Holiday Ham and Cheesy Spinach Potatoes

One of my big guilty pleasures in life- ranking right up there with a mild soap opera addiction -is a deep fondness for the blue box, good old Kraft macaroni and cheese.  On those rare occasions when I find myself cooking for one, it's what I nearly always turn to.  What meat to pair with that lovely dish was always the challenge, though, until one evening I made a miraculous discovery at Singapore's Cold Storage: fully cooked "ham ends" in the pizza topping section [!?] in 400-500 gram packages for only about $2.  I threw those chunks of ham in a skillet and heated it up with a some honey, white & black pepper and a bit of soy sauce and WOW.

People may frown at serving chopped "ham ends" and macaroni and cheese for Christmas dinner, so I've adapted and tested the recipe on a whole ham and paired it with some cheesy spinach potatoes for the Holidays.  Though if you ever get the chance (or find yourself with left-over ham at some point), I do strongly recommend preparing it the original way...

Megan's Holiday Ham

- a squeeze bottle of honey
- about 1/4-1/2 cup of soy sauce
- lots of black and white pepper
- one fully-cooked ham for two* (preferably spiral cut!)
*small hams are hard to find and it's nearly impossible to get one that's less than a pound.  so be prepared for this meal to serve 4, or have plenty of left-overs for 2!

1.  If you have time, marinade the ham for a few hours or over night in a plastic bag in the refrigerator.  Put the ham and soy sauce in the bag and squeeze as much air as possible out of the bag.
2.  Preheat the oven to 350F and place the ham on a large piece of aluminum foil inside a baking dish.  If the ham is not spiral cut, cut a deep diamond pattern all over the ham, about 1/4" thick.
3.  Fold up the sides of the foil to form a bowl.  If you have a fully-cooked ham, pour the soy sauce from the marinade bag back over the ham (otherwise, throw out the marinade and use fresh soy sauce).
4.  Sprinkle the ham liberally with both peppers then squeeze honey on top.  Spread out the honey to coat the ham with a brush or spoon and be sure to get BOTH the honey and pepper into the individual spiral slices or cuts.
5.  Close the foil over the top of the ham and bake for 45min-1hr.  Every 15 minutes or so, open the foil and spoon some soy sauce juice back over the ham to baste it.  You may also want to add more honey and pepper halfway through cooking.
6.  Ready to eat!

  • The standard rule-of-thumb for ham baking times is 20 minutes/pound.  However, for the sake of cooking in the flavor, I usually cook even tiny hams for an hour.
  • If you have time and your ham will fit, slow cooking it for about 4-6 hours is a great way to really cook in flavors to your ham. 

There are countless great ways to flavor a ham.  A classic Holiday ham usually involves poking cloves into the diamond cuts on the ham, but here are some great baste/glaze combinations to try:
  • baste: apple cider / glaze: brown sugar & honey
  • baste: beer / glaze: pineapple juice & brown sugar
  • baste: balsamic vinaigrette / glaze: honey or dijon mustard
  • baste: orange juice and bourbon or whiskey / glaze: molasses & honey
  • baste: root beer or Dr Pepper / glaze: brown sugar, ketchup & steak/Worcestershire sauce

Cheesy Spinach Scalloped Potatoes

- 2-3 red/new potatoes
- about 2 cups fresh spinach
- 1 cup shredded cheddar-based cheese blend
- 1/2 cup of milk
- half an onion
- bacon bits
- butter/margarine

1.  Preheat oven to 350F and melt a little butter in a small/medium skillet.
2.  Slice the onion and heat in the skillet until soft and just starting to carmalize.
3.  Wash the potatoes and cut into thin slices. Line the bottom of a small casserole/baking dish with 1/3 of the potato slices.  Layer with spinach and top with 1/3 of the cheese, onions and bacon bits.  Repeat for 2 more layers.
4.  Pour the milk over the top of the casserole and bake for 45min-1hr.
5.  Ready to eat!

[Serves 2]

  • You can heat the milk with some butter in the skillet before pouring it over the pan or substitute buttermilk, full cream, whipping cream or softened sour cream for the milk.
  • I've made this dish twice over the past week and have finally made a decision on fresh vs. frozen spinach.  Frozen spinach is a mess!  And a whole lot of trouble.  When I used fresh spinach on these the first time around, it stacked pretty high at first, but the spinach cooked down and the top layer had a nice crispiness to it.  It fresh spinach for me from now on...
Recipe adapted from Spinach Potatoes by erinsanders on

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