Sweet Glazed Ham

This ham is just sooooo good! I helped my mother-in-law prep it by spreading the glaze (yep, that was my part!). 

We used the Boar's Head Brown Sugar and Spice Glaze and Boar's Head Ham to make this delicious combo. Nope, not a sponsored post. We just love Boar's Head. It is so worth paying the extra money to have this good quality meat.

Anyway, we basically followed what it said in the bottle of the glaze. The result was a delicious sweet and savory ham that we enjoyed for lunch, plus several sandwiches afterwards.  


Tropical Dump Cake

One evening, I invited my in-laws over to have dinner in our house, and my mother-in-law suggested that we have "Dump Cake" for dessert. It was the first time I have ever heard of it in my entire life, and the images that danced in my mind weren't very pleasant. The first words that came out of my mouth was, "uhhh.... DUMP cake?" And my mother-in-law said, "yes, it is called dump cake because you dump together all the ingredients. It's very easy."

So after showing me the recipe and how to make it - which was indeed easy because all you have to do is dump everything in a crock pot - I was sold! Actually, I was told that dump cake is traditionally baked in an oven like a regular cake. But since this is my first dump cake, I am thinking that I would forever make it in a crockpot. ;-)

Fair warning - this cake is highly addictive because of all the sugar, butter, and syrup in it! But these ingredients are what makes it taste so AWESOME! 

Recipe adapted and tweaked from here.

What you need:

5 packs (3.75 oz each) fruit cups in juice (tropical fruits)
2 teaspoons cornstarch
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
1 cup butter, softened (not melted)
1 box yellow cake mix (I used Betty Crocker)

What to do: 

Grease your crock pot by spraying it with cooking spray. Reserve 1/2 cup of juice from the fruit cups; pour the remaining juice and fruits in the crock pot.

Tropical fruits galore!

In a small bowl, combine the reserved fruit juice and corn starch. Mix well. Pour the mixture in the crock pot and stir.

Sprinkle brown sugar, then the cake mix on top of the fruits. Cut butter in small pieces and place over the cake mix. Make sure all parts are covered with these ingredients!

Cover and cook on low for about 3 hours, or until cake is set when lightly touched in the center. Spoon warm cake into dessert bowls and top with fruit mixture. Enjoy!

Tips, Tricks, and Tweaks: 

1. You can also do this recipe using just one kind of fruit - say, peach. Or blackberries. Or pineapples. You get the drift.
2. A sprinkle of cinnamon with the brown sugar would be very good, I imagine.
3. As I have mentioned above, you can make this cake in an oven if you don't have a slow cooker.


White Pork Afritada

Yet again, this dish was inspired by Kuya Dennis' post. I love how he would take traditional dishes and tweak it to make a new dish. I always trust his recipes because he has three kids as taste-testers!

I also did some tweaking of my own. I used pork instead of chicken, and since I don't have cream in the fridge, I used evaporated milk. That has always been my go-to ingredient because it makes everything creamier, and it is so easy to stock because of its long shelf-life. And since hubby is in his "olive cravings," I had to put in some olives.

This dish was really delicious. Very flavorful and savory, with a little hint of creaminess. I also didn't feel too guilty eating it, because I loaded it with a lot of veggies. Healthy and yummy!

What you need: 

1 pound pork shoulder, cubed into bite-size pieces
1 Russet potato, wedged
1/2 cup frozen peas, thawed
2 cups baby carrots
1 green bell pepper, diced
1 1/2 cups beef broth
1/4 Vidalia onion, sliced
3/4 cup evaporated milk
4 cloves of garlic, minced
1/4 cup Spanish olives, drained
1 tablespoon of butter
salt, to taste

What to do: 

In a pan, heat butter over medium-high. Saute garlic and onion. Add cubed pork and cook, stirring until brown (about 2 to 5 minutes, depending on how thick the cuts are). Add carrots and potatoes, then pour in broth. Bring to a boil, then set heat to low. Let simmer for around 10 minutes, or until pork and veggies are tender.

Add the rest of the veggies, and the evaporated milk. Season with salt. Continue cooking for about 5 more minutes. Serve hot.

Tips, Tricks and Tweaks: 

1. No broth? Use bouillon cubes instead. Or just water will do.
2. You can also make this recipe using chicken.
3. Make sure veggies are relatively the same size for even cooking.
4. Not a fan of evaporated milk? Use cream or regular milk instead.


Corned Beef Hash


Silly as it may sound, "canned corned beef" is one of the foods that I miss eating. I used to take it for granted when I was still living in 'Pinas, only having it when there is no other option. But since living here in the States, I have yet to try canned corned beef. Not for anything, we just like eating "fresh" for a change. The lesser chemicals in it, the better. (Wish I could do that with cake!)

Hubby probably got tired of hearing me say "I want corned beef" so he got some for me a few days ago. Not the canned variety, though. It was from the deli. I have to admit, my first thoughts were "uhmmm... this isn't corned beef. Corned beef comes in cans." But after tasting it, it was indeed corned beef. Only fresher. :-)

So I prepared it the way I know how - "guisado." Here, this dish is called corned beef hash. However they call it, it was yummy!

What you need: 

1/2 pound corned beef slices (I used Boar's Head)
1 medium-sized potato, peeled and cubed
3 cloves of garlic, minced
1/4 of a large Vidalia onion
1 tablespoon (about 2 sprigs) of fresh thyme
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
salt and pepper, to taste
beef broth (optional)

What to do: 

Chop corned beef slices and set aside. Place the cubed potatoes in a pan and add just enough water to cover them. Boil the potatoes for about 8 minutes. Drain and set aside.

Heat butter in a wok or large pan over medium-high. Saute garlic and onions for about a minute, then add chopped corned beef, fresh thyme and boiled potatoes. Season with salt and pepper. Cook for about 2 to 3 minutes over medium heat. If it seems too dry for you, add a bit of beef broth. Serve hot!

Tips, Tricks and Tweaks: 

1. This is a great recipe to make for leftover corned beef and cabbage dinners!
2. Yes, I over-potatoed. I didn't want to eat it with rice so I just put more potatoes in it. Use less potatoes if you wish.
3. Add a dash of dried oregano for a deeper flavor profile.
4. Substitute butter with canola or vegetable oil.


Decadent Baked Mac and Cheese

This is truly a decadent and delicious mac and cheese dish. Hubby found the recipe after searching through several cook books and cooking sites. Truth be told, I love his enthusiasm in the kitchen. He is always very adventurous and his palate is ever-increasing. He is my taste-tester, ingredients-buyer, sous chef, and number one fan. ;-)

When we were newly weds, we would often buy boxed mac and cheese for quick side dishes. We still buy them now, although less frequently because we love to experiment nowadays with whatever we have in the pantry. 

Hubby was very eager and excited when we were making this dish. And for a good reason - the original recipe was from chef Joe Randall, who is one of the top chefs in Savannah, GA and also has his own cooking school! We tweaked the recipe a bit, to use the ingredients we have,  and it was sooo good that hubby almost ate all of it in one sitting. 

What you need:

1 cup elbow macaroni
1 egg
1 cup evaporated milk
1 1/4 cup grated cheddar cheese
1/4 cup grated smoked gruyere cheese
1/2 cup breadcrumbs
1/4 cup butter, melted (divided)
1 tablespoon Parmesan cheese
1/2 teaspoon salt
pinch of paprika
pinch of cayenne pepper

What to do: 

Preheat oven to 350°F.

Cook macaroni according to package instructions. Drain and rinse with cold water, then set aside.

In a large bowl, beat the egg with milk, 2 tablespoons melted butter, salt and cayenne pepper. In a separate bowl, combine grated cheddar and gruyere cheese.

Place half the cooked macaroni in a buttered casserole dish and top with half the grated cheese. Repeat this procedure with the remaining macaroni and cheese mixture. Pour the egg mixture over the macaroni and cheese.

In a small bowl, mix breadcrumbs with paprika, remaining butter and Parmesan. Sprinkle over mac and cheese. Bake until brown and bubbly, about 40 to 45 minutes.

Tips, Tricks and Tweaks: 

1. Gruyere or any other cheese like smoked applewood, gouda, etc. will be good for this recipe.
2. Halve the bread crumbs mixture if you don't like crust on your mac and cheese (it is delicious, though!)
3. Be creative with your pasta! You can use gemeli, farfalle, shells - any kind of pasta that would be good in "holding sauce."
4. A bit of crumbled bacon on top would do this dish wonders! (Everything's good with bacon, right?)


Habanero Peppers

I am excited about these peppers... We initially tried planting jalapeno peppers, but no matter how meticulous we were in caring for it, they ended up dying (we tried twice with the same results). We were gonna throw the remaining seeds away, but as a last ditch effort, hubby sprinkled them on the dirt where my tomatoes used to be. AND he also dumped a pack of habanero pepper seeds in the same pot.

Well lo and behold. After a few days, we saw several sprouts coming up, and within a few weeks, there were flowers! We didn't know what they were until we saw the fruit - it was the habaneros. We don't know why the jalapenos were duds - maybe it was a bad pack. But we are glad the habaneros took off like wildfire!

The pungency or heat factor of peppers are measured in Scoville units. Bird's eye Chili (siling labuyo) measures 100,000 - 225,000 Scoville units, while habanero peppers rate between 200,000 to 300,000. The hottest pepper, Trinidad Scorpion, is in the 900,000 range. Pure capsaicin (the substance that makes peppers hot) is about 16,000,000 Scoville units. So yes, habaneros are hot. A good rule (from Alton Brown) is that the smaller the pepper is, the hotter it is. And that is why you don't get any heat from bell peppers. However, that is RELATIVE. Don't go munching on peppers just because it doesn't look small to you. 

Anyway, we are waiting for our peppers to ripen before we pick it. Technically, it is already edible, though it won't be as hot when you eat it while it is still green. I'm pretty sure it would turn a bright orange when it matures. I don't know what to do with it - the hottest I've ever ate was a jalapeno pepper (wrapped with bacon, nonetheless) and I almost choked and cried because my whole throat stung. What more this pepper? Oh well. Nachos, perhaps? :-)


Strawberry-Mint Popsicle

This post was inspired by my friend April. She made some healthy yogurt popsicles which inspired me to make my own version. I didn't use yogurt, though, because I prefer smoothie-type popsicles. Yeah. I'm weird that way. ;-)

I also snipped some fresh mint from my garden to give this popsicle a kick. Minty and cool just seems like a great combo to me. Don't worry, though - I don't eat toothpaste! Haha.

Kidding aside, I love having these popsicles on hot summer days. Very refreshing and delish! Easy as pie, too! 

What you need: 

1 1/2 cups fresh strawberries, hulled and sliced
4 tablespoons simple syrup
3 tablespoons lemon juice
1 tablespoon chopped fresh mint

What to do: 

Put everything in a mixer. Blend until smooth. Pour in popsicle molds and freeze for at least 6 hours. Enjoy!

Tips, Tricks and Tweaks: 

1. Experiment with different fruits - blueberries, raspberries, mango... the possibilities are endless!
2. To make simple syrup, just boil an equal ratio of sugar and water (I usually do a cup of water + a cup of sugar, then store it for future use).
3. Too strong mint flavor for you? Reduce the amount of mint to 1/2 tablespoon.

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Bacon, Gruyere and Egg Sandwich

This dish was actually hubby's idea. He bought a block of gruyere cheese as a "surprise" for me (he knows I love smoked gruyere), but since I can't eat a whole block, he helped me by incorporating it into some dishes. He actually started with bacon topped with gruyere, which led to this sandwich.

I was a bit hesitant to make this, thinking that the strong smoked taste of the cheese would overpower the whole sammich, but the scrambled egg actually balanced it out. The crunch of the bacon paired with the smokiness of the cheese made this dish so delightful and good. Yeahhhh... I can still taste it *smacking lips*.

 I didn't really put exact measurements in the ingredient list. This is the type of dish where you can put however much you want!

What you need: 

slices of toasted bread
Bacon strips
Scrambled eggs
tomato slices
several thin slices of smoked gruyere cheese

What to do: 

Cook the bacon strips in medium heat. When the bacon is almost done, cover each strip with a thin slice of cheese. Cover and cook until cheese melts (about 30 seconds). Remove from heat.

Slather some mayonnaise on toasted bread. Place scrambled eggs, then bacon strips and cheese, then top with tomato slices. Enjoy!

Tips, Tricks and Tweaks: 

1. When beating eggs for scrambling, always remember: less beating gives you dense scrambled eggs, while more beating would produce light and fluffy eggs.
2. Don't forget to salt your scrambled eggs!
3. I find that the best temperature to cook bacon is low to medium. High setting just makes it burn so fast!
4. Build your own sandwich by putting more ingredients - lettuce, ham, etc!


Red, White and Blue Strawberry Cake

Since 4th of July is just around the corner, I thought I'd post this Red, White and Blue Strawberry Cake that I made a few weeks ago. 

Regular readers of my blog would know that I rarely bake things from scratch - only when I am really and truly inspired, OR if we don't have a cake mix in the pantry.  ;-)

I bought this strawberry cake mix because berries were at peak (strawberries, blueberries, raspberries) and I was thinking of copying my mother-in-law's raspberry cake - but using strawberries instead. I already baked the cake, and (as luck would have it), I didn't have frosting! A quick peek in my pantry told me that I don't have enough powdered sugar to make frosting for a 2-layer cake. Darn.

Then I remembered the whipped topping in my freezer. Aaahhh, yes. That will do. Of course, I had to thaw it a bit so it would be "spreadable." And you know what? I found out that I actually like whipped topping in cake. It is not too sweet, and it is very light. I do know that these products have a lot of things that aren't good for you, but I also believe in moderation. So eat up, and don't feel guilty! (Unless you eat it everyday for the next year or so!)

Recipe tweaked from here. Bottle of delicious Polaner Spreadable Fruit (Raspberry) from my mother-in-law!

What you need:

1 box Strawberry Cake Mix (I used Duncan Hines Strawberry Supreme)
1 1/2 cups jam (I used Polaner Spreadable Fruit in Raspberry)
6 oz fresh blueberries
about 10 pieces strawberries, sliced
1 (8 oz) container whipped topping
3 large eggs
1 1/3 cups water
1/3 cup vegetable oil

What to do:

Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease two 9-inch pans with baking spray or butter. Sprinkly flour on the surface and tap off excess.

Prepare and bake cakes according to package instructions. Cool completely on a rack.

Place one cake on a serving tray. If the surface is uneven, trim the top a little bit. Spread the raspberry jam on top of the first layer. Place the second cake on top. Cover the cakes by spreading whipped topping, making sure all surface is covered. Top with sliced strawberries and blueberries. 

Refrigerate for at least one hour. Slice and enjoy!

Tips, Tricks and Tweaks: 

1. For a more "befitting" 4th of July cake, use a 9 X 13 pan and decorate the cake in the shape of the American flag.
2. Substitute raspberry with strawberry jelly.
3. You can also throw in some raspberries for a more festive and yummy cake!
4. As always -  warm eggs to room temperature before using in baking. This is so you get the maximum volume when beating the egg whites.
5. Not a fan of whipped topping? Use butter cream frosting!


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