkey breasts around Thanksgiving or Christmas.  I'll freeze for a while and then pull out when we get a hankering...

Last weekend was ham weekend.  Also discovered a trick thanks to an appliance emergency.  Our gas oven is just not getting up to cooking heat, so I knew it would be a disaster for a ham that needed to be reheated for a couple of hours. Gas barbecue grill to the rescue.  I turned two burners on, let it heat to the desired temp, adjusting as needed.  Then put the ham in its roasting pan on the other side of the grill for some indirect cooking.  Turned out perfectly..and we felt like it had just a hint more smoke from being cooked outdoors.'s the simple glaze recipe I used.  Delicious.  Watch things's sweet enough that it can sometimes brown a bit much.  To prevent that, you can wait and glaze for the last hour or so of cooking.  Or just tent with foil if you feel like things are getting overdone.

Brown Sugar-Mustard Ham Glaze

1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1/4 cup Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons cider vinegar
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves

Combine all ingredients in a small bowl and brush onto the ham before cooking.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Green Garlic Butter

Wow.  It's been a while since I've posted.  No worries...I'll make it up to you in the next couple of weeks with some great recipes and tips I've been checking out.

I continue to learn that it really is the simple things that can make life more beautiful.  St this time of year, it's just a matter of walking around your yard to see the things that are in bud, in bloom or in some other stage of spring-ness.  (And don't worry if you not really the one with a green thumb...I'm betting others in your neighborhood are gardeners extraordinaire.  Take a walk around the block and enjoy their gardens vicariously!)

In the kitchen, especially at this time of year and through the summer, simple is better also.  This is not the time for complicated casseroles or multi-ingredient stews.  This is the time for the freshest vegetables you can find and make them magical with the easiest of additions.  Case in point...this garlicky, herb-flecked compound butter.  It transformed some mashed potatoes the other night, but would also be delicious on fresh corn, steamed green beans, or even tossed with a little pasta.

Green Garlic Butter
Makes about 1/2 cup.

1 stick unsalted butter, slightly softened
6 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup parsley, chopped
1/4 cup chives, chopped
(Substitute tarragon, cilantro, basil, oregano, rosemary, dill, whatever you like to switch things up a bit.)
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

Place the butter, garlic and herbs in a food processor and process until smooth.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Thursday, April 05, 2012

Tangerine-Green Tea Metabolism Boost

Not sure where I ran across this one, but Dr. Oz says that this concoction will rev up your metabolism.  I tried it and not sure how many extra ounces I lost, but it's pretty tasty.  Definitely worth a try...

Tangerine-Green Tea Metabolism Boost
Makes 8 cups.

8 cups of green tea, brewed
1 tangerine, sliced
Several sprigs of mint

Combine all ingredients and let flavors marry overnight.  The recipe says that best results come from drinking the entire batch in one day.

Wednesday, April 04, 2012

Chive and Onion Hash Brown Casserole

Here's a great dish to make for your Easter brunch this weekend.  It was a hit with our families at Christmas.  And soooooo simple to make....

Chive and Onion Hash Brown Casserole
Makes 12 servings.

1-1/2 cups half-and-half cream

1 cup spreadable chive and onion cream cheese
2 tablespoons dried minced onion
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
2 packages (20 ounces each) refrigerated shredded hash brown potatoes
2 cups shredded Swiss cheese
3 tablespoons minced fresh chives, divided
2 tablespoons butter, cubed

In a small saucepan, combine the first five ingredients. Cook and stir over medium heat until blended; transfer to a large bowl. Add potatoes; mix well.

In a greased 9-by-13 baking dish, layer a third of the hash brown mixture and a third of the cheese; sprinkle with 1 tablespoon chives. Repeat layers. Top with remaining hash brown mixture and cheese; dot with butter.

Cover and bake at 375° for 35 minutes. Uncover; bake 10-20 minutes longer or until edges begin to brown. Let stand for 10 minutes before cutting. Sprinkle with remaining chives.

Monday, April 02, 2012

Spinach Salad and Roasted Garlic-Cider Vinaigrette

A good spinach salad always has a place in my meal plan.  And by good, I mean tricked-out with hard-boiled eggs, red onion, mushrooms, and, if I'm feeling decadent, some crispy bacon or prosciutto. To gild the lily, a little goat cheese or blue cheese perhaps.  A salad that great deserves a yummy dressing like this one.  It has lots of layered flavors from apple cider to roasted garlic to some more red onion.

Roasted Garlic-Cider Vinaigrette
Makes about 3 cups.

3 heads of roasted garlic (Wrap unpeeled garlic in foil and bake at 400° for 1 hour.  Remove from oven and let cool.)
3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 cup finely diced red onion diced finely
1 cup apple cider
3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
Pinch of sugar if needed

In a large saute pan, heat the olive oil.  Add the onion and cook over medium-low heat until completely softened, 5-7 minutes.  Add the apple cider and simmer rapidly until reduced to about 1/2 cup.  Add the vinegar and squeeze the roasted garlic into the pan.  Add the remaining tablespoon of olive oil.  Stir until completely combined and season with salt and pepper.  Taste and add sugar if needed.

Serve the dressing warm so that it wilts the spinach slightly.

Sunday, April 01, 2012

Spring Pea Pesto

While I have no desire to ever appear on one of those episodes of "Chopped" (Lord knows I couldn't deal with some of those whacked-out ingredients they throw in those baskets), but I DO enjoy trying to use up leftovers in interesting ways rather than throw them into the compost pile or the dog's dinner dish.  That's why the asparagus/leek/Gruyere quiche is baking away right now...almost limp veggies, two slices of bacon and some leftover grated cheese become breakfast for the week.

There was also a Tupperware container of green peas.  Hmmm.....

Did a little online research and came up with this yummy pesto.  The peas substitute for most, but not quite all, of the herbs. It's going to be great tossed with a little hot pasta for a vegetarian dinner tomorrow night.

Spring Pea Pesto
Makes about 3 cups.

2 1/2 cups green peas (If you're fortunate, you can get some spring peas at the farmer's market and blanch them briefly.  If not so lucky, just thaw some frozen peas.  Or use leftover cooked peas like I did.)
2 tablespoons minced garlic
1 cup basil leaves
1/2 cup mint leaves
1/2 cup pine nuts
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/3 cup olive oil

Add all ingredients but the olive oil into the bowl of a food processor.  Season with a generous pinch of kosher salt and some freshly ground pepper.  Process until finely chopped.

With the motor running, add the olive oil in a steady stream, blending until incorporated.  Check for seasoning; add salt and pepper if needed.