Normally, I don’t like to be unprepared for things. I try to be organized, have things in order, and be ahead of things as much as possible.
Not this month though, I will admit I was a little slack in getting my column done, but I had good reason for it! I was a bit more focused on planning and organizing myself for a wonderful vacation, so I will admit that my column may have been the last thing on my mind (literally).
Now to just get my mind out of vacation mode, but who ever wants to do that?!
Where did I go? Well, I am so glad that you asked! (You did ask right?)
I was able to fly out to Colorado last week and visit my cousins in Colorado Springs. I had never been to Colorado, so I decided to treat myself to a little five day trip out there and visit my family.
It was a wonderful trip, full of great sights to see and great quality time with people who I am lucky to call family. It was great to be able to get a first-hand tour of beautiful sites and landmarks. Definitely a trip I will be making again!
While I was out there, I was reminded that it was just a week away from Easter. How is it April again already!?
I know, it comes the same time every year, but still, the year seems to be speeding away from me. Easter gave me a great idea for recipes though! I know that almost everyone has a big ham for their Easter dinner… and with that usually comes leftover ham. If you are looking for a couple ideas of what to do with all the leftover ham, boy, do I have a couple of great recipes for you!
The first one is spinach manicotti with ham. It is a very simple recipe that might take a little time to put together, but it is well worth it and you get a lot out of it. I enjoy the way the ricotta cheese and spinach work with the ham. Delicious.
The second recipe is for ham and cheese bowties. Now, the recipe calls for farfalle (bow tie) pasta, but sometimes I can’t find that. So, I have used other pastas, and the dish turns out just fine. I usually turn to spiral pasta and it works great! Neither recipe calls for an excessive amount of ham, but it is a good way to help us some of that extra Easter ham up, I promise.
If you have questions/comments for me about a recipe, feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Spinach Manicotti with Ham
12 uncooked manicotti shells
1/4 cup butter, cubed
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
3 cups milk
15 ounces ricotta cheese
10 ounces frozen, chopped spinach (thawed and squeezed dry)
2 teaspoons dried oregano
1-1/2 cups fully-cooked ham, cubed
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
Cook manicotti according to package directions.
For sauce, melt butter in a large saucepan. Stir in the flour, pepper, salt and nutmeg until blended.
Gradually whisk in milk, then bring to a boil.
Cook and stir for 1-2 minutes or until thickened.
For the filling, in a large bowl, combine the ricotta cheese, spinach and oregano.
Stir in ham; add 1/2 cup sauce.
Drain manicotti and stuff with ham mixture.
Spread 1/2 cup sauce into a greased 13×9-inch baking dish.
Top with stuffed manicotti. Pour remaining sauce over top; sprinkle with Parmesan cheese.
Cover and bake at 350 degrees for 25-30 minutes. Uncover and bake 5 minutes longer or until golden brown.
Ham and Cheese Bowties
8 ounces farfalle (bow tie) pasta
1/4 cup butter
1 clove garlic, minced
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
2 cups milk
1/2 teaspoon prepared mustard
2-1/2 cups shredded Colby cheese
4 ounces cooked ham, julienned
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Add pasta and cook for 8 to 10 minutes, or until al dente; drain.
Melt butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Sauté garlic 30 seconds.
Whisk in flour, salt and pepper. Cook and stir until smooth.
Pour in milk, a little at a time, stirring constantly. Bring mixture to a boil for a minute.
Stir in mustard and Colby. Continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until cheese is melted.
Remove from heat; stir in pasta and ham.
Pour into a 2-quart baking dish (an 8×8 or 9×9 pan works well). Sprinkle with Parmesan.
Bake 20 to 25 minutes, until bubbly and golden.