(ARA) – Each holiday season families across the country are faced with the classic entertaining conundrum – how to put a special meal on the table without spending an eternity in the kitchen. In recent years there has been an increase in classic holiday comfort foods made in shorter preparation times. These time-saving innovations deliver “convenience cooking” that doesn’t skimp on homemade flavor.
At-home cooks can maximize time spent with family by thinking ahead. Washing vegetables immediately after returning from the grocery store makes it a snap to set out a holiday veggie tray. Because many holiday recipes call for similar ingredients, save time by shredding a whole block of cheese, chopping an entire vegetable or preparing more sauce or broth than called for and refrigerating what you don’t use. This will come in handy the next time you are preparing a meal.
Time-saving solutions are also available in new packages, adding precious time to holiday socializing with family and friends. Cook’s Ham, for instance, has included a new, ready-to-use Sweet Ham Glaze & Dipping Sauce with every spiral sliced ham, making it even easier to cook and serve a glorious and delicious holiday meal.
Other products aiming to streamline holiday time include pre-prepared holiday sides, wine and cheese selections that can be purchased together and frozen or refrigerated family-favorite desserts.
It’s easy to add a festive twist to any basic meal just by adding a little spice and creativity. And with less time spent in the kitchen, at-home entertainers will have extra time to deck the halls – and their dining room tables this holiday season. Try these simple tips to put a cheerful spin on traditional centerpiece entrees:
- Sugar. Heat granulated sugar and water in a sauce pan until sugar is dissolved. Let cool slightly, then pour over cranberries in a small bowl. Coat in liquid sugar mix, remove berries and sprinkle with dry sugar. Sprinkle sugared fruit around base of plated Cook’s ham.
- Spice. Intermix cinnamon sticks and thin orange slices to create a fragrant centerpiece.
- Shredded. Brightly colored spaghetti squash creates a vivid base for any holiday dish.
- Standing. Take your spiral sliced ham to new heights by placing it in an elegant ham stand.
Holiday Convenience Today and Tomorrow
With a house full of relatives and friends, having a ham on hand can be a much welcomed helper. Cook’s kitchen pros recommend chopping spiral sliced ham or other holiday meats to add flavor and texture to easy meal ideas, such as:
- Soup’er Bowls. Add small cubes of meat to standard soups.
- Quiche Me. Sprinkle shredded ham to bring additional flavor to simple egg and cheese quiches.
- Pasta Perfect. Toss meat with linguine, fettuccine or spaghetti to create a delicious twist on classic pasta.
- Ham on Swiss with a Twist. Spice up a classic comfort food sandwich with spicy mustard, giardiniera or a dose of salsa.
- 1 Cook's Brand Hickory Smoked Bone-In Spiral Sliced Honey Half Ham, either Butt or Shank, 8 - 10 lbs.
- 1 cup packed dark brown sugar
- 1½ teaspoons dry mustard
- 1 teaspoon grated lime rind
- ½ teaspoon ground ginger
- ¼ teaspoon ground allspice
- ⅛ teaspoon ground cloves
- 1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
- 22 to 25 pecan halves, finely chopped
- Heat oven to 250F.
- Remove ham from all packaging materials. Place Spiral Sliced Ham face down in roasting pan. Cover pan with aluminum foil; bake ham 1 hour and 15 minutes.
- Meanwhile, prepare sugar rub. Combine brown sugar with dry mustard, lime rind, ginger, allspice, cloves and finely chopped pecans in bowl. Mix thoroughly with fork. Stir in lime juice to moisten sugar mixture evenly. Set rub aside.
- Remove ham from oven and uncover pan. Pat and rub sugar mixture over warm ham, covering top end first, then smearing mixture down the sides as evenly as possible. Return ham to oven.
- Bake uncovered 30 to 45 minutes, basting meat with pan juices every 15 minutes. Ham is done when center reaches 150? F on meat thermometer; please refer to label for proper cooking instructions.
- Remove ham from roasting pan; place on a ham rack and let rest 10 to 15 minutes.
- Carve ham off bone and serve.
- (Recipe courtesy of Cook's Ham)
For more information on Cook’s ham and new sweet ham glaze, as well as holiday convenience cooking, visit www.cooksham.com.