Monday, December 29, 2008

Recipes for Fully Cooked Ham

Did you enjoy ham for the holidays? If so, you may have a lot of leftover ham that you are looking to use more creatively. Besides ham and beans or ham sandwiches, there are so many wonderful things you can do with leftover fully cooked ham. Here are a couple of examples:

Easy Ham and Cheese Quiche Recipe

Makes 8 servings.

1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon chilled solid vegetable shortening
2 tablespoons cold water

2 tablespoons butter
1 onion, finely chopped
1 1/2 cups (16 ounces) shredded Swiss cheese
1 cup chopped cooked ham
2 large eggs
2 large egg yolks
1/2 cup half-and-half
1/2 cup heavy cream
Pinch of salt
Pinch of cayenne pepper
Pinch of ground nutmeg

To prepare pastry, in a medium bowl, mix together flour and salt. Using a pastry blender or 2 knives, cut shortening into flour mixture until coarse crumbs form.

Add water, 1 tablespoon at a time, tossing with a fork, until a dough forms. Shape dough into a disk, wrap in plastic wrap, and chill for 30 minutes.

On a floured surface, using a floured rolling pin, roll dough into a 10-inch circle. Fit into a 9-inch quiche or pie pan. Trim edges.

To prepare filling, in a skillet, melt butter over medium heat. Add onion; cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, 6 to 8 minutes. Remove from heat; cool.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Sprinkle 3/4 cup of cheese over crust. Top with onion, then ham. Sprinkle with remaining cheese.

Whisk together eggs, egg yolks, half-and-half, cream, salt, cayenne and nutmeg. Pour egg mixture over ham and cheese.

Bake quiche until golden and custard is set, 35 to 45 minutes. Let rest for 5 minutes before serving.


Ham Casserole Recipe

Makes 4 servings

1 cup chopped onions
1 1/2 to 2 cups chopped cooked ham
4 tablespoons margarine
1 can cream of mushroom soup
1 cup milk
1/2 cup shredded sharp Cheddar cheese
1 (7 ounce) package macaroni, cooked and drained
1 cup bread crumbs

Brown onions in margarine. Add cooked ham, soup and milk. Bring to boil. Add cheese and macaroni. Pour into baking dish. Sprinkle bread crumbs on top. Bake at 350 degrees F for 25 minutes.

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Saturday, December 13, 2008

Pressed for Time? Use Your Crockpot

During the busy holiday season it is tempting to fall into the habit of ordering pizza, or stopping at the fast food restaurant rather than taking the time to make a wholesome meal. Not only will you spend more, you won't be offering your family the best nutrition with those meals.

One of the best low-cost, easy, and fastest ways to get a meal on the table is to use your crockpot. You can throw all the ingredients in the night before (of course refridgerate) then start it the next morning before you go to work or out to do holiday errands. Your dinner will be waiting for you.

Slow cookers or crock pots are a great way to use more inexpensive cuts of meat, so you can create low-cost, but tasty meals. And it is so easy.

Here's one of our favorite crockpot meals:

Crockpot Goulash

Makes 6 servings

2 pounds round steaks, cut in 1/2-inch cubes
1 cup onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
2 tablespoons flour
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1 1/2 teaspoons paprika
1/4 teaspoon dried thyme, crushed
1 (14 1/2 ounce) can tomatoes
1 cup sour cream

Put steak cubes, onion, garlic in crockpot. Stir in flour and mix to coat steak cubes. Add all remaining ingredients except sour cream. Stir well. Cover and cook on LOW for 8 to 10 hours or on HIGH for 4 to 5 hours, stirring occasionally. Add sour cream 30 minutes before serving, and stir in thoroughly.

Per Serving: 304 Cal (42% from Fat, 49% from Protein, 9% from Carb); 36 g Protein; 14 g Tot Fat; 7 g Carb; 1 g Fiber; 59 mg Calcium; 4 mg Iron; 493 mg Sodium; 103 mg Cholesterol

Serve with noodles and a salad and you are set! I hope your family will love this recipe as much as my family does.

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Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Rum Balls Recipe

Rum balls are easy to make and delicious. The confection is a sort of truffle, and makes a great dessert along side fruits and other items. They are welcome holiday gifts, as well.

Make the rum balls a few days in advance to allow the flavor to develop. Pack them in cheerful boxes or tins to give as gifts, or in an airtight container to keep them fresh. Everyone will love them.

Ultimate Rum Balls

2 1/2 cups vanilla wafer crumbs
2 tablespoons cocoa
3 tablespoons white corn syrup
1 cup confectioners' sugar
1 cup finely chopped pecans
1/2 cup rum
Confectioners' sugar

Combine the vanilla wafer crumbs, cocoa, corn syrup and the 1 cup confectioners' sugar; mix well. Add nuts and rum and mix again. Shape into balls and roll in confectioners sugar. Refrigerate 2 to 3 days to develop the flavors.

If you don't like rum, you may substitute 1/2 cup orange juice and 1 teaspoon grated orange rind.

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Monday, December 8, 2008

Cooking Ahead for a Party

Are you hosting a holiday party this year? It makes a lot of sense to cook as much as you can ahead of the party, then all you have to do is re-heat the items and enjoy the party with everyone else.

I don't like to be in the kitchen trying to get the food out when I have guests. With careful planning, you can cook one or two days in advance of your party, and have most of the major work done. If you do want to cook ahead, casseroles such as lasagne are a good choice. Prepare them in a pan that can double as your serving dish. You can also make your desserts ahead to save time as well. Just follow the instructions for storage and you'll be fine.

While I don't recommend making things like salad too far in advance, you can prepare the lettuce and other ingredients and have them ready to go. Make your salad dressing a couple of days before and store in the fridge in a jar. By doing this, you can make and dress a salad in a snap.

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Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Anything but Turkey Tonight!

I made the best turkey for Thanksgiving. It was delicious and juicy, and everyone loved it. However, since it was quite a large bird we had lots of left overs, even with everyone taking some home! We have been eating turkey leftovers for several days now and I'm just over it.

I was going to make a nice Mexican beef burrito dinner, but my local supermarket didn't have all the ingredients I needed in stock, so I decided to make shrimp fried rice instead.

Shrimp Fried Rice Recipe

8 ounces shrimp (peeled, deveined and no tails)
2 cloves garlic (thinly sliced)
4 green onions (sliced)
3 eggs (beaten)
4 cups cooked rice
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons soy sauce

In a wok, heat 1 tablespoon oil till hot, add garlic and fry till brown, take out and discard. Add shrimp to oil and stir fry until cooked through (2 to 3 minutes). Remove shrimp and set aside.

Add other tablespoon of oil to wok and scramble eggs set aside. Add rice to wok and stir fry until hot and dry, add soy sauce and stir until rice is even brown in color. Add shrimp and eggs and stir fry 2 minutes. Add green onions and stir fry another 2 to 3 minutes or until onions are good and hot.

Serve immediately.


I like to stir fry in any veggies I have on hand. Tonight I'll add to the above some sliced mushrooms, bean sprouts, shredded carrot, and green and red bell peppers. It will be both colorful and nutritious!

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Monday, December 1, 2008

Food Gift Baskets for the Holidays

Here's a great gift for that neighbor, co-worker, friend or family member that has everything - make them an elegant gift basket filled with purchased and homemade goodies. You can find baskets and the cellophane wrap for the baskets at craft stores like Michaels and Franks. Gift baskets are a wonderful treat for the recipient, and you don't have to break the bank if you are on a tight budget.

It's usually a good idea to stick with a theme for your gift basket. For example, fresh fruits and some cookies and gourmet tea bags. Now you can make your own cookies, or buy a nice box of cookies or small cakes. Another nice theme is cheese, wine, fruit and crackers. This one must be prepared and delivered right away, or refrigerated until you can give it to your gift recipient, since you should keep the cheese chilled.

One of my favorite baskets to make for friends combines pasta, pasta sauce, bread sticks, and a homemade cake or cookies. Jar mixes are also popular gift items. Have you seen them? You layer ingredients in a jar, and then seal it. Attach the instructions and it can be enjoyed at a later date.

Here's a good jar mix recipe, and you can find many more jar mix recipes at

Sun-Dried Tomato and Penne Soup Mix in a Jar

2 cups penne pasta
1 cup sun-dried tomatoes
1/2 cup dried shiitake mushrooms (or other dried mushrooms)
1/4 cup onion flakes
1/4 cup parsley flakes
Bouquet Garni

Layer mix ingredients into a quart home canning jar in the order given. Adjust cap. Prepare Bouquet Garni.

Attach Bouquet Garni and recipe card to neck of jar.

Sun-Dried Tomato and Penne Soup
Contents of jar
Bouquet Garni
8 cups vegetable broth
1 (14.5 ounce) can diced Roma tomatoes
1 (15 ounce) can cannelloni beans
1/4 cup Madeira or other sweet white wine, optional
Salt and pepper

Combine soup mix, Bouquet Garni, vegetable broth and tomatoes in a 6- to 8-quart saucepot. Simmer, covered, until pasta and vegetables are tender. Stir in cannelloni beans and wine, if desired. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Continue simmering for 15 minutes. Remove Bouquet Garni.

NOTE: If there is not enough liquid in soup, add additional vegetable broth or water.

Bouquet Garni
1 tablespoon dried minced garlic
1 1/2 teaspoons dried crushed thyme
1 1/2 teaspoons dried minced basil
1/2 teaspoon dried crushed red pepper

Combine herbs in a bowl and gently stir to blend. Place herb mixture in the center of a 5 x 5-inch square of cheesecloth. Bring corners together to form a bag and secure with a piece of white cotton string, or use a muslin spice bag. Tie Bouquet Garni to jar of Sun-Dried Tomato and Penne Soup Mix.

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