Hawaiian Ham

A few weekends ago my mom stopped by because she had something to bring me.  Once she arrived, I saw she brought me a small ham.  It was one of the pre-cooked, pre-smoked hams that you just have to heat up.  Kind of a funny gift but what I like about it is that it gives me something to cook that I wouldn’t normally buy if I was at the grocery store.

One afternoon while looking in the pantry for something, I noticed a can of pineapple rings that had been in there for a long time and thought I could use those for the ham.  So I got side tracked, forgot what I was originally doing, and threw the ham in the crock pot and started pulling out some other ingredients. 

The first night I ate the ham I had it over rice and it was quite good that way.  But the next day I took some to work on a ciabatta roll and that was the bomb.  Ciabatta worked really well because it is a tougher bread and it was able to soak up the sauce without the bread getting soft and falling apart.

Overall, this was a super easy recipe that I will be definitely making again and probably skip the rice this time and just go straight for the sandwich.

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This recipe was inspired by some flatbread I had at the Minnesota State Fair last summer.  There was this little place right next to the super high swings in the middle of the grounds, I think it was called Blue Moon or Blue Lagoon, something like that.  Anyway, they had these awesome flat breads, about 10 different kinds, and they were fairly inexpensive for fair food.  I remember we got a few because they were so good.

Well, when I made flat bread a couple weekends ago, this was an idea for lunch thinking back to the food at that fair stand.  You could get real creative with flatbread, many topping combinations, this is just a simple combination of flavors but it works well together.

I used smoked chicken in my recipe, just because I had smoked some the day prior, but any chicken would do.  Knowing me, I would probably pick up one of those $5 roasted chickens from Sams Club just to make it easy.

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Grilled Flatbread

This recipe for bread is something I saw in my Steven Raichlen’s “Planet Barbecue” book that I received from my sister last Father’s Day.  Its meant for stick bread but I wanted flat bread instead.

It’s actually pretty simple to make, goes together quick (I don’t follow all the traditional bread making rules) and the bread is pretty tasty.  One tip I have learned is when making a yeast bread that calls for all-purpose flour, don’t use bleached flour if you can help it.  Unbleached flour will have a better rise and wont necessarily change the color of the bread.  I have had many bread failures but since I have started using unbleached flour I have had much more success.

I have an easy but delicious recipe I will be posting soon for a smoked chicken flatbread pizza.  This bread works great if you want to add toppings for an appetizer or use it with a dip.

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This is one of my favorite breakfasts to make.  For one, I love french toast, but it’s not the best breakfast to make if you want to sit down with everyone and eat.  Unless you have a large griddle, you have to make one or two slices at a time which can be a pain if you have guests.  And if you want thick slices of french toast, the center never gets completely cooked through before the outside is nearly burned.  The great thing about this casserole is that you can make it ahead of time or the day before.  It goes together pretty easy and it doesn’t take long at all.

One thing to mention is the recipe calls for staled bread.  Typically I cut my bread the night before and leave it on a cookie sheet uncovered overnight, so it gets hard.  This way it soaks up more of the egg batter and keeps its shape better.  You can also bake it in the oven for about 45 minutes at 250 to stale it but that just seems like too much work.  If you don’t stale your bread or don’t have time, its fine, the dish will still come out fine, the dish just seems to meld back together while baking instead of having cubes of french toast.  Really it’s not a big deal either way, I just have always staled my bread first.

Also, you can omit the streusel if you don’t have time.  I have made it many times without the streusel and it comes out great.  It’s just the streusel adds a whole new flavor to the dish.

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Savory Au Gratin Potatoes

Cheesy potatoes, who doesn’t love them?  I know I sure do but for whatever reason, I have never made a scalloped or au gratin anything before and I am not sure why.  Nora was craving some cheesy potatoes the other day and complained that I never make them so I hopped right on it and whipped up these au gratin potatoes.

You could change these up a few different ways if you want.  I used a lot of parmesan (which Nora was not a fan of but the girls inhaled) but I love parmesan and I thought it worked well.  You could leave it out or you could even add chopped ham or bacon.  I also used roasted garlic which is not necessary but adds a great savory flavor.

One thing I don’t like about au gratin o scalloped potatoes is when the sauce is so loose that it’s just a puddle on your plate.  To prevent that, let the potatoes sit out of the oven about an hour once finished baking, or bake ahead of time and reheat the next day after they have been refrigerated.

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Chocolate Chip Banana Bread

This is the ultimate of all banana bread recipes.  My Grandma Sylvia has won blue ribbons at her local county fair with this recipe.  I have never had such moist and flavorful banana bread before making this recipe.  I love chocolate so I add chocolate chips to my batch.  I know others prefer walnuts, which my Grandma did.  Once you try this recipe, you will never make another one again.

Another change I made is that she used buttermilk in her recipes but I dont like purchasing ingredients I dont use often so I use regular milk and I do not notice a difference.

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Cheesy Baked Rigatoni

What is great about this recipe is that it resembles lasagna in flavor but takes half the time to prepare.  It’s really only a few ingredients and comes together in about 20 minutes.

I would highly suggest either making a sauce from scratch or finding a premade sauce you really like, because the sauce gives this dish a lot of flavor.  I have a recipe (Easy Tomato Sauce) that is so simple to make you should try it if you have never made your own sauce before.  Seriously, you just put everything in the pot and let it simmer for about an hour to let all the flavors come out and it is a world of difference compared to the jar.  It makes a lot so I typically freeze mine in jars to have on hand.

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