Ham and Peppers Egg Casserole

Like I’ve mentioned before, every Christmas for as long as I can remember my mom made a casserole for breakfast. Now that I’m a mom myself, I’ve continued the tradition. 

I tend to change the recipe up year after year, but this year’s was really good! I was so happy with how it turned out!

Ham and Peppers Egg Casserole 

3 whole eggs

6 egg whites

1 cup milk (whole, low fat, half and half… doesn’t matter)

Salt and pepper

1 tablespoon chopped chives 

Olive oil 

5 sweet mini Peppers, diced

1 leek, diced white and light green parts

Frozen hash brown potatoes

Diced ham

1 cup shredded cheese 

In a skillet, heat up the oil and sauté the peppers and leeks with a little salt and pepper until soft. Set aside to start cooling slightly. 


In a bowl, whisk together the eggs, egg whites, milk, chives and a little more salt and pepper. 

In a buttered baking dish, add a layer of hash browns. Top with the ham. I used leftover ham from a dinner we had a couple days before, but you can use any ham. Then top with the sautéed veggies and cheese. I used cheddar, but you can use whatever you want. 


Finally, pour the egg mixture over the top. You can make this the day before and stop here if you want. That way it’s ready to go Christmas morning. Just cover it tightly and store in the fridge.


When you’re ready to bake it, put it in a 375 degree oven for about 20-25 minutes or until eggs are cooked and the top is nice and golden brown. 


Let it sit for a few minutes so the eggs set up a bit. This will make it easier to serve up.


Enjoy! 

Slow-Cooker Ham

Typically, in my family growing up, we only had ham twice a year: Easter and Christmas. My parents would go to the Honey Baked Ham store and pick up their ham. On Christmas or Easter morning, we would put it on the counter and let it come to room temperature and eat it that way. They come fully cooked, so that makes things easier. Throw in some sides and the holiday meal was all set. 

Serving ham at Christmas is a tradition believed to have originated with the Germanic people at a tribute to Freyr, who was the Norse god of harvest and fertility and often associated with boars. In Norse tradition, the sacrifice of the boar had the intent of imploring Freyr to show favor to the new year. The boar was roasted and carried into the banquet hall to music and great fanfare. The tradition may have its origins in Classical Germania, Scandinavia and England, but it has definitely spread worldwide and ham is now a traditional Christmas dish all over the globe.

Back to 2016… I wanted to try something a little different this year, so for our little dinner party we had the other night, I wanted to see what my slow cooker could do. Well, now I’m hooked. This is how I will always make ham! I don’t make it often, but when I do, this is going to my new go-to.

Start with a spiral cut ham. You can easily find these during the holidays at the grocery store. Or you can get them year-round at the Honey Baked Ham store. I’ve never noticed them at the grocery store any other time of year, but then again, I wasn’t looking. Farmer John’s does sell hams all year, but they aren’t spiral cut. I got mine at the happiest grocery store on earth: Trader Joe’s. I know for sure they only have them seasonally.

Anyway, you just need the ham, some Honey Dijon mustard, and brown sugar.

***Apologies in advance for the pictures in this post. I was having lighting issues!!***

Coat the outside of the ham in the Dijon. You can pretty much put on however much mustard you like, there just needs to be at least a light coat for the sugar to stick to. After you’ve applied the mustard, add a pretty thick coat of brown sugar. Again, there’s no measurement here. Just eyeball it and use what you like.



Cook the ham on low for 3-4 hours. The ham is fully cooked already, so you aren’t really “cooking” it necessarily. The end result is a super tender and warm ham with a bit of tang from the mustard and some sweetness from the brown sugar, both flavors compliment the salty ham so well.

And what’s really nice? You get lots of great use out of the leftovers. Stay tuned and I’ll share some ideas with you!



Bacon-Wrapped Dates with Goat Cheese (U.K.)

Hi Readers!! I was going to post this awhile ago, but I’ve been sick all weekend. Ugh. Being sick around the holidays is the worst, right? I’ve had lots of things to do so I’ve been heavily reliant on DayQuil to get me through it all. I finally took yesterday to just sit and do nothing and try for some recovery time! 

During football season, my husband and I have friends over to watch the games. We are all involved in a Fantasy Football league and it’s a lot of fun. This past weekend, we had a little spur of the moment dinner party for some of our friends who watch football with us. I made a slow-cooker ham, which I’ll share later, but for our appetizer, I made these little gems. Before I get into it, I will give you a fair warning: THESE ARE ADDICTIVE!!

Ok, you’ve been warned. 

For my appetizer, I made bacon-wrapped dates stuffed with goat cheese. It’s OK. I’ll give you a minute to savor those words.

This is an appetizer that originated in 19th Century U.K. and if often known as Devils on Horseback. The dates (or sometimes prunes) are often stuffed with almonds, but can be filled with other things like cheese or mango chutney. The dates are then wrapped in bacon and baked until the bacon is nice and crispy. Devils on Horseback are commonly found at Christmastime, but after trying them, I think I will find any excuse I can think of to make them.

This is a fairly simple appetizer to make and the result is a perfectly sweet/salty/creamy/crispy bite.

Bacon-Wrapped Goat Cheese Stuffed Dates

15 slices of bacon, cut in half crosswise (don’t use thick cut bacon for this) For the kind I bought, it was the full pound.

30 pitted dates

8 oz log of goat cheese

You should be able to buy your dates pitted, if not, you will have to cut a slit down the side and remove the pit yourself. This recipe assumes you have the pre-pitted dates.

Take your date and find the hole in top/slit down the side where the pit was removed. Carefully open the date.

 

Fill the date with goat cheese. I tried a make-shift pastry bag with a ziplock bag, but that didn’t really work. I also tried using a spoon, but that ended up being more messy than I wanted to deal with. Ultimately, I just used my fingers. The goat cheese is pretty crumbly anyway so it worked perfectly.

Put the date back together and wrap it in half a piece of bacon.

 

Place seam-side down on a parchment lined baking sheet. You could also stick a toothpick in it to hold it together, but I didn’t think it was necessary.

Bake at 425 degrees for 20 minutes, then turn on the broiler for another 3-5 minutes, until the bacon is nice and crispy.

Serve hot.

 

I made 30 of these beauties for 5 people and they were gone in a heartbeat!

Shortbread (Scotland)

Believe it or not, this was my first time making shortbread cookies. I’ve made shortbread-like crusts before, but for some reason I’ve never made the actual cookies. I figured it would be really simple. Basic shortbread is made of a whopping three ingredients: 1 part sugar, 2 parts butter, 3 parts flour. You can make additions and adjustments from. How easy is that, right?

My first time making this delectable, buttery cookie absolutely did not go as planned. In fact, it went the opposite. And I was lured into a false sense of security while I was at it. I thought it was going well until the end product came out of the oven in a big ol’ mess. I mean, it still tasted good, but visually? Not so much…

I think I may have put a little too much butter in the dough because the shortbread spread out a lot. I also think I rolled it out a bit too thin. I should have left them on the thicker side so they would have been a bit more biscuit like. As I said, they still tasted good, but they just didn’t come out the way I’d visioned.

Now, a little history:

Shortbread originated in Scotland back in the Medieval times, but the first printed copy of a recipe wasn’t until the early 1700s. It began as more of bread that was twice-baked and coated in sugar and spices until it was hardened into a sweetened biscuit. Eventually, the yeast in the bread was replaced with butter and became closer to what we know it as today. Shortbread was expensive at the time so it was considered a luxury and saved for special occasions such as Christmas and Hogmanay (Scottish New Year’s Eve celebration). Now a days you can get shortbread year-round and all over the world, but it is still very much associated with the holidays.

Even though my didn’t turn out visually like I wanted, I will still share my recipe. I really do think I added too much butter, so I removed the extra half a stick I added at the end, so hopefully that will help. I also made everything in a bowl with a pastry cutter, but I wonder if using a mixer would have been better to incorporate everything a bit more.

Shortbread

½ cup sugar

1 cup butter, cut into pieces

2 cups flour

a splash of vanilla extract

green and red sprinkles

In a bowl, mix together your sugar and flour. Add your butter and vanilla and cut the butter into the flour-sugar mix until it looks like coarse crumbs. Using a stand mixer may make this easier and better combined. I will try that next time.

Dump the dough out onto a surface, add your sprinkles, and begin kneading the dough together. This takes some patience and is a great arm workout.

Once everything is together and formed into a disk, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for about 30 minutes.

Roll out the disk into a larger piece. I made mine about ½ an inch and I really think I that ended up being way too thin. Aim closer to about an inch thick.

Cut into the shapes you want (small bite-sized squares, longer rectangles, circles, whatever) and put on a parchment lined baking sheet.

Bake at 325 for about 20 minutes.

Hopefully the minor adjustments I made to the recipe will help the end result, but even if it doesn’t, it still tastes great! Just don’t enter it into a cookie beauty contest!

Spritz Cookies (Germany)

I’ve been making spritz cookies with my mom since I was a kid. They are very similar to a shortbread in that they are very butter and a bit on the fragile side.

The name spritz is actually a shortened version of the German word Spritzgebäck. These cookies originated from Germany and Alasace (which the French region right along the German border) and they are very popular at Christmastime. Many families have their own recipes that get passed down from generation to generation.

Spritzen translates to squirt in English, which describes how these cookies are made. The dough is put into a cookie press and then extruded through the holes in the disk that fits into the press. You can also use a pastry bag fitted with various nozzles. The cookie press my mom gave me comes with a variety of designs to make different shaped spritz cookies.

Full disclosure, when I was making this dough, I lost track of how much flour I had put in, so I accidentally added too much. The dough was a bit hard to extrude through the press and didn’t stick to the baking sheet like it was supposed to when I pressed it out, so I had to do it by hand. The dough should be a bit on the sticky side and a rule of thumb to keep in mind is don’t refrigerate the dough before you use it. It should feel a little wetter than most cookie doughs. That’s just been my experience for a better spritz cookie.

The extra flour didn’t hurt the cookie much. It still tasted great and I was able to keep them all together, but it just made everything a little harder to get out of the press. The moral of the story is don’t get distracted while making cookies!

Spritz Cookies

1 ½ sticks of butter, softened

½ cup sugar

1 egg

¼ teaspoon vanilla extract

½ teaspoon almond extract

2 ¼ cups flour

¼ teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon baking powder

Food coloring (optional)

In a bowl, cream together the butter and sugar. Add the egg and both extracts. 

In another bowl, combine the flour, salt, and baking powder. Mix into the wet ingredients. Add food coloring here if you want. I made snowflakes and Christmas trees, so I just took out half of the plain dough and made the snowflakes and then added green coloring to the other half for the trees.

Put the dough into a cookie press fitted with whatever shape you want.




Press each cookie onto a parchment-lined baking sheet and bake at 375 degrees for about 8 minutes.

 

If you don’t have a cookie press, you can use a pastry bag.

I forgot to take a picture of them being pressed onto the baking sheet, but I think you get the idea.

Gingerbread Loaf Cake

When I first set out to make this cake, I knew it was going to be a total experiment. I’m sure there are still some adjustments to be made (like why did it fall in the middle?) but it actually turned out so good! It was fluffy and moist and full of Gingerbread/Christmassy flavor! And the frosting… oh my. Let’s all just take a moment and savor this cream cheese goodness that would be delicious on pretty much ANYTHING.
 

Last year, when I made gingerbread cookies, I gave a little history of the European origin of gingerbread, so I’m not going to get into all that again. Feel free to read up on last year’s post. And maybe make some cookies while you’re at it.

I like making this cake because it is a nice change of pace from the typical cookie you see a lot but you still get that familiar holiday flavor.

Gingerbread Loaf Cake

For the Cake:

1 ½ cups flour

½ teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

¾ teaspoon ground cloves

¾ teaspoon ground ginger (you can add more if you want more ginger flavor)

1 teaspoon salt

½ cup butter, softened

1 cup sugar

2 eggs

½ cup molasses

½ cup buttermilk

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

For the cream cheese icing:

1 8oz package of cream cheese, softened

2 cups powdered sugar

Zest of one orange

Juice of half an orange

½ cup dried cranberries, chopped

In a bowl, mix together your dry ingredients: flour, baking soda, cinnamon, cloves, ginger, salt. Set aside.

 

In another bowl, whisk together the softened butter and sugar. Add the eggs and beat until combined. Then add the molasses, buttermilk, and vanilla and mix well.

A little bit at a time, add the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients and mix well.

Pour into a greased and floured loaf pan.

Bake at 350 for 40-45 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean.

Let cool slightly and remove from the pan to cool more.

Meanwhile, for the icing: mix together the cream cheese and powdered sugar until combined. Then stir in the zest, juice, and cranberries.


When the cake is cooled, pour the icing on top. However much or little you want. 

 

Chop up a few extra dried cranberries and save a tiny amount of zest and sprinkle over the top of the frosting just for decoration. Let the icing set before cutting in and enjoying!

 

This is especially good with a cup of coffee!! (but then, what isn’t?)

 

White Chocolate Cranberry Cookies

To me, white chocolate and cranberry are food soul mates. They just belong together. And they make for perfect Christmas treat bedfellows. You can make just about any dessert white chocolate-cranberry and not only would people love it, but it would look super festive on any table or cookie tray.
 

These are just a twist on a basic chocolate chip cookie recipe which I usually adapt from Nestle.

Fun Fact: The chocolate chip cookie was invented by a woman named Ruth Graves Wakefield in 1938. She owned a restaurant called the Toll House Inn. During WWII, soldiers from Massachusettes (where the Toll House Inn was located), shared the chocolate chip cookies from their care packages with other soldiers. Soon they were requesting them from their families who then inundated Ms. Wakefield with requests for her recipe! After her recipe became so popular, she contacted Nestle and struck a deal: they would print her recipe on the back of all their chocolate bars (she originally used a chopped up bar of chocolate and they used to include a chopping tool with each bar) and she would get a lifetime supply of chocolate. When Nestle started producing chocolate chips for the purpose of cookies in 1941, they printed her recipe on each bag. The recipe you see on the bag now is Wakefield’s original recipe.

Now, on to the recipe:

White Chocolate Cranberry Cookies

1 cup butter, softened

¾ cup brown sugar

¾ cup white sugar

2 eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

3 cups flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon salt

1 cup dried cranberries

½ bag of white chocolate chips

In a bowl, cream together your butter, brown sugar, and white sugar. One at a time, add your eggs and vanilla.

 

In a separate bowl, combine your dry ingredients: flour, baking soda, salt. A little at a time, mix the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients until well combined.

Finally add in your white chocolate chips and cranberries until evenly dispersed in the dough.

 

You can then drop by spoonful onto a lined baking sheet and bake. I, however, love to use an ice cream scoop. It makes for a bigger cookie and they always come out perfectly soft and loaded with whatever mix-ins you are using in your cookie.

Either way, bake at 375 degrees for 9-11 minutes or until done.

 

Let cool as long as you can hold out and then devour.