Tag Archives: food

Favorite Ham Leftover Solutions

My kids and I walked over to a local park yesterday, and my son decided to gather up all of the first-of-the-season dandelions. I forgot the wonder of dandelions as a kid– the joy of every stage of them from a bright yellow flower to the wish-blowing-seed stage. Part of the joy of parenting is getting to experience the wonder again through your kid’s eyes. Confronted with a pile of lopped-off flower heads, we decided to make something of them:

I use this anecdote to introduce the daunting world of ham leftovers. There’s a truism: Eternity is two people and a ham. Not surprisingly, adding two additional smaller mouths doesn’t seem to diminish our ham surplus by much and so I’m trying to get creative with our Easter ham leftover meals. Yes, by the end of a week of ham dinners they can be as ominous as a yellow-head in your lawn, but I swear you can make something good from the situation.

My top three favorite ham meals with quick recipes:

Scalloped Potatoes with Ham

Ingredients:

  • 2 1/2 to 3 lbs potatoes, peeled and sliced thin (I like to use a mandolin– it’s worth the investment!)
  • 1 cup of diced ham
  • 4 tbsp salted butter
  • 3 cups milk
  • 1 cup grated sharp cheddar, with additional cheese for topping if desired.
  • 3 tbsp flour
  • 1/2 tsp of garlic powder
  • 1/4 tsp of pepper (white if you have it!)
  1. Preheat oven to 375 and spray the bottom of a large casserole dish or 9X13 pan with cooking spray.
  2. Melt butter in a sauce pan over medium heat. Lower temperature, and add flour, mixing until mixture turns golden (don’t burn!). Then, add milk slowly, mixing constantly.
  3. Once mixture is smooth, add cheese, garlic powder, and pepper and keep at a low temperature.
  4. Line the bottom of the casserole dish with a third of the sliced potatoes, topping with a third of the ham. Finish the layer with a third of the cheese sauce.
  5. Alternate potatoes, ham, and sauce until all three layers have been put down, and top with additional cheese.
  6. Bake, covered with foil, for 45 minutes, then remove the foil and cook for an additional 15 minutes, or until potatoes break apart easily with a fork and the casserole is bubbly.

Slow Cooker Split Pea Soup

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb of dried green split peas
  • 1 ham bone with meat, additional ham as desired
  • 3 carrots, peeled and diced
  • 2 stalks of celery, diced
  • 1/2 tsp of dried thyme leaves
  • 1/4 tsp of pepper
  • 4 cups of veggie broth
  • fresh lemon (if desired)
  1. Combine ingredients in a crock pot and cook for 8 (if pre-soaked the split peas) -10  (if didn’t presoak) hours on low.
  2. Before serving, remove the hambone to a cutting board and cut remaining useful meat, stirring it back into the soup. If desired, squeeze fresh lemon over soup and stir in (adds a nice, citrusy freshness).

Savory Waffles, adapted from America’s Test Kitchen

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups flour (I use a 50/50 split of whole wheat and all-purpose)
  • 1 tbsp white sugar
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp dry mustard powder
  • 1 3/4 cups of buttermilk (or make your own)
  • 4 tbsp melted, cooled unsalted butter
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 cup finely diced ham
  • 3/4 cup of shredded cheese (cheddar, fontina– any mild cheese is a good choice for this)
  1. Preheat waffle iron and preheat oven to 200 degrees.
  2. Mix dry ingredients together in a large bowl. In a separate bowl, whisk together the buttermilk, butter, and egg.
  3. Combine wet and dry ingredients gently– just like most recipes involving baking powder, you don’t want to overmix. You might see a few lumps remaining, but that’s normal. Fold in the ham and cheese until incorporated.
  4. Spray the waffle iron with cooking spray, the add the correct amount of batter for your particular waffle iron. Cook until golden brown, and place on a baking sheet in oven until all waffles are prepared.

I can vouch for each one of these recipes, and the savory waffles are an special favorite in our household!

Happy ham season– sometimes eternity can be just the right amount of time to enjoy something good.

Freezing Tomatoes

If you’re like me, you hate grocery store tomatoes.  Anemic.  Pale pink.  Pathetic.  They just don’t taste as good. I don’t even like to used canned tomatoes, if I can avoid them because of the metallic taste that you can’t get rid of.  Boxed tomatoes are tasty, but expensive.  I’m still slightly intimidated by canning, but I like to preserve my food.  So, if you’re cheap, have an extra hour, and have access to a farmer’s market or a tomato plant of your own, freezing tomatoes can be a great option to enjoy that tomato flavor through the winter. 

This was my project today, and the little guy even helped (or at least watched with fascination.)

 

Materials needed:

Ripe tomatoes (larger varieties work best; don’t try to do this with cherries or you will drive yourself crazy!)

Large Pot

Paring knife

Several Large Bowls

Mesh Strainer

Quart freezer bags

Kitchen scale (optional)

Tomatoes, ripe and ready
Tomatoes, ripe and ready
  1. First, collect ripe tomatoes (though not over ripe or they may be difficult to work with) and wash them gently.  Don’t worry if their skins aren’t perfect since soon you’re going to get these tomatoes naked.  Scandalous!
  2. Prepare your work area, since you’ll need a lot of bowls for this project.  Place a large pot of water to boil and prepare a bowl of ice water near by.  Lay out another clean bowl next to that and finally, place your strainer over a final bowl.
  3. Make a tiny “x” on the bottom of each tomato, just deep enough to pierce the skin but not so deep as to cut into the seeds.  Working in batches, blanch the tomatoes for two minutes.  Place the blanched tomatoes in a bin of ice water. Once iced, the skins should slide easily from the tomatoes.
  4. With your paring knife (or a strawberry huller), remove the stem area from the tomato and seed.  Don’t be afraid to squish and squeeze the tomatoes a bit to get the seeds out.  Place the seeded and stemmed tomatoes in the mesh strainer to drain into a bowl.
  5. If desired, measure out preset quantities of your tomatoes for easy kitchen work.  I always do 1 lb bags for simplicity’s sake.  Press out all of the air and freeze flat for easy stacking.  The tomatoes should last at least three months, and for most freezers, could last much more than that without any loss of flavor. 
  6. Remember that bowl you were straining into?  Fresh tomato juice! Feel free to pass it though the strainer one more time for good measure.
  7. Ready for Bloody Marys!
    Ready for Bloody Marys!

Chili and Cinnamon Apple Cornbread

Yes, this is going to be as delicious a post as the title suggests…

I think we all have those foods that, as a kid, we pooh-poohed without giving them a chance.  For my husband, it was eggplant.  For me, tuna, chicken salad, and chili.  The dislike for chili came from being served it so often that I just couldn’t appreciate it.  Now, my family served up chili with a big scoop of cottage cheese in the middle and sometimes macaroni noodles, but otherwise the flavor was pretty standard fare… except that we were always eating tomatoes my father had canned.  I realize now (older, wiser, blah blah blah) that garden fresh tomatoes can really make the best chili. And so do fresh peppers and fresh onions, if you’ve got them on hand.  I was pretty pleased that all I had to buy for this recipe was the meat! Continue reading Chili and Cinnamon Apple Cornbread