Sunday, July 31, 2016

Country Ham and Tomato Quiche

I've been home to Tennessee recently and it always makes me nostalgic.  Growing up in the country at a slower pace...before fast food and the internet overtook our lives - things were just simpler and maybe even more savory.  In my food memory, country ham always takes be back to Daddy's hams hanging in our smoke house.  Having grown up with his home smoked hams has made me country ham Snob!  If you have to purchase your ham, get Cifty Farms Country Ham.  It's made in my home town of Paris, Tennessee and is completely wonderful.  I've found it at all the local grocery stores (thank goodness)!!!

6 oz Country Ham
2 1/2 c Shredded Cheddar Cheese
1 Box Cherry Tomatoes
8 Eggs
1 c Heavy Whipping Cream
1 c Half an Half
1 pinch Nutmeg
1 pinch Cinnamon
1 pinch Sugar
2 grinds of Salt
6 grinds of Pepper
1 Refrigerated Pie Crust

Fry your country ham but don't over cook it (if you cook more than a minute on each side - it can be tough).  Drain then chop the ham into small pieces and set aside to cool.  I quartered each cherry tomato - you could get away with halving them but I like my bites to have tiny pieces instead of large ones - you could also just cube a very large Big Boy tomato and it would be just fine.

Spray your baking dish (you can use ramekins, a large pie dish or a spring form pan)  liberally with Bakers Secret (I swear by that stuff).  Add your rolled pie crust to line your dish.  I left a two inch over the edge drop.  Add the country ham, then the tomato bits and top with 2 cups of the shredded cheddar.

Whip 8 eggs with a cup of heavy whipping cream and a cup of half and half.  Spice with nutmeg, cinnamon, sugar, salt and pepper.  You need very little salt as the country ham is salty already.  When your egg mix is completely blended, gently pour over into your shell.  Take that extra crust edging and fold it to make a rim around your dish.

Always use a cookie sheet or baking sheet under your baking dish.  The eggs will get really high while baking and you don't want overflow.  Having to urgently clean your oven is not fun - trust me on this one! :)

Bake at 350* oven for approximately 1 hour.  Start checking you quiche at 45 minutes and remove from the oven when a skewer inserts to a firm center and comes out clean.  Sprinkle with the remaining 1/2 cup cheddar cheese and return to the oven until melted (just a minute or two).

Let the quiche sit for 5 minutes if using ramekins or a pie dish.  Let sit 15 minutes if using a spring form pan, then release the sides.  Serve warm or at room temperature.  I pair this with garlic bread and a Caesar salad to give it a nice  accompaniment. 

If you have left overs - this also makes a delicious breakfast! The first recipe that I found for this dish said it took 3 hours to make!  That's just crazy!  I'm too busy to make a three hour dish this week so I took some liberties and made this a 15 minute prep time plus the hour to bake.  Toss your salad while it's in the oven then pour something to relax the cook and sit down for a bit.  A relaxed cook is always the BEST cook!

I loved being home and seeing my family.  I hope you get the chance to try this soon and that your family enjoys this as much as we do!

Sunday, July 10, 2016

Caramel Pretzel Chocolate Mousse




There are some things you just don't need to know!  Having figured out this dish is just way to dangerous to my dress size!  I have the great fortune to get to travel to St. Louis frequently and this is my favorite dessert at a downtown restaurant.  I normally get this early in the week and nibble on this nightly to make it last - and man - is it worth it!  This has that perfect combination of chocolate sweetness and pretzel salty that I just can't resist!
I made two big batches of this to take to the office tomorrow.  From start to clean up - 40 minutes flat with no oven time!
You'll need: 

8 oz crushed pretzels
1 cup melted butter
3/4 cup sugar
6  oz melted milk chocolate
1 Tbl canola oil
caramel sauce (store bought ice cream topping)
2 small boxes instant chocolate pudding
4 cup cold whole milk
1 large tub of  whipped topping
extra whole pretzels for garnish
Make the crust first, mix crushed pretzels, melted butter and sugar and put in the bottom of a greased 9x13 dish.  Place the dish in the freezer for 10 minutes to "set" your crust.  Microwave the chocolate chips with a tablespoon of oil - 30 seconds per session until melted and smooth (stir well between sessions).  Drizzle the chocolate over the pretzel crust and return the crust to the freezer. 
Make the mousse next - there are tons of ways to make mousse - I took the simplest route possible.  Add two small boxes of chocolate pudding mix to your large mixer bowl then add 4 cups whole milk.  Using the whisk attachments, beat until smooth and lightly thickened.  Add 1/2 large tub of whopped topping, mixing on slow speed to gently fold into your mixture.  You want your mousse to be smooth so no lumps! 

Remove your crust from the freezer and drizzle with caramel sauce, then top with chocolate mousse.  Return to refrigerator until the mixture has a "set" consistency.  Top with the remaining whipped topping. Cover and keep refrigerated until time to serve.

The garnish on this dish is simply additional pretzels and another drizzle of caramel sauce.

Grab some spoons and get ready to make everyone happy!  This dish got two thumbs up at my house from everyone between the ages of 1 1/2 to ...... well  - let's keep that cap number a secret shall we?  Let's just say the photo op is all gone and we are super happy this Sunday afternoon!

I hope you like this as much as we do - it was totally worth taking a photo of my dinner and playing around with options to figuring out the path to this deliciousness!