I was able to spend Easter dinner on Saturday with most of my family, hosted by my sister and brother-in-law Cheryl and Dale Curl.
Cheryl is a wonderful cook and baker and probably should be writing a column each month for this paper. Anyway, Cheryl had a real spring feast — highlighted by a spiral baked ham.
Is there anything tasting more like spring than ham? I don’t think so. I guess I feel that way because ham was almost always served on Easter by Grandma (Verda) Dennison or Grandma (Katherine) Roberts. I’ve talked about that previously in this column, but there is something about the taste or smell or a particular food that takes one back to our childhood.
I don’t eat ham very often, but when I do, I really enjoy it. Cheryl served a 12-pound ham with a glaze that was, of course, delightful. While the family polished off a good portion of the ham, Cheryl had quite a bit left. Of course, ham can be frozen for a while and the ham bone is great to use for ham and beans. After you bake the ham and enjoy dinner, what are you going to do with all of the leftovers?
I learned to love leftovers thanks to my husband’s wizardry in the kitchen. Leftovers meant he could prepare even more delicious meals both for breakfast and dinner. Of course, Don loved a good ham and cheese sandwich and would splurge and purchase some great cheese to go with it. The bread was also important to him so we frequently had a good rye or pumpernickel in the house just for that purpose — or for a meatloaf sandwich — and that’s another whole column altogether.
One of my favorite recipes for leftover ham is ham and cheese egg muffins. The recipe is easy and perfect to grab going out the door for work or school. I’d frequently make them and take them upstairs to the Homefront office in Savannah.
These ham and cheese muffins are easy, light and fluffy and are only about 100 calories per muffin. They are loaded with protein and fill me up. They are easy to warm up in the microwave. The recipe calls for only ½ cup of diced ham, but I’ll confess I like to throw in a bit more.
Another great way to use your leftover ham is a ham and spinach pasta casserole. Stuffed with spinach, leftover ham, cheese and ziti noodles, it is a delicious dinner recipe that even picky eaters will enjoy. It’s also perfect for the working moms out there who want to put something nutritious on the table. This casserole can be prepared ahead and stored in the refrigerator. Bake until heated through in a 375- degree oven.
Finally, my favorite — ham and green bean casserole. Just think about your favorite holiday green bean casserole with a half-pound of ham added. This is cheesy, veggie goodness. With the addition of the ham, it’s a main dish. It’s also another dish that can be prepared ahead of time and can be on the table ready to serve in 30-40 minutes.
If you want your casserole to have more of a creamy taste to it and less green beans, use one pound of fresh green beans. If you want to have more green beans and just a hint of the cream, then 1½ pounds of green beans may be used. The same goes for the cheese. Add more than the one cup of shredded cheese if you are a cheese lover. Those that really love cheese, add some shredded cheese to your mixture as well as to the top of the casserole.
You’ll be sure to have cheese in every bite.