Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Ham it Up!

Ham is one of my favorite things to eat.  I love it on a sandwich, of course, but nothing beats the salty/sweet triumph that is my Mama's holiday ham.  It takes all day to make, but is so worth it.  She uses toothpicks to stud it with pineapple rings and cherries.  Then, she makes a glaze out of pineapple juice, cherry juice and brown sugar, which she bastes it with for hours while it's cooking.  It's a true labor of love.  She makes this delicious concoction every Christmas, Thanksgiving, and Easter.  And there's never much in the way of leftovers!  Other than the ham bone, which is perfect for making beans!  I have to say my Mama makes the best ham on the planet!  I do not.  As you probably know, I love to cook.  I cook everyday.  But I have yet to master her perfect ham.  So, if I got your hopes up about her ham, I do apologize.  No recipe to follow.  I will, however, tell you how I get my ham fix between holidays.

This recipe is so simple, you'll think, "It can't be good.  Can it?"  Trust me, it is.


1 pkg boneless ham steaks (the fully cooked kind)
Sweet Baby Rays BBQ sauce
pineapple juice (optional)

Heat your broiler to high heat.  Lay the ham steaks on a baking sheet.  Place under the broiler for 2 minutes.  Baste with the BBQ sauce (mixed with a little pineapple juice, if desired), then flip them over.  Broil for another 2 minutes.  Then, baste top side with BBQ sauce.  That's it.  Super-easy but so good.

Nothing goes better with ham than potatoes.  Here is an easy recipe for Scalloped Potatoes that goes great with ham.  This feeds 4.  It's easy to double the recipe if you're cooking for a crowd or have big eaters in your house.


4 medium-sized Idaho potatoes, peeled and cubed
1/2 a small onion, diced
1 cup milk (or half & half)
1 TBS all-purpose flour
1/2 cup shredded cheese (I like Monterrey Jack or Cheddar, but use whatever you like)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Spray a 2 quart casserole dish with cooking spray (or butter it).  Place cubed potatoes and diced onions in casserole dish.

In a large measuring cup (or bowl), mix milk, flour and salt/pepper to taste (a little more than you think-the potatoes suck it up).  Whisk this mixture well to incorporate the flour.

Pour over the potatoes.

Cover with foil and bake 25 minutes.  Remove foil and continue to bake 15 more minutes.

Sprinkle shredded cheese on top.  Place under the broiler for a few minutes until golden brown.  Watch it closely because it doesn't take long!  Here's what it looks like:

This is one easy and delicious meat & potatoes meal!

Left over ham is such a versatile ingredient to have in your fridge.  Whether you have left over smoked ham from a holiday, extra ham steaks, or even deli sliced ham, you can make something delicious with it.  One thing my Mama always did was make a pot of white beans with her left over ham bone.  She cooked it on the stove top, but I use my crockpot (no baby-sitting that way!)  Since most of us don't have an entire ham bone laying around, I make mine with chopped up ham.  Here's how I do it:


1 lb dried white beans (such as navy beans)
1 onion, chopped
1 bell pepper, chopped
Cajun seasoning
3 1/2 cups chicken broth or water (or a combination of the two)
Left over chopped ham, smoked sausage or bacon (or a combination of any of these)

Soak the beans in a large bowl of water overnight.  The next morning, drain and rinse the beans.  Place beans in crockpot.  Add onion, bell pepper, and ham.

Add broth (or water) and season to taste with Cajun seasoning.  Stir.

Cover and cook on high for 4 hours.  Stir and mash some of the beans up against the side of the crockpot.  Stir again.  This helps to thicken the beans.  Cover and cook 2 more hours.  Serve over rice or just as is.  I like to top my white beans with a sprinkle of vinegar.  Sounds weird, but it's absolutely delicious!

Another great thing to do with left over ham is add it to left over mashed potatoes.  Stir together potatoes, ham, sliced green onion tops and a little bit of milk.  Put in a buttered casserole dish and top with shredded cheese and Ritz cracker crumbs.  Bake at 400 degrees until hot and cheese is melted.  Easy and inexpensive casserole that uses up left overs!

So, I know it's not my Mama's famous ham, but I hope you'll give these recipes a try.  You don't even have to wait for a holiday!  Enjoy!

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