Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Easy Slow Cooker Ham

Prep Time: 15 Min
Cook Time: 10 Hrs
Ready In: 10 Hrs 15 Min


1 (6 pound) bone-in country ham
30 whole cloves (whole cloves were almost as expensive as the ham itself, I used about 1 t of ground cloves)
3 cups apple cider, or as needed
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup maple syrup
2 tablespoons ground cinnamon
1 tablespoon ground nutmeg
2 teaspoons ground ginger
2 tablespoons ground cloves
1 tablespoon vanilla extract (optional)
1 orange's peel

1.  Press whole cloves into the ham so they are evenly distributed. You may score the ham for easier insertion if you wish. Place the ham in a slow cooker. Pour in apple cider until only about 2 inches of ham is above the surface. Pack the brown sugar on top of the ham, pressing into the cloves. This will get washed away in the next step but any that stays on is a bonus.

2.  Pour the maple syrup over the ham. Season the apple cider with cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, ground cloves and vanilla. Add the orange peel to the pot. Fill the slow cooker as full as you can with apple cider without going over the fill line. Cover and set to Low. Cook for 8 to 10 hours.
*This is the moistest, best ham I've ever made.  Love it, great Christmas ham.  The only bad part was there wasn't enough leftovers.

Eloise's Salad

Pictured without dressing
Mixed greens
Pears, sliced
Caramelized pecans–roast in frying pan with brown sugar
Gorgonzola cheese
Raspberry Vinaigrette dressing

Toss all ingredients together and enjoy!
More detailed directions for caramelizing pecans:
1 1/2 T butter
3 T brown sugar
1 1/2 cups pecan halves
1 T cinnamon

Melt butter in small skillet over medium heat and add sugar, cinnamon, and nuts.  Stir constantly until sugar is dissolved, about 5 minutes.  Pour nuts onto sheet of aluminum foil and let cool about 15 minutes.

*I love this salad!  Everything fits so perfectly together.

Buckeye Balls

1 1/2 cups creamy peanut butter
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 to 4 cups confectioner's sugar
8 ounces semi-sweet chocolate
2 T shortening

1.  Line baking sheets with parchment paper, set aside.
2.  Using an electric mixer, mix peanut butter, butter, vanilla, and 3 cups sugar until smooth stiff dough forms.  Add more sugar to liking or to get desired stiffness.
3.  Roll into balls using 2 teaspoons of dough for each ball.  Place on prepared sheet and set in refridgerator.
4.  Melt shortening and chocolate together in a metal bowl over a pan of lightly simmering water. Stir occasionally until smooth, and remove from heat.
5.  Remove balls from refrigerator. Insert a wooden toothpick into a ball, and dip into melted chocolate. Return to sheet, chocolate side down, and remove toothpick. Use finger to close hole from toothpick.  Repeat with remaining balls.  Refrigerate for 30 minutes to set.

*This is a Christmas tradition at my brother's house and we were missing them so we decided to make our own batch.  May I reccommend making the peanut butter balls a little smaller than you think they need to be--this makes the chocolate/peanut better ratio more desirable and the Buckeye balls a perfect little bite.

Pretzel Hugs

Courtesy of Tina

1 bag pretzels (waffle style works best)
1 package M&Ms
1 package Hershey "Hugs" (I used "Kisses" this time)

Place pretzels on baking sheet.  Place a Hug on each pretzel and bake at 200 degrees for about 8 minutes (just watch for the Hugs to melt).  Remove from oven and promptly place a couple of M&Ms on each pretzel, presing into the melted chocolate.  Allow to cool before serving.  At room temperature, the cooling process takes SEVERAL hours.  You may want to make these the day before you plan on eating them or you can put them in the refrigerator to speed up the process.

*A fun, easy treat to make with kids because it is so simple.  We used plain, peanut butter and almond M&Ms.  The only hard part is waiting for them to cool.

Crunchy Lemonade Drumsticks

From the Noble Pig
2 Tablespoons grated lemon zest, divided
1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
3 Tablespoons packed light brown sugar
1/3 cup buttermilk
3-1/2-4-1/2 pounds skin-on chicken drumsticks
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
2 cups Panko (Japanese breadcrumbs)
1 teaspoon dried thyme
Pinch of cayenne pepper
1/4 cup mayonnaise
Olive-oil cooking spray

Mix 1 Tablespoon lemon zest and all of the lemon juice in a large bowl.  Add 1 cup water and the sugar and whisk to dissolve, then whisk in the buttermilk.  Pierce the drumsticks several times with a fork and season with salt and pepper.  Toss in the marinade, cover and refrigerate overnight.

Preheat oven to 400o F.  Bring the chicken to room temperature.  Put the Panko, thyme, the remaining lemon zest, cayenne, 1 teaspoon salt and black pepper in a large resealable plastic bag and shake to mix.  Put the mayonnaise in a bowl.  Set a rack on a baking sheet and spray with cooking spray.

Remove the drumsticks from the marinade and with your hands, slather the mayo on the chicken and drop in the plastic bag, shaking to coat; transfer to the rack.

Mist the chicken with cooking spray.  Bake until golden, about 35 minutes; flip and bake until browned and crisp 35 to 40 minutes more.

*I also cooked a chicken breasts with the legs (the breast took about 20 minutes less).  I liked the white meat better.

Grannie's Homemade Noodles

From Janet
2 eggs
4 T milk
2 cups flour
1 t salt

1.  Mix all the ingredients together in a medium size bowl.  Dump onto counter dusted with plenty of flour.  Incorportate to a soft dough.

2.  Roll dough thin and let sit as is for 10-15 minutes.  Sprinkle flour on top and cut into 1/4 to 1/2 inch strips.

3.  Let dry on countertop for a couple of hours.  Drop into boiling water or soup and cook for approximately 10 minutes.

*These noodles were much easier to roll thin than the noodles I previous posted.  Both work well, but this one is my new go to recipe.

Farmhouse Loaf

4 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp salt
1 tsp intant yeast
1 1/4 cups lukewarm water
1 T plus 1 t sunflower oil (I used olive oil)

1.  Measure the flour, salt, and yeast into a large bowl..  Pour in the water adn 1 T oil and mix to a soft dough.  Add 2-3 tsp more lukewarm water if necessary.

2.  Put the dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead for 10 minutes.

3.  Rub 1 tsp oil around a large bowl.  Turn teh dough in the oil, then cover bowl with placstic wrap.  Let stand in a warm place for 1 1/2 hours, or until doubled in size.

4.  Grease an 8 1/2 x 4 1/2 loaf pan.  Put the dough onto the wark surface and roll it into an 8 x 7 rectangle.

5.  Roll the dough from one long side.  Drop it into the pan with the seam underneth.  Cover with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place for 30 minutes, or until risen 1 in above the pan.

6.  Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F.  Bake the loaf for 10 minutes, then lower the heat to 400 degrees F for 30-40 minutes longer, or until golden brown.  Turn the loaf out of the pan and tap it on the bottom..  It should shound hollow.  If not, place it upside down in the oven for a few minutes more.  Cool on a rack.

*This is a hearty, thick bread.  We served it with stew so it was perfect.

Scrambled Eggs with Spicy Peppers

4 T olive oil
1 large Spanish onion,, peeled and chopped (I used a yellow onion)
3 medium peppers (any color), cored, seeded, and thinly sliced
2 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
1/2 small fresh chili, seeded and finely chopped (optional)
8 large eggs
salt and pepper
4 medium tomatoes, halved, seeded, and chopped

1.  Heat 2 T of the oil in a saucepan.  Add the onion and cook over medium heat for about 5 minutes.  Add the peppers, garlic, and chili and stir to mix.  Cover and cook over low heat for 10 minutes, or until all the vegetables are softened.

2.  Meanwhile, crack teh eggs adn place in a large bowl, add salt and pepper, and mix well with a fork.  Heat the remaining 2 T oil in an 8 in nonstick saute pan over low heat.  Pour in the eggs.

3.  Cook for 3 minutes, or until very softly scrambled.  Stir and scrape all around the bottom of the pan as the egg mixture cooks.  Do not overcook--scrambled eggs should be creamy, not set.

4.  Add the tomatoes to the spicy pepper mixture, then check the seasoning.  Spoon the mixture over the scrambled eggs.  Serve immediately.

*A lot of spice for eggs.  If you love peppers, you'll love this.  It was a little much for my houe, but it sure smelt good cooking!

Individual Chocolate Surprise Cakes

From Noble Pig
1 package brownie mix (I used Pillsbury Chocolate Fudge Brownie Mix)
Hershey's Kisses (2 kisses for each muffin cup)
1.  Prepare your brownie mix according to package directions.  Pour batter into muffin cups that have been sprayed with nonstick cooking spray and place two chocolate kisses in the center of each cup.  Use a spoon to cover the kisses with the batter.

2.  Bake until the edges of the brownies are done, you will have to watch them.  

3.  Cool in the pan for 5 minutes and run a knife around the edges before I turning them over.  Very moist.

Serve immediately.

*These are easy enough to make, but I'd take it one step simpler and just bake them in a pan instead of muffin cups--this makes it easier to clean up and you can have more control over the size of the brownie.

Chocolate-Covered Brownie Balls

Courtesy of Brittany

1 brownie mix
1 1/2 cup melting chocolates or chocolate chips

1.  Prepare brownie mix according to package directions.  Bake until toothpick poked in center comes out nearly clean, but still slightly undercooked.  Remove from oven and let cool for at least 15 minutes..  Scoop brownies with a spoon and roll into tight balls.  Place on a cookie sheet and freeze until very firm, a couple of hours or overnight.

2.  Melt chocolate in microwave until smooth.  Roll each frozen brownie ball in the chocolate and place on a cookie sheet.  Chill unitl chocolate is set or until ready to serve.  Decorate as desired.

Variation:  Mix creamy peanut butter with chocolate and prepare as above.

*We made these for a Christmas treat and sprinkled crushed peppermints on top.  A perfect combination, though the peanut butter mixed in the chocolate sounds great.  A very easy way to stretch a brownie mix.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Sausage Gravy

From The Noble Pig

Sausage GravyFrom Cuisine at Home
4 strips thick-sliced bacon, diced
1 lb. breakfast pork sausage
1 Tablespoon  minced fresh sage
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
3-1/2 cups whole milk
Black pepper to taste

Cook bacon in saute pan over medium heat.  When bacon is nearly crisp, stir in sausage and sage breaking up any chunks with a spoon.  Cook sausage until browned, 8-10 minutes.  Transfer bacon and sausage to a bowl; reserve drippings.

Sprinkle flour into hot drippings while whisking to remove lumps.  Whisk until mixture thickens and begins to brown.  Whisk in milk.  Cook gravy over medium-high heat, whisking until thickened and flour taste is eliminated, about 15 minutes.  Season gravy with pepper to taste.  Stir bacon and sausage into gravy; serve with buttermilk biscuits.

Beef Fajitas

Prep 15 min
Total 2 hours 35 min (incl. marinating)

1/2 lb beef sirloin steak, thinly sliced
1/2 c Zesty Italian dressing
2 lrg green peppers, cut into strips
1 lrg onion, cut into wedges
sour cream

Combine  steak and 1/4 c dressing in glass bowl, cover.  Refregerate 1 to 2 hours to marinate, stirring occasionally.  Remove steak; discard marinade.

Cook steak in remaining 1/4 c dressing in large skillet on medium-high heat 5 to 6 min or until no longer pink.  Remove steak; keep warm.

Add peppers and onion; cook until tender.  Add steak; cook until heated through. 

Makes 8 servings, 2 fajitas each.

*Easy and good.  

Spanish Rice

From Allrecipes
2 T vegetable oil
1 cup uncooked white rice
1 onion, chopped
1/2 green bell pepper, chopped
2 cups water
1 (10 ounce) can diced tomatoes and green chiles (may I suggest using less)
2 teaspoons chili powder (I used about 1/2 teaspoon and it was perfect)
1 teaspoon salt

1.  Heat oil in a deep skillet over medium heat.  Saute rice, onion, and bell pepper until rice is browned and onions are tender.
2.  Stir in water and tomatoes.  Season with chili powder and salt.  Cover, and simmer for 30 minutes, or until rice is cooked and liquid is absorbed.

*This was very good, I used a whole can of diced tomatoes & green chiles and it turned out to be too much for our liking.  Next time I'll try 1/2 a can.  We still ate every bit.  Delicious with Chili-Lime Pork Tenderloin.

Chili-Lime Pork Tenderloin

From Noble Pig
Chili-Lime Pork Tenderloin
Adapted from All You
1-1/2 lb pork tenderloin
Salt and pepper
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 Tablespoon fresh lime juice
1 teaspoon soy sauce
1/2 teaspoon sugar
2 Tablespoons vegetable oil

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.  Blend chili powder with lime juice, soy sauce and sugar in a small bowl.

Pat pork tenderloin dry and season on all sides with salt and pepper.  Use your hands to rub chili mixture thoroughly into tenderloin.  Warm a large ovenproof skillet (if you don't have an ovenproof skillet use a regular one, you will just have to transfer pork to a baking tray or dish) over high heat, then add oil.  Add pork and sear on all sides, turning meat with tongs, about 2 minutes total.

 Place meat thermometer in the thickest part of the tenderloin and place skillet or baking tray into the oven.  Cook until thermometer reads 160F (about 20 to 25 minutes) depending on the thickness of the tenderloin.  While in the oven baste with any juices that accumulate on the bottom.  I also added a little bit of water to the bowl I made the chili mixture in, giving me some juice to baste with.  I basted the tenderloin about four times while it cooked.

Remove tenderloin from the oven and loosely tent with foil and let sit at least 5 minutes before cutting on a diagonal into 1/2" thick pieces and serve.

*This was so delicious!  I hadn't cooked a whole pork tenderloin before and after this recipe, I am excited to experiment more.  What a cooking gem.  This meat was moist and juicy.  It went perfectly with Spanish rice and chips.

Nutty Granola

Homemade Nutty Vanilla Granola From All You
4 cups old-fashioned oats (not instant)
1/2 cup sliced almonds
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
1/2 cup chopped pecans
1/2 cup sunflower seeds
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar

1/2 cup honey
1/3 cup vegetable oil
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Position rack in middle of oven and preheat oven to 375o F.  Mist a large rimmed baking sheet with cooking spray.  Mix oats, nuts, sunflower seeds, cinnamon and salt in a large bowl.

In a saucepan, combine brown sugar, honey and oil and bring to a simmer over medium heat.  Remove from heat and carefully stir in vanilla.  Pour hot liquid over oat mixture, stir and toss until thoroughly mixed.

Spread granola on baking sheet and bake until golden brown, 18 to 20 minutes, stirring occasionally (3 times during the baking process) to ensure even baking.  Warning: Granola can go from perfectly brown to burnt in one minute, really watch it at the end.

Transfer granola to a large bowl and let it cool, stirring occasionally.

*Jacob and I loved this--just plain or with milk.  A wholesome treat.