Honey Glazed Ham Plus Applesauce and Brussel Sprouts

We found big, bone in butt portion hams on sale after Thanksgiving. So, we bought a 10 pounder and put it in the slow cooker for the day while we went about our business (Michelle spent the morning visiting with her 96 year old Grandpa, who isn’t feeling well and I did laundry, vacuuming and took a nap).

Sliced ham, Brussel sprouts and applesauce

Honey Glazed Ham

10 lb ham
1/2 cup honey
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 cup apple juice (can use water)

Cut diamond patterns on the ham. Mix together the honey, brown sugar and cinnamon and spread over the ham. Pour the 1 cup apple juice into the bottom of the slow cooker and slide in the glazed ham.

Turn the slow cooker on to low and cook about 45 minutes per pound, basting occasionally with the juices in the cooker. Internal temperature of the cooked ham should be 140-145 degrees F.

Slice thin to serve.

We served the ham with homemade apple sauce and some Brussel sprouts.

Homemade Applesauce

4 Granny Smith apples
3 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup water
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
dash salt

Peel, core and dice the apples. Place in a mixing bowl with water and a splash of lemon juice until ready to cook.

Heat water and butter in a large skillet, I prefer cast iron. Once the water comes to a boil and butter is melted, add the apples.

Cook over medium heat, stirring regularly until the apples start to break down. Add brown sugar and cinnamon and salt. Continue to stir, pressing down to further break down apples. Taste and adjust sugar and seasonings once the applesauce is of your desired consistency.

I hated Brussel sprouts as a kid. They smelled bad and tasted horrible. There wasn’t enough butter in the world to make them palatable.

I then discovered a great way to make them. They are almost but, not entirely, unlike French fries with this method. Instead of olive oil in the pan, consider using bacon fat for added richness.

Skillet Fried Brussel Sprouts

about 10 Brussel sprouts per person
a couple glugs of olive oil
generous pinch of kosher salt

Peel off the loose external leaves and slice off the root end before cutting Brussel sprouts in half. Toss in olive oil to coat. Heat skillet over high heat. Toss Brussel sprouts with salt.

Pour a little oil to coat the bottom of the pan. Once it begins to shimmer, place Brussel sprouts cut side down in skillet and let cook until that side is brown. Turn over and continue to cook for 2 -4 minutes more.

Serve immediately.

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Kicked Up Ground Beef Tacos

I love tacos and there is something comforting about plain ground beef with a little sprinkle of cumin and then lots of yummy toppings. Sometimes, though, I want to kick things up a notch in the meat department but I want something better than just sprinkling a seasoning packet over ground meat. Here is a version that comes together quickly and tastes like you spent hours on it.

Kicked Up Ground Beef Tacos

1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 small onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons chili powder
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon dried cilantro leaves
1/4 teaspoon chipolte powder (or cayenne pepper)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 pound lean ground beef
1 cup tomato sauce
1/2 cup chicken broth (or beef broth)

Preheat 2 teaspoons vegetable oil in skillet over medium heat for 2 minutes. Sauté the diced onion for 5 minutes, stirring as necessary.

Meanwhile measure out and combine all the dried spices. When onions are translucent, put garlic  into the skillet and add spice mixture. Cook and stir for 1 minute to bloom flavors.

Add ground beef to skillet. Use a wooden spoon to break up the meat. Cook for 5 minutes, scraping the bottom of the skillet to prevent scorching.

Once the beef is no longer pink, siphon off fat. Then, stir in tomato sauce and chicken broth. Bring the mixture to a simmer, then turn heat down to medium-low. Continue to simmer until liquid has thickened, but not completely dry, about 10-15 minutes, stirring frequently. Adjust salt and pepper, if necessary.

Place in serving bowl and serve with taco shells, refried beans, pepper jack cheese, sour cream, guacamole and other toppings of your choice.

Chicken Broth Potatoes

These potatoes are golden brown on the outside and creamy on the inside and just melt in your mouth. They have a wonderful, deep flavor from the chicken broth that just adds to their richness. Of course, you can make these vegetarian by using vegetable broth instead but, however you make them, your guests will clamor for more.

Chicken Broth Potatoes

2 pounds Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1 tablespoon fresh rosemary, chopped
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pepper
1 1/4 cups chicken broth
2 cloves garlic, minced

Preheat oven to 500 degrees F.

Combine melted butter, rosemary, salt, and pepper in a medium bowl. Cut potatoes into 1-inch thick rounds. Toss sliced potato in butter mixture and then arrange in a single layer in a 9 X 13-inch metal baking pan (use a metal pan as glass baking dish can shatter in such a hot oven) and roast for 15 minutes.

Remove pan from oven and use a spatula to flip potatoes over. Place back in oven for 15 minutes.

Remove pan from oven. Stir garlic into chicken broth and then pour over the potatoes. Flip potatoes one final time. Place the pan back in oven and cook until potatoes are tender, about another 15 minutes.

Baste potatoes with sauce and serve.

Victoria’s Semolina Cake Love

My friend, Victoria, says this cake is the love of her life. It is an Arab Semolina Cake, sometimes spelled harissa or harisa or haresa. I was happy to make it as part of her family cookbook project.

Trust the instruction that has you mixing with your hands – it is the easiest way to incorporate everything, so embrace your inner child and get your hands busy! It definitely helps to measure out all the ingredients first, so you don’t make too big a mess. And press it down well – it won’t hold together unless you make sure you compress it to 1 inch thick (again, best results from using your hands).

Arab Semolina Cake


Cake
3 cups semolina
3/4 cups (1 1/2 sticks) butter, melted
1 1/4 cups sugar
1 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup plain yogurt
1/2 cup grated coconut
1/2 cup whole almonds or slivers for decoration

Syrup
2 cups sugar
2 cups water
1 tablespoon orange blossom water

Preheat oven to 400˚F

Mix yogurt and baking soda in a bowl and wait until yogurt doubles in size.

In a large bowl, mix all other cake ingredients together with wet hands.

When the yogurt has almost doubled in size, pour it on top of the semolina mix and use your hands to mix well.

When the mixture is well combined, press it tightly into a buttered 9×13 pyrex baking dish. The unbaked cake shouldn’t be more than 1 inch thick, so press it well.

Cut diamond or square designs with a butter knife and place an almond on top of each piece.

Bake for 30 to 40 minutes, until dark brown.

Mix sugar and water together in a saucepan, bring to a boil, stirring regularly. Reduce the heat, and simmer for 20 minutes, or until it coats the back of a spoon. Add orange blossom water and stir well.

Pour boiling syrup on a very hot cake.

Let cool down before serving.

Oat and Cranberry Sauce Muffins

Here is another recipe to help use up any leftover cranberry sauce after your Thanksgiving feasting. My other version is here. I primarily did these because mom had less flour than I anticipated (and Dad was still expected me to make a batch of oatmeal cookies) because they include oats in them.

Oat and Cranberry Sauce Muffins

1 1/2 cup flour
1 cup oats
1/3 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 ½ cups of leftover cranberry sauce
1/2 cup milk
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1 egg

optional: cinnamon sugar (combine 1/2 cup sugar with 2 tablespoons ground cinnamon)

Preheat oven to 400°F. Line muffin tin with paper baking cups or butter the muffin tin.

In a large bowl, combine regular flour, oats, brown sugar, cinnamon, baking powder, baking soda and salt; mix well. In medium bowl, combine milk, oil, cranberry sauce and egg; blend well. Fold wet ingredients into dry. Stir just until dry ingredients are moistened.

Fill muffin cups about three-quarters full. If desired, sprinkle the tops with cinnamon sugar. Bake 20 to 22 minutes or until golden brown.

Decadent Mashed Potatoes

I like Yukon Gold potatoes for making mashed potatoes, since they are much harder to over-mash (due to their lower starch content) and because of how fluffy they naturally are. Typically, using them means I don’t need to add as much butter. The operative word in that sentence is need.

If you find yourself at looking to indulge your taste buds and give the finger to your cholesterol level, look no further than this recipe for mashed potatoes. I make these with whole milk and lots and lots of butter. The result is a smooth, mashed potato that is very rich and decadent. The only thing missing might be a little cheese. However, because we were serving these at Thanksgiving and wanted to cover them in gravy, we skipped that step.

Decadent Mashed Potatoes

2 lbs gold potatoes, peeled and cut into 1 inch pieces
2 1/2 sticks unsalted butter
1 1/3 cup whole milk
salt and pepper to taste

Rinse peeled and cut potatoes until water runs clear. Let drain.

Heat butter, milk and 1 teaspoon salt in a large saucepan. Once butter has melted, add in the potatoes. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer until potatoes are fork tender, about 30 minutes. Stir regularly.

Drain potatoes over a large bowl, reserving the liquid. Return the liquid back to saucepan and turn heat to low.

Mash potatoes by hand or use a potato ricer or food mill. Add cooking liquid to potatoes until a little looser than desired consistency. If not serving immediately, add even a little extra to keep things from thickening up too much. Season with salt and pepper.

 

Grilled Turkey Breast

I confess that I’m not much of a turkey fan, except in sandwiches. For that reason, I don’t cook a whole bird for Thanksgiving but rather get just the breast – either bone in or boneless. I also grill it, so that the oven is free for all the treats and trimmings that go with the meal.

Boneless turkey breast cooks faster than bone-in

My recipe is very simple:

3 lb turkey breast
3 tablespoons butter, melted
salt

About an hour before you’re ready to start cooking, pull the turkey from the refrigerator. Soak a few wood chips before building your fire.

Rub the melted butter all over the turkey. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Set the coals for indirect cooking. I usually do a set up on two sides of the grill. Place a drip pan below where you are going to set the bird. Put on the upper grill and clean it with a wire brush before oiling the grate. Set your turkey down and let cook for 1 hour.

Go in and remove the drip pan if you’re making gravy. Take the turkey’s temperature – done is when the internal temperature reaches 165 degrees F. Baste with butter. Continue to cook until it reaches that safe temperature, checking every 15 minutes and basting with butter. Bone in will take longer to cook than boneless.

Remove from grill when done. Let rest for 15-20 minutes before slicing and serving.