Ever have the same meals…….all the time…….
I am not sure how or why, but the gene helping you learn how to cook must have skipped a generation.
My grandmas…..excellent cooks……
My mom…….excellent cook…..
My aunts……excellent cooks…….all of them……
me…….not so much……..
I feel like you could give my mom or grandmas hamburger or chicken and they knew 47 different meals to make out of that one ingredient. And they were all delicious. I can make all of the different varieties of Hamburger Helper and that’s about it….
Jason enjoys cooking, grilling, baking, you name it. It’s a challenge for him. So I am very happy to let him have at it when he is home. However, during the week, I am usually the first one back to our house, so the task of making supper belongs to me. As part of the Summer of ME, I decided to view cooking a little bit differently. See what I could do. Not get frustrated, just embrace the challenge.
So before the Fourth of July, I was looking in our pantry and freezer for inspiration. It came in the shape of a quarter of a ham. Our grocery store had a buy one, get one deal sometime this winter and I thought “Ham is easy….You can probably do that.” So I picked up two and they have been in the freezer ever since.
On Monday of this week, I grabbed one and thawed it out. Hailey had golf at 6 pm so we were in a time crunch and had to eat before we could travel to golf. Okay…. I had a plan for this night with my new found ham. I have many times made a ham and scalloped potatoes type recipe you throw in the crock pot. The crock pot is something we use frequently in our house, especially if the recipe is the kind where you can throw everything in and turn it on. So I made it and have included the recipe at the bottom of the post. It was great. Kids always eat it and there was not really any leftovers. But the recipe only calls for 1 to 1-1/2 pounds of ham and my quarter of a ham was in the neighborhood of 3 to 3-1/2 pounds. I was on a mission not to waste any of this ham. I hate wasting food and during the school year, bring left overs to work for lunch frequently. However, I am not at school during the summer, so what to do?
Tuesday came and I was already fretting. What am I going to do with the rest of this ham? Again, the gene where you just can make something out of nothing, I don’t have it!! Where did it go?? Since we eat all weekend long at the lake, we try to be a little bit more conscious during the week. So I wandered in and out of the pantry, went to the fridge, the freezer, back to the pantry. I spied a bag of croutons and had an idea. A club or cobb salad with ham I thought!! I have ordered this plenty of times when we are out to eat, I could make one at home. I went to the grocery store and got lettuce, carrots, cucumbers, peppers, and mushrooms. I chopped up all of the veggies and ham. I pulled my inspirational croutons from the pantry and cheese and ranch from the fridge. We are a ranch dressing family. I set everything out on the counter. As an added bonus, I let the girls pile on the toppings of their choice and build their own salad. It was different and fun and the girls ate their whole salad. Yes!!!!
However, we did not use all of the ham yet. Hailey, my 11 year old, was taught by Jason to make egg sandwiches using the toaster and microwave. Obviously, not rocket science, but again, I didn’t teach her. She was making one on Wednesday morning for breakfast and I suggested throwing some ham into her sandwich. Soon, she was making one for all of us and they were super yummy. She sprays a microwavable bowl with cooking spray. Scrambles the egg a bit with milk, chopped ham, salt and pepper. Microwaves it until it is done and toasts some bread. She takes a slice of cheese from the fridge and puts it on the toast and then adds the egg. Delicious!! A far cry from our normal cereal routine.
It is hard for me to make supper on a normal night, much less when Jason is gone. Usually on Wednesdays, Jason works late. So we had ham sandwiches for supper!! Well everyone, but Mikayla. She had peanut butter and jelly. A topic for a different day. Actually, I thought the sandwiches were much better with the ham, then with the sandwich meat I usually buy. More home made tasting. But there is still ham left…….What to do?
I was trying to vary all of the ways we used the ham, so it wasn’t like we were eating the same thing over and over again. We do that plenty at our house already. Only one more night to go. There were some leftover noodles in the fridge from lunch on Monday, so I threw those in a skillet. I watch the Food Network, I got this. Three days of moderate success and my confidence is at an all time high…….I chopped the rest of the ham and threw it in with the noodles and a little bit of olive oil. Again, Food Network. I sauteed it for a couple of minutes and then added frozen peas and Parmesan cheese. Cooked it for a few more minutes and put it on a plate. It was so good!! See Food Network is paying off and I had finally used all of the ham!!!
Now I understand nothing I did during this week was earth shattering. But for someone that does not love cooking or feels very self conscious about it, this was huge. A couple of thoughts about my new found success, as I try to regain balance and embrace the challenge. First, I made meals my family liked and I could easily recreate those meals again. (I still have another ham in the freezer!) Second, besides going to the store for my veggies for the salad, everything I used during the week, we had on hand, so it was a pretty frugal week. Third, there was not a lot of cleanup with any of the meals I made, an added bonus!!
Challenge time!! What is one of your go to ingredients? How do you take that one ingredient and make it in different ways during the week? Leave a comment here or on our Facebook page; Speaking Jelinese. Let’s give everyone a refresh on some meals to make this week!!
Talk to you soon,
Ham and Scalloped Potatoes Recipe (It’s not exact because again, I just throw stuff in the crock pot and turn it on. Adjust to your liking.)
1 to 1-1/2 pounds of chopped up ham
6 to 8 potatoes depending on the size
1 can of Cream of Mushroom Soup
1 soup can of milk or water
1 cup of Shredded Cheese
Grill Seasoning or salt and pepper to taste.
- Spray crock pot with cooking spray and add potatoes and ham.
- Combine soup, milk, cheese and seasoning and pour over potatoes and ham. Cook on high 4 hours or low 8 hours or until potatoes are tender. Use cornstarch to thicken the sauce to your liking. Enjoy!!!