Mom’s favorite way to use up leftover country ham was in a spread with cream cheese – just two ingredients, that’s it! While her simple method is delicious, I decided to jazz it up a bit by adding a whopping two more ingredients – a bit of mayonnaise and some chopped fresh chives. Instead of chives, I have added chopped green onions before and that was also quite tasty. If you don’t have any leftover country ham, you can substitute cooked ham from the deli that has been ground up in a food processor. Enjoy!
Country Ham Cheese Spread
(Makes around 2 cups)
Using a fork, mix together all ingredients. Season to taste with salt and pepper (may not need any salt, depending on the saltiness of your ham). Refrigerate for a few hours to let the flavors blend. Serve with crackers.
Note: I throw the leftover pieces from the country ham in the food processor and chop it into fine bits. In addition to this dish, the ground ham is great in salads, omelets – any dish where you might add cooked bacon bits.
Make ahead: spread can be made up to 2 days ahead, covered and refrigerated.
Last blog post we were camping at Lake Minatare just outside of Scottsbluff, Ne. Before leaving this lovely state park (on day 3 ), Robert and I went for a short walk around the lake to see the only lighthouse in all of Nebraska (with no light in it!):
After a quick breakfast, we drove from Scottsbluff en route to mid-Nebraska. About halfway there, we had a special welcome to this area from a “County Mounty”:
81 in a 75 mile per hour zone – while pulling a trailer – qualifies for a ticket in Nebraska!
Around an hour later we arrived at the beautiful Johnson Lake, for an overnight stay on our way to Omaha:
The campground was lovely – there were lilac bushes throughout the campground, making the entire site smell fabulous:
To celebrate our first speeding ticket in over 6,000 total miles with the airstream, we started our evening with Robert’s delicious martinis (using our stainless steel martini shaker and matching glasses!) while watching a beautiful sunset over the lake – right from our campsite:
Dinner was Grilled Dijon Pork Chops with Arugula (from A Well-Seasoned Kitchen) leftover from my KOTA TV cooking demo the day before, served with sliced tomatoes and buffalo mozzarella cheese topped with chopped chives and balsamic vinegar. Yum!
Day 4 we drove to Omaha, stopping at the Apple store to purchase the connector for my computer I forgot to bring. We motored just a bit east of Omaha, to Council Bluffs, Iowa where we set up camp at Lake Manawa. The lake is beautiful, however the campground is a bit tired – needs a definite facelift. Dinner was chicken breasts with sundried tomato sauce and zucchini ribbons. For the latter, I just used a peeler to thinly slice the zucchini and yellow squash, then tossed them with a bit of olive oil, parmesan cheese, fresh lemon juice and chopped herbs. My apologies, I forgot to photograph it! But I did have this photo of the zucchini ribbons from the last time I made them:
Day 5 (Friday) we woke up and I made Scrambled Egg and Ham “Crepes” for breakfast. I scrambled egg whites with chopped green onions, then rolled them in a slice of Virginia ham that had been spread with a wedge of Laughing Cow cheese. Easy, fast, delicious – and healthy! I served them on our new “happy RV” acrylic plates, a gift from good friends Tom and Cynthia Ballantyne:
At lunch later that day I spoke to a group of around 30 executive women leaders at CSG Systems in Omaha, which was set up by my good friends Karen Eckmann and Julie Wohlers (Karen is in the photo below) who work there.
The meeting started off with a lunch that included the Grilled Chicken and Green Bean Salad from my cookbook, prepared by the catering department of the local grocery store Hyvee. They did a great job – it was delicious! Then I spoke to the group for around 45 minutes on the creation of the cookbook, and my journey “from the cable business to the culinary arts”. After I was done speaking, I sold cookbooks!
After a quick stop at Whole Foods and Camping World for a few supplies, it was back to Lake Manawa for a 10 mile bike ride in the park surrounding the lake. We saw a wild turkey and two deer on the bike path – unfortunately I didn’t have my camera with me. Back to the airstream for a delicious dinner of grilled salmon cakes with lemon-herb mayonnaise and broccoli slaw:
More adventures to come as we continue our journey in the airstream!
Crepes? Are they back in style again? I guess so! Earlier this month at the IACP (International Association of Culinary Professionals) conference in New York City, I went to a session lead by Chef Sarah Moulton on “How to Conduct a Killer Cooking Demo”, in which she made – yes – crepes. The next day, I went to the restaurant Un, Deux, Trois for lunch, and they were featuring crepes on the menu. Crepes everywhere! I had never made crepes, and at that point was inspired to try. So, this past weekend, I decided to give it a go – and created a healthy breakfast crepe for Sunday breakfast, which turned out to be delicious – and not complicated to make!
For the crepes, I used whole wheat flour and almond milk, but you could use regular flour and/or regular milk if you prefer. For the filling, I used scrambled egg whites, but you could use scrambled whole eggs instead. I put the leftover crepes in the freezer for future use – I’ll be creating more fillings to go in them!
Scrambled Egg, Spinach and Ham Crepes
1 cup almond milk (can also use fat free, low fat or whole milk)
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon salt
8 egg whites
4 wedges Laughing Cow cheese
1 to 1 1/2 cups fresh baby spinach
1/4 cup chopped cooked country ham (can substitute Virginia ham or bacon)
1/4 cup chopped green onions
Place the eggs and milk in a blender and mix well. Add the flour, nutmeg and salt and mix until smooth. Set aside, cover and let stand for 20 to 30 minutes at room temperature.
Spray an 8-inch skillet with olive oil and set pan over medium heat until a drop of water sizzles in the pan. Pour 1/4 cup of batter into pan and quickly tilt pan to coat bottom completely. Cook until top is set and bottom is lightly brown, around 5 to 6 minutes. Flip and cook around another 25 seconds, or until second side is light brown. Remove to a plate. Repeat with remaining batter. You should have around 8 crepes. You will use 4 for this recipe; wrap and freeze the rest.
Spray the same pan with olive oil and heat over medium-low heat. When hot, add the egg whites and cook, stirring, until no longer runny. While the eggs are cooking, spread each of 4 crepes with 1 wedge of the cheese. Spread 1/4 of the spinach down the middle of each crepe. Spoon the cooked scrambled eggs on top of the spinach. Sprinkle ham and onions over eggs. Season with fresh ground pepper. Roll up and place on a plate, seam side down. Serve immediately.
It’s cold and snowy in Denver today, so I pulled out this comfort food recipe for our dinner tonight, which was given to me while I was living in Europe. I modified it to roast the vegetables instead of steaming them, which was the original method. It’s one of my favorites, with it’s combination of carrots, parsnips and celery root together with a bit of country ham. (You can easily make it vegetarian by omitting the ham if you prefer.) I like to make this unique dish on a cold, winter night (like tonight!) – it warms you up and is good for you too. And, using puff pastry for the crust makes it a snap to assemble.
Ham and Roasted Vegetable Pot Pie
(Serves 6 to 8)
1/2 cup unsalted butter, divided
12 medium-sized shallots, peeled, trimmed and cut in half
2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves
2 teaspoons sugar
2 large carrots, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch square pieces
1 turnip, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch square pieces
1 celery root, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch square pieces
1 to 1 1/4 cups chopped ham (preferably country ham)
1/3 cup flour
2 1/2 cups milk (can use whole, 2 percent or skim)
2/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/3 cup chopped Italian parsley
1 egg, beaten
1 sheet frozen puff pastry, thawed
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Melt 4 tablespoons butter in a large skillet over medium-low heat. Add shallots, cover and cook, stirring occasionally, for 15 to 20 minutes or until tender. Increase heat to medium, stir in thyme and sugar and continue cooking, stirring, for 5 to 6 minutes or until caramelized. Watch carefully so they don’t burn.
Place in a large deep-dish pie pan. Set aside.
While the shallots are cooking: place the carrots, turnip and celery root in a shallow roasting pan and spray with olive oil; toss. Roast for 20 to 25 minutes, or until tender when pierced with a fork, stirring occasionally. Add to the pie dish along with the chopped ham and stir together.
Melt the remaining 4 tablespoons butter in a medium saucepan over low heat. Whisk in flour and continue cooking for 3 minutes. Gradually whisk in milk. Bring to a slow boil over medium heat, stirring constantly, and cook for 3 or 4 minutes or until thickened. Stir in Parmesan cheese and parsley. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Pour into the pie dish and stir well.
Brush the edges of the pie dish with beaten egg. Cover with the pastry, trimming excess (use the trimmings to decorate the top if desired). Push down on the edges to adhere to the pan. Brush top of pastry with egg and cut a slit or two in the center for steam to escape. Place on a cookie sheet and bake for 25 to 30 minutes or until pastry is golden brown. Cover edges if they start to burn.
Make ahead: pot pie can be assembled but not baked earlier in the day, covered and refrigerated. Bring to room temperature before baking.
I love split pea soup, and this year I decided to make a batch using the bone and leftovers from our Christmas country ham. It turned out delicious! A warning: country ham tastes saltier than regular ham, and if you’re not accustomed to its flavor you might want to skip cooking the soup with the ham bone. I would still recommend stirring in the chopped ham at the end.
Split Pea Soup with Country Ham
(Serves 6 to 8)
2 cups dried split peas, rinsed and picked over
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup chopped carrots
1 cup chopped yellow onion
1 cup chopped leeks
1/4 cup chopped celery
2 to 3 quarts chicken broth
1 country ham bone
1 cup chopped cooked country ham
Place the peas in a medium mixing bowl and cover with water. Soak overnight. Drain, rinse and set aside.
In a large stock pot, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the carrots, onion, leeks and celery and sauté until soft and just beginning to brown, around 8 to 10 minutes. Add 2 quarts of the chicken broth and the ham bone; bring to a boil, partially cover, reduce heat and simmer for 30 minutes. Add the peas, uncover and continue cooking at a low simmer for another 1 to 1 1/2 hours, or until the peas are tender. (The longer you cook it, the creamier the consistency of the soup.) Remove the ham bone and stir in the chopped country ham. Thin with additional chicken broth as needed. Serve hot.
Note: I think this soup tastes best if you stir in the ham and then let it set for a bit off the heat – at least 30 minutes, or even overnight in the refrigerator. It thickens as it sits so you will want to thin it with more broth.