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.

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.

Savory Meat and Cheese Filled Turkish Cigars

I made two kinds of savory appetizers from the Middle East as part of Victoria Avilan‘s cookbook project (see my next post for the sweet versions). In Turkey, they are called sigara bourek. I made two savory (one of meat and one of cheese) versions and both were a hit with my tasters.

I did several tests with this recipe and found that a 350°F oven, three layers of cut filo per cigar, and a small amount of filling per cigar yields the best results. The cigars stay intact and the filling doesn’t burst through the center. By not going to the edge with the filling and folding in the edges there meant they looked like cigars without compromising filling integrity. I also found that buttering each filo layer individually was unnecessary. Brushing interior layer near the filling and the top of the cigar after rolling is sufficient.

Meat filled

Sigara Bourek

1 onion, diced
2 lb. ground beef
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
salt to taste
freshly ground pepper to taste
1 teaspoon nutmeg
1 teaspoon tumeric
juice of one lemon
1 stick butter, melted
1 lb box filo dough, thawed
Preheat the oven to 350°F

Sauté the onion with the ground beef in olive oil. Add garlic and spices and cook until browned—about 15 minutes. Reduce heat to simmer and cook until the moisture has completely evaporate. Let it cool down to room temperature. Stir lemon juice into meat mixture.

On a clean work surface roll out the thawed sheets of filo. Using a sharp knife, cut the filo in half to form a square and then diagonally to form triangles, leaving you with four equal-sized triangle shaped sets of dough. Take three triangles and cover the remaining filo with a damp towel. Lay out the triangles on your work surface and brush the top layer with melted butter.

Place one spoonful of the ground beef at the wide base of the dough and, tucking the edges in, roll into cigars. Brush the top of the cigars with melted butter. Continue to fill and roll until filling is used up.
Bake in a greased pan at 350 for 30 minutes or until golden brown.
Serve warm or room temperature.

Cheese filled

Turkish Feta Cheese and Olive Rolls

4 ounce feta cheese
4 ounces cream cheese
1 egg
1/4 cup green onion, chopped
2 tablespoon pitted kalamata olives
1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1 stick butter, melted
1 lb filo dough
Pulse together in a food processor the cheeses, egg, onion and olives. Stir in thyme and pepper. Place mixture in the refrigerator until ready to use as it will be easier to form when chilled.

Using three pieces of cut filo dough, place a tablespoon of the cheese mixture on the fat end of the triangle. Fold in both sides of the filo, enclosing the filling and brush with butter. Starting at the filled end, roll up pastry to resemble a cigar. Transfer, seam side down, to a lightly buttered baking sheet.

Make more rolls, leaving 1/2-inch of space between cigars on baking sheet. Brush the top with melted butter. Bake in 350 degree F oven until filo is golden, about 30 minutes.

*Note – I find feta to be a bit strong, so I cut it with whipped cream cheese. If you’re a fan of it straight up, increase feta to 8 ounces and drop the cream cheese.

 

 

Lemon Lavender Roast Chicken

I was in a general store last month and they had dried lavender amongst other things. I picked up some on a whim, not knowing if I wanted to cook with it or be crafty with it. As the grocery store had chicken thighs on sale, I decided to go ahead and cook with a portion of it.

This roast chicken recipe is very fragrant and flavorful. I think I will cook this again for a romantic occasion. I served it with roasted potatoes tonight that I dunked into the pan juices before serving. Next time, I might use the time while the chicken rests to make a sauce to pour over the chicken and jasmine rice.

Lemon Lavender Roast Chicken

Juice and zest of two lemons (approx 1/3 cup juice)
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup honey
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoons dried lavender
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pepper
1 3lb whole chicken or 3 lbs of chicken thighs
1 lemon cut into slices

Combine all the ingredients for the marinade and place into a zip top bag with the chicken. Rub well to coat completely and let marinate in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

Place chicken in a roasting pan on a rack, skin side up. Squeeze out any remaining marinade from the bag and smear it over the skin. Roast until the internal temperature of the thighs is 165 degrees, about 40 minutes to an hour. After 30 minutes of roasting, place slices of lemon on the chicken.

Pickle Juice Brined Chicken

Daisy waits for the chicken to be done

I don’t know about you but when I eat the last pickle in the jar, it hurts me to let all that juice go down the drain. I’ve taken to saving it and using it as a brine on chicken. It is great as a base for fried chicken (especially if you’re like me and a fan of Chick-fil-a’s chicken but not their politics). It doesn’t make pickle chicken, though. There is a nice tang, like what you get from a buttermilk soak. I wanted to see if I could translate it to grilled or roasted chicken as well.

I used one of my favorite meat rubs (Emeril’s Rustic Rub) but any kind you have that includes salt, black pepper and cayenne pepper would be delicious.

Pickle Brined Roast Chicken

4 lb whole chicken
2 cups pickle juice
2 tablespoons brown sugar
2 tablespoons dry rub, plus additional

Stir together the pickle juice, sugar and rub. Whisk until the sugar and salt has dissolved. Place the chicken and liquid in a zip top bag and refrigerate for 2 to 4 hours.

For grilling: Heat up a chimney full of coals and pour them in a half circle around the edge of your grill.

For the oven: Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Heat an ovenproof skillet (I use cast iron) over medium high heat.

Remove chicken from the brine. Dry off the chicken and then coat with olive oil. Lightly sprinkle with your dry rub.

For grilling: Place the chicken breast side up on the grill and and cook over indirect heat for about an hour or until the internal temperature reaches 160 degrees.

For the oven: Place a couple of tablespoons of olive oil in the skillet. Set the chicken breast side down the hot pan and allow it cook for 10 minutes to brown. Flip the chicken over and transfer it right into the oven. Cook for 60 minutes in the oven or until the internal temperature reaches 160 degrees.

Carolina Gold Grilled Pork Chops

My mom has been up in Asheville for the summer so my thoughts turned to the many different Carolina styles of barbecue. I decided to virtually head down I-26 from her and try the South Carolina style (mustard based). I had pork steaks instead of a whole hog so I didn’t need to use a sauce. Instead, I rubbed on a basic mustard based spice mix on the chops and then melted some butter and mixed it with more rub to baste the chops while they cooked. Because these aren’t particularly thick, instead of letting them come to room temperature before going on the fire, put them on the grill right out of the fridge.

Carolina Gold Rub

3 tablespoons dry mustard
2 tablespoons kosher salt
2 tablespoons packed brown sugar
2 teaspoons black pepper
2 teaspoons paprika
¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper

Mix together. Sprinkle generously over pork or chicken. Store any remaining in an air tight container.

Grilled Chops

4 pork chops
1/2 cup kosher salt
12 peppercorns
2 black teabags

Bring 3 cups of water to a boil. Add the salt, peppercorns and teabags and stir to mix. After 5 minutes, remove teabags and add a cup of ice cubes. Stir to lower the temperature of the water. Mix with another 4 cups of water and add the chops.

Brine the chops for 1 hour – no more or they will be too salty. Rinse and pat dry. Lay out on a rimmed baking sheet and rub both sides with dry spice mix. Place in refrigerator overnight.

Use 2-3 tablespoons of remaining rub to mix with 4-6 tablespoons of melted butter.

Set up your grill for indirect grilling. Start the chops on the cool side for 4 minutes per side. Move to the hot side and baste with the butter/rub mixture for an additional 2 minutes per side or until done.