Posted in Cooking

Taking a Helping Hand from the Experts: Ginger-glazed Ham (Momentum 1 pt/oz; PointsPlus 1 pt/oz)

Ginger-glazed Ham a la Nigella Express

I’ve got a few favorite shows on Food Network, and Nigella Express is tops for me. She cooks just like me, in a throw it together, don’t measure anything, do whatever it takes to make it ooey gooey yummy and then watch your friends and family enjoy!

So a few weeks ago, I caught an episode where she made a Ginger-glazed Ham. Now anyone who knows me personally has just lifted their eyebrows to the ceiling (perhaps beyond, in a few cases)…because everybody knows I hate ham. Wait…sshhhhh…about a month ago, to be polite, I ate some ham at Sunday dinner at a friend’s house a month or so ago, and it wasn’t horrible. Still not my favorite meat preparation, but I learned I don’t hate it anymore.

But when I saw Nigella combine ham–a mediocre meat preparation–and ginger glaze, my eyes lit up and my mouth watered. Now, I may be just okay with ham, but I LOVE ginger!

You can find the original recipe at Nigella Express on Food Network, but I changed it just a little and made it perhaps more American kitchen friendly:

  • 1 8-lb ham shoulder (bone in)–because I couldn’t find boneless ham joint at my grocery store
  • 1 2-liter of ginger ale–just use the store brand
  • 1 cup (or about half a jar) of ginger preserves–I find Dundee’s to be the best, with a strong, spicy flavor and natural ingredients
  • 2 tablespoons of dijon mustard–again, I had store brand in the house, so that’s what I used
  • 1/2 teaspoon of ground cloves
  • 1/2 cup light brown sugar

Put the ham in your crock pot and fill it up with ginger ale; mine took about 1.5 liters. If the ham is too big for you to put the lid on (like mine was), just cover it snuggly with foil. Put it on whatever setting you need to get it through the day; I happened to be at home the day I made mine, so I stuck with Nigella’s original 4 1/2 hour cooking time, setting my crock pot on the 4 hours on high button (mine has four buttons, 4 or 6 hours at high or 8 or 10 hours at low).

30 minutes in the oven at 400 degrees

When it’s done in the crock pot, take it out with some large meat forks/scoops and place it on a baking rack in a foil-lined pan (with high sides, preferably). With a fork, perhaps some tongs, and a sharp knife, cut away the skin and most of the fat, exposing the dark pink meat of the ham. While it’s cooling just a little, mix up the glaze ingredients in a bowl: ginger preserves, mustard, cloves, and brown sugar. Then slather on the glaze and pop it into a 400 degree oven for 20-30 minutes, depending on how crispy you like your glaze.

PS–this glaze is about the most amazing spicy sweetness I’ve come across in a loooong time. I can imagine it topping just about any grilled, baked, or roasted meat: chicken, pork chops, lamb chops, tuna or swordfish steaks. I think I also prefer it to Major Grey’s mango chutney for my spicy curry topping too.

Ginger-glazed Ham a la Nigella Express

Paired with this sweet and spicy ham is a baked potato salad and steamed broccoli.

Oooo, and the best thing is that you can repeat this process with any flavor combination. Imagine cooking it in pineapple juice all day before glazing it in pineapple preserves, or orange juice and orange marmalade, or apple juice and apple butter, or ginger ale and sweet potato butter…the list is endless!

Better yet, cook it on low without any special flavoring or liquid and then glaze with some yummy bbq sauce or whiskey sauce or maple glaze.

For such a strong flavored meat…that cured ham…it sure can take a lot more flavor the more you cook it!

Posted in Cooking

A Surprise Family Favorite: Spaghetti Shrimp

Back last summer, my mom found this super easy recipe for spicing up plain ‘ol spaghetti. No one remembers where it came from or what it’s really called, but we’ve named it “Spaghetti Shrimp”.

Now here in Charleston, we locals are committed to buying and eating fresh local seafood, but it’s out of shrimp season right now. BUT, we are never without some local frozen shrimp in the freezer. You’ve heard me say don’t worry about thawing your meat…just throw it in raw. Um, that won’t work for shrimp because they cook way too quickly. Be sure to allow for a full thaw.


    • Thaw and peel 1 lb shrimp
    • Dice 1 large onion (your choice) and as many mushrooms (whatever variety you like) as you like

Tip: I take a LARGE cutting board into the living room with my bowls and pots and veggies and knives and do this prep work on the ottoman while watching a little tv.


Okay, to keep the number of dirty pots and pans down to just 1, here’s what you do:

  • cook 4 servings of your favorite pasta, not the whole box; this can be any shape, color, or gluten level! Look at the nutrition label; it will tell you how much is a serving given the nutritional content of your preferred pasta. Just cook the right number of servings, and you don’t have to worry about overeating the carbs!!
  • in the same pot as you cooked the pasta (which is now hanging out in the colander), saute your onions and mushrooms in just a teeny tiny bit of olive oil. Keep in mind that the mushrooms will “spill” liquid as they cook and you’ll want to wait til you’ve cooked out that liquid before dumping in a jar of your favorite spaghetti sauce (we use homemade marinara that we put up during tomato season). Spice it up with a little more garlic, oregano, and red pepper flakes…to your family’s taste tolerance.
  • stir in a little more than 1 lb raw shrimp, which will cook in the simmering sauce and be flavored by your spices.
  • stir in your cooked pasta
  • serve with a simple side salad and bread.

Yep, it’s as simple as that and so delicious. And you can substitute any other meat…chicken, steak, pork…just be sure to cook it first.

Weight Watchers PointsPlus:

  • 1 lb cooked shrimp = 8 points
  • 20 oz Ragu Old World Style Traditional Sauce = 12 points (to give you an idea if you use jarred spaghetti sauce)
  • 2 medium sweet onions = 0 points
  • 1 container baby portabella mushrooms = 0 points
  • 1 teaspoons olive oil = 2 points
  • 4 servings Barilla Plus Multigrain Angel Hair pasta = 20

4 servings (1.5 cups) of Spaghetti Shrimp at 11 points each.

Note: if you make your own marinara or make sure that your jarred spaghetti sauce is fat free, that item drops to 0 points and drops the serving points to 7.5 points each. You can also find lower point pasta in both wheat and gluten free varieties. I’d have used homemade, but I’m not great at making yet.