21 April 2016

It's time for this month's Improv Challenge.  The premise of the Improv Challenge is easy: each month there are two assigned ingredients.  The participants must make a recipe using both ingredients and blog about it. 

This month's ingredients were ham and cheese.  Awesome!  My husband and I have been eating low carb for over 9 months now, so ham and cheese are pretty much staples in our diet. I had lots of things I could do this month. In fact, I have another post all ready to go that also involves ham and cheese.  

This is a new recipe I just tried last weekend.  It's basically chopped up cauliflower, ham, and a generous amount of cheese mounded together into patties and baked. My recipe is an adaption from All Day I Dream About Food.  

Baked Ham and Cheese Cauliflower Fritters

Olive oil
2 (12 oz.) packages frozen riced cauliflower
2 cups finely diced ham
2 tsp Sunny Paris (or other onion-y salt-free seasoning)
2 eggs, beaten
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
½ cup grated Parmesan

Preheat oven to 400°.  Generously grease two baking sheets with olive oil. (I use stoneware.)

Place the cauliflower in a large microwavable bowl.  Break up big chunks, if necessary.  Microwave on high for 4 minutes.  Stir, break up chunks again.  Microwave on high another 4 minutes, or until cauliflower is warmed through and somewhat soft.  

Add the ham, Sunny Paris, eggs, shredded cheddar, and Parmesan.  Stir well.  Make 16 patties using a rounded ¼ cup of mixture for each one.  Place on the prepared baking sheet.  

Bake for 20 minutes or until browned on the bottom.  Remove from oven and let cool a few minutes before serving.  Carefully remove them from the baking sheet to a serving platter.

Makes 4 servings of 4 patties each.

I wasn't feeling too great the day I made these, so I took the easy way out and used frozen riced cauliflower instead of chopping fresh.  I got this stuff from Trader Joe's, but I know Walmart also sells bags of riced cauliflower in the fresh produce section.  If you can't find either of those handy products, you can finely chop a head of fresh cauliflower and either boil or steam it until it is softened.  Just be sure to drain it well before adding the other ingredients.

The other major thing I changed was that I baked these instead of pan frying.  I knew they would be too loose for me to successfully flip them in the skillet.  I've never had great luck with that.  So I baked them instead.  Easy peasy and worry-free.  I intended to flip them once during baking, but I couldn't do it without them falling apart, so I just cooked them on the one side.  I think that turned out just fine.  They got a nice caramelized crunch on the bottom that I found delightful.  I may have had better luck if I had mashed the cauliflower after cooking it in the microwave, but I am okay with the way they turned out.

My family LOVED these.  My husband raved about them.  I thought my carb-loving daughters might turn up their noses at them, but I was wrong. They both loved them too.  My eight-year-old had seconds.

I used Penzeys Sunny Paris as the seasoning in these.  If you don't have that. feel free to use anything else you like.  I would recommend a salt-free seasoning because the ham and cheeses provide plenty of salt.  Something with onion and/or shallots would be great.

I list four patties as a serving size, but that is going to vary greatly depending on who you are feeding.  Kids will definitely not eat four at once.  I did, but that was all I ate for dinner; I didn't feel well enough to make the salad I had planned to go with them.  We had some leftover, and my husband had a great idea: to serve fried eggs over them in the morning.

Like the plate? I painted it myself! :)

Yummo!  They made a great breakfast.

I used up some Easter ham for this; it was so good.  But it would be good with any kind of ham.

Be sure to check out all the other great ham and cheese recipes below!

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