Dinner on a dime

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The ultimate in thriftiness and convenience in the kitchen: recyle left-overs.  The first thing that comes to mind- Red Beans and Rice in the crock pot.

In fact I’m dumping the ingredients in the crock pot right now.  I plan to be in the garden all day and have to take a dish to the skybox tonight for the baseball game.

But here’s a secret only your mother would tell you.  There is a product now blue-runensavailable at Walmart called Blue Runners.  They are every bit as good as something you would cook all day.  When I moved to New Orleans in 1981, a co-worker had pity on me.  I’d never had red bean and rice!  She told me not to fool with making them from scratch.

“Cher, go get you some Blue Runners – heat ’em up and no one will know you haven’t been slaving over the stove all day,” she said.  At that time Blue Runners – manufactured in New Orleans –  weren’t available outside The Big Easy.  So happy we can get them up here now.

Today, I’ll be doing them the old fashioned way. When I return the house will smell heavenly and all I have to do is boil some rice – brown, of course.

2 cups water

2-3 cans red kidney beans

1 chopped onion

1  cup  chopped green bell pepper and celery if you like it

1  teaspoon  dried thyme

1  teaspoon  paprika

3/4  teaspoon  ground red pepper

1/2    teaspoon  black pepper

  • Leftover Easter ham to taste – the bone would be even better ( recipe calls for smoked sausage – another time maybe)1  bay leaf
  • 5  garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2  teaspoon  salt
  • 3  cups  hot cooked long-grain rice
  • 1/4  cup  chopped green onions

Preparation

Combine first 12 ingredients in an electric slow cooker. Cover with lid; cook on high heat for 5 hours or low all day long.Discard bay leaf; stir in salt. Serve over rice; sprinkle servings evenly with green onions and stir in a dollop of sour cream

ham pie

Ham and Swiss Pie

This is a tasty way to use up your left-over Easter ham.

Toasting give the delicate bread a firmer texture, so the milk and eggs don’t make it mushy. You can also use toasted French bread cubes, but the slight sweetness of the Hawaiian bread brings out the salty ham and nutty cheese flavors. Use the remaining rolls to make mini ham and cheese sandwiches.

Yield

4 – 6 servings

Ingredients

  • Cooking spray
  • 1 1/4  cups  chopped green onions
  • 3/4  cup  chopped ham (about 3 ounces)
  • 2  garlic cloves, chopped
  • 7  (1-ounce) Hawaiian bread rolls, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
  • 1 3/4  cups  fat-free milk
  • 3/4  cup  egg substitute
  • 2  tablespoons  Dijon mustard
  • 1/4  teaspoon  salt
  • 1/4  teaspoon  freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/8  teaspoon  ground nutmeg
  • 3/4  cup  (3 ounces) shredded Swiss cheese, divided

Preparation

Heat a small nonstick skillet coated with cooking spray over medium-high heat. Add onions, ham, and garlic; sauté 5 minutes. Remove from heat; cool.

Preheat oven to 350°.

Arrange bread cubes on a baking sheet. Bake at 350° for 15 minutes or until lightly browned, turning occasionally.

Combine milk and next 5 ingredients (milk through nutmeg) in a large bowl, stirring with a whisk until well blended. Stir in ham mixture. Add bread, tossing gently to coat.

Arrange half of bread mixture in an 8-inch square baking dish coated with cooking spray. Sprinkle with half of cheese; top with remaining bread mixture. Bake at 350° for 25 minutes. Sprinkle with remaining cheese; bake an additional 20 minutes or until set.

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