Saturday, December 25, 2010

Green Bean Casserole

1 (16 oz) package frozen whole green beans, thawed
4 slices bacon, fried
1/2 med onion, chopped
1/2 red bell pepper, sedded and diced
1/4c dry white wine or vermouth
1/4c milk
2 Tbsp butter
1 can Campbells cream of mushroom soup
1 Tbsp soy sauce
salt and pepper to taste
1/2c mozzarella cheese, shredded
1/2c canned French fried onions

Preheat the oven to 325˚F. Fry up the bacon until crisp. Drain on paper towel. Crumble bacon and set aside. Drain most of the bacon grease from the pan. Over medium heat, saute onions and bell pepper until tender. Stir in the wine, scraping all of the bits of bacon from the bottom of the pan. Mix in butter, milk, soup, and soy sauce. Season with salt and pepper. Stir in green beans and bacon. Fold in the cheese and transfer to a casserole dish. Sprinkle with French fried onions. Bake uncovered for 25 minutes.

Christmas Ham

I was talking to my mom today and realized that there is an evolution of sorts that takes place in families over time. For example, my sisters and I all wash our dishes as soon as dinner is finished. My husband and brothers-in-law don't understand why the dishes can't wait five or ten minutes. We don't know why. It's just the way our mother has always done things. It's just what seems right to us.

Another good example is our family's Christmas ham. My mother was always taught to cut the top off her ham. One day, my mother asked her mother (my grandmother) why she needed to cut the top off the Christmas ham. My grandmother said, "I'm not sure. It's the way my mother always did it." So my grandmother called her mother and asked. Grandma Heath said, "I'm not sure. It's the way my mother always did it." Grandma Heath asked Grandma Staley (my great-great grandmother). Grandma Staley said, "Because my pan was too small." My family has been cutting the top off the ham for five generations because Grandma Staley's pan was too small. That is the evolution of a recipe in my family.


1 bone-in-ham* (about 12 lbs, but sometimes the smallest I can find is a 16 pounder)
1/2c whole cloves
1/2c packed brown sugar
1 (20oz) can pineapple rings in heavy syrup
Maraschino cherries
1 (12oz) can of 7-up or Sprite

Pre-heat the oven to 325˚F. Place the ham in the roasting pan and slice off the top of the ham (because Grandma Staley's pan was too small). Or, it turns out; you can leave the top on your ham. It doesn't make any difference. Score the rind of the ham with a diamond pattern. Press a clove into the center of each diamond. Drain the juice from the pineapple rings into a medium bowl. Stir in the brown sugar and soda. Coat the ham with this mixture. Arrange the pineapple rings over the outside of the ham. Place a maraschino cherry in the center of each pineapple ring. Secure with a toothpick.

Bake (covered) for three or four hours, basting frequently with the juices until the temperature of the ham is 160˚F. Be sure the thermometer is not touching the bone. Remove toothpicks before serving. I was a little worried that I'd cooked this ham too long. It looked overdone on the outside, but it was moist and tender and wonderful. This is probably because I basted it every thirty minutes or so, but I still told my husband it was because I'd cut the top off my ham the way my mother had always done it.

*After you serve the ham, save the bone. We'll use it in a soup later this week.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Smoked Salmon Spread

We ate Thanksgiving dinner my good friend Laura's house. My oldest told me, on good authority, that Pumpkin Pie was the only Thanksgiving food she likes. Luckily, she was wrong. On the way home my child, who hates fish and onions, asked if I would make this dip for her.

1 package salmon (I use the Star-Kist salmon in the pink pouch)
1 block of cream cheese
2 green onions, chopped (use more or less depending on personal taste)
Garlic salt, to taste
1 Tbsp liquid smoke

Mix all the ingredients together. Chill for at least one hour in the fridge. Serve with crackers of your choice.

Classic Holiday Fruit Salad

My mother made this salad for Thanksgiving and Christmas dinner every year I was growing up. It's a classic at our house. A girlfriend of mine made it last Thanksgiving and my kids loved it. So I'm pulling this old recipe out and it's going to be a holiday tradition at my house, too.

1 can pineapple chunks, cut up
1 can mandarin oranges
12 oz sour cream
1 bag miniature marshmallows
1/2 bag coconut
10 maraschino cherries, rinse, pat dry and slice in half

Drain fruit well. Mix everything together. Chill at least one hour before serving so that all the flavors can blend and the marshmallows become softer. Cherries are just for color, but seem to be a favorite for all the kids.

Christmas Morning Egg Bake

I am always looking for an easy breakfast food that tastes great and can be made ahead. That way I can spend Christmas morning playing with my kids and their new toys instead of cooking. This recipe is also really good for a lady's brunch at church.

You'll need:
8-10 hashbrown patties, cooked and broken apart
1 egg, beaten
salt and pepper

7 eggs
1/2c milk
1 can green chilies
mushrooms, sliced and sauted
1 1/2c cheddar cheese, shredded

Mix the hashbrowns and 1 egg. Pam a 9X13 casserole pan. Flatten the mixture into the pan with the back of a spoon. In a bowl, mix 7 eggs, milk, chilies, mushrooms, and cheese. Pour over hashbrown crust. Bake at 400˚F for 20-30 minutes.

For variation, sometimes I add cooked sausage to the hashbrown crust. You can also sprinkle cooked bacon over the top of your egg bake before cooking it.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

The Lost Art of Popping Corn

I learned how to pop popcorn on the stovetop as much out of necessity as for fun. Our microwave is acting wonky. It's one of those built in models. We told the property manager that it wasn't working properly, but I've learned this property management agency is slow to fix things. Bummer for us. Whenever we pop popcorn it pops maybe half the bag half of the time. The other half of the time nothing pops. So today, I learned how to pop popcorn using only a 5-quart pan and a lid. It's so easy that I can't believe I've never done it before. Plus, my lids are glass so I have the fun of watching the corn pop. I'm easily amused, I know.

You'll need

2 Tbsp oil, olive oil works just fine
1/4c of popcorn kernels

Turn the burner on to a med-high heat. Add the oil to the pan with one or two kernels of popping corn. Hold the pan on the heat with the lid in place, shaking the pan back and forth a few times a minute. When these tester kernels pop, your oil is hot enough. Add the remainder of the popcorn kernels to the pan and replace the lid. Continue to shake the pan back and forth a few times a minute until the corn finishes popping. Pour into a bowl and add salt. The whole process takes less than five minutes.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Blueberry Banana Bread

A girlfriend of mine was talking about this recipe on Facebook this morning. It sounded really yummy to me so I pulled up the recipe. bread is really good. I made two loaves, but the kids ate up the first loaf in one sitting. I think the blueberries really make this recipe. Plus they just make this bread look so pretty when you slice it up.

The recipe was a total win for me. My kids like to ask for blueberries in their pancakes, and then they like to pick them out. Nobody picked out the blueberries this time around. A small win, but I take the wins where I can get them.


2 cups of All Purpose Flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/2c shortening
1c sugar
2 eggs
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 medium ripe bananas, mashed
1c fresh blueberries

In a bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, and salt. In a large mixing bowl, cream the shortening and sugar. Add eggs and vanilla and mix well. Beat in bananas. Gradually add the dry ingredients, mixing just until combines. Fold in blueberries. Pour into two greased loaf pans. Bake at 350˚F for 30-35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Allow to cool for about 10 minutes before removing from pan.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Honey Lime Enchiladas

Get out your grocery lists; make an extra run to the grocery store. I've found my new favorite Enchilada recipe. My sister made this for me the last time I went home to visit. It is so yummy. I think it's the lime that really makes this recipe unforgettable.

1.5 lbs of chicken, cooked and shredded
1/3c honey
1/4c lime juice (one lime if you are using fresh...and really, you should use a fresh lime)
1 Tbsp chili powder
1/2 tsp garlic powder
2(10oz) cans green enchilada sauce
2 pkgs flour tortilla, small
equal parts mozzarella and cheddar cheese, shredded

Combine honey, lime juice, chili powder and garlic powder. Mix well and add to the shredded chicken. Let the sauce soak into the meat for at least 30 minutes. Lightly spray two pans with PAM. (I used two 9X13 pans.) Pour green enchilada sauce into the pans. Be sure to coat the entire bottom. Fill the tortillas with shredded chicken and cheese mixture. Roll and place in the dish.

Pour the remainder of the enchilada sauce over the enchilada. Now sprinkle with more cheese. Be generous with the sauce and cheese. It matters! Bake uncovered at 350˚F for 30 minutes. Then broil just until the cheese is slightly brown and crispy. I may have browned mine a liiiiittle too much, but I like it a little crisy.

This recipe is really amazing. Roger liked it. The kids liked it. And it made enough that I can re-heat it for dinner tomorrow!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Pork Stew with Pears

I thought this stew was super tasty. The kids gulped it down easily. They loved the idea of pears in their stew. Roger says it's just weird to put fruit in your soup, but he didn't cover it in BBQ sauce, either, so I'm calling it a win all around.

2 Tbsp flour
2 tsp paprika
1 tsp cumin
1 lb pork tenderloin (well trimmed and cut into 1/4 inch chuncks)
1 Tbsp olive oil
2 onions (cut into 1 inch chunks)
2 green bell peppers (cut into 1 inch squares)
1 red bell pepper (cut into 1 inch squares)
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 medium pears (peel and cut into 1 inch pieces)
1/3c dry sherry
1/2c chicken broth
1/2 tsp each salt and pepper

Combine flour, paprika, and cumin. Dredge the pork in the flour mixture and shake off excess flour. Add olive oil to the Dutch oven and cook pork approximately 2 minutes per side. Do not overcook. Remove the pork from the pan and set aside. Add onions, peppers, and garlic to pan. Cook until the peppers are tender crisp, stirring frequently (about 5 minutes). Add pears and sherry. Bring to a boil and boil for 1 minute. Add broth, salt, pepper, and about 1/4 cup water. Bring to a boil. Return pork to the pan, reduce heat, and simmer for 3 minutes (uncovered) until pork is cooked through and the pears are tender. This stew can be made up in advance and gently reheated at serving time.