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Easter leftover ideas — Hash browns and ham and other great ideas!

What a crazy, busy weekend last weekend was!  Easter, Marathon Monday, family in town, and 6 adults and one teething 10 month old all living in a 900+ sq. ft. condo over the course of 3 days.  Oh, did I mention I was sick during some of that time?

We typically spend Easter weekend with family in Poughkeepsie but because my husband was running the Boston Marathon this year, we decided to host Easter in our small condo.  Luckily, the weather could not have been better — beautiful, sunny, spring-like weather — and we were able to get out a lot of the time to do some sightseeing, check out the Marathon finish line and all of the goings-on around Boylston Street, pick up my husband’s bib and, of course, eat!

Easter was another gorgeous day.  We had a wonderful brunch out at Masa in Boston, relaxed with the family on the roof-deck overlooking the city and then went back to really test out the space in the condo by having an Easter ham dinner.  It actually couldn’t have gone better. While we did have to move the love-seat into the center of the living room in order to expand the dining room table, we all fit comfortably and had a delicious meal of honey ham, cheesy scalloped potatoes (thanks, Lynn!), sweet potato pie, Caesar salad, rolls and all kinds of delightful desserts.  Probably not the best pre-marathon meal, but it was delicious, nonetheless!

Even though we had ham sandwiches the next day, and the day after that, I still had a ton of ham leftover.  I hate being wasteful and wanted to find different ways to use it up.

My first experiment was adding it to my morning hash browns and that turned out to be a very good idea!  It added a mildly sweet yet salty flavor that we really enjoyed.  I usually serve my hash browns as a side to eggs, pancakes or french toast, but today I decided to try it as a main dish with a nice, runny, sunny side up egg right on top.   You be the judge!

Hash browns and ham

4 large potatoes
6 oz cooked ham, diced
2 tablespoons of olive oil
2 tablespoons of butter
1 small onion
1/2 red bell pepper
1 teaspoon dried rosemary
1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes
salt
pepper

To save time, I usually cook my potatoes a day ahead by placing them in a 375 degree oven for about 45 minutes. When cool, dice and then store until ready to use. You could also dice and boil the potatoes in salted water just until fork tender.

Heat oil and one tablespoon of butter in skillet over medium heat. Add onion and ham and sauté until onions are brown. Add the remaining tablespoon of butter, the potatoes, red bell pepper, rosemary and pepper flakes and then salt and pepper to taste. To get the desired crispy texture on your potatoes, don’t stir them for a good for 5-7 minutes. Using a spatula, flip the potatoes and cook for another 5-7 minutes. Continue to do this until browned on all sides (feel free to add a little more butter or oil if the pan seems dry).

Enjoy, and check back tomorrow for more great Easter leftover ideas!

P.S. In case you are wondering how the marathon went, it was one of the most memorable days of our lives. The crowd was loud and filled with spirit, it was another gorgeous day, and I could not have been prouder of my husband for running in honor of little Martin Richard, the 8 year-old boy who was killed in last year’s bombings. He is a good man!

image|AP Photo/Robert F. Bukaty

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HALLELUJAH, we have success! — Delicious Gluten Free Carrot Cake

My mom was diagnosed with celiac’s disease last year and, since then, I’ve been trying my hand at different gluten free recipes for her.  She loves food and this disease has been a bit of a hardship on her.  Now my mother, God love her, is an incredibly picky eater so trying to find the right recipes has been trying, to say the least!  Last week, we got together to celebrate my birthday and my sister’s birthday so I thought I’d try a gluten free carrot cake recipe I found at www.glutenfreecooking.about.com.  HALLELUJAH, we have success!  She loved it and even asked for the recipe!  As a bonus, my husband (my dessert lover) loved it, too, and said he couldn’t tell that it was gluten free.

I mostly followed this recipe exactly other than using coconut oil instead of the olive or vegetable oil.  Comments on the website noted that 1½ cups of oil seemed excessive and some thought the cake was a bit greasy. I didn’t want to end up with a dry cake so I measured 1½ cups of oil exactly this time.  Though I didn’t find the cake too greasy, there was a little bit of a greasy texture (I made both a cake and cupcakes and really only noticed it when holding the cupcake; they didn’t taste greasy) so next time I will only use one cup of oil.

The frosting was delicious, but the recipe didn’t cover the whole cake and all of the cupcakes so I’d probably increase it next time.  I don’t think you’d need to double it, but maybe increase it by ½.

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 45 minutes

Total Time: 1 hour

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups light olive oil OR your favorite vegetable oil
  • 2 cups all-purpose gluten-free flour mix (also use 1 teaspoon xanthan or guar gum to the recipe if the mix you are using doesn’t already contain one of them) (Note: I used King Arthur gluten free flour and 1 teaspoon of xanthan gum)
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 2 teaspoons gluten-free baking powder
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 cup chopped nuts
  • 3 cups freshly grated carrots
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 3 ounces cream cheese
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 1/2 cups gluten-free powdered sugar (See note)

Preparation:

Preheat oven to 350° F / 176° C Use two round 9-inch cake pans, one 9×13 pan or 36 muffin cups for this recipe. If using round cake pans, lightly grease and place a circle of parchment in the bottom of the pan for easy removal. Use paper lining cups if making cupcakes.

  1. Cream sugar and eggs in a large mixing bowl with an electric beater or stand mixer. Add oil and vanilla and beat just until smooth.
  2. In a separate bowl combine gluten-free flour mix, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Whisk to combine. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and beat until blended.
  3. Stir in grated carrots and nuts. Pour the batter into prepared pans.
  4. Bake in preheated oven for 45-55 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the middle of the cake comes out clean. For muffins, reduce baking time to 30-35 minutes or until they pass the toothpick test. Cool on a wire rack.
  5. While cake or muffins are cooling place butter, cream cheese and vanilla in a large mixing bowl and beat on high until smooth. Add powdered sugar and beat until smooth and creamy.
  6. When cake is cool frost.

P.S.  If anyone has a delicious gluten free recipe out there, please feel free to share here and, thank you!

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Heavy hearted tonight so I thought writing some of my feelings out might help.   Earlier this year, I learned my brother in law has ALS.   ALS is a progressive neurodegenerative disease that effects nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord.  More information about ALS can be found at http://www.alsa.org but the bottom line is that it is a horrible disease that ends in an early death for most people.   things are happening quickly with Jack; faster than any one of us are ready for.  Jack and my sister are good, good people who don’t deserve any of this.  I can’t help but wonder every single day….why them?  Why…