What to Make For Mom for Mother's Day? An Easy Spaetzle (or Noodles) and Ham Skillet Meal
This is an easy dish to make if you are reasonably safe with a knife and the stove. If not, get help! The biggest thing to keep in mind when making this dish for Mom is to AVOID MAKING A MESS! If you do, clean it up before Mom sees it! Yes, you! And don't forget to wipe off the counter! (Are you sensing a bit of energy around that last point?) Okay, why make this dish? It uses pre-cooked, smoky ham (leftover ham is just fine) that tastes amazingly good with squiggly spaetzle noodles. To cut time (and, yes, mess in the kitchen), the recipe calls for packaged spaetzle noodles, which, in the United States, are available in large markets and in Aldi and Lidl (where the noodles will be less expensive). You also can use other noodles. Mushrooms add a nice, deep flavor to the dish, and peas give the dish a pop of green color and freshness. If you're a pea hater, substitute some cooked (not raw) broccoli florets, or just leave out the peas. Life will go on. The recipe also includes Swiss cheese, which gives a nice, nutty flavor to the dish and helps make a creamy sauce. What to serve with the pasta that's easy? A salad and some bread are plenty. If you want a special dessert for Mom, just put some vanilla ice cream in fancy bowls and drizzle on some chocolate sauce (you can warm it in the microwave, carefully, and on 50 percent power). Top your creation with some strawberries if you have them or even some sliced bananas and chopped nuts. Enjoy! P.S. Clean up the dishes after dinner!
Spaetzle (or Noodles) and Ham Skillet Meal -- Serves 4+
1 tablespoon of canola oil
1/2 a large onion or a medium onion, chopped
8 ounces of mushrooms, sliced
2 cups of chopped, cooked ham (leftover is fine and good)
3 cups of hot water
1/2 a package of spaetzle or other noodles (8-10 ounces)
1 1/2 cups of milk
1 1/2 tablespoons of cornstarch
3/4 cup of shredded Swiss cheese
1/2 cup of frozen peas (the small kind are best)
Salt and pepper, to taste
Heat a large skillet or chef's pan over medium heat and add the oil to the pan. When the oil is hot add the onion and mushrooms and saute them (that means move them around the pan gently with a spatula while they cook, so they don't burn, just brown a bit) for 5-10 minutes. Add the chopped ham and saute it with the onions and mushrooms for about 5 minutes. Stir in the water and bring the mixture to a boil. Add the noodles, stir them into the ham and vegetables, and bring the mixture back to a boil. Turn down the heat to medium-low, partially cover the pan with a lid, and let the mixture simmer (that means it will bubble a little, not hard, and continue to cook gently) for 10-15 minutes, stirring it periodically (every 4-5 minutes). The noodles will absorb much of the water in the pan. While the mixture is cooking, stir the cornstarch into the milk until the cornstarch dissolves. Lift a noodle out carefully from the pan on the stove (use a fork, not your fingers!) and let it cool a little. Taste it and see if it's done (it shouldn't be crunchy). If your test noodle is done, stir the milk/cornstarch mixture again and add it to the pan with the ham and noodles. Stir the mixture gently until a sauce starts to form. Stir in the cheese, a little at a time, stirring gently as you add it. Turn off the heat. Stir in the peas. Taste your creation and add just a little salt and pepper, if you think the dish needs it (don't over do it, as the ham will be salty). If your sauce seems a too thick, drizzle in a little milk (a tablespoon or two at a time) and stir it in to thin the sauce a bit. To save on clean up, you can serve the plates from the pan on the stove. Just don't forget to turn off the heat! Save the leftovers for great lunches or meals later in the week!