Grandma’s Ham

One of my dearest memories of Easter is Grandma’s ham.  I remember when we were younger, my older brother and I would try to starve ourselves until lunch time on Easter so we could eat extra large helpings (sad, but true…).  He wanted to make room for Mom’s cheesecake pumpkin pies, and I wanted to devour Grandma’s ham.  And by ‘devour,’ I actually mean I wished I could eat the entire ham.  It is that good.

The ham would usually be removed from the oven about 15-30 minutes before we were allowed to start eating so it could cool off or something silly.  I was usually sneaking pieces about 5 seconds after it hit the table though.  Grandma would swat my hands and yell at me, but I would just keep coming back for more!  We used the classic Styrofoam plates with six sections and mine usually had four sections overflowing with ham (hey, I needed to save a couple for the desserts!).

I always thought her ham must be ridiculously time consuming because it is so good!  However, I was craving it so badly last summer that I had to call her up and ask for the recipe anyway.  Lo and behold, it is actually super simple!  Even though Grandma doesn’t use exact measurements for this recipe, she gave me her best guesses and it turned out pretty tasty.  I love that it makes a humongous amount.  This ham is D-E-L-I-C-I-O-U-S all on its own, but the leftovers make easy sandwiches, go well in soups, and can be used in just about any recipe ever.  I usually find ways to use about half of the meat and freeze the other half.

Grandma’s HamGrandma's Ham1

  • 3 cups water
  • 2 tablespoons honey mustard
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • butt portion of ham
  • baking bag

Combine water, mustard, and sugar and bring to a boil in a sauce pan.  Shake a little flour around in your baking bag and then place ham inside (you can get baking bags from Wal-mart by the aluminum foil) and set it in a roasting pan (I just used a 9×13 baking dish and it worked great.  Pour the mustard mixture over the ham and seal bag according to instructions.  Make sure you cut a few slits in the top of the bag to allow steam out.  Bake as directed on ham packaging or a little longer.

The baking bag works sort of like a crock-pot and allows the ham to really seep up the flavor.  It also makes clean up super easy.Grandma's Ham

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Cheesy Wheat French Bread Slices

These are my FAVORITE soup side ever!!  They take your average loaf of french bread to the next level and trust me when I say it will be hard to limit yourself!  These + Wild Rice and Chicken Soup = one of my favorite meals ever.Cheesy Wheat French Bread Slices

Cheesy Wheat French Bread Slices

  • One loaf wheat french bread
  • softened butter
  • oregano
  • garlic salt
  • shredded mozzarella cheese

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees.  Slice your loaf of bread into pieces about 3/4″-1″ thick.  Spread a thin layer of butter on each piece, sprinkle with garlic salt (use a light hand or they will be too salty) and oregano.  Top with desired amount of mozzarella.  Place slices on a baking sheet and pop them in the oven for 6-8 minutes or cheese is melted and lightly brown.  Serve warm and try not to eat the whole thing yourself!

Wild Rice & Chicken Soup

I had to get one more soup in before spring officially hits.  Don’t get me wrong, I am beside myself with joy over the warm weather we have finally been enjoying, but I sure will miss my soups!  I’ll be ready next fall…..  Honestly, I will probably end up making a random pot of soup here and there over the summer.  I can’t help it, although I usually regret it.  There’s just something about spooning up a big bowl of steamy, glorious soup on a humid, 90 degree, summer day that doesn’t feel quite right.

This soup was definitely a favorite for everyone around here.  Brimming with rice, veggies, chicken and creamy “soup water” (Abby’s word choice), I could probably live on this stuff.  Although there’s plenty of crock-pot options out there, most of them require side-steps or add-ins later and just didn’t seem that much more time efficient than doing it all at once.  It does requires a bit of prep time, but the plus side is that it makes a huge batch and the leftovers are delicious!  (It’s even more creamy reheated!)  Here’s the version I came up with and we loved it!

Wild Rice & Chicken Soup

  • 5-6 boneless, skinless chicken thighs
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 3 teaspoons chicken granules/powder
  • 1 teaspoon poultry seasoning
  • 1 cup uncooked brown riceChicken and Wild Rice Soup
  • 1 cup uncooked wild rice
  • 6 tablespoons butter
  • 1 medium onion diced
  • 5-6 stalks celery diced
  • 1 bag (1lb) baby carrots diced
  • 1/3 cup flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon rosemary
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 7-8 cups chicken broth
  • 1 1/2 cups whole milk
  • 2 cans (10.75 oz) cream of chicken soup
  • 1/2-1 cup grated parmesan cheese

Place frozen chicken in crock-pot.  Pour water over and sprinkle with poultry seasoning and chicken granules.  Cook on low 5-6 hours or high 3-4 hours or until done.  (You could cook in a frying pan with a bit of olive oil if you prefer that method.  I just like having less to do in the moment and have a major problem with touching thawed, slimy chicken.  Ew.)

Start cooking your brown and wild rices according to package directions.  If you start them before cutting and cooking the veggies, it should time out decently well.

Saute butter, onion, celery, and carrot in a large soup pot (go big, this makes a lot!) over medium heat until veggies are tender.  While they are cooking, remove chicken from the liquid and shred it.  Save the liquid to use as part of your chicken broth!!

Once veggies are tender, stir in flour, salt, pepper, rosemary, and garlic powder and cook for about a minute.  Gradually stir in chicken broth.  Stir occasionally and bring to a boil.  Cook and stir until it reaches desired thickened consistency.  I like mine pretty thick! 🙂

Reduce heat and stir in milk & cream of chicken soups.  Stir in grated parmesan cheese and give it a taste test.  Mine needed quite a bit more salt at this point.  SO GOOD!  Of course, it is only ten times more delicious when you have some cheesy wheat french bread slices on the side for dipping!Chicken and Wild Rice Soup1b

Spicy Pulled Pork Crock-Pot Style

“Nap Time” isn’t really happening for my two year old today.  It also didn’t happen yesterday.  Please tell me she isn’t giving up afternoon sleeping because it’s one of the only semi-productive moments of my day.  Regardless, “Quiet Time” is still happening.  “Quiet Time” means she stays in her bed anyway and reads a few books from 12:30-2:30 every afternoon.  It isn’t quite the same thing, but it’s still a much needed break for everyone.  This recipe from Hold the Grain is going to attempt to make its way onto my blog while I alternate between typing, checking on Abby and getting Evie back to sleep (she’s at least half-heartedly napping for me right now).  Here we go!

Spicy Pulled Pork Crock-Pot StyleSpicy Creole Pulled Pork Crock-Pot Style

  • 3-4 lb pork butt roast
  • 2 Serrano chili peppers
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 2 tablespoons paprika
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 tablespoon pepper
  • 1/2 tablespoon onion powder
  • 1/2 tablespoon oregano
  • 1/2 tablespoon thyme
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1/4-1/2 cup water

Wearing gloves, cut peppers in half, remove stems & seeds, and place skin side up on a baking sheet.  Pop in the oven and broil for about 5 minutes or until skin just starts to lightly brown.  While your peppers are roasting, mix all of the dry spices in a small bowl.

Dice your roasted peppers and mix with the mustard.  Rub over pork.  Sprinkle dry spices over pork, then rub into the meat.

Place the pork in the crock-pot and pour enough water around to cover the bottom (1/4-1/2 cup).  Cook on low until cooked through, about 8-10 hours.

Shred meat with a couple of forks and eat!  It’s great on a bun or even plain served along with some veggies.  The best part about this recipe is that it’s super versatile.  If you are missing a spice here or there, you’ll still end up with a tasty bunch of meat.

Five Months Old!!!!!

5 MonthsI love tracking Evie’s growth each month via this little blog.  It would be so easy to fill my time with a million other things, but I know I will enjoy looking back on all of her changes and discoveries and this provides the perfect motivation for me. 🙂5 Months7

Evelyn gained a whopping 9 oz in the past month…. which brings her weight up to 11 lb 10 oz. I am constantly getting comments like, “Awww, how old is she? About 2 months?” haha  She is super tiny for her age!  It’s so funny watching her mature and change as her size stays fairly…well, scrawny.  We’ll find out next month if she made it out of the 2nd percentile for weight!  Here she is on our baby scale.  I love that we have one and can check her weight when we get curious.5 Months14

5 Months13Over the past month, Evie has been enjoying the addition of natural applesauce (various flavors) and mushed up bananas in her diet.  She gets very excited about eating, although it’s definitely more of a slurp-fest than taking bites.

Evs finally rolled over (from stomach to back) for the first time last Saturday.  She is always up on her side and can hold herself up quite high while lying on her stomach but has been in no hurry to go rolling around.  It kind of happened on accident.  She was pushing herself up really high, tipped her head a little too much to one side, and over she went.  She wasn’t a fan, but it happened. haha5 Months55 Months6

5 Months9Somebody loves grabbing and chewing on anything and everything.  She loves when I hold her out over a pile of toys and let her pick something out.  She gets this terror look in her eyes and focuses really hard on trying to get as much as possible.  Evie has recently started snagging Abby’s clothing whenever she comes close enough too, which is pretty great.  Abby will shriek excitedly, “Evie’s getting me!!” and laugh nervously as she pulls away.  Evie’s getting so strong, that it’s almost becoming a small battle.  Call me rude, but I love it! 🙂

Last week, Evelyn finally decided to try one feeding over night. This happened TWO NIGHTS in a row. It was awesome, until I got mastitis. It consisted of one rather uncomfortably full night, followed by a day of being really uncomfortable, followed by a night of uncontrollable chills, bad headache, dizziness, and nausea.  During that time, I actually woke her up to feed her more frequently as we read that helps.  It did help me move past the mastitis.  Unfortunately, it also helped Evie revert to two feedings a night.  Oh well.  You can’t win them all.5 Months3

She’s been sleeping 7 p.m. to 8/8:30 a.m. in her crib over night which is great.  Nap times have been a bit of a battle.  She switched to taking three 20 minute naps in her crib over the entire day, which is pretty pathetic.  I felt like she definitely needed more as she was frequently grumpy.  After a couple weeks of trying to get her to sleep more in her crib, I finally decided to switch things up.  I now have her take her morning nap in her crib for as long as she will stay asleep (usually 20 minutes).  Then, for her afternoon nap, I either lay by her in our bed if it times out with Abby’s nap or I just carry her in the K’tan sling.  She sleeps much longer this way and is her normal, happy self.  It probably sounds a bit dysfunctional, but it works!  She is quite attached to having me near while she sleeps.  5 Months1

Have I mentioned that I love my K’tan?  I love my K’tan!! 🙂  Mostly because Evie loves my K’tan….5 Months19

5 Months11Soooo, this big open mouthed smile thing Evelyn is always doing…..  It’s beyond adorable and also slightly goofy.  It struck me yesterday that she is probably doing it because that’s the idiotic face I make every time I am playing with and talking to her.  Oops.  I’m pretty sure she thinks that is how you smile now.  Good one, Mama.5 Months12

Here’s another expression winner.  I call it the “innocently startled” look.5 Months8

I’m loving (mostly) every minute with this cute little bundle of sweetness.  She is one of my two tiny joys!! 5 Months155 Months175 Months16