Christmas 2011

Christmas this year, though not surrounded by the hustle and bustle of my crazy family, was still centered around the food. As it should be. Even though it was only me and my hunny, I still went all out to try and bring in the feeling of being home. I made ham, and green bean casserole, garlic mashed potatoes, a salad, cornbread, and macaroni salad (even if we did forget to eat that). Oh yeah, and used my new Cuisinart Toaster Oven (Thanks Mom in Law!) for an apple pie.

For these big holiday meals, I’ve found that I should have paid more attention to my Mom when she was cooking, because I have called her a lot knowing what I want to make and not having any idea how to do it. Here’s the lowdown on ham:

Buy a ham. (obviously – don’t want to insult your intelligence here, but just stick with me…) Don’t buy the smoked ones, or the spiral cut ones. Buy the one that your instinct tells you is going to be way too much of a pain to cook. It will have one side that is flat and the other will have a big bone in it. It tends to be sitting in a center aisle freezer in your grocery store.

If you don’t already have them on hand, you’ll need whole cloves, dark brown sugar, a jar of maraschino cherries, and a 14 oz can of sliced pineapple (the rings). Oh, and some toothpicks.

So, to put it all together. Take the ham, put it in a big pan (I’m running the risk of rhyming here…) flat side down, and make slices into the ham, creating little squares, just through the fat. In the corners of these squares, put the pointy side of the cloves. After you’ve done that, take the pineapple rings, and using the toothpicks, pin them around the ham. They don’t have to cover it, but they work to flavor the ham and help keep it moist. And then, take the maraschino cherries and pin them into the center of the rings. Finally, take the brown sugar and rub it into the exposed parts of the ham. It creates a yummy glaze.

Once this is all done, cover the pan with foil, and stick it in the oven at 350 for one hour. At the hour mark, take the foil off, and leave it in the oven for another 30 minutes. The fatty part of the ham should be crispy and pulling away from the ham, your cloves will be falling out. Those crunchy skin pieces? They’re the best part.

So, how ’bout a leftovers recipe? Of course you can make some yummy ham sandwiches…but what about Mac and Cheese with ham and broccoli? Doesn’t that sound so much better? I used the recipe from Macaroni and Cheesecake, in which she cooks the noodles in the milk and then adds the spices and cheese. I changed it up a little bit though, I added ham and broccoli which I sauteed in some olive oil with onions, and I also did a half and half mixture of milk and heavy cream. I’m thinking she was right about the milk though – the cream is too thick, and I had to add a lot more milk at the end. From previous experimentations, I have found that gruyere and cheddar cheese taste really good together, so I did that too. You all should try it! It makes pretty tasty leftovers too…

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Christmas Cookies

This past week, I went south of my little town to hang out with a girlfriend of mine. The initial instinct was to do some crafty beading projects as part of an upcoming endeavor of ours, but when I got there we had some other things to take care of first. Like decorating Christmas cookies.

This holiday season hasn’t been the greatest for me, because it’s the first one that I’m away from home. It’s been very difficult. It was nice to be able to go down there and hang out with someone familiar and get out of the house for a little while though.

My Music City friend had made a very large batch of sugar cookies and used her ginormous box of cookie cutters to make different festive shapes. Then she proceeded to make an even bigger batch of frosting that begged for coloring. Do you realize how hard it is to make brown frosting?? But we got it done, because gingerbread men and teddy bears can’t be anything but. And somehow managed to come up with a sparkly silver frosting in the process.

I think our little visit was good for both of us. Even though she gets to go home with her new hubby, we are both accustomed to being home and making sugar cookies with our families. New traditions in a new place though. If you can’t tell, I’m very thankful to have someone I know near by. I love my hunny, but I can’t stay cooped up in this cute little house all the time.

Looking at these photos… We made a lot of cookies!! Thankfully she was taking them home with her to pass out to some friends and family too.

 

 

Christmas

Though Christmas has been over for a week – I hadn’t gotten the chance to post some awesome creations. Now given, I didn’t have but a small part in either of these, but they’re so cool!

Santa bread! Dad made it, from scratch. It’s a little creepy, but it was so good! It made such good sandwiches and spreading some cheese on it was scrumptious.

“Chooo Choooo!!” This was the cutest, coolest thing ever. They’re little individualized cakes that came out a mold, and then topped with about a pound of colorful frosting each. I don’t normally cake, and I really don’t like frosting, but I was licking my fingers during the decoration period. And that tree?? The green part anyway – all me 🙂 No one actually had a piece of the cakes, which was highly disappointing, but they were fun to look at!

Up and coming

Things have been so crazy in my life lately, that it really has been almost a month since I spent any time in the kitchen. I just recently made a couple comfort meals (that I’ve already posted here previously!) to get back in my groove, and I changed my availability so that I have nights where I can cook.

So reading some posts off other cooking blogs (see my “what I’m reading” sidebar!), and realizing that fall really has rolled around, I’m kind of excited to make some stuff that reminds me of home. I’m kind of making my own place in this big world now that I’m not in school anymore, and it’s just recently started to hit me. It’s time to make toasted pumpkin seeds and pumpkin bread, maybe even zucchini bread, just like mom does.

And soon, winter will be here, the time for eating too much good stuff! I wonder if I’ll actually be able to help out with that fun process instead of just enjoying it all. I never thought of my family as the “traditional” type, but in reality, when I take a step back ,there are so many more traditions that we have than I ever imagined.

Some of them:

Making patisa bread, pecan pie, and sugar cookies at Christmas.

Making pumpkin pie and deep fried turkey at Thanksgiving.

Spending time together, because that was the only thing that could bring us all together for more than a crazy weekend – the holidays.

Dressing up in warm clothes and hanging out playing cards and cranium.

I can’t wait. This is my favorite part of the year, because I’ve always been attached to having family around, and I miss them.