Vegetarian Enchiladas

In our quest for new vegetarian main dishes, my creativity is being pushed into high gear. Very frequently I turn to Alissa Segersten’s two cookbooks, The Whole Life Nutrition Cookbook and Nourishing Meals. Every recipe I’ve tried has been delicious. A plus for me is that the recipes are gluten-free, dairy-free, and some are also egg-free. (If you have a chance to peruse her cookbooks through the library, I’d strongly suggest you do. There are plenty of non-vegetarian recipes in there as well.)

Last night I tried my hand at making vegetarian enchiladas from Nourishing Meals. I did make several changes to the recipe, but the essence of it doesn’t belong to me. I love enchiladas and these were delicious! The made-from-scratch enchilada sauce is incredibly tasty and not too labor intensive. While topping them with cheese would be amazing, we just went the route of guacamole (my husband is sensitive to dairy, so we in general avoid it).

Vegetarian Enchiladas

VEGETARIAN ENCHILADAS
(adapted from Nourishing Meals by Alissa Segersten)
Print This Recipe

Sauce:
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 small onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped
1 jalapeno, chopped
1 small bell pepper, seeded and chopped
1 Tbsp cumin
1/2 tsp chili powder
1/4 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 c. water
2 c. tomato sauce or diced tomatoes
1/4 c. arrowroot powder or cornstarch

Enchiladas:
12 to 16 corn tortillas (I used only 12)
2 c. cooked mashed sweet potatoes (feel free to spice these with your favorite Mexican spices)
3 c. cooked black beans
2 c. baby spinach leaves

Guacamole for topping

Preheat oven to 400° F. Grease 9 x 13 glass baking dish.

To make the enchilada sauce, heat a 3-quart saucepan over medium heat. Add the oil, onion, jalapeno, and bell pepper; saute for 7 minutes, or until softened. Add the garlic, spices, and salt; saute a few minutes more. Then add the water and tomato sauce or diced tomatoes. Cover and simmer for about 20 minutes. Pour sauce into a blender, add arrowroot power or cornstarch; blend until smooth.

To make the enchiladas, first be sure to heat up each tortilla so they are pliable for filling and rolling. Lightly grease a hot skillet; heat each tortilla for about 10 seconds on each side. You can fill one enchilada while the next tortilla is heating. Add a few small spoonfuls of mashed sweet potato, then beans, and finally a small handful of spinach leaves. Roll tightly and place the filled tortilla seam-side down in the greased baking dish. Repeat with remaining tortillas, pushing the filled enchiladas closely together. Once the pan is filled, top with the sauce. Cover and bake for 30-35 minutes. Garnish with guacamole.

Advertisements

Weekend Fare: Sweet Potato Egg Cups

I found these egg cups on a blog I read occasionally, Everyday Paleo. I decided to give them a try for Jeremy and I’s Easter brunch. As per my usual, I changed the recipe by adding a few more ingredients and making it more my own. The taste was amazing. I did have trouble removing these from the muffin tin so they weren’t as pretty as I’d hoped. However, if you want a fun presentation for a brunch or fancy breakfast, this is definitely a recipe to consider.

SWEET POTATO EGG CUPS
Print This Recipe

3 large sweet potatoes, peeled and grated
1/4 cup butter, melted
sea salt to taste
12 eggs
4 slices of bacon, diced
4 mushrooms, diced
3 green onions, sliced

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease thoroughly a muffin tin.

Mix the grated sweet potatoes with the melted butter. Using your hands, press the grated sweet potatoes into each muffin cup making sure the bottom and sides are completely covered. Press down firmly creating a potato “basket.” Bake the sweet potatoes for 25-30 minutes.

While potato baskets are baking, cook the diced bacon, drain and set aside. Lightly saute the diced mushroom and green onions in olive oil.

Remove potato baskets from the oven, place a few bacon pieces and some of the mushroom mixture in the bottom of each (make sure not to overfill, just a little bit of goodies!). Top with an egg. Return to oven and bake until the egg whats are set, but yolk is still slightly runny, about 10 minutes. Garnish with additional green onions, if desired.

Simple Supper: Healthful Shepherd’s Pie

Remember me mentioning The Cleaner Plate Club a couple weeks ago? Well, I made another great recipe from the cookbook, a shepherd’s pie topped with mashed sweet potatoes. The recipe called for frozen veggies, which would undoubtedly be easier, but I decided to chop up a variety of fresh veggies I had on hand including cauliflower, spinach, carrots, and also frozen green beans. The result was quite delicious!

Take this recipe as a foundation and add the ingredients that suit your taste. This also makes great leftovers!

HEALTHFUL SHEPHERD’S PIE
(from The Cleaner Plate Club)
Print This Recipe

1 Tablespoon olive oil
1 onion, chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
1 pound ground beef
1/4 cup uncooked white rice
1 28-ounce can diced tomatoes, drained
4 cups frozen mixed veggies ( about 2 packages)
Salt and freshly ground pepper
2 pounds sweet potatoes (about 2 large), peeled and chopped into 1/2-inch cubes
1/4 cup milk
2 Tablespoons butter
1/3 cup grated cheese

Preheat the oven to 350°F.

Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Saute the onion and garlic until translucent, about 3 minutes. Add the ground beef and brown until no longer pink, 10-15 minutes. Add the rice, tomatoes, and frozen mixed veggies (or chopped fresh veggies of choice). Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and let simmer for 15 minutes. Season with slat and pepper.

Meanwhile, steam the sweet potatoes until fork-tender, about 20 minutes. Put a couple of inches of water into a large pot, set a steaming basket in it, and bring to a boil. Set the sweet potatoes in the basket, cover, and let steam. Let the potatoes cool slightly, then mash them in a large bowl with the milk and butter.

Spread the meat mixture in the bottom of a 2-quart casserole dish. Top with the mashed sweet potatoes, and sprinkle the cheese on top. Bake until the cheese melts and starts to turn golden, 10-15 minutes.

Vegetarian: Sweet Potato and Black Bean Tacos

Apparently I’m really into tacos right now. I’ve collected several out-of-the-ordinary taco recipes to try. This vegetarian taco recipe came from a new cookbook, Simply Sugar and Gluten-Free by Amy Green. I was surprised by how many recipes I wanted to try from this cookbook. She had lots of easy, tasty sounding recipes.

These came together super fast and tasted super delicious (bonus, they’re also super cheap to make!). Even my husband who thinks most meals should include meat, thought these were good. The sweet potatoes add a sweet edge to the tacos, which cut the spicy a bit, although we do like spicy foods around here. I loved these topped with sliced or mashed avocado, salsa and cheese. These will definitely be working their way into regular menu rotation at our house.

SWEET POTATO AND BLACK BEAN TACOS
(from Simply Sugar and Gluten-Free)
Print This Recipe

1 large sweet potato, peeled and diced 1/4 inch
1 Tablespoon canola oil
1 onion, diced
1 14.5-ounce can black beans, drained, liquid reserved
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/2+ teaspoon chile powder
10 corn tortillas
salt and pepper

Optional topping ideas:
guacamole
salsa
cheese
sour cream
shredded lettuce
shredded veggies

Preheat the oven to 200°F.

Place the sweet potato in a steamer basket with 1/2-inch of water in the pan. Cook for 10 minutes, or until cooked through but still al dente. Meanwhile, heat the oil in a large nonstick saute pan over medium-low heat. Add the onion and cook for 5-8 minutes, until soft. Add the beans, cumin, chile powder, and 1/4 cup of the reserved bean liquid. Mash some of the beans in the pan and add more liquid as  necessary.

Heat a medium nonstick skillet over medium-high heat and toast the tortillas until they’re warm and a little brown on each side. Wrap the tortillas in aluminum foil and keep warm in the oven.

When the sweet potatoes are cooked, add them to the beans and stir. Add more liquid if necessary. The taco filling shouldn’t be dry, but it shouldn’t be runny either. Taste and adjust seasoning as needed.

Spoon the filling into the center of each tortilla. Top as desired.

On the Side: Orange-Basil Sweet Potatoes

I love sweet potatoes. I could eat them multiple times a week. Jeremy is much more ambivalent about them, but usually willing to try my experiments. I whipped up these unusual sweet potatoes to serve alongside crockpot barbecue ribs. I really enjoyed the flavor combination, though I did go just a little lighter on the dried basil than the recipe specified.

I found this recipe in The Cleaner Plate Club. This is a relatively new cookbook that is geared towards getting kids to eat real food. I don’t have kids, but am very impressed with the recipes in this book. I’ve already tried several and have bookmarked a few more.

ORANGE-BASIL SWEET POTATOES
(from The Cleaner Plate Club)
Print This Recipe

2 1/2 pounds sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes
1/2 c. orange juice
1 Tbsp finely chopped fresh basil, or 1 1/2 tsp dried basil
Salt to taste

Steam the sweet potatoes fro 20-30 minutes, until fork-tender. Put a couple of inches of water into a large pot, set a steaming basket in it, and bring to a boil. Set the sweet potatoes in the basket, cover, and let steam.

Mash the sweet potatoes in a large bowl. Mix in the orange juice, basil, and salt to taste.

Serves 8

Market Fresh: Sweet Potatoes

Well, this post will kick-off a week full of Thanksgiving recipes. We will be providing a couple of new recipes each day as well as linking back to other great ideas from last year! All of the posts will be collaborative. We are so excited!

Sweet Potatoes are so versatile. They have good nutritional value and our whole family enjoys them! We eat them all fall and winter but we especially like them around the holidays. Today we are offering three different types of recipes.

Both of my (Alaina) recipes are from this month’s Bon Appetit. They were both fabulous. The first is Sweet Potato Biscuits. These were only sweetened with maple syrup and the recipe is actually gluten free. I did not have gluten free flour so I used regular which worked just fine. The pecans were a wonderful addition – the texture and the flavor.

GLUTEN-FREE SWEET POTATO BISCUITS
(Bon Appetit, November 2010)
Print This Recipe

1 large red-skinned sweet potato (yam; about 1 1/4 pounds), pierced with fork
1 1/3 cups gluten-free flour plus additional
2/3 cup yellow cornmeal
1 tablespoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) chilled unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1/2 cup buttermilk
1/4 cup Grade B maple syrup
1/2 cup pecans, toasted, chopped

Preheat oven to 425°F. Line baking sheet with parchment. Microwave potato until tender, about 6 minutes per side. Halve; scoop out 1 cup flesh. Cool. Blend 1 1/3 cups flour and next 3 ingredients in processor. Add butter; pulse to coarse meal. Add potato, buttermilk, and syrup; process to blend. Add nuts; pulse to blend.

Sprinkle dough with flour. Pat into 8 1/2-inch square. Cut into 16 biscuits. Transfer to baking sheet. Bake until tester inserted into center comes out clean, 18 to 22 minutes.

This next recipe is a Sweet Potato Pudding – perfect for your Thanksgiving celebration! The gingersnap, pecan topping provides a wonderful balance of crunch and sweet. I would have added just a little more half and half or milk to make this slightly creamier. Overall, we loved this!

SWEET POTATO PUDDING w/GINGERSNAP & PECAN TOPPING
(Bon Appetit, November 2010)
Print This Recipe

Topping:
3/4 cup coarsely chopped gingersnaps
1/2 cup toasted pecans, coarsely chopped
1/4 cup (packed) dark brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
2 tablespoons (1/4 stick) chilled unsalted butter, cut into 1/4-inch cubes

Pudding:
3 pounds red-skinned sweet potatoes (yams; about 3 large), scrubbed
3/4 cup half and half
1/2 cup orange juice
2 tablespoons (1/4 stick) unsalted butter, melted
2 tablespoons (packed) dark brown sugar
2 tablespoons orange marmalade
1 3/4 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
4 large egg yolks
5 large egg whites
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar

Toss first 4 ingredients in medium bowl. Add butter; using fingertips, rub in until well blended. Cover; chill. DO AHEAD Can be made 1 day ahead. Keep chilled.Preheat oven to 400°F. Roast potatoes on baking sheet until tender, 45 to 60 minutes. Cool. Cut in half lengthwise. Scoop flesh into bowl; mash. Transfer 4 cups potatoes to large bowl. DO AHEAD Can be made 1 day ahead. Cover; chill. Bring to room temperature before continuing.Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter 13x9x2-inch baking dish. Add half and half and next 5 ingredients to potatoes. Using mixer, beat on low speed until blended. Season with salt and pepper. Add yolks 1 at a time, blending after each addition. Using clean dry beaters, beat whites in another large bowl until foamy. Add salt and cream of tartar. Beat until peaks form. Fold whites into potatoes; spoon into dish. Sprinkle with topping.

Bake pudding until puffed and brown, about 45 minutes. Serve immediately.

The other evening I (Stephanie) realized I needed to make something for Jeremy to take to work the next day and I need to use ingredients I had on hand, chicken and sweet potatoes.  Browsing online I found a chicken and sweet potato stew recipe from a blog.  I adapted the recipe significantly, but the result was a deliciously spiced and warming stew.  Jeremy, not always a sweet potato lover, happily ate leftovers the following day.

CHICKEN SWEET POTATO STEW
Print This Recipe

1 lb boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1-in. cubes
2 slices bacon
1 Tbsp butter
olive oil
1 large onion, diced
1/2 tsp dried thyme
1/2 tsp dried sage
1 bay leaf
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-in cubes
3 carrots sliced in 1/4-in rounds
2 ribs of celery, diced
1/2 head of cauliflower, cut into florets
3 c. chicken broth
1 c. milk
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper

In a large saucepan, heat olive oil and butter over medium heat and brown the chicken with the bacon. Remove the chicken and set aside. Remove the bacon and dice.

Add a little more olive oil along with the onion, celery, thyme, sage, and diced bacon. Saute until the onion and celery are tender. Add garlic and saute until fragrant.

Add the chicken, sweet potatoes, carrots, cauliflower, chicken broth, milk, bay leaf, salt and pepper.

Simmer for 20-25 minutes until vegetables are cooked and fork tender. Taste and add more salt and pepper as needed. Remove the bay leaf. Enjoy.

Market Fresh: Roasted Root Vegetables

We are entering the season of root vegetables – potatoes, carrots, turnips, parsnips and more. Roasting vegetables is one of my very favorite ways to enjoy the full flavor and get the benefits of the nutrients in the root varieties. As a side dish with a recent beef roast, I combined white potatoes, sweet potatoes, carrots, onions, and turnips. I drizzled a olive oil and a little butter (the flavor of the two together is wonderful!) and finished it with fresh ground salt & pepper. It roasted in a 400 degree oven for 30-45 minutes until the vegetables were tender.


Such a perfect and easy side dish with little effort. You can combine all kinds of different vegetables and use this same method. You can switch it up with fresh or dried herbs, using only butter or only olive oil. Just remember to keep the size of your vegetables fairly consistent.

Market Fresh: Slow Cooker Vegetables

This week, we will be sharing recipes for your slow cooker (aka crockpot). I don’t use my crockpots (yes, I have more than one – a 4 qt., 6 qt., and a little dipper) nearly enough. The house smells great and dinner is so simple when I take the time to put it in early in the day.

One lady took slow cooking to a whole new level in 2008 and has continued to provide recipes suitable for the crockpot ever since. Her family is gluten free which means that all of her recipes can be made gluten free. You can check out her site A Year of Slow Cooking for many, many recipes. I have adapted two of her recipes for vegetable side dishes for today’s edition of market fresh! There is also a Crock Pot Recipe Link Up over on Smockity Frocks today, so check out that site for another list of crockpot recipes.

SLOW COOKER LEMON BROCCOLI
(adapted from crockpot365)
Print This Recipe

2 lbs. broccoli florets
1 c. slivered almonds 
4 cloves garlic, peeled and sliced
2 Tb. olive oil
2 lemons, juiced
1 tsp. lemon zest
1 tsp. kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper

Use a 4 quart crockpot for best results. Wash and trim broccoli, and add to crockpot. Peel garlic, and add with salt and pepper. Add almonds. Squeeze lemon juice evenly over the top and add lemon zest. Toss with wooden spoons.

Cover and cook on high for 2 hours, or on low for about 4. This is finished when broccoli has reached desired tenderness.

SLOW COOKER SOUTHWEST SWEET POTATO & CORN MEDLEY
(Adapted from crockpot 365)
Print This Recipe

3 lg. sweet potatoes, peeled and diced
12 oz.  frozen corn (or 1 can, drained)
1/4 c. chopped onion
2 limes, juiced
2 tsp. chili powder
1 tsp. cumin
1 tsp. kosher salt
3 Tb. chopped fresh cilantro plus more for serving

This is a good recipe for a 3-4 quart crockpot. If you have a larger one, consider doubling for leftovers, or stay close by so the sweet potatoes don’t over cook and turn to mush.

Place sweet potato into the crock. Add diced onion, drained corn, and fresh cilantro. Sprinkle in the chili powder and salt. Squeeze the limes, and then toss all ingredients together.

Cover and cook on low for 5 hours, or on high for 3-4. This is done when the potatoes have reached desired tenderness. Serve with chopped fresh cilantro sprinkled on top.

Off The Shelf: Seasonal Eating

Since we are at the start of another year, I thought it would be appropriate to review some “year-round” books that focus on seasonal eating.

Animal, Vegetable, Miracle – A Year of Food Life by Barbara Kingsolver is a fascinating read about one family’s adventure to eat only what they can grow, or purchase locally, for one year. The book is arranged chronologically, beginning in March when the first tender shoots of asparagus appear. The story continues as their garden is planted and the family begins to harvest the fruits of their labors. It’s fascinating to read about the quantities that were necessary to actually feed a family of four for a year, and of course all the hard work that goes into such a venture!

Each chapter ends with several seasonal recipes, written up by Barbara’s daughter, Camille, and reflecting food that is eaten in the Kingsolver household.

For those interested in seasonal cooking, this book shows you where it’s really at. Obviously most of us can’t take the drastic measures the Kingsolver’s did, but the book does open one’s eyes to many things, remind us of what is in season when, and encourage one to take a few baby steps in the right direction.

I chose a recipe from the chapter entitled: What do you eat in January? The Sweet Potato Quesadillas were a nice idea, although, funny enough, I think I would prefer them without the sweet potatoes and just the onions, greens and brie.

SWEET POTATO QUESADILLAS
(Animal, Vegetable, Miracle)

2 medium sweet potatoes
1/2 onion (I used one whole onion)
1 clove garlic
1 Tbsp. oregano
1 Tbsp. basil
1 tsp. cumin
chile powder to taste
olive oil

Cut sweet potatoes in chunks, cook in steamer basket until soft, then mash. Chop and saute garlic and onion in a large skillet. Add spices and sweet potato and mix well, adding a little water if it’s too sticky. Turn burner to low to keep warm without burning.

4 flour tortillas (I used whole-wheat)
4 ounces Brie or other medium soft cheese
Swiss chard or other greens (I used spinach)

Preheat oven to 400F. Brush oil lightly on one side of tortilla. Turn over and spread filling on half of each. Top with slices of Brie and shredded greens, then fold tortillas to close (oiled side out).

Bake until browned and crisp (about 15 minutes); cut into wedges for serving.

 How to Pick a Peach – by Russ Parsons is a fascinating and helpful book that surveys the fruits and vegetables available in our markets, giving their genetic history, storage and preparation information, and suggested recipes. The books is arranged seasonally beginning with spring and its produce: artichokes, asparagus, onions, leeks and garlic, peas and fava beans, salad greens, strawberries. The book closes with a large section on all types of citrus (so check this book out if you want to know more about what to do with the glut of citrus in the market right now!).

I found myself fascinated  by the statistics of how many tons of what vegetable are grown in which states. And then to trace back the genetic history to find out just how we got tomatoes that look so red but taste so white in our stores today. There is also a full explanation of why strawberries no longer taste like the berries I remember as a child. I found the refrigeration instructions helpful too. For instance, you should never refrigerate bananas, potatoes, onions and tomatoes. You can refrigerate briefly (3 days) cucumbers, eggplants and peppers. And, only after fully ripened can you refrigerate avocados, peaches, plums, and pears.

There are quite a few recipes in this book as Parsons provides recipes for each fruit or vegetable talked about. I chose to try the Turnip and Potato Gratin.The idea of the dish was very nice, but I felt my turnips were a bit too spicy and would have done better with allowing the potatoes to be the main ingredient and the turnips just the sideline.

TURNIP AND POTATO GRATIN
(How to Pick a Peach)

1 garlic clove, peeled
6 turnips, peeled
2 large boiling potatoes, peeled (I did not peel mine)
2 tsp. salt
1 1/2 c. heavy cream
3 ounces Gruyere or Comte, grated or sliced

Heat the oven to 450F (I did 425F for my oven). Rub the garlic clove all over the inside of a heavy gratin dish, then butter the dish well and set aside. Discard the garlic.

Slice the turnips and potatoes as thinly as you can, ideally using a mandoline or Japanese slicing tool. Toss the vegetables with the salt and place them in rough layers in the gratin dish. Don’t worry about arranging them; you’ll be stirring them later. Bake until softened, 20-30 minutes. Stir with a spatula every 10 minutes, making sure the bottom layer doesn’t scorch.

Pour the cream over the potatoes; it should come just to the top layer without covering it. Distribute the cheese over the top and bake until the cream thickens and the top is browned, about 30 minutes. Serve hot.

Serves 8.

Holiday Feast: Christmas Dinner

Christmas dinner is for many the major food attraction of the entire holiday season. Every family has their own tradition — some may prefer a day of finger foods and snacks, while others go all out and prepare a second Thanksgiving feast. The important thing is choosing a menu that is best for your family and your circumstances. We thought we’d each share some of what is traditional in our families.

In my family (Heather), Christmas dinner is a big event. Its menu is planned for weeks ahead and thought is given to setting the table with  festive tablecloth, napkins and a centerpiece. It is not set in stone what our menu will be. Creative reign is given to the host to decide if she would like to cook a turkey, ham, or some other form of meat. Why all the fuss? Our family loves sitting around the table sharing good food, enjoying lovely surroundings and one another’s company.

Last year I decided to make a stuffed pork loin for Christmas dinner. It was not difficult and provided a stunning centerpiece to the Christmas dinner. This year I’m thinking ham, accompanied by a potato/parsnip gratin (recipe yet to be created), spinach salad with grapefruit and maybe spiced pepitas, rolls, savory roasted sweet potatoes (if I have oven room), and chiffonade of Brussel sprouts. Dessert will be cookies, eggnog and Christmas pudding (a simple recipe will appear on Dec. 24).

STUFFED PORK LOIN
(Heather)

1 boneless half roast pork loin (mine weighed about 5 pounds)

Stuffing:
4 Tbsp. butter
1 onion, finely chopped
1 apple, peeled and finely chopped
1 stalk celery, finely chopped
1 Tbsp. fresh sage, chopped (or 1 tsp. dried)
1 Tbsp. fresh rosemary, chopped (or 1 tsp. dried)
1 Tbsp. fresh thyme, chopped (or 1 tsp. dried)
salt & pepper
3 c. fresh white bread cubes (1/4-inch cubes)
1/8 c. dried cranberries
1/2 c. water or broth

Glaze:
apricot jam
fresh rosemary, sage, thyme (about 1 Tbsp. each or 1 tsp. dried)

Gravy:
pan drippings
1/4 c. port or red wine (use water or apple juice as a substitute)
1/2 c. chicken broth
2 Tbsp. apricot jam (or apple jelly)
2 tsp. cornstarch

Melt butter in a saute pan and tip in onions and celery. Cook until onions are translucent. Add apple and cook until apple is beginning to go soft.

Meanwhile, cube bread and place in a large bowl. Add dried cranberries and chopped herbs. Mix in cooked apple and onion mixture and pour on enough broth to make the mixture come together.

Lay the pork loin on a cutting board and carefully begin cutting the loin in a spiral so that it unfolds to be flat.

Place kitchen twine at intervals underneath the pork loin and carefully pat on the stuffing.

Roll the pork loin up slowly, stuffing bits of bread back in as it falls out. Enlist the help of someone close by to help tie the twine as tightly as possible.

Place the pork loin in a roasting pan with the knots of the twine underneath. You can either cover and refrigerate up to one day, or bake the roast immediately.

When ready to bake, preheat oven to 350F. Spread apricot jam on top of the pork loin and sprinkle with chopped herbs.

Roast uncovered in the 350F oven until instant read thermometer reads 160F (mine took about 2 hours). Remove the roast from the oven, transfer to a cutting board and cover with foil to keep warm while it rests.

Meanwhile, mix the pan drippings with the port, chicken broth and apricot jam. Bring to a boil. Mix the cornstarch with 1/4 cup water and add to the gravy. Season with salt and pepper. Cook until thickened and keep warm until ready to serve.

Slice the pork roast and lay on a platter, pouring the gravy over top or serving alongside.

Christmas dinner for my family (Alaina) can be anything from lasagna or soup to ham or beef. Traditionally, my grandparents have made ham and I’ll admit that is probably my favorite. I like to buy the spiral cut, semi-boneless, half ham. It’s usually fully cooked and I just heat it in the oven for a couple of hours depending on the size.

HONEY MUSTARD HAM GLAZE
(Alaina) 

1/4 c. honey
1/4 c. brown sugar
1/4 c. dijon mustard
2 Tb. prepared yellow mustard

Combine all ingredients in a small sauce pan and heat. Brush glaze over the entire ham about 30 minutes before it is finished in the oven. Carve & enjoy!

Finding the perfect side dishes can be a challenge. Here are two side dishes that we really enjoy with ham! The first is a twice baked potato recipe that is a beautiful presentation and tastes so wonderful!

TWO-TONE TWICE BAKED POTATOES
(this is a recipe my Mom first made – Alaina)

4 lg baking potatoes (8 servings)
vegetable oil
2 Tb.butter
½ c. sour cream
¼ c. milk
½ tsp. salt
¼ tsp. pepper
1 Tb. Chives (opt.)

Rub potatoes with oil and place in baking pan. Bake at 400 degrees for 1 hour or until tender. Cool completely. Cut in half lengthwise. Scoop out pulp leaving ¼ in. shell; set shells aside.

In mixing bowl combine pulp, butter, sour cream, & milk; beat until creamy. Stir in salt, pepper, and 1 Tb. Chives. Spoon or pipe filling into half of each prepared shell.

SWEET POTATO FILLING
4 medium sweet potatoes
¼ c. sour cream or plain yogurt
2 Tb. Butter
2 Tb. Brown sugar
½ tsp. nutmeg
¼ tsp. cinnamon
¼ tsp. salt

Bake or peel and boil sweet potatoes until tender. Put pulp in large bowl and add sour cream, butter, brown sugar, nutmeg, cinnamon, and salt. Whip until creamy and smooth. Pipe sweet potato in the other half of the prepared potato shells.

Return potatoes to baking pan – bake at 350 degrees for 35-40 minutes or until lightly browned.

*These can be made ahead and refrigerated overnight or frozen for up to a couple of months.*

THREE CHEESE SPINACH BAKE
(adapted from Taste of Home – Alaina)

1 c. flour
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 c. milk
1/4 c. butter, melted
1/2 med. onion, finely diced
2 Tb. Parmesan cheese
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. cayenne pepper
1 package (10 oz.) frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
1 c. monterey jack cheese, shredded
1 c. sharp cheddar cheese, shredded

In a lg. bowl, whisk the flour, eggs, milk, butter, onion, Parmesan, garlic, salt and cayenne until combined. Fold in spinach and other cheese. Transfer to a greased 1 1/2 qt. dish.

Bake, uncovered at 350 degrees for 40-45 minutes of until a knife inserted near the center comes out clean. Serve immediately.

Makes 6 servings.

The final recipe is for an appetizer. I came up with this because it combined flavors that I love.

CHERRY ALMOND BRIE EN CROUTE
(Alaina)

1 sheet puff pastry, thawed
1 20 oz. wheel of brie
1/2 c. cherry jam
1/4 c. slivered almonds, toasted
1 egg, beaten

Roll out the puff pastry into a square (about 12×12 or a little smaller). Cut the wheel of brie horizontally. Place half of the brie rind side down on the puff pastry. Top with cherry jam, sprinkle with the almonds.

Place the other half of the brie on top (cut side down). Pull the puff pastry up around the brie. Brush the top with the beaten egg.

Bake at 400 degrees for about 20-30 minutes or until puff pastry is golden and cheese is soft. Serve with crackers.