Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Our New Years Eve Dinner Tradition Continues: Easy Apps for your New Years Feast

My hubby has to work most holidays. I had him home this year though for Christmas and Thanksgiving. Since he's a 3rd shifter, we developed this tradition of having New Years Eve dinner so everyone could participate. I sometimes don't even make it to midnight although I try!

I wanted to get some ground sirloin for raw beef and onions but it was almost $6.00/lb! I purchased a bag of shrimp instead for $7.00 (about a pound) Most shrimp has been crazy expensive because of the whole Gulf tragedy.  Prices are through the roof especially since it's a holiday. I  boiled the shrimp in Old Bay seasoning and some salt. (I used uncooked shrimp.) I brought water (2 cups) to a boil. I added the shrimp and boiled for 3 minutes. I then removed them with a slotted spoon to a ice bath and cooled them. The ice bath stops the shrimp from cooking. Off to the fridge until I serve them.
In the crock pot I have meatballs going with those canned cranberries no one will eat and some chili sauce. The meatballs are made in the crock pot and have three ingredients: one can of cranberries, one jar of chili sauce (Heinz) and 1 20 oz. package of pre cooked meatballs. Set it on low for 8 hours or high for 4 hours. Stirring occasionally.

Boiled Liver Pate'

I grew up eating liver and onions and love this easy dip or pate'

1 cup liver (I am using beef)
2 hard boiled eggs
2 pieces of bacon crisped with the grease
1 onion diced and softened
1/2 cup Mayo
garlic salt salt and pepper for seasoning.

Boil the livers for 10-15 minutes. Cool and add the liver to the food processor with the egg, bacon,
softened onions (fried them in bacon fat) and Mayo. Stir to combine and cool. You could go fancy and put in a form but we are just spooning it out on crackers.  Serve with crackers or Pumpernickle bread. ( I forgot to add the onions til the end but it still turned out great.

Franks' Buffalo Chicken Dip

1 container chicken drained found in the tuna section of the grocery
1 cup Franks' hot sauce
1 cup blue cheese dressing
1 container Treasure Cave blue cheese
1 pkg. cream cheese softened.

Add all of the ingredients to a casserole dish. Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes. Serve warm with crackers.

It's been a difficult year with plenty of illness. I am praying for a better year and for my daughter's heart issues to be resolved in April. I hope you all enjoy your night and have a safe New Year!

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Day 3 of Hamogeddon: Split Pea: The Hambone is Connected to What?

This is the final day of our Hammageddon. I can't bear the sight of ham until Easter. I did freeze bags of ham so I can pull it out for breakfast and dinner though. Right after my hubby finished carving the ham, we froze the ham bone. Looking at it you would think there was much more meat than you actually end up with. The meat is dark and tough but becomes tender with the boiling.
Here is my Easy Split Pea Soup

1 ham bone with meat attached
6-8 cups of water
1 pkg split peas rinsed and sorted
2 large carrots chopped into coins
3 medium potatoes peeled and diced
2 bay leaves
1 TSP salt
chicken bouillon or chicken stock mix
salt and pepper

We love the soup here. We only have it twice a year. I added much more than the 6-8 cups of water. As a result it wasn't as thick. But by the magic of refrigeration, it is really thick and perfect today.
Add the ham bone, Bay leaves, water, and salt. Boil for one hour and remove the ham bone. At the same time add the chopped veggies. Slice the ham away from the bone and be sure to discard any fat. Chop into bite sized pieces and return to the soup. Be sure to stir the soup too as the peas may stick to the bottom of the pot. Towards the end of hour two add the chicken bouillon. I am not measuring but I'd say it's about 2TBSP. Taste for salt and pepper and serve with your favorite crackers. Even better the 2nd day!

Friday, December 27, 2013

Day 2 of Hamogedden: Crock Pot Scalloped Potatoes and Ham

Today I am making something easy for dinner, crock pot scalloped potatoes and ham. I found it is helpful to make sure your crock pot is plugged in! It's ok though because this recipe cooks in 3 hours. I parboiled the potato slices first for 5 minutes. Parboiling is easy. Just slice the potatoes and add them to the boiling water. Drain and place in a buttered crock pot. Here is what else you add:

Crock Pot Scalloped Potatoes and Ham

6-8 potatoes sliced and parboiled
1 small can or 1 1/2 cream of chicken soup
4 oz. sour cream
salt and pepper
1/2 cup cheddar cheese
1/2 cup ham cubed

Mix the soup and sour cream, and cheese together. Add the drained potatoes to the crock pot with the ham. Stir the soup mixture with the potatoes. Season with salt and pepper. Cook on high for 3 hours. Season again before serving.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Day One of Hamogeddon

All we will eat for the next few days is ham. Tonight I am making a homemade ham and pineapple pizza. The crust is from the grocery store. A local pizza place portions out one pound crusts and sells them frozen for a buck. All I have to do is thaw or a few hours  and try to make a pizza without ripping the crust. It's not as easy as they make it look on TV. I end up moving it in a upward/downward motion and have gravity help me stretch it out.

 I place it on a jelly roll pan that I grease and put a handful of cornmeal on the pan too.
Today I cut up a small green pepper, used a can of drained pineapple chunks, a 8oz can of tomato sauce, 1/4 cup pizza cheese, and 1/4 cup ham chunks. Feel free to season your sauce with oregano or what ever spices you like. I placed the sauce and cheese down first and added the toppings on top of that. Bake at 425 degrees for 10-13 minutes. Serves 4.

Ham! How Long Do I Bake This For?

My brain isn't working too well today! We have a Cook's bone in ham shank and for the life of me, I couldn't figure out how long to bake it! It's a 12 pound ham shank with a bone. Baking is 20-25 minutes a pound. I make the same glaze every year to put on top of the ham. Instead of basting it at the end, I baste mine every hour or so. Right now it's covered with tin foil because I didn't want it to get any darker. I also cut lengthwise and then crosswise because the skin is tough and hard to get the cloves in. Doing this makes for a prettier ham anyway I think.

Easy Ham Glaze

Equal parts: 
Ginger Ale
pineapple juice 

Mix together and baste your ham every hour or so. It caramelizes so you may have to cover your ham after hour two with tin foil. Also put a bit of water in your roasting pan so the juices don't burn to the bottom of your pan. I put cloves in my ham too with some extra pineapple rings. The rings are delicious when baked.
picture of hams of the past

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Let the Christmas Day Prep Begin! Homemade Eggnog

There is nothing that says Christmas to me more than eggnog. Especially spiked eggnog! I made this last year  for the first time from Alton Brown's recipe. It is very easy to make and very inexpensive. I have everything on hand. I have to make devilled eggs later and will post the pictures here. I make the same sides pretty much every holiday. Except it is ham for us on Christmas instead of a turkey.
Here is the recipe. I wish you all a Merry Christmas and hope you are enjoying the day with your family!


4 egg yolks
1/3 c sugar plus 1 TBSP
1 pint whole milk
1 cup heavy cream
3 ounces bourbon
1 tsp Nutmeg
4 egg whites

Separate the egg whites from egg yolks. Be careful not to get the yellows in with the whites because they will not fluff. With a mixer, beat the yolks until they become pale yellow. Add the 1/3 cup sugar and mix until the sugar is dissolved.
Add the milk, heavy cream, and Nutmeg into a sauce pan. Heat on medium heat until just before the boil. Remove from the heat and slowly pour the hot mixture into the egg yolks stirring with a whisk. *This is important or you will have scrambled eggs. This is called "tempering." You can now add those eggs into the sauce pan. Use a candy thermometer and make sure to heat to 160 degrees. Remove from the heat and cool in the fridge.
Beat the egg whites. I add a pinch of cream of tartar. The bowl must be clean and free of soap residue. They will eventually form soft peaks. Reserve until the eggnog is cooled. I helped mine along with some ice cubes. Fold in the egg whites and add the bourbon. Enjoy!

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Easy Christmas Gift: Chocolate Bark 3 Ways

white chocolate peppermint bark

My co-workers and I exchange presents every year. What is better than the gift of candy? Nothing! (Except cookies lol) Here is the very easy chocolate bark recipe I made and it's relatively inexpensive. I made white bark with peppermints, marbled bark with peanuts, and peanut butter and chocolate bark. All were made within a hours time or less by using the freezer and microwave. I also made a home made double boiler which is a pot of boiling water with a glass bowl above it (not touching) If microwaving, begin at 30 second intervals and mix after each time.
microwaved chocolate
Here's what you'll need for the peppermint bark:

Peppermint Bark
1 package white chocolate chips
1/4 tsp oil (makes chocolate glossy and prevents scorching)
12-15 starlight mints or peppermints crushed
1/4 tsp peppermint extract
double boiler or glass microwavable bowl.
tin foil and a sheet pan is helpful but not necessary 9x13 piece

If using the double boiler method, warm chocolate in a glass bowl on low. Stir constantly and add the oil. Melt until the chocolate is glossy and no more chips are visible. Add the extract and remove from the heat. Use a spoon to spread the chocolate over the foil. Sprinkle the peppermints on top. Cool in the fridge or freezer and break apart when ready to serve.
cute containers from the dollar store

Marble Bark

1 pkg almond bark chocolate (or white chocolate chips)
1/2 package chocolate chips
1/4 tsp oil
nuts of your choice (I used peanuts)crushed.

Again use the same melting method above. I broke the big pieces of almond bark apart and melted them int the microwave for this one. Melt the chocolate chips separately. Spread out on a 9x13 piece of tin foil or larger with a spoon. Add the spoonfuls of chocolate on top of the white chocolate. I made around 9 mounds. Use a skewer to make lines up and then back down and across. This will give you a swirl pattern. Lastly add the nuts. Refrigerate for 30 minutes before breaking.
marble bark 

PB and Chocolate bark

1 pkg. chocolate chips
1/4 tsp. oil
2 cups PB
1 cup confectioners sugar
tin foil for spreading

As in all of the above recipes melt the chocolate and stir in the oil. Reserve one half of the chocolate and keep it on the double boiler to stay pliable but turn the heat off.
In a separate bowl, mix the confectioners sugar and and peanut butter. Add water if necessary to make the peanut butter spreadable.
Spread one half of the chocolate over the tin foil. Freeze until set. Add a layer of the peanut butter and freeze again. Cover with the remaining chocolate and put in the fridge until it sets. Break apart and enjoy or gift.
This was the only bark left from the side of the tinfoil without the 2nd layer

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Shrimp and Onion Enchiladas in Rojo Sauce

I love enchiladas! One of my favorite memories as a kid was to go to a restaurant named Acapulco on Milwaukee's south side and have a combination platter. The first thing I would eat was the delicious enchiladas.
I had a taste for shrimp but didn't want to make the Verde crema sauce with it. I decided on a red sauce. You can search at the top of my blog to see how to make your own rojo sauce from scratch but today I used a packaged La Prefadia sauce. It was semi-homemade. I used 100/200 count shrimp for this recipe. Tis the season for shrimp to be priced through the roof. This was around $7.00 for the package. Since they were cooked, I defrosted them in some cold water, draining and refilling until defrosted. I wanted mega cheesy enchiladas so I went with a pepper Monterrey jack cheese.
Corn tortillas will break up on you if not first
warmed. I fried mine for a minute or two on each side in some corn oil. I then drained them on paper towels.
Place a small amount of shrimp and a TBSP of onion on each tortilla and a pinch of cheese. Lay half of the enchilada sauce on the bottom of a baking dish. Roll the tortillas and lay seam side down. Cover with the remaining sauce and sprinkle with cheese. Here I used an entire 8oz. bag. Bake until warm 20-25 minutes.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Salted Fudge Pie

I saw a variation of this pie on facebook. The other one was a salted caramel pie using caramel Baileys but I used what I had on hand and made it fudge. It is basically a mousse pie. Yum! All you need is 6oz chocolate chips, a chocolate ready made pie crust, 8oz heavy whipping cream, 1 TBSP sugar 2oz. Baileys, Hershey's syrup and a sprinkle of sea salt for the topping. I made this for under $3.00.
Use an electric mixer to beat the cream and sugar into stiff peaks. Fold in the Bailey's. In a double boiler melt the chocolate. (Tip: make your own double boiler with a sauce pan filled half way with water and a glass bowl (bigger than the sauce pan) so it sits above the heat.) I also added a tsp of oil to make the chocolate more liquid. Let the chocolate cool slightly and fold into the whipped cream. Place in the chocolate pie crust and stick in the fridge for a few hours before serving.