Christmas Leftovers: Ham & Scalloped Potatoes

Scalloped potatoes are a little old fashioned, however it’s an easy meal that only needs the time to cook. This was the best way for us to use up the rest of our ham from Christmas, and it makes enough to serve a whole family.
I used a 2 qt dish and it was a little too full. I also used only 3 Tbsp of flour, but it would be better to use at least 4 Tbsp and waited for the sauce to get thicker before pouring it over the sliced ham and potatoes.

  1. Slice up 6 medium sized potatoes (peeled or not), and slice up one small onion (1/2 cup). Cube up the ham into 1/2″ by 1/2″ cubes. Cut about 3 cups worth.
  2. Pre-heat oven to 350 F. Layer the potatoes and ham in a 3 qt casserole dish. And in a 2 qt sauce pan, melt 4 Tbsp of butter and cook your onions til translucent.
  3. Then add 2 1/2 cups of milk, and 4 tbsp of flour. Slowly raise to a boil and cook to your desired thickness (at least an opaque sauce).
  4. Carefully pour over ham and potatoes in casserole dish. Cover and bake covered for 60 minutes. Uncover and bake another 30 minutes or until potatoes are tender.

Christmas Leftovers: Ham, and Mac and Cheese

Mac & Cheese is another one of my favorite childhood foods. It is cheesy and packed with carbs. Just thinking about it makes my mouth water! My mom made a roux based sauce, that is butter and flour, then we add milk and an entire block (8 oz) of cubed white sharp cheese. The recipe below is enough for pretty much just me and my husband since I love it so much, however there is enough in the recipe to serve another person if it is paired with a protein and a veggie.
Also, some cheese brands don’t melt as evenly as others, so if your cheese tastes a bit gritty once it’s cooked, you should probably use a different brand next time. I usually use Aldi’s brand, cracker barrel brand, or Kraft. We have had Cabot work out sometimes while other times it is gritty, and Helluvagood always comes out gritty.

  1. Cook 1 1/2 cup of macaroni to al dente and drain.
  2. While that is cooking, preheat oven to 375 F. Dice 1 small onion (1/2 cup) and cook in 4 Tbsp of butter until translucent.
  3. Once onions are translucent, add 4 Tbsp of flour stir, then add 2 cups of milk. Heat to a slight simmer.
  4. While that is heating, cube one block of cheese (8 oz) by cutting the block in half the short way, then slicing into slices 1/4 inch thick. Once milk is simmering, remove milk from heat and immediately add cheese and start stirring until all cheese is melted.
  5. Place drained macaroni into a 2 quart size or bigger backing/casserole dish. Then pour the hot cheese over top and carefully stir.
  6. Bake your mac & cheese for 30 minutes until the top has begun to brown and is bubbling hot.
  7. With only 10 minutes left, slice ham and fry in a frying pan with 1 Tbsp butter. Serve together.

Christmas Leftovers: Ham Salad

Ham salad has been one of the foods that my mom has had since she was a little girl. This was the recipe her mom and grandmother used during the great depression to make ham last a few extra meals. For this recipe, they would use their own recipe for Thousand Island pickles, however, you can also use sweet relish or sweet pickles to accomplish the same task, however I canned some Thousand Island pickles this summer, so I’ll be using those. You will also see that I am using toast. I always freeze my bread since it’s just me and my husband and we don’t want to waste food, and toasting tends to work really well in cooking/heating up the bread again.

  1. Cut ham into cubes. Approx. 4 slices cut into 1″ x 1″ cubes (1 1/2 cup)
  2. Place these into a chopper, blender, or meat grinder. For chopper/blender, pulse until all of the ham takes on the small pebbly texture, or until you’ve chopped all of the cubes.
  3. Take sweet pickles (1/2 cup) and process into a relish.
  4. Finally, Mix Ham (1 1/2 cup), Relish (1/2 cup), and Mayo (1 cup). Chill or serve immediately on bread or toast.

The Bayberry Candle, A Christmas Tradition

One of the most prevalent traditions every Christmas was the burning of a bayberry candle. Every year we would light our taper at about 5 pm on Christmas eve, and it would burn until it extinguished at about 3 am on Christmas morning. Though it seems weird, but our tradition was that it needed to burn into the next day, and that it needed to burn completely. By lighting the candle at 5 pm, it was usually well burnt down by the time we were going to bed, at about 10-11 pm. If the candle wasn’t burnt enough, or the candle wasn’t firm in the holder, we would simply place the candle in our empty sink for the night.

Origin & Old Saying

The story I have seen from several websites was that bayberry candles were made by the colonists for a special occasion, because their normal candles had a foul odor as they rot, and it took many bayberries, 15 lbs, to make one candle (2019; Bowen, 2016; SallyeAnder, 2017). Now, Bayberry candles are burnt as a tradition for luck and blessing for the coming year, and bayberry candles are burnt either Christmas Eve or New Year’s Eve ( 2019; Bayberry Candles:Beeman-candles, n.d.; Bowen, 2016; SallyeAnder, 2017).

There are also a few versions of the old saying including:

  • “This bayberry candle comes from a friend for on Christmas eve I do send.For a bayberry candle burned to the socket, will bring joy to the heart and gold to the pocket.” (2019)
  • “A Bayberry candle burned to the socket brings food to the larder and gold to the pocket.” (Bayberry Candles:Beeman-candles, n.d.)
  • “This Bayberry candle comes from a friend, so on Christmas Eve burn it down to the end – for a Bayberry candle burned to the socket will bring joy to the heart and gold to the pocket.” (Bowen, 2016)
  • “For a bayberry candle burned to the socket brings joy to the heart and gold to the pocket.” (SallyeAnder, 2017)

(2019, October 16). Retrieved from http://www.alleghenycandles.com/bayberry_candles.html.
BAYBERRY CANDLES: beeman-candles. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.shopbeemancandles.com/bayberry-candles.
Bowen, E. (2016, October 11). The Bayberry Candle Christmas Tradition. Retrieved from https://colonialcandle.com/blogs/news/bayberry-candle-christmas-tradition.
SallyeAnder. (2017, January 26). Bayberry Candles: An American Tradition. Retrieved from https://sallyeander.com/bayberry-candles-an-american-tradition/.

Christmas Holiday Ham

I am a Ham Lover. We’ve had just about every type of ham you can get, and they always turn out well if they are cooked enough with a good glaze. When I was growing up, we always got a 5 lb canned ham. But over the years, even the price of canned ham has risen, which has led us to try spiral cut hams, pre-cooked & sliced hams without the bone, ham steaks, and we’ve even done a roast for Christmas! Ham is the tradition, and I personally never miss out on a holiday where I can have a nice ham.

I do like spiral cut hams, but it’s very important to cook them “low and slow” because you want the internal temp to come high enough to melt the internal fat. It is also important to remove it from the glaze once it’s finished cooking, because the fat will re-solidify and ruin your remaining ham if you don’t remove it from the fat and bone after you finish eating. Some people don’t like canned hams because they seem fake or overly processed, and though that is a good concern and it doesn’t look like real ham anymore, it also has less fat and tends to be an easier eat if you have bad teeth or want a meal that requires less chewing. Processed ham steaks are definitely less food than the other types. They also tend to be a mix in textures being mostly ham-like with it having pieces that seem less processed than canned hams. Each type of ham has a draw back to different people, however most of the problems arise in how the meat is prepped and cooked.

Though it seems old fashioned, I always go with the honey and brown sugar glaze even for my non-holiday hams. I find the sweetness to go so well with the savory aspect of the ham. But, for Christmas, we also top our ham with pineapple and cherries, so when we make up the glaze we also add a bit of acidity by adding some pineapple juice to the honey brown sugar. The acidity does really well to compliment the saltiness of ham. When we make our glaze, we usually do 1:2 Honey to brown sugar. When we make our Christmas ham, we usually go for 60% brown sugar, 30% honey, 2% cherry juice and 8% pineapple juice. You are looking for a consistency where the glaze is mostly solid and won’t run completely off the ham. If it is too liquidy, add more brown sugar and honey, and stir well.