“Using The Force” for the first time

I was talking with a friend yesterday about what to make for dinner, when we stumbled upon the idea of having him “use The Force” to create a meal for him and his girlfriend.  We talked about a few recipes, contemplated different degrees of difficulty, and came up with the plan to use my Chicken Prosciutto Roll recipe.  He didn’t want to spend an inordinate amount of time on dinner, so we discussed ways he could “shortcut” the recipe and tailor it to their tastes.  I was so excited for him that I had to write a quick blog post to share this with you all.


Here’s his final product:

Doesn’t it look terrific?  THIS is what I mean when I say, if you’re planning to use one of my recipes,  that you should alter the original to fit what your family likes best, using the flavors and spices that you most enjoy.  He made his own version of a Chicken Prosciutto Roll and it turned out wonderfully.  He *did* use chicken breasts, Bourcin Cheese, and James River Cellars Gewurztraminer white wine, but swapped out ham for the prosciutto, since that’s what he had on hand.  More importantly than simply following the recipe, he used what he had at his disposal and took the time to prepare a meal that he and his girlfriend would enjoy.

My friend, AM, did a fabulous job of tailoring a basic recipe to make it his own.  I hope you’ll consider trying this same sort of thing in your own home.  It’s not hard to make dinner… it just takes a little thought and the ability to let your efforts shine as your own.

If you want me to blog about it and share your steps, just send me a message and take a few pics of the beginning/middle/end of your efforts so you can send them to me.  I’d be more than happy to help as you create dinners for your friends and loved ones… after all, it’s just food!

Enjoy the process…


Recipe: Leftover Ham Casserole

534062_10151607459672953_1949038580_nI totally forgot to tell you about a simple way I found to use up some of that leftover ham I had from Easter – I turned it into a Leftover Ham Casserole!

I chopped up three redskin potatoes into cubes and simmered them in some water until they were almost cooked, but not falling apart yet.  I tossed them in a pie plate with some frozen corn kernels, and some cubes of leftover ham.

I then made a simple cheese sauce using 1T butter, 1T flour, some James River Cellars Reserve Chardonnay (since that’s what I had in the fridge… I was using the white wine that we served for our Easter dinner, so use whatever wine you like best) and let the sauce cook and bubble for a bit to cook out the flour taste.  I decided to add a handful of asiago cheese and a touch of shredded cheddar to make the cheese sauce.  Once incorporated and smooth, I poured this over the base of the casserole and topped it with more shredded cheddar.

The photo on the right shows how the cheese melted and made dinner look yummy when it came out of the oven.  I baked the casserole at 350 degrees for about 30 minutes until it was cooked through.  This was a huge hit with everyone in our house!

Recipe: Divine Ham

How to use a dessert wine for something other than dessert… that was my latest challenge.  Since Easter was right around the corner when I began pondering this idea, using James River Cellars’ Divino (made with 100% ice-pressed Chardonnel) dessert wine with my Easter Ham seemed to fit the bill.

I began with a full bottle of Divino and a saute’ pan.  I poured the entire bottle into the saute’ pan and simmered it until it had reduced by half, stirring frequently.  Once the Divino was thickened, I added a small pat of butter and a single turn of my salt mill and stirred it all together.  I then allowed it to cool and poured it into a container to save until Easter Sunday.


Since I had purchased a fully cooked, spiral sliced ham at my local grocery store, I pulled it out of its wrappings and set the oven to a low temperature, about 250 degrees.  Using the Divino glaze I had made, I basted the ham occasionally throughout the cooking time.  You can see by the photo on the lower left that the ham already had some spices mixed in with the liquid in which it had been packaged, so that simply added another layer of flavor to this meat.

did pop the temperature up to 350 degrees to cook the remaining items of our dinner, so after warming for an hour at the lower temperature, this ham was then “toasted” a bit at the higher temperature before pulling it out for serving.

In the end, it looked exactly as it does in the lower right photo when I took it out of the oven for serving… falling off the bone, sweetened and spiced just perfectly.  The edges were crispy and tinged with a citrus-y sweet tang from the Divino.

We loved it and will probably end up using this for the coming years, since no one in my house wants to “mess with perfection”.  I hope you’ll consider trying dessert wines in different and unconventional ways as you find new wines you enjoy.  There are NO Wine Police, so no one says you have to simply drink your wine… right?