Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Easy Pineapple Glazed Ham and Lemony Roasted Asparagus

 

I can't believe that it's been over a week since I last posted a recipe! It also seemed as though Easter was just a few weeks away-- and now, I realize that it's in just a few days.

It's that time of year, when work becomes really hectic until the Class of 2013 marches to Pomp and Circumstance.  Once again, I will wave farewell to the students who have grown near and dear to my heart over the last four years.  I am so looking forward to Spring Break, so that I can take a little breather from the business of work. I'm planning to stay-cation and to do a little catch up on chores. I have a backlog of savory recipes and baked goods that I'm anxious to share with all of you.

This is the ham that I glazed and baked, for last year's Easter brunch, but I never posted.  Well, better late than never, right?  I just wanted to show you how easy it is to turn a spiral cut bone-in ham into something that looks impressive, but isn't a whole lot of work.  As tired as I get, this time of year, I need recipes that are easy to do.   
 
I'm not a fan of ham, at all.  I'm out numbered, because my men love it, so this is for them-- and the guests we invited to join us.   The enclosed ham glaze packet doesn't do much for me.  I used some homemade pineapple jam (a very easy recipe), dijon mustard and brown sugar.  I didn't measure, but I can tell you I use about 1 cup of pineapple jam, 3/4 cup of brown sugar and a couple healthy tablespoons of Dijon mustard.  I slathered the ham and loosely covered it in foil.  Following the instructions that came with the ham, I set it on a roasting rack and warmed it at about 275F for about 1-1/2 hours.  I removed the foil during the last hour and I though the ham glazed nicely. I was surprised at the drippings I found in the roasting pan.

I poured the drippings into a pot, add a bit of chicken stock and then made a quick cornstarch-water blend.  
 This made a lovely thick gravy, that I hadn't planned on!


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Monday, March 18, 2013

Guinness Chocolate Cake with Italian Meringue & Belgian Chocolate Ganache


For an aspiring food blogger, I am always behind the 8-Ball when it comes to posting recipes before each "National Fill-In-The-Blank Day" or holiday season.   Epic timely fail.  I think it's because I  become absorbed into  researching what I want to make for my own family. By the time I actually make the recipe, edit the photos and write the recipe post, the holiday is over.

With this cake, it doesn't matter that St. Paddy's day was yesterday. This cake is good any time of year, and the towering presentation, the contrasting billowy Italian meringue, with a coating of Belgian chocolate ganache truly makes a "Ta-Da" statement.

The preferred alcohol-based drink, with our meals, would be beer.  Most definitely.  My husband's beers of choice includes IPA's and Hefeweizen with his repertoire of hoppy beverages, while I tend to lean more toward Pilsners. 

Guinness beer is a bit too thick and dark for my own personal taste , as a beverage.  However, Guinness beer is delicious in savory recipes, like Glazed Pork Chops or Lamb Stew.   Guinness in desserts? I admit that I was highly skeptical.  This St. Paddy's Day, I decided I'd risk combining this Irish beer with Dutch chocolate-- Ireland, meet the Netherlands, if you will. (Italy and Belgium will join the cake party later on in the recipe.)


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Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Pineapple Upside Down Cake (with a little rum)

Here is a classic Retro Dessert. When's the last time you had a slice of Pineapple Upside Cake?  Does this bring back childhood memories?

It seems that this cake was invented somewhere between the late 1920's or early 1930's.  One of Jame Dole's (of Dole Pineapples) engineers invented a machine that would core and slice pineapples. Soon, canned pineapple became a pantry staple in American homes-- and thus, the Pineapple Upside Down Cake was created.  That's what I read on the internet, so it must be true!

I love fresh pineapple, and one of my favorite snacks is pineapple and cottage cheese.  I could eat that every day, and be content.  On our recent trip to Hawaii, I was always happy to see pineapple as a garnish with my breakfast (and, with a few of the Mai Tai cocktails that I enjoyed).

This weekend, we had our friends over for a very casual dinner.  I wanted to cook whatever I found in our freezer and pantry.  I thawed some pork ribs, so   Craig grilled his perfect ribs.  I doctored up leftover barbecue sauce with homemade pineapple jam, honey and teriyaki sauce.  While I was at it, I made a quick slaw using a can of crushed pineapples and lite coconut milk that I found in the pantry.

 
Lo and behold, I found a can of pineapple rings.  I don't remember when or why I bought them, but I decided to keep the pineapple them going).  I hadn't made a pineapple upside cake in at least 25 years, and guests were arriving within the hour.  So, I pre-measured all of my dry ingredients and set up the rest of my ingredients.  Once we finished eating ribs, I made the cake.


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Friday, March 8, 2013

Sucré Sweet Boutique Giveaway

 Photo Source: Sucré Sweet Boutique

I can't remember the first time I fell in-love with Macarons, but that love has never faded.  They're so pretty and classy looking!  The classic cookies is made with almond flour, sugar and egg whites.  They are filled with a limitless variety of fillings, from lemon curd to glorious buttercreams. Sounds simple, yes?  Most pastry chefs will tell you that they can be a bit fussy to make, especially being able to achieve the signature "feet" in the cookie.   It is said that these cookies originated in Italy, yet some claims are that this is a French cookie. I just know that the macaron has become a coveted cookie, especially in France where Parisian bakeries fill their display cases with macarons in a rainbow of colors. Oh, how I dream of experiencing that first-hand! Someday.

Making my own Macarons is on my Recipe Bucket List.   In the meantime, I'm always game to treat myself to a bakery made macarons. Alas, there aren't many bakeries in my hometown who makes them.

So, when the nice folks at the Sucré Sweet Boutique contacted me, and offered to let me try their Macarons, I didn't hesitate to say "yes, please"!

A few days later, a lovely box of Valentine's themed macarons arrived, from New Orleans!

I was impressed at how they arrived so intact. Aren't they beautiful?


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Friday, March 1, 2013

Mustard-Maple Glazed Pork Chops

While the memories of our wonderful week in Maui are still with me, the relaxation part is beginning to fade. Work has been busy, as high school graduation is just three months away. There is a lot to be done, before we begin to shut down the school for our summer break.

That means that I'm back to thinking of quick and easy dinners.   A friend of mine told me that she made my "Man-Pleasing Chicken" (super easy and always a hit).  So, I got to thinking-- what if I picked up some fresh pork chops and used the same sauce?


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