Honey Baked Ham

April 22, 2011

It’s not a holiday at our house without some kind of baked ham. With that said, we don’t normally have baked ham unless it’s a holiday :). Last year, I experimented baking our own honey baked ham at home to see whether it would really make a difference.  And yes it did! This ham did not disappoint. It was tender, juicy and full of flavor. I love how thew red pepper flakes added a little bit of tang to the sweetness of the honey glaze. Skip the store-bought ham, and try this one instead. While it takes time to make, it’s really worth the wait.

Recipe courtesy the Neely’s via Food Network

Ingredients

6 pounds bone-in ham
1/3 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup honey
2 teaspoons cornstarch
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Line a standard size roasting pan with aluminum foil, and place ham with rounded side up. Bake for an hour.

In the meantime, mix the rest of the ingredients in a medium sauce pan, oven medium heat. Stir occasionally until it forms a thick glaze.

Use 1/2 of the glaze to coat the ham, and continue to bake for another 30 minutes. (If the glaze thickens up, let it heat back up for a few minutes until it reaches the consistency to coat).

Flip the ham, use the remaining 1/2 of the glaze, and finish baking for another hour.

Let stand for 30 minutes before slicing to serve.

Yield: 8 Servings

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Slow Cooker Smothered Pork Chops

April 2, 2011

I’m always on the lookout for a new delicious dish that can be prepared in a slow-cooker. My weekly recipe rotation consists of one slow-cooker dish; and I don’t know about you guys, but I need variety!!! Trust me, I understand first hand how difficult it is to get a nice dinner on the table during the week where we seem to be on the race against time. This recipe is attractive to me because I have never cooked pork chops in a slow cooker before; and it also uses bone-in blade cut pork chops.


This dish requires a little bit of prep time in the beginning but I promise you that the end result is worth it. I also don’t have time in the mornings to prepare my slow cooker, therefore I prepare everything the night before, cover the slow cooker insert with the lid, and leave in the refrigerator overnight. That way, I can just put the insert into the slow cooker in the morning and turn it on, which only takes two minutes. These pork chops were fork-tender, melt-in your mouth delicious, with gravy that was equally rich and decadent, without being too heavy. Finally, I love how beautiful the final product was. We enjoyed this with another household favorite Mustard Roasted Potatoes, but I think they’re great with hot egg noodles, rice pilaf, or mashed potatoes. Yum! I will be making this again very soon. Happy cooking!

Adapted from The Best of American Test Kitchen 2008

Ingredients
4 slices bacon, chopped fine
Vegetable oil if necessary
6 bone-in blade-cut pork chops, about 3/4-inch thick
Salt and Pepper
3 onions, halved and sliced into 1/2-inch thick (I used my mini food processor to do this)
1 teaspoon plus 1 tablespoon light brown sugar
1/3 cup plus 2 tablespoons water
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 teaspoons minced fresh thyme
2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
1 tablespoon soy sauce
2 bay leaves
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 tablespoon cider vinegar
1 tablespoon minced fresh parsley

Directions
Fry the bacon in a skillet until they are crisp. Transfer bacon to paper-towel lined plate, and leave the bacon fat in the skillet. Refrigerate the bacon.

Meanwhile, pat the pork chops with paper towel until they are dry and sprinkle both sides with salt and pepper. Heat the bacon fat until it smoking. Fry 3 chops at a time, about 3 minutes on each sides until they are golden brown. Then transfer to the slow cooker insert. Repeat process with remaining chops.

Pour off all but 1 tsp of bacon fat from the skillet; add onions, 1 tsp light brown sugar, 1/4 tsp salt and 1/4 cup water to the now-empty skillet. Using a wooden spoon, scrape the browned bits from the pan and cook over medium high heat until the onions are soft, approximately 6 minutes. Add garlic and thyme and cook until fragrant, approximately 30 seconds.

Pour this mixture into the slow cooker insert over the pork chops. Add broth, soy sauce, and remaining 1 tbsp brown sugar to the skillet, bring to a boil and add the bay leaves. Pour the mixture in the slow cooker.

Cover the slow cooker, and cook either on high for 4 hours or low for 8 hours.

When ready to serve, reheat the bacon in a large saute pan until crisp. Transfer bacon to a small bowl. Slowly, transfer the pork chops into a large platter, and tent the plate with an aluminum foil. Remove bay leaves from the crock pot, and pour the liquid through mesh strainer into a large saucepan.

Transfer the solids into a blender along with 1 cup of the cooking liquid, and blend until smooth. Stir back into the remaining liquid in the saucepan. Mix the cornstarch and remaining 2 tbsp water together in a small bowl and stir into the sauce. Cook over medium heat for approximately 8 minutes.

Add vinegar, and season with salt and pepper to taste. Pour the sauce over the chops and sprinkle with bacon and parsley. Serve.

Yield: 6


Breaded Chicken Cutlets

March 19, 2011

Fried chicken is one of my secret guilty pleasures… The crispy skin under the delicious breading with juicy meat all thrown in together with hot sauce, oh yea, I am in foodie heaven! Now that you know my secret obsession, I also need to let you in on a little secret that I am perfectly aware that I don’t eat it all that often. When Red and I were planning our wedding; we talked about having a low key fried chicken reception. But we backed away from that since we figured that not too many people would be too receptive of our “whacky” idea. We went with the traditional plated fish and beef dinners instead. This chicken recipe is a go-to recipe at our house; when we crave fried chickens, but want a quicker and less-messy version. It is also delicious eaten as a chicken sandwich, although I love them on their own without the buns. The key here is to make sure that you pound the chicken to even thickness so they cook thoroughly and can have that crispiness that we all want from fried chickens. Happy Eating!

Adapted from The America’s Test Kitchen Family Cookbook

Ingredients
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (5 to 6 ounces each), tenderloin removed and reserved for another use, fat trimmed
1/2 cup kosher salt or 1/4 cup table salt
1/2 cup sugar
5-8 slices high quality white bread such as Pepperidge Farm, crusts removed and torn into rough 1-1/2 inches pieces (or, if you don’t have white bread available, use panko instead, this is what I did)
Ground black pepper
3/4 cup all purpose flour
2 large eggs
1 tablespoon plus 3/4 cup vegetable oil
Lemon Wedges for serving

Directions
Use rubber mallet, meat pounder, or rolling pin to pound chicken breasts to even 1/2-inch thickness. Dissolve salt and sugar in 1-quart cold water in gallon-sized zipper lock plastic bag. Add cutlets and seal bag, pressing out as much air as possible; refrigerate 30 minutes. Line rimmed baking sheet with triple layer of paper towels.

Remove cutlets and lay in single layer on baking sheet; cover with another triple layer paper towels and press firmly to absorb moisture. Allow cutles to dry for 10 minutes. Process bread in food processor until evenly fine-textured, 20 to 30 seconds (you should have about 1-1/4 cups fresh bread crumbs). Transfer crumbs to pie plate. Carefully peel paper towels off cutlets, sprinkle cutlets with pepper and set aside.

Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position, set heat proof plate on rack, and heat oven to 200 degrees. Spread flour in second pie plate. Beat eggs with 1 tbsp oil in third pie plate.

Working one at a time, dredge cutlets thoroughly in flour, shaking off excess. Using tongs, dip both sides of cutlets in egg mixture, taking care to coat thoroughly, allowing excess to drip back into pie plate to ensure very thin coating. Dip both sides of cutlets in bread crumbs, pressing crumbs with fingers to form even, cohesive coat. Place breaded cutlets in single layer on wire rack set over baking sheet and allow coating to dry for 5 minutes.

Meanwhile heat 6 tablespoons of remaining oil in a heavy-bottomed 10-inch non stick skillet over medium-high heat until shimmering, around 2 minutes. Lay two cutlets gently in skillet; cook until golden brown and crisp, 2-1/2 minutes  total.

Flip cutlets using tongs, reduce heat to medium, and continue to cook until meat feels firm when pressed gently and second side is deep golden brown and crisp, about 2-1/2 to 3 minutes longer. Line a plate with paper towels, set cutlets on top. If you’d like, use an oven-safe dish, and keep the chickens warm in the oven.

Discard oil, wipe skillet, and repeat the frying process with fresh new oil. Serve with lemon wedges if desired.

Yield: 4 servings


Roasted Vegetable Enchilada with Creamy Tomatillo Sauce and Melted Cheese

March 1, 2011

I recently wandered to my local library and saw Rick Bayless’ Fiesta at Rick’s at their new arrival section. I love being able to “test-drive” a cookbook prior to purchasing; and have had great luck that way. Mexican meal is something that I don’t normally cook at home; I think it’s just because I just didn’t really grow up eating it and am not familiar with the type of spices or ingredients used. I watched Rick Bayless compete at last season’s Top Chef and became fan with some of the meals that he cooked during the show; however I was a little bit hesitant with the complexity of the recipes. I was really surprised when I found myself bookmarking several of his recipes, and this was one of them!

The smokiness of root vegetables roasted at high heat were so wonderful combined with the bright and creamy tomatillo sauce. This dish was so delicious that I ended up making it twice two weeks in a row. I used carrots and butternut squash because that’s what I had in hand, and loved the sweetness from the two vegetables against the other earthy flavors. What I also love about this dish was that I only assemble what Red and I would have at one meal; and leave the rest of the ingredients in the refrigerator for the next day. That way the vegetables or the corn tortilla don’t turn mushy. I have since then tried several other of his recipes-so be in the lookout for future posts of Rick’s delicious dishes. Happy eating!

Adapted from Fiesta at Rick’s

Ingredients
1 lb (6-8) tomatillos, husked and rinsed
1 medium white onion, sliced about 1/4-inch thick
3 garlic cloves, peeled
Fresh hot green chiles to taste (2-3 serranos, 1 or 2 jalapenos), stemmed
1-1/2 tbsp vegetable oil, plus extra for roasting the vegetables and brushing or spraying the tortillas
2 cups vegetable or chicken broth, plus a little extra if needed
1/2 cup Mexican crema (that’s what I used), creme fraiche, or heavy (whipping) cream
8 cups of cubed vegetables (1/2-inch cubes), such as chayote, carrots, white/red onions, small turnips, kohlrabi, mushrooms and peeled butternut squash
Salt
12 corn tortillas
2/3 cup shredded Mexican melting cheese, or Monterey Jack, brick or mild cheddar
A few sliced rounds of white onion, separated into rings, for garnish
Fresh cilantro sprigs for garnish

Directions
Sauce (The sauce can be made ahead, and then refrigerated until you’re ready to assemble the dish)

Roast the tomatillos, sliced onions, garlic and chiles on a rimmed baking sheet about 3-4 inches below the hot broiler. The tomatillos need to be soft and blotchy black on one side, about 4-5 minutes. Turn everything over and then roast the other side. After these are finished, turn oven down to 400 degrees.

Transfer all of the vegetables roasted into a blender or food processor, and blend into a smooth puree consistency. Heat 1-1/2 tbs of oil in a medium to large pot over medium high heat, and add all of the puree at once. Stir constantly for several minutes until darker and thicker, make sure you scrape the bottom of the pan to prevent sticking. Add broth and crema, and reduce heat to medium-low, partially cover and simmer for approximately 30 minutes.

Vegetable Filling

Spread all of the cubed vegetables into a single-layer on a rimmed baking sheet. Drizzle with oil and sprinkle lightly with salt. Mix with your hands to make sure they are evenly coated. Stir regularly until carrots are crunchy, approximately 25-30 minutes.

Finishing

Once the sauce has thickened beyond the consistency of a cream soup, stir in a little bit more of the broth or water. Taste and season with salt (approximately 1 tsp). Lightly brush or spray both sides of corn tortillas with oil. Slide into a plastic bag and microwave on high for 1 minute to warm and soften (for easier rolling).

Smear a few tablespoons of the sauce over the bottom of 13×9-inch baking dish. Working quickly, fill each tortilla with about 1 cup of roasted vegetables. Line the rolled tortillas up on a baking dish, with seams side down. Douse with remaining sauce; sprinkle with cheese.

Bake until enchiladas are heated through (the cheese will begin to melt and brown), about 10 minutes. Garnish, and serve quickly. Best served right out of the oven.

Yield: 4-6 servings


Turkey Lasagna

January 24, 2010

My husband Red has been taking over the cooking duty at our household for the past couple of months. This is a recipe that we often make at our house, but I just realized, I have never posted. The recipe was inspired by Ina’s famous Turkey Lasagna Recipe, but we have modified it to the ingredients that we have readily available at the house. It’s a no-fail recipe that will be sure to satisfy your diners. Enjoy!

Ingredients

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup chopped yellow onion (1 onion)
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 1/2 pounds ground turkey (the next six seasoning will be mixed into the ground turkey)
2 tsp garlic powder
1 1/2 tsp sugar
1 tsp dried oregano
1 1/2 tsp fennel seed
1/2 tsp pepper
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 (28-ounce) can crushed tomatoes in tomato puree
1 (6-ounce) can tomato paste
1/4 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley, divided
1/2 cup chopped fresh basil leaves
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1/2 pound lasagna noodles (no-boil)
15 ounces ricotta cheese
1 cup grated Parmesan, plus 1/4 cup for sprinkling
1 extra-large egg, lightly beaten

Directions

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Heat the olive oil in a large (10 to 12-inch) skillet. Add the onion and cook for 5 minutes over medium-low heat, until translucent. Add the garlic and cook for 1 more minute.

Mix the following six seasoning listed under ground turkey ingredient into ground turkey.

Add the seasoned ground turkey mixture and cook over medium-low heat, breaking it up with a fork, for 8 to 10 minutes, or until no longer pink. Add the tomatoes, tomato paste, 2 tablespoons of the parsley, the basil, 1 1/2 teaspoons salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Simmer, uncovered, over medium-low heat, for 15 to 20 minutes, until thickened.

Meanwhile, fill a large bowl with the hottest tap water. Add the noodles and allow them to sit in the water for 20 minutes. Drain.

In a medium bowl, combine the ricotta, goat cheese, 1 cup of Parmesan, the egg, the remaining 2 tablespoons of parsley, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Set aside.

Ladle 1/3 of the sauce into a 9 by 12 by 2-inch rectangular baking dish, spreading the sauce over the bottom of the dish. Then add the layers as follows: half the pasta, half the mozzarella, half the ricotta, and one third of the sauce. Add the rest of the pasta, mozzarella, ricotta, and finally, sauce. Sprinkle with 1/4 cup of Parmesan. Bake for 30 minutes, until the sauce is bubbling.

Yield: 8 servings