Leftover ham lives again

By Nancy Zeman nzeman@prairiepress.net
Posted 12/30/19

When my siblings and I were growing up on Elm Street, there were not multiple present openings — at least that I can recall.

I remember Grandma and Grandpa Dennison coming for dinner on …

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Leftover ham lives again

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When my siblings and I were growing up on Elm Street, there were not multiple present openings — at least that I can recall.

I remember Grandma and Grandpa Dennison coming for dinner on Christmas Eve — I think. Mom had a chest of silverware that we only used for that occasion. On Christmas morning, our paternal grandmother, Katherine “Katie” Roberts, was at our home bright and early to open presents. Breakfast was a hurried cinnamon roll or Christmas cookies.

Our Christmas lunch was at Grandma Roberts home on Maple Avenue. Grandma always had a holiday ham, carefully scored and accented with pineapple slices and cherries. There was a thick brown sugar glaze on the ham, and it was delightful.

Like the Thanksgiving turkey, there comes a time when everyone sighs when the several pounds of still uneaten ham is pulled from the post holiday refrigerator for another meal. Leftover holiday ham doesn’t mean one is doomed to days of ho-hum ham sandwiches. From soups to casseroles to breakfast meals, there are a host of creative recipes that make reusing leftovers exciting — and delicious.

I have to admit about the only thing I love about winter anymore is the soup I’m able to enjoy.

One of my favorites is Croque Monsieur Soup, a decadent makeover of the classic French bistro sandwich. Croque Monsieur roughly translates to “Mister Crispy,” a traditional French ham and cheese sandwich with toasted bread, covered with a béchamel sauce and more cheese, baked or fried. The long, slow cooking of the onions gives this soup its rich caramelized-onion flavor and color.

It’s not difficult to make and to lighten up if. The recipe I’m sharing calls for two  cups of half-and-half. Half-and-half is a blend of equal parts whole milk and light cream, and it has a 10 to 12 percent fat content. While it can’t be whipped, it adds richness without being as heavy as cream on its own.

One can make half-and-half by combining 1½ cups skim or low-fat milk with 2/3 cup heavy cream. One cup of evaporated milk may also be substituted for each cup of half-and-half cream.

My one suggestion for this soup — don’t skip the French bread and Gryere cheese.

Who doesn’t love a good quiche on a lazy Sunday after the holidays or New Years Day?

This recipe proves Hawaiian pizza’s not the only place where ham, pineapple and cheese play well together. It’s salty, sweet and cheesy filling is baked inside a flaky buttery crust. It’s a perfectly indulgent brunch that’s sure to keep the festive feelings going.

I will admit, however, I rarely use Bisquick or similar mixes. I prefer a refrigerated or frozen pie crust that I keep in the freezer and pull out when I need

it. This quiche requires 45 minutes to bake and to stand before cutting to serve. Plan accordingly.

One of my late husband’s favorite meals was breakfast for dinner — and I don’t mean running out to Denny’s or Waffle House — although I will admit we did do that on occasion. I love pimento cheese and how can one go wrong with a breakfast casserole with ham, hash brown potatoes and a Tex-Mex flavor? It’s made easy with refrigerated hash brown potatoes, this casserole gets its touch of heat from a homemade pimiento cheese.

When I made this casserole for dinner, I cut back half on the jalapeño chiles. Otherwise it was a little too spicy for us. It’s great warmed up for lunch or breakfast the next day.

Can’t stand the thought of using the leftover ham? The good news is leftover ham is easily frozen for up to two months. Be sure to use good quality Ziplock freezer bags, and label them with the date and contents. Consider dicing some of the ham which makes it easy to remove from the freezer and use in a recipe in a pinch.

Growing up, my mom always, always served ham and cooked cabbage on New Years Day. We were required to take at least a bite and as children, we thought that was all we could stand. It’s funny that after Mom died in 2012, there’s definitely something comforting about ham and cabbage. Here’s hoping I share it with my family this year.