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Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Orange Glazed Ham

I'm one of the picky people when it comes to ham. When we have chef salad at our school for lunch, I kindly request that the ham be omitted. It's not that I don't like ham, but why waste the calories to my waist of a ham that is lackluster in flavor and depth. I know they are using the ham provided, but it just has no flavor. I really appreciate a good flavored ham. My brother makes a delicious ham. My mom made a great ham too. I visited one of my "sisters" on Christmas morning as I knew she would have her children and grandchildren visiting. I don't see them that often and was excited for the visit. What I also knew was that she always, always made ham and fluffy biscuits too!! Her daughter made an overnight breakfast casserole in the crock pot which rounded out the breakfast perfectly. Fresh fruit was a nice addition too.

My sons are home for Christmas break and it's been a great few weeks. They are at their father's house this week, but last week was my time to cook! I try to make things that take longer to prepare and cook as I have the time. The more I cook for others, and cook with others, makes me realize that I could be a personal chef for someone. Hopefully, they would really enjoy food and not have many "dislikes", but that's an entirely different blog post! (I guess I write in stream of consciousness (my English teachers would be proud). I'll share the filo wrapped lamb in another post. My eldest son, Brad, enjoys cooking, so we have cooked quite a few meals together during the break. I was trying to prepare something that I know they probably wouldn't cook at their apartment at school, and I saw that spiral cut ham at the grocery store. Let's see, the fancy label ham was about $45.00 for a 6 pound ham and the spiral cut no-name was $15.00. Why pay $45.00 for something that someone else glazed? I can make my own glaze and put it in the oven. So, it was ham for dinner. There is the traditional Norman Rockwell ham of long ago with the pineapple slices with maraschino cherry, but I didn't have any pineapple. I did have fresh oranges that my neighbor gave me from his sister's orchard in Florida. How can I go wrong with that? I may have to make a ham for my cafeteria staff at our school. They might like to have someone else cook their lunch for a change!

For a 4 pound ham
4 pound, bone in ham (throw away the glaze packet... you can make an even better one)
3/4 cup light brown sugar
1 tablespoon sharp honey mustard
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
juice of one orange
cloves (6 or 8)

I cut one orange and put the slices on the ham for decoration. I attached the slices with a few cloves. Put the brown sugar, honey mustard, and orange juice in a saucepan and heat until sugar is melted. Put ham in a large piece of aluminum foil, spread glaze on top and cover with the foil. Bake at 350F about 10-12 minutes per pound just to heat through. Don't keep the ham in the oven too long or it will become dry. I always purchase ham on the bone so that I can freeze the bone and use it to make beans, or black eye peas for New Year's Day!

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

What's for dinner?

During a time in every one's life, one lives alone. This can have it's positive and negative aspects. One of the best comments I have ever heard about living alone is that there isn't anyone home to smell the milk carton and confirm, that yes the milk is NO GOOD!! In my opinion, the milk is always no good as I do not, and will not drink a glass of milk. Not even with homemade cookies, chocolate cake, or anything. I just don't like it. I will drink hot chocolate or a cafe au lait (half coffee and half hot milk). But this post isn't about milk as I could sum make it very short and sweet:


I was lucky because I never had to drink milk as a child either. My dad didn't like milk and I must have inherited this "dislike milk" gene!! We ate absolutely everything that was put on our plates as children, so if we drank water or a coke (drank them both at dinner), it was fine. How many children crave salad, fish, and vegetables?..... my brothers and I. So, what does this have to do with living alone? I don't ever have the change of milk going "bad"! I purchase the cartons of milk that have a shelf life of a year or so, and use it for cocoa and coffee. I do get calcium from other sources though. Being single, one can have ice cream for dinner and no one will mind, or miss, the vegetables.

So if I'm not having ice cream for dinner, I certainly will not purchase frozen meals!! No, I think I deserve to eat something more than a peeled back box top that has been microwaved to perfection! Yes, I will make an entire pan of lasagna, a roast, quiche, cassoulet, or moussaka for dinner! I enjoy cooking and think I'm worth the effort and the healthy benefit of fresh foods. I used a can of condensed soup in something the other day and I swear I could taste all of the added sodium (and this comes from someone who used to salt pickles). I have grown accustomed to making my own chicken, beef, and vegetable stock. Once you try the homemade, you will not want to purchase the canned variety. The one food I will bring home as "fast food" is Chinese food! It takes too long to make the soup, eggroll, and main course during the week (yes, I've done it).

So a nice meal, complete with appetizer is not uncommon in my house, nor is a dinner of cookies and coffee. I will admit, the coffee can keep me up too late on a work night, but I just suffer the consequences in the morning.

Cook as if you're worth it!! Forget the fast food (even though I'm a hamburger and french fry "junkie"), and boxed frozen meals. Enjoy your dinner by savoring every bite. I have to put the pasta on to cook now, as my Greek spaghetti sauce has been simmering for a few hours and is ready to eat!

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Cannellini bean soup with spinach

So many people complain about the cold weather. Not me! I enjoy the feeling of the cold brisk wind hitting my face. The air isn't humid like the summer and I'm not gasping for air. Of course, the cold I'm talking about is the cold of the southeastern United States. Yes, I've experienced the cold of France, Germany, and Austria in the middle of winter, but I even enjoyed that too.

Today seemed a good day to make soup. I looked through several cookbooks and stumbled across a recipe for Greek soup made with chickpeas and spinach. Since I didn't have chickpeas, I decided to use cannellini beans. I used some of the herbs in the recipe, but quickly changed the entire recipe!

1 large onion, diced
4 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
3 tablespoons chopped fresh dill
2 tsp salt
2 tsp pepper
1 clove garlic crushed
1 tsp ground coriander
zest of one lemon
juice of one lemon

Cook onion in 6 tablespoons olive oil until tender, add other ingredients and cook for a few minutes.

I cheated and used canned beans (2 15 oz cans)
3 cups homemade chicken stock
9 oz baby spinach leaves
1/2 cup medium grain rice
2 cups water
3 Roma tomatoes diced

Add all of the beans except 1/2 cup to the onion mixture. Add the chicken broth and let simmer while spinach is chopped. Puree 1/2 cup beans and 1/2 cup water and add to the pot. Add chopped spinach, 2 cups water and 1/2 cup medium grain rice to pot. Cover and simmer until rice is tender. Add more water depending on constancy desired. Top each serving with diced Roma tomatoes.


Ingredients I must have in my kitchen (It's a long list, but I try and have these items on hand)

  • Balsamic Vinegar
  • Cheese
  • Cumin
  • Curry
  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • Fresh Bread
  • Fresh Cilantro
  • Fresh Fruit
  • Fresh Garlic
  • Fresh Parsley
  • Greek Oregano
  • Kalamata Olives
  • Lemon ( At least 3 or 4 ALWAYS)
  • Peppers (Wax, Jalapeno, banana)
  • Red Wine Vinegar
  • Regular Olive Oil
  • Rice
  • Salad Ingredients
  • Sea Salt
  • Spanish Olives
  • White Balsamic Vinegar