Tastes Like Honey Baked's Cheesy Potatoes and Ham Casserole

11 January 2011 4 comments


I first tasted Cheesy Potatoes and Ham at the Honey Baked Ham store last month. We always buy our Christmas ham at this store. I know it is expensive but it is well-worth it in my opinion. Every Christmas season, they give out samples of all the side dishes and desserts and this dish was one of them. I loved it but I don't want to buy it and spend more so I decided to look online for a similar recipe and found this. I followed the recipe the first time and found it a little dry for my preference so I made more gravy the second time I cooked this and it was perfect.

I highly recommend this potato casserole if you are tired of the usual mashed, scalloped or roasted potatoes to accompany your entree.

1/2 medium onion, chopped
1/4 cup butter
1/4 cup flour
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. pepper
1 1/2 cups milk
2 cups shredded cheese
1/2 lb ham, diced
6 cups diced cooked potatoes
1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped (optional)
Preheat oven to 350.
Begin by chopping the onion and parsley and cubing the potatoes.
Saute the onion in butter until it is tender but not browned. Blend in the flour, salt, and pepper. Cook for a few minutes to get rid of the raw flour taste.
Now gradually add the milk. Cook, stirring constantly until the mixture is thickened. Add 1 1/2 cups of the cheese and stir until melted.
Add the ham, potatoes and parsley. Stir well to combine, being careful not to break up the potatoes too much.
Pour the mixture into a greased baking dish. Top with the remaining cheese. Bake at 350 for 30 minutes.


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Chocolate Cheesecake



If you are looking for an easy to make chocolate cheesecake that tastes great, THIS IS IT. I've tried many recipes and found this to be delicious and not too sweet. I used canned cherries for the topping. You can use any topping that you prefer, be it fruit or chocolate ganache or leave it plain.

1-1/2 cups finely crushed graham crackers
1/4 cup finely chopped walnuts
1 tablespoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon (optional)
1/2 cup butter, melted
2 8-ounce packages cream cheese, softened
1 cup sugar
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 8-ounce cartons dairy sour cream
3 eggs, slightly beaten
4 ounces semisweet chocolate
1 recipe Raspberry Sauce (optional)

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. For crust, in a bowl combine crushed graham crackers, walnuts, the 1 tablespoon sugar, and, if desired, the cinnamon. Stir in melted butter. Press the crumb mixture onto the bottom and about 2 inches up the sides of an 8- or 9-inch springform pan; set aside.
2. For filling, in a large mixing bowl beat cream cheese, the 1 cup sugar, the flour, and vanilla with an electric mixer until combined. Beat in sour cream until smooth. Stir in eggs. Melt 4 ounces semisweet chocolate. Stir the melted chocolate into half of the filling.
3. Pour plain filling into the crust; pour chocolate filling into the crust. Use a narrow metal spatula to gently swirl the fillings. Place the pan in a shallow baking pan. Bake 45 to 50 minutes for 8-inch pan (40 to 45 minutes for 9-inch pan).
4. Cool in pan on a wire rack for 15 minutes. Using a small sharp knife, loosen the crust from sides of pan; cool for 30 minutes. Remove the sides of the pan; cool cheesecake completely on rack. Cover and chill at least 4 hours before serving. If desired, serve with Raspberry Sauce.
5. Makes 12 slices


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Pasta Alla Carbonara

07 October 2010 16 comments

There are many versions of Carbonara. Even in Italy, restaurants make this dish different ways. While in Rome, we tasted three different takes on this dish. Italian food purists will tell you that a 'real' Carbonara does not have cream while others prefer to use cream to get the texture they prefer. We ate at a restaurant in Borgo Pio near the Vatican and they served their Carbonara using spaghetti and without the cream plus it was loaded with freshly ground black pepper. The restaurant we went to near Piazza Navona meanwhile used ziti and cream in their Carbonara which my family and I prefer. The traditional style is just too dry and we prefer our Carbonara to be a little creamy. Whatever style you prefer, Carbonara is an easy recipe to follow and prepare. These recipes are from Emeril Lagasse and Gourmet magazine and I tweaked it to suit my family's taste (I omitted the butter, used less oil, doubled the liquid, etc.) If you don't have Pancetta, use bacon; if you like garlic, add it with the onions. As with any recipe, you can tweak it to suit your personal taste.


1 tsp olive oil
1 small yellow onion, chopped finely
3 pcs pancetta or bacon diced
1 pound pasta
3 large egg yolks
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup 1% milk
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
ground black pepper

All ingredients should be at room temperature for even and fast cooking (eggs, heavy cream, milk and cheese).

Heat oil over medium heat. Add the onion and pancetta and cook until the onions are wilted and the pancetta is brown. Remove from the heat and set aside.

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and cook the pasta until al dente. While the pasta is cooking, whisk together the egg yolks and heavy cream in a bowl and set aside.

Drain the pasta and reserve a cup of the water. Return pasta to the pot and over high heat, add the pancetta and onion mixture. Stir until the pasta is coated with the pancetta mixture.

Add to the egg yolk/heavy cream mixture to the pasta, along with the Parmesan. Remove the pot from the heat and toss the pasta until it is well-coated. Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste. If needed, add a bit of the reserved pasta cooking liquid to help toss the pasta if it is dry. If it's too watery, add more parmesan cheese. Serve immediately.

5 pcs pancetta or bacon
1 medium onion, chopped finely
1/4 cup dry white wine
1 pound pasta
3 large eggs*
3/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/3 cup grated Pecorino Romano
1 tsp fresh ground black pepper
1/4 tsp salt

Slice pancetta into cubes and brown in a pan. Add onions and cook until wilted. Add wine and boil until it's reduced by half. Cook the pasta in salted water until al dente. Meanwhile, mix the eggs, the two cheeses, black pepper, salt in a bowl.
Drain the pasta and add to the onion and wine mixture. Under lowe heat, mix well until all the pasta is coated. Remove the pan from the stove and add the egg mixture. Serve while warm.


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17 September 2010 6 comments


What do you get when you mix meringue, buttercream and almonds? Sans Rival, what else? The photo and title says it all, what more can I add to it? Delicious, rich, mouth-watering, diet buster, calorie laden dessert. Ah, one shouldn't think of diets when enjoying this dessert. This is one of those rare times that eating it is worth sacrificing 1 day off your healthy lifestyle. That's why you don't eat Sans Rival every week, you're only allowed to have this dessert uhm once every year? Ok, maybe once every six months.

The name Sans Rival is French, meaning 'without rival'. Nobody knows where this dessert originated but it sure has some European characteristics. It's like Napoleons. It's an Almond torte and consists of layered crispy meringue with almonds and buttercream. There is also another dessert that is similar to this called Sylvannas, the only difference being the Sylvannas is shaped like a huge egg but it tastes the same.

I grew up eating Sans Rival from Goldilocks. This is one of my favorite desserts from that popular Filipino bakery along with Mocha and Ube rolls. When I moved to Northern California 20 years ago, I was ecstatic when I learned that Goldilocks is just a drive away. I got a sticker shock though, a small square of Sansrival costs $25 (back then). No wonder it's expensive, it's a little complicated to make this. There aren't a lot of ingredients but it takes a lot of work to assemble the whole thing. After many years of wanting to try to make this dessert, I finally did it two weeks ago. I was thinking of what dish to bring to a party when I decided to make dessert. It turned out quite good, very good, in fact. Would I make it again? Hmm, yes I will (if somebody pays me to do it LOL). I used almonds instead of cashew nuts just because. If you are a novice baker, then I would suggest you buy it instead of trying to make it. :o) For an expert baker, this is quite easy to make. All you need is a lot of patience and Reynolds Release non-stick aluminum foil. If you don't have this special aluminum foil, use baking paper or parchment paper.

for the wafers:
10 egg whites at room temperature
1/4 tsp cream of tartar
1 cup sugar
2 cups finely chopped almonds
for the filling and frosting:
6 egg yolks
1/2 cup light corn syrup
2 tbsp water
1/4 cup sugar
2 sticks butter at room temperature (1/2 lb)
for the topping:
1/2 cup finely chopped almonds
- Beat egg yolks until it turns light yellow.
- Heat corn syrup, sugar and water over low heat. Cook for 2 minutes after it boils.
- Pour the syrup into the egg yolk slowly while beating on medium speed. Set aside to cool down.Cream softened butter and gradually beat in cooled yolk mixture.Set aside.
- Preheat oven to 325F. Line three cookie sheets or jelly roll pan with parchment paper. Generously grease and flour the parchment paper (very important so the meringue will not stick; if you use the Reynolds Release foil, then you don't have to grease and flour)
- Beat egg whites and of tartar until soft peaks form. Add sugar a tablespoon at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat until stiff.
- Fold in ground almonds.
- Spread evenly on the cookie sheets about 1/4 inch thick. Bake for about 30 minutes or until golden brown.
- Cut the wafer into desired size while still warm. Peel off the paper or foil. If the parchment paper is sticking, cover with damp towel for a minute or so.
- Spread the frosting thinly on top of each meringue and stack another meringue, repeat with the layering . Don't put too much frosting in each layer or you wouldn't have enough to frost the outside of the Sans Rival.
- Sprinkle chopped almonds on the top and sides. Chill in the fridge for a couple of hours.


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