Kitchen Wit & Wisdom: It’s a time to take stock

The new year is time to look back and to look ahead and be thankful for the blessings that many of us enjoy

  • Dec. 31, 2013 4:00 p.m.

New Year’s Eve is again upon us; it’s a time of reflection and contemplation over the past year’s accomplishments, gatherings, successes and failures.

As for resolutions toward change, it’s an appropriate time to decide what to keep in our lives and what to leave behind. A time to be thankful, a time to acknowledge the gifts and love bestowed on us from friends, family, and yes, even strangers who have enriched our lives with their talents, in literature, music, the arts or sports.

We in this country have so much, but unfortunately most of us over-indulge with what we have. Take food for example; our serving sizes are now almost double what is needed and worse, much of it today is packaged foods, not from scratch. We, as a nation, are consuming too much sugar, salt and chemicals from processed foods. This is a good time to have a look at our eating habits and resolve to make healthy changes for ourselves and our families.

Today I want to acknowledge and send loving energy to everyone who is experiencing grief and loss at this time. And to all my readers, family and friends, I want to wish you all a happy, healthy and prosperous new year.

The first recipe today is great for any brunch. The appie recipe is a good one to make ahead and broil just before serving.

Cheesy Ham & Hash Brown Casserole

1 (32 ounce) package frozen hash brown potatoes

8 ounces cooked, diced ham

2 (10.75 ounce) cans condensed cream of potato soup

1 (16 ounce) container sour cream

2 cups shredded sharp Cheddar cheese

1-1/2 cups grated Parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C). Lightly grease a 9×13 inch baking dish.

In a large bowl, mix hash browns, ham, cream of potato soup, sour cream and Cheddar cheese. Spread evenly into prepared dish. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese. Bake 1 hour in the preheated oven, or until bubbly and lightly brown. Serve immediately.

chicken bacon bites

12 bacon strips, halved

10 ounces boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into 24 cubes

1 can (8 ounces) sliced water chestnuts, drained

1/2 cup orange marmalade

1/4 cup soy sauce

2 garlic cloves, minced

1 teaspoon grated fresh gingerroot

Sweet-and-sour sauce, optional

Place bacon on a broiler rack. Broil 4 inches from the heat for 1-2 minutes on each side or until partially cooked; cool.

Wrap a piece of bacon around a chicken cube and water chestnut slice; secure with a toothpick.

In a large resealable plastic bag, combine the marmalade, soy sauce, garlic and ginger. Add wrapped chicken; seal and carefully turn to coat. Refrigerate for 2 hours.

Drain and discard marinade. Broil chicken for 3-4 minutes on each side or chicken is no longer pink, and bacon is crisp. Serve warm with sweet-and-sour sauce if desired. Yield: 2 dozen.

Cathi Litzenberger is the longtime food columnist for The Morning Star, appearing every Wednesday and one Sunday per month.

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