Robin Rescues Dinner

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PHOENIX -- Check out some easy holiday tips from Chef Robin Miller, who literally wrote the book on easy family dinners.

Raspberry-Dijon Baked Ham

Cooking spray
1 4-lb. boneless baked ham
1/2 cup seedless raspberry preserves
1/4 cup orange juice
2 Tbsp. Dijon mustard

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Coat a shallow roasting pan with cooking spray. Put the ham in the pan.

In a small bowl, whisk together the preserves, orange juice and Dijon mustard. Brush the mixture all over the ham.

Bake for 1 hour, or until a meat thermometer inserted into the center reads 140 degrees (approximately 15 minutes per pound). Let stand for 5 minutes before slicing into 1/4-inch thick slices.

Serve three quarters of the ham for this meal. (Reserve the remaining ham for the penne.)

Serves 4-6 (with leftovers!)

Rice Dressing With Cranberries and Pecans

1 Tbsp. butter
1/2 cup chopped onion
2 minced garlic cloves
2 cups quick-cooking white rice
2 cups reduced-sodium chicken broth
1/2 cup toasted pecan pieces
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1/4 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Melt butter in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Add chopped onion and garlic cloves and cook for 2 minutes. Add rice and cook for 3 to 5 minutes, until the rice is golden brown. Add chicken broth and bring to a boil. Cover, remove from the heat, and let stand for 5 minutes. Stir in pecan pieces, cranberries and parsley. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Ham Sandwich Penne With Pumpernickel-Parmesan Bread Crumbs

1 lb. penne pasta
2 slices dark pumpernickel bread, toasted and cooled
2 Tbsp. grated Parmesan cheese
1-1/2 cups heavy cream
2 Tbsp. honey mustard
2 cups diced ham (from leftovers)
1 cup cubed Swiss cheese
2 cups baby spinach leaves
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Cook the pasta according to the package directions. Drain and set aside.

Meanwhile, to make the bread crumbs, put the toasted pumpernickel bread and parmesan cheese in a plastic bag and seal the bag. Using a heavy rolling pin or the bottom of a heavy skillet, crush the bread into fine crumbs. Set aside.

In a large saucepan, whisk together the cream and honey mustard. Set the pan over medium-high heat and bring to a simmer. Add the cooked pasta, ham, Swiss cheese, and spinach leaves and cook for 1 minute to heat through (the cheese will just begin to melt). Remove from the heat and season to taste with salt and pepper.

Spoon the pasta mixture into individual shallow bowls and top with the pumpernickel crumb mixture.

Serves 4

Fluffy Chocolate Dip

1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/3 cup milk
1 Tbsp. butter
2 Tbsp. rum
1-1/2 cups whipped cream or non-dairy whipped topping

In a microwave-safe bowl, combine cocoa powder, milk and butter. Cover and microwave on high for 1 minute. Whisk in rum. Fold in whipped cream or whipped topping. Serve with sugar cookies and fresh fruit (such as banana slices, pear wedges, fresh cherries, and strawberries) for dunking.