Tag Archives: Entree

Happy Easter! Baked Ham

Happy Easter!

Hopefully you scored one of these this morning:

That’s right–my parents still give me an Easter basket.  I actually got it yesterday, and to my everlasting joy and surprise my “basket” was actually a colander that I admired earlier in the week.  How parents manage to do those things, I’ll never know.

Well, hopefully I’ll know someday.  But I have a few years to study their talents before I have to worry about it.

My Easter basket got put to use immediately–and it’s even cuter holding grapes than fake grass and eggs.

To continue the Easter celebration, I decided to make a traditional baked ham.  Nothing like the smell of baking ham with maple. cloves, and orange to celebrate what feels like the first real day of spring (it was sunny and warm outside all day!).

I learned two things today–1) buy a shank cut of ham, it’s easier to cut later and 2) “water added” ham contains less water (ie. more flavor) than a “water and ham product”.

Easter Baked Ham

  • 1 ready-to-cook ham (between 6-10 pounds)–it can be smoked or not, and spiral cut or not–your choice

The Glaze

  • 1/8 C brown sugar
  • 1/8 C maple syrup
  • 1/4 t ground cloves
  • zest and juice of a small orange (I used a mandarin orange)

Preheat the oven to 250 degrees.  Place the ham flat side down (or fat side up) in a baking dish and add 1/4 C water to the bottom of the pan.  Cover tightly with foil and place in the oven on the middle to low rack.

Bake until the ham reaches 100 degrees in the middle (about 20 minutes per pound).  While it’s baking, put together the glaze by mixing the above ingredients.

Once the ham is ready, remove from the oven and turn up the heat to 350 degrees.  Cut off the skin (if there is any) and score the fat underneath in a diamond pattern.  Spread the glaze over the top and return to the oven for another 20-30 minutes, depending on the size of the ham.  Every ten minutes, baste the ham again with the glaze.

Remove from the oven, cover with foil, and let the ham rest for about 20 minutes, until the internal temperature is at least 160 degrees.

Serve right away!  We ate it with roasted asparagus and curried millet.  Quite a feast(er) dinner.

The orange is really perfect in this recipe–not too strong and not unnoticeable.  We also have enough ham to last us about 200 years (most of it is now in the freezer).

In the 10 minutes it took to write this post, the weather went from bright and sunny to dark and ominous–looks like it might storm!  Perfect timing since we want to see Water for Elephants tonight. 

What did you have for Easter dinner?

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Shredded Pork Tacos (Crock Pot)

Good mornin’ sunshines!

I was coming down with a cold the past few days, but I’m feeling a lot better today–with the morning off, fig and walnut bars baking in the oven, and a trip to the gym after class, I think today should be a good day.

Here’s a recipe for a basic crockpot shredded pork–I toned down the flavor a bit so that it would be a versatile base for pretty much any meal.  First we made tacos, the next day was quesadillas, then we added some BBQ sauce for pulled pork sandwiches.  I ended up freezing half of it so that next week I can take a day off from cookin’, too.

I love when I get to do that.

Basic Shredded Pork

  • 1 pork loin roast
  • 1 T chili powder
  • 1 T dried cilantro (use less if you have fresh!)
  • sprinkle of Cajun seasoning (optional–I always like to add a little spice to my life)
  • 2-3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 onion, roughly chopped
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 C water

Season the roast with salt and pepper, than rub on the chili powder and dried cilantro, finishing with some hot spices (cayenne pepper, white pepper, etc.) if you want a kick to it.  Turn your crock pot on low and spray with canola oil.

Lay down the garlic and onion on the bottom of the crock pot and place the roast on top.  Pour the water over the top and cover.

When it’s cooked through, take two forks and pull apart the roast until it’s fully shredded.  Depending on what you are using the pork for, you can add whatever flavors you want–but it will be tasty enough to stand on its own at this point!

We made tacos–with corn tortillas, plain greek yogurt in lieu of sour cream, a bit of cheddar cheese, lettuce, and some freshly made salsa.

They were good, but became even more delicious when we quickly fried up the tortillas in a bit of canola oil to make them into hard tacos.  You can also bake the corn tortillas up as chips to make nachos or open-face hard tacos.

If you have waaay too much pork to imagine what to do with, stick some in a ziplock freezer bag and put it away for next week.

I don’t know about you, but I think it’s time for a Henry update, don’t you?

I was watching Cold Mountain as I blogged this because Eber and Fritz were aghast that I hadn’t seen it yet.  What a great cast!  I’m not by any means a movie critic, but this was a fantastic movie–I laughed, I cried, I cried…again.

Fig and walnut bars will cheer me up!

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Year of the Vegetable (and Pasta Puttanesca)

I have very exciting news.

News that involves vegetables.  Many vegetables, coming to me once a week in a box from a farm just a little further east on Long Island.  A CSA box.

CSA stands for Community Supported Agriculture, and it’s a system where the consumer (that’s me) buys directly from a farmer (that’s them).  It’s a bit expensive for our budget, but I talked Fritz into letting us try it this year.  It averages out to about $21 a week (our grocery budget is around $50 a week).

From June 1st ’till the end of November we will be picking up a box of CSA veggies from a drop-off point close by our apartment.  I’m really excited because I can’t wait to have fresh-picked local vegetables at my disposal for 26 weeks.  I’m also looking forward to learning how to use some new vegetables that I’ve never had the opportunity to use–the farm grows over 100 varieties of vegetables, and they promise 6-10 different types of vegetables in each box.  Of course, I am a little nervous about getting stuck with a giant pile of kale every week for 26 weeks–but their list of last year’s boxes has a lot of variety, so I remain hopeful.  I also have wanted to really dive into making us eat a lot more fresh and green vegetables this year, so with this system I’m stuck finding a way to use what I’ve been given (plus I hate wasting food and I love a challenge so…).

The farm we are using is called the Golden Earthworm Organic Farm, and here’s their website if you want to learn more about CSA or their farm: thegoldenearthworm.com

In other exciting vegetable news, our baby tomato plants are growing like wildfire.  On some advice from Mom, I knew I needed to thin them out ASAP since a lot more of them were growing than I anticipated.  I bought some peat pots for $1.50 and got to work.

To prepare the pots, poke a hole in the bottom, fill with potting soil, and drench with water until the pots are saturated.  Transplant the babies, and voila!

Obviously I would rather not be transplanting baby plants when they are this small, but the pots got overcrowded really fast and I didn’t have much of a choice.  Hopefully now with more room these 14 plants will prove their worth (’cause I’m dreaming about fresh salsa and canning tomato sauce already).

I think that Henry also considers himself their watchdog/mother/guardian angel.  He’s constantly watching over them, sniffing them, and not yet eating them.

Not yet.

Lastly, here’s a recipe for a fresh  new pasta sauce I tried for the first time ever tonight: pasta puttanesca.  It’s quick and simple (and I left out the anchovies, so it’s not fishy), and I absolutely loved it.  I normally don’t even like olives, but between the brine and the bright bites of parsley that I harvested from our herb garden (already!? I know!!), it was my favorite pasta sauce ever.

Pasta Puttanesca (adapted from America’s Test Kitchen Family Cookbook)

  • 1 box whole-wheat angel hair pasta, cooked according to directions
  • 2 T olive oil
  • 3-4 cloves garlic (I only had dried garlic so I did my best)
  • 1 t red pepper flakes
  • 1 can diced tomatoes
  • 1/4 C black olives, pitted and roughly chopped
  • 1/4 C minced fresh parsley
  • 1 T capers (optional–I didn’t have them)
  • salt and pepper to taste

Cook the pasta according to directions on box.

Over medium heat, saute the garlic in the olive oil.  Before it starts to brown, add the olives, red pepper flakes, and tomatoes.  Let the sauce simmer until it begins to thicken, then add the parsley.  Flavor with salt and pepper to taste.

Dinner was conceptualized and on the table in less than 20 minutes, including picture time.  Love when that happens.

Light and fresh is really the best way to describe this meal.  Sprinkle some fresh parsley on top for a springtime finish.  We also added a dash of grated parmesan cheese–serious yum.  Fritz did wish that he had some chicken in there.  Sometimes I forget that there are other people in this household who crave meat in their meals–sorry Fritz.  It’s an easy addition for next time, though.

Fritz and I are watching a movie called Creation about Charles Darwin’s life.  I strongly recommend it, even to those of you out there who aren’t giant nerds.  And especially those of you who are (Mom!).

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Brown Rice and Lentil Pilaf

We have officially entered the phase of eating from the bottom shelf of the cabinet–that’d be the dry goods shelf.  The non-perishable (for a really long time) food shelf.  It’s where I turn when everything else in the house is long gone, but I still want a healthy meal.

And when I want that meal to be done cooking before I graduate from PT school, I turn to lentils.

Sometimes I just don’t have the patience for dried beans.

To kick it up a notch, I decided to transform this into a pilaf with a Middle Eastern flair.  With a healthy dose of garam masala (recipe here) and some canned tomatoes, this recipe went from lackluster side dish to spicy and exciting main entree.

Well, I find it exciting.  I am aware that not everyone feels as passionate about ground coriander and brown rice as I do.

Brown Rice and Lentil Pilaf

  • 1 onion, finely diced
  • 1 T olive oil
  • 1 C dried red or green lentils (I used red)
  • 1 C uncooked brown rice
  • 2 C broth (I used beef, but you could use chicken or veggie)
  • 1 can diced tomatoes
  • 1 T garam masala
  • 1/2 t dried garlic (or 1 clove fresh), minced
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • salt and pepper to taste

Over medium heat, sauté the onions in olive oil until browned.  Once they are ready, add the spices (garam masala, garlic, and cinnamon stick) and toast for a minute or two until fragrant. 

In a separate pot, bring two cups of water to boil and add the brown rice.  Cook until just about tender–a little al dente is best.

Add the lentils and broth to the spices and onion.  Stir and cover, allowing it to simmer on low until the broth is absorbed and the lentils are cooked (this will go faster with red lentils than green).

When the lentil mixture is ready (and the rice cooked), combine the two and stir.  Add the can of tomatoes and stir in.  If you want, you can add a sprinkle of sugar but it’s not necessary.  Cover for a few minutes until the remaining liquid is absorbed and season with salt and pepper to taste.

Serve immediately.

My favorite way to eat lentils is to broil a green bell pepper cut in half vertically, and fill with the rice and lentil mixture.

Sadly, we had no green bell peppers.

I ran out of grocery money for the month, remember?

Don’t be like me.

We had to eat it plain–but luckily, it was still delicious (not to mention full of essential amino acids).

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Indian Samosa Casserole

One lovely day, Lauren met Fritz.  Fritz is South African.  South African food is influenced by all sorts of different countries than American food is.  It is delicious.  Fritz taught Lauren about braais, boerewors, samosas, melk tert, rusks, rooibos tea, droerwors, biltong, Mrs. Ball’s chutney, amarula, and lamb roasts.

Lauren married Fritz.  Immediately.

Seriously, though, I may have been born into the wrong country.  My entire family fully embraced all things South African after meeting the Zietsmans–we had a lamb roast at our rehearsal dinner, my mom makes rusks more often than I do, and everyone drinks rooibos tea.  My dad even gave a blessing in Afrikaans at our wedding.

It’s so wonderful when families blend as well as ours did.

So as a tribute to food that Fritz loves, I was ecstatic when I stumbled upon a recipe for an Indian samosa casserole in Vegetarian Times a few days ago.  I love to make things that I know he will be excited to have (on one of our first dates I made him bobotie to surprise him–and perhaps demonstrate my eligibility as a bride), and this proved to be just as successful as I expected.

Fritz ranked this right up there in the list of “vegetarian things I don’t mind not containing meat”.  Now if this did contain, say, ground lamb, I am quite certain he would not object–so feel free to add that if you want a non-vegetarian version.  I also doubled the recipe so that I could bake one for dinner and freeze one for some other day–the recipe says you can freeze it for up to four months!

Indian Samosa Casserole (from Vegetarian Times; makes one casserole)

Crust:

  • 1/2 C all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 C whole-wheat flour
  • 1/4 t salt
  • 1/4 t curry powder
  • 2 T vegetable oil

Filling:

  • 1/2 T mustard (I used spicy)
  • 1 t curry powder
  • 1/2 T minced fresh ginger
  • 1/2 t ground cumin
  • 1/8 t red pepper flakes
  • 5 medium potatoes, peeled and chopped (1 1/4 lbs)
  • 1 t vegetable oil
  • 2 medium carrots, diced
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 1-2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 C frozen peas
  • 1 C veggie or chicken broth
  • 2 t sugar

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.  To make the crust, whisk together the dry ingredients and add oil–stir until clumps form.  Slowly add 6-10 (I only needed 6) T cold water until the dough sticks together (this is roughly a million times easier if you use your kitchen-aid).  Cover dough with a damp towel and set aside.

Next, boil the potatoes until tender, about 15 minutes.  Roughly mash them (you want some chunks of potato leftover) and set aside.

Side note:  I always misspell potatoes.  I spell it potatos.  Every time.  Tomatoes, too.  Thank goodness for spell check.

Anyway, heat the vegetable oil in a skillet over medium heat and sauté the onions, carrots, ginger, and garlic until the carrots are tender (about five minutes).  Push the onion mixture to one side, and add the mustard, curry, cumin, and pepper flakes.  Toast ’em for 30 seconds, then mix it all together.  Stir in the frozen peas.

Next, add the broth and sugar and stir, making sure to scrape up all the spices from the bottom of the pan.  Add this onion mixture to the mashed potatoes, and stir it all up, adding salt and pepper to taste–if you want.  That’s your filling!

Spoon into a 9-inch pie plate (or two, if you doubled this recipe like I did).

Set aside, and take out the dough.  On a slightly floured surface, roll the dough out into an 11-inch circle (if you doubled the recipe, make two circles…duh).  Cover the filling with the dough, pressing down to make sure there are no air pockets. Fold the overhanging crust under, and crimp the edges.  Cut an “X” into the middle (to release steam while cooking), and brush the top of the pie with milk.  If you are freezing one, leave out the milk step for that one–do it right before you bake it.

For the pie you aren’t baking, wrap it tightly in plastic wrap and place in a ziplock bag.  It’s okay if you squish the beautifully crimped crust a little–Fritz won’t even notice.  Then freeze it!  To bake it later, preheat the oven to 375 degrees,  place on a baking sheet, and bake 75-90 minutes.

For the casserole we are eating tonight, place it on a baking sheet (there’s boil-over potential here, so be kind to yourself), and bake for about 40-50 minutes until the top is golden-brown and you see the filling bubbling up around the edges.

Let stand for five minutes before serving.

Enjoy! 

Fritz and I really enjoyed this–for a more decadent casserole, you could try using another crust recipe.  This one was good (and very healthy) but you could tell it wasn’t a flaky, buttery, pastry crust.  You could also try phyllo dough on top.  That said, neither Fritz nor I had any complaints as is–the curry powder in the crust was a nice, tasty addition.

I also just ate leftovers as dinner tonight, and after a minute in the microwave it was just as good the second day.

With all that said–it’s back to studying.  Have a beautiful night!

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Slow Roasted Beef

Two very exciting things are happening in my blog today:

  1. It is my 100th post!
  2. I finally added a “Recipes” and a “Blog Roll” page.

Pretty freakin’ exciting, huh?

I just want to say thanks to everyone who has read my blog from the beginning (that’d be mostly my devoted family members!).  Finally getting up the courage to start blogging took me months, but I am so happy that I did.  It is a great stress-reliever, and I love having someplace to share ideas and encourage that tiny little piece of me that is creative.  I finally understand those people who write in diaries and journals.

So without any further ado, let’s celebrate my 100th post.  Here’s a giant slab of roasted beef–somewhat atypical of this blog but not at all against my eating and cooking rules.  Luckily.  Because that could be a big strain on my marriage.

Slow Roasted Beef (from America’s Test Kitchen Family Cookbook)

  • bottom round roast (also called a rump roast)
  • 1/2-1 T canola oil
  • salt and pepper

Not a lot of ingredients, because when you cook meat properly, it can speak for itself.  Now, I’m not against seasonings by any means (or sauces), but sometimes simple is best.

Dry the roast with paper towels and heat the canola oil in a large pan.  Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 250 degrees (I said slow roasted, didn’t I?).  Season on all sides with salt and pepper, and when the oil is shimmering, brown the roast on all sides to get that beautiful dark sear (this should take about ten minutes).

Place into the oven on the lower medium racks and leave it alone for 1 to 1 1/2 hours.  So easy!  When it’s finished, the internal temperature should be 115 degrees for medium-rare, or 125 for medium.  We went with medium rare–my dad loves his red meat still mooing, and I may have picked up more than a few of his habits.  If you are like us, and your meat thermometer recently broke, then the inside should be red, the outer edge pink, and the outside brown; pressing down on the meat shouldn’t be too firm or too spongy.

 It’s not often that I find beauty in a big, bloody beef roast, but it was pretty easy to see it here:

 Admit it.  That’s just downright pretty.

Tasty, too.  I served this with broccoli and bulgur wheat.

After the gym today, round 1 of leftovers was reincarnated as another Dad favorite: steak sandwiches.  Though he usually makes these with cubed steak and fluffy white rolls, we had to make do with what we had.  And it was still delicious.

open-faced steak sandwiches, inspired by my dad

So thanks for reading my 100th post, and please check out my new “recipes” page and let me know what you think.  I discovered while I was inputting all the links what types of food I’ve been lacking in posting (grains? eggs? cake? where are you?), so you should be seeing some new recipes soon!

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Chili in a Pumpkin Bowl

For some reason, Sundays always feel way shorter than Saturdays do.  I think it’s that impending doom of Monday and knowing that my remaining free time is growing shorter…and shorter…

Plus I still have to do my ortho homework.

But before I do that, I’m gonna blog about the delicious dinner that I made tonight.  It was a beautiful fall day and I thought it would be a perfect time to make chili–and then put it inside a pumpkin!  I bought two small baking pumpkins a few weeks ago for decorative purposes, and I thought it was finally time to put them to good use.  And Fritz was happy with that idea.

Pumpkin Bowl Chili

  • small baking pumpkins
  • 1/2 pound ground turkey or beef (I actually used leftover steak and ground it in a food processor)
  • 2-3 C red kidney beans
  • 1 onion diced
  • 1 green pepper, diced
  • 2 cans diced tomatoes
  • 2 T chili powder
  • 1 t red pepper flakes
  • salt and pepper to taste

First order of business is to get your pumpkin bowls ready.  Buy pumpkins that are made for baking so the pumpkin is of eating quality and not just carving quality.

Cut off the tops–make the opening wide enough to easily scoop your chili out of the bottom of the bowl.  You don’t want chili all over your hands, do you?  Then scoop out the seeds and set them aside for future roasting (or throw them away.  Whatever).

Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees.  Oil the inside and the edges of the pumpkins with a bit of olive oil to keep it from drying while baking.  Put them in a glass pan, and pour 2-3 C of water around the bottom of the pumpkins.  Let them bake for about 45-60 minutes, or until soft.

You can make the chili while the pumpkin is baking.  Cook the onions and peppers over medium heat in 2 T of canola oil until they are soft and the onions are translucent.

Next, add the meat and stir frequently.  When the meat is completely cooked through, add the beans and tomatoes.  Lower the heat and summer on low, adding the spices to taste (I like chili hot! hot! hot!).

By now, your pumpkins should be finished baking.  Test ’em with a knife and make sure they are soft.  Let them cool enough to handle.

Fill the bowls with chili, add a sprinkle of cheddar and voila!  Delicious!  When you are eating, scrape the side and bottom of the bowl to pick up a bite of pumpkin with each spoonful–it’s even better with the pumpkin.

This is an incredibly hearty meal, and you probably won’t finish a whole bowl.  Even Fritz couldn’t quite make it–but chili is even better the second day, and that’s why we love leftovers!

We also had a great salad today for lunch–trying to eat more raw veggies everyday.  Iceberg lettuce (which I normally hate), chickpeas, diced apple, walnuts, unsweetened coconut chips, leftover pork, and some balsamic vinegar.  I actually enjoyed eating it–and I’m not normally a big salad fan.

Remember how yesterday I went into the city to visit Bre and Eber? It was such a nice trip.  Bre and I went to an Australian bar/restaurant for lunch (and a glass of wine, obviously), then shopped in a few stores before we got some tea and headed over to Bryant Park where we met Eber.  It was so nice just to be in a beautiful city with such beautiful women on a beautiful day.

  
Already looking forward to the next time I see these ladies!  Tune in tomorrow for an update on Meatless Monday–17 bean soup edition!

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