Wednesday, December 6, 2006
Christmas dinners have changed over the years. My family used to sit down to turkey, ham and all the fixins'. Now, my aunt drives three hours to Chicago to buy deep-dish Uno pizzas. It doesn't matter to her that she could just drive around the corner and get one at the local pizza chain—she wants the real deal.
My husband's family used to have a big roast for Christmas. Now they have spaghetti and Buddy's balls. Buddy makes a spicy meatball. They're not at all Italian, but Buddy sure can make-a-the balls!
My mom's gone Italian, too. She makes a big lasagna a couple days before and pops it in the oven on Christmas Day. She and my sisters nosh on it all day long.
One year, I sent my family a slab of Corky's ribs for Christmas. They enjoyed those on Christmas Day. It made my mom so happy not to cook that year.
I have to admit when I first got married, I made a big roast with piggy pudding, mashed potatoes and homemade rolls. Now, I tone it down a little. My husband's birthday is on Christmas Day. As you may know by now, he's a meat-and potato-guy, so on Christmas, we usually have rib eyes and mashed potatoes.
If you still have the holiday spirit and want to present the Christmas ham, I have a tip for you. There is an easy way to put that special Christmas dinner on the table. Make a ham glazed with coke. I know, you're thinking that it's just an urban legend or some crazy gimmick. But really, it's great. It's almost as good as honey-baked ham. Seriously.
This past Thanksgiving I had to work. That didn't excuse me from cooking though. Meteorologist Ken Johnson smoked a turkey for the newsroom, and I baked a ham and whipped up some mac and cheese. It was so easy. And it only took about an hour total.
It was a big hit, and there were leftovers. If you make this great ham, you can serve it up on Christmas Eve and then use the leftovers for a Christmas brunch. And then, you can use the ham bone as a base for a hearty soup to chow down on once everyone's gone home.
Christmas Ham Recope
One 4-5 lb. bone-in ham
2 cups dark brown sugar
1 teaspoon dried mustard Cloves
2-liter bottle of Coke or Cherry Coke
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Place ham into a 9x13 inch baking pan. Cut excess fat from ham and score the top.
3. In between the scored areas, poke a hole with a knife and add a clove. Do it all over the ham.
4. Combine the brown sugar and mustard in a small bowl. Cover the ham with about half of the brown sugar mixture.
5. Pour about one-third of the coke over the ham. You should have about two to three inches of coke in the pan. Cover the ham with the remaining sugar mixture.
6. Bake for about an hour, basting with coke every 15 minutes.
Baked Mac And Cheese
2 cups uncooked elbow macaroni (I prefer the jumbo size)
2 cups grated cheddar cheese
4 tablespoons (half stick) butter
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter a deep casserole dish and set aside.
2. Cook and drain macaroni according to directions
3. In a medium sized bowl, beat eggs. Add milk, salt and butter, cut into small pieces. Fold in the cheese.
4. Pour cooked macaroni into the prepared casserole dish and fold in the egg and cheese mixture until well mixed.
5. Cover with aluminum foil and bake 40 minutes, stirring about halfway through.
6. Remove from oven and stir until creamy.
If you prefer a less creamy, cheesier version, bake in a glass, 9x13 inch pan and in the
last 15 minutes of baking, remove aluminum foil and top with additional cheese.
You can also add a crunchy crust by combining half a cup of grated cheese with half
a cup of dried breadcrumbs and two tablespoons melted butter. Top the casserole with
the crumb mixture before baking, and do not cover. Keep an eye on it though to make
sure it doesn't get too brown. If it does, cover it with foil until hot and bubbly.
You can cook the ham and the mac and cheese in the oven at the same time.
After you fi nish the ham, make the mac and cheese and pop it in the oven. Both
should be ready at the same time.