Tag Archives: Costco

Easter Dinner

uu easter fb

Now, I don’t eat ham…I don’t like the texture (although I’ve always had a hard time explaining why), but I grew up in a family who usually did the traditional “Easter Ham” & I have a husband who gets pretty excited about about it as well. For me, Easter is about spring, egg hunts, flowers…chocolate-covered marshmallow bunnies (I’m not gonna lie!), and activities with the kids! I love dying eggs and watching their faces when they discover their baskets in the morning. Even my 17 yr old is excited to discover the T-shirt or comic book hiding among the eggs & treats in his basket (Mommy bunny always puts some non-edibles in the basket as well). Many years ago my mother started making a particular ham recipe that became a family classic. It is now the only one that is asked for in my home, my siblings’ homes, my in-laws have shared it with friends, my husband has been emailing around work…I figured the “cat’s out of the bag” I may as well share it with you all.


Our Easter Dinner consists of Mom’s Coke Ham, Scalloped Potatoes, & a Vegetable, this year I made Garlic Roasted Asparagus. We round it out with my Pineapple Upside-down Cake.

Ham thick side down in pot

Start by placing your Shank Half/Bone-in Ham, thick side down, into a pot on the stove top. Pour 2-liter of Coca-Cola Classic to cover entire Ham, use more if needed (cannot be diet, off-brand, or Pepsi or it doesn’t work the same). Cover with lid, bring to boil then simmer for at least 2 hours.

pour coke over ham

While the Ham is simmering in Coke, it’s a good time to use the oven to prepare the cake or other dessert. I’ve always been a fan of Pineapple Upside-down Cake. I try to do a lot of things from scratch, but given that I’m in the kitchen all day on the holidays anyway having a couple of cheats I think is alright! I use Duncan Hines Pineapple Supreme. If you look on the side of the box there is a skillet recipe; you do need to have a 12+ inch skillet that has an oven safe handle, but it is SO worth it! I’ll paste the link to the recipe on their website below along with the pic of my finished cake. This is my “go to” recipe! I love it. #duncanhinespineappleupsidedowncake

finish with your favorite Easter dessert. Ours is pineapple upside down cake

http://www.duncanhines.com/recipes/cakes/Duncan%20Hines%C2%AE/pineapple-upside-down-cake/

sprinkle with cloves, brown sugar, and molasses to taste

Now that your Ham has been cooking for 2-3 hours while you got your cake baked & out of the way…Pour the Ham & Coke into a strainer in the sink (be careful, the hot Coke-Cola is sticky & will burn badly if it splashes onto your face). Trim off fat. You can choose to leave the Ham whole or cut it off of the bone in chunks like I do (as pictured). If you leave it whole you must score it well to ensure that the flavors get through it. [I prefer it “chunked” for a couple of reasons. I think that it allows the pieces to all get good & crispy in the oven as well as making sure that the flavor gets all over them.] Sprinkle with cloves, brown sugar, & drizzle with molasses (to taste). Set aside.

Here’s one more “cheat” that I do…I admit that I haven’t yet successfully been able to make homemade, all from scratch, cheesy scalloped potatoes…so sad.  They are always either too greasy, the potatoes are too firm, or the sauce isn’t creamy enough for my liking, as I’m a perfectionist about such things…so, I cheat. I get boxed scalloped potatoes & I embellish them & jazz them up! For our family of 5, I usually use 2 boxes. I always use the “oven method” on the box. Follow all of the steps up to stirring in the potatoes…STOP! Add a small handful of shredded sharp cheddar (I get Tillamook extra sharp white cheddar, it’s awesome & a great price at Costco)  & 1 bunch (just shy of a cup chopped) green onion. Stir it up good then add the potatoes. Sprinkle a little more cheddar on the top (to get that nice crispy goodness) then bake as directed.  So much better than straight outta the box!

if you're gonna cheat, they're SO much better

While the potatoes are in the oven, clean asparagus under cool water. (To remove woody ends from the asparagus, gently bend the end of each spear until it snaps naturally.) Lay on a paper towel & pat dry as you can, you don’t want them to steam in the oven.

once dry spread single layer drizzle generously with olive oil then sprinkle with sea salt, fresh ground pepper, and garlic

Next, spread the asparagus out in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet. Drizzle generously with olive oil and sprinkle with sea or kosher salt, fresh ground pepper, & garlic (I use a little garlic mill, but you can use granulated as well). Finally, pop in the preheated 425-degree oven & roast the asparagus for about 10 minutes. The secret is for the oven to be very hot without the veggies getting overcooked & wimpy.

finished asparagus

Now that the asparagus is done, crank the oven temp up as hot as it will go (ours goes up to 550) & throw the ham in for 10 min (15 min if you left it whole), then rearrange the pieces, sprinkle more cloves, brown sugar, drizzle more molasses, & turn on the broiler on high. Set the timer for 7 minutes & go get the table set. (The broiler gets it good & crispy around the edges.)

after 10 minutes rotate sprinkle again cook another 10 repeat sprinkling again then broil on low for 5 if you want extra crispy

Dinner is done!

Dinner is served!


Coke Ham

  • 1  Shank Half/Bone-In Ham
  • 1  2 Liter Bottle Original Coke-Cola
  • Brown Sugar
  • Molasses
  • Cloves

Place Ham, thick side down, into pot on top of stove. Pour Coke-Cola over ham. Cover with lid, bring to boil. Simmer for 2-3 hours. When 2-3 hours have passed: Heat oven as hot as it will go (probably 550); Pour ham and Coke-Cola into strainer in sink; Transfer ham to an oven proof pan (either the entire ham or cut from bone & place in pan, but either way trim fat first; if whole ham in dish you must score it by cutting slashes all over it so the next ingredients will seep down inside); Sprinkle with cloves, brown sugar, & molasses (to taste); Put in oven for 15 minutes (If you cut the ham from the bone, you’ll need to cook 10 minutes in the oven then rotate pieces, add more cloves, brown sugar, & molasses, then cook another 7 minutes on broil to crisp it up.


Garlic Roasted Asparagus

  • 1 bunch Asparagus
  • 4-5 Tbsp Olive Oil
  • Kosher Salt or Sea Salt, to Taste
  • Fresh Ground Pepper, to Taste
  • Ground Garlic, to Taste

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Clean asparagus under cool water. Remove woody ends from the asparagus by gently bending the end of each spear until it snaps naturally. Lay on a paper towel & pat dry as you can (you don’t want them to steam in the oven).  Next, spread the asparagus out in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet. Drizzle generously with olive oil and sprinkle with sea or kosher salt, fresh ground pepper, & garlic (I use a little garlic mill, but you can use granulated as well). Finally, pop in the preheated oven & roast the asparagus for about 10 minutes. The secret is for the oven to be very hot without the veggies getting overcooked & wimpy.


Advertisements

Zesty Taco Soup

Clearly we are in need of a little spice during this super chilly winter season. For those of you who don’t know….the high for today in my neck of the woods (Flathead Valley, Montana) is around 1 degree (not including any wind chill factors). This varies greatly from town to town. School was canceled today for my friends, just south about 17 miles because it was so windy that the cold was unbearable this morning.

Yesterday I posted a lovely, cheesy Mexican casserole & today for dinner, as requested by my 12 year old so, I’m making a crock pot full of my Zesty Taco Soup. This recipe was developed last fall when I started pulling things out to prepare my sister’s Chicken Tortilla Soup, then realized that I had no chicken breasts…or thighs (my backup)…only ground turkey. I looked at the recipe, compared it to my Turkey Chili recipe, made a few notes & tweaks & there we were!

*I will warn you by saying that I am a crock pot addict. I am a busy gal who never has enough time for anything, AND I love to cook. The crock pot has saved my life! It allows me to prepare homemade soups, sauces, casseroles, even some desserts on days when I just wouldn’t otherwise have the time. If you don’t have one get one. And please don’t waste your time or money on a cute little one that barely fits a couple cans of soup in it. Seriously, what are you going to make in there anyway? Spend a little more & buy the big one. Even if you live alone, & here’s why…most crock pot recipes are made for the big pots (& if they’re not, it’s easier to multiply a recipe than divide a recipe!). Make more & freeze it or can it, or give it away. Especially if it’s soup or sauce! Soups & sauces freeze & reheat REALLY well. You just need to pour it into smaller containers so that it cools quickly, then put it into labeled freezer bags with the date on it. Most stuff you can keep in the freezer for a year, sometimes more. Look it up online if you’re unsure. Stepping off of my soapbox now…*     

Onto the yummies…

1 package Ground Turkey          1 can Black Beans          1 can Kidney Beans          1 can White Beans              2 cans diced Green Chilies                1 can diced tomatoes with chilies          1 yellow onion diced                    64 oz chicken sock                            1-2 packets (to taste) taco seasoning          1 can tomato sauce          1 cup frozen corn                                    (optional) avocado, green onion, & sour cream to garnish                           *I try to get hormone free turkey & organic canned goods & produce as much as possible. Retailers like Costco are excellent about prices when it comes to organic canned beans, tomato sauces, & chicken stock, I highly recommend you price compare if you haven’t already. We are on a tight budget in my home, but I have found that retailers like Costco are really doing their part to keep cost down on organic products when possible.*

Turn the crock pot onto HIGH. Put in the ground turkey. You can put it in right from frozen as long as it’s going to be cooking for at least 6-7 hours total. (Usually 1 package is about 1.25-1.3 lbs, that’s what I use. For me the beans are the star, if you like more meat, feel free to add more.)  Once the heat has started to move through the pot, add the onions, corn, & taco seasoning.

Image

Next, add your chilies & tomatoes w/chilies to the pot. Stir.

Image

While the onions & meat begin to cook a bit, it’s time to prepare the beans. Most people don’t realize that canned beans need to be prepared, especially if they’re organic…wrongo bongo!

Image

Canned beans don’t need to be pre-cooked, but they do need to be rinsed! They are sitting in this lovely sodium-filled goo which keeps them a wonderful consistency when canned, otherwise they would turn to mush. We don’t want to eat the goo, however, & many people do. It is a preservative that isn’t good for us, it is meant to be discarded, not ingested. Please rinse your beans!

I have chosen Black beans, Kidney Beans, & Garbanzo Beans. Garbanzos, mostly because I am out of other white beans & I enjoy have tricolor beans in soups, but also because I  have children & all children like Garbanzos because they look like butts! Sorry, but it’s true! Little beige bottoms floating in your bowls is funny & they will eat them!

Once they are rinsed, add the beans to your pot. Stir.

Image

Now that all of our solids are in & starting to cook, we can add our liquids. Usually I use homemade chicken stock, but this soup has so much flavor all ready, that it almost would be a waste. I use organic store bought chicken stock, & 1 can or tomato sauce. This fills the pot. Stir it up good. Put the lid on & Set the timer for 5 hours if the turkey was fresh or 7 hours if it was frozen.

I like a little dollop of sour cream or a sprinkle of cheese on top & green onions &/or avocados. Serve it with tortilla chips to dip.

IMG_20140205_194847

Have a wonderful afternoon & keep warm!

~P

Frozen Waffles

My 15 year old son has asperger’s. One thing about our awesome kids is that they tend to get stuck in their routines–now this isn’t a bad thing, routine is good for them, too. I tell you this because today is the first day back to school after the longest holiday break I can recall…EVER! If we didn’t have what my son needs to eat for breakfast on school mornings, there is no guarantee how his day may have gone.

Waffles are amazing! We love carbs in my house, I wish we didn’t, but we do! Ryan has had waffles with peanut butter on them nearly every school morning for as long as he can remember. Mostly because it’s only recently that I’ve been able to get him to eat oatmeal & I don’t always have time to make eggs. My requirement has always been nut-butter. Pancakes or waffles are just cake, unless you add protein to them…then they become the conveyor in which the protein travels to your gob!  Much like bread for tuna fish or chips for bean dip! Plus, there’s the rule of 3’s…a meal requires a minimum of 3 food groups, you add peanut butter to your waffle, then all you need to do is drink a glass of juice or milk & technically you can tell mom that you’re not breaking the “3 rule.” Less than 3 food groups is a snack, no matter how well intended, or which groups you choose.

The problem with frozen waffles (which are super convenient) begins a few years before boys get into their tween years. They now eat a minimum of 2. If you’re buying “buttermilk” or “homestyle” (probably spending between $2-$3 a box unless they’re on sale) they are mostly fluff & not filling at all & the average boy in this age group could probably eat the whole box (of 8-12) if he was being honest with you. If you are buying the “natural” ones (probably closer to $4 for a box of 6-8 not on sale) they may or may not like the taste & because there are fewer in the box you will go through them faster, (It is also near impossible to find the “natural” brands in bulk stores, like Costco, in many areas, so you have no choice but to buy the small boxes.

The other problem for a gal like me is all of the excess packaging. Luckily, the outer packaging is cardboard (for most brands) which is easy enough to recycle. However after living in NW Montana for 6 years, I am well aware that not everyone lives where recycling is easy to do. The bags inside the cardboard box, however, are often not marked, so most folks, including myself, don’t know, without a lot of research whether they can be recycled or not.

My final issue was the space that the Costco-sized box of waffles was taking up in our freezer. (I don’t have a problem mentioning Costco by name in my blog, because I do most of our shopping there. They shouldn’t be upset that I no longer buy their waffles, they get plenty of our support.) We don’t have a large freezer, we have a small chest freezer & a tiny freezer in the top of our refrigerator.  Being able to save room in our freezer for meats, leftovers, soups, sauces, & some easy-to-heat stuff for the teens is much appreciated!

On to my solution!

13"L x 7"W x 3"D Rubbermaid container fits perfectly in bottom of fridge!
13″L x 7″W x 3″D Rubbermaid container fits perfectly in bottom of fridge!

Above is my tiny fridge/freezer, well the leftmost 1/3 of it. The bottom shelf is between 3.5 & 4 inches high, so random little things end up down there like half bags of frozen berries & single popsicles that have lost their way. This box I found is PERFECT! It is a Rubbermaid brand & it said “freezer safe” on the packaging. It is a little more than 3-inches high, about 13-inches long (so I can still put a thing or two behind it if needed), & just over 7-inches across.

about 13 inches longabout 3 inches deep

It came in a 2-pack for less than $4, if I’m remembering correctly. The container being clear was important to me too so that at a glance I could peek in & see if we were getting low. One thing about my son, he announces that we’re “running low” of something when he’s leaving the last of something. So he should be saying “we’re out” not knowing if shopping is occurring that day…awesome.

Begin with your favorite waffle mix. I usually use Krusteaz because it is so simple & I trust the ingredients. I have been hunting for a homemade mix recipe that doesn’t involve adding eggs. If anyone comes across something, I’m a fan of DIY when it comes to mixes and things, please pass it along!

Krusteaz Pancake Mixwaffle directions

I use the instructions on the package, then I double it. I think that it important to give the kids some extra fiber & protein to get them through their mornings at school, so in addition to the water & oil I add about 4 Tablespoons of Oat Bran, 3-4 Tablespoons of Powdered Peanut Butter (you can find it at most health food stores). Then I add Cinnamon to taste, I tend to not measure it just sprinkle it until it looks & smells how I like. (Some say that you shouldn’t waste things on children…I think that the only way that their pallets will develop is if you cook for them with flavors that real people enjoy. Children after all, are real people…give them the cinnamon!)

Oatbran, Cinnamon, Powdered Peanut Butter
Oat bran, Cinnamon, Powdered Peanut Butter
to save cleanup time, I use my 8-cup pyrex measuring cup to mix & scoop out of. No sense cleaning a bowl & measuring cup!
to save cleanup time, I use my 8-cup pyrex measuring cup to mix & scoop out of. No sense cleaning a bowl & measuring cup!

When you remove the waffles from the waffle iron, it is important that they cool completely  before you put them in the container.  Otherwise, the extra moisture in the container will cause freezer burn. If they are completely cooled, they won’t stick together & won’t have excess frost related issues while in the freezer.

let them cool completely, on a rack, before putting them into the container.
let them cool completely, on a rack, before putting them into the container.

  Once they are completely cooled I put them between layers of parchment paper in the Rubbermaid container. (Make sure that there is a layer on the top & bottom of the container as well. If food never touches the container, you don’t have to wash it in between batches!)

I put 2 per layer, with parchment paper in between.
I put 2 per layer, with parchment paper in between.

This makes about 25 waffles. If you buy the Krusteaz bag (above) at Costco, it will cost you less than $6.00 & make you between 112 & 118 waffles or pancakes. That means that it costs around $0.18 per waffle, (That is assuming I did my math right, of course!) Only my 15yr old eats waffles, most days, & he only eats them on school days. All of this considered, in about 40 minutes, for less than $6 (plus a little oat bran, a little cinnamon, & a little peanut butter powder), I made breakfast for my 15yr old for every school day from now until the end of the 1st week of February.

Not bad for the 1st day back from a Holiday Break!

Happy New Year Everyone!