My Thanksgiving Plans

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This year, Todd and I will be hosting Thanksgiving in our apartment for the first time. Well, my mom is going to be helping us a lot since we live in a two-family house and she’s right upstairs, but it’s the first time we’ll have both sets of our parents and a few family friends gathered around our table for the holiday. It’s really exciting to plan the menu and figure out the logistics of who’s going to sit where, but it’s also a lot of work trying to make sure there’s something for everyone and plan out my baking and cooking schedule. Luckily I’m off from work on Wednesday, so I’ll have an extra day to get things ready.

One great thing is that everyone is going to be contributing: Todd’s mom, Rachel, will make her famously delicious glazed corned beef; my mom will bring a ton of supremely yummy dishes, like Italian lasagna and meatballs, the stuffing, the mashed potatoes, and a few other Thanksgiving classics; and Todd and I will make a few Thanksgiving-with-a-twist dishes, like coconut-sesame green beans, cranberry-fig chutney, and bruleed sweet potatoes. We’ll also be making an apple-cider turkey. And I’ll be baking too: a pecan fudge pie, a pumpkin pie, and a few mini fruit pies. My brother’s girlfriend, Megan, will be making a sugar-cookie cheesecake, which sounds so good!

I’m excited to see how the evening turns out, and to take plenty of pictures of family and food (if I don’t eat it all first).

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Recipe: Maple-Peach Glazed Ham

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Since returning from our honeymoon (the sequel to my Disneyland Paris update is forthcoming, as are some other posts about the trip) last week, I’ve been itching to get in the kitchen. On Friday I had the perfect excuse since two of my good friends were coming over for dinner. I had two conditions for my cooking: 1) I wanted to try something I’d never made before. 2) We had a half-day at work, so I wanted a recipe that I wouldn’t normally have time for on weeknights. That led me to a maple-peach glazed ham, adapted from this recipe in Taste of Home.

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Maple-peach glazed ham in the oven, nearly done baking, alongside a loaf of garlic bread.


I made a lot of changes to the original recipe, actually. Inspired by my mom’s recipe, which she’s been making for years and is really delicious, I surrounded the ham with Coca Cola during baking to keep it juicy. But since I had all that sweetness from the Coke, I didn’t want to also use sugar-laden peach preserves for the glaze like the original recipe called for. Instead, I used fresh peaches and a little bit of sugar to make my own peach compote, to which I added several more spices than called for in the recipe and a little bit of lemon juice and zest for brightness. Lastly, I used white peach instead of yellow peaches to give it a more subtle peach flavor, and I substituted litchi juice for the orange juice used in the original recipe…but that’s just because I don’t like orange juice. So if you can’t find litchi juice, feel free to use orange, or any other juice you love.

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Spices for the maple-peach glaze next to the little Ratatouille Eiffel Tower we got in France.

Ingredients
~1 (7- to 9-pound) fully cooked bone-in ham
~2 tbsp. brown sugar
~2 tbsp. garlic powder
~1 tsp. paprika
~1 tsp. ground black pepper
~10 medium white peaches, 3 sliced and 7 chopped (leave skin on)
~1/2 cup maple syrup, plus more for drizzling over ham
~1 (2 liter) bottle Coca Cola
~1/2 cup granulated sugar
~Spices for peach glaze, to taste: cinnamon, allspice, chili powder, pepper
~Lemon juice and zest (from 1/2 lemon)
~1/4 cup litchi juice (or any other juice)

Preparation
~Preheat oven to 325; lay ham cut-side down in a roasting tin.
~In a small bowl, mix together brown sugar, garlic powder, paprika, and pepper. Using your hands, spread rub all over top and sides of ham.
~Lay sliced peached on top of ham and layer them in bottom of pan, slipping some underneath the ham as well.
~Starting from the top left corner of the pan and moving to the right, drizzle maple syrup on top of peaches and ham in a zig-zag pattern.
~Fill roasting tin about halfway with Coca Cola.
~Bake ham uncovered for about 15 minutes, then cover and bake until a thermometer reaches 130 degrees, about 2 hours.
~Meanwhile, in a small saucepan on high heat, combine 1/2 cup water, granulated sugar, and chopped peaches (but save a generous handful of them to add later on).
~Stirring frequently, let cook until peaches start to soften, about 5 minutes.
~Add spices. I didn’t quite measure out what I added, but here’s an estimate if you want a guide: 2 tbsp. cinnamon, 1 to 2 tsp. allspice, 1 tsp. chili powder, 1 tsp. pepper. Cook 5 minutes more.
~Add maple syrup and litchi juice. Cook until sauce begins to thicken slightly, about 15 minutes. If it doesn’t, add more maple syrup as necessary. Remove 3/4 cup mixture for glaze.
~Remove ham from oven; brush with some of the glaze. Bake, uncovered, until a thermometer reaches 140 degrees, about 15 to 20 more minutes, brushing occasionally with remaining glaze.
~For serving, put remaining 1/4 cup compote into a gravy boat; to gravy boat, add juice and peaches from the roasting tin. Once ham is carved, pour some additional juice and peaches from tin over sliced ham.

Recipe: Roasted Duck with Cherry Sauce

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A few times a week, Todd cooks dinner for us since he gets home from work earlier than I do. Lately we’ve been drooling over duck dishes when we go out to restaurants, so he suggested that he try to make it at home. But since we’d never made duck before, we decided to find a recipe to guide us through it. After browsing through several cookbooks (we now have so many that they don’t fit on the shelves of our bookcase and are stacked on the floor), we settled on a roasted duck recipe from Drew Ramsey’s Eat Complete. Here’s the recipe (modified slightly from the original), and some special guest commentary from Todd on his cooking experience. Continue reading

Recipe: Spinach-Stuffed Chicken & Curry-Infused Couscous

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As much as I enjoy being in the kitchen, I only make easy dinners during the week—crockpot stews, grilled cheese, pasta with a simple sauce. The other night one of my best friends came over and we decided to cook instead of eating out. After a little thought, we settled on chicken breasts stuffed with spinach, garlic, and mozzarella, with a side of curry-infused, veggie-loaded couscous. (Although the steps below might seem complicated, the recipe is really easy once you get started.) The chicken took about 45 minutes to cook, which gave us plenty of time to prep the rest of our ingredients, set the table, and indulge in some girl talk.

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My Year of Living

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Every year on January 1, I review my list of resolutions from the previous year, checking off the goals I’ve accomplished and figuring out why I failed at others. I then use that list as a starting point for the upcoming year, modifying the difficulty level of my aims up or down depending on my progress. So here are my resolutions for 2016, and we’ll see together if I manage to stick to them.

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Welcoming the Fall with Apple Picking

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Sometimes you have to dig deep to get the best apples.

Sometimes you have to dig deep to get the best apples.

We kicked off the season last weekend with a quintessential fall activity: apple picking! We went to Barton Orchards, about an hour upstate from my house, and luckily we arrived early enough to beat the crowds that developed later in the day. Though I had worn a sweater in the morning, the weather warmed up enough that I didn’t need it, and it was a beautiful day to enjoy apple cider donuts and spend time with Todd and my parents. Continue reading

Recipe: Hungarian Plum Dumplings

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I can’t remember the first time I tasted a Hungarian szilvás gomboc. I must have been only five or six years old, perhaps watching wide-eyed as my nagymama sliced open the thick breadcrumb-dusted potato dumpling to reveal the sticky purple plum inside and sprinkled it with cinnamon-sugar. I don’t know if I loved or hated it at first bite, whether I needed time to acquire the taste. I don’t know how many my mom let me eat, though now I can practically inhale five or six of them if I don’t stop myself in time.

Plum Dumpling Continue reading