Ham with Spiced Apricot Glaze

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We cooked this up for Easter dinner last weekend and it was so easy and delicious I think I’m going to have to do it again sometime soon.  It came from the most recent issue of the LCBO’s Food & Drink magazine. This recipe is aimed towards a bone-in ham that is about 7-8lb (3.1-3.8kg).  Mine was 5.3kg so I just doubled the amounts.  It’s not an exact science, after all.  The only ham we could get this size happened to be precut in a spiral, but I think you’ll probably have better results if you use an uncut ham.

Apricot Glazed Ham 1

Preheat your oven to 325°F and take the net and plastic off the ham.  Mine also came with a honey glaze that I discarded. Line a roasting pan with foil such that there’s enough hanging off the sides to completely cover the ham.

Apricot Glazed Ham 2

Set the ham in the pan, fat side up.

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Trim off the excess fat.  This was a little harder to do with a spiral cut ham.

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Score the ham in a diamond pattern, sprinkle liberally with pepper, and then jam whole cloves into the diamond criss-crosses.  Or, if it’s already cut, wedge the cloves between the slices.

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Wrap the foil around the ham and seal the edges.  Bake for about three hours (or 15 minutes per pound), until a thermometer inserted into the ham (but not touching the bone) reads 140°F.

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When that’s nearly done baking, grab a small saucepan and mix together 3/4 cup apricot jam, 1 teaspoon cinnamon, and 1 teaspoon ground ginger.

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Heat the jam on low until it’s melted and bubbly.

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Open the foil on your ham when it’s ready and cover it with glaze (don’t forget to remove the cloves!).  Continue to bake, uncovered, for a further 15 minutes, until the glaze is starting to caramelize.

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Tent the foil over the ham to keep it from drying out and let it stand for another 15 minutes before carving.

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To carve a spiral ham, simply twist the knife at the bone to separate the ham, Then cut along the sinew lines for clean slices. I love apricot jam.  And this just gave me another reason to love it more.

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Shoe Face Lift

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I bought these flats at a strange and yet totally awesome shoe store called Urban Shoe in Gander, Newfoundland, on a completely bizarre road trip with my parents in October of 2008.  I then proceeded to wear them to death for the next five years.  While the shoes themselves are still structurally sound, and will likely survive the next nuclear apocalypse because they’re quite well made, the leather is scuffed and scruffy, and I have since had to replace them with another pair of go-to leather flats I can wear to work.  But I’ve been loath to throw them out, so they’ve languished in my closet.

Shoe Face Lift 1

Then I found this glitter paint at Dollarama and I figured, hey, why not?  It’s not like I have anything to lose, right?  I also had some glitter glue left over from Cait’s and my failed experiment with bouncy balls.

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I put a bit of painter’s tape over the heel and got to work with a paintbrush.

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I knew that paint would get all over the place, but I figured most of it would come off again after a while.  The heel was just a larger part where I wanted to limit the paint’s access.

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I dabbed the sparkle glue on the bow, for variety.

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This is four coats of glitter paint in.  I think I’m happy with it.

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I used Mod Podge gloss finish as a shiny top coat and sealer.  I’m not sure how long they’ll hold up to regular wear (I pretty much only wear them in the office and maybe two and from the car), but I like the facelift, even if it’s only temporary.

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Shoe Face Lift 10

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They did crack a bit along some pre-existing creases on the side but it’s not that noticeable.

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Coordinating My Crafty Crap: Cupcake Cups

Happy Good Friday!

Cupcake Cups in a Jar 1

I’m going to go easy on you with a Fast Tip Friday because you’re probably trying to sort out your weekend and all the stores are closed.  This is all over Pinterest and the Google and I really like the idea, so here it is.

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Rather than poorly stacking all the different containers of your cupcake cups (because if you’re like me, you’re darn right you have several different kinds), or losing them in the back of a drawer, or having them get crushed by something heavier, why not arrange them all nicely in a large glass jar?  This is just the right level of cutesy that I can handle without vomiting glitter.  I can also see tying a pretty ribbon around the lid and giving it as a housewarming gift to an avid baker!

Cupcake Cups in a Jar 4

Conversation Bunnies Place Markers

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I saw these on Oh Happy Day a little while back and thought they’d make a neat place marker.  So in the midst of running out apartment hunting (yay, moving again!), I churned out nine of these for our Easter dinner.

I picked up some wee hollow chocolate animals.  Hollow is key.

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Then I cut out conversation bubbles from two pieces of scrap book paper and grabbed a stencil to do the names.

Conversation Bunnies 2

I also used some foil stars I had leftover from being a professor (no matter the age, all students love a sticker for good work!).

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Then you need some glue and some floral wire.

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Cut the wire so it will fit all the way through your chocolate animal — it will need to stabilize itself at the bottom — and all the way through your conversation bubble.

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Glue your two conversation bubbles together over the wire and jam it into your animal’s head.

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You may need to move the wire around a bit to get it steady but you’ll find the right spot. I stored mine in a plastic container until I was ready to use them as place markers.

Conversation Bunnies 11

Breakfast Brownies

Breakfast Brownies 12

When Atlas posted this recipe to my Facebook newsfeed and suggested I make it for the next time we went over for dinner, I knew it wasn’t really a suggestion.  I didn’t have some of the ingredients on hand (because as we all know I’m a huge fan of butter, eggs, and refined sugar, and that’s not likely to change any time soon), so I did make some substitutions.  If you’d like to go for the original version, just check it out at Eat Drink Love.

Breakfast Brownies 15

Start by preheating your oven to 350°F and spray a 8″ x 8″ baking dish.  Line the dish with parchment paper so that you have two little handles sticking out.

Breakfast Brownies 2

Grind up about 2 tablespoons flax in your coffee grinder (wipe it out before and after of course, or use a separate one). Flax is amazing for you, but it will do you no good if you don’t grind it up first.

Breakfast Brownies 1

Add the flax to a bowl with 3/4 cup oats, 1/2 cup flour, 1/2 teaspoon baking powder, and 1/4 cup cocoa.

Breakfast Brownies 3

Give that a good stir.

Breakfast Brownies 4

Find a lovely ripe banana and smush it up with a fork.

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Add that to the oat mixture, along with 1/4 cup coconut oil, 2 eggs, 1/4 cup honey, and 1/2 cup milk.

Breakfast Brownies 6

Stir that around and then slop it into your prepared pan.

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I forgot I was supposed to stir these in and so I sprinkled 1/4 cup chocolate chips on top.  Very decorative.

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Bake for 17-20 minutes, until the centre is solid and tests clean with a toothpick.  Set on a wire rack to cool completely.

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After cutting the brownies into little pieces, store them in the fridge.

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To be honest, I wasn’t a huge fan of this recipe.  I don’t like baking with coconut oil as I find it too heavy and greasy, and so that’s all I could taste, but everyone else seemed to like them just fine.

Tie-Dyed Eggs

Tie Dyed Eggs 47

Cait and I decided to get up to shenanigans on Monday night and so this is what we did: we tie-dyed Easter eggs.  Not “tie” like TIEd into knots (though you do that), but “tie” as in, dyed using a neckTIE.  Yes. Neat, huh?

Tie Dyed Eggs 51

So what you need to do is go through your tie collection or go to your local thrift store and pick up some silk ties (I used 8 ties).

Tie Dyed Eggs 1

There will be a tag on the skinny end of the tie that will tell you if it’s silk or not.  You can also do this with silk scarves, but I couldn’t find any at the thrift store that were 100% silk.

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Having done this project now, I’m going to tell you to look for ties that are made of printed or painted silk, like this:

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And to avoid jacquard-like woven silks, like these:

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I’ll show you why later on.

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Then you will need to dismantle the ties, removing the satin lining and the foam or fabric insert.  Ties are not sewn in a particularly sturdy manner, so it won’t take you long.

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Now you need some eggs.  We used 2 dozen white eggs.  You don’t have to use white ones, but the colour will transfer best to white.  With 24 eggs and 8 ties, we planned to have 3 eggs of each pattern.

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Cut a segment off your tie that will wrap completely around your egg.

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Wrap the fabric tightly around the egg (you can do it at any angle, but just remember that the smoothest side of the fabric is the part of the egg where the print will be the best) and fasten the tail with a rubber band. Make sure to do it so the “right side” of the fabric is touching the shell of the egg. I kept messing this up and Cait kept yelling at me. She’s tiny but mean.

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Do this with all your eggs.  We adjusted the angle at which we tied on the fabric, because we were going to display our eggs all higgledy-piggledy in a bowl.  If you’re going to display your eggs in cups or something organized, you might want to consider tying them all the same way.

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This is one of the jacquard ties.  Much harder to get the fabric close to the egg.

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After explaining to Cait that the egg was one of the structurally strongest shapes in the world, I promptly put my thumb through it.

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Because we were now out of white eggs, we replaced it with a brown one as a scientific experiment. It’s actually frightening that one of our most oft-uttered phrases to each other is “For SCIENCE!”

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Once you’ve got all your eggs wrapped in tie scraps, you need to find some white or plain pastel cotton or muslin or similar scrap fabric.  Old pillowcases work pretty well.

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Cut the fabric into slightly larger pieces than you cut the ties.  Wrap the muslin around the egg and fasten it with another elastic over the previous fabric tail.

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This is definitely a time consuming job.

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We were, however, entertained by our rubber bands.  I picked up a bag at Dollarama, and I guess they got the rejects from various other manufacturers.

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Plop your eggs in a large pot and cover with water so they’ve got about 2″ of water above them.  Add in a cup or two of white vinegar, depending on how many eggs you’re doing.  For 24 eggs we used 2 cups white vinegar.

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Bring that to a boil and let simmer for 20 minutes.  When it’s done, scoop out the eggs into a bowl of cool water so they chill out faster.

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Carefully unwrap the eggs and store them in the fridge if you’re planning on eating them.   They tend to look a little sharper if you rub them with a little bit of vegetable oil to get a nice shine.

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Here are the eggs, next to their various tie patterns.  You can see that the jacquard ties (at the end) didn’t come out half as bright as we thought.

egg08

egg07

egg01

egg06

egg03

egg02

egg05

egg04

And here is the brown egg!

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I think it looks really neat with the red.  Here it is next to its white counterpart, for comparison.

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Cake Redux: Gluten-Free LEMON COCONUT Snacking Cake

Lemon Gluten-Free Cake 14

Okay let’s try this again.  If you were visiting last week you’ll know I made a neat little gluten-free cake I found in Canadian Living but I wasn’t totally happy with how it came out.  So today I totally changed the two main ingredients (and two less main ingredients, and the cooking time) and we’re doing this for a second time.  If you notice that the text reads pretty much identically to what I wrote last week, well, it’s because it IS what I wrote last week.  I mostly copy-pasted that stuff, but I bolded all the differences.  Deal with it.

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Preheat your oven to 325°F and grease (with butter) a 9″ springform pan.  Line the bottom with parchment paper.  While you’re at it, separate 6 eggs and put the whites in a mixing bowl.

Lemon Gluten-Free Cake 1

In a large bowl, with an electric mixer, beat together 6 egg yolks1 cup granulated sugar, 2 teaspoons COCONUT EXTRACT2 teaspoons grated LEMON zest, and a pinch of NUTMEG.

Lemon Gluten-Free Cake 2

You are going to want to beat this stuff until it turns the colour of butter and when you lift the (stopped) beater away, you get a lovely long yellow ribbon coming out of the end, about 5 minutes.

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You need 2 cups COCONUT FLOUR for this, and 2 tablespoons LEMON juice, so you might want to get these ready ahead of time.  I just juiced the lemon I took the zest from. Fold the coconut flour and lemon juice into the yolk mixture.

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I totally forgot that coconut flour tends to suck up moisture.  If you do this, maybe just add 1 1/2 cups coconut flour.

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So I added in an additional 1/2 cup of MILK.

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Now take those 6 egg whites you set aside and start beating them until stiff peaks form.

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Take a scoop of the whites and stir it into the flour/yolk mix.  This will sort of thin out the mixture in order that it doesn’t crush the rest of your whites in the next step.

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Once that first scoop is combined, gently fold in the remainder of your egg whites into the flour/yolk mixture until fully combined.  Make sure to scrape up from the very bottom to make sure you got it all. Plop the batter into your prepared pan (or press it in this case) and bake it until the edges pull away from the sides of the pan and the centre is golden and firm to the touch, about 40 minutes.

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This cake did not fluff up like the previous one.  Let it cool on a rack before popping it out of the springform pan.

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Dust the cake with icing sugar right before you serve it (or the icing sugar will be absorbed into the moisture of the cake).  A nice lemon glaze (try the juice of one lemon heated to boiling with 4 tablespoons sugar) would also work I think.

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adventures in grown-up living

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