Baked Glazed Ham

Ham with *Parsley Potatoes
Ham was always served for Easter Dinner growing up, so once a year it was a big deal! When marrying and taking my turn baking one, it presented a great mystery: what kind, how big, how long to bake, bone in, boneless, smoked, picnic, cured?  Even my trusty Betty Crocker Cook Book left me confused.

My mother-in-law showed me her method of smearing with mustard, sticking in cloves (studding), putting in a brown paper grocery sack, closing, then setting sack on rack in roasting pan with water in the bottom at 350 degrees for a few hours.  It was tasty, tender and moist. Followed that method for decades, then used bone and scraps for navy bean soup.

In recent years I settled on a tried and true method enjoying ham year round, by stocking up when on sale.  I buy the butt portion versus shank, as it offers more meat, and the ham's label reads: already "cooked, ready to heat and serve."  

Leftovers go to the freezer for use in many recipes: sandwiches, soups, ham salad, chef salads, omelets, casseroles, scalloped potatoes, & breakfast slices. Hams frequently go on sale for under $2 a pound around the holidays, offering cooks a big bang for the bucks.  

New Year's Day and Easter are Ham Days in our house! Game Day Food!

Baked Glazed Ham
Ham Butt Portion, around 10 pounds
1/2 cup bottled BBQ sauce or homemade
1/4 cup mustard of choice, I use Dijon
2 Tabs. of honey
1/4 cup of orange juice or 2 Tabs. of frozen concentrated orange juice
Optional: cloves

Score the rind,  fatty surface of the ham cutting up to 1/4 to 1/2 inch slashes in one direction all over the surface about inch apart; then turn ham half way, and score more slashes across, so surface ends up looking like tic-tac-toe or "diamonds."

For glazing, combine BBQ sauce with mustard, orange juice, and honey and brush about half, all over ham surfaces; or using your hands, smear all over surfaces. If using cloves, push in along open slashes on top of  ham and inch or so apart.

Place on rack fatty side up, in uncovered baking pan, filling pan with a half inch of water. Bake at 350 until internal temperature reaches 140, about 2 hours.  Baste with remaining sauce every half hour, adding more water to pan if it evaporates. Outside will have a crispy surface and glaze flavors will seep into the moist ham. Slice to serve, allowing about 4-6 oz. per serving.

The bone and smaller scraps can be used to make split pea or navy bean soup. I deglaze the baking pan and drippings, adding more water and scraping to loosen bits and pieces, then save as a broth to add when making soups.

*Parsley Potatoes: I serve ham with boiled potatoes covered with a simple sauce of melted butter, parsley, salt and pepper ( 'cause it's the way grandma did it).  Peel potatoes, half or quarter, boil until tender.  Melt butter, add parsley (fresh or dried), salt and pepper and gently pour over potatoes, rotating or mixing to coat all sides.

Dumplings, Three Kinds

Homemade noodles, or pasta-like dumplings are a snap to make by simply combining flour, egg and salt with a few varied additions. They go well with chicken, turkey or pork dishes with gravy. My German grandmother was known for her fresh "dumplings," often allowing grandkids to help shape them, drop in the broth or water, then watching them form and rise to the top.
When wanting to quickly serve a fresh side dish for sauces, gravies, or add heartiness to soups and stews, try these as an alternative to relying on potatoes or dry pasta.  Make them fresh!

German Spaetzles
2 eggs
2 cups flour
1 tsp. salt
2 Tabs. softened butter

Break eggs into a bowl, add 2 egg shells of water and the butter. Beat good with a fork, then mix in flour, a little at a time. Dough will be tacky.  Drop by teaspoons into boiling broth, soup, or stew for about 8 minutes. Can roll dough in strands then snip or pull off pieces dropping into liquid. Or press through holes in a sieve, ricer, or grater for stringy noodle effect. Serves 6-8.

Potato Dumplings
Potato Dumplings
3 medium potatoes, Idaho if possible
1 beaten egg
1 tsp. salt
1/2 to 1 cup flour

Goes well with roast chicken or turkey. Instructions at this link:

Bohemian Bread Dumpling
Bohemian Bread Dumpling
1 cup flour
1 egg
1 tsp. salt
1/3 cup milk
1 tsp. baking powder
1 slice of cubed toast, or 3/4 cup of croutons

Sift dry ingredients, add beaten egg, milk and cubes, mixing until dough holds together in a large ball.  If too thin, add more flour up to a half cup.  In a large pot, bring water to a boil and drop in dumpling, turn heat to low boil, cover and boil for 30 minutes without peeking.

Makes one large dumpling which can be sliced into 1/2 inch thick servings.  Goes well with sauerkraut and gravy, or liver and onion gravy. Serves 4-6.

Tip for slicing:  use a 12 to 16 inch long thread and stretch wide, pull under dumpling.  Pull ends up and cross over center to slice; repeat several times.

Estimated cost:  incredibly inexpensive, each recipe is .70 cents or less to make.

Cookie Truffles

I'd seen these made with Oreo cookies, but didn't have any on hand, so used vanilla wafers and crumbled them in the food processor then mixed with cream cheese and peanut butter. 

I'm thinking other flavors of cookies would work well, too, so may experiment in the future.
They are fun to make and ever so delightful to eat! Recipes I've read don't always call for using paraffin, but candy makers use it for gloss and holding chocolate firmer when cooled, so I used it.

Cookie Truffles
I made 2 dozen using:
Approximately 2 cups finely processed vanilla wafers
1/2 cup peanut butter
4 oz. cream cheese
4 oz. semisweet chocolate chips melted in double boiler (or in micro wave)
4 oz. white almond bark melted in double boiler (or micro wave)
1 oz. household paraffin divided and melted with the chocolate and almond bark

At room temperature combine softened cream cheese, peanut butter and cookie crumbs.  Blend well, and shape into 3/4 to 1 inch balls, then place on foil, wax paper lined sheet, or silicone sheet, and put in freezer for 30 minutes.

Prepare melted chocolate and almond bark.  Remove balls from freezer and drop 12, one at a time into chocolate with a teaspoon and roll around to coat, then remove with teaspoon and place back onto sheet.  Then repeat with other half, dropping and coating in the white almond bark.

Next take a teaspoon of melted chocolate and drizzle over almond bark truffles; then take the melted white almond bark and drizzle over the chocolate balls.  Here's your chance to be creative with the dizzels.  Store in the refrigerator or freezer until ready to serve. They keep well.

You can opt to make all chocolate if you don't have white almond bark. then decorate with chocolate or colored sprinkles.

Old-Fashioned Cinnamon Rolls

These are terrific to have on hand during the holidays, or anytime during the year and freeze well.  I use the dough cycle on my bread machine, then take out and roll out and prepare for baking. 

I'm always amazed at what a delightful, economical treat results from a few cups of flour and simple ingredients.  Nice for a hostess gift, or gift for a neighbor.

Cinnamon Rolls
3/4 cup water
1 beaten egg
1/4 cup butter
3/4 tsp. salt
3 Tabs. sugar
3 1/2 cups of flour
2 1/2 tsps. yeast

1/2 cup chopped toasted almonds or walnuts
1/4 cup sugar
1 1/4 tsps. cinnamon
2 Tabs. melted butter
optional: 1/2 cup raisins

Put ingredients in bread machine according to manufacturer's instructions set on dough cycle. (Usually takes an hour for mix and first rise.) Remove and knead by hand 1 or 2 times, divide dough in two, and roll out each piece into an 8x9 inch  rectangle. Brush with melted butter, then sprinkle with half of filling mixture.

Roll up tightly, lengthwise in jelly roll fashion pinching the bottom edge to seal. Cut into 6 rolls. And place cut side down, 1 inch apart in greased or non-stick baking pan with 2 inch high sides. Repeat with other half of dough and filling. Cover and let rise for an hour to double in size, 30 to 60 minutes. Rolls with rise and swell to touch each other.  Bake at 350 for 25-30 minutes.

Or cut into 2-inch pieces and put into greased muffin tins or muffin tins lined with cupcake papers, let rise and bake 15 to 20 minutes until golden brown.

Cool slightly and drizzle with a glaze made from a cup of powdered sugar and few tablespoons of water, milk or orange juice.

Holiday Dog Treats

A friend recommended I make a pumpkin recipe for doggie treats for my grandpups! So this will be their Christmas Treat! Makes several dozen and I'll have a stash on hand whenever they come to visit.

Pumpkin Dog Treats
1 can non-seasoned mashed pumpkin
4 Tabs. molasses
4 Tabs. water or beef or chicken broth
2 Tabs. vegetable oil
3 cups whole wheat flour
1/4 cup parsley flakes
1/4 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. cinnamon (optional)

Also optional: 1/4 cup sesame seeds, or rolled oats or grated carrot.

Preheat oven to 350.
Blend all wet ingredients. Add dry ingredients and stir until a soft dough forms. Extra flour may to added to make dough firm enough. Grab by teaspoonfuls and roll into balls.
Gregor & Amber
Drop onto a cookie sheet and flatten with a fork or roll into 1/4 inch thick dough and form shapes with small cookie cutters. (I used hearts!)

Bake until hard (approximately 25 min.). If wanting them a bit crispier, just turn off oven and let cool overnight.  They vacuum seal or freeze well

Appetizer: Mini Pastry Puffs

Baked Pastry Puffs
Whenever attending gatherings with appetizers or horsd'oeuvres and discovering something delightfully different and/or fancy, I try to duplicate it at home.  A local caterer served these mini puffs filled with a salmon cheese spread which caught my attention, but I've filled them with: a cheese spread topped with popcorn shrimp; an olive spread; tomato relish; crab spread, spinach dip, or made  mini sandwiches ...... it's up to imagination! 

They're fun to make and can be made in larger sizes for use as dessert, by filling with berries, topped with whipped cream; pudding or ice cream, then drizzled with chocolate. Again, use your imagination. Family and guests will be impressed with your presentation.

This recipe makes about 24 - 36 mini puffs but can be doubled for larger groups.  After baking they freeze well, and handy for quick appetizers or desserts.

Mini Pastry Puffs
4 Tabs. of butter cut in pieces
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup flour
1/4 tsp. salt
2 eggs
Optional seasoning: poppy seeds, sesame seeds, fresh rosemary
Heat oven to 425.

In medium saucepan, bring water butter and salt to a boil. Remove from heat and add flour all at once, stirring til dough hold together.  Return to heat an let cook about 1 minute, until a film coats the bottom of the pan. Put dough in a bowl and let cool about 5 minutes.

Beat in eggs one at a time until dough is soft, glossy and sticky.  Put dough in pastry bag with 1/2 inch nozzle, or use a plastic bag and cut off corner.

Squirt vertically on prepared non-stick sheet an inch apart in one inch to 1-1/2 inch wide mounds, about 1/2 inch thick.  Each will have a small peak, so wet your finger and pat each mound down a bit to smooth.  An egg wash can be applied, then sprinkle with seasoning of choice.

Bake for 12 minutes, at 425, then reduce heat to 375 and remove sheet, taking a toothpick to pierce the side of each puff, then return to oven to bake until golden brown, about 10 to 15 more minutes.  Cool on wire rack. Slice open to fill with desired fillings.

Best White Bread

I began mastering my bread machine a few years ago, finding the most successful recipes.  I've owned it for over a decade, but used only occasionally.  Since finding great recipes, I haven't bought bread at the store in over 2 years.  For some breads I use the machine  just for mixing, kneading, and first rise then shape and bake in oven, and others I fully bake in the machine.  I've used "mixes" but  it's much more economical to enjoy bakery quality bread of all kinds when making from scratch.

A friend in Texas shared this recipe and it makes a huge, soft loaf equal to two loaves of bread.  Once cooled, I slice it in half vertically and freeze one half for later use. Dough can be made then taken out and shaped into buns or rolls.  Bread machines are great for making pizza dough, too.

You'll never find a better bread for toast!

Bread Machine White Bread 
1 cup milk warm milk
1 large egg, or 2 small at room temperature 
2 1/2 tablespoons butter, softened
1/4 cup sugar
3/4 teaspoon salt
3 cups bread flour, regular white flour will be okay, too.
2 1/2 teaspoons yeast

Put ingredients in according to machine instructions.  Mine calls for liquids first, then dry ingredients, with yeast last. I warm milk to about 90 degrees quickly in microwave with the butter, then beat egg(s) and pour in. Next add sugar, salt, then flour.  Make an indent on top and spoon in yeast.  I set the machine to basic white. During first knead, seeds such a poppy or sesame, or  dry spices may be added.

No-Knead Ciabatta Bread

Ready to Bake
Slice of White Ciabatta

Ciabatta Bread
4 cups flour (can use white or combo of white and wheat)
1 tsp. yeast
1-1/2 tsps. salt
2 cups warm water

Put four cups of flour, yeast and salt in large bowl; add warm water.  Stir until blended and sticky.  Cover bowl with foil, plastic wrap or towel for 12 - 18 hours at room temperature until doubled in size. Dough will be spongy and bubbly looking.

Pull out of bowl and turn out to floured board to shape into long oval or divide making two rounds. Dust with flour.  Flipover onto oiled baking sheet sprinkled with corn meal, dust top with flour.  Cover with towel for 2 hours and let rest and rise again. It won't seem like it's risen very high, put will spread,  and rise greatly when baking.

Bake 425 oven, 35-45 minutes until browned.  Bread will have thick crust and large airy holes. Experiment with adding seeds or Italian spices, or brush top with oil or butter before baking for different effect and taste of an artitsan style bread.  Can be divided and shaped into baguette loaves.

Hint:  Great bread for children to help make.  So easy!  I usually make dough in late afternoon and it's ready in mid-morning.

Link to Video of Step-by-Step

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Cake Mix Cookies

Watch for cake mix sales or coupons when they're a dollar or less.  These are so fast and easy and freeze well.
Ready to Bake

Cake Mix Cookies
1 box of cake mix with pudding if none, add box of instant pudding
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
2 eggs
1/2 cup oil or butter
1 cup of whatever you want or have on hand: chocolate or other flavored chips, nuts, M&Ms, crushed candy bits, raisins.  Be creative! If using a white cake mix you may want crushed toffee or butterscotch chips; if chocolate mix, chocolate chips and nuts.  A tsp. of flavored extract can enhance the flavor.  I've used chocolate mix, mint extract, and chocolate chips.

Chocolate Mint
Mix cake mix and baking power, toss in and mix eggs and melted butter or oil, then stir in one cup of  chips or nuts.  Batter will be stiff dough.

Drop by teaspoons on baking sheet and bake at 350 for 10-12 minutes.
Makes 3 or 4 dozen.  Will look underbaked and puffy when done, but let sit for about 10 minutes to set before lifting off.  They'll be crisp on outside and chewy inside.

Ideas:  Spice cake mix, and nuts; lemon cake mix and lemon zest and drizzle with icing.  Many, many possibilities.