Thursday, March 8, 2012

I Ham What I Ham and That's What I Ham

So I JUST did a post, but I have all this free time (well, at least I did... today is the last day of it for a little while) and I just want to share the fun things I've learn with cooking! In my previous post, I talked about cooking chicken ahead in the crock pot. I also wanted to tell you about the wonderful world of cooking ham ahead as well.

A couple years ago was when I REALLY started getting in cooking, not just baking. I was fairly fresh into the "real world" after graduating from college, and I actually wanted to learn things that actually interested me (crazy how that works out) in a non-classroom setting. Cooking has always been one of those things for me. Anyway, though I had a little more time than when I was in school, I didn't usually have time to cook still. So I made time!

Hanging out at my old apartment

Sundays were the only free day of the week to give me enough time to cook. I started with inviting a few friends over to eat what I would make, and it kind of grew to a family dinner time with my friends on campus. We would eat, play games, and chat the night away - I LOVED it!!

During these times, I began this relationship with the crock pot. She was so laid back, so caring to my food, and she didn't mind if I left food in her all day (and still is, by the way). Since dinners were growing to more people, I needed ideas on what to feed people. Two of the recipes I share today are from those times - so good and easy, I just keep coming back to them!

Easter Ham


• 1 whole ham (that can fit in your crock pot)
• 1 20oz can crushed pineapple, undrained
• 1/3 cup maple syrup

If you want, start by lining your crock pot with aluminum foil - sometimes it helps with clean up. Put your ham in there, dump the pineapple and syrup on top, and cook on high for about 6 hours. 

Easy, right? And super good! I usually have us eat ham for dinner that night. One time I made homemade mashed butternut squash to go with it - Oh Mylanta, seriously SO GOOD!!!

After we have had our fill that night, I take the meat off the bone, stick it in a freezer baggie and freeze it for meals later. These are my favorites!

Potato Soup with Ham and Cheese

  • 2 cups red potatoes (which I usually use 3-5 potatoes, and not always red), peeled & cubed
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 1 small onion, chopped fine
  • 3 tablespoons flour
  • cayenne pepper (haven't used because I don't have any in the cupboard)
  • black pepper
  • 3 cups milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup cooked, cubed ham
  • 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese (at LEAST one cup - add more like 2 cups if you love cheese like I do!)
  • fresh chopped parsley or chives for garnish, if desired (which I never have on hand, so I also haven't used yet)

Cook potatoes in boiling water until tender. Drain; reserve 1 cup of the boiled potato liquid for later. Melt butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Add in your onion to cook, stirring, until tender. Stir in flour, then sprinkle pepper on it. Cook for about 3 more minutes, stirring. Add potatoes, reserved liquid, milk, and salt. Mix it good. Add ham chunks and simmer for 5 minutes, stirring frequently. Remove from heat and let cool for about 5 minutes. Add cheese and stir until melted.

Ham Sandwiches

I've tweaked this one a lot, so here is what I would say for ingredients:

• Ham
• Mustard
• Brown Sugar
• Some sort of roll or bread
• Maybe cheese - like provolone slices

Here is what I did: I defrosted enough ham that would fit in my Little Dipper (a mini crock pot - kind of cute in a kitchen appliance sort of way, and this was my first time using it so I was excited). 
How cute!!
I started with 2 tablespoons of honey dijon mustard and 2 tablespoons brown sugar and let it cook for a while. I would keep coming back to it to taste and add mustard and brown sugar enough to thoroughly cover the meat enough. I had a hard time keep away! I kept eating pieces of the meat all afternoon!

I had it in the crock pot for about 4 hours, but you can do less than that. Everything is already cooked, so it's simply a matter of warming it all up and making the flavors blend together. The original recipe can give you a full crock pot of this you need to make it for a lot of people and don't have a whole ham already cooked up. But the Little Dipper size was PERFECT for feeding just Malcolm and I!
Pre-melted cheese on the sandwiches

Anyway, after it was all done, and Malcolm came home from climbing, I heated the oven to about 300ยบ or so (doesn't really matter, it was just to melt cheese) and toasted slices of bread. I situated the bread on a cookie sheet, piled on the ham goodness, and added a slice of provolone cheese to each pile of ham. I bake them in the oven just so the cheese would melt, and then gobbled those piggies up! These are definitely up for tweaking to your delight, but a great recipe to use that ham up!

Split Pea Soup
(from Yahoo!


• 1 package dried green split peas
• 1 large onion
• 2 tsp minced garlic
• 3 large carrots, diced (Can I be honest? I admit I don't exactly know what "diced" looked like. I just kind of chop them up to fit my fancy. Kuddos to you who actually know!)
• 3 celery stocks, diced
• 5 cups (40 oz) chicken broth - which you can make yourself!
• 1 or 2 potatoes peeled and cut into small cubes
• 1 package ham hocks OR use the ham hock/bone thing from the ham you cooked up for the meat
• salt and pepper

Put everything in your crock pot and cook on high for 6 hours or low for 11 hours - go until the peas are very soft and falling apart. Remove bone, but keep the meat in there. To be honest, I haven't quite got how long everything should cook for down yet. I usually cook it all too long or don't add enough liquid or something because it almost always has turned out kind of pasty. Don't get me wrong, it's still good!

This was one of my discovery recipes for family dinners. I still make it! What good memories! It brings me back to seeing a glimpse of what the early church was like in Acts 2:42- 47,
"They devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Everyone was filled with awe, and many wonders and miraculous signs were done by the apostles. All the believers were together and had everything in common. Selling their possessions and goods, they gave to anyone as he had need. Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved." 
Did you notice how they devoted themselves to breaking bread (essentially sharing meals) together? That when they opened their homes to eat together as the body of Christ that they had glad and sincere heart, they praised God, and simply enjoyed one another? I think we all desire to have that kind of fellowship! I think, if we are honest with ourselves, we may not want to always be social or get outside of our comfort zones to let people into our homes (I know I'm not - I always put forward the excuse that my house it too tiny to have people over). But the reality is that, when we actually do let people come into our homes and into our lives for the purpose of sharing a meal and sharing our lives with one another, then our hearts actually expand to see the grander picture of Who God is, what He's doing, and actually be thankful for what He has given us!

Hebrews 10:25 says, "Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another--and all the more as you see the Day approaching." We need to be in a habit of coming together and encouraging one another - why?

Hebrews 3:13, "But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called Today, so that none of you may be hardened by sin's deceitfulness." The reason we need to keep coming together is to keep us from being jaded to sin in our own lives! Maybe that's why the Church that I've seen developing all of America is one of "self-feelgoods" and focus on all those other non-essentials other than the reality of Jesus and what He has done for us. Maybe to fight the urge of the American dream, we need to eat more meals together! Okay, maybe stretching it a little bit, but you do get my point? God created us to be social people in need of one another - whether we think so or not - so we can encourage one another to running after our ultimate need of God.

So, a small tangent, but one that I think is important. Last fall I did a study on fellowship, and it opened my eyes more to what it really is. I suggest studying for yourself what the Bible has to say about fellowship.  Ask HIM what your next step to developing fellowship is. And if it's sharing a meal with some brothers and sisters in Christ, you at least have some ideas from here on what to feed them!
Okay, this is what my split pea soup looks like. Like I said earlier, it tastes better than it looks!!

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