Ham Cups with Eggs

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My mom was a big fan of traditions. Every New Years Eve while my dad worked the night shift in the ED, my mom would gather up my sisters, brother, and I, and make us elaborate treats instead of our usual dinner. This included ham, swiss, and pineapple skewers, chocolate covered frozen bananas, petite fours, and plastic champagne glasses filled to the brim with sparkling grape juice. As we waited for midnight to arrive we would always watch “Sabrina” with Audrey Hepburn and Humphrey Bogart. Her very favorite part was the scene where she learns how to crack eggs one handed. One year on new years day my mom decided it was time I learned how to crack an egg “Audrey style”. She took out a big bowl and a dozen eggs. She showed me how to quickly crack and separate the shells using only one hand. Then she watched as I attempted to do the same. It wasn’t pretty and we spent a fair amount of time picking shells out of the bowl but after the first 6 eggs I figured it out and have done it that way ever since. That was probably 15 years ago but every single time I crack an egg with one hand, I think of her. When I have kids I hope I remember that it’s the little things you do with them that they’ll remember forever.

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These ham cups with eggs are inspired by Gale Gand’s brunch cookbook and a few pinterest pictures. 🙂 Many of the recipes call for muffin tins but either my tins were too small or my ham was too large so I used ramekins instead. This breakfast is so delicious and can help you get rid of any leftover veggies you have. They are perfect to make in the morning since they can cook while you get ready and you can make as many or as few as you want.

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Ham Cups with Eggs

Makes 4

  • 4 ham slices (1/16 inch thick)
  • 8 eggs
  • 1 big handful of spinach, roughly chopped
  • 1 Cup broccoli chopped
  • 1 Cup cheese (I used Colby jack)
  • Salt and freshly cracked pepper

Preheat the oven to 400F and butter your ramekins. Fold ham in half then in half again. Put the ham (point side down) into the ramekin and allow it to open. Carefully crack two eggs into liquid measuring cup (a paper cup would also work) then pour the eggs into the ham cups. Repeat with the remaining eggs (using two eggs in each ramekin). Top with spinach, broccoli, cheese, salt and pepper. Bake for 15-20 minutes, until whites are set but yolks are still a little runny.

Monday Reviews-Sara Foster’s Casual Cooking

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Monday Reviews

When I think about cucumbers, two things come to mind. The first is middle school spa days which were reserved for only the most elite sleepovers. My friends and I would buy an assortment of goop to put on our faces, toe separators for our pedicures, and cucumbers to put on our “puffy” eyes (7th grade is seriously stressful). The other is lunch with my mom. I’m not sure if she just didn’t like to take the time to make lunch or just liked simple meals so she could save room for dinner. Either way she had an arsenal of quick lunches she would make for us, bologna sandwiches, tuna salad, celery with cream cheese and paprika, and my favorite, cucumber salad. She would take a plastic bag add chopped cucumbers, white vinegar, and pepper. She would shake it up and put it in the fridge for 10 minutes. When they emerged the cucumbers were cold, tart, and crisp. I couldn’t get enough. Sometimes they were my after school snack and other times I would cut up an entire cucumber and eat it for lunch. Either way it was, and still is one of my favorite snacks.

I read this cookbook while on our North Carolina trip. Sara Foster owns the popular Foster’s Market in Durham, North Carolina so I have heard plenty of good things about her. When I started reading I was first intrigued by the way the chapters were set up, for instance “Anytime Eggs” “Party Platters” and “Quesadillas, Tacos, Tostados, and Pizzas”. I liked immediately that Sara didn’t feel the need to stay inside the confines of the traditional breakfast, lunch, and dinner chapters. Mixed into these chapters she also had helpful recipes like, “ten tasty vinaigrettes” and “quick things to do with a bag of spinach”. I don’t know about you, but I can name at least ten times I’ve had to throw away a half full container of wilted, slimy spinach because I didn’t know what else to do with it. While her cookbook is not the most beautiful one on the market, her recipes are thoughtful, simple, quick, and so delicious. This is one of my new favorite books and I will be recommending this one to all my friends. It is perfect for new grads, bachelors, or anyone just learning to cook. 

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This recipe reminds me of my moms cucumbers with a few additions. It’s simple but impressive enough to make for a nice summer dinner.

Recipe from Sara Foster’s Casual Cooking by Sara Foster

Classic Cucumber Salad
Serves 4-6

•       1 hothouse seedless cucumber, peeled in strips and thinly sliced (about 3 cups)
•       3 Tablespoons white wine vinegar
•       2 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
•       2 Tablespoons chopped fresh dill, cilantro, or mint
•       Grated zest and juice of one lime
•       1 teaspoon sugar
•       Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Combine the cucumber, vinegar, olive oil, dill (or cilantro or mint), lime zest and juice, and sugar in a medium bowl and toss to mix. Cover the bowl and refrigerate for about 30 minutes to chill. Just before serving, season the salad to taste with salt and pepper and toss again.

RTK note: My cucumbers let off a lot of liquid while sitting in the fridge and I had to drain them before serving, you might want to do the same to avoid puddles on your plate.

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Southwestern Steak Tacos

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Sorry my posts have been so sporadic (does anyone else think of “Clueless” when they use that word?). Sometimes real life gets in the way. So I’m back, where were we? Right, summer.

It is summer in the Midwest, which means heat indexes above 100 and humidity that makes you feel like you are underwater every time you step outside. Growing up here Nick and I are used to the weather, but it is still nice to get away. Somehow we managed to miss the most brutal week of the summer so far by going on a little road trip to North Carolina. We spent a blissful week visiting family, eating, drinking, and seeing as much of this beautiful state as we could.

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{“High Falls” in Asheville, NC}

We had such a great time! We went to Trader Joe’s for the first time (sad isn’t is?), hiked to waterfalls, went to our first (and last) “juke joint”, swam in the ocean, and made new friends. But I think the best part was getting to spend time with my husband. With 2 full time jobs between us, and Nick also in nursing school we don’t get to spend as much time together as we would like. It was a great change of pace to see each other everyday with only beer runs and platters of fried chicken keeping us apart.

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{Scott (Lex’s Brother), Nick, Alexis, and I at the “Juke Joint”}

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{Still waiting for the recipe for these blueberry dumplings-the best dessert I’ve ever had}

Naturally we brought home a few souvenirs to remind us our trip. Shells from the beach, honey from a local apiary, and remnants of the fruit basket my dad sent us on our last day. Oh and one more thing, a Le Creuset grill pan. On our way home we stopped at a pretty cool outlet mall outside of Raleigh that had a Le Creuset store and it just so happened that my color (Dijon) was on sale. I scooped it up and used it our second night home.

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One of the books I read on our road trip was Sara Foster’s Casual Cooking. I’ll talk more about it on Monday but these steak tacos were good! This flank steak gets a quick marinade before getting thrown on the grill (or in your new grill pan). Toss in some veggies and jazzed up sour cream and dinner is ready. The leftover steak is also really good with eggs for breakfast. (Oh you will also notice the lack of tortillas in the pictures. I didn’t forget, but have to lay off the carbs and sugar (temporarily) for medical reasons. And oh how I miss them both)

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Recipe from Casual Cooking by Sara Foster

Southwestern Steak Tacos with Chopped Charred Summer Vegetables

Serves 2-4

  • 1 1 pound New York Strip steak 1 ½ inches thick
  • 1 lime, halved
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • Freshly ground pepper
  • 2 ears of corns, husks and silks removed
  • 1 red pepper, cored, seeded, and cut into 2 inch chunks
  • 1 bunch scallions, cleaned and trimmed
  • 2 tomatoes, cored and quartered
  • Sea salt
  • 4 corn tortillas, warmed
  • ½ cup cilantro-lime sour cream (recipe follows)

Place the steak on a plate and squeeze the lime juice over both sides; sprinkle both sides with the cumin, chili powder, and pepper, and rub the seasonings into the steak. Set the steak aside to rest at room temperature while you grill the vegetables.

Heat a grill pan or cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat until hot. (Or prepare a hot fire in a charcoal or gas grill.) Put the corn, bell pepper, and scallions in the skillet to grill for about 5 minutes, turning often, until the vegetables are charred in places and the scallions are wilted. Transfer the vegetables to a plate to cool slightly Add the tomatoes to the skillet to char for about 5 minutes, turning often. Remove the tomatoes to the plate with the other vegetables. Roughly chop the pepper, scallions, and tomatoes and return them to the plate. Cut the corn kernels off the cob and mix with the other vegetables. Season the vegetables with salt and pepper, cover loosely with foil to keep warm, and set aside.

Season both sides of the steak with salt and grill for 5 to 6 minutes per side. Move the steak away from the direct fire, close to the grill or cover the steak with foil and cook for another 7 to 8 minutes, until an instant read thermometer reads 120 F for medium-rare (for medium cook the steaks a few more minutes, until the thermometer reads 130 F). Transfer the steak to a cutting board, cover loosely with foil, and let rest again for about 5 minutes. Thinly slice the steak on the diagonal against the grain.

To assemble the tacos, lay the warmed tortillas on a work surface or platter. Lay the steak slices down the center of the tortillas and spoon the vegetables over the steak, dividing them evenly. Top with mixed greens and a dollop of the cilantro-lime sour cream, fold in half, and serve.

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Cilantro-Lime Sour Cream

Makes about 1 cup

  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon hot sauce, such as Texas Pete or Tabasco
  • Grated zest and juice of 1 lime

Combine the sour cream, cilantro, cumin, hot sauce, and lime zest and juice in a small bowl and stir to mix. Serve or refrigerate in an airtight container until ready to serve or up to 1 week.

RTK note: While in Wilmington NC, I tried Texas Pete hot sauce for the first time and I love it! 

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{See the hot sauce in the corner? Nick and I also tried oysters for the first time-delicious!}

Monday Reviews- My Father’s Daughter

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Monday Reviews:

I’ve been married for almost four years now (where has the time gone?). Something Nick and I have gotten into the habit of doing is talking about our future kids. How tall will they be? What will we name them? Will they be outgoing like Nick or quiet like me? Around the time I bought my first cookbook, Nick and I really started to focus on where our food comes from. We planted a garden and started focusing on eating local and organic produce and meats. Part of that reason is for our own health benefits but the other part is we want to set a good example for our kids. Is that weird? I’m not even sure when we’ll have children but I’m already worried about whether they will get enough vegetables. Yep, that is weird. Oh well. I want to set a good example for them from the beginning and I know that starts with my diet. I can’t remember how I stumbled across Gwyneth Paltrow’s book, “My Father’s Daughter”. I think it may have been my cousin Angela who introduced me to it but it has quickly become my go to cookbook for dinners with friends and lazy nights in front of the TV.

The thing that strikes me about this book is how much passion is in it. From the introduction, to the pictures, to the recipes themselves, you can tell Gwyneth has poured her heart into this cookbook. The recipes themselves are mostly based on fish and white meat and most can be turned into vegetarian or vegan meals. Gwyneth approaches her recipes as a working mom, so the food is accessible, unfussy, and comes together quickly. Alternately it is still elegant and delicious. Her love of cooking and eating with her children is what I hope I will strive for when I have my own.

I make this soup when I’ve enjoyed one too many treats and need something light but still filling. It is full of kale and onions and makes a great lunch.

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Recipe from My Father’s Daughter by Gwyneth Paltrow

White Bean Soup (version one)

(Serves 4)

  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 fennel bulb, stems and fronds removed for another use, bulb thinly sliced
  • 1 large yellow onion
  • 2 large garlic cloves, peeled and thinly sliced
  • Pinch red chile flakes
  • ÂĽ teaspoon dried oregano
  • ÂĽ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 14oz cans cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
  • 2 pints vegetable stock
  • 1 bunch kale
  • Course salt

Heat the olive oil in a large heavy soup pot over medium heat. Add the fennel and cook for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the onion and garlic, turn the heat as low as it can go, and cook for ½ hour, stirring here and there. A little color is okay, but you really want the vegetables to get soft and sweet. Add the chile flakes, oregano, and pepper and cook for a minute. Add the beans and stock, bring to a boil, lower to a simmer, add salt to taste, and let cook on low heat for 1 hour. Stir in kale leaves and let cook for 7 minutes, or until just cooked. Ladle into four bowls, drizzle with your very best olive oil, and serve.

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Bad Day Brownies

The beginning of this week was stressful and when I’m stressed I turn to baking. In a world of unknowns, I like the fact that if I measure out exact portions of chocolate, flour, sugar, and eggs I will be rewarded with a huge pan of brownies. These particular brownies are fudgy, covered in frosting, and the perfect antidote to a bad day.

Adapted from Design Sponge

Bad Day Brownies with Chocolate Frosting

4 squares (1 ounce each) unsweetened chocolate
2 sticks butter (1 cup)
4 eggs
2 cups sugar
1 1/2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 package (6 ounces) semi-sweet chocolate chips
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1. Preheat oven to 350F. Place a bowl over a pot of simmering water (don’t let the water touch the bowl). Add chocolate and butter stirring until melted. Remove from heat. Cool slightly.

2. In a small bowl combine flour, baking powder, and salt.

3. In a standing mixer with a paddle attachment beat eggs and gradually add sugar. When combined, add the chocolate/butter mixture and beat well. Add flour mixture and mix until just combined then fold in chocolate chips and vanilla.

4. Pour into a greased 13″ x 9″ pan. Bake for 30 minutes. Set aside to cool before frosting and cutting.

Chocolate Frosting
Makes about 2 cups

2 squares (2 ounces) unsweetened chocolate
3 tablespoons butter
1 pound confectioners sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3–4 tablespoons milk or heavy cream

Use the same process that you did with the brownies to melt the chocolate with the butter. Remove from heat. Beat in the confectioners sugar and vanilla. Add a little milk or cream to thin to spreading consistency. Cover up those brownies with some frosting and enjoy!

RTK note: The original recipe included 1 cup chopped nuts. Feel free to add pecans, walnuts, or your favorite nuts when you add the chocolate chips. I also think these brownies are best on the second day, the frosting sets into a decadent almost fudge-like consistency.

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