Ham Tetrazzini

[Ham Tetrazzini]We hosted the family Christmas day gathering this year. We provided ham, popovers and egg noodles for my mom’s Swedish meatballs. At the end of the day there was ham and egg noodles leftover. So I took a page from Thanksgiving leftovers and made a tetrazzini type dish.

The butter, milk and cheese make this rich dish. Perfect for the week before New Year’s resolutions have us all eating kale-cauliflower-mango smoothies.

Ham Tetrazzini
Servings: 4-6
Prep time: 15 minutes
Total time: 30 minutes


  • 6 Tbsp. butter, divided
  • 10 oz. sliced fresh mushrooms
  • 1 sm. onion, chopped
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups chicken or vegetable broth (or just water if you have no broth)
  • 1 1/4 cups whole milk
  • 1/2 tsp. ground chipotle
  • 1/2 tsp. Hungarian paprika
  • 1/2 tsp. ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon cider vinegar
  • 3 cups cooked ham, cubed
  • 4 cups cooked egg noodles
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
  • 1/4 cup Panko breadcrumbs
  • 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese


  1. Melt 5 tablespoons butter in a dutch oven over medium heat. Add the mushrooms and saute until most of mushroom liquid has evaporated, 5-7 minutes. Reduce the heat to medium-low, add the onions, and cook until the onions begin to soften; another 5 minutes.
  2. Sprinkle the flour over the vegetables. Cook for 1 minute, stirring frequently, to get rid of the taste of raw flour. Add the broth and stir to start the sauce. Allow to cook for about 1 minute and add milk while stirring. Stir in the chipotle, paprika, pepper and vinegar. Adjust the heat for a simmer and cook for 5 minutes to allow the sauce to thicken.
  3. Add the ham, noodles and parsley. Stir to combine and cook for 5 minutes to reheat the ham/noodles.
  4. While the ham/noodles reheat toast the breadcrumbs. Melt the remaining tablespoon of butter over medium heat in a skillet. Add the breadcrumbs and use a spatula to coat the breadcrumbs in the melted butter. Heat, stirring frequently, until the breadcrumbs are browned to your liking. Transfer to a small bowl and set aside.
  5. To serve spoon up a generous helping in a bowl. Sprinkle with Parmesan and toasted breadcrumbs. A few grinds of fresh black pepper never hurt anyone either.

I would normally salt the mushrooms and onions while sauteing them as it helps draw out the moisture. That said this is already going to be a salty dish with the broth (unless it is homemade), ham and Parmesan. Leaving the salt out means it’ll take a little longer to cook down the mushrooms and onions. Patience, and temperature control, are your friend.


Chicken and Peppers with left-over Chinese takeout rice

Whenever we get a Chinese takeout order over $35 the restaurant adds a small order of white rice and a small order of over-steamed broccoli. The broccoli ends up in the compost pile however the rice usually ends up in the fridge for a couple of weeks before it is dumped in the trash as questionable.

We enjoyed Chinese takeout last Friday night so I knew the rice was “fresh”. So I crafted this recipe to make use of it along with some chicken breasts I had defrosted over the weekend.

Chicken and Peppers with left-over Chinese takeout rice
Servings: 4
Prep time: 30 minutes
Total time: 45 minutes


  • 2 Tbsp. soy sauce
  • 1 Tbsp. vegetable oil
  • 2 tsp. fish sauce
  • 1 tsp. toasted sesame oil, plus extra for drizzling at the end
  • 1 tsp. ground coriander
  • 2 chicken breast (about 1 lb.), cut into 3/4″ cubes
  • 3 Tbsp. peanut oil, divided
  • 2 bell peppers, cut into 3/4″ squares
  • 1 medium onion, peeled and cut into 3/4″ squares
  • 1 sm. container leftover Chinese takeout rice (or 2 cups day old plain white rice)
  • 1 bunch scallions, whites finely chopped and greens cut on the bias into 3/4″ pieces
  • kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper


  1. Combine soy sauce, vegetable oil, fish sauce, sesame oil, coriander, a pinch of kosher salt and 10 grinds of black pepper in a bowl. Added diced chicken. Use hands to coat chicken with marinade ingredients. Cover with plastic wrap and rest in the refrigerator for 20 minutes.
  2. Heat 1 1/2 tablespoons of peanut oil in a non-stick skillet over high heat until shimmering. Added onions and peppers to the skillet; toss to coat in oil and evenly distribute. Ignore for 2 minutes. Toss or stir to redistribute. Ignore for another 2 minutes. Toss or stir to redistribute. Ignore for another minute. Edges should be lightly colored and onions should be opaque. Transfer to a bowl and cover; set aside.
  3. Add remaining oil to the skillet and return to the burner over high. When wisps of smoke start coming up from the oil add the marinaded chicken. Shake to evenly distribute and ignore for 5 minutes. Break up chicken pieces that may have clung to one another and toss to redistribute. Cook for another 4-5 minutes.
  4. While the chicken cooks microwave the rice for 1 minute just to take the chill off of it.
  5. After 9-10 minutes of total cooking time check temp on a largish chicken piece. If it is less than 160° continue cooking, checking every 30 seconds until you hit the mark. Once over 160° add the cooked vegetables along with the leftover rice. Stir to incorporate and cook for another 2 minutes to allow the rice to heat through.
  6. Taste and adjust salt, pepper and toasted sesame oil as desired. Sprinkle with chopped scallions and serve.

When frying in a shallow skillet we try to use an inexpensive splatter screen to keep the walls from getting an oil bath.

Don’t want to get your hands extra dirty by mixing the chicken with the marinade? Toss the chicken in a zip-top bag, wash your hands, add the marinade ingredients, seal the bag and squish the chicken around until everything is well and rightly coated.

You can totally use all peanut oil in the recipe, no need to have both vegetable oil and peanut oil out. Both are handy when I cook and I was making it up as I go. I do prefer peanut oil for high heat frying.

Potato and Corn Patties

I grew up in a family that always ate leftovers. At least one meal a week was based on the leftovers from Sunday dinner. Roast beef became beef stew. Grilled chicken became chicken salad sandwiches. When I visit my mom I often end up with a meal of odds and ends from the week. A little of this, a little of that, makes a tasty meal.

In cooking our big weekly dinners there are often leftovers. Frequently they become lunch and save me from the corporate cafeteria. Sometimes though I decide to work them into a weeknight meal. This past weekend we had mashed potatoes and a variation on sauteed corn with leeks. A few ingredients, a hot skillet and tasty side was born to go along with chicken breast.

Potato and Corn Patties
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Green Rice Patties

Last week I made Mexican Green Rice as part of our weekly get-together with friends. It was well received however, as with most weeks, there was a bit left over. Leftovers often become lunch during the week however we had an abundance for leftovers this week so I decided to repurpose the rice. With the addition of a few ingredients they became green rice patties and an excellent side with sauteed tilapia.

Recipe under the cut