One of the biggest time savers that I have learned over the years, ( not an original idea, just what works best for me) is planned leftovers. Other sites will call this cook once, eat twice or other forms of this. Basically what it means for me is to cook a large meal on the weekends when I have more time and then have enough leftover meat to create at least one more original meal.
For example on New Year’s Day, I made a large ham dinner for the whole family. With the leftovers, I was able to create two more unique family dinners. Follow along for step by step:
The day of the first dinner, after dinner I took the largest portion of ham and diced it into roughly 2 cup bags. In this case, because of the numbers of people here for New Years, I only was able to bag one. Right into the freezer it went.
With the bone and whatever ham was still hanging on, I created Ham Stock.
Ham bone with leftover pieces of meat
1 onion, peeled and quartered
2 stalks of Celery, rough chopped
1 Bay Leaf
Amount to your liking:
Sage- no more than ½ tsp
Add all ingredients to the crock pot and fill the rest of the way with water or white wine or both. Cook on high for 6-8 hours or until the bone comes out “naked” with no little pieces of meat still hanging on. Turn off to let cool for at least 30 minutes. Then set a colander on top of a large stock pot and empty crock-pot into colander. Allow all liquid to drain into the stockpot. Remove the colander and separate out all the ham. Place this in a container, discard the rest of the items in the colander. Store the liquid stock in the 2-4 c containers in the freezer. Now go ahead and rest you have earned the break, you have a good head start on two new meals.
The first one I created was Ham and Bean Stoup (to steal a term from Rachel Ray, it is a thick soup, somewhere between a soup and stew).
½ bag of small white beans (of your choice, prepared as directed)
Leftover ham that came out of the colander (off the bone is more tender and stoup like)
1 onion, chopped
2 stalks of celery, chopped
2 carrots grated
Salt, pepper and garlic to taste
Place all ingredients in the crock pot and fill with ham stock. Cook on low for 6-8 hours. In the last hour, remove about 1 cup each of beans and stock and puree in the blender. Add back to pot, stir and finish cooking as directed. I love to serve this with a good, crusty bread and crisp, fresh salad.
The second planned leftover ham meal is Ham and Pea Casserole
Boil ½ box of seashell pasta (or any pasta of your choice) al dente. Making sure to salt the water for flavor. Strain when done.
Take the diced ham from the freezer and add with ½ bag of frozen peas in a bowl with the pasta. In a saucepan or skillet combine 8 oz cream cheese (softened) and 1 10 oz can of cream of anything condensed soup. Once blended, season with salt, pepper and garlic to taste. Heat on low while stirring until thoroughly combined. Pour over the other three ingredients and toss to cover. Pour mixture into a prepared (spray with cooking spray) 13x9 glass baking dish. Take one sleeve of Ritz Crackers and pulverize in a food chopper or crush by hand, sprinkle over the casserole. Bake at 350 degrees for 30-45 minutes.
What are some of favorite meals that you like to make with leftover ham?
Check out my Where I’m partying page for where I am linking up to this week!