i am kicking off the new year with potatoes and leftover christmas ham doused in cheese sauce and a four layer chocolate cake filled with candy and covered in mint buttercream. what, this isn't what you had in mind after two months of "holiday" eating?!
i either had family staying with us or was staying with family from mid december to after the new year, so i was itching to spend some time in the kitchen. these choices from melissa's blog, i was born to cook, for this month's secret recipe club were perfect. not only were they easy, and delicious, melissa taught me to embrace scalloped potatoes. sorry mom (hi mom!), but scalloped potatoes are one of the few things you made that i just plain didn't like as a kid. since before we were married, jason has requested it whenever we have ham leftovers. this time i gave in to his request and am so glad i did! these potatoes were delicious. and would make a great addition to a potluck.
if it was the cake that caught your eye, it's every bit as delicious as it looks. when jason declared at christmas that yes, he likes the combination of mint and chocolate, (for some reason i was convinced he hated it), i knew this cake was mine as soon as i saw it. and since it's only the two of us, and the whole new years resolution mumbo jumbo has me thinking about eating a bit better, i made a six inch cake. and really, even that is almost too big for the two of us. almost.
for more information on the secret recipe club, including the list of participating bloggers, featured recipes from members, and instructions on how to join, visit the secret recipe club website!
check out my previous secret recipe club posts: chicken souvlaki with tzatziki, asian pork chops, lemon lime meltaways, blueberry peach crisp, minted lemon ice, white chocolate macadamia nut blondies, raspberry cream filled eclairs, jam swirled cheesecake, whole wheat grapefruit cake, chewy no bake granola bars & carrot cinnamon waffles, cannoli, gingerbread muffins, double chocolate peanut butter chip oatmeal cookies, butterscotch peach cake, whole wheat honey pancakes, minted pineapple lime agua fresca, breakfast tacos, simple almond sandwich cookies, & roasted banana rum cake.
scalloped ham and potato bake
adapted from i was born to cook
30 minutes prep, 60 minutes bake, serves 4 as a main dish
5 cups potatoes, sliced thin (about 3 medium potatoes)
1 medium onion, sliced thin
2 cups ham, diced
for the sauce
4 tablespoons butter
4 tablespoons flour
2 cups 2%, 1% or whole (skip skim, if you can) milk
1/4 teaspoon dry mustard
3/4 cup shredded cheddar cheese
3/4 cup shredded colby jack cheese
for the topping
1 tablespoon butter, melted
3/4 cup panko bread crumbs
- grease a two quart casserole dish. layer about a quarter of the potatoes, ensuring the bottom is covered. top with about a third of the onions and a third of the ham. season with salt and pepper. repeat, layering potato, onion, and ham, and finish with a layer of potato. set aside.
- preheat your oven to 350F.
- to make the sauce, melt the butter in a saucepan over low heat. when melted, whisk in the flour and cook about one minute. slowly whisk in the milk. continue cooking over low heat, whisking frequently, until the sauce thickens. once thick, season with mustard, salt, and pepper, remove from heat, and whisk in the cheese until melted.
- pour the sauce over the potato mixture. cover and bake 45 minutes.
- combine the melted butter and bread crumbs. uncover the casserole and spread the mixture evenly over the top. return the casserole to the oven, uncovered, and bake an additional 15 minutes. if you would like your crust to be a bit more brown, turn on your broiler and broil for a few minutes. be sure to check frequently while broiling as the topping can go from perfectly browned to burnt in a short time.
andes mint chocolate cake
adapted from i was born to cook
makes one 6 inch, two or four layer cake
if you have parchment paper, i highly recommend lining your pans with it, especially for this cake. the candy tends to fall to the bottom, making a nice crust stuck to the bottom of the pan. i could have avoided it with two pieces of parchment.
to make an 8" or 9" layer cake, double all of the cake ingredients, split the batter between THREE pans (instead of two), and bake for the same amount of time. double the buttercream ingredients too.
for the cake
1/2 cup boiling water
1 cup sugar
3/4 cup + 2 tablespoons (or 1 cup minus 2 tablespoons) flour
1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup milk
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup chopped andes mints (about 16 mints)
for the buttercream
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
2 3/4 cups powdered sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon mint extract
1/4 cup milk
green food coloring
- preheat your oven to 350F. grease and flour - or line with parchment - two 6 inch cake pans. set aside.
- to make the cake, bring the water to a boil. while the water is heating, mix the sugar, flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. add the egg, milk, oil, and vanilla, and mix until combined. mix in the boiling water and the andes mints.
- divide the batter equally between the two pans. bake for about 23 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean. cook in the pan for a few minutes before turning out on a wire rack to cool completely.
- while the cake cools, make the buttercream. combine the butter, sugar, vanilla, and mint and mix until combined. slowly add the milk, a tablespoon at a time, until your buttercream is the consistency you want. beat for about a minute. add green food coloring, if you like, and be sure to mix well to ensure the color is evenly distributed.
- to make a four layer cake, cut each of the layers in half. place bottom layer on serving plate, top with about a third of a cup of icing, top with the next layer. repeat until the cake is built. spread a thin layer of icing over the cake and refrigerate for 15 minutes. ice with the remaining frosting. top with more chopped andes mints.