Saturday, January 21, 2012

Recipe time: Ham and Cheese Braid

Let's talk about food.  Do you ever get tired of coming up with interesting dishes for your family?  I definitely do. I love to cook; I love to bake.  However, coming up with new ideas for dinner wears me out.   Sometimes, I flop.  Every now and then, I come up with a decent dish.

Here is an idea for an easy ham and cheese braid, and I threw it together one night with ingredients I had on hand.  First of all, let me tell you what I do with our Christmas ham: after Christmas dinner, and we've had our fill of Texas Honeybaked ham slices, my husband puts the rest of it in the food processes and chops it to a tiny dice.  We vacuum seal the bags that will stay in the freezer longer than a few weeks, and then we put some in Ziploc bags and freeze it in small portions.

From there, chopped ham can be used in various ways: a savory, salty enhancer for potato soup; a meaty topping for pizza; a terrific omelet filler.   In this case, I created a ham and cheese braid with mustard, ham, cheese, and Pillsbury thin crust pizza dough from the refrigerator section.

1.  Start by opening and unrolling the pizza dough, and stretching it to fit a greased cookie sheet.  Vertically, draw a light score with a sharp knife to divide the dough into three long sections.  Cut (with kitchen shears or a knife) both of the outer sections into angled 1-1/2 to 2 inch slices. 

2.  Spread Dijon mustard across the middle section, sprinkle with chopped ham, and place shredded cheese and/or cheese slices on top of the ham (I used shredded cheddar and slices of white American, because that's what I had in the house)

3.  "Braid" the dough by pulling the strips across the middle, alternating sides and crossing them over each other.

4.  Bake at 400°F for about 15 minutes, or until golden brown.  (Check at 12 minutes to ensure it's not overbaking, depending on your oven)

I have a new fig/ onion spread, and I'm thinking about substituting that for mustard next time, with Swiss cheese instead of cheddar.  Feel free to experiment!

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