Cheesy Ham and Potato Bake

 
One of my favorite ways to save money in the kitchen is by buying one large hunk of meat to make multiple meals with. Turkey, Boston Butt Roast, and Ham are my faves. Aldi usually has hams for good prices and I picked one up while I was in there the other day. I cooked it up for dinner the first night and made a brown sugar glaze for it with mashed potatoes, peas, biscuits and gravy. After dinner, I finished cutting up the ham and set aside a ziploc sandwich bag full of cubes to use for dinner on the second night to make Cheesy Ham and Potato Bake. The first time I made it for Alan, he said “Oh my goodness, where has this been all my life!”. He makes a lady feel good 🙂

Anyway, Here’s the Recipe:
6 Large Potatoes (I like red skin) or 1/2 of a 5lb bag. 
2 Cups Cubed Ham
3 Cups Shredded Cheese (Pick your favorite)
1 Cup Sour Cream
1/2 Cup Cream Cheese
2 Tbsp Lowry’s Seasoning Salt
1/4 tsp each Salt and Pepper

Wash Your Potatoes and slice them in half and then into Slivers no bigger than 1/4″ thick. Boil them until tender in a large pot.

When you’re done drain the water and dump your other ingredients into the pot with the potatoes, but SAVE 1 Cup Shredded Cheese. Mix it all up with a big spoon until everything is pretty well blended. You can mix the cheeses and seasonings separately if you want and then add it to the potatoes, but I’ve done it both ways and it’s not any easier.

Grease a big Lasagna sized pan (mines like 15″ x 10″ or something). HUGE. Pour your mixture into the pan and even it out. Sprinkle the remaining Cheese on top. Cover tightly with foil, and bake at 350 for 25min. Super Easy, not too many dishes used, and there’s enough for a family of Four or leftover to have for lunch the next day.

You can also adjust the Recipe to include  ingredients you already have. Like using Ricotta and Cottage Cheese instead. Or mozzarella instead of Cheddar. Sausage would work great instead of ham. I had already made my sour cream into ranch dip with one of those little powder packets, so I used that this time and it tasted great.

Espresso Cream Cupcakes

One word for this: Yum!!!

This tasty creation came to be while making up a batch of cupcakes with Redding. I split the batter in half and let him put sprinkles into his half and began searching the cupboards for something good for my half. And then I saw it: Starbucks Espresso Beans. I kept looking and found Cream Cheese and Hershey’s Dark Cocoa Powder. That’s right folks, the only thing different with these cupcakes is three ingredients. But boy oh boy does it make a difference!

So, to make these tasties, grab your ingredients and let’s get started…

  • One box of Butter Cream Cake mix
  • The ingredients on your cake mix box: A couple eggs, oil (I think), and water
  • 4 Tbsp Finely ground Espresso beans
  • 1/2 Cup Regular Cream Cheese

You can use pre-ground Espresso beans, just grind em up real fine before you use them. The cream cheese doesn’t have to be softened, just be sure to use the real stuff, no light/low-fat nonsense here 🙂 Dump it all into the bowl of your electric mixer and mix it up per the directions. Mine had me mix it on Low for 2-3min and then on Medium for another 2min. It should look like this when your done:

Mmmmmmm…..
Next, you’ll take your cupcake pans spray them really well with Pam. I didn’t have any cupcake liners, but the cooking spray worked great and they didn’t stick at all. Fill up your pans to about 3/4 full. The cream cheese makes the batter thicker and it doesn’t rise quite as much. Well, that’s not true. They rise in the oven, but collapse when you cool them. They are very dense. My batch made 17.

While they are cooking (go by the directions on the box), you can make up your frosting. I went with a Butter Cream recipe and adjusted it a bit. {Is there a difference between frosting and icing?}

Butter Cream Icing:

  • 3 Cups Powdered Sugar
  • 1 Cup Butter
  • 1 tsp Vanilla Extract 

I didn’t wait till my butter was at room temp, so I softened it up with my mixer first. Begin adding your Powdered Sugar by the cup and mix, mix, mix. Add in your Vanilla Extract after you mix in your first cup of powdered sugar. Keep mixing the stuff and scraping down the sides, and then mix and scrape, and after that, mix some more. Mix until it looks like nice thick, fluffy Icing. You should taste it too. That helps the process 🙂

Your cupcakes should be cooked and cooled now, and you are ready to ice. If you haven’t already, go ahead and remove them from the pans and set them on your cake platter or broiling pans work great too. I decided to cut them all to the same height to make them easier to ice and so they look nice. I don’t have one of those nifty cake cutting wires, so I cut a length of heavy duty sewing thread, wrapped it around my fingers like floss and ran it across the tops of the cupcakes while they were still in the pan (or sitting in your broiling pan) using a sawing, back and forth motion. I gave the tops to Redding to mollify him while I iced the cupcakes.

If you have a Icing bag and large tip for decorating, you can use that to ice your cupcakes. I don’t. So, I used a little icing spatula (a fancy butter knife works well too) and kinda dabbed the icing onto the cupcakes to give it that fun peaked look. 

And to complete the picture:
 Sift some Hershey’s Cocoa Powder (Or Nesquik Powder) over the cupcakes and Wha-lah! (The chocolate powder doesn’t add much for flavor, but it’s so pretty!) If you wanted to go really coffee-ish, you could sift some Espresso grounds over top. Mmmmm… Enjoy!