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Recipes and food musings for the global home cook.

Frozen artichoke hearts that have not been marinated or brined work best for this recipe. (The Runaway Spoon)

A new twist for artichoke dip

By The Runaway Spoon / 04.23.14

Creamy artichoke dip has long been a staple a parties and gatherings. Lots of mayonnaise and marinated artichoke hearts and gooey cheese. It has never been a favorite of mine, because it is so rich and always tastes more of mayonnaise than anything else. 

I set out to create a dish everyone would be intrigued by, but surprised to find it veered so from the classic. I’ve seen recipes pairing artichokes and goat cheese, but wanted to add a lot of tang to complement the artichokes. Goat cheese, lemon, capers, and yogurt give this spread body and zip, with the added herbs for layered flavors.

I prefer using frozen artichoke hearts that have not been marinated or brined to keep their flavor up front. This spread is so easy to prepare but gives such complex results it’s a real party trick. It is wonderful spread on toasted baguette slices, but it can be dipped with hearty chips. It’s good spread on a bagel, too.

Artichoke, goat cheese, and lemon spread

1 (14-ounce) package frozen artichoke hearts

1 clove garlic

2 tablespoons fresh oregano

2 tablespoons fresh parsley

1 tablespoon capers in brine

Zest of 1 medium lemon

2–3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice, to taste

4 ounces soft goat cheese

6 ounces Greek yogurt

1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Salt and pepper to taste

1. Cook the artichoke hearts according to the package directions. Drain and leave to cool.

2. Place the artichoke hearts, garlic, herbs, and capers in the bowl of a food processor and pulse several times to break everything up. Add the remaining ingredients and process until smooth and spreadable. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

3. Scrape the spread into a bowl, cover and refrigerate for several hours to allow the flavors to meld. Serve with toasted baguette slices or crackers.

Related post on The Runaway Spoon: Cheddar Chutney Spread

Lamb shoulder chops are more affordable than lamb rib or loin chops. (Blue Kitchen)

Top cheap cuts: Five flavorful, budget-friendly meat choices

By Blue Kitchen / 04.22.14

For many home cooks, meat takes the biggest bite out of the food budget. There are plenty of cheap cuts, though. Some require a little extra care to tenderize them (or acceptance of the fact that their extra fat is what makes them delicious as well as affordable), but all will reward you with big flavor while saving you money. Here are five cheap cuts we love.

Lamb shoulder chops

Lamb’s wonderfully rich flavor is often matched by its price tag. Not these guys. Lamb shoulder chops (like the one pictured above) deliver as much or more lamby goodness as pricier (and tinier) lamb rib or loin chops. And their sometimes chewy texture can be tenderized quickly with a citrus marinade or dry brining. They also respond well to braising.

Ground chuck

You know those amazingly juicy $15 hamburgers we all love? One reason we love them is that they’re full of fat. Probably more fat, in fact, than the 15 to 20 percent of fat in ground chuck, the cheapest ground beef at the supermarket. So (on occasion, anyway) skip the ground sirloin or bison or turkey and enjoy an honest, juice-down-your-chin, extra-cash-in-your-pocket burger. And cook it medium rare to medium, or why bother?

Chuck roast

Is there anyone anywhere who doesn’t have fond memories of pot roast or beef stew? Chuck roast, the preferred meat for both these hearty meals, comes from the cow’s shoulder. These hardworking muscles contain long fibers and connective tissue, giving the meat the potential for toughness. Long, low-temperature cooking in braising juices tenderizes this inexpensive cut and enhances its satisfying, beefy flavor. And it may not always become fork tender, but when it tastes this good, do you really care? A favorite pot roast recipe of mine is the Provençal dish, Layered Pot Roast with Anchovies, Capers and Garlic.

Flank steak

Flank steak comes from the cow’s abdominal muscles and has long, hardworking fibers. Far more flavorful than more tender filet mignon or strip steaks, it is perfect for marinating and then quickly grilling. You can also pan sear it, but don’t overcook it. More than medium rare and you’ll toughen it up and dry it out. Slicing it thinly across the grain overcomes the stringy fiber problem. This Grilled Moroccan Flank Steak makes delicious use of this inexpensive cut.

Whole chicken

The most economical cut of chicken is often no cut at all. Sometimes bone-in thighs or drumsticks may be a little less per pound, but a whole chicken can provide a number of meals – and more flexibility. Cutting up a chicken is really quite easy and yields various pieces for a few dishes. You can also roast an entire chicken and eat part of it as a meal, then use the leftover cold chicken for sandwiches, salads, or just out-of-the-fridge, eat-over-the-sink midnight snacks. And be sure to save the carcass to flavor a soup. If you’re not in the mood to cook, a store bought rotisserie chicken can provide the same multiple meals economically.

And some formerly cheap cuts that aren’t anymore. Oxtails, short ribs, and chicken wings are among the “leftover” cuts that used to be practically given away. They were often bought by thrifty home cooks to flavor soups or stretch food budgets. But between current nose-to-tail cooking trends and the elevation of chicken wings to bar food gold, they can be as pricey as steaks. The good news is that, whatever they cost, they’re still great to cook with.

This recipe is involved, so split the work up over more than one day. The results will be well worth it. (The Runaway Spoon)

Southern cornbread chicken and dressing with gravy

By The Runaway Spoon / 04.22.14

My life sometimes requires comfort cooking. Not comfort food, but comfort cooking, though the two are not mutually exclusive. Comfort food for me is old classics that bring back happy memories, sometimes bittersweet, or that make a down day worthwhile. Often, that means food prepared by someone other than me.

Comfort cooking is me, in the kitchen, alone. Usually silent but for the gentle whirr of the refrigerator, sometimes music in the background. My favorite kitchen tools around me. Absolute surety in what I am doing. No complicated techniques, no ingredients I am hoping to understand better. No attempt to deconstruct or decipher a dish created by someone more skilled than me. No worries about how others will perceive the end result. No concerns that it might not turn out how I’d hoped. Sometimes it’s a dish I want to share with my nearest and dearest, but I may not, just savor it comfortably, happily in splendid seclusion.

Chicken and dressing is comfort cooking for me. In fact, I rather suspect that when this is seen by others, my friends and family may call to chide that I have never made chicken and dressing for them. It’s not a dish from my childhood, in fact I may have first had a pallid version in a school cafeteria and later only in meat-and-three joints. But it has all the elements of comfort cooking and comfort food for me. Simple tasks – making stock, dicing vegetables, baking cornbread, mincing herbs. A lot of steps, but none difficult or distracting.

I can stand at my post at the kitchen counter, my favorite spot in my beloved home, and work the knife or stir the stock, the fragrance of real cooking around me, and think. Just think and feel and be. I don’t watch the clock or worry about what’s next. Because what’s next is something simple and wonderful. Every step, every element made by me. I don’t even care that the sinks are full of dishes, or there is cornmeal dusted on the floor. Problems for another day.

The recipe may seem lengthy, but it can be done in gentle stages. Your home will fill with the wonderful aroma of the stock simmering, the cornbread baking, the vegetables softening and the whole cooking together. That alone is worth the effort.

Southern cornbread chicken and dressing with gravy
Serves 6 

The stock and chicken

3-4 pound chicken, giblets removed

2 carrots

2 celery stalks

1 small onion

2 cloves garlic

1 leek

2 bay leaves

1 tablespoon black peppercorns

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1. Place the chicken and all the stock ingredients in a 7 quart or larger pot and add 12 cups of water. Bring to a boil over high heat, skim off any scum that rises. Reduce the heat to medium low and cover. Simmer for 4 hours.

2. Taste the stock, it should be nice and rich. Simmer a bit longer if needed. Remove the chicken to a plate, then strain the broth through a colander lined with cheesecloth or a thin tea towel into a large bowl. Discard the vegetables. Pull the meat from the chicken and discard the skin, bones and any unpleasant bits. Refrigerate the meat and the stock for several hours (I frequently do this the day before). Skim the fat from the top of the stock. Reserve the chicken and the stock to complete the dish.

The cornbread

1 cup yellow cornmeal

1 cup all-purpose flour

4 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 cup buttermilk

1/4 cup vegetable oil

1 egg

1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Place a 9-inch cast iron skillet in the oven to heat.

2. Stir the cornmeal, flour, baking powder, and salt together in a large bowl until completely combined. Add the milk, egg, and oil and stir just until the batter comes together and there are no visible dry ingredients. Remove the skillet from the oven using an oven mitt and carefully spread the batter in the hot pan. Return the skillet to the oven and bake for 20 minutes until the cornbread is golden and dry. Cool completely in the skillet.

The dressing

1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter

2 carrots, finely diced

2 celery stalks, finely diced

1 small yellow onion, finely diced

2 cloves garlic minced

3 sprigs sage, finely minced

2 stalks rosemary, finely minced

3 sprigs thyme, finely minced

1/4 cup parsley, finely minced

The reserved chicken meat

1 cup milk

2 eggs

3–4 cups reserved chicken broth

Salt and black pepper

1. Break the cornbread into large chunks in a large bowl.

2. Melt the butter over medium-high heat in a skillet. Add the diced carrot, celery, and onion and cook until the vegetables are beginning to soften and the onion is translucent, but not browning. Add the garlic and cook for a further minute. Add 1/2 cup of the reserved chicken broth and cook, stirring occasionally, until the liquid has evaporated and the vegetables are soft. Stir in the minced herbs and cook about a minute until fragrant. Scrape the vegetables into the bowl with the cornbread. Stir to combine and begin breaking the cornbread into smaller pieces.

3. Chop the chicken meat into small bite-sized pieces. The tender meat will fall apart, but I think it is best when there are discernible pieces of chicken in the dressing rather than shreds. Stir the chicken into the cornbread and vegetables to distribute evenly.

4. Measure the milk in a 2-cup jug, then add the eggs and beat well. Stir into the dressing, then add 1 cup of chicken broth and stir until the dressing is evenly moist. Spread the dressing into a deep 8-inch square baking dish. Do not press it down, just spread it in a nice, even layer. (At this point, you can cover and refrigerate for several hours or overnight.)

5. When ready to cook, preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Pour 1-1/2 cups of stock over the dressing. Cover tightly with foil and bake for 20 minutes. Remove the foil and bake a further 20 minutes until browned on the top. If the dressing looks dry when you remove the foil, drizzle over a bit more stock.

The gravy

1/4 cup bacon grease

1/4 cup butter

1/2 cup flour

2 cups chicken stock

Salt and pepper to taste

1. Melt the bacon grease and butter together in a medium saucepan. Stir in the flour until it is smooth and combined. 

2. Continue cooking, stirring constantly, for 3–5 minutes until the foaming subsides and you have a light toffee brown roux, like a fraternity boy’s khaki pants or a roasted peanut shell.

3. Reduce the heat to medium low and slowly stir in the stock. Cook until the gravy is smooth. If you like a thinner gravy, add more stock to reach your preferred consistency. Season to taste with salt and black pepper (I like a lot of pepper).

Related post on The Runaway Spoon: Buttermilk Pecan Chicken with Herb Cream Gravy 

Use leftover Easter ham to make a ham salad sandwich. (A Palatable Pastime)

Easter leftovers? Make a ham salad.

By A Palatable Pastime / 04.21.14

You won’t need special powers to know that most people will be knee deep in leftover ham from Easter, and the same thing happens year round during holiday seasons. Ham is an obvious choice for feeding large groups, but it often lingers for days afterward. This recipe is a great way to use up a bit of that for lunch and it is quite simple to make.

Of course, if you like to make something like Ham and Bean Soup or Creamy Ham and Beans with your leftover ham, I have recipes for those as well, or perhaps your ham is really huge and you will want to try several recipes. And why not? They are really delicious and can be looked forward to as much as the ham in the main event itself.

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So look to your market for special prices on hams during the holiday season and don’t fret too much if the ham is a bit more than you need. Take advantage of the economical prices and eat well with several different ham recipes.

Ham Salad

Serves 4

1 pound ham, finely chopped or coarsely ground

4-6 tablespoons mayonnaise

1 teaspoon Dijon mustard

1 rib celery, finely diced

2 tablespoons finely chopped onion or shallot

2 tablespoons pickle relish

Salt and black pepper, to taste

1. Pulse leftover ham chunks in a food processor until coarsely ground but not pasty; alternatively, finely mince with a chef’s knife.

2. Stir together ingredients, seasoning to taste with salt and black pepper.

3. Serve on bread or hard rolls with additional condiments, if desired.

Related posts on A Palatable Pastime: Ham and Bean Soup and Creamy Ham and Beans

RECOMMENDED: 22 summer salads

Toss cold, cooked grains with sprouts, greens, carrots, feta, add proscuitto for a tasty salad mix. (In Praise of Leftovers)

Spring sprout and farro salad

By In Praise of Leftovers / 04.20.14

The Bellingham Farmers Market in Bellingham, Wash., opened recently. Nettles, kale, radishes, the traditional throwing of the cabbage. (By the mayor, no less. Did you know I have a thing about celebrity sightings? Unhappily for me, the mayor of Bellingham is my lone conquest.) And lots of Bellinghamsters geeking out over local everything.

Though I'm not disciplined or resourced enough to do all my shopping at the farmers market, going and spending whenever I can is fun and helps me feel more connected to the hard-working farms around here. My parents and I gathered a little picnic of aged Ladysmith cheese and a round of herbed focaccia from The Breadfarm. Even though it was gray and rainy, I couldn't help but feel more spring-y. And radish-y.

My mom and I couldn't resist the big bins of sunflower sprouts. Here's what I did with them today:

Spring Sprout and Farro Salad

 Serves 2

Take 1-1/2 cups of cold, cooked grains. I used farro, but you could use lentils, barley, brown rice, quinoa, etc. Toss them with a giant handful of sunflower (or other) sprouts, some chopped greens (I used dandelion greens), shredded carrot, a tablespoon of capers, crumbled feta, toasted walnuts, a big squeeze of lemon juice, a little lemon rind, fresh ground pepper, and a big glug of olive oil. Taste before you salt it since capers and feta are so salty. I had some proscuitto around (my secret weapon these days) so I fried a couple slices and tore them over the top.

Related post on In Praise of Leftovers: Asparagus herb salad with crispy chorizo

Love peanut butter blossoms at Christmas? These butter cookies topped with colorful candy will become your new Easter favorites. (The Pastry Chef's Baking)

Easter jewel cookies

By The Pastry Chef's Baking / 04.19.14

For the past few years, for Easter, I've made some kind of "nest" or basket dessert recipe. I've done Nutella Rice Krispie Easter BasketsChocolate Easter Baskets made out of chocolate and pretzels, and Almond Joy Brownie Easter Nests. Traditional Easter desserts can also include carrot cake or anything with lemon to capture the springtime essence.

You'll notice that my Easter creations tend to center around using Cadbury mini eggs. Meaning the only reason I make something is to serve as an excuse to buy my annual bag of mini eggs and put them on top of something. This year I was out of nest/basket ideas and a search for "Easter cookies" came up with a horrifyingly beautiful assortment of iced and decorated cookies. The kind that's out of the reach of my decorating skills. But I did find this recipe from Saving You Dinero and loved it for its simplicity.

It's essentially a little butter cookie you bake and then you push a mini egg into the center (the original recipe called for peanut M&Ms but I took liberties) as soon as you take the cookies out of the oven. The pastel colors represent springtime and you remain loyal to the Easter icon of the eggs. I also like it because if you have kids, they can easily help you with this recipe. Even if they're too young for the actual making of the dough, at least they can have the fun of pushing the mini egg into the cookie. They can "help" and it's a fun family activity – always a good way to celebrate Easter.

RECOMMENDED: 15 Easter recipes

I really liked these cookies. Not only do they have the springtime Easter cuteness factor, but they're also quick and easy to make, you make the dough ahead of time and freeze so you can bake them on your schedule, and most importantly, they taste good. Use fresh butter (of course) to get that butter goodness taste shining through.

The cookies don't spread if you bake from frozen dough, something I highly recommend. Make the dough balls small to keep them proportional to the size of the Cadbury mini eggs. These are especially good if you eat them lukewarm as the chocolate inside the candy shell, while not melty, will be soft. As always, do not over-bake these. The cookies won't turn brown except on the bottom, so time them and don't leave them in for too long or they'll easily become dry. Baked just right, they're a little bite of buttery goodness. Just like peanut butter blossoms seem to be a traditional cookie at Christmas, I think these just became my go-to Easter cookie.

Easter jewel cookies
From Saving You Dinero

1 cup unsalted butter, softened

1 cup granulated sugar

2 eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

Pastel M&Ms or Cadbury mini eggs

1. Cream butter and sugar in a large mixing bowl. Mix in egg and vanilla until well incorporated then add flour, salt, and baking powder slowly.

2. Split dough in half and wrap in plastic. Refrigerate for 1 hour. Alternatively, you can form into dough balls and freeze 12 minutes prior to baking.

3. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

4. If you haven't already, shape dough into small balls about the size of a walnut and place 2 inches apart on baking sheets lined with parchment paper.

5. Bake for about 10-12 minutes, until lightly browned on the bottom edges. Do not over-bake.

6. Remove from the oven and immediately press one pastel M&M or Cadbury mini egg into the center of each cookie. Remove from baking sheet and allow to cool completely.

Related post on The Pastry Chef's Baking: Cadbury Mini Eggs Blondies 

RECOMMENDED: 15 Easter recipes

Homemade marshmallow chicks might not look quite as perfect as store-bough Peeps, but they're fun and easy to make, and taste much better. (Laura Edwins/The Christian Science Monitor)

Easter candy: Homemade Peeps that are better than store-bought

By Staff Writer / 04.18.14

Americans love Peeps. Each year, we eat about 700 million marshmallow Peep chicks and bunnies.

I guess that leaves me in the Peep-hating minority. I could never muster an appetite for more than one or two. To me, store-bought Peeps have an awful taste and texture, like old, hard cotton candy. I know this, but each year when they make their  Easter appearance in the grocery store aisles, I’m smitten. The cheerful chicks are deceptively cute in shades of yellow, pink, lavender, and blue. Why can’t they taste as great as they look? 

So when a recipe for homemade Peeps came across the Stir It Up! desk that addressed this very problem, I was more than a little excited. The instructions seemed simple enough, and a brief conversation with the recipe’s author, About.com candy expert and candy chef Elizabeth LaBau, confirmed I wasn’t alone in my Peep predicament.

"The Peeps you buy in the store tend to be stale and kind of tough or chewy,” Ms. LaBau explained. “The texture of the homemade Peeps is much better, and the fact that you can flavor it with your best vanilla extract or a fresh lemon flavor means the flavor is pure.”

I was sold. But executing the chick bodies seemed a bit difficult. LaBau’s instructions require wielding a pastry bag, and piping pretty specific shapes. I’m no expert pastry chef, but LaBau provided a few helpful tips, and this step-by-step tutorial.

“The first couple will probably be a little rough,” LaBau warned. “It will be more successful with a piping bag with the round tip. Fill the bag half full so you have more precision and control, and work with smaller quantities and practice. It shouldn’t take too long before you get comfortable.”

She was right, filling the piping bag halfway made things easier, though I did struggle with my releases. I ended up with a variety of chicks, none as perfect as LaBau's. Some really looked like chicks, others had extra-long tails, were looking in a funny direction, were a little chubby, or were more marshmallow blob than anything else. (Warning, do not try to "fix" misshapen chicks with your fingers... it just doesn't work.) My chicks don't look exactly like store-bought Peeps, but I think they're pretty cute in their own way. 

After sprinkling my chicks with sugar and adding a dot for eyes, all that was left to do was to taste them. They were much better than the store-bought kind; the marshmallow texture was very soft, fluffy, and fresh. Most people prefer to eat Peeps head first, but I'm a all-in-one-bite kind of girl, and made my chicks a little small with that in mind. I'll save my candy decapitation impulse for the chocolate Easter bunny.

Still intimidated by piping the chicks or want more even more Easter candy recipes? Check out some more of LaBau's favorites: peanut butter eggsspeckled Easter eggsPeeps s’moresPeeps popsEaster bird nests, and chocolate-dipped Peeps.  

Marshmallow chicks
From Elizabeth LaBau at About.com
Yields about 20 (I made mine slightly smaller and got about 30)

3 cups sugar, divided 

Yellow food coloring (may substitute pink, lavender, blue, or other pastel colors)

9 tablespoons water, divided 

2-1/2 teaspoons (1 envelope) unflavored gelatin

1 teaspoon vanilla extract, or any other flavoring you'd like (LaBau suggests trying lemon, coconut, or almond extract)

1 tablespoon cocoa powder or chocolate chips

Special equipment

Piping bag with 1/2-inch round tip (Don't have a 1/2-inch tip? The coupler base works just fine.)

Candy thermometer

Mixer with whisk attachment (You'll be beating the candy for over 10 minutes, so a stand mixer works best for this recipe.)

1. Place 2 cups of the granulated sugar in a large, gallon-size zip-top bag. Add a few drops of yellow food coloring to the sugar. Massage the coloring and sugar together with your hands through the plastic bag, adding more color if necessary to achieve the desired hue. It will take a few minutes to fully distribute the color, so be patient and thorough. Sift the sugar once it is the color you want so that any remaining clumps of color can be removed.

2. Prepare a baking sheet by lining it with aluminum foil. Generously spread a layer of colored sugar on the foil.

3. Place the gelatin and 5 tablespoons of the water in a small bowl and stir. Allow the gelatin to sit for several minutes. (There will be lumps of gelatin at this point, that's OK.)

4. Combine the remaining 1 cup of plain granulated sugar and 4 tablespoons of water in a small saucepan. Insert a candy thermometer, bring to a boil over medium heat and cook to soft-ball stage (235 degrees F.).

5. Once it reaches the correct temperature, remove the pan from the heat and add in the gelatin mixture. Stir with a whisk or a spatula until it is thoroughly combined and no gelatin lumps remain.

6. Pour the hot gelatin syrup in the bowl of an electric mixer. Allow it to cool until it is barely warm to the touch.

7. Once the gelatin is just warm, begin to beat it with a whisk attachment. Start on medium speed, and once the mixture is no longer clear but has turned white and opaque, add the vanilla (or other flavoring) and turn the mixer to high speed.

8. Beat for 10 minutes, until the candy is stiff, glossy and white. Add in a few drops of liquid yellow food coloring and beat until well-distributed.

9. Immediately place the candy in a pastry bag fitted with a 1/2–inch round tip (or a coupler base without a tip). Pipe the chicks onto the baking sheet covered with colored sugar. To pipe the chicks, begin with the body: hold the bag an inch above the surface at a 90 degree angle. Squeeze the marshmallow out, allowing it to form a 1-inch round before beginning to pull back towards you. Taper as you move backward, forming a 3-inch body. Release pressure and pull the bag upward to form the “tail.”

10. Next, form the chick head by again placing the bag at a 90 degree angle. Pipe on top of your body segment, and move the bag back toward the tail. Once you have reached the middle of the body, reverse directions and move the bag back toward the front of the chick's body. Simultaneously release pressure on the bag so that the marshmallow stops flowing and tapers off into a "beak" shape. Now is a great time to refer to the marshmallow chicks photo tutorial to help you out! Depending on the size of your chicks, you should get about 18-20 marshmallow chicks from this recipe.

11. While the marshmallow is still wet, sprinkle the chicks all over with the remaining colored sugar.

12. Mix the cocoa powder with a few drops of water to form a thick paste, or melt the chocolate chips in the microwave. Use a small paintbrush or a toothpick to dot the chocolate on the chicks to form eyes. (Work carefully, the chocolate easily bleeds and spreads into the sugar.)

13. Let the marshmallow chicks sit out at room temperature for 4-6 hours to set the marshmallow before enjoying them. Store them at room temperature in an airtight container, and for best texture, enjoying within 2-3 days.

Old-fashioned recipes, like this Hawaiian brown sugar glazed ham, are secretly everyone's favorite holiday dishes. (A Palatable Pastime)

Easter recipe: Go retro with Hawaiian brown sugar glazed ham

By A Palatable Pastime / 04.17.14

Hawaiian brown sugar glazed ham is a more retro, old-fashioned, and traditional way top make baked ham, one a lot of folks are familiar with and enjoy. It is quite easy to make as well and makes a cheerful addition to any holiday table or buffet.

During holiday seasons, the most beloved dishes are ones people have memories of eating all their lives. So in this way, the breaking of bread not only is a festive and fun way to spend a holiday with family and friends, but is also a way of keeping tradition, and remembering what has been.

I hope this recipe can become part of your family traditions if you don’t have a recipe you already use. Even if you do, look this one over and see if there is anything you can do to simplify or improve the recipe you have.

RECOMMENDED: 15 Easter recipes

I have a recipe I use for a larger bone-in ham (Brown Sugar Glazed Baked Ham) but this recipe is written for the half ham size, boneless. You can also easily do this with a whole boneless ham – just double the glaze amounts accordingly.

I do hope you enjoy and that your Easter season is full of love, blessings and joy as we celebrate the renewal of life everywhere.

Hawaiian Brown Sugar Glazed Ham

Time: 2 hours
Serves 8

1 3-lb. boneless ham

1 15-ounce can sliced pineapple in juice

1 jar maraschino cherries (no stems)

Wooden toothpicks (not the frilled type)
 

For the glaze:

1/4 cup brown sugar

2 tablespoons light corn syrup

1 tablespoon or more pineapple juice

Pinch cloves

1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.

2. Score ham lightly across the skin side.

3. Place cut side down in a square casserole dish or glass brownie pan and pour juice from the canned pineapple around it.

4. Pin pineapple rings and cherries to the ham using toothpicks.

5. Tent ham with foil (it doesn’t matter if the toothpicks poke through).

6. Bake, covered, at 325 degrees F. for 30 minutes.

7. Meanwhile, mix brown sugar, corn syrup, pineapple juice and cloves in a Pyrex measuring cup and stir.

8. Microwave mixture for 30 seconds to 1 minute, stirring halfway through,m until the sugar dissolves into a thick syrup; set aside.

9. Remove foil from ham and using a silicone basting brush, paint the syrup mixture around the top and sides of ham.

10. Return to oven, uncovered, and bake for another 30-60 minutes or until hot, basting occasionally with pan juices.

11. Slice ham before serving and serve with a garnish of pineapple and cherry.

Related post on a Palatable Pastime: Brown Sugar Glazed Baked Ham

RECOMMENDED: 15 Easter recipes

Forget the typical breakfast casserole and go with a pure egg dish. Add your favorite baked good, some bacon or sausage, and fresh fruit for a beautiful brunch. (The Runaway Spoon)

Easter brunch: Creamy scrambled egg casserole

By The Runaway Spoon / 04.16.14

I have, for many years, been searching and experimenting with recipes for a make-ahead breakfast casserole that is all egg. The classic breakfast casserole around here is sausage, cheese, and bread bound with an egg and milk custard, and I have made many variations of that. But I wanted something that didn’t include bread or other elements, because so often, a brunch spread includes them in other forms.

Okay, for the big holidays, indulgence is the norm – I have been known to serve a plate of bacon and a sausage casserole, cheesy grits, biscuits and muffins – but that is not always the way to go. It has been my goal to serve a simple, scrambled egg casserole alongside the bacon and ham and biscuits and preserves, not adding to the overload, just complimenting it. And most off all, I don’t want to be up early cracking eggs and cooking them to order.

This is the result of trial and error, combining the best bits of all sorts of community cookbook recipes. My version below is very simple, jazzed up only with a little sharp green onion and some chives, but the brilliance of this is its adaptability. Add ingredients that suit the rest of your brunch spread – a combination of other fresh herbs, some finely diced peppers or mushrooms, even a little bacon or ham.

RECOMMENDED: 15 Easter recipes

Creamy scrambled egg casserole
Serves 6–8 

5 tablespoons butter, divided

2 1/2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

2 cups milk

1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

1 (8-ounce) bar cream cheese

12 eggs

2 green onions, finely chopped

2 tablespoons finely chopped chives

Salt and pepper to taste

1. Melt 2 tablespoons of the butter in a medium saucepan. Stir in the flour until you have a smooth paste. Slowly add the milk, whisking constantly, until smooth. Add the nutmeg and a pinch of salt and cook, stirring frequently, until the sauce is thickened and smooth, about five minutes. Cut the cream cheese into small cubes and whisk it, bit by bit, into the sauce until it is smooth and melted. Remove from the heat.

2. Break the eggs into a bowl and whisk thoroughly, until the yolks are broken up and the eggs are well combined. Whisk in a dash of salt and a few grinds of pepper. Melt the remaining 3 tablespoons of butter in a large, deep skillet over medium heat. Pour in the eggs and cook gently to form large, soft curds. Do not “scramble” the eggs too much, just gently push the cooked egg aside to let the uncooked egg cover the bottom of the pan.

3. When the eggs are almost cooked, but some uncooked liquid is left, remove the pan from the heat and pour the cream sauce over the top. Sprinkle over the chopped green onion and chives, then fold the sauce through the eggs. At this point, you can break up any large egg pieces to distribute evenly through the sauce. Taste and add salt and pepper as needed.

4. Spread the eggs into a well-greased 9 by 13-inch baking dish. Leave to cool, then cover and refrigerate overnight.

5. When ready to serve, preheat the oven to 300 degrees F., and cook the eggs just until heated through, about 20 minutes. Serve immediately.

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Pudding mix makes these chocolate chunk cookies extra moist and soft. (The Pastry Chef's Baking)

Chocolate chip pudding cookies

By The Pastry Chef's Baking / 04.15.14

Whenever I search Pinterest and I see a picture of chubby, moist, yummy-looking cookies, even before I see the source site, I always think it's from Averie Cooks – and 99 percent of the time I'm right. I've come to think of it as her baking signature and it's always the kind of cookies I like best: thick, chewy, moist, and delicious. And I don't think I've ever gone wrong whenever I make one of her cookie recipes. I'm not wrong on this one either.

Pudding cookies, aka cookies with pudding mix in them, are almost always soft in texture and moist. Because this one is chocolate, you can add "fudgy" to the description as well. I thought this would pack more of a chocolate punch but it doesn't. Don't get me wrong, it's plenty chocolatey but it's not super, stop-your-molars-in-their-tracks chocolatey. That's not a bad thing because then you can eat more. Oh wait, that's just me.

For optimal taste and texture, let these cool almost completely to room temperature. If you eat them when they're too warm, you'll miss out on the fudgy texture and instead just get gooey mush. But if you really can't wait, just top it off with ice cream and eat like a decadent hot fudge sundae.

Quadruple chocolate soft fudgy pudding cookies 
From Averie Cooks

3/4 cup unsalted butter, softened

3/4 cup light brown sugar, packed

1/4 cup granulated sugar

2 large eggs

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1 4-ounce package chocolate instant pudding mix (not sugar-free or cook 'n serve)

1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

2 cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

Pinch salt, optional and to taste

1 cup semisweet chocolate chips

5 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped into chunks

1. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the butter, sugars, egg, and vanilla; beat on medium-high speed until creamed and well combined, about 4 minutes.

2. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and add the pudding mix and cocoa powder; beat on low speed until just combined, about 1 minute.

3. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and add the flour, baking soda, and salt if using; beat on low speed until just combined, about 1 minute.

4. Add the chocolate chips and chocolate chunks. Beat on low speed until just combined, about 30 seconds. Reserve a handful of the chips and chunks to add to the last of the dough after you make into dough balls to make sure the chips are evenly distributed.

5. Using a large cookie scoop or a 1/4-cup measure, form dough into golf-ball-size dough balls. Place in refrigerator or freezer until thoroughly chilled, at least 2 hours.

6. When ready to bake, preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line baking sheets with parchment paper and place dough balls on baking sheet, spaced at least 2 inches apart. Bake for 10 minutes or until edges have set and tops are just set. Do not over-bake. Cookies will firm up as they cool.

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