One Ham, Three Recipes and Countless Memories

Food is not about impressing people. It’s about making them feel comfortable. – Ina Garten

Ina….were you talking about ham?!?!?

My pictures aren’t pretty. Sorry.

I will never forget my friend Elizabeth texting me while I was at work one day early in March telling me I had better stop by the grocery store on the way home. She said the shelves were pretty bare with people gearing up to hunker down due to COVID-19. When my friend Elizabeth tells me to do something I just do it. So, I went and I walked down the aisles in disbelief that the shelves were practically bare.  It was like one of those old westerns where one lone cowboy is walking through a ghost town with tumble weeds floating around. Even old music was playing – it was Sheena Easton though – not eerie western movie music. That would have been weird. All the meat was gone! Gone! Except for a pork butt. One lonely pork butt begging for a home. And a section full of ham. Ham! Huge hams that would feed us for a month with an expiration date of November something. So, in the cart the ham went with the other five things that were left in the store. I grabbed some frozen taquitos and we had the most delicious dinner out of those. I’m a huge fan now!

I had to go back to another store the next day because Elizabeth said I had better since it was stocked for the most part. Since I was able to buy a month’s worth of groceries in 30 minutes, I put the ham on hold until Easter.  

Easter Sunday was definitely different but a wonderful day, nonetheless. I spent the day home with my beloved family and delicious food. The ham was so simple, but so good. The smell of a glazed ham in the oven is so comforting and brought up so many memories. Past Easters, Christmas, my grandmother’s baked hams and sweet family memories. It’s amazing how a scent can take you back to precious times. And it was just what we needed during those uncertain days at the beginning of the pandemic – comfort.

That ham and I….meant to be! The recipe couldn’t be any simpler:

You need a 8-9 pound smoked ham placed in a foil lined roasting pan. A pile of cloves. Yellow mustard. Brown sugar.

  1. Take the cloves – about a ¼ cup I’d say – and bedazzle that ham all over with them. Get creative with clove designs if you want! Some score the ham with a knife first…knock yourself out.
  2. Add about a ¼ cup of mustard and a ¼ cup of brown sugar to a small bowl and stir to create a paste.
  3. Rub the mixture all over the ham.
  4. Bake at 325 for around 3 hours 15 minutes or until a thermometer reaches 130.

That’s it my friends. Enjoy the most delicious scent throughout your house! And it’s so good. I mean, my son will stand at the refrigerator and snack on ham in the middle of the night.

Unless you have a large crowd, you should have lots of leftovers. I made white beans and ham, ham fried rice, and ham sliders. Ham and Havarti cheese……food couple of the year. All very different and no one complained that we were having ham again. I’ll post the recipes so check back!

Oh! It doesn’t have to be Easter to bake a ham. Ham is so good with baked beans, salads, macaroni and cheese – truly perfect for anytime of the year and feeds a crowd. Throw one in the oven and take the sliced meat to the lake. Sandwiches and sliders all week – perfect to pack in a cooler and enjoy on a boat ride. Or at breakfast with bloody mary’s – I definitely enjoyed that combo more than once before it was devoured.

Oh! In case you didn’t know…. ham is very lean and a great source protein. It’s also a great source of selenium, phosporous, zinc, vitamin B6, B12, thiamine, riboflavin, and choline. It’s also low in calories! A win!

Hope you enjoy and let me know how you like it!

Lemony Cheesy Chicken, Broccoli and Rice

Back to School + Cooler Nights = Comfort Food

We also call this Chicken Surprise. Because under the melted cheese……Surprise! Broccoli! Surprise! Lemony Sauce! This is one of my kid’s favorite dishes and it has broccoli in it. They don’t like broccoli on its own just sitting on a plate.  My son does not like rice. Except in this recipe – he eats it up!

With tennis, wrestling, lacrosse and lots of activities my kids need protein and vegetables. So if I have to present it under a blanket of creamy cheese sauce so be it. This is also a very easy recipe to make which is a bonus – especially after a busy day. It’s great for dinner the next night or the night after that and it’s so good heated in the microwave for lunch.

When I find a recipe that my teenagers will eat and it has vegetables in it I have to share it! You are welcome!

Here is the recipe – preheat oven to 350

  1. 2 large chicken breasts about 1.5 pounds. Boil or bake until done. Coarsely chop and sprinkle with salt, pepper, and garlic powder.  OR buy a rotisserie chicken and pull it off the bone.
  2. Broccoli florets – about 2 cups. Steam for about 3 – 4 minutes. Squeeze a lemon wedge over it. Set aside.
  3. 2 cups of cooked rice – set aside.
  4. Sauce: 1 can cream of chicken soup, ½ cup mayonnaise, 1 cup sour cream, ¼ cup milk, juice of half of a lemon, and 1 cup of cheddar cheese – mix all of that together in a bowl.
  5. 1 tsp of olive oil spread in bottom of 9×13 baking dish.
  6. Spoon rice in bottom of pan and spread evenly.
  7. Layer broccoli over the rice.
  8. Add the chicken on top of the broccoli.
  9. Pour the sauce over all of it.
  10. Sprinkle 1-2 cups of cheddar cheese on top.
  11. Bake for 35-40 minutes or until bubbly.

It is so creamy good and the lemon juice makes such a difference. I hope you like it and that it becomes one of your family’s favorites, too.