I'm so happy to have you here with me sharing the delicious journey I have chosen! I am Carrie, a mom on a mission to find bliss in the kitchen. At least, as long as my kids allow me to. More of a baker than a cook, you'll find I love experimenting--baking is sort of like a mad scientist experiment, anyway, isn't it? It doesn't always turn out the way I plan, but that's part of the fun. ;)
Side dishes don’t have to be elaborate. Sometimes, it’s the simplest things in life that are the sweetest. Today I have one of these simple things: Roasted Balsamic Brussels Sprouts. There are only three ingredients, including the sprouts, and most of the time spent making them is passive–you’re just waiting for the oven to work its magic. While I would happily devour a bowl of these little choux and call it a meal, more realistically, this side will provide 4 generous helpings in addition to your entree. The baking time listed will provide you with baby cabbages with a little bit of bite to them still–they are softened just the right amount, without being overcooked. My son gives them a thumbs up. My daughter was so busy stuffing her face that I couldn’t get a sentence out of her. But when she was done, the plate was licked clean. I think that’s an A+.
I have tried preparing these with more Balsamic vinegar, but prefer using less. This allows for the sprouts to still shine, while being fully enhanced for your pleasure. Feel free to tweak the ratios, though, if you’d like more Balsamic flavor.
Certain foods are expected to be paired with certain times of year. Burgers always make me think of long summer days spent swimming at my grandparents’ cottage at the lake and chasing fireflies at dusk. It wouldn’t be Thanksgiving without the turkey. Pile on the stuffing and mashed potatoes, please. And when it comes to Easter, there is no finer pairing than ham. We may not always celebrate Easter on Easter (yes, my family is weird), but you can be guaranteed that when we do, ham is what’s for dinner.
It’s not every day we have ham. So when Jones Dairy Farm asked me if I wanted to make one of their hams and share it with my readers, I jumped at the opportunity. I usually am visiting someone else’s house for Easter instead of playing hostess–it was my turn to spin the tables around. I’m glad I had the chance to show how foolproof it can be, especially when you’re starting with a high quality hog. Jones Dairy Farm makes it so easy!
We couldn’t believe how BIG our ham was. It weighed in somewhere around 16.5 lbs and measured nearly 14″ long. We named it–because we’re a little strange around here–Hamilton Porkington I. The kids couldn’t wait for me to cook it up. It was torture waiting until I had the time to plan a proper feast.
Feast day came and we prepared. My wall oven is too small for my roasting pan–the downside to not having to bend over–so I actually own an electric roaster. It’s something like a huge crock pot that normally lives in the basement when it’s not being used. I unwrapped Hamilton and took him in for all his glory. Wow! Now that was a piece of meat! The aroma already was enticing without heating him up! Because the ham is fully cooked, the time it spends in the oven is just really to reheat it. You don’t want to use too high of a temperature or cook it too long or you’ll dry your ham right out, which would be a very sad thing. So let’s not do that, okay?
After preheating my roaster, I placed Hamilton fat side down on the rack, covered, and set the timer. When there were 40 minutes left of heating time, I added the glaze, brushing it on a second time with 20 minutes remaining. The leftover glaze goes on top right before removing from the roaster to ensure a little bit of sweetness remains. It’s not necessary–you certainly don’t have to glaze your ham at all–but it’s a nice little touch of specialness.
When you’re ready to carve, put a towel on your counter and place your cutting board on top of that. This helps in two ways: it’ll stabilize your cutting board and catch any drippings. If you have a cutting board with channels in it, I highly recommend using that. My biggest cutting board does not. Let your ham rest for 5 minutes before carving for maximum moistness.
Despite my knife skills class at The Culinary Institute of America in February–including a lesson on carving ham–I’m still a novice. It’s going to take a bit more practice to get the hang of this. Luckily, there is an excellent video on Jones Dairy Farm’s website to help you when it comes time to carve. I know I referred to it several times before I pulled my knife out. The most important part is to ensure your knife is sharp. Otherwise, you run the risk of cutting yourself in the process, and nobody wants that to happen.
Ta-da! There you have it! Easy, peasy, and so darn tasty!
Now I know you want your own ham, too, for your Easter table! The folks at Jones Dairy Farm have graciously offered to send one to one of my readers and all you have to do is enter in the Rafflecopter box below. This contest will run through Friday at 11:59PM to ensure there is enough time to get your ham to you before the holiday. Good luck! Note: contest open to residents of the United States only.
Disclosure: I was approached by Oldways to be a Whole Grain Sampling Day Ambassador for 2014. They sent me a box of samples for my participation. I received no compensation for this post. All opinions remain my own.
On the first Wednesday in April every year, the Whole Grains Council holds its annual Whole Grain Sampling Day, an opportunity to try whole grain foods and see just how fantastic they really are. Their theory is that you’re more likely to buy it if you try it, and I have to agree. There are many foods I’ve passed over in life because I never tried them before–and I usually discovered later that I was missing out!
Today you’ll find a multitude of options for sampling whole grain foods. From specials at Dunkin’ Donuts to Denny’s Restaurants, California Pizza Kitchen to Roman Meal–the conversation will be taking place online through social media and there will be deals and opportunities to try whole grains in person, too. Whole Grains Council has a page on its website detailing some of these programs.
When I was approached by Oldways to participate this year as a Whole Grain Sampling Day Ambassador, I was excited! My personal goal of integrating more whole foods–and, by extension, whole grains–into our diet while continuing to enjoy the sorts of foods we’ve always loved had finally coincided with a program to do just the same. It was meant to be! As an Ambassador, I would receive a box of samples of some great ways to incorporate whole grains into our diet AND be able to give away the same box to one of my readers! Yes, YOU will get a chance to win your own personal whole grain sampling day box and eat your way through it! Pretty cool, huh? (Enter at the end of this post in the Rafflecopter box for your chance to win!)
I also had the opportunity to order a 5-pound bag of All Natural Ultragrain Blend All Purpose Unbleached Flour, which I used in the recipe I’m sharing today. It’s a cup-for-cup replacement for all-purpose flour that gives you the nutrition of whole grain while combining the taste and convenience of white flour. As a baker, I was very intrigued about this product. Baking, in particular, is tricky if you’re trying to sub in whole grains. They change the texture, often making the finished product chewy or dry, with a graininess that can be undesirable. Their claim that I could use this flour blend in place of white flour and end up with a baked good that was just as appealing was one I had to test out. And I couldn’t think of a better way than with an indulgent coffee cake. Rhyme and reason, after all. I like to blend my extremes.
The Ultragrain flour seemed finer than white whole wheat flour I had used in the prior testing of this recipe. When the coffee cake emerged from the oven, it was fluffier than the last time I baked it–off to a great start. I was so impatient waiting for it to cool. I wanted to try it right away. The verdict? FANTASTIC! The crumb was light AND moist, which was not what I expected at all. If you didn’t know any better, you wouldn’t be able to detect the whole grains hidden inside. Ultragrain lives up to its claim! I’ll definitely be looking for this at the store.
So get on out there today and add some whole grain to your day. It’s really a lot easier than you think–and tastier, too! If you need some ideas on other recipes to try, Oldways also has a fantastic whole grains Pinterest board. Enjoy!
Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Grease an 8″x8″ baking dish and line with parchment paper. Set aside.
In a medium mixing bowl, rub the butter, flour, brown sugar, raw sugar, and cinnamon together with your hands for a couple minutes, working it over until you get crumbly clumps like wet sand. Set aside.
In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon. Set aside.
In a 2-cup liquid measuring cup, whisk together the yogurt and whole milk. Set aside.
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and brown sugar until light. Beat in the egg, mixing until incorporated. Stir in the vanilla extract.
Alternate adding the flour and yogurt mixtures, mixing until just incorporated.
Spread in the prepared baking dish and sprinkle the topping over the batter.
Bake for 24-30 minutes, or until a cake tester inserted in the middle comes out clean.
Cool completely before removing from pan and serving.
Right now is the beginning of the best day ever – Chocolate Peanut Butter Day! Hosted by Carla of Chocolate Moosey and Miriam of Overtime Cook, more than 30 bloggers are sharing their favorite chocolate peanut butter recipes, ranging from cookies and bars to scones and muffins. Follow the hashtag #chocPBday on social media and join us with your favorite chocolate and peanut butter recipes. Want to find all the recipes in one place? Follow our Pinterest board. We are also teaming up with OXO, King Arthur Flour, and Peanut Butter & Co. to bring you three fabulous prize packs. If you love to bake, you don’t want to miss entering!
We have a whole lotta chocolate peanut butter love going on today! Make sure you check out all these other fantastic offerings and Pin them to save for later–you’re going to want to try them all!
And, of course, my recipe. Chocolate Chip Peanut Butter Jam Bars.
Because I wanted a cookie bar that evoked memories of childhood, while being just a little more sophisticated. Chocolate and peanut butter chips stud this peanut butter cookie crust and topping, hiding a layer of cherry jam that is simply amazing. I say this serves 16–it’s more like 2. It might be a good idea to double the recipe and prepare in a 9″x13″ pan instead. I won’t judge you. Peanut butter and chocolate are good for you, right? (I keep telling myself that, anyway…)
Yup, that’s right, there are 3 big prizes available today. Because it wouldn’t be a celebration without prizes!
Prize Pack #1: OXO Baking Tool Set: One 3-in-1 Egg Separator, One Bent Icing Knife, One Brownie Spatula, One Cake Tester, One Cookie Spatula, One Cupcake Icing Knife, One Cupcake Corer, One Egg Beater, One Stainless Steel Measuring Cups, One Stainless Steel Measuring Spoons, One Medium Cookie Scoop
Prize Pack #2: King Arthur Flour ingredients: One bag of all-purpose flour, one package of Guittard bittersweet chocolate disks, and one bottle of pure vanilla extract
Prize Pack #3: Peanut Butter and Co. package including: one Dark Chocolate Dreams 6-pack, One Variety 6-pack, and One 31 Days of Dark Chocolate Dreams cookbook.
This giveaway is open to US residents only and will be picked from random draw. Giveaway ends Monday March 31 at 11:59 PM. The winners will be notified via email and have 24 hours to respond. If not, the prize is forfeited and another winner will be chosen.
Enter in the Rafflecopter box below for your chance at all this goodness. Good luck!
a Rafflecopter giveaway Disclosure: OXO, King Arthur Flour, and Peanut Butter & Co. are providing the prizes for this giveaway, free of charge. I received no product or compensation from these companies for this post. All opinions are my own.