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04/02/2021

~ Easiest Ham & Cheesy Boxed Scalloped Potatoes ~

IMG_0396I know I'm not alone on this point, C-19 has changed what I store in my pantry -- truth told, it's not bad, just different.  In preparation for the lock down that occurred a few months ago, I stocked several boxes of Rice-a-Roni, four boxes of Kraft macaroni and cheese, a big box of Hungry Jack instant mashed potatoes, and, a few boxes of Stovetop stuffing mix and Betty Crocker cheesy scalloped potatoes.  Thanks to them being staples in my mom's pantry, I knew these easy-to-make convenience-food side-dishes not only have a long shelf life, they're tasty.

In the case of the scalloped potatoes, my mom made them often, sometimes even for company and holidays.  She had her method for "doctoring up" (her words) these boxes of dehydrated potatoes.  There were never any complaints and never any leftovers -- everyone gobbled them up.  I so forgot how much like them, I've taken to making them occasionally.  In my kitchen, they're no longer "just in case" food.  They're scrape-the-casserole-clean comfort food.  Today, I'm adding some ham (leftover from the Easter holiday) to turn this side-dish into a main course.

Steamy & creamy w/a crispy top & loaded w/smokey ham:

IMG_03581  7-ounce box Betty Crocker's cheesy scalloped potates

2 1//4  cups whole milk (in place of water)

2  tablespoons salted butter, sliced or cubed

1/4  teaspoon ground nutmeg

8-10  ounces sliced or diced ham (a generous 2 cups)

IMG_0360 IMG_0360 IMG_0365 IMG_0365 IMG_0370~Step 1.  Open the box and empty the packet of dry cheese-sauce mix into the bottom of a 1 1/2-quart casserole.  Place the milk in a 2-cup measuring container along with the butter and nutmeg and heat it, in the microwave, to steaming.  Give the liquid mixture a thorough stir, add it to the dry mixture in the casserole, then, thoroughly stir the two together.

IMG_0374 IMG_0374 IMG_0385~ Step 2.  Add the dehydrated potatoes and the ham to the casserole and stir them into the hot liquid.  Let the mixture sit for about 5 minutes, to allow the potatoes to start to soften, then, stir again.  Bake, uncovered, on center rack of 350° oven 35-40 minutes.  Casserole will be bubbling throughout and potatoes will be golden brown.  Remove from oven and place on a rack to cool slightly, 5 minutes.  Serve hot.

Scoop out a heaping helping & gobble up the goodness:

IMG_0398Easiest Ham & Cheesy Boxed Scalloped Potatoes:  Recipe yields 4 main-dish servings.

Special Equipment List:  2-cup measuring container; 8" x 8"-square, 1 1/2-quart casserole; spoon; wire cooling rack

6a0120a8551282970b0278800f01c5200dCook's Note: I'm no different than a lot of you when it comes to weeknight dinners.  Sometimes I put a small chicken in the oven to roast, other times I fry a few pork chops, sometimes I roast or poach a turkey tenderloin -- easy to make, minimum-fuss fare.  Stuffing goes great with all of them.  That said, on a busy week day, many times, all I  have the time or inclination to make are two easy-peasy satellite side-dishes -- a bag of our favorite steam-in-bag vegetables, and, a box of "doctored up" Stovetop-type stuffing -- and there's no shame in either one.  That's why I keep Stovetop brand stuffing in my pantry at all times -- of course there are other brands, I like Stovetop.

"We are all in this food world together." ~ Melanie Preschutti

(Recipe, Commentary and Photos courtesy of Melanie's Kitchen/Copyright 2021)

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