Festive Ham and Dairy Free Scallop Potatoes

IMG_4425Years ago we were away over Christmas for the first time ever, well not including university years or when we went somewhere else to visit. This was the first time we were not somewhere spending Christmas with other family or friends. We were in Australia, part of our 3 month stint back in 2007, and the beginning of a love affair with the Aussies (cause as you know we’ve been back since to Australia and there’s talk of going again).

This was the first time that we as a family were in a place where they was no family or friends to visit or stay with. We had no traditions that we had to uphold (not that there is anything wrong with traditions, everyone calls me a very traditional gal. I love them and uphold many, but there are times to break from or form new traditions) and no particular place that we needed to be. We were in Tasmania, the only island state in Australia, staying in Launceston at a lovely place called the Penny Royal Apartments (which are refurbished historical buildings turned into apartment accommodations). It was a lovely place.

Bris Tas and Melbourne (244)

Penny Royal Apartments

For Christmas, we kept it low key, enjoying a nice dinner on Christmas Eve and preparations for Santa Claus, with our paper tree and actual socks hung up for stockings. Christmas morning was even simpler with a present from Santa, some goodies in our stockings and a nice breakfast of french toast. Matthew was 4, and was super happy with his little Tonka trucks from Santa Claus and his few small gifts from us.

Bris Tas and Melbourne (246)We went to the beach for the day, we came back and went to a Christmas buffet at another local hotel. No one had to cook the big meal, no fuss, no muss, relaxing, easy. Simple. It was so nice because we got to spend time with each other, it was not about the toys and gifts, or the big Christmas dinner. There was no stress to have things perfect or a timeline to abide by. It was cool, it was authentic and was one of the best Christmases I have ever enjoyed.

Bris Tas and Melbourne (247)When we returned from Australia we decided to shift our focus, and make Christmas about the things we really want, which we had identified as being together, enjoying each other’s company, it didn’t matter what we were going to do. So we simplified things, we ordered pizza on Christmas Eve, and on Christmas Day we had turkey crepes (a fabulous dish made with leftover turkey, that is not only delicious but simple and can be made ahead of time, reducing time in the kitchen on Christmas Day). We still had a nice meal and used the nice dishes, we still exchanged gifts, but now no one was stuck in the kitchen all day making dinner. Which for was usually just us anyway and was all over in about 20 minutes. Now I make the big meal 2-3 weeks earlier, chop and freeze the turkey and toss the crepes together on Christmas day, takes maybe 30 minutes.

That being said I do love the spread at Christmas and I still love all the traditional items on the menu, like turkey and stuffing, ham and potatoes, with all the dressings. So I usually do a bigger meal a little bit before Christmas, when I have more time, less things competing for my time and can afford a day in the kitchen.

The beach Christmas Day 2007

The beach Christmas Day 2007

In fact just this past weekend I decided to make a ham and scallop potatoes, often a favorite on many Christmas dinner tables. I was so excited because this was the first time that I was making the scallop potatoes dairy free. I love scallop potatoes but for some reason since going dairy free I thought I couldn’t make them, that adjusting the recipe would be too complicated. I have no idea why I thought this, but for some reason the other day this ‘block’ lifted and I decided I could do it and what I would do. I knew exactly what I was going to do and what substitutes I was going to try.

Oh my goodness! The potatoes turned out so well. They were absolutely fabulous and I couldn’t believe that I had waited so long to adjust this recipe, or that I thought I couldn’t! It was really quite simple and easy (and in case you haven’t noticed I like simple and easy).

The ham was fabulous as well, I use my own mix to glaze and flavour the ham, though I have discovered that it is near impossible to find a ham that is not cured with sugar of some kind (at the moment anyway, I believe that will come). I ended up buying one from the local butcher, no hormones, no steriods, grain fed, but still cured in a brine that did contain a little bit of sugar, though the butcher assured me that it was much less than what you would find in the local grocery store. Rounded out with a nice green salad it was a fabulous meal and one that we all enjoyed. It was the first time the twins had scallop potatoes and though Luke rejected them because they looked different, once he tasted them, he gobbled them up.

So if you’re doing the Christmas spread this year and want to try a dairy free scallop potato recipe (you may have a lactose intolerant aunt who you can finally make a dish for) or have decided to keep it more simple (you could make the slow cooker version of these potatoes), enjoy yourselves, remember what is most important to you and make that your focus, when you do Christmas day will be perfect no matter what.

Glazed Ham

dry mustardIMG_4424

coconut sugar


In a small bowl, mix all ingredients together to make a smooth paste. Be careful not to add too much water as you do not want it runny. Amounts of mustard and coconut sugar depend on preference for sweetness and tart, as well as size of ham. Spread mixture over ham. Place in covered roaster and roast for 2 hours at 350F for a 3.5 kg ham (increase or decrease cooking time according to size).

Scallop Potatoes

4 tbsp. Earth Balance vegan spread

4 tbsp. flour

1 1/2 tsp. salt

1/8 tsp. pepper

2 c. coconut milk (I used So Delicious Unsweetened Coconut Milk Beverage, slightly thinner than regular coconut milk)

6 medium potatoes, peeled and thinly slicedIMG_4430

1 large onion, thinly sliced in rings

*optional 1/2 c. Daiya dairy free cheddar

In a medium saucepan melt Earth Balance. Whisk in flour, salt and pepper. Add coconut milk and stir. Bring mixture to a boil, stirring constantly until mixture thickens. Remove from heat. If adding cheese stir into sauce.

Layer half of prepared potatoes and onions in large (2.5 quart) casserole dish, alternating a layer of potatoes, a layer of onion. Pour half the sauce over potatoes and onion. Layer the rest of the potatoes and onions the same way, then pour the rest of the sauce over top.

Bake covered at 350 F for 50 minutes. Remove cover and bake 15 minutes more to brown slightly. Potatoes should be tender, sauce warm and bubbling.

Serves 6

Thanksgiving Crafts for Kids – aka Turkeys, turkeys and more turkeys

Pine cone turkey

What holiday would be complete without crafts made by the kids to decorate? And believe me there is no shortage of craft ideas out there for any holiday, especially Thanksgiving. Turkey crafts alone number in the 20’s, with many variations that kids can do. From turkey handprints to pine cone turkeys there is something out there for every age and every possible craft supply you may have.

This is the first year that Luke and Chloe were old enough to do crafts so we tried a (surprise!) turkey craft. The Thanksgiving Handprint Craft is easy and fun, it also creates a bit of a momento if you decide to keep it; as you trace their hand and footprints to make it.

Our nanny, Elaine came up with the craft, which she found on the all kids network. It is an easy craft that can be done with all ages.

Thanksgiving Handprint Craft

Luke and Chloe's Handprint Turkeys

You will need brown, red, yellow, and orange construction paper, googley eyes, glue stick, scissors, pencil.

Trace your child’s foot on the brown construction paper. Depending on your child’s age you may need to assist or cut it out for them.

Trace your child’s hand on the red, yellow and orange construction paper and cut out. Cut a small triangle out of the orange for the turkey’s beak. Also cut little feet out of the orange.

Using glue stick, glue handprints to back of the foot. Glue eyes and beak on the front, with the little feet at the bottom. Use the wider part of the foot for the top of the turkey.

Another version of the handprint turkey is to have the kids write things that they are grateful for on each finger of their turkey, which I think is kind of unique and appropriate, considering the holiday. I also believe that it is important for us to teach our children to be grateful and this is a fun way to do it.

Garland of Leaves and Thankful Sunflower

I discovered 2 other versions of thankful crafts; the Garland of Leaves and Thankful Sunflower.

Garland of Leaves

For the Garland of Leaves you will need red, yellow and orange construction paper, a black marker, mini clothespins and some string or yarn. Kids cut leaves out of the different colors of construction paper and then write things that they are grateful for on each leaf. They also invite guests who come for dinner on Thanksgiving to write what they are thankful for on a leaf. Hang all the leaves on the string using mini clothespins and hang up on the wall to decorate. Then you are surrounded by gratefulness at dinner.

The Thankful Sunflower is a similar concept except it is in the shape of a sunflower and kids write what they are grateful for on the petals of the flower.

Lacing Crafts

Lacing crafts are great for kids 2 years and up, as it helps them with their fine motor skills. All you need is card stock, a hole punch, yarn or ribbon, and a pencil. For Thanksgiving you can find templates for turkey drumsticks, cornucopia, pumpkins, or you can make your own.

Pumpkin Finger Paint

I always like to include at least one craft that includes painting as kids love it! Whether it be with brushes or fingers kids become very focused and attentive to their creations. This craft is very easy to do. You will need orange finger paint, card stock, green construction paper and yarn (if you wish to hang it).

Cut pumpkin out of cardstock and let the kids to paint it orange! Let them enjoy the paint squished between their fingers as they move and create. Let paint dry. Once it is dry cut out green stem out of construction paper, glue it on. Punch hole in top of stem and string through yarn to hang.

Thanksgiving Crown

What a great way to make Thanksgiving dinner more festive for the kids with their own Thanksgiving Crown. A simple construction paper hat, you will need

  • brown, orange, yellow or red construction paper,
  • 2 pipe cleaners
  • pencil
  • scissors
  • tape
  • printer
  • paper
  • tissue paper (orange, yellow and red — but you can use any combination of autumn colors you like)
  • brown thread
  • optional:  stickers, markers, glitter or gel pens to decorate
This craft is very well explained on the dltk website I found it on so simply click the link to take you there for instructions on how to complete it.
With any craft adult/ parent supervision is advised. Let the kids do as much of the craft themselves, but depending on their age may require more assistance with things like cutting. The important thing is to let the kids take their time and feel proud of what they made. It is a great learning for them as it develops their imaginations, creativity and motor skills.
Regardless of what crafts you choose this Thanksgiving, enjoy them and decorate your home with them, proudly displaying what your children can do. Count your many blessings this weekend as  you celebrate with family and friends enjoying the holiday and all the delectable delights that come with it. Happy Thanksgiving!
Tomorrow, guest blogger Nina Manolson talks about how to get your kids to eat healthy without the fight! Be sure to check out tomorrow’s post.