Warm Ham and Cheese Crescent Bites

Recently we enjoyed a wonderful Old-Fashioned Glazed Ham for supper. The smoked, bone-in ham weighed 12 pounds – more ham than our little family of three could eat in one meal. Since then, we’ve been taking ham sandwiches for lunch, and delighted in Omelettes for breakfast. I’ve made deviled ham spread to put on crackers. (Yum!)

One of Hubby’s favorite hot sandwiches has got to be Grilled Ham and Cheese on Buttery Garlic-Parmesan SourdoughThis got me to thinking, what else could I do with all that left-over ham? The Ham and Cheese Crescent Bites are essentially  a tiny grilled ham and cheese sandwich baked inside a crescent roll. Light, warm, flaky and oh so delicious. These little bites can be served as light supper at the end of a long day or the perfect TV-watching snack. It takes almost no time at all to whip up these little pockets of buttery goodness.  

Warm Ham and Cheese Crescent Bites
2 Cans Crescent Rolls
4 Tablespoons Butter, Melted
3-4 Garlic Cloves, pressed
2 1/2 Cups Chopped Ham
8 Slices American Cheese

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Cut ham into chunks easy to process in a food processor. Pulse ham until chopped into a coarse mixture. Set aside.

Cut American Cheese into fourths, creating 16 squares. Set aside.

Melt butter. Add pressed garlic cloves into the butter. Taste and adjust as needed with more garlic. Set aside.

Roll out 1 can of crescent rolls on a cutting board. Separate the first can into 8 triangles. Brush each triangle with garlic-butter. Spoon some of the chopped ham onto the wide end of the crescent roll (about 1 or 2 tablespoons). Press the chopped ham down slightly into the crescent dough to help hold the meat into place. Add one small square of American cheese on top of ham. Roll as you would a crescent roll. Press pointed end into completed roll, tuck sides in and press together to create a nice pouch around the filling. Place pouch on an ungreased baking sheet. Repeat until all 16 crescent triangles have been filled.

Place baking sheet into preheated oven and bake 12 to 15 minutes or until golden brown.

Serve warm from the oven and enjoy. (Hubby likes to mix a little ketchup and mustard together to create a “dip” for his bites).

Pan-Seared Scallops with Browned Butter Tarragon Sauce

One of my favorite herbs has to be tarragon. I love all the flavors of this herb. Slightly sweet yet subtlety bitter with hint of pepper and a dash of licorice. I love it in butter both as a spread for warm bread and to pat over a perfectly grilled steak. Tarragon is great in sauces, too. It goes with just about anything – from beef to seafood. Sweet, mild scallops seared in butter just scream for a white wine tarragon sauce. This is one wonderful dish that won’t disappoint.

I especially love how quickly the seared scallops comes together for a spectacular supper after a long day. From beginning to end, we are talking twenty-minutes at most. Wow, that’s what I call quick!

I served these scallops with Uncle Ben’s Ready Rice Pilaf. It’s flavorful, fluffy and cooks up in under two minutes. Hey, every shortcut in the kitchen adds up to more relaxation time with my family.

Pan-Seared Scallops with Browned Butter Tarragon Sauce
Sea Scallops
1 lb Sea Scallops (about 15 large scallops_
1/4 teaspoon Sea Salt or to taste
1/8 teaspoon white pepper or to taste
1 tablespoon Butter
1 tablespoon Olive Oil

Rinse scallops and place on paper towels to drain. Pat dry. Sprinkle scallops on both sides with salt and pepper.

Heat  large non-stick skillet over medium heat for 1 to 2 minutes. Add the oil and butter. Swirl pan to blend oil with butter. Heat until bubbling and the butter is just beginning to brown.

Pat the scallops dry once more. Add scallops to the pan and sear 2 minutes or until golden. With tongs, turn scallops over and sear other side about 2 minutes longer, until golden. When done, scallops should feel firm to the touch.

Remove scallops from pan and place on serving platter. Hold in a warm oven while the sauce is made.

Browned Butter Herb Sauce
3 tablespoons butter, divided
1 medium shallot finely diced
1/4 cup dry white wine
1/8 cup finely chopped fresh chopped tarragon
1/8 cup finely chopped fresh chopped chives
1 Lemon, Zested
2 to 3 lemon wedges reserved for serving

To the now empty skillet over medium heat, melt 1/2 tablespoon butter. Add shallots and sauté for about a minute, scrapping up any browned bits left behind in the skillet.

Add the wine, reduce heat to medium-low and simmer until the mixture is reduced by half.

Add the herbs and lemon zest, stir to blend.

Reduce the heat to low. Add the remaining butter, and whisk constantly until all the butter is melted.

Return the scallops to the skillet and roll gently in the sauce to coat. Taste sauce and adjust seasoning as needed with more salt and pepper to taste.

Place scallops with sauce on serving platter. Garnish with slices of lemon if desired.

For a nice presentation with awesome flavor, surround scallops with Rice Pilaf.

NOTE: Uncle Ben’s Ready Rice Pilaf cooks up in the micro wave in 90 seconds for a quick finish to the meal.

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Easy Grilled Chicken Fajitas with a Side of Seasoned Black Beans

Grilled Fajitas were on our meal planner this week. I was going to marinate some chicken breasts, finish the chicken off on the grill for those lovely grill marks and smokey flavor, then cut the chicken into strips for the Fajitas. Yeah, that was the plan. However; life had other plans. Still, I wanted Grilled Chicken Fajitas. It was time to improvise.

Chicken Fajita - cooked 2I don’t know where you can find Grilled Chicken Fajita meat in your neck of the woods. Here it’s something Wal-Mart carries in the refrigerated section. John Soules is the brand I prefer; sold in 8 ounce packages. According to the directions on the package, you simply warm the meat (about 5 minutes) and enjoy. While the meat does have a nice flavor, it still needs a little tweaking for our tastes to become Fajitas Spectacular. Cooked up with pan-grilled veggies and a little seasoning, these strips go from good eats to a sensational supper.

Everything for the Fajita filling can be cooked up in one skillet. The meat helps flavor the vegetables, the vegetables help flavor the meat and the added spice brings an authentic Mexican spin to everything. The addition a lime (zested and juiced) is yet another layer of color, texture and tang to the mix.

dca57d04-e88c-43cc-865b-3a32ad69c389_1.7ca1e1ea5a32d45a0a6d2fdccb64f756I don’t know about you, but in our house we like our Fajitas served up with a side of spicy whole black beans. Rosarita (my go-to-gal when it comes to canned beans) makes a great black bean. It’s rich and packed with flavor. Add a little spice only if you wish to heat things up a bit.

Easy Grilled Fajitas with a Side of Seasoned Black Beans
Chicken Fajitas
1 White onion, cut into strips
2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
1 Yellow Bell Pepper, cored and cut into strips
1 Red Bell Pepper, cored and cut into strips
1 Lime, Zested and Juiced
2 Teaspoons Ground Coriander
1/2 Teaspoon Ground Cumin
1/2 Teaspoon Cayenne Pepper
1 1/2 lbs Cooked Chicken Fajita Meat (John Soules)
Sea Salt, to taste
White Pepper, to taste
12 Flour Tortillas, Fajita size
Cooking spray
1 small Lime, sliced (optional)

Cut ends from onion, peel. Slice onion into slivers about 1/8 to no more than 1/4 inch thick.

Warm oil in large non-stick skillet over medium-high heat. Once oil is hot, add onion slivers to the skillet. Break apart into individual slivers and begin roasting onions in the pan.

While onions warm, cut tops from the bell peppers. Remove seeds, cut peppers in half, then cut each half into long strips about the same width as the onions. Add to peppers to the skillet, stir to blend. Once vegetables begin to soften, add juice and zest of 1 lime to skilled.

Sprinkle Coriander, Cumin and Cayenne pepper over the vegetables. Stir to distribute seasoning throughout the pan. Continue to cook for about 5 more minutes.

Add cooked chicken fajita meat. Stir to combine with vegetables and seasonings. Lower heat to medium, cover and let cook until meat is heated through, about 10 minutes.

While meat warms, make tortillas. Heat a flat skillet or griddle over medium heat. Spray with cooking spray. Place 1 tortilla on griddle, heat for about 1 minute. Turn over and heat another minute. Remove from griddle, keep warm. Repeat with remaining tortillas.

Taste fajita filling, season with salt and pepper as needed. Reduce heat to low, cover and keep warm.

When ready to serve, transfer chicken and vegetables to a warm platter for serving. Garnish platter with slices of lime if desired.

Fajita Finishing Touches
16 oz Chunky Salsa
8 oz Guacamole Sauce
8 oz Sour Cream
16 oz Mexican Cheese blend, shredded
1/2 Cup Nacho Jalapeno Peppers

In small bowl, place garnishings for Fajitas on the table. Be sure to include spoons for the salsa, guacamole and sour cream. Serving tongs are needed for the cheese. A small fork is great for the jalapeno peppers. Make sure the center of the table is clear for the finished fajita meat.

Spicy Whole Black Beans
1 Can Rosarita Seasoned Whole Black Beans
1 Teaspoon Ground Coriander
1/4 Teaspoon Cayenne Pepper

Empty contents of whole beans into a sauce pan. Season with Coriander and Cayenne Pepper. Heat over low heat until bubbling. Taste and adjust seasonings as needed.

Serve along side Chicken Fajitas


Bourbon-Brown Sugar-Maple Glazed Carrots

Hubby and I love baby carrots as a bright, pretty side dish. Carrots bring such vivid color to the table and go so well with a variety of main dishes. Kiddo isn’t so keen on carrots, unless they are glazed with butter, brown sugar and a splash of booze.

Recently we tried a new recipe. The first time out, we were a little less than thrilled. The original recipe did not include brown sugar and contained far too much bourbon – it was about the only thing you could taste. A little tweaking was in order. I’ve cut back on the bourbon and added brown sugar to the mix, rendering a thicker glaze that is more suited to our tastes.

The most common Baby Carrot is the one most of us are familiar with – the orange carrot. So bright, so beautiful and so orange. Whenever possible, I look for carrots in a variety of colors – everything from a creamy-white to a deep purple.  The white or cream-colored carrots are mild in flavor and lack some of that “earthy” goodness we recognize as a carrot. The deeper the color, the more this earthiness comes through. Purple carrots (those purple through and through) are very sweet with a subtle hint of pepper. These are also the hardest to come by. Sometimes. if you are lucky, you will come across a bundle of carrots containing a range of colors. If you do, by all means experiment with your veggies – this recipe works well with any color carrot.

Bourbon-Brown Sugar-Maple Glazed Carrots
1 lb Baby Carrots, rinsed, green tops removed
1 Pinch or so Table Salt
1 Pinch Fine Sea Salt
1 Tablespoon Butter
2 Tablespoons Brown Sugar
2 Tablespoons Bourbon Whiskey
1/3 Cup Pure Maple Syrup
1 Pinch White Pepper

Bring a medium-size pot of water to a boil over medium-heat. Add carrots and a pinch of salt. Cook until carrots are tender, about 8 to 10 minutes. Drain well and set aside.

In a sauté pan over medium-heat, melt butter. Add Brown sugar and stir until melted into the butter as a thick paste. Add Bourbon Whiskey one tablespoon at a time, stirring constantly. Pour maple syrup into the glaze. Lower heat to a strong simmer, and allow to simmer until mixture is reduced to a thick glaze, about 10 minutes.

Add carrots and toss to blend. Continue to simmer until carrots begin to color, about 5 minutes longer. Transfer to a serving dish, season with sea salt and a pinch of pepper and serve.


Suggested Main Dishes:

ChickenRoast Chicken with Cinnamon and Spice and Everything Nice

Pork RoastCaramelized Onion Pork Tenderloin

Roast Beef: Cracked Peppercorn and Herb Rubbed Garlic Roast Beef

Seafood: Monterey’s Wharf Market Pan-Roasted Bay King Salmon

 

Old-Fashioned Glazed Ham – Not Just for the Holidays

Last week was Easter. Instead of serving up the traditional Ham Dinner, my family enjoyed an Easter Brunch with all sorts of yummy “breakfast” foods. It turned out wonderfully. The food was great and the company awesome. After all, it isn’t what you eat but that family gather to break bread and enjoy one another whenever possible. In this day and age, that is easier said than done. Which is why holidays are so special.

In the days leading up to Easter, I noticed a trend on my blog – most visitors were checking out my recipe for Creamy-Cheesy Au Gratin Potatoes. When I mentioned this trend to Hubby, he commented that my Au Gratin Potatoes were a favorite with him, especially as part of a Ham Dinner. Hum, who said you needed to wait until the Holidays for a great Ham Dinner? Who said Ham Dinners are reserved for Sundays? So this weekend, on a Saturday, with just my guys at the table, I made a supper fit for the Holidays.

It was great for a number of reasons. Not only was the food delicious, but we lingered together at the table. It wasn’t until we started clearing the table that I noticed we had spent over an hour sitting together, laughing, talking and just taking our time. Now that’s what family suppers should be about – the company you keep. It was magical.

Now you can make this ham with a honey ham, but I prefer the salty, smokey flavor of a smoked ham. Ours was large – 12 pounds – with the bone-in (great for soup later or to add to a pot of beans), and a thick layer of fat. Rather than trim the fat, I scored it diamond-cut and let the fat melt away during the cooking/warming. This helped to keep the ham nice and moist while adding a wonderful flavor.

Old-Fashioned Glazed Ham
1 Smoked Bone-in or Spiral Cut Ham (10 to 12 lbs with bone)
1 20-ounce can pineapple slices, juice reserved
15 to 20 whole cloves (optional) or toothpicks
1 small jar maraschino cherries
3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
2 tablespoons yellow mustard

Preheat the oven as directed on the ham package and follow the instructions for warming the ham.

The goal is to reheat the ham without drying it out. The best way to do this is to place the ham on a rack in a roasting pan. Add water to the bottom of the pan and cover the whole thing tightly with foil. Bake at 325 degrees for 18-20 minutes per pound, until a meat thermometer registers 140 degrees.

Meanwhile, make the glaze. In a small bowl, combine the brown sugar, mustard and just enough of the reserved pineapple juice to make a thick glaze.  Set aside until ready to use.

About 30 minutes before serving, remove ham from the oven. Unwrap the ham and apply the glaze. (If desired, trim the fat from the meat). Decoratively arrange pineapple rings with a cherry in the center of each ring around the ham. Secure rings/cherries with whole cloves, if using, or wooden toothpicks. (I prefer the toothpick method).  Increase the heat to 400 degrees and bake for 15-20 minutes longer until the glaze thick and sticky.

When ham is heated through, transfer to cutting board. Remove pineapples and cherries, set aside. Slice ham for serving and arrange fruit on platter for a “pretty” look.

One Pan Chicken and Rice-A-Roni

One of our favorite, quick one-pot suppers is my Beefy Corn Rice-A-Roni – When “Quick” is All That Matters. Using one large non-stick skillet and a few simple ingredients, supper can be on the table in about 30 minutes. My family loves it. I began to think about other flavors of Rice-A-Roni and different types of ground meat to see what else could be created. The Chicken and Rice-A-Roni is a dish still in the creative stage – it needs a little tweaking. Unlike its beefy counterpart, this dish is very mild in flavor. Next time, I’m going to add finely chopped red onion for a little extra flavor. Still, the family liked it. The perfectionist, gotta have tons of flavor home cook that I am found the dish nice, but without enough mouth-watering flavor. That surprised me because Chicken Rice-A-Roni isn’t exactly bland. Red onion should do the trick. I’ve added it to the recipe for next time.

While this is a great base, please feel free to add whatever you like to the dish. I’m always open to suggestions.

One Pan Chicken & Rice-A-Roni
1 lb ground chicken
1/4 Cup Red Onion, finely chopped
1 Box Rice-A-Roni Chicken
2 tablespoons butter
2 1/2 Cups Water
1 Can Corn
Salt to Taste
Pepper to Taste

Brown ground chicken and onion together in a large pan. Drain well and set aside.

Brown rice according to package in butter. Put chicken back in pan with rice. Add water and seasoning package. Stir to blend seasoning into mixture.

Drain corn of canning liquids. Stir into pan. Cover and let simmer 15 to 20 minutes or until liquid has evaporated.

Serve with a simple salad for an easy week-night supper.

Cheesy Baked Cheese Tortellini

This wonderful recipe was inspired by my  blogger-friend Jan over at Mommermon, who received her inspiration from no.2 pencil. Giving credit where credit is due; I have included links to both sites below.

https://mommermom.wordpress.com/2014/11/07/baked-tortellini-casserole/

http://www.number-2-pencil.com/2013/10/18/baked-tortellini-casserole/

Isn’t that the beauty of recipes and the whole internet/blogging thing? One inspires another, then another – each taking liberty, a little tweaking and giving rise to yet another spin of the same recipe. Case in point, my own take on the baked tortellini from mommermom. The recipes are very similar in ingredients. The biggest differences were that mine used a sauce without any meat and a blend of Italian cheeses rather than Mozzarella Cheese. Kraft makes a nice Five-Cheese Blend. It’s one of those packaged cheeses that is usually found in my deli cheese drawer in the fridge. Great on salads or sprinkled over just about anything Italian that screams “cheese me please”.

My guys loved this easy casserole dinner, going back for seconds. I thought we would have left-overs for another night. That didn’t happen – they gobbled it up. And in my book, that’s the best complement of all.

Cheesy Baked Tortellini Casserole
2 tablespoons of olive oil
1 zucchini, chopped
1/2 sweet white onion, chopped
2 tablespoons roasted garlic, minced
1 Jar Spaghetti Sauce (I used a spicy red sauce for added zip)
1 package (20 oz) fresh or frozen cheese tortellini
2 cups Italian Cheese Blend

Preheat over to 375 degrees for frozen tortellini or 350 for fresh.

In a sauce pan large enough to hold your sauce and vegetables, heat olive oil over medium-low heat. While oil warms, chop onion and zucchini. A food processor fitted with a blade will make quick work of the chopping. Set vegetables aside until ready to use.

When oil is warmed, saute onions and garlic until soft, about 3 minutes. Add chopped zucchini and continue to saute another 2 minutes or until zucchini is soft.

Add spaghetti sauce, bring to just the boiling point. Lower heat to simmer, cover and continue to simmer for about 10 minutes for the flavors to marry.

Spread tortellini in a 9″ x 13″ casserole dish. Pour sauce over tortellini and gently toss to blend. Mix in about 1/2 cup of the Italian cheese blend.

Cover tightly with foil, pressing along edge of casserole dish to “seal” completely.  (This is a MUST for pasta to cook).

Bake casserole for 30 minutes or until pasta is cooked and everything is nice and bubbly.

Remove foil. Sprinkle remainder of cheese over top of casserole and bake an additional 5 minutes or until cheese has melted.

Serve with a simple tomato based salad for a complete, delicious supper.

Tortilini Bake (2)