Monthly Archives: February 2011

Scalloped Potatoes with Ham – Comfort Food!

THIS is comfort food.  If you are vegetarian, see the end of the post for how to adapt this recipe without losing out on all the flavors.  Although, I think this came out so very wonderfully because I used ham from the amazing ham I prepared last week using My New Favorite Ham recipe.

Click the recipe title to see the original recipe from which I started.
Scalloped Potatoes with Ham

An asterisk * means I made a change to or added an ingredient.

•    2 tablespoons butter
•    2 tablespoons flour (I used whole wheat flour)
•    1 1/2 cups milk via a 5 oz can of evaporated milk, 2 Tbsp of instant dry milk, and water to make 1 1/2 cups total.*
•    1/4 tsp hot pepper flakes (will use more next time!)*
•    Salt and pepper
•    1-2 tsp dried parsley *
•    2 tablespoon olive oil (for sauteing)*
•    2 medium onions, thinly sliced
•    1 cup chopped green bell pepper *
•    3/4 cup grated carrot *
•    1.25 lb of assorted potatoes, thinly sliced (I used what I had on hand)*
•    8 ounces/2 cups of cooked ham in about 1/2 inch chunks.*
•    1 1/2 cups grated cheddar cheese *


The main ingredients. I just love all the colors.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter or oil a baking dish. In a saucepan, melt 2 tablespoons butter over medium high heat.

melting butter and pepper flakes

I couldn't resist infusing some red pepper flakes in the butter. I should have used more and will try using 2-3 times the amount next time!

Stir in flour and cook for 1 minute.

ready to add milk to the base

The butter and flour ready for the milk.

Remove saucepan from heat and whisk in milk. Return pan to heat and bring to a simmer while stirring. When sauce has thickened remove from heat, season with salt and pepper (and I added parsley, as well)  and set aside.

Thickened sauce

Thickened to the consistency of thin pancake batter.

In a skillet, cook onions in olive oil (or butter if using original recipe ingredients) until golden brown.

onion and pepper ready for casserole

I sauteed the oinons until almost done to my liking before adding the chopped green pepper.  This is because I didn’t want the moisture from the pepper releasing into the oil before the oinions had a chance to start browning.  I cooked the mixture just a bit more, then stirred in the grated carrot and put it all aside until ready to assemble the dish.  I figured the pepper and carrot would have plenty of time to cook in the oven.

Spread one third (1/2 cup) of the white sauce in bottom of baking dish and top with half of the potatoes. Spread out half of the onion/veggie mix, ham, and one third (1/2 cup) of the cheese. Pour another third of the sauce  on that layer.  Add the other half of the onion/veggie mix, ham and top with the last 1/2 cup of sauce and remaining cheese.

before the final cheese

After the last of the sauce and before the last of the cheese.

ready for the oven

All set to pop in the oven!

Bake for 45 – an hour minutes  until golden and bubbly. Then, have at it!

This was really, really tasty.  Again, I do think that the leftover ham, with its sweet and spicy flavor, added tremendously to the flavor.  But, I think adding the green pepper and carrot gave a flavor boost to this old favorite, as well.

There is, of course, no reason why this can’t be made with a chopped up ham steak or sliced ham. For some sweetness, use pineapple or apple juice in lieu of water if using evaporated or powered milk, or sprinkle some brown sugar, as well as some clove powder over each layer.

And, if you prefer a vegetarian, or even vegan version, this seasoning method will work for you, also.   And, vegetarian or not, ou can also add more potatoes or other vegetables. Just be be sure to cook more watery veggies  down before baking the final dish so as to not add too much moisture.

If you want a “meaty” texture in there, use soy or seitan (wheat gluten) based protein items that have a smoky/ham sort of flavor. Also – when I was eating a vegan diet, I had no problem making a nice roux/white sauce with soy or rice milk, etc.  I think I actually made it with just flour, oil, and water a few times.  (Hmm, I will have to try that to make sure my memory is correct!)

All-in-all, this is a tasty and pleasantly textured dish, whether you follow the traditional recipe I link to at the top,  try out my version or experiment with my additional suggestions.  In the end, it is indeed one of those comfort food dishes that every cook should have in their repertoire.  Except for my friend Kathleen who can no longer eat onions.  I have NO idea what to substitute for that!

Sauteed Red Cabbage Baked with Sweet Potato

Okay…this is a really amazing recipe.  A big thank you to Joan Nova of her Foodalogue blog.  Here is the scoop:  I had picked up a ham on sale [Click HERE for the great baked ham recipe I used with this dish!] that said to cook by February 5 and it was February 5.  In addition, it was cold and slushy out, so I didn’t want to walk to the local grocery. I had plenty of potatoes on hand but not much for other veggies besides frozen.  Along with celery and a green bell pepper, I had two yams/orange potatoes and 1/2 a head of red cabbage.   hmmmmmm. So, I do what I usually do when I have odd ingredients that I want to use up – I do an Internet search, and come across this link:

How amazing is that?  Plus, it was terrific!  THANK YOU, JOAN NOVA!

Here is my version:

1/2 or so red cabbage chopped fine
one medium to large onion sliced thin
2-3 cloves garlic minced
olive oil
1/4 cup raisins (I used golden)
10 or so almonds, chopped
1 Tbsp dried parsley
1/3 cup chicken broth to moisten
drizzle of balsamic vinegar
sweet potato sliced very thinly  longwise
1-2 Tbsp lemon juice – fresh squeezed if available


There's the cabbage 🙂

The original recipe called for shredded cabbage, but I figured just chopping it would do.  It came to between 4-5 cups chopped.

onion and garlic

no "clean up in between" pretty shots this post.

I sauteed the onion and garlic first, then added the cabbage and the chicken broth as the cabbage cooked down. I actually took a video of the process but have not uploaded it yet.  Basically, I used about 2 Tbsp of olive oil and cooked the onions and garlic until pretty soft, added the cabbage and stirred until coated with the oil, and then added the chicken broth and cooked it down until tender.

After adding a few drizzles of balsamic vinegar and cooking a bit more, I added the raisins and chopped almonds.

I'll use more, next time. And again, not a pretty shot. But cooking gets messy. <grin>

Next, I peeled and then sliced the sweet potatoes.  The original recipe called for using an mandolin for slicing, but I don’t own one.  Instead, I used this handy tool I got from the Pampered Chef representative at the Wakefield UU Church Holiday Craft Fair:

potato slicer

Along with my super sharp Rada knife, I was able to create acceptably thin slices.

Next, I spayed a casserole pan with olive oil (I use a Misto) and spread half the sweet potato slices on the bottom. I then added the sauteed cabbage mix, added salt, pepper, and dried parsley, and then covered with the rest of the sweet potato slices and put in the oven with the ham and yukon potatoes at 325 to start. …  Well, I had a bit of forgetfulness, as you will see if you check out the video, but that is the basic procedure.

Click HERE for my first ever cooking video documenting my five hundred millionth cooking blooper.  <grin>

Turns out that 325 was a bit low for this dish – also, after 20 minutes uncovered I decided to cover and boost the heat since I was just then taking out the ham and yukon potatoes.  But, best guess – I would bake these at 375 covered for 30-45 minutes and then finish off uncovered for 10-15 minutes.  But I need to make this recipe again to be sure of timing. However, this was a spectacular taste combo.  As usual, I forgot to take a picture fresh out of the oven, but here is a shot of what was left after Steve and I had our first servings:

The sweet potato and cabbage dish, with the roasted yukons and a bit of ham in the background.

All in all, a most wonderful recipe!  Steve and I really enjoyed it, and it went really well with the  ham, too.  And again, a big thank you to Joan Nova of Foodalogue who came up with this recipe in the first place.  Never be afraid to try something new!

My New Favorite Ham Recipe

Easter is one of the holidays that I host for my family and I have the menu down pat…At least, I thought I did!  Not that anyone has complained, but there will definitely be a few changes to the menu this next Easter!

For one thing – no more spiral cut ham.  Why? Because, upon trying out a new thing or two on the Cook’s brand bone-in butt end ham (6.4 pounds) I recently picked up on sale, I am realizing that the spiral cut, while making serving easier, is not conducive to keeping all of the moisture and flavor in the meat.

I actually had a lot of fun with this ham.


Retro Ham!

Yes – those are pineapple rings.  So 50’s.  🙂  I did the crisscross scoring, poured a bit of gingerale over it, stuck a bunch of cloves in and added the pineapple slices, mixed about 1/4 cup brown sugar with the canned pineapple liquid and poured that over it all, and finished up with freshly grated nutmeg (1/4 tsp) along with some cinnamon (1 tsp) and ginger powder (1 scant tsp). I am guestimating on the measurements I used…Click HERE for the link to the original recipe from which I was working.

After 3 hours at 325 covered tightly with foil:

Just out of the oven!

Once removing from the oven, I lifted the rack and spooned the liquid in the pan over it and let it sit, loosely tented in the foil, for about 1/2 an hour or so before transferring to the carving board.

The artsy shot. 🙂

I should have take a picture of it after it was carved.  It looked as moist and tasty as it tasted.  I was afraid that I had overdone the spices, etc. but this was just wonderful.

I served it with roasted yukon gold potato chunks and an amazing sweet potato and red cabbage (!?) recipe that totally rocked.  Click HERE for that recipe. And, here is the regular potato recipe:

I cut the potatoes into approximately 2 inch chunks and started them  1 1/2 hours into the ham baking process so they would have 90 minutes at the 325 degrees.  Basically, I just cut potatoes into 2 inch chunks, toss with a bit of olive oil, freshly ground pepper, and salt, and add maybe 1/3 – 1/2 cup liquid (in this case, liquid from the ham that was already part-way cooked)  cover tightly and bake until soft. Then (optional) continue baking uncovered until more crisp on the outside.

Along with switching to this ham type and recipe, I am thinking I will also replace the baked mashed potatoes I have been serving on Easter with roasted potato chunks.  Always good to make a change before one gets too stuck in tradition.  🙂