December 3, 2014

Christmas Traditions: Stockings

Stockings have always been one of my favorite parts of Christmas! You can ask my mom, I always say Christmas wouldn't be the same without a stocking over the fireplace.

Here in Bavaria, they celebrate Saint Nikolaus Day on December 6th. On December 5th, children place a boot outside their doors and hope they've been good enough to receive gifts and candy from Saint Nikolaus. If they haven't, then a tree root will be placed in their boot instead. If they are particularly naughty, then the children will be punished by Krampus, or carried away in his sack!


Krampus in Neumarkt, Germany

Holy cow, I would be too scared to misbehave if that guy was coming to my door!!

Hubs and I won't be placing boots outside our day, but we'll be observing Saint Nikolaus Day. Since there are no kids in our house, our Lucy dog reaps all the benefits...





Yes, my dog has two stockings. What of it?  I mean, there is Saint Nikolaus Day and Christmas to think about!

Do you celebrate Saint Nikolaus Day or put your stockings out on Christmas Eve? Comment below, peeps. Until next time!



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November 30, 2014

Onion & Ham Frittata

After Thanksgiving (and Christmas), I always have so many leftovers I don't know what to do with them all! I'm not the only one with that problem either, I bet. We have a tendency to cook excessively during the holidays. No one wants guests going hungry, right? But then the after holiday dilemma begins...

How do I use up all these leftovers in a new and interesting way?

I have a few tricks up my sleeve, and today I want to share one with you. I particularly like using my leftovers to create breakfast.

Onion and ham frittata

One of the easiest breakfasts around is frittata. Not only do I get to use my cast iron skillet, which I adore, but these recipes are quick and satisfying. Perfect for feeding those out of town guests, and using up a bit of your leftovers in an interesting way. Pair this with some potato pancakes (using your leftover mashed potatoes!), and you'll have a hit.

After this Thanksgiving, I used some of my leftover ham to create this Onion and Ham Frittata. Ready to make one yourself? Awesome! You can also use some of your leftover herbs in this, and any odds and ends that didn't get used in your holiday cooking. I had a block of cheese that didn't make it into any recipes, some cream, and an onion as well. Waste not, want not!

Ingredients

To get started, preheat your oven to 400 degrees. In a large bowl whisk together 8 eggs, ½ cup half-n-half, ½ teaspoon salt, and ½ teaspoon pepper. Add in about a tablespoon of any fresh herbs you like, or a teaspoon of dried. I didn't have any fresh herbs left, but I used a bit of this mushroom blend I picked up at Target a while back:



To the egg mixture, stir in 1 cup of white cheddar cheese, or any other cheese of your choice. Always shred cheese fresh, my friends! Those bags of pre-shredded cheese usually contain cornstarch or other additives to prevent the cheese from sticking and to preserve them longer. You'll notice a difference with fresh grated cheese, I promise.

Enough of my soap box. Back to the recipe.

Set aside your egg mixture for now. Warm your 10-inch cast iron skillet over medium heat, and melt 1 tablespoon of butter in the bottom. Add a diced onion to the skillet and cook for 5 minutes, then add 1 ½ cups of leftover ham (diced) and 2 cloves of minced garlic, if you have it on hand. Cook another few minutes, just until the ham is warmed through and the onion begins to brown.

Pour your egg mixture into the skillet, but do not stir. Let this cook over medium heat for 5 minutes, and then put your skillet into the oven for another 10-15 minutes. You want the center of your frittata to just set before removing it. Cool on the counter about 5 minutes before slicing the frittata. Serve with fresh fruit, and perhaps some potato pancakes.



Yum!

Hubs and I love frittata in the morning. You can individually wrap the slices and freeze them as well. To warm them up, cover with a damp paper towel and microwave for a minute or two. Delish!

What do you do with all your holiday leftovers? Comment below, peeps. And until next time, happy cooking!



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The Standard Form:

Onion and Ham Frittata

Ingredients:

1 ½ cups leftover ham, diced
1 yellow onion, diced
8 large eggs
½ cup half-n-half
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon pepper
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon fresh herbs of your choice, or 1 teaspoon dried (suggestions: basil, tarragon, chives, mushroom blend)
1 cup white cheddar cheese, shredded (Or cheese of your choice. Suggestions: pepper jack, Monterey jack, Gouda)
1 tablespoon butter

Directions:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Whisk together the eggs, half-n-half, salt, pepper, and herbs of your choice. Stir in the cheese and set mixture aside.

In a 10-inch cast iron skillet over medium heat, melt the butter. Add the onions to the skillet and cook for 5 minutes, then add the ham and minced garlic. Continue cooking until the ham is warmed through and the onions begin to brown. Pour the egg mixture over the top of the onions/ham. DO NOT STIR. Continue cooking over medium heat for 5 minutes.

Place the cast iron skillet in the preheated oven. Cook the frittata for 10-15 minutes, or until the c enter is set. Cool 5 minutes before slicing and serving.




November 25, 2014

Quickie Apple Pie

A friend of mine introduced me to a fun blog (The A to B of Cooking) that had the most awesome looking apple pie on it. The recipe was simple, and easy to adjust to your own tastes. So naturally, I did just that...



Mmmmm..... you want one now, don't you? Confession: So do I!

Why do I call this the Quickie Apple Pie? This cooka in the oven anywhere from 30-40 minutes, so you won't have instant results. But, putting it together is a snap, hence the 'quickie' part of this recipe. I personally love apple pie, but I don't like all the effort I have to put into it. This dish solved that problem for me. Plus, you can make one of these at a time or you can make a dozen. That means I won't make a whole pie and then feel obligated to eat it!

Ready to make your own? I thought so.


Ingredients

Let's start this with the most important ingredient, the apples. Not all apples are good for cooking, so choose well. I prefer the Granny Smith variety. They may be tart when raw, but they cook down to yummy, sweet goodness.

Peel and core your apples (two of them), then slice into thin wedges.


Set the apple wedges aside for now. In a small ramekin, combine 2 tablespoons of white sugar with 2 tablespoons of light brown sugar, a dash of cinnamon, and a dash of nutmeg.


Next, prepare your baking sheet. Line it with parchment paper, because you don't want these babies to stick! No one wants to waste all the apple goodness. Divide a sheet of puff pastry into 6 rectangles and lay them on the parchment-lined baking sheet.

It's pretty easy to evenly cut your puff pastry, because of the way it is folded in the box. See:




Simply unfold your sheet of pastry and cut where the natural lines are, then cut each piece in half. Viola!


Now all you have to do is layer your apple slices down the center of each piece, sprinkle with your sugar mixture, and dot with a bit of butter (4 tablespoons). Like so:


Make sure you leave enough gap around your apples so the puff pastry can rise around them. I needed a bit more room on my edges, so don't be like me!

Pop these into a 350 degree oven for about 30 - 40 minutes. Pull them out when the pastry is puffy and a light, golden brown. Drizzle immediately with a bit of homemade caramel, then top with vanilla ice cream and some whipped cream.

Go ahead... sit back, enjoy, and make those yummy noises. You've earned it!


I especially like these on holidays when it's me and the Hubs on our own. Or, you know, on Wednesdays. That's an apple pie kind of day, right?

As always my friends, the standard recipe is below. Until next time, happy cooking!




Thanks for reading, everyone!
Follow me on Facebook @ OurArmyLifeAccordingToTheWife
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The Standard Form:

Quickie Apple Pie

Ingredients:

1 sheet of puff pastry, cut into 6 pieces
2 Granny Smith apples, cored, peeled, and sliced into thin wedges
2 tablespoons white sugar
2 tablespoons light brown sugar
Dash cinnamon
Dash nutmeg
4 tablespoons cold butter, cut into chunks
6 tablespoons caramel sauce, more or less to taste
Ice cream, for serving
Whipped cream, for serving

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Place the pieces of puff pastry on the parchment-lined baking sheet, about an inch apart. Fan the apple slice in the center of the puff pastry, making sure to leave a border around the edges.

Mix together the sugars, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Sprinkle each ‘pie’ with the sugar mix, then dot evenly with the butter.

Bake 30-40 minutes, or until the edges of the pastry are lightly brown and golden. Remove from oven and immediately drizzle the pies with caramel sauce. Top with vanilla ice cream and whipped cream if desired.