Tag: Meat (Page 1 of 2)

The JeniEats Brief Guide To Ham: Cooking It + Ideas For Leftovers

One thing that’s not a mystery: How much I love ham.

Growing-up, I looked forward to our family’s Easter dinner because of ham. Partly because of that cheesy potato hot dish topped with crushed corn flakes, but mostly because of ham. The leftovers were the best.

The good thing about preparing a ham is that it’s really, really easy. It’s already cooked, so all you have to do is heat it through and add some sauce. Our family was divided over raisin sauce. Half loved it and the other half hated it, reaching for the mustard instead. My favorite glaze combines the best of both worlds: Sweet fruit jam and mustard.

Ham ramblings aside, here’s a guide to all of my recipes that include ham. You’ll find my first adventure cooking a giant ham to ideas for using up your leftovers.

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Recipe for Meatloaf Meatballs With Mom Glaze

Lots of people have bad memories of meatloaf, but it’s always remained one of my favorite foods.

Growing-up, my mom always prepared the recipe from the back of the Quaker Oats box. She always spread a mixture of brown sugar and ketchup on the top of the loaf before baking and adorned it with strips of bacon. The next day, my favorite treat was enjoying cold meatloaf sandwiches. I think I looked forward to them more so than the meatloaf itself.

Food television really opened my eyes to different foods and watching people prepare familiar dishes in different ways than I’d seen at home. While my mom prepared meatloaf in a loaf pan, I’ve adopted the more freeform method of forming a mound on a pan that I first saw on Barefoot Contessa. My fondness of meatloaf led me to order it at different restaurants. Now, I don’t order it often anymore because I can usually make it better (or just as good) at home.

I’ll always remember the time I was hanging out at a grade-school friend’s house around dinner time. On our to grab our shoes at the front door, we wandered through the kitchen as her dad was making meatloaf. He was holding a big bottle of mustard and maniacally laughed as he squirted it to the meatloaf mix. My folks never added mustard to their meatloaf mix and so I made a mental note to try it someday when I had my own kitchen. Now I always add mustard to mine.

The real reason I turned my last batch of ground meat into meatloaf balls was because it was fun. That’s really all there is to it.

Meatloaf Meatballs With Mom Glaze
Serves two. 

Meatballs Pan

1 lb ground meat (recommend pork and beef)
1 slice of bread soaked in milk
1 handful of parsley, finely chopped
1/4 onion, minced
1 clove garlic, grated
BBQ Sauce

Brown sugar, honey or maple syrup
Chili powder


  1. Tear one slice of bread into tiny pieces and soak in milk. The bread will be easier to break down into a paste as it softens.
  2. In a bowl, mix together the ground meat, bread and milk mixture, parsley, minced onion, garlic, at least one good squirt each of mustard and your favorite BBQ sauce, and pinches of salt and pepper.
  3. If you’d like to taste-test the mixture for seasoning, cook a tiny bit of the meat in a frying pan.
  4. Form meat mixture into balls and bake at about 375ºF (or 350ºF in a convection oven) until mostly cooked through. You can flip them partway through cooking, too. *Our new place is equipped with a convection oven which cooks foods must faster than our old ones. 
  5. While the meatballs bake, mix together the sauce by combining ketchup, brown sugar, and chili powder.
  6. Glaze the tops and sides of the meatballs with sauce. Return to the oven until the meatballs are cooked and the sauce glazes. Add more sauce, if desired, and return to the oven for a few minutes.

I Tried To Cook A New Meat: My Favorite North Iowa Butcher & Oxtail Stew

Sometimes I pick favorites.

One of my favorite place to purchase meat in town is Louie’s Custom Meats in Clear Lake, Iowa. I’ve brought home ground beef, steaks, whole chickens, chicken thighs, pork butts, ham ball/loaf mix and even frozen fish fillets. Louie’s also sells stunning smoked, bone-in pork chops. I bought one on a whim and sautéed it for a quick dinner. It was so good it changed my life. Everything I make with meat from Louie’s just tastes better

I appreciate how Louie’s updates its Facebook page regularly with weekly specials. Every once in a while, they’ll receive a whole fresh fish and post photos with prices, too. Last week, Louie’s posted an update about oxtail so I stopped by and bought a couple of pounds. As you can see, oxtail really is a tail; a cow tail to be exact. I think it used to be a cheap, throwaway cut of meat but has since become trendy recently, hence its price.

Ox Tail raw

Jake and I had never eaten oxtail before, so we asked Louie and some of our friends for advice. They offered many suggestions including trimming off some of the excess fat, searing the meat, and being careful to remove the fat from the sauce after cooking. Some friends said they simmer oxtail in marinara sauce while others flavor it with bay leaves and wine.

I combined some of their suggestions with Sunny Anderson’s recipe for Oxtail Stew in the slow cooker and added a habanero pepper for heat. Those who are experienced at preparing oxtail might shake their head at my method, as I had no idea what I was doing, but in the end we enjoyed a flavorful stew.


Seared oxtail

For those put off by the thought of eating a tail, the pieces of meat become tender after hours of braising and taste like pot roast. Jake and I had no idea how to eat the oxtail and soon tossed our cutlery aside to dig in with our fingers and gnaw the meat and melting cartilage off the bone. If there’s a pretty way to eat oxtail, we’re stumped.

The actual stew is rich in flavor and texture. The lima beans melt and the collagen from the beef bones adds body. We enjoyed the stew with brown rice and crusty bread.

I Tried To Make Oxtail Stew
Adapted from Sunny Anderson’s recipe for Oxtail Stew. In hindsight, the sauce enhancer (Gravy Master or Kitchen Bouquet was unnecessary. Gravy Master is noted in Sunny’s recipe so I bought Kitchen Bouquet hoping it was a similar product). 


2 pounds of oxtail
Flour, a light dusting for the ox tails
6 ounces baby lima beans
1 onion, diced
2 cloves garlic
2 teaspoons smoked paprika
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 bay leaf
1 habanero pepper, seeds removed and slit
Low-sodium broth
2 teaspoons tomato paste
1 tablespoon hot sauce
Soy Sauce
Optional: 1-2 tablespoons Gravy Master or Kitchen Bouquet
3 scallions, sliced


  1. Sort through lima beans for stones and rinse. Place in a sauce pan with water and bring to a boil. Turn off heat and set aside.
  2. Pre-heat pan to medium-high. Lightly dust oxtail pieces with flour. Sear in vegetable oil on all sides until golden brown. Set aside.
  3. Remove the excess fat, leaving enough to cook the onion.
  4. Cook the onion until softened. Add the garlic, paprika, thyme and bay leaf. Saute briefly until fragrant.
  5. Drain the lima beans and place in the slow cooker.Add the ox tails, slit and deseeded habanero and onion-spice mixture.
  6. Fill slow cooker with about half water, half stock until it almost (but not quite) covers the oxtail.
  7. Cook on high. Check on the oxtails after a couple of hours. Skim off the foam and fat.
  8. My ox tails took about eight hours to become tender. I occasionally skimmed the fat and added stock when the beans looked dry. About two hours before I wanted to serve the oxtails, I added the tomato paste and Kitchen Bouquet.
  9. Before serving, I tasted for seasoning and added more salt and soy sauce as needed. I also tossed in the scallions.

Have you ever eaten oxtail? If you’ve cooked it, what’s your favorite method of preparation? Feel free to let me know if I missed a step or made the process too difficult. 

Three Recipes I Like & My Childhood Cookbooks

Summer is making me want to cook and bake everything.

I love the sunshine and even the thunderstorms. I like opening my windows in the morning and look forward to going to our little farmers market each week. All of these things feel make me feel energized about trying new recipes. Here are several I’ve tried recently that turned out well.

Pulled Pork in the Crock-Pot
I’m sheepish to admit that I’ve never made pulled pork. Growing up, my mom slow-cooked boneless country pork ribs with barbecue sauce. I think we ate it so often that I haven’t wanted to make it as an adult.

Three things inspired my pulled pork endeavor: Eating a fantastic pulled pork meal from Pimento Jamaican Kitchen located in the food court of the Burnsville Mall, reading Beth’s Slightly Savory Saturday post about pulled pork, and winning an Iowan pork prize pack from Cristen’s blog Food & Swine.

I followed Christine Gallary’s recipe for Easy Slow Cooker Pulled Pork from Chow.com it turned out perfectly.

Pulled Pork Collage.jpg

Pull-apart tender, moist and flavorful. Plus, you are left with wonderful au jus after you de-fat and strain the juices. We enjoyed our pork with this homemade coleslaw on either buns or steamed rice.

Taste of Beirut’s Recipe for Lebanese Meat Pies (Sfeeha)
I love Lebanese food and miss the little triangle pies I bought at Emily’s Lebanese Deli in NE Minneapolis. These beef pies aren’t as pretty as Joumana’s but they taste so good.

Meat Pies

I followed her recipe as written, except that I substituted balsamic vinegar for pomegranate molasses and minced red jalapeno for red pepper paste. You could always substitute slivered almonds for pine nuts and don’t forget to buy lean meat, otherwise, the fat will turn into molten lava while they bake and drip.

We like dipping our pies in greek-style yogurt.

Rhubarb Custard Meringue Dessert
I’m kind of obsessed with Rhubarb. I tried bake Aunt Emma’s Rhubarb Custard Dessert (from the Land O’Lakes website) in my tart and pie pans.

rhubarb tart
The crust stuck to the pans and one of meringues started weeping, but the dessert tasted fantastic. If I were to make this again, I’d bake it in a regular baking dish lined with parchment paper or blind-bake homemade pie crust for the tart and pie pans.

Jake’s never tried a variation of this dessert before and declared it one of his favorites, weepy meringue and crumbled crust and all.

My First Three Cookbooks
Do you remember your first cookbooks? Mine were Enclyclopedia Brown Takes the Cake, Alpha-Bakery by General Mills & Kids Cooking: A Very Slightly Messy Manual.

My original books were long since misplaced, so I ordered my own copies again. The recipes aren’t the most exotic, but many of my friends consider dishes like Alpha Bakery’s banana bread and Kids’ Cooking’s Disgustingly Rich Brownies classic favorites. Everyone’s gotta start somewhere, right? Someday, I’ll share them with my kids.

As I’ve alluded to earlier, my parents were hesitant to let me experiment in the kitchen, so I didn’t prepare many of these recipes. It’s time for some cooking catharsis.

Cookbook Collage.jpg

Catharsis never tasted so chocolatey.

Have you tried any great recipes lately? What were your first cookbooks? 

A Recipe For Cheater Runzas

Rejoice with me! I found my old binder of favorite recipes.

It’s easy to misplace things when you move frequently. During our first move from the Twin Cities to Fargo, I packed away my old binder of recipes I collected from cookbooks, cooking classes, friends, and family. I have been looking for these recipes and old photos for three years. Finally, I found them at the bottom of a box underneath a stack of boxes in our garage.

I pulled out a series of handwritten recipe cards my cousin sent me when I graduated from college. She has two daughters and made little notes about how these were some of their favorites. Her recipe for runzas, little bread pockets filled with meat and cabbage, caught my eye. I’ve seen Runza Restaurant featured on television but have never encountered runzas in person. They seem to be more popular in other parts of the Midwest like Kansas and Nebraska. Jake and I love meat pies of all varieties, so I made them this weekend.

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