Thursday, June 19, 2014

Higgledy-Piggledy Ham Salad

Ham salad might not be a novelty for some of you...but for me, it is. Growing up, I ate tunafish salad...often...and on rare occasions, "weird" chicken salad at someone else's house. I wasn't exposed to ham salad until I was in my teens, at which point I looked at the pink mush and thought...no WAY am I eating that! Fortunately, I aged with some good sense (hey, I said SOME) and have recently taken the leap. For all of you who had been in my shoes, I say...TRY IT! YOU'LL LIKE IT! IT MIGHT JUST BE THE BEST THING YOU EVER PUT IN YOUR MOUTH! (Was that too hammy?)

For those of you who are familiar with ham salad, this is a different spin than many recipes I've found. I know it sounds kinda odd, but stick with me. Most recipes use hunks of leftover baked ham--this utilizes lunchmeat. What can I say? I had a bunch extra and was sick of lunchmeat sandwiches...

1 pound sliced ham lunchmeat
1/4c whole mustard seed, rehydrated in beer of choice (I used a wit)
3 heaping tablespoons of prepared horseradish
2 stalks celery
1/2 small onion (about a 1/4 diced)
3 hardboiled eggs
1 T French's mustard
1c mayonnaise

1. Get out your food processor. Take the chunk of lunchmeat and cut it into strips and then squares. This helps the processor work more quickly. Process the ham until it is a pile of tiny bits. Scrape the ham into a medium-sized (2 quarts or so?) bowl.

2. Loosely chop the celery and onion and put it in the processor. Process to desired size--I recommend the equivalent of a dice. Scrape the veg into the bowl with the ham.

3. Cut up the hardboiled eggs (I sliced across, then cut the slices into rough thirds). Add to bowl.

4. Dump in the mustard seed, horseradish, mustard, and mayonnaise. Mix with a spoon. Add fresh cracked pepper if desired. Taste and adjust.

5. Spread on bread and eat! Better than you thought, right?

Give it a try and let me know what you think.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Zippy Dippy

This dip is for chips...preferably ruffled chips. You will definitely like it, and you will definitely smell like garlic if you eat more than a few chip-scoops-worth. Yields about 25 ounces.

16 oz light sour cream
4 oz neufchâtel (or cream cheese)
1/4c shredded yellow cheddar
5 green onions, thinly sliced
2T hot mustard, such as Mr. Mustard
4 heaping T prepared horseradish
~6 pieces of bacon (see step 1 to quantify), fried and rough-chopped
1 clove minced garlic (sauté it if you want to eat this with other people...alternatively if you wish to drive them away, add more raw garlic)
Salt, granulated garlic, granulated onion, cracked pepper, and old bay seasoning to taste

1. Fry up the bacon. You will need 4 or so pieces for the dip. Forget using tongs to flip it...smart people use chopsticks. You're smart, aren't you? Take the bacon off to cool on a few paper towels and set aside. Eat one piece when edible temperature (this is important; do not skip). Vital that you feed one rasher to each person helping you prepare the dip as well.

2. Combine the sour cream and neufchâtel in a largish bowl. You could use a mixer to knock the lumpy cream cheese into shape--or a fork if you're lazy. Don't ask me how taking longer doing it by hand is lazier...if your mixer was where mine was, you'd do it too.

3. Shred the cheddar and fold into the sour cream...thinly slice the green onions and fold in...mince the garlic and...you get the idea. Add horseradish, add mustard; add dry spices to taste.


Thursday, February 27, 2014

Zuppa Tosc-Awesome

This soup is loosely based on a loose adaptation of the Olive Garden dish, Zuppa Toscana. I originally ordered this soup for the same reason as everyone else--you're getting the soup, salad, and breadsticks lunch and discover the soups all sound like tosh...except...oh, what's this...there's sausage in this one. I fiddled with it a bit and so now it isn't quite Toscana...it's Tosc-Awesome.

Note: I omitted the cream usually called for in Zuppa Toscana so I could pretend I was being a bit healthy--if you don't like brothy soups, you'll probably want to add some cream to this. Do so after the boiling is done--you just want to warm it through. Maybe a pint or so for this amount?

Zuppa Tosc-Awesome -- Yields about 1.5-2 gallons
2 32oz cartons of chicken broth (which you will then fill again with water)
2 lbs ground sausage, such as Bob Evans Savory Sage
5 medium-largish potatoes, cubed (skins on is nice)
3 medium-largish potatoes, sliced and diced finely
2 pinches red pepper flake
2 bay leaves
Granulated garlic
Granulated onion
1 small bunch kale, ribbed and chopped thinly
1 bag frozen peas
1 onion, sliced
5-6 cloves of garlic, minced
1 carrot, diced

1. Prepare the onion and garlic. If no one has ever shown you the proper way to do this, there's lot of mucking about. Here's what I like to do: cut the root and stem ends off first. Next, make a shallow slice down the side so you can peel off the paper and funky outer layer. Cut the onion in half from root to stem end. Now the exciting part: turn the half flat side down, and start slicing down the onion so that the little half-rings fall apart on their own. Isn't that great? Anyway, do that. Cut the ends off the garlic, squash it with the flat of your knife, and de-paper it. Mince finely.

2. Cut up the potatoes. Most of them should be in nice chunks--but since we're not adding cream as in the original version of this soup, you should (basically) mince some of the potatoes so they fall apart completely in the soup to add body.

3. Brown the sausage in a large pot with a bit of water to keep it from burning. I wouldn't add more fat to it at this point...the sausage can be pretty greasy already. After it's started browning, toss in the onion and garlic and stir.

4. Pour in the chicken broth and water. Add the bay leaves and red pepper flake; stir in granulated garlic, onion, salt, and pepper to taste. Side note: Be cautious with the red pepper--honestly, 2 pinches is more than enough to give a nice heat to several gallons of soup. Yes. Several Gallons. If you don't like spicy put in one or two PIECES instead of pinches.

5. After the broth is boiling, toss in the potatoes and carrots. Boil until your root veggies are cooked through. This can be as quick or long as you like--the longer you simmer, the better the flavor.

6. Add the peas at some point--you don't want to boil them too long, or they'll get mushy.

7. Cook the kale. You should de-rib each leaf and cut it into strips. Don't get terribly lazy, or you'll have huge leaves of kale in your soup...wet, messy, and hard to eat! By the way, if you're not sure whether you like kale or not...steam it in a separate pot. That way if you don't like it, you can...I don't know, freeze it or something and make it into artichoke-spinach dip...sans spinach.

8. After the broth tastes good to you--dish it out and top with a bit of kale. Enjoy!

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

5 Bean, 4 Pepper, 3 Meat Chili

So I was just gonna call this 5 bean...but then I realized the 4 and 3 parts...I could have popped in 2 and 1, but it would have been forced. Anyway, this is a good recipe for when you wanna have leftovers all week, and maybe some to freeze too. Also a fantastic way to use up hot peppers if you have a million on the bushes on your back patio...I digress. I will record here what I used...but the great thing about chili is YOU CAN PUT WHATEVER YOU WANT IN THERE, and as long as there's some kinda bean, you're usually within the legally accepted bounds. Oh, also, I split this in half so I could make one batch really spicy...and one batch edible. :)

5-4-3 Chili
Big can kidney beans
Small can black beans
Small can Northern beans
Small can Garbanzo beans
1 lb bulk sausage
1 lb hamburger
1 lb cut up chicken breast
1 large onion
5-7 cloves garlic
1 can tomato sauce (not pasta sauce, tomato sauce)
2 cans diced tomatoes
1 lb fresh green beans, cut into bite-size pieces
Handful of fresh basil and parsley,
For edible spice: 1 serrano del sol pepper, 1 cherry bomb pepper, 1 jalapeno
For hotness: 12-15 of the above, assorted
1 bell pepper, chopped
Big carton of beef broth

1. Chop and saute the garlic and onion in some olive oil.
2. Cook the meats with the garlic and onion until everything is done.
3. Dump everything in the pot. (Remember to halve everything into two pots if you're making two batches)
4. Cook on high until the chili is bubbling. Turn the heat to low and simmer, stirring occasionally, for about 2 hours.

Yum!

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Stuffed Peppers of Greatness

These are delicious. If you've never made stuffed peppers before, you may think they sound kinda boring. You would be wrong. Let me run that by you again. Peppers. Stuffed with meat. And rice. And tomato sauce. Etc. I mean, they're so cute! Just trust me.

Stuffed Peppers of Greatness
8 medium bell peppers
1/2 lb Jimmy Dean sausage
1/2 lb hamburger
1 onion
4 cloves of garlic
1 cup of rice
1 can of tomato sauce
1 can of tomato paste
Handful of fresh basil and parsley

1. Prepare the rice according to package directions. Or...cook on low. Leave the lid on. For 15 minutes or so. 1.5 cups of water to each cup of rice.

2. Chop up the onion and garlic and saute them a bit in a pan. Add the meats. Cook until the meats are done.

3. Mix together the rice, meat mixture, and fresh chopped herbs.

4. Cut the tops off the bell peppers, clean them out, and be sure to save the tops.

5. Stuff each pepper with the mixture. Place the peppers in a cupcake pan. If you don't have one of those...lean them against each other in a cake pan, or bunch up foil on a baking sheet to hold them upright. Overstuff the peppers so the tops will perch prettily on top.

6. Bake at 300 degrees for about an hour. Really, whenever the peppers are done to your liking, they're ready.

Note: If you have too much filling, bake it as a meatloaf, or make little cupcake-sized filling thingies.

Cuuuute! And impressive. And delicious.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Kickin Ham Dinner

Easter Greetings! The weather has started getting nicer...this means it is grilling season again. We took the traditional Easter Ham Dinner and put a spin on it this year. Instead of waiting for hours, baking a ham in the oven, we had our boneless ham sliced into 2"-thick slabs and grilled them in about half an hour. This resulted in a tender meat with a delicious charred flavor...not to mention the glazes. I was inspired by a few ham glaze recipes in The New Best Recipe...as you'll see, all sound amazing, and I can promise that all taste amazing. The consensus was that all the glazes tasted pretty much the same...though I swear I picked out the Coke/lime glaze. Moving on to the sides...again, New Best Recipe inspired my take on scalloped potatoes (though of course I added more cheese than "necessary")...and same inspiratory source for the green bean dish (something a bit different...if you like lemon pepper, you'll like this). The whole meal cohered rather nicely, being that there were a few repeated ingredients. Read on for deliciousness.


Grilled Ham Slices
7 lb boneless ham, sliced into 2"-thick slabs (this yielded about 7 slices)
Glaze of choice

1. Prepare the glaze(s).
2. Preheat grill, on high, for about five minutes to get the grate sizzling.
3. Use a spoon (forget the brush, this glaze will be too thick) to slather one side of each ham slice with glaze. Plop that side down on the grill. Glaze the top and sides. Shut the grill lid.
4. Return in about 7-10 minutes. Flip the slices and glaze the new top side. Repeat until a thermometer inserted into the middle of each slice reads 145 (about a half hour to forty five minutes depending on the heat of the grill and the thickness of the slabs).

Glazes!!!

Coke-Lime Glaze
1.5c brown sugar
1 c Coke
Juice from 2 limes (about 1/4c)
1T or so of lime zest (about half a lime's worth)

Pineapple-Ginger-Red Pepper Glaze
1.5c brown sugar
Juice drained off from one can of chunk pineapple (about 3/4c)
1 small piece candied ginger, minced (or 1/2t ginger powder, or 1t fresh sliced ginger)
1/8t (that's a pinch, people) red pepper flake

Orange-Cinnamon-Star Anise Glaze
1.5c brown sugar
Juice from 2 navel oranges (about 1 c)
1T or so of orange zest (about half an orange's worth)
1 stick of cinnamon (or 1t ground)
4 star anise pods

Mix ingredients in a small saucepan. Heat over high heat, constantly stirring, for about ten minutes. You will get to a point where the entire mixture bubbles up--when this happens, remove from heat and stir until you see the surface of the liquid again. Put back over the heat and stir until the bubbles get up high again...repeat. You'll want to prepare this at least a half hour before you're ready to grill the ham. The glaze will thicken up upon sitting, but when you stop after ten minutes or so, it will only seem syrupy. It will get more like molasses after sitting for a half hour or so. As you can imagine, you can make whatever glaze you want. Just start with 1.5c of brown sugar and add a cup or so of liquid and you're in business.

Scalloped KA Potatoes

8 medium potatoes, unskinned, sliced into 1/8"-thick slices
1 c chicken broth (I recommend Progresso--it is the most natural)
1 c cream (remember, 2 c in a pint)
2 medium onions, quartered and sliced
3-4 cloves garlic, minced
1 c shredded cheddar cheese
1 c shredded parmesan cheese

Here's a tip for cutting onions...use the natural growth pattern of the onion to your advantage. After you skin the onion, cut it in half from root tip to leaf tip end. Cut each of those halves in half again, in the same direction. Now, slice perpendicular to those lines. You will end up with a whole bunch of sliced onion that will fall apart along the growth rings, with less work for you. Yay!

After you slice the potato, par-boil them in water for about ten minutes, until they're pretty soft.

1. In a large pot, saute the garlic and onion with a bit of oil or butter.
2. Add the par-cooked potato slices, broth, and cream.
3. Cover and simmer for about 10 minutes.
4. Dump into a greased lasagna pan and top with cheese.
5. Pop in preheated 425 degree oven for about 15 minutes.

Lemon-Pepper Green Bean Dish
2 bags french cut green beans
1c chicken broth
2T corn starch
1T lemon juice
1t black pepper
3 garlic cloves, minced
Bread crumb, for garnish

1. First up...if your green beans are frozen, thaw them. I put them right in the pot and put it on medium heat til they're thawed.
2. Toss in the garlic and saute a bit with some oil.
3. Mix in the chicken broth and corn starch. Stir and up the heat to high...keep stirring...in about 7 minutes or so it'll thicken up.
4. Stir in the pepper.
5. Turn off heat. Stir in lemon juice. Let stand for ten minutes or so. When you serve, top with bread crumbs.

That's it! Enjoy!

And the next morning, take some leftover ham and dice it...mix with some of the leftover potatoes...fry it up with an egg and a bit of oil. Top with cheese, of course. Yum!

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Tap-Dancing Meatloaf

Today's post features a recipe created by Marc at norecipes.com. His blog is awesome...he shares awesome recipes...in short, you should follow him. Not around physically, but digitally...please don't stalk.

Here's the original recipe: Killer Meatloaf. I, however, like to call this dish Tap-Dancing Meatloaf. Because that's what happens when you eat this. If you've never had meatloaf tap dance in your mouth, you're missing out. Seriously. If that hasn't yet convinced you to take on this dish...I shall move on to describing the ingredients. Meat (obviously). Bread crumbs, egg, milk (still normal). Soy and Worcestershire sauce (OK...). Shredded cheddar. Garlic. Onions. Powdered mustard (Getting better!). Roasted red peppers. Hard-boiled eggs. Bacon. (Aha! You're drooling.)

How awesome I think certain recipes are usually corresponds to how impressed people will be when they eat it. Not entirely, of course...but I find myself taking note of that sort of thing. This dish stands out--you roast your own red peppers, then roll them, the bacon, and the eggs up in the meat mixture...when you slice it, it looks friggin cool.Unfortunately, I don't have a good pic of this because I was too impatient...let this be a lesson to you...LET THE MEATLOAF STAND a good 10-15 minutes or so if you want the slices to be photogenic...

I rounded out the meal with my baked oven fries. I used paprika, mustard, Italian herbs, garlic, and onion for these to compliment the flavors in the meatloaf.

Two techniques that I learned in making this recipe:
1. Roasting peppers. Marc puts this pretty clearly in his post, but here's the gist. Quarter a red pepper. Put the pieces skin-up on a broiling pan. Broil them until the skins are charred (took me about 10 minutes). Pop in a sandwich bag and let come to room temp. The pepper will sweat, making it super easy to peel off the un-tasty skin. Done!
2. Boiling eggs. This may be old hat to many of you, but I have always felt a little uneasy about boiling eggs. How long do they need to be in there? Cuz you know there's no return after you crack the suckas and they're not cooked. So here's a new method I tried that worked just peachy: Put the eggs in a pot and fill with water until they're covered by 1 inch. Bring to a boil. Remove from heat, cover, and let stand for ten minutes. Dump them into an ice water bath for 5 or so minutes. Peel! Miraculous. And remember that older eggs peel nicer...it's because the egg shell is porous, so the longer the egg sits in your fridge, the more air gets sucked in. More air inside the shell = more space between the albumen (10-cent word of the day for EGG WHITE) and the shell = easier peeling. Ta da!

My main recommendation for tweaking this recipe is to either put the bacon on top of the meatloaf, or fry it up before inserting. If you bake the meatloaf with the raw bacon in it, the bacon obviously does not crisp up...it is somehow very unsettling and floppy. Also, I'd recommend making 3 or 4 times the amount of glaze...it is great to serve with the meatloaf. Don't forget to let the loaf stand 10 minutes or so for clean slices...and also, don't be surprised if it takes a bit longer than 1 hour to get to 160 degrees.

Enjoy...and post your own pics when you take this fun recipe on.