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Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Have Yourself a Teeny Tiny Christmas

Our Christmas for Two

We decided to spend Christmas day just the two of us together this year and had a fantastic time where neither of us ever even emerged from our jammies.  Dinner was special and tasty, and we had a glass of champagne to toast our first Christmas of married life.  Here’s how it went:
Glazed candied ham with roasted asparagus and (yes, I know) cheesy mashed potatoes (from the night before, shame, shame). 

Ham is a wonderful meat no matter how you slice it (pun intended) and I have always loved the dichotomy of salty and sweet.  I’m one of those people who dips French fries into my milkshake.  So ham and fruit appeals. *shrug*  This is impressive looking when it comes out of the oven and damn delicious to boot.  It doesn’t take long to make a beautiful work of food art out of an ordinary hunk of ham.  This is another one my mom and grandma taught me when I was a little girl and it brings back fond memories of family holidays together.  You can do it with any size ham, I have used this method on a 15 lb ham or, as was the case this year, an itty bitty 1.2 lb hammy baby. We had ourselves a teeny tiny Christmas.  You will need:

A ham
Whole cloves
A can of pineapple rings
A jar of maraschino cherries
½ c brown sugar
2 tbsp butter

Make sure the ham is thawed completely.  If it comes with cooking instructions, (and almost all do) save them, you will need to follow them.  Place the ham in a roasting pan.  Drain the pineapple rings and lay them over all the surface of the ham that you can. The more surface area you can cover, the better.  Hold them in place with toothpicks (I snap mine in half to use less of them).  Center each ring with a toothpick speared cherry.  Poke cloves in and all around the pineapple and ham, wherever you see space.  “Decorating” a ham is a fun task for children to do, my fondest memories are of sneaking cherries off the ham while grandma’s back was turned, and poking whole cloves into every nook and cranny I could find on the Christmas or Easter ham.  Because we had such a teensy ham this year, I used half rings of pineapple, but it worked fine.  Combine brown sugar, butter, and a pinch of cinnamon in a small microwave safe bowl.  Nuke for about 30 seconds until the butter is melted.  Mix well and pour carefully over the whole ham, covering as much of it as you can.  You can use a basting brush to spread the mixture if you want, but I subscribe to the “dump it on there” method.  Bake the ham according to the package instructions.  If you see that the pineapple is beginning to brown too much, tent the ham with foil for the remaining time it will be in the oven.  You can also baste with some of the juice that will inevitably run off the ham.  I’m telling you, this looks like a work of art when you remove it from the oven and the spicy sweet smell is intoxicating. Enjoy the pig-meat equivalent of heaven.

Roasted Marinated Asparagus

We love asparagus.  It is one of our favorite veggies and we eat is as often as we can get it.  During the summer time, asparagus and corn on the cob are staples in the Lorenzen kitchen.  This recipe is simple and delicious and even if you’re not crazy about this stalky green veg. give it a shot one more time, just like this. 
1 bunch of asparagus, trimmed and woody ends snapped off.
1 package of Italian salad dressing mix (I use Good seasons, always have, always will) prepared according to package instructions
Sea salt
Fresh ground pepper
Lay the spears in a shallow baking dish, if you can, lay them in a single layer, if not, try a larger pan.  Pour the salad dressing over the spears and cover them with plastic wrap. Let chill in the fridge several hours or overnight.  Preheat the oven to 350, remove plastic wrap and sprinkle them generously with sea salt and fresh ground pepper. Roast in oven for about 30 minutes, turning once, until spears begin to color at the tips and are fork tender.  I like my asparagus to be still crisp, so I roast them a little less time. Use your best judgment, they won’t burn.  Use tongs to serve, or a slotted spoon.  Num num num.

We hope everyone had a blessed and safe holiday season with love, laughter, family, and sharing!! Onward into 2012!!!!

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