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March 30, 2014  | Everyday Recipes
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Everyday Recipes from Our Recipe Family.
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How to Select and Bake a HamSelecting and Baking Your Holiday Ham

Use this guide to help you select and prepare your baked ham for that special meal. With this guide, you will be able to identify and understand the various types of hams and select the best ham for your family. We’ll even tell you how to bake your ham.

This guide is organized in a question-and-answer format for easy reference.

What are the different types of hams that I should consider?

A ham is cured pork, specifically the entire back leg of a hog. But ham is very different than uncured pork. It’s the curing process that changes the flavor and texture of the meat. Cured hams can be either cured in brine—the most common—or dry cured. There are four major types of brine-cured hams: fresh, cured, canned but not pasteurized, and canned and pasteurized. With the exception of some dry-cured hams, any ham that is not pasteurized must be refrigerated.

Dry cured hams are usually more expensive, are quite salty, have a unique flavor, and are not commonly used as dinner hams. A country ham is a dry cured ham that is usually heavily salted and is usually soaked to remove some of the salt before it is cooked and eaten. Dry cured hams are not generally found in grocery stores. Dry cured hams include prosciutto, serrano, and like types.

Hams may be whole or half. A half will be labeled either as a rump half or a shank half. In some cases, a half ham has had a cut removed and is therefore a rump portion or a shank portion. A shank portion will have more connective tissue and will be less meaty.

What about water content?

Except for dry cured hams, hams absorb moisture from the curing brine either by soaking or injection. In smoking and drying, that moisture may be removed. The government dictates that the moisture level must be indicated by the labeling. The driest product labeled “Ham” will not exceed ten percent added water. A product labeled “Ham with Natural Juices” is the next driest, then “Ham Water Added” and finally a “Ham and Water Product” which has as much as 35% water.

Should I be concerned about nitrites?

The brine used for curing is a combination of water, sugar, salt, and sodium nitrite. After several days of curing, the ham is washed free of brine, cooked, and is sometimes smoked. According to government allowances, the finished product cannot contain more than 200 parts per million of nitrite. All processors are regularly inspected by the USDA to assure compliance.

The nitrites used are approved by the FDA as safe in the concentrations allowed.

How do I select a quality ham?

Hams may be one of those items where you usually get what you pay for. Mass produced, inexpensive hams may be processed in as little as twelve hours. More expensive hams may not be ready for market with less than two weeks of processing. Additionally, the best hams come from selected pigs that have been fed high protein diets prior to slaughter.

Processors may vary the amount of salt or sugar in a ham to meet company specifications. Additionally, the smoking process may vary. When you find a ham that has the flavor that you like, stick with it.

Color and appearance are important considerations in selecting a ham.

Select a fresh ham that is a bright grayish-pink. Those fresh hams that have a pale, soft, watery appearance are less desirable. A fresh ham that has a greenish cast may indicate bacterial growth and should be avoided.

Select a cured ham that has a bright pink color. A lighter-colored pink or a non-uniform coloring may be the result of improper curing or exposure to store lights. Again, a greenish cast may reflect the presence of bacterial growth. Avoid those hams that have a multi-colored appearance. It may suggest the presence of bacteria.

Avoid those hams that have excessive marbling. These may have a greasy taste.

The general rule is to plan on six to eight ounces of boneless ham per serving and eight to twelve ounces of bone-in ham per serving.

It is the opinion of some that bone-in hams taste better.

How do I prepare my ham?

Most hams, including many canned hams, require refrigeration before baking. Unless it is pasteurized and states that refrigeration is not required, keep your ham in the refrigerator.

As with all meat products, make certain that your ham is properly baked--though a ham marked “fully cooked” does not need to be cooked again. A Kitchen thermometer is essential. Measure the baked temperature of the meat in the thickest portion of the ham and in at least two spots to make sure that the thermometer is not inserted into a pocket of hotter fat. Make certain also that the thermometer is not placed against the bone.

To be safe, a fresh ham should be baked to 170 degrees and a cured uncooked ham baked to 160 degrees—many bacteria can survive to temperatures of 140 degrees. If you are warming a fully cooked ham, heat it to 140 degrees.

If you are purchasing a bone-in ham, be certain of your carving skills. Carve at right angles to the bone. Let the baked ham set for five minutes before beginning to carve.
Dennis, the Prepared Pantry
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How to Mash Potatoes (PDF)

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Easter Potato Recipes

Garlic Mashed Potatoes Recipe

1 pound red potatoes
1/4 C half and half
3 T butter
4 cloves roasted garlic

To get the REAL flavor, these potatoes need to be baked, not boiled. Bake them in a 350 oven for 20-30 mins. This would be a great time to roast the garlic too. You can either use a traditional roaster, or just wrap the bulb in foil and roast that, be sure to coat the bulb with olive oil. Remove the potatoes from oven and allow them to cool. You can leave the peels on or off. I leave a few of them on. Chop potatoes, add butter, and half and half, and mix with an electric mixture. Add cloves of garlic, and add salt and pepper to taste. You will want to reheat the potatoes before serving.
Makes 4 Servings
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Au Gratin Potatoes Recipe
Makes 6 Servings

6 medium potatoes
1 medium onion, chopped
1/4 cup margarine
1 tablespoon flour
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
2 cups milk
2 cups cheddar cheese, shredded
1/4 cup dry breadcrumbs

Wash potatoes. Pare thinly. Cut into enough thin slices to measure about 4 cups. Cook and stir onion in margarine in 2-quart saucepan until onion is tender. Stir in flour, salt and pepper. Cook over low heat, stirring constantly, until mixture is bubbly; remove from heat. Stir in milk and 1-1/2 cups of the cheese. Heat to boiling, stirring constantly. Boil and stir 1 minute. Place potatoes in ungreased 1-1/2-quart casserole. Pour cheese sauce on potatoes. Cook uncovered in 325F degree oven 1 hour 20 minutes or in 375 degree oven 1 hour. Mix remaining cheese and the bread crumbs; sprinkle over potatoes. Sprinkle with paprika. Cook uncovered until top is brown and bubbly, 15 to 20 minutes longer.
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Crock Pot Scalloped Potatoes Recipe
Makes 4-6 Servings

2 lb. bag hash browns, thawed
1 can mushroom soup
1 can Cheddar cheese soup
1 (8 oz.) sour cream
1 tbsp. dried onion flakes
1 cube margarine

Topping Mixture
1 c. corn flakes
1/2 stick margarine

Grease a 9 x 13 inch dish or pan. Mix the soup, cheese, sour cream and onion flakes together and spoon over the potatoes. Melt margarine and pour over the ingredients. Top with buttered corn flakes. Cook on low for 5-6 hours in crockpot.
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Crockpot Mashed Potatoes Recipe
Makes 4 Servings

2 lbs baking potatoes, cubed
(or 1 lb baking potatoes and 1 lb red potatoes)
1/4 cup water
2 tablespoons butter
1 1/4 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
4 cloves garlic, crushed or 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1 cup milk

Toss potatoes, water, butter, salt, pepper, and garlic and put them into the crockpot. Cook the potatoes in crockpot for 6 hours on low. Add milk and mash the potatoes.
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Stuffed Potatoes Recipe
Makes 8 Servings

8 large baking potatoes
1/2 lb. turkey, cubed
1/2 lb. ham, cubed
1/2 lb. Cheddar cheese, cubed
1/2 lb. Provolone cheese, cubed
1/2 cup melted margarine
2 green peppers, chopped and sautéed
1 medium onion, chopped and sautéed

Bake potatoes. When cool, scoop out pulp, leaving 1/3 inch around shell. Combine turkey, ham, cheeses, peppers and onion. Mix with potato pulp and margarine and put back into shell. Bake at 375 degrees until cheese melts. Top with sour cream and sprinkle with bacon.
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Cheese Potatoes Recipe
6 servings.

2 cups Hungry Jack® Mashed Potato Flakes
2 cups water
3 tablespoons butter
3/4 cup milk
1 (11 ounce) can Green Giant® Niblets® Whole Kernel Corn, drained
4 ounces shredded Cheddar cheese
1/2 teaspoon garlic salt

In medium saucepan, prepare mashed potatoes as directed on package, using flakes, water, margarine and milk. Stir in corn, cheese and garlic salt; heat 1 to 2 minutes or until cheese is melted and mixture is hot.
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Creamed Potatoes Recipe
Makes 4 Servings

4 cups peeled and diced white potatoes, about 2 pounds
3/4 cup heavy cream
1 head roasted garlic, pulp removed
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground white pepper

Combine the potatoes and 1 teaspoon of salt in a large saucepan over medium heat. Cover the potatoes with water and cook until fork tender, about 20 minutes. Drain. Return, the potatoes to the pan and over low heat, stir them with a fork or wire whisk for about 2 minutes to dehydrate them. Add the cream and garlic pulp. Stir to mix well. Add the white pepper. Mix well.
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Cheddar Mashed Potatoes Recipe
Makes 1 quart.

2 lb. red potatoes, cut into 1 inch chunks
1 tsp. salt, for water
2 oz. garlic butter
1/3 C. heavy cream
4 oz. aged white cheddar or jack cheese shredded

Garlic Butter
1 tsp. minced garlic
1 T. oil
Room temperature butter
1 tsp. chopped fresh parsley

Wash potatoes and bring to a boil in salted water. Cook for 5 to 10 minutes until potatoes are soft. Drain potatoes well. Place back in pot or in a mixing bowl. Add cheese, cream, teaspoon of salt, pepper and garlic butter. Beat until smooth with a whisk or potato masher.

Garlic Butter: Sauté minced garlic in oil for approximately 2 minutes until softened. Mix with room temp butter and chopped fresh parsley.
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Sliced Baked Potatoes Recipe
Makes 4 Servings

4 med potatoes
2-3 T melted butter
2-3 tsp dried herbs
1 1/2 T Parmesan cheese
1 tsp salt
2-3 T fresh herbs, chopped
4 T cheddar cheese, grated

Peel and slice the potatoes. Arrange potatoes in a casserole dish or pie plate, fanning slightly. Sprinkle with salt and drizzle with butter. Sprinkle with herbs. Bake at 425° for 30 minutes, until potatoes are soft and appear translucent in color. Sprinkle with cheeses and bake for another 5 minutes.
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Sour Cream and Cheddar Potatoes Recipe
Makes 4 Servings

1 pound potatoes, pared, diced and parboiled
1/2 pound cheddar cheese, grated
4 tablespoons butter, melted
1 onion, grated or chopped chives or scallions for nice color
1 cup sour cream
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/2 teaspoon salt

Mix all ingredients together, turn into a casserole dish, bake uncovered at 350F for 45 minutes.
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Scalloped Potatoes with Cheese Recipe
Serves 8

1/3 cup Miracle Whip dressing
2 tbsp flour
1 cup milk
1 cup old cheddar shredded cheese
3 cup sliced cooked potatoes/sweet potatoes
1 small onion, chopped

Stir together 1/3 cup miracle whip dressing and 2 tbsp flour; whisk in 1 cup milk until smooth. Cook in microwave on HIGH for 2-3 minutes (stirring once during cooking) or on medium heat on stovetop, stirring constantly, until sauce is thickened. Stir in 1 cup old cheddar shredded cheese until smooth. Place 1/2 cup sauce on bottom of a lightly greased 13x9-inch baking dish. Layer 3 cups sliced cooked potatoes and sweet potatoes in dish. Top with one thinly sliced onion. Pour remaining sauce over onions. Cover and bake at 350. for 20 minutes. Remove cover and bake for 10 minutes longer or until lightly browned.
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Crock Pot Hot German Potato Salad
Serves 4-6

6 cups sliced raw potatoes
1 cup chopped onion
1 cup chopped celery
1 cup water
1/4 cup cider vinegar
1/4 cup Sugar Twin
2 tablespoons quick cooking tapioca
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
2 teaspoon dried parsley flakes
1/4 cup bacon bits

In a crockpot, combine potatoes, onions, and celery. In a medium bowl, combine water, vinegar, Sugar Twin, tapioca, black pepper, and parsley flakes. Pour mixture over potato mixture. Mix well to combine. Cover and cook on LOW for 8 hours. Stir in bacon bits. Serve warm.
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Other Recipes

Does anyone have and use a Vitamix for making meals and
maybe have any good recipes that I could use in my Vitamix?
Soup(vegetarian), smoothies or ice cream? The recipe book that came with it has only some basic recipes.
Thanks, Luciveta, in Canada

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Free Fruit Pie Recipe Collection

Raspberry Chocolate Chip Cookie MixIt's always good to have a few mixes on hand that can be whipped up in a hurry to make great cookies. You'll need cookies for lunches and field trips, when guests stop by, or maybe for when the grandkids drop in. You'll find perfect, proven cookie mixes for all your cookie baking.

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Quick Bread Mixes
Bread Machine Mixes

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California Raisin Bread Machine MixCalifornia Raisin Gourmet Bread Machine Mix

A tender cinnamon raisin bread kissed with California oranges. This combination of sunny flavors makes for a wonderful bread. This bread mix is suitable for your bread machine.

This mix is designed for bread machines and you can easily make it in your stand type mixer or by hand. Directions are included.
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Easter Traditions

I would love to have a 2014 section on the site with our family (members) favorite TNT Easter recipes. Just send me a message. The message can be as long as you wish and can contain as many recipes as you wish and can include your Easter family traditions as well. I will post each message on a separate page and then link it to the newsletter. Please use this email address so I can tell which messages are to be included the Favorite Easter recipes. (TNT) and Traditions section of this site (and include the name with the message.)

Elaine's Easter Traditions
I grew up in the fifties and Easter was still focused on the church and their activities. I remember being awakened very early for Sunrise Service. It was seldom held outdoors as spring is quite fickle in SE Ohio. The service included some of my favorite songs such as He Arose. After the service a full breakfast was served in the basement of the church. In later years the breakfast was downsized to sweet rolls, donuts, and coffee. The next thing that comes to mind was our Easter outfit. That was a special time as well because we did not get many new clothes. I always got a new dress and a shiny pair of patent leather Mary Jane shoes, but the best thing was an Easter bonnet. Usually straw with flowers or ribbon and tied under the chin. I always felt quite dressed up , but the effect was frequently spoiled by and Easter snow or being so cold we had to cover the new dress with a winter coat. We colored eggs the day before Easter. I had four siblings and we each got six eggs to color. We had such fun that we did not want the experience to end so we tended to keep re-dipping the eggs until we spoiled the colors. The eggs that had been pretty blues, pinks, and yellows ended up being gray or muddy brown. We ate them anyhow and I don't remember refrigerating them. We always had an Easter basket and they were not hidden but set at our place at the table. Candy was a treat and we carefully allowed ourselves a little each day to make it last. I remember biting off the chocolate bunny ears and then a few bites daily after that. We also got a fruit and nut egg from the five and ten cent store. They were not very good-almost pure powdered sugar I think , but the thrill of them was that the salesclerk wrote your name on them with piped icing. Dinner was always a traditional baked ham and dessert was angel food cake...side dishes apparently did not impress me much as I do not remember them. My mom was an excellent cook though so I am sure they were good. She made everything from scratch and we always had homemade bread and rolls even when it was not a special day. I can remember going to school and feeling embarrassed about the thick slices of homemade bread and envying the sandwiches of other kids who had Wonder bread. Little did I realize how far superior my sandwiches were. I guess I have relayed enough about my Easter but I could write a book now of childhood memories. The older I get the more those simple things mean to me.

Free Pie Cookbook (pdf)

This week's edition of Celebrity Chef Connection.
Celebrity Chef Connection - March 28, 2014


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Nancy Rogers
5540 2nd St.
Lubbock, Texas 79416

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