Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Ham Salad -Remaking Leftovers Into Something Wonderful


I had some leftover ham from our Easter dinner in my fridge.  It made some killer ham salad!  Talk about looking forward to lunch!

I haven't made a whole lot of ham salad.  My husband's aunt used to make her version of "ham" salad with bologna, and it is equally as wonderful, but since I did have some ham that was languishing in the refrigerator, I decided to give it a go.  It was easy, used only three ingredients and made just wonderful sandwiches!  

Ham is such a great thing to have around the house.  We bake a big, bone-in, ham that we get in the meat department of our local grocery store.  We ask that it be "sliced and tied" so that after we bake it, the ham is pretty much ready to serve.  The butcher slices it in thick slices, leaving it in the shape of the ham, and ties it with twine.  We bake it with the twine on.  Ham is one of our favorite family dinners when the entire crew is home, cousins, aunts, the whole bunch!

After you try your hand at making ham salad, you will be making more ham.  Just to eat as ham salad!  Trust me!

Here's how I made homemade Ham Salad AT HOME MY WAY:

Ham Salad

  • Ham (I used a ham I baked myself, but I'm sure you could use lunchmeat ham, ham steak, or bologna works in a pinch)
  • Food processor or grinder (I used my mini food processor and processed small batches - which I got on sale at one of those Black Friday sales after Thanksgiving - for cheap).  
  • Mayonnaise or Miracle Whip (I like the sweetness of Miracle Whip, but I would use straight mayo in a pinch and just sweeten it a little before blending with the other ingredients)
  • Sweet pickle relish
Instructions:

Grind meat in the food processor.  I ended up with about two cups of ground ham.  Place in a bowl to stir it up. 

To those two cups of ground ham, I added about 3 heaping tablespoons of Miracle Whip and 3 heaping tablespoons of sweet relish.  Stir it all together until well blended.  If it seems dry, add more relish/mayo, keeping equal portions of relish to Miracle Whip/mayo.


Here's my little chopper.  Works like a dream boat!



Finely chopped!



Place in a dish and add the relish and mayo.


I like mine served on super soft, white bread, with nothing else except a few sweet pickles.  Yummy!



Enjoy!


Gina




Sunday, April 27, 2014

Sunday Game Plan Cooking Day- April 27, 2014

Early this afternoon I saw a Facebook post from the sister of one of my daughter's grade school friends.  She is a young mom who is working very hard to make a nice home for her husband and her children.  This young lady posted that she was making freezer meals for the month of May and today alone she prepared 14 freezer meals, made chicken salad for the week's lunches, boiled eggs to top green salads, and made homemade pizza for their Sunday lunch.   I was feeling "mama proud" for this young lady! 

If a young working mom of two very young children can get a game plan together, surely someone as experienced (read "old") as I am, can do it, right!

I decided to get off my bum and get something done today to lay the groundwork for my own busy nights of getting home late, tired and hungry!

I thought posting a Sunday Game Plan cooking day might be a good idea.  We all need a little inspiration sometimes.

Here's a few things I made for my Sunday Game Plan AT HOME MY WAY:

Sunday Game Plan - April 27, 2014

  • My facebook friend "K" made chicken salad for her family's lunches this week.  Sounded delish, but I didn't have any cooked chicken to work with.  What I DID have was some leftover Easter ham.  Light bulb came ON-    HAM SALAD!!  I used my little mini food processor and made enough for several batches using only 3 ingredients.  I even made some extra ham salad to share with  my mother-in-law for her lunches this week.  It's delicious!  I'll share the recipe tomorrow:
 
 

  • I made a batch of Homemade Cream of Chicken Soup since one of the crockpot meals I plan to make this week is our favorite Crockpot Chicken & Biscuits.  I'll post the recipe for the Homemade Cream of Chicken Soup this week also.  One batch made these three jars.  I'll use it also spread over round steak and cooked in the crockpot, which is delicious served over egg noodles or mashed potatoes.


  • I made a batch of Chocolate Chip cookies, making half the dough as cookies and freezing unbaked cookie dough balls, to bag up and bag at a later date (since my husband and I don't need to eat up a whole batch of cookies by ourselves this week, which we might do if I baked all of them-ha!)

  •  I made a batch of muffins for breakfasts.  They're called Donut Muffins and I found the recipe at www.HillbillyHousewife.com .

  • I also took out some chicken from my freezer for making one of my hubby's favorite suppers tonight - Parmesan Chicken.  Instead of making a loaf of homemade French bread, I think I'll use up some stale hotdog buns and make garlic toasts.

  • I chopped up and trimmed the rest of the leftover Easter ham for a batch of Crockpot Pinto Beans this week.

I didn't plan all of my meals for the week, but I have a few breakfasts, a few suppers planned, and some ham salad for lunches.  At least it's a start, right?  Baby steps.  That's what it's all about- moving in the right direction.

Have a good week!




Gina

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Easter Bunny Cake - Homemade




My Aunt Donna has made an Easter bunny cake for Easter dinner for as long as I can remember.  

Since I miss my Florida family so very much, I decided to make a bunny cake myself so that I could feel a little closer to home!  

You can make an Easter bunny cake with a cake mix and canned frosting or your own favorite cake/frosting recipe.  I decided that since my family prefers chocolate cake and chocolate frosting, to make a completely all chocolate bunny cake.  Pretty cute, huh?  

I used my always good, stand-by Chocolate Mayonnaise Cake recipe found HERE.  I used my homemade Chocolate frosting recipe also, recipe found HERE.  (I added a little more powdered sugar to my frosting to make it a tad thicker - like 1/2 cup more powdered sugar than the recipe calls for) for making my cake.

Here's how I made our family's favorite Easter Bunny Cake AT HOME MY WAY:

Easter Bunny Cake

  • Cake mix for a two layer cake, your favorite flavor and/or recipe
  • Frosting for two layer cake, white or chocolate, or even tinted your favorite Easter color
  • Decorations (I used Pull & Peel and jelly beans as well as coconut).
  • Food Coloring (green for the "grass" and red for the "pink" in the ears.
  • Cooking Spray
  • A large foil covered board/cardboard (sturdy) for your assembled bunny cake (needs to be the length equal to three round pans since the ears stick out the length of a round cake pan).

Instructions:

Mix cake according to directions.  Spray two round 8 or 9 inch cake pans well with cooking spray.  Pour half of the cake batter in each pan.

Bake according to directions or until springs back and a knife comes out clean.  

Let cool 5 minutes and then CAREFULLY remove to the foil covered board to finish cooling.

Cut one of the round pans into a shape like this, which forms the cake for the bow tie and the two ears:

I had removed the pieces before I remembered to take a picture, so I placed it all back together, but you get the idea.
Feel free to shape better to look like bow tie and bunny years after you take the pieces apart.

Make sure the cake is completely cool and placed into the bunny shape BEFORE frosting:



Notice the cracks in my cake.  I texted my aunt because my cake was very wiggly and cracking after moving it to the board.  My aunt said "Frost it anyway!  No one will ever know that!"  LOL.

Frost the bunny with your favorite frosting.  Careful on the sides of the ears and bow tie because it will be crumbly.  I whipped mine and just smeared it on gently.  Try not to get too much on the foil.  I had to wipe my foil a little after I finished frosting the cake.

*Tint coconut for inside ears like this:

Place a small amount of coconut in a small bowl.  Add one drop of red food color and a little drop of milk.  Stir until pink like you want.  

*Tint the coconut for the "grass" the same way, a drop of green and a tiny drizzle of milk (like 1/4 teaspoon), stirring until green and gorgeous!


My aunt makes her bunny all white or a combination of white and chocolate frosting for her family.  Here is my Aunt Donna's cake for Easter 2014.  She covers her entire bunny in coconut, which I LOVE, but the rest of my family doesn't like coconut so I just put the pink coconut on mine in the center of the ears and sprinkled a little around for "grass".  It looks like my aunt my uses fluffy white frosting (like seven minute frosting), which I also LOVE!



Make this part of your family's Easter tradition.  I'm starting from 2014 on...  I really wish I had always made this for my girls.  Mr. or Mrs. Bunny will be a cheerful and delicious addition to your Easter meal.


Enjoy!


Gina

Sunday, April 6, 2014

No Bake Chocolate Peanut Butter Oatmeal Cookies




My mom used to make these cookies for my brother and I when we were growing up.  They continue to be our favorite cookie!  Typically she made them during the Christmas holidays but we love them any time.  They are great for summer treats because you don't have to use the oven.  They aren't super healthy, but with ingredients like oatmeal and peanut butter, I have determined (ha!) that they aren't such a bad choice.  Certainly they are a better choice than boxed cookies, right?

I have made another recipe for these cookies.  Recipes for this cookie are all over the place.  The last recipe I made was a flop!  They didn't set up.  That was so disappointing!  I decided that, "Mama knows best" and dug out my mom's recipe for these cookies.  I followed her instructions to a T and they worked like a charm.  Definitely do it exactly like it says.  Who wants a flop recipe?  Not me!

The only thing that I changed was that I really didn't feel like dropping them out onto wax paper and I spread mine in a pan and then cut like brownies.  So much easier!

Here's how I made No Bake Chocolate Peanut Butter Oatmeal Cookies AT HOME MY WAY:


No Bake Chocolate Peanut Butter
Oatmeal Cookies
 
 
  • 1/2 stick margarine (1/4 cup)
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 2 cups granulated white sugar
  • 1/4 cup cocoa
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/2 cup peanut butter (I used generic "natural" peanut butter.)
  • 2 cups quick oats (or regular oats will probably work fine)
 
Instructions:
 
In a medium size pot (because the mixture will swell as it cooks to double in size), FIRST melt margarine and milk completely.  Then add sugar, salt, cocoa. 
 
Bring to a full, rolling boil and TIME for 1 1/2 minute.  Do not start timing until the mixture has swelled and is completely bubbly and puffy looking.  Then start timing.
 
After 1 1/2 minutes of full, rolling boil, remove from the burner.  Add the vanilla and peanut butter.  Stir until completely melted/smooth.
 
Add oats last.  Blend well.
 
Pour into sprayed 8 x 8 square pan or drop onto wax paper or buttered foil.
 
Let cool completely.
 
Cut to serve or remove the cookies to an airproof container (when cool).
 
Here are some steps/pics of the process:
 
 
 
 
Don't start timing (1 1/2 minute) until the mixture is completely bubbling and swelled up like this.  You won't be able to stir down the boiling.
 
 

 
After boiling 1 1/2 minute, remove from burner.  Add the vanilla and the peanut butter.
 
 
 
Stir the vanilla and peanut butter into the hot mixture until melted/smooth.
 
 
Add the oats.
 
 
 
Stir until all mixed well.
 
 
Spread in the pan the best that you can.
 
 
 
I pat mine down with a the back of a sprayed measuring cup to press into the pan.  Saves clean hands!
 
 
Now let it cool!
 
 
 
Cut into squares.  Not too big.  They're deliciously rich!
 
 
 
Enjoy!
 

 
Gina

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