I cannot believe it’s December 20th – 5 days before Christmas – and I have yet to bore you with a snow-laden, whiny winter weather post this season!
You lucky reader, you.
It’s really been a delightful little month so far. We’ve only seen a light dusting of snow twice, and even reached a spring-like high of 55 degrees a couple days ago. But even though I’ve only worn my winter coat a handful of times, I’m still craving the cozy, comfort foods I usually jam pack my menus with around this time of year.
I think listening to festive Christmas carols for 10+ hours a day at work has also contributed to the feeling.
Poll: Which song makes you want to run for the hills more: Christmas Shoes or The Muppets’ 12 Days of Christmas? I can’t decide. Christmas Shoes makes me want to throw something, but Beaker’s “mi-mi-mi-mi’ing” to 9 ladies dancing might be equally as torturous.
Anyways. What was I talking about? Oh yeah. Comfort food!
Despite the unseasonably warm weather and cheery sunshine, I went ahead and whipped up a classic, creamy, comfort-food casserole for dinner.
Scalloped Potatoes with Ham!
This diet busting dish is normally packed with butter and cream. Well I lightened it up, but kept ALL the cozy flavor by cutting the butter and using 2% milk instead of heavy cream. IT WAS SO GOOD!!!!
Start by melting some butter in a large skillet. Butter? I thought this was thing was light?! No, I know, but this is actually a small amount compared to the overall size of the dish – and is half of what the original recipe calls for. Add in fragrant seasonings like thyme and parsley, then whisk the mixture together.
Cook the butter and flour for 2 minutes (mmmm, smells like stuffing!) then slowly whisk in 2% milk. I resisted the urge to swap in skim milk for the 2%, as I knew the sauce would be grainy if I did.
Bring the milk to a boil, whisking constantly, then lower the heat and cook for 2 minutes.
Meanwhile, combine 6 cups sliced potatoes – that’s about 3 large potatoes – with 1/2 a grated onion and 1/3lb cubed ham steak. I just went to the deli counter at the grocery store, picked out a good quality low-sodium ham and asked the woman working to slice it thick for me. Ham steak-thick, yo!
Layer half the potato/ham mixture into the bottom of a 9×13 dish, then spoon over half the sauce.
Cover with foil and bake for an hour or so, then remove the foil to let the top get golden brown and give the ham a chance to really sizzle. 8)
Ooooo baby! This dish is right. up. there. with my Mom’s Classic Mac & Cheese, and Homemade Chicken & Dumplings in ultimate comfort food range. I could not believe how delicious it was, even though it was made without a lot of fat!
Scalloped Potatoes with Ham
Slightly adapted from Taste of Home
3 tablespoons butter
1 teaspoon dried parsley flakes
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/4 cup flour
3 cups 2% milk
6 cups russet potatoes (about 3 large potatoes), sliced thin
1/3lb low-sodium ham steak, chopped (ask grocery store deli to slice ham “ham steak” thick for you)
1/2 small onion, grated
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Melt butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add in parsley, thyme, salt, pepper and flour, and whisk together. Cook for 2 minutes, whisking occasionally.
- Slowly add milk, whisking constantly, until smooth. Turn heat up to high and bring mixture to a boil, whisking constantly. Turn heat back down to medium and continue whisking for 2 minutes.
- Combine potatoes, ham and onion in a large bowl. Spray a 9×13 pan with non-stick spray and add in half the potato mixture. Top with half the sauce, then repeat the layers. Cover the pan with foil and bake for 65 minutes. Remove the foil and bake for 15-20 more minutes, or until potatoes are tender.
The ham was just indulgently salty enough, the potatoes were blissfully soft, and that sauce. Luxurious. Silky. Amazing. I want to slather it all over everything.
That is to say, I liked it. I liked it a lot.
I served these Scalloped Potatoes with Ham for dinner, but they’d also make a knock out holiday side dish!
Month of Holiday Giveaways
I am such a louse – I keep forgetting to announce the winners of the Panera Gift Card Giveaway! Good eats are on their way to…
Emily: I would love to treat my mom to some Panera! A thanks for all she does!
Samantha Oldaker: It would have to be Matthew Gray Gubler from Criminal Minds!
Jaimie: Shared on Facebook! (Also commented: I’d share it with my work buddy!)
Katie C: My husband! We could definitely use a date, and Panera is one of our favorite cozy spots
Congrats guys! Email your full name and address to IowaGirlEats@gmail.com, and I’ll mail those gift cards right out to you.
PS: a little birdie told me that starting in January you’ll be able to get CINNAMON CRUNCH – like from the cinnamon crunch bagels – on your OATMEAL at Panera. MUWAHAHA are you kidding me?! That right there pretty much made my 2012.
Don’t forget you have until tomorrow, Wednesday, December 21st @ 5pm central to enter to win a SodaStream Soda Maker Starter Kit!
Have a great night!