Sunday, November 13, 2011

Homemade ham aka Coke Au Vin ham!! So yummy!!!

*Please excuse the horrible pictures. My digital camera battery is dead and I used my cell. It's also hard to find a good angle to photograph a large ham in a silver roasting pan*

Homemade ham. 2 of my favorite words put together in English language. When I was little my mom would make "homemade ham." Perfectly sweet and moist and . . . well just perfect. Most people look forward to Thanksgiving dinner- me? I looooove Christmas dinner because we have ham. Well Christmas came early this year- I decided to make my first ham. It was AMAZING. My mom came over today, tried it and proudly stated "this tastes like Mom's (my grandma)!!" My heart soared- tasting like Grandma's on my first try? I can't get my meatloaf to taste like her's at all WITH her recipe but I can make her ham without even trying? Oh the irony.

This recipe is technically called "Coke Au Vin ham." This is a very simple recipe- only 5 ingredients. You do need to baste it every 30 minutes or so but it's totally worth it. Here goes:

1 half shank smoked ham (the cheap kind!!)
3 cups Coke
1 cup Marsala cooking wine (found near red wine vinegar)
1/4 cup dijon mustard
1/2 cup brown sugar

Preheat oven to 350.
Score ham 1/4" deep, a few inches apart in 5-6 places
Place ham in roasting pan. Pour coke and wine over ham.
Bake 2-3 hours on the bottom rack (mine took around 2 and weighed almost 8 lbs. Check with a meat thermometer- it should be between 120 and 130 degrees. Stay away from the bone)
Baste every 30 minutes. (I don't own a baster so I just used a coffee cup to scoop up the juices and pour over.
Cover lightly with foil for the last hour to prevent dark browning too soon)
Mix brown sugar and mustard.
Remove ham from oven. Turn oven up to 450.
Brush brown sugar and mustard generously over the ham.
Return to the top rack of the oven and bake for 15 minutes.

Mike is the one who cut up the ham so I don't have directions for how to do that BUT if you google it, it's easy to find detailed instructions. He just kind of winged it.

Gravy: I made a gravy with the left over drippings in the bottom. Simply place in a skillet on high, bring to a boil and add 2 tablespoons of butter. Stir. Turn down and let reduce and thicken slightly. Absolutely yummy :)

Lastly: My 2 latest cakes (both Thomas the Train)

Monday, October 10, 2011

Brown Sugar and Balsamic Glazed Pork Tenderloin . . . amazing and super easy!! Crock pot dinner! Also 2 cakes . . .

*Photo and recipe courtesy of C+C Marriage Factory because my camera battery is permanently dead*

This happened recently. It was amazing. Beyond amazing. And super easy. What more can a girl ask for? Mike loved it and requested I triple the recipe next time. This is a great weeknight dinner because it is so easy to make but it tastes so amazing that it would be great for a holiday dinner as well. Next time I cook for my family this is what they are getting (you hear that Mom?)

What is it you ask? Brown Sugar and Balsamic Glazed Pork Tenderloin. I'm obsessed with cooking pork tenderloins in the crock pot right now. There's literally no end to what you can do with them and in the crock pot they literally just fall apart after a few hours. Here's the recipe to my latest discovery. *side note* (I'm not sure what the tenderloin size was- 1 to 2 lbs definitely- you want a long and skinny one. I get mine at Aldi. They have original, teriyaki and peppercorn. They are all great. You want the original for this recipe)

1 pork tenderloin
1 tsp Italian Seasonings (the original recipe called for Sage. I didn't have Sage but assumed (hoped) it might be in my Italian Seasonings. It worked great)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1 clove garlic, crushed and minced
1/2 cup water

1/2 cup brown sugar
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1/2 cup water
2 tablespoons soy sauce

1- Combine Italian seasonings, salt, pepper and garlic in a small bowl. Rub over the tenderloin. Get messy. Have fun. Place in crock pot with 1/2 cup of water. Turn on low. Set timer for 5-6 hours. Put the lid on and walk away. Seriously. Leave it alone and let it work it's magic.

2- About an hour before it's done combine ingredients for the glaze in a small sauce pan. Heat and stir on medium high until the mixture thickens. Make sure you stir. Don't walk away. It will stick and it will bubble and overflow. Be patient. It doesn't take very long.

3- Brush tenderloin with glaze several times for the next hour.

4- Shred. Drizzle with glaze after plating. Enjoy!!

So easy. SOOO EASY.

I know I haven't been writing much lately BUT I really am going to make an extra effort to blog more. I have several friends who ask me for recipes on a frequent basis so I'm going to try to start focusing on easy but amazing tasting recipes. Lately I've been doing a lot of crock pot recipes so look forward to seeing many of those as well.

On a different note- here's a few cakes I've made lately.

*L's 8th birthday cake . . . Super Mario big man mushroom

baby shower cake "Cute as a Button"

Monday, July 4, 2011

My week in pictures . . . confetti cake cookies, muffins and jams, fascinators

Hello. I hope you're enjoying your summer- I just realized I can't use an exclamation point on this keyboard anymore :( I love exclamation points- what am I going to do? Luckily this is more of a picture blog today- My last week in pictures :)

L and I made these wonderful cookies: Confetti cake cookies. I can't remember exactly how to make them- it's on the side of a confetti cake box. You mix, roll into balls and then flatten with the bottom of a glass (we used a shot glass) dipped in sugfar. Cook for like ten minutes, slightly cool and then ice. L choose yellow. They were super soft, super yummy, super easy, and super cheap (insert exclamation point here.) He loved them (take note of tiny spot of icing beside his mouth- haha)

We took a drive one night and the sky went from this:

to this:

to this: It was absolutely beautiful, especially considering it looked like it was going to really really storm for a while.

I've cooking with berries a lot in the past few weeks. I made blackberry ice cream for Father's day, (it was okay- a little too soft) blackberry muffins (delicious) and blackberry and strawberry jams. (cook your berries down with sugar and the juice from one lemon- delicious)

Saturday was the bridal shower of Amber, one of my oldest friends. The theme was "glamtastic" and we were all supposed to wear a hat and heels. I chose to wear a fascinator. It was awesome.
Why is that only a British thing? *sigh*

Okay I'm off to enjoy my 4th of July- last night we went to the lake and watched the fireworks- they were so amazing (much better than they will be tonight- I'm pretty sure the firefighters put on the show here so you can imagine the difference between pros and not) Hope everyone enjoys their holiday :)

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Challah (Braided) bread! My birthday Part1!

I made fancy bread again! Yesterday at school we were reading about braided bread and my students seemed really interested (amazed even) at the pictures. I decided to make some and take it to school today. They loved it. They begged for seconds. I was shocked (in my experience most kids are weary of trying new food) Even the one I thought would refuse to try it loved it . . . "this is the best bread ever!!" shouted from across the room. According to them it looked like a "giant pretzel." I'll have to remember this next year!

Here's the recipe for a bread machine . . .

(The dough turned out much tougher than I anticipated. I didn't think the bread was going to actually turn out at all. I was pleasantly surprised.)

Challah (braided) Bread

3/4 cup plus 1 Tbsp water
1 egg
2 Tbsp butter softened
3 1/4 cups Bread flour
2 tbsp sugar
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp bread machine yeast

1 egg yolk
2 tbsp water
Sesame Seeds

1. Add ingredients in order to the bread machine. Make a well in the middle for the yeast. Run dough cycle.
2. Remove the dough from the pan and let rest on a lightly floured surface. Cover for ten minutes. Grease a large cookie sheet.
3. Divide dough into 3 even sections. Roll each third into a long thin rope (13") and braid the ropes onto the cookie sheet. (google it and you can see detailed pictures) Pinch and tuck ends under.
4. Cover with greased saran wrap and let rise in a warm place for 45 minutes or until double in size.
5. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
6. Mix egg yolk and water. Brush onto bread. Sprinkle with sesame seeds.
7. Bake for 25 minutes or until golden brown. (I did 25 minutes and mine came out a bit darker than I wanted so watch it)

This bread is beautiful, fun and pretty easy to make. It does take a while but most breads do. It's totally worth it trust me!!

My birthday was fun! We went to the casino and walked around the West Baden Springs Hotel. It was built in 1902 and was known for it's "healing" mineral waters aka stinky sulfur water. At the boat we both won playing roulette on my birthday number!! It was a good day- I even found a great pair of boots for 8 bucks!

Part II of my birthday coming soon . . . martini glass cakes made by my mom, wii fit and more!!

Have a great day!! ~Jenn

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Day 3! Spinach and Tomato Pasta Bake! Elizabeth Taylor!

I missed day 2. Oops. Actually I skipped it. Day 2 called for "a picture of you and someone you have been closest to the longest" . . . I don't have any qualifying pictures on my computer and no access to a scanner until work next week. Oh well.

Day 3: A picture of the cast from your favorite show.

My So-Called Life. Obviously. I was like 12 when this show came on and it changed my life. I immediately dyed my hair reddish purple and embraced all that was flannel and grunge. I also thank it for my love of gay boys and wild friends. Don't even get me started on Jordan Catalano and how many guys I've briefly dated because they resemble him and have long hair in their eyes. Sigh. I still love it. Thanks to my wonderful Mom (who I think actually introduced me to the show) I own the one and only season (boo) on DVD and love to spend a day off torturing Mike and watching it.

Moving on: We have been trying to eat healthier in our house. I recently created this fabulous pasta salad and wanted to share. It's super yummy, super easy and vegetarian friendly!!

Spinach Tomato Pasta Bake (pictured above)

-Baby Spinach leaves (I usually use half a bag and de-stem them)
-1 can of Roasted Onion and Garlic diced tomatoes (14.5 oz by Red Gold undrained)
-1/2 can of tomato paste (smallest can you can find- I sometimes just use a bit of tomato sauce)
-1/2 can of water (I use diced tomato can)
-2 cups rotini (I use tri-color because it makes it pretty! but whole wheat would be great!)
-3/4 cup shredded mozzarella
-2 Tbsps grated Parm

1-Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
2-Cook rotini per instructions on box. Drain.
3- In a skillet add tomatoes, water and spinach leaves. Stir and cook on medium heat. Cover and let spinach wilt down. Add water.
3- In a glass pan, pour rotini. Add spinach and tomato mixture. Stir. Add paste or sauce just to wet the noodles a bit. NOT A LOT. (a Tablespoon or two will do) This is not a saucy dish.
4- Add mozzarella and parmesan to the top.

Bake for 10-15 minutes or until cheese is melted. Enjoy!! We love this dish! You could easily add meat to it but I think it's great without it! You can also make it healthier by reducing the cheese. Fresh tomatoes probably wouldn't work as well because you really need the sauce and water in the can. Super easy and so pretty!!

Hope everyone is enjoying their day! It was so nice out yesterday (except for about 15 minutes of rain and a 30 freak hail storm) but today it is cold and spitting snow. Boo! Looks like it's going to be cold on my birthday tomorrow :(

PS- Was sad to hear about Elizabeth Taylor yesterday. She was so beautiful and talented and I believe she was the last of the great movie stars. I like to imagine that Richard was waiting for her and they are happy together now :)

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

100 day challenge!! Happy Anniversary! Stonewall Kitchen!!

Happy Spring Break :) Mike and I celebrated our 3 year anniversary last Wednesday. He made a picnic for us and we went to the lake. It was a beautiful day and we had fun. This week I'm on Spring Break and my birthday is Friday. I'll be 28- how the hell did that happen? I feel 30 creeping around the corner and I do not like it! How can I be this old??

Sunday we spent the day in Bloomington, walking around Kirkwood and the square. It made me miss college. We ate at Trojan Horse- they have yummy chicken gumbo (who knew?) We also bought this super yummy sauce by Stonewall Kitchen- Vidalia Onion Fig Sauce. It's slightly sweet and even though I'm not a big fan of onions, I love this sauce! They have several more I'm looking forward to trying!

In an attempt to motivate myself to write more often I'm starting the 100 day photo challenge.

Day 1: A picture of yourself (see above) with 15 facts about myself.

1.) I was on "Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego" in the 5th grade.
2.) I stopped drinking soda 2 weeks ago and I feel great. I let myself have 1 a day and most times I don't even finish it. If you know me you know this is a big deal. (soda addict anyone?)
3.) I answer to Ms. Flynn, Potato and Flip-Flop Flynn at school. Long Story.
4.) I dream of moving to New Orleans. I don't exactly know why. I just want to.
5.) I love crossword puzzles but only the ones in Sundays paper.
6.) I don't like basketball. I know I know- I'm from Indiana. I don't care.
7.) I won 200 dollars on a 5 dollar lottery ticket once. I haven't been lucky since.
8.) I want to live in a cottage with a huge garden. I blame the Secret Garden.
9.) I'm waiting for grunge to be popular again so I can break out my flannel shirts.
10.) Almost Famous and Across the Universe are my favorite movies.
11.) I miss my college friends. A Lot. There's no one like them here.
12.) I have to go to grad school and I don't want to.
13.) I would like to write childrens books someday.
14.) I'm afraid to have children. Not like actually having them or raising them- just to bring them into this world. It's not a very nice place and it's only getting worse.
15.) I fell out of the car once when I was like 10. I thought Mom was fully stopped and she wasn't and I just kind of rolled out. She still denies this happened btw.

Enjoy your day- I'm spending mine with Gismo (my brother's dog) . . . hoping the rain stays away!! :)

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Jenn's chili!! Pineapple Upside down cake!!

Is anyone else over winter? I am. We had 3 days of sunshine and then it turned cold and rainy and I'm pretty sure I saw some light snow flakes earlier. Yuck. I am ready for sunshine and warmth!!

Now that winters ending I've finally perfected my chili recipe (well I think so- last time my noodles got soggy but I'm pretty sure that was my fault- I left the crockpot on warm too long- oops!) I'm not a big chili person- until this winter I'd actually never made it. Mike loves it (super spicy, super runny and no noodles) I prefer it mildly spicy, thick and with noodles. I think I've found a compromise. This chili is spicy (super spicy day 2), slightly runny but has noodles. It seems to make both of us happy and on day 2 I just add crackers to lessen the spice. This feeds us for days and is usually given away to family members as well so plenty for a family of 4 or 5!! Here goes:

Jenn's Chili

Step 1:
1lb beef (cooked and drained)
5 garlic cloves, minced
1 c onion minced
1 tsp chili powder
1 tsp Oregano
1 tsp Italian Seasoning

Add garlic, onion and seasonings to beef in skillet. Mix and cook for 2-3 minutes.

Step 2:
1 can crushed tomatoes (22 ounce? I think- whatever the big one is)
2 cans diced tomatoes (I've been using Red Gold's Roasted garlic and onions 14.5 ounce cans)
1/2 c sugar
2 tsp paprika
1 tsp chipolte powder
1 tsp cinnamon
3 tsp tabasco sauce
2 cups water
1/2 c red wine vinegar
1TBsp Worcestershire sauce

Add to crock pot. Add meat mixture. Stir. Cook on low for 4-6 hours. Enjoy the wonderful smell that fills your house. Your welcome.

Step 3:
Cook 1 and 1/2 cup macaroni. Add to crockpot with 45 minutes left to cook.

Super creepy picture of the boys playing with glow swords from the Dollar Tree . . . best 3 dollars I ever spent. Mine was purple.

I've been cooking like crazy lately- we are trying to eat at home a lot. In the past month we've had meatball subs (my new favorite thing to make), Spinach and Prosciutto lasagna rolls (my signature dish), bbq ribs (they never turn out like Moms- what am I doing wrong!?), and TGIFriday's Sesame chicken strips with Jack Daniels sauce (homemade- soo good but a definite high maintenance recipe- will post soon) I also made a pineapple upside down cake and found out the answer to the question- can you make a cake with bread flour? (Answer: Yes but it is extremely dense- actually worked really well with pineapple but probably not for a normal cake)

Parenthood's on so I'm off- If you haven't watched this show, you should! It's so good!!

Have a great week!! ;) ~Jenn