Lightened Scalloped Potatoes with Ham

March 31, 2015 – 7:22 pm

This is a lighter version of my scalloped potatoes with ham. There’s less sauce, and it’s made with whole milk instead of half and half. Not quite as decadent, but still quite good and satisfying for a dinner.

Scalloped Potatoes and Ham
Serves 6

2 tbsp butter
2 tbsp flour
1/4 tsp kosher salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1 cup whole milk
1 cup grated sharp cheddar cheese, divided: 1/2 cup for the sauce and 1/2 cup to sprinkle on top
4-5 medium potatoes (about 2 pounds,; I like Yukon Gold, or White Rose potatoes for this)
2 cups diced cooked ham (about 8 oz)

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

Slice up the potatoes into rounds. A mandolin works well here to get nice even slices. Boil the potato slices on the stove top for about 25 minutes, until just tender, and drain them well.

In a saucepan over medium low heat melt the butter, being careful not to brown it. Stir in the flour, salt, and pepper until smooth. Gradually add the milk, whisking until the sauce is smooth and begins to thicken. Add 1/2 cup cheese and stir until melted. Taste for seasoning and re-season as necessary. Remove the sauce from the heat. If it gets too thick while you’re slicing potatoes, you can put it back over the heat and whisk in a little water or broth to thin it.

Spray a 9″x13″ casserole dish with non-stick spray or butter it and fill it with the potatoes, spreading evenly. Sprinkle the diced ham on top, and then pour the sauce over evenly. Top with remaining 1/2 cup cheese.

Bake uncovered for 15 minutes, or until dish is bubbly and hot and the cheese is just starting to brown. Serve warm.

Baked Pork Dumplings

January 3, 2015 – 2:30 pm

These are a delicious dumpling in the same line as baked pork flower dumplings, baked Asian turkey buns, and hom bao.

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Baked Pork Dumplings
Makes 36 dumplings

1 package gyoza wrappers
1/4 cup canola oil, divided
1 lb small button mushrooms, quartered
1 large head savoy cabbage (about 1 lb)
1 lb ground pork
1 tbsp fresh grated ginger
1 large clove garlic, pressed
1/8 tsp onion powder
1/4 tsp black pepper
1/4 cup soy sauce
2 tbsp shaoxing rice wine or mirin
1 tsp sesame oil

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Line muffin tins with the gyoza wrappers, gently pressing the wrapper into the bottom of each cavity.

Heat 2 tbsp of canola oil in a large skillet or wok over medium high heat. Add the mushrooms and stir fry until cooked through. Remove them to a bowl. Heat another 1 tbsp of canola oil. Add the cabbage and stir fry, adding water if needed, until cooked through. Remove to the bowl with the mushrooms. Heat the final tbsp of canola oil and add the pork. Brown it well, breaking it up into small pieces. Add the garlic and ginger and stir fry until just fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the onion powder and pepper and toss to combine. Add the cabbage and mushrooms back to the pan. Pour the soy sauce, rice wine, and sesame oil over the top and stir to combine well. Stir fry together for a minute or two to meld the flavors.

Add about 2 tbsp of the filling to each wrapper. Bake for 10 – 15 minutes, or until the wrappers are toasty brown around the edges and bottoms.

Remove to a platter and serve warm.

Merry Christmas!

December 25, 2014 – 7:53 pm

It’s been a great year! We’ve had a blast with Steven, helping him to grow and learn. He’s 16 months old now, a full-on toddler, and loving life!



Saturday, we had a get-together with his friend, Amary, and her mom and dad. The kids had a great time playing together, Ben and Shaun kept Star Wars cartoons going in the background, and Manda and I made a bunch of spritz cookies and fudge. Lots o’ fun!




We had pot roast for dinner, which everyone large and small enjoyed. Triumph!

Christmas eve dinner was our usual steamed crab and bacon wrapped shrimp, with bacon wrapped asparagus, because, well, does bacon really need a reason? :D

Christmas morning, we had maple sausages and cinnamon rolls. I cheated and used Immaculate Baking’s pre-made rolls, which were quite good!

Christmas dinner was a beautiful and always delicious standing rib roast with boiled potatoes and steamed baby peas.



Product Review: Trader Joe’s Country Potatoes

October 12, 2014 – 12:02 pm

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We tried these Trader Joe’s Country Potatoes With Haricots Verts & Wild Mushrooms for a side dish earlier this week. They cooked up quickly in a skillet, and were a very tasty and easy side. The combination of sliced potatoes, green beans, and a mix of mushrooms, including criminis and chanterelles, tossed with herbs would pair well with many proteins. Find these in the frozen aisle!

As always, my reviews are my own, and I am not compensated in any way.

Chicken and Rice

October 7, 2014 – 6:46 pm

This is a great way to use up leftovers and bits and pieces of veggies. I used leftover steamed rice, leftover chicken from one of our cider roasted chickens, some carrots, and some peas. Mushrooms would also go very well in this. I didn’t end up seasoning any extra, since the chicken and pan drippings (including the cider) were plenty tasty, but if you use a rotisserie chicken or don’t have the pan drippings, add some salt, pepper, garlic, and thyme as you like.

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Chicken and Rice
Serves two, generously

1 tbsp butter
1/2 cup sliced carrot (about 10 baby carrots)
2 cups leftover steamed rice
2 cups leftover roasted chicken with pan drippings
1 cup chicken broth
1/2 cup frozen peas

Melt the butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Add the carrot and cook for 4-5 minutes, or until just starting to caramelize and turn tender. Add the rice and toss to combine, separating the grains and coating them with butter. Add the chicken broth and scrape up any browned bits from the bottom of the pan. Add the chicken and the peas and stir well. Turn the heat to medium high and bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium low and simmer for 5-8 minutes, or until the carrots are tender and most of the broth is absorbed by the rice. Serve warm.

Cider Roasted Chicken

September 15, 2014 – 6:45 pm

This is a take on our beer roasted chicken. We used Angry Orchard Green Apple Hard Cider this time with outstanding results. Their regular flavor turned out okay, but the green apple was somehow just perfect. We served this with some sauteed zucchini, but steamed or roasted broccoli, or a green salad also work very well.

I use a cheap little roasting rack like the one at the bottom of the post here (amazon affiliate link) placed in a heavy duty rimmed baking sheet lined with foil. It works great, and clean-up is easy too.

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Cider Roasted Chicken
Serves 4-6

For the rub:
2 tsp kosher salt
1 tsp ground black pepper
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
1`tsp dried thyme leaves
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp onion powder
1 tbsp canola oil

For the rest:
1 whole chicken, 4-5 pounds
1 bottle hard cider (we especially liked Angry Orchard Green Apple)

Set the racks in the oven to the lowest level, removing the upper ones if necessary to fit the chicken in vertically.

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Set up your roasting stand.

Mix all of the spices and herbs with the canola oil to make a rub.

Remove and discard the neck and any giblets from the chicken and pat the skin dry.

Rub the chicken all over with the spice mixture, getting some under the breast skin as well. Pour most of the cider into the chicken roaster stand. Place the chicken, legs pointing down, over the roaster so that it is standing vertically, supported by the center of the roaster.

Bake for 50 minutes to 1 1/4 hours or until the internal temperature taken in the center of the breast is 170 degrees F. Remove from the oven, use tongs to take the chicken off the roaster and onto a platter, and let rest for 10 minutes before carving and serving.


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Chicken en Papilliote with Zucchini and Tomatoes

September 1, 2014 – 8:10 am

This way easy dinner came together in no time, cooked quickly with no supervision, and was very tasty to boot! I used skinless boneless thighs instead of breasts, and used well drained canned tomatoes since I was inexplicably out of fresh. My version is below.

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Chicken en Papilliote with Zucchini and Tomatoes
Serves 2
1 lb skinless boneless chicken thighs
3 small zucchini
1 15-oz can fire roasted tomatoes, drained of excess liquid
1 tbsp olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/8 tsp red pepper flakes
kosher salt and black pepper

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F.

Thinly slice the zucchini into rounds and set aside. In a mixing bowl, combine the olive oil, garlic, red pepper flakes, and about 1/8 tsp each kosher salt and black pepper. Remove half of the oil mixture to a small bowl and set aside. Toss the remaining oil mixture with the zucchini.

Divide the zucchini evenly between two 14″x12″ squares of aluminum foil, mounding in the center of the square. Place the chicken thighs on top of the zucchini and season lightly with salt and pepper.

Toss the drained tomatoes with the other half of the oil mixture, then scoop the tomatoes on top of the chicken.

Fold the foil up and around the chicken and vegetables and crimp on top to seal.

Bake for about 25 minutes, or until the chicken has reached 165 degrees F and the zucchini is tender.

Carefully open the packets and use a large spatula to transfer the contents to plates. Serve warm.

This was a definite keeper of a recipe from my current favorite cookbook:


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No Pectin Added Blueberry Jam

August 3, 2014 – 1:29 pm

I followed this Taste of Southern recipe for a no pectin added blueberry jam. I had about 4 cups of blueberries, used 2 cups of sugar, and still a full 2 tbsp of lemon juice. Not sure yet how well it will set up, but it looks promising, and it’s very tasty! I’m just using my freezer jam jars rather than canning. I got two scant pints out of the quantities I had.

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Garlicky Potato Salad

July 20, 2014 – 4:56 pm

This fresh, no mayo potato salad is great for summer afternoons. :) The garlic is strong, cut back to one clove, or substitute roasted garlic if you prefer.

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Garlicky Potato Salad
Serves 8 as a side

2 lbs red potatoes, cut into 1/4 inch chunks
2 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp red wine vinegar
1/4 tsp kosher salt
1/8 tsp fresh ground black pepper
1/4 tsp dried oregano
1/4 tsp dried basil
2 cloves garlic, pressed
1 large tomato, cut into 1/4 inch chunks

Boil the potatoes for 6-8 minutes, or until fork tender but not yet falling apart. Drain well and set aside.

Whisk together the olive oil, vinegar, salt, pepper, oregano, basil, and garlic. Dump the hot potatoes in and toss to coat well. The potatoes will absorb the dressing. Stir in the tomato chunks.

Let sit for at least 10 minutes to let the flavors mingle. Serve warm or chilled as desired.

Peach Cobbler

July 4, 2014 – 5:20 pm

This recipe is modified from the one on the back of a bag of frozen peaches. A good starting point, I think, for future endeavours. :) It turned out quite well, especially for how little effort it took to put together.

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Peach Cobbler

For the peaches
1 16-oz bag frozen peaches
2/3 cup sugar
1/2 cup water

For the batter
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter
1 cup sugar
1 cup all purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup buttermilk
1 tsp vanilla bean paste (or extract)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Thaw peaches for 30 minutes on the counter, or 1-2 minutes on defrost in the microwave.

Heat the peaches, water, and sugar in a saucepan over high heat until the syrup comes to a boil, about 5 minutes.

Melt the butter in a 9 inch cake pan.

Mix the flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, milk, and vanilla in a bowl until combined. Spoon the batter over the melted butter and smooth in an even layer. Place peaches evenly over the batter. Pour the syrup on top. Do not stir.

Bake for 40 – 45 minutes, until the top is golden brown and a toothpick poked into the cake comes out clean. Serve warm.