Thursday, May 30, 2013

Pineapple Teriyaki Ham

There is no doubt about it, I am a carnivore.  That's not to say that I don't love vegetables, because I do, but I am definitely a meat-eater.  Having said that, there are a few types that are not my favorite - I'll eat them, but they're not my first choice.  One of those is ham.  It's okay, but not great.  I don't hate it, but would not miss it too much if it weren't around.  I really don't understand it - I adore bacon, so one would think that bacon's much larger cousin, ham, would have me weak in the knees.  Sadly, no. 

My husband, however, loves ham so I make it fairly often.  Most of the time I simply put it in the oven or make scalloped potatoes and ham.  But, when he asked for it this past weekend, I wanted something different.  Something to jazz it up a little.  Something out of the ordinary. 

I can't take all the credit for coming up with this idea.  A few days ago, I saw a recipe for pineapple teriyaki burgers, which really piqued my interest.  They looked amazing!  I haven't had a chance to try them yet, but it got me thinking.  Ham.....pineapple on ham is acceptable.....pineapple teriyaki is a great combination.....pineapple teriyaki ham just might work!

My mother-in-law is, kind of, the resident expert on ham, so I ran the idea past her.  She thought it sounded good, and that was enough for me.  I have to say, it made ham more enjoyable for me.

Here's your Cast of Characters.

2 - 3 Lbs. bone-in ham
20 Oz. can crushed pineapple with juice
1 1/2 Cups good teriyaki sauce (Kikoman does NOT qualify!)
1/4 Cup brown sugar
1/4 Tsp. cayenne pepper

Line a roasting pan with foil.  Warm grill (or oven) to 450 degrees.

In a small mixing bowl, combine pineapple, teriyaki, brown sugar and cayenne pepper; mix well.

Place ham in the roaster and spoon sauce over it, making sure that some of the pineapple sticks to the ham.

Loosely cover with foil.  If grilling, turn off the burner under the ham and maintain a consistent 450 degree indirect heat.  Cook for 1 1/2 hours, basting frequently, and turning the ham so each side can soak up the goodness.  In the last 15 minutes, remove foil.

Let ham rest for about 10 minutes before cutting.  Meanwhile put sauce in a small pan, and bring to a boil, stirring until it reduces and thickens a little.

Pass sauce around to be served over ham slices.


Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Pepper Popper Mac & Cheese

Good grief!  Normally I am not an indecisive person, but I could NOT make up my mind on which recipe to post tonight.  First it was going to be Pineapple Teriyaki Ham or a Quinoa Fruit Pudding.  Then, I decided on the very simple Grilled Avocadoes, which I discovered for the first time yesterday.  But, as my daughter and I walked through the grocery store tonight, and she asked me what I planned for dinner, I came up with Pepper Popper Mac & Cheese.  One taste told me that the other recipes could wait because this one was just too good to sit along the sideline.  It had to be shared immediately!  Really, it demanded to be posted tonight.  Who was I to argue?!

Now, I know that I just shared a similar recipe not that long ago, but I am in the midst of my current obsession:  Pepper Poppers.  Remember a while back when I just couldn't enough Buffalo Chicken recipes?  Yeah, same thing. 

Also, I think I've mentioned before that I don't care for mac & cheese.  Well, processed, pre-packaged mac & cheese, that is.  So, when I say we're having mac & cheese for dinner, my family just knows that I mean a homemade variety.  Thank goodness they are always game to try something new, because they didn't even bat an eye when I told them tonight's idea!

Here's your Cast of Characters.

1 Lb. bacon, cooked and crumbled into large pieces, and divided
2 Tbsp. unsalted butter (not pictured)
3 Heaping tbsp. flour
4 Cups milk
2 Tsp. Lawry's season salt
1/2 Tsp. black pepper
1/2 Tsp. Tony Chacere's Creole seasoning
2 Cups sharp, shredded cheddar cheese, divided
1 Lb. box of shell pasta
1 - 8 Oz. cream cheese
2 Cups shredded pepper jack cheese
1 - 4 Oz. can diced jalapenos

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.  Spray a 9 x 13 pan with nonstick cooking spray.

In a large pot, bring water to a boil and cook shells according to package directions.

Melt butter in a large skillet, over medium heat, and add flour.  Cook and stir constantly for 2 minutes, making a golden roux.

Slowly whisk in milk, making sure to break up any lumps, until creamy.

Add in Lawry's, pepper and creole seasoning, along with 1 1/2 cups cheddar cheese.

Turn to medium-high heat, and whisk until smooth.  Cook until thickened, about 5 minutes, stirring frequently.

In a small mixing bowl, stir together cream cheese, jalapenos and pepper jack cheese.

Once pasta has been drained, put it back in the pot.  Stir in cheese sauce and all but 1/2 cup of bacon, making sure to coat the shells well and disperse bacon evenly.  Pour into prepared 9 x 13 pan.

Use 2 spoons to scoop and scrape cream cheese mixture into little dots all over the shells.  Then, gently press dots into the shell mixture.

Sprinkle remaining cheese, then bacon over the top.

Bake, uncovered, for 20 - 25 minutes, until bubbly, heated through and starting to brown on top.

Serve immediately.

See all the white, creamy parts?  That's the "popper" filling, & what makes the whole dish wonderful!


Thursday, May 23, 2013

Southwest Pork Chops with Cilantro and Roasted Peppers Pesto Sauce

Can this week take any longer to get over?  Seriously, I'm pretty sure that we have somehow packed 30 full days into these past 96 hours.  Don't ask me how.  I was never any good at science or sci-fi theories, I just know that despite being so busy chasing my tail at work, the weekend is still one more day away.  Maybe it's because I am really looking forward to the upcoming 3 day weekend.  Although I have nothing special planned, I am all for having an extra day of rest and relaxation.  Plus, I get more grilling time, which always makes me happy.  Now, it's trying to decide what to have - I saw that both ribs and brisket are on sale this week, or maybe a nice pork loin.  Drat these tough decisions!

In the meantime, I'll share tonight's recipe.  Initially, I wanted a creamy cilantro sauce, but found that I had a measly little teaspoon of sour cream, so it was on to plan B.

Here's your Cast of Characters.

4 Boneless pork chops, about an inch thick
Lawry's seasoning salt
Black pepper
McCormick Perfect Pinch Southwest Sweet 'n Smoky seasoning blend

Cilantro and Roasted Peppers Pesto Sauce

1 Large bunch cilantro
1 Small red bell pepper
1 Jalapeno
1 Poblano pepper
1 Small red onion
2 Garlic cloves
1/2 Cup olive oil
1/2 Tsp., each, Lawry's, kosher salt, pepper, and Southwest seasoning
1/4 Cup lime juice (not pictured)

Preheat heat grill to 400 degrees.  With a meat hammer, pound chops to about 1/2 inch thick.

Turn grill to medium-low, about 325, and add pork chops.  Sprinkle with Lawry's, pepper and southwest seasoning.  Turn chops, as necessary, to cook evenly on both sides.

In a medium bowl, add peppers that have been deveined and seeded, onion and garlic.  Drizzle with a couple of tablespoons of olive oil and toss to evenly coat everything.

(Please excuse the picture quality from this point forward.  The batteries died in my camera, so I had to use my iphone.)

Throw the veggies on one side of the grill, keeping a close eye on them so that they don't burn.

When the skin on the peppers starts to brown and become papery, and the onions and garlic have browned, remove from the grill.

In a food processor, chop cilantro, peppers. onion and garlic.  Add olive oil, lime juice and seasonings.  Process on high speed until all ingredients are fully incorporated. 

Once pork chops are done, turn heat off on their side and down to low on the other side.  Place a generous helping of pesto on each pork chop.  Keep on the grill for a couple of minutes more, until pesto is heated through.


Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Whiskey Glaze

I have been sitting here staring at a blank computer screen for an hour and can't seem to come up with a good way to work into this recipe.  I'm tired - it's only Tuesday, but it's been a long week already, and I keep trying to wrap my brain around the devastation that happened yesterday in Moore, Oklahoma.  So, instead of continuing to struggle, I am just going to tell you, quickly, how this recipe came into being.  I recently saw a commercial for TGI Friday's Jack Daniel's glazed entrees, which my husband and I love.  It made me hungry for something similar.  I looked online and found many copycat recipes, but decided that I didn't want to go the "copycat" route.  Yes, it gave me inspiration, but I wanted my own distinct recipe. 

Here's your Cast of Characters.

1/2 Cup good whiskey (I like Pendleton, but you can use your favorite)
1/2 Cup apricot pineapple preserves
1/8 Cup, each, Worcestershire and soy sauces
1/3 Cup packed brown sugar
1 1/2 Tsp., each, Lawry's season salt, onion powder, garlic powder and beef bouillon granules
1/2 Tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
1 Tsp. Frank's RedHot Sauce

In a medium saucepan, add all ingredients and whisk together.

Turn to high heat and bring to a boil.  Once a full, rolling boil has been achieved, turn to medium-low and simmer for 25 - 30 minutes, or until it has reduced and is slightly thickened.  Stir frequently so it doesn't burn.  Don't cook until it has really thickened because it will end up like glue when it cools!

Use on any grilled meat:  chicken, pork chops, brisket or even burgers, but my favorite is ribs.

Here it is on a nice London Broil.  A little sweet, a little spicy and with a zesty little kick from the whiskey!

The leftovers will keep in a sealed container, in the fridge, for 2 - 3 weeks.


Thursday, May 16, 2013

Grilled Bacon-Wrapped Pepper Poppers

Have I ever mentioned that I love jalapeno pepper poppers?  No?  Well, I do!  They are a particular weakness of mine.  I think that I could eat them every night for dinner and not get tired of them.  So, if regular pepper poppers are good, what could make them better?  Let's the deep-fried crispy crust for bacon and throw it on the grill!  Bingo, we have a winner!  I mean, really, is there anything that bacon doesn't make better?!  Can't think of anything?  No, me either.

I realize that I am not the first one to think of putting bacon on pepper poppers, or even the first one to grill them, but I like to think that these have my own little touch.  I chose not to go with just a cheddar or cream cheese filling, but mixed the two together and added a few other things to create a delicious little treat.

Here's your Cast of Characters.

12 - 14 Large jalapenos
6 - 8 slices of bacon (half of the amount of peppers) - cut in half
1 Cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
1/3 Cup chopped cilantro
1 Tsp. Lawry's season salt
1/2 Tsp. Pepper
1 8 - Oz. tub cream cheese with onions and chives

In a medium mixing bowl, stir together cheeses, cilantro, Lawry's and pepper.

It will smell really good, but try not to eat it straight from the bowl!

Next, take a pepper and slice it length-wise.  Remove seeds and membranes.  You don't want these to be so spicy that you can't taste the filling.

(Sorry the photo is a little blurry.  My daughter was helping me out by taking pictures while my hands were messy.  She's only 12, but usually does a great job.  I think she was just too excited to start eating them that she rushed the photo.)

Spoon filling into each side, being careful not to overfill.

Press the halves together, and wrap with a half-slice of bacon, securing with a toothpick.

Continue with remaining peppers.

Place a large piece of foil on the grill, then heat to between 375 - 400 degrees.  Put peppers on foil, with a little bit of space between them.

Turn frequently to brown bacon evenly and cook the peppers through.  It should take about 10 - 15 minutes.

You want the pepper skins to start browning a little and loosen.  That's when they are perfect!


Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Honey Spice Snack Cake

I am having a hard time believing that school is out in less than 2 weeks!  How can it be so close to Summer Vacation when Spring has just arrived in my neck of the woods?  But, if I needed further proof that school is coming to a close, I will get it tomorrow.  It is my son's State Fair in his classroom.  At the beginning of the year, each student was asked to choose a state and learn about it all year.  Throughout, they have had to gather facts, keep notes and try to collect anything they can from that state, in order to put together a short power point presentation, as well as a table that visitors can check out.  The teacher also allows them to bring some foods to share, if it comes from their state.

I was so pleased to find out that Tanner chose Missouri, where I grew up and most of my family still live, as his state.  I have also been slightly embarrassed to find out that he has learned more bits of trivia about my state, in just one short year, than I did in 17 years of living there.  However, I was able to dig up one fact that he didn't - in 1889, Aunt Jemima pancake flour, invented at St. Joseph, Missouri, was the first self-rising flour for pancakes and the first ready-mix food ever to be introduced commercially.  So, what was I doing today?  Buying a box of Aunt Jemima pancake mix and trying to figure out a snack to make from it.  Luckily for me, there was a recipe on the back of the box for a spice cake.  I just needed to amp it up a bit, adding more than just cinnamon as the lone spice in a spice cake, and a few other tweaks.

Here's your Cast of Characters.

2 Cups Aunt Jemima Buttermilk Complete Pancake and Waffle Mix
2 Tsps. cinnamon
1/2 Tsp., each, nutmeg and dried orange peel
1/4 Tsp., each, ground cloves, allspice and ginger
1/4 Cup honey
1/2 Cup melted butter
2/3 Cup milk
2 Eggs

Preheat oven to 350.  Grease a 9 x 13 cake pan VERY well with non-stick cooking spray.

In a large bowl, whisk together dry ingredients.

Add wet ingredients and whisk until all the large lumps are gone.  A few small ones are okay, though.

Spread into prepared cake pan.

Bake 16 - 18 minutes, or until toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Cool in pan for 5 minutes, before turning out onto wax paper.

While the cake is cooling, mix 1/3 cup powdered sugar with 1 tsp. cinnamon.  When cake is on wax paper, use either a sifter or a small sieve to dust cake with powdered sugar mixture.

Let cool completely before cutting and serving.  I cut into small, pop-able bites, to serve more people.