I have years of treasured memories of family gatherings around our dining room table. No matter what the holiday was there was a big meal at our home, and I really wouldn’t have had it any other way . . . as home is where I want to be for the holidays.
I must say that my memories of those family times together are filled with many different emotions. When all of the children were young it was often chaotic and loud, especially when the younger cousins were in town. When Aunt Terry came to visit it was a time of much laughter as she would get the children (and the adults) all riled up and acting silly. As the children grew up the grandparents grew older . . . and some were lost to us for a time . . . the holiday meals became more sedate and orderly but also a little sad with fewer and fewer people around our dining table.
This weekend we will celebrate Resurrection Sunday or Easter. We don’t have the same exact menu each year but there are always a couple of menu items that we cannot do without, namely Aunt Gert’s Cheesy Potatoes and Nanny’s Strawberry Torte. This year, along with these two old standbys, we’re serving a Glazed Holiday Ham and Green Beans With Pecan Butter Topping. Holidays aren’t a time for counting calories at our house, so be warned . . . this is comfort food at it’s best!
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- Bone-in spiral sliced pre-cooked ham (8-9 lbs)
- 2 cups granulated sugar
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon nutmeg
- 1 teaspoon onion powder
- 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1/2 teaspoon Hungarian paprika
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
- 4 tablespoons water
- WARNING: Since your ham is precooked it can become very dry when reheated too long or at too high a temperature. You may want to place a pan of water on the rack beneath your ham to help maintain moisture in the oven.
- Wrap your ham in foil (or leave it in the foil wrapper it comes in), set in a large baking pan and place in a preheated 275 degree oven. Heat approximately 10 minutes for each pound of ham or until the inside temperature of the ham reaches 140 degrees.
- When ham is fully heated remove from oven set aside. Place the remaining ingredients in a sauce pan and stir to blend thoroughly. Bring the ingredients to a boil stirring constantly as they become the consistency of a syrup. Boil and stir for 1 minute and remove from heat.
- Carefully pull the foil away from the top of the ham and baste with the glaze. Turn the oven to broil (500-550 degrees) and place the ham back in the oven. Broil for 2-3 minutes watching very carefully so it doesn’t burn. DO NOT LEAVE UNATTENDED! When the syrup is very bubbly it is ready.
- Remove ham, slice and serve.
- 4-5 pounds Yukon Gold potatoes
- 3 tablespoons butter
- 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 1/4 teaspoon pepper (optional)
- 1-1/2 cups milk
- 15 ounce jar of Cheese Whiz
- 1/2 cup butter
- 1 sleeve Saltine crackers, crushed
- Peel and cube potatoes and place in a large pot of water. Heat water to a full boil and cook until potatoes can be pierced with a fork but not fully cooked as they will continue cooking in the oven. Remove from heat and drain.
- In 2 quart saucepan melt 3 tablespoons butter over medium heat. Add flour and pepper and stir with a fork until mixture is smooth and bubbly. Pour in milk. Turn heat to high and heat milk to boiling, stirring constantly. Boil and stir for 1 minute. Add Cheese Whiz and stir until melted and fully blended.
- Spread potatoes in a 9×13 casserole. Pour cheese sauce over all and mix well.
- For topping (this can be prepared while potatoes are boiling):
- Melt 1/2 cup butter in medium skillet over medium-high heat. Add in crushed Saltines and mix to coat with butter. Continue stirring cracker mixture until it begins to brown. Remove from heat and set aside. Sprinkle over potato-cheese mixture.
- Bake in preheated 350 degree oven 20-25 minutes, or until mixture bubbles.
- 1-1/2 pounds fresh green beans, trimmed
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 2 tablespoons crushed pecans
- 1 teaspoon salt (or to taste)
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground whole nutmeg
- Place beans in a large sauce pan and bring to a boil. Boil 5 minutes, remove from heat and place in colander to drain.
- Wipe out sauce pan, place over medium heat and add butter to melt. Add pecans and cook, stirring constantly for one minute (be careful that they do not burn). Stir in salt and nutmeg. Add green beans and toss to coat with butter mixture. Cook for one minute more.
- 2-1/2 pounds strawberries
- 12 ounce package Vanilla Wafers
- 1/2 cup (or a little more as needed) butter
- 1 cup powdered sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 pint heavy whipping cream
- Crush vanilla wafers in a blender or food processor. Place two cups of the wafers in the bottom of a 9 x 13 pan. Set remaining wafers aside. Melt butter and stir in sugar and vanilla. Add to the wafers in the pan and stir to combine ingredients. Pat down the mixture to form the crust for the torte.
- Wash and drain strawberries. Slice berries and sweeten with a little sugar if desired. Lay berries over the crust in the pan.
- Whip cream until soft peeks form and add sugar to desired sweetness. Spread over the berries in the pan.
- Sprinkle remaining crushed vanilla wafers over all.
It won’t be a large family gathering this year with family members spread across the country but we will still hold with the traditional foods and it will be a time of remembering . . .
. . . remembering fun times with family . . .
. . . and remembering the main reason we celebrate this holiday.
He is risen!
Do you have special family recipes that are always a part of your holiday tradition? How do you prefer to celebrate holiday dinners, at home or where someone else does the cooking?
Happy Passover week to my Jewish friends and wishes for a blessed Easter to those of you who are Christ followers,