Sunday, April 29, 2012

Week 17 - Tortilla Chips

This past week I had a few people over and we had a dip party. We made pico, queso, and guacamole. We also decided to make chips! Okay, I got distracted at the party and we made charcoal, I made chips today. Here's the secret Tostitos does not want me to share. This. Recipe. Is. So. Easy! Seriously I am not even giving you amounts. It's that fool proof. As long as you can read a clock. Which I apparently can not do...

Tortilla Chips 2 Ways

Oven Method
Buy your favorite corn tortillas or make your own with an instant masa mix following the provided instructions. Preheat oven to 425. Cut the tortillas into triangles or strips. Lay them in one layer on a baking sheet. Lightly brush with olive oil on both sides. Lightly salt (or use cinnamon sugar, yum!). Bake at 425 for 8-10min until golden and crisp.

Fry Method
Again use your favorite or home made corn tortilla and cut them into the desired shape. Preheat your oil to 375. Carefully put 4 or 5 chips into the oil and fry for about a minute. Place on a paper towel to drain and immediately salt or season as desired.

What did I tell you? Easy! The strips on the left are the baked chips, the triangles on the right are fried. The fried ones are more like the chips you will get out of the bag but the oven chips are delicious and crispy as well.

I will never buy a bag of chips again, well that may be a slight exaggeration but I do love them fresh!

Happy eating,

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Week 16 - Lasagna

I have never ever met a person who hates lasagna. Not once. They may not like a certain version of this iconic meal but they always have a version they love. This is mine. Once upon a time I spent all day making the ricotta cheese from scratch and turning pork into Italian sausage. Now I have a toddler. The sausage comes from Sprouts and the goats milk ricotta has been replaced by a mix of cow's milk ricotta and spreadable goat cheese.This meal can very easily be turned vegetarian, in reality it's more like I turned it meat eater.

You'll need:
30oz Ricotta Cheese
8oz Chavrie Goat Cheese
1/2c Parmesan
1/2c Shredded Mozzarella
3 cloves of garlic minced and turned into paste (mince then sprinkle on 1/4 tsp salt. Let sit for 20min. Using the flat of the blade on a large chefs knife smoosh and scrape the garlic until it turns into a paste.)
2c Fresh chopped spinach
2 Eggs
1tsp Paprika
1/4 tsp Nutmeg
1 Box Lasagna Noodles or make your own pasta (recipe here)
1 Jar of your Favorite Pasta sauce

Preheat oven to 350°. Cook your lasagna according to the box instructions.

Mix together your cheeses, garlic, spinach, and eggs.

Grease a glass baking dish and put down a layer of lasagna noodles. Top with 1/4" layer of the cheese mixture. Follow with sauce. Then repeat. I usually only make 2 layers then I save the leftover cheese for ravioli. Top everything with the last of your sauce and sprinkle with cooked Italian sausage if you want.  Alternatively take your cheese mixture and spread it down the middle of one noodle, then roll it up and place in a greased glass baking dish. Top all your rolls with sauce and sausage.

Bake at 350° for 40 minutes and enjoy!

Happy eating!

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Week 15 - Home Baked Ham pt.2

So here we are, it's the part of the week where I show you glorious pictures of the beautiful Easter ham. One problem.. I forgot to take pictures.... It was glazed perfectly, golden and delicious, cooked just right. I have no proof for you. You can take my word for it, this ham is tasty. If you aren't into curing the ham yourself then the glaze would work well for any spiral sliced ham.

What you'll need:
Your Cured Ham
1c Brown Sugar
1c Maple Syrup
1 Tbsp Mustard (I used boring yellow mustard but a spicy or gray mustard would probably work better)
1/2c Apple Juice

Remove your ham from the brine and pat it dry with paper towels. Allow it to sit out for a couple hours so it comes up to room temperature before baking.

Preheat your oven to 325°

Combine your brown sugar, maple syrup, mustard, and apple juice together and spread liberally over your ham. Insert a meat thermometer horizontally into the thickest part of the ham without touching the bone. (The thermometer should run parallel to the bone.)

Bake until the internal temperature reaches 160° (My 12lb ham took about 3 hours.)

At this point I removed the skin (I skinned it before baking last year and it was a pain), covered the whole thing with foil, and put it in the fridge. The next day I made a new batch of glaze, poured the glaze over everything again, and baked until the internal temp reached 140°. Then slice and serve...


Deviled eggs! Once again, I am the dork who took no pictures. But you can't really have Easter without deviled eggs.

You'll Need:
1 Dozen Eggs
"Some" Mayonnaise
2 Tbsp Yellow Mustard
1 tsp Dill
1 tsp Paprika
Extra Paprika for Garnish

To start out you need to boil your eggs properly. You would be surprised to know how many people don't know how to boil an egg. I didn't know how to boil an egg until last year. Here's a fool proof way to boil eggs. place your eggs in one layer into a pot of cold water. The water needs to cover the eggs by an inch or 2. Add in 1/4c of vinegar. Put everything over high heat and bring to a roaring boil. Then cover and turn the heat off. If you have an electric stove move the pot to a cool burner or a trivet. Set a timer for 10 minutes and let that sit. After 10 minutes remove the eggs from the water and place them into a bowl of ice water. Now you have hard boiled eggs!

Cut your eggs in half and place the whites on a serving tray and the yolks in a mixing bowl. Add mayonnaise to your yolks until they are creamy. (I like lots of mayo in my eggs, about 1/4c. Most people like less. I would add it in a Tbsp at a time until it's the consistency you like. If you are going to pipe the yolk mix in you will need more mayo.) Then add in your mustard, dill, and paprika. If you are spooning the mix in you can mash everything with a fork, if you are piping it in use an electric mixer (stand or hand held) and mix thoroughly.

At this point you can spoon the mix into the holes of your egg whites or you can transfer everything to a piping bag and use a fancy icing tip to make it pretty. When all your eggs are filled sprinkle a little paprika over the yolks to make everything pretty.

Enjoy, and try to leave some for the guests!

Happy eating!

Monday, April 2, 2012

Week 14 - Home Baked Ham Pt.1

In my family Easter is a BIG deal. I mean Texas sized, lots of people, party at the house, egg hunts, confetti eggs, eat 3 dozen deviled eggs in an hour big deal. I love it. This is the holiday when my family really shines. You see once upon a time we hosted a couple guys from Zambia that were part of an A Capella choir. So for Easter my mom invited the WHOLE choir over and their host families. At the time that meant about half of our church was over at our house. It was a huge hit of a party (or so I assume because we've had one almost every year since) and the party became a yearly tradition. I was about 4 or 5 at the time so I don't even remember Easter without a party.

This year the torch has been passed and Easter is going to be hosted by my little family! Last year I tried to make a ham. It turned out okay. I wanted to brine it, but much like corned beef ham without saltpeter is well.... gray. It was a bit like a giant pork chop. It tasted fantastic, the glaze was delicious, it was not "ham". I know that to get the precise hammy flavor of the store bought guys you really need a smoker. We are renters. Smokers are expensive and hard to move. That will have to wait a few years. So this year I went on to Amazon and bought some Prague powder #1/instacure #1 (because it's made for curing meats and is close to saltpeter, which is seemingly only sold as stump remover) and we are trying again. If you want to brine a ham here's how to start.

You'll need:
15lb RAW Ham (The only place we can find them is Whole Foods. You ask the guy at the "normal" grocer and they will laugh at you. Then call their boss over. He will also laugh and tell you where the precooked hams are.)
4qts Water in a Pot (I did 4qts because I have a 5qt stock pot)
2 c Salt
4 1/2 c Dark Brown Sugar
1 Tbsp Allspice Berries
1 Tbsp Cloves (I was a little sparing on the cloves because the butcher had already put cloves on the ham)
2 tsp Mustard Seeds
2 Broken Cinnamon Sticks
3-4 Crushed Bay Leaves
~2 tsp Prague Powder (It says on the bag 5 tsp/25lb. I took 5 divided by 25 then multiplied by the weight of my ham. I needed 2 1/3 tsp. I would do maths for exact amounts.)
~4lbs Ice
~6qts Extra Water

In your stock pot combine water, salt, sugar, spices, and Prague powder over high heat. Bring to a boil and stir, stir, stir until everything is dissolved.

In a big ol' container pour a bunch of ice. We took the container of our ice maker and just poured it all into a Rubbermaid storage box. Then pour in your brine and stir until the ice is melted or until you can't see it melting any more. We still had ice left.

It's time to put in your ham. After putting it in cover it completely with water, we needed 6 more quarts. Then put it all in the fridge and let it sit for (preferably) 10 days. If you hit a snag and have to start 6 days before don't worry. It should be okay.

Next week: Baking the ham and making deviled eggs!

Happy eating Easter!