the day after Christmas

day after Christmas apple crisp

Happy day after Christmas!

The best part of the day after Christmas? Well, there are a few things. Firstly, breakfast is leftover apple crisp with a large cup of coffee (see above). Secondly, my youngest son is happily playing with all his new toys and games, while my older kids are happily sleeping until noon. Thirdly, the house is semi-quiet and peaceful and the fridge is stocked full of yummy leftovers (including a ham and orange mustard sauce). In many ways, I’m happier on the day after Christmas than I am on Christmas day, which has turned into a stressful day, now that I’m the grown up in charge of everything (gifts and food and orchestrating happiness for everyone). But the day after, well, that day has turned out to be a lovely day.

The day after the day after (tomorrow) I will make ham & bean soup and scalloped potatoes with ham and my daughter plans to make cinnamon chocolate cupcakes, but today, the day after Christmas, is heated up leftovers from our Christmas day meal. Today started with how we ended our Christmas meal, because it is an upside down kind of day, and I’m perfectly happy about that.

Happy Christmas everyone! And happy day after Christmas to you as well!

scalloped potatoes with ham

scalloped potatoes with ham (8)

From my previous post you know that I use the ham bone from my Easter ham to make bean soup.  Now this recipe will show you what I do with all the leftover ham.

This dish is pure comfort food for me. It’s one of my most favorite meals from childhood. Problem is that for years, each time I made it, I would do it differently (that’s because I’d call my mom the day after Easter each and every year and she would give me suggestions on how to make this dish, but I never wrote it down and would alter her recipe in the attempt to make it better or easier or quicker or whatever, and therefore it didn’t always turn out well nor exactly how I remembered it). So after years of making scalloped potatoes in various ways, I’ve finally found the way to make it that reminds me of my mom’s delicious after-Easter scalloped potatoes with ham, and I’ve written it down and now I only call my mom the day after Easter to ask how her Easter was, instead of bothering her for the recipe.

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Scalloped Potatoes With Ham

Heat oven to 350F.

Butter a deep casserole dish.

Clean and slice 6-8 potatoes. I use medium size white potatoes.

Cut leftover ham into small cubes.

In a saucepan over medium heat, melt 2 tablespoons butter and whisk in 2 tablespoons flour.

When a nice paste is formed (takes about 1-2 minutes) lower heat and whisk in 2 cups whole milk.

Season with salt and a generous amount of black pepper. Add a small shake of nutmeg.

Allow to heat through over low heat, stirring often.

scalloped potatoes with ham (1)

In the buttered casserole dish, layer half the potato slices, then cover with all the ham.

scalloped potatoes with ham (2)

Distribute about 1 cup shredded cheese over the potatoes and ham. (I use a combination of Monterey Jack and cheddar.)

scalloped potatoes with ham (3)

Layer the remaining potatoes on top.

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Pour heated white sauce over all.

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Add 1 more cup of the cheese.

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If the white sauce doesn’t cover all the potatoes, add extra milk to the casserole dish until the potatoes are completely covered. You may find you’ll need to add a cup or two of extra milk. (*Note: I could have added the extra milk before adding the cheese.)

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Crush Ritz crackers on top. (No picture for this step … oops.)

Place casserole dish on a large baking sheet (to catch any liquid that bubbles over the edge of the casserole dish) and bake uncovered for about an hour. Depending on how deep your casserole dish is, you may need to bake for a bit longer than 1 hour. When a fork can go through the potatoes without much resistance it’s ready for the next step.

Raise oven temperature to 375F and bake for an additional 15 – 30 minutes, until it is bubbly and the top is golden brown.

scalloped potatoes with ham (8)

This is the hardest part: Allow to sit for about 10 minutes before serving.

Leftovers are terrific (if you manage to have any leftovers).

*Note: There isn’t a picture of a serving of this, because I am very impatient and couldn’t bother with taking photos before diving in. Sorry!

 

*Edited on 4/23/13 to increase baking time and to note the use of the baking sheet under the casserole dish.

bean soup

*To see my most recent bean soup recipe, please click here.

 

For our Easter meal I serve ham. Each year, sometime in the week after Easter, I make bean soup. That’s because serving a ham at Easter results in a ham bone that must be made into soup or my mother will cut me out of her will (she’s got a thing about making soup from bones).

*Note: There aren’t many measurements in the recipe below, and I’ve found that is typical for many soup recipes. In my opinion, the quantities of individual ingredients just don’t matter when making soup. For the items that do have quantities listed, those are there based on what I used while making this soup today, but please know they can be adjusted as you’d like.

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Bean Soup

The night before you plan to make this soup, soak 2 cups (a 16 ounce bag) of dried navy beans in a large bowl with cold water. Other types of beans can be used, if desired.

The next morning, remove any shells. Drain.

In a large stock pot, place the beans and the ham bone and all remaining ham (I leave it in large chunks at this time).

Add cold water to come well above the ham bone.

To the pot also add 1 onion, chopped, and lots of celery, chopped. Also, as many garlic cloves as you like, chopped.

Season with lots of black pepper, salt, and garlic powder. Also add about 1 tablespoon dried mustard, if desired.

Simmer for hours, stirring every once in a while.

After it’s been simmering for at least 3 hours, take out the ham bone and large chunks of ham. Cut all ham into bite size pieces and return them to the soup pot.

At this time add some shaved cabbage and chopped carrots. Also, peel and cube 2 sweet potatoes (or white potatoes) and add them to the pot.

Cover and continue to simmer for a few more hours.

This soup is fine the day you make it, but I find the flavor is even better the next day. And it freezes well too.