Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Good things come to those that wait

And that's exactly what I did... for what felt like ALL DAY!  But it was well worth it!  There was a huge crowd to feed so I decided to contribute a very large Christmas ham.

There are many things to love about a Christmas ham; to name a few - it tastes great, doesn’t require many ingredients or much attention while cooking, and looks absolutely picturesque on your table.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Rinse your ham and pat dry.  Place on a rack in roasting pan. Insert meat thermometer reaching thickest point without touching the bone. Cover with foil.

Cooking times vary greatly depending on size so use a meat thermometer and cook until you have reached an internal temperature of 160 degrees F. You can take the ham out of the oven at 155 degrees F and it will continue to cook.

My future mother-in-law gave me a great meat thermometer as an early Christmas gift.  I highly recommend it!  It's a remote thermometer with a clip-on portable receiver to alert you when the meat is done.  Very convenient if you are trying get other things done.

You can score the ham before starting to cook or up until you add the glaze, about 30 minutes before it is done.  To score, slice ham through the fat layer only diagonally about an inch apart. Slice diagonally in the opposite direction creating diamonds and stud each one with a whole clove.

I made a glaze by reducing maple syrup, brown sugar, whole grain mustard, ground cinnamon, and grated nutmeg.

When the ham has about 30 minutes left, glaze and leave uncovered for the remainder of the cooking time.

When ham has reached 155 degrees F, remove from oven and let stand for 30 min to 2 hours before serving.

Do this ham justice and garnish a nice platter for serving.

Leftovers make great ham sandwiches or chop up and throw in an omelette for breakfast!

Friday, December 25, 2009

On the 12th Day of Christmas, the Recipe Diva made for me...

Crab & Asparagus Puffs

Merry Christmas!!

I hope everyone is having a wonderful holiday!  It's been entertaining around here, gas lines accidentally turned off, no heat or hot water... etc.  Good times!  Everything is all fixed up now and the Christmas ham has about 15 degrees to go!  Can't wait to dig in!

Because I knew we'd be grazing on appetizers and treats all day, I wanted to make a nice Christmas breakfast but keep it light.  I saw a recipe a while back for some cheesy crab and artichoke breakfast puffs.  I decided to do my own spin - less cheese, more crab, asparagus, and few other additions.

Exactly what we needed to start the day!  They were light, fluffy, and the flavors worked perfectly together.  Can't wait to double, triple, or quadruple this recipe for a brunch with friends!


5 beaten eggs
1/4 cup flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
8 oz. cottage cheese
5 oz. crab meat - use the good stuff, it really pays off!
4 spears asparagus
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper


1. Cook asparagus in boiling water until crisp tender.  Plunge in cold water and thinly slice
2. Combine all ingredients and pour into 6 buttered ramekins.  Bake 30 minute at 350 degrees F until golden. 

Like I said, we wanted to keep it light but these would be great served with hollandaise sauce.  They are very easy but taste quite gourmet.  Perfect for special occasions and entertaining when you want results without investing a lot of time! 

Thursday, December 24, 2009

On the 11th Day of Christmas, the Recipe Diva made for me...

Gingerbread Men!

What is more festive than these cute little gingerbread men?!

Knowing that the pantry is pretty empty here and most cooking supplies last forever, I decided to stock up on all the basics.  I knew that I wanted to make a classic recipe like gingerbread men so I used Allrecipes's convenient Ingredient Search to find a recipe based on the ingredients that I did and did not have and found this highly rated recipe for Gingerbread Men.  

They were perfect, soft and flavorful!  I did not even have my usual urge to leave them in the oven too long!  Maybe I've rid myself of the bad habit!  I followed the recipe exactly and here are some tips that I think may be helpful!!

My sister gave me some prep bowls as an early christmas gift and they are GREAT!  You can get all of your ingredients measured out beforehand and whip your recipes up in no time!  None of that mid-step measuring, cleaning, etc.

Make sure to scrape the bowl with a spatula throughout preparation to ensure all ingredients are incorporated.

Flatten dough into a disk, wrap with saran wrap, and store in fridge atleast 4 hours so dough will lose stickiness making it easier to work with when cutting out your gingerbread men.

I purchased a nonstick mat but still found the dough easier to work with when I added a little bit of flour to the mat.  Make sure to flour the rolling pin as well. 

These nonstick cookie sheets are AWESOME!  The cookies just slide right off. 

If you are adding icing, make sure to wait until gingerbread have men have cooled so it doesn't melt and run.

Share with friends and family!

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas to me :)

Last minute run to Williams Sonoma to pick up a few 'little' supplies... We just broke the bank today...

My contributions for Christmas this year - the Christmas ham, sweet potato casserole, gingerbread men, peppermint bark, and possibly a pumpkin cake of some sort if I have time...

I obviously needed all of those things!!

Happy Cooking

& Merry Christmas!!

On the 10th Day of Chrismas, the Recipe Diva made for me...

Southwest Chicken Chili

Not to toot my own horn, but you MUST make this soup.  It was DELICIOUS!  My biggest mistake was not making more! 

With all of the wintery weather up here in Chicago, I wanted to make a hearty but healthy soup with a bit of a kick!  I figured my diet will be starring turkey and ham for the next few days, so chicken was my protein of choice.  It ended up being sort of a mix between tortilla soup and chili but it worked!  Enjoy!!


2 chicken breasts, roasted and shredded
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 onion, chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 can fire-roasted tomatoes
1 can tomatillos, chopped
1 box (32 oz) organic chicken broth
1 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp ground coriander
1/2 tsp chili powder
2 cans white beans drained


1.  For chicken, purchase and shred roasted chicken or season 2 chicken breasts, toss with olive oil, roast until cooked through and shred. 

2.  Heat olive oil over medium high heat and sautee onions and garlic for about 3 minutes.  Add remaining ingredients including chicken and simmer for 15 minutes.

 Served with sliced avocado, sliced limes and torn cilantro.

Modify this recipe according to your own tastes!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

On the 9th Day of Christmas, the Recipe Diva made for me...

Absolutely Nothing :(

Sorry to any readers, but due to travel, snow, and delayed flights, there was no time for a 9th Day of Chrismas recipe!

Stay tuned for the 10th Day of Christmas!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

On the 8th Day of Christmas the Recipe Diva made for me...

Deviled Eggs!!

My mom makes the BEST deviled eggs!  Some may disagree, but I sure haven't found any yet!  I have never seen a party end with one of these left on the platter.  And in the off chance that I did find one, I would take care of it immediately!

To put these tasty delights together, hard boil a dozen eggs, peel, and cut in half.  Arrange the whites on the platter.  Mix the yolks with 1/2 cup mayonaisse, 1/4 cup relish, 1 1/2 tablespoons yellow mustard, 1/2 tbsp dry mustard, 1/2 tsp paprika, and salt and pepper to taste.  I added 1/4 tsp of cayenne pepper for extra kick. 

Spoon the mixture into a plastic bag and cut the corner - this makes life MUCH easier as I figured out half way through the process.  Squeeze egg mixture into the egg whites and sprinkle with paprika.  I meant to add some chopped chives for the festive green but forgot :(  They were still delicious!  Another easy and tasty entertaining recipe that cannot go wrong!

Monday, December 21, 2009

On the 7th Day of Christmas, the Recipe Diva made for me...


Nothing fancy here... I was digging through my mom's old christmas cookie recipes and found her recipe for Snickerdoodles.  The name alone gets you interested... 

Simple yet delicious.  They are so easy to make and you can whip them up in no time!!!!  I love biting into the sweet cinnamon crust!  I promise I will try to flex my baking skills a bit more in upcoming recipes, but knew I couldn't go wrong with these!


1 cup shortening
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 eggs
2 3/4 cups sifted flour
2 tsp cream of tartar
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
2 tsp cinnamon


Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Mix shortening, sugar and eggs thoroughly.  Blend flour, cream of tartar, soda and salt.  Stir into shortening mixture.  Shape into 1" balls.  Roll in mixture of 2 tbsp sugar and cinnamon.  Place 2 inches apart on ungreased baking sheet and bake 8-10 minutes.

I have a tendency to want to keep cookies in the oven longer than I should.  Once again, after the timer went off, I checked them and was tempted to just give them another minute to make sure they were done...  Most of them were pretty good, but some were a bit crispier than I would have liked.  Hopefully I will cure myself of this bad habit!!

Saturday, December 19, 2009

On the 6th Day of Christmas, the Recipe Diva made for me...

Cranberry, Pear, and Ginger Chutney

If you aren't familiar with chutney, it's an accompaniment that is similar in consistency to a relish or jelly.  Almost always consistenting of fruit, sugar and vinegar, a chutney will fall into the category of sweet or hot... or both.  They work very well served with cheeses, meats such as ham and pork, and are very common in Indian cuisine. 

With all of the holiday parties this time of year, a jar of homemade chutney makes a perfect hostess gift.  In the spirit of the season, I chose to use cranberries and seasonal spices.  The combination of hot and sweet with the savory holiday spices worked perfectly. 


2 - 8 oz. bags of fresh cranberries
2 pears, peeled and cubed
1 large orange
1 onion, chopped
1 cup golden raisins
1 1/4 cups brown sugar
2 tbsp ginger, grated
1 cup water
1/2 cup cider vinegar
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
Add all ingredients to large saucepan and bring to boil.  Reduce heat to medium low and simmer for about 30 minutes until cranberries have burst and chutney has thickened. 

The chutney will keep for 3 days, but to jar for gifts, pack the chutney into sterilized jars and process in hot-water bath for 10-15 minutes. If you are unfamiliar with the canning process, make sure to look up more detailed instructions. 

Does anyone have any suggestions for how to make these boring jars gift worthy? 

Friday, December 18, 2009

On the 5th Day of Christmas, the Recipe Diva made for me...

Tuna Steaks with Olive Tapenade, White Bean Puree and Roasted Tomatoes

This is my kind of meal, very characteristic of the food that I really really enjoy cooking (and eating!!) - fresh ingredients, full flavors, and it incorporates two of my favorite things, seafood and garlic!

As promised, every meal in my '12 Days of Christmas' includes a new technique or new ingredient.  In this case I went a bit gourmet and decided to purchase some truffle oil.  If you've ever tried truffles or truffle oil, you know that these ingredients can really take a dish to the next level.  They add so much complexity and depth of flavor.  They are quite pricey so you certainly won't be sauteeing in truffle oil; instead, save these delicacies for uses in which they can really shine. 

As I was sooooooooo disappointed that no one appreciated my witty (so I tell myself) red, green, and white appetizers, I went for it again!  (Hold the applause) Red: roasted tomatoes, Green: olive tapenade and greens, White: white bean puree and seared sides of the tuna steaks... use your imagination ;)

The meal turned out great, so I attempted to put the recipe together below.  As I usually don't measure when cooking, I am struggling to document accurately... but I dont think you can really go wrong here with slight variations, just taste as you go!


4 Fresh Tuna Steaks, comparable in thickness
12 oz package of cherry tomatoes on the vine
5 tbsp Olive Oil, divided
5 oz package of baby arugula (rocket in Aussie)
Juice of 1/2 lemon, use remainder for tapenade

Olive Tapenade:
1/2 cup Manzanilla or Spanish green olives, pitted
2 tsp Capers
1/2 tsp Parsley, chopped
1 Garlic clove, minced
Olive Oil
Juice of 1/2 Lemon

White Bean Puree:
1/2 Oion, chopped
2 Garlic cloves, chopped
1 tbsp olive oil
19 oz can Cannellini beans, drained
1 tbsp truffle oil, plus more for drizzling


1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F and take out tuna steaks so they can get a bit closer to room temperature.  Toss cherry tomatoes with 2 tbsp olive oil and season with salt and pepper.  Roast for 20 minutes or until tomatoes are about to burst.
2. For tapenade, chop or process olives and capers.  Combine with remaining ingredients and let sit for atleast 15 minutes. 
3. For white bean puree, sautee onions and garlic in olive oil over medium high heat until translucent.  Let cool, add to food processor with cannellini beans.  Process until smooth and add truffle oil at a steady stream while food processor is still running. 
4.  Season tuna steaks.  Add olive oil to hot pan over medium high heat.  Sear tuna for 1-2 minutes on each side depending on thickness.  (I prefer my tuna medium rare, but feel free to cook longer if you aren't comfortable with that).
5. Whisk together remaining tbsp of olive oil and lemon juice, season with salt and pepper and quickly toss with arugula. 

Being that I was using a gourmet ingredient, I decided to play around a bit with plating.  I piled greens in the center of the plate, placed on the tuna and topped with the tapenade.  Spread each side of the plate white bean puree - get artistic if you can :)  Place roast tomatoes on plate.

Last and most important, eat every bite!!


Related Posts with Thumbnails