Thursday, March 31, 2016

Slow Cooker French Brown Sugar Ham

As I mentioned on Sunday, we did not celebrate Easter this year, and by that, I meant that we neither hosted nor attended any type of culinary gathering. This did not mean, however, that good and traditional food was lacking. I am not one to let any type of special day pass without celebrating it in a traditional way, no matter how small.

This year I baked a half of a boneless ham, served it with
Potatoes au Gratin with Chanterelles, and broiled tomatoes topped with fresh basil from the Aerogarden. This was the easiest meal ever, and the ham was sublime! It was juicy, flavorful, delicious, and crockpot easy, in what is rapidly becoming one of my favorite cooking utensils.

Because my ham was small (about four and a half pounds), it fit nicely into my medium-sized crockpot. I put about a cup of dark brown sugar into the bottom of the crockpot, slathered two tablespoons of Dijon mustard onto the cut side of the ham.  Placed the mustard-y cut side down into the brown sugar, and cooked it on low for four hours. After the four hours, I turned off the crockpot and just let the ham hang out there for another thirty minutes before removing and slicing it. After slicing, I drizzled it with some of the sauce that was left in the bottom – sumptuous! This is my new favorite way to make ham, and it couldn't be easier. It made fabulous sandwiches the next day, and this week what remained will be used to make
Crunchy Ham Casserole and Open Faced Ham Sandwiches.
Because of the Dijon, I just had to call this –

Slow Cooker French Brown Sugar Ham

1 4-pound boneless ham
1 cup dark brown sugar
2 Tablespoons good Dijon mustard

Spray bottom and side of crock with vegetable spray. Sprinkle brown sugar over the bottom of the crock to cover. Unwrap ham, removing any mesh, and generously coat the cut side with Dijon mustard. Place the ham into the crockpot, mustard side down, top with lid, and cook on low for 4 hours. Turn off crockpot and allow ham to rest for 30 minutes before removing and slicing. Serve drizzled with warm juices.

This post is linked to:

Monday, March 28, 2016

Slow Cooker Thai Pork with Peanut Sauce

I love Thai food, particularly peanut sauce, so when I spotted this recipe on the National Pork Board website (and where else might one find a really good recipe for using pork than on the site of the National Board?) I had to make it. But, here's the thing, I did not have a pork loin roast, but a pork tenderloin. (Personally, I'm not crazy about pork roasts because I find they tend to be a bit dry, but I'm wandering.) So, I made the recipe as directed except for the substitution of the more tender cut of meat. What this substitution did was cause the meat to be so fork tender as to fall apart, rather than remain in chunks as it was supposed to. Essentially, then, what I really did was make a Thai version of pulled pork. No matter. It was delicious! Very spicy, very tender, full of flavor, and crockpot simple. Below is the Board's recipe. You can follow it, or take a walk on the wild side and try it with tenderloin. Either way, this recipe is a winner.
Slow Cooker Thai Pork with Peanut Sauce

2 pound pork loin roast, boneless, trimmed and cut into 4 pieces
1/2 cup Asian sweet chili sauce (I used hot chili sauce)
2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons rice vinegar
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/3 cup creamy peanut butter
2-3 cups rice, steamed
1/2 cup chopped scallions, for garnish
1/2 cup chopped dry roasted peanuts, for garnish

Coat the slow cooker with nonstick Olive Oil cooking spray. Place the pork, chili sauce, soy sauce, rice vinegar and garlic in the cooker. Cover and cook on LOW 8 Hours or until the pork is fork-tender. Remove the pork from the cooker and coarsely dice. Add the peanut butter to the sauce in the pan and stir well to dissolve it. Return the pork to the sauce and toss to coat evenly.

Serve in shallow bowls over rice, and garnish each serving with some of the green onions and peanuts. ENJOY!!

Serves 4
This post is linked to:

Sunday, March 27, 2016

Blue & Yellow Easter Tablescape

We won’t be celebrating Easter this yearlong storybut that doesn’t mean that I don’t enjoy having a pretty spring table to enjoy all by myself. In fact (and my guess is that I’m not alone here), sometimes it’s nice to have a table all to yourself so you don’t have to explain your “form over function” self to your “function over form” husband. Case in point: yes I did match the candy to the table setting. Actually, if truth be told, the candy came first, and the table came second.
This apple did not fall far from the tree. My mother used to match Jelly Belly jelly beans to her living room decor. I am not kidding. Actually, we sampled a lot of tasty jelly beans during her decorating tenure, and it was always interesting to see which flavor each new season would bring.
This table started with the little silver wagon. It was something that my late sister-in-law gave me years ago, claiming it was a wine cart. I love all sorts of tableware, but couldn’t imagine when I would ever serve two different bottles of wine during one meal, or that I would trust such a small cart to carry them. When I recently unboxed it, I saw that it had glass inserts and thought this would be perfect for holding chocolate Easter eggs.
The darling little chick salt and pepper shakers belonged to my mother. I didn‘t even realize that she had these until a couple of weeks ago when dad and I were digging around looking for something else and stumbled upon these.

Between the yellow chicks and the blue foil-wrapped eggs, my colors were set, so I pulled out my favorite yellow chalices and Nikko “Tea Rose” dinnerware, paring it with nubby-edged plates from Pier One.
Last week’s vase remains at center stage here, only this week with complementary blue hydrangeas in place of the room-scenting lilies that I was sorry to see go.
I hope you’ll be dining at a table as lovely as this one.

Happy Easter, everyone!

This post is linked to: