Some habits are hard to break. Milking cows and cooking for a crowd are two habits I am trying to modify. We have cut back on our cow numbers so that is a step in the right direction. However, when it comes to cooking, well that is another story. I still cook to feed a crew, but our crew has shrunk to Mark and myself. Easter Sunday was no exception. I made a simple dinner to feed whoever showed up. Katie was the only one who made it home for the weekend. Her reward was a cooler full of leftovers and a bag of monster cookies to take back to Madison. I have enough leftovers in the refrigerator to take a couple of days off from cooking using some of these recipes. My sister developed the spinach ham casserole. She always makes two casseroles – one to bake and eat, the other to freeze for a later date when time is running short.
    As the April showers bring May flowers, we know planting season is around the corner. When we are running long days out in the fields and I have only a few minutes to whip up something to eat, I am always looking for quick meals on the go. My college roommate shared one of her family’s favorite quick meals. You can use whatever veggies you have on hand. I do recommend using sesame oil. The flavor is worth the effort. If not, just use any vegetable oil and toss a few sesame seeds in with the meat to unleash the flavors.
    The final recipe is our family’s favorite cookie recipe. We even call them breakfast cookies to eat on the way out the door in the morning. It has oatmeal, peanut butter and chocolate. Three basic food groups. They are easy to make and freeze well to grab on the go when you need a little extra boost out the door.

Ham and spinach casserole by Nancy Dowell
1 onion, chopped
1/2 cup butter
1 jar Cheez Whiz (or 8 ounces Velveeta)
1 can cream of mushroom soup
2 cups cooked Minute Rice
2 10-ounce packages frozen, chopped spinach (thawed) or fresh spinach
2 cups cubed leftover ham
    Sauté onion in butter. Add Cheez Whiz and soup. Stir until cheese melts. Then add cooked rice, spinach and ham. Mix well. Pour into a 2-quart casserole. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes. Serves eight. I usually make a double batch and freeze half. You can substitute broccoli for spinach.

Ham salad spread
1 1/2 pound cooked ham (trimmed leftovers are perfect)
1 hard-boiled egg
1 stalk celery, roughly chopped
2 teaspoons finely chopped onion
2 teaspoons sweet pickle relish
3/4 cup Miracle Whip or mayonnaise
1 tablespoon mustard
Salt and pepper to taste
    In a food processor, add ham, egg, celery and onion. Pulse 20-25 times until ground and combined. In a separate bowl, mix relish, Miracle Whip, mustard and seasonings to taste. Add to meat mixture. Chill for a couple of hours for flavors to combine. Serve on crackers or small buns.

Egg roll in a bowl by Jane Faggetti
1 pound ground pork, beef or chicken
16 ounces coleslaw mix (shredded cabbage and carrots)
5 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon ginger, minced
1/3 cup soy sauce
2 tablespoons sesame oil
Cooked rice
Green onion for garnish
    In a small bowl, combine the garlic, ginger, soy sauce and sesame oil. Set aside. In a large skillet, brown the meat over medium-high heat. Add the shredded cabbage and carrots. Stir to combine. Add the sauce, stir and cook for 3 minutes until cabbage has begun to wilt but is still crunchy. Serve over cooked rice. Garnish with green onions if desired. If desired, serve with a fried or scrambled egg on top of the filling. Crunchy chow mien noodles taste great too. This recipe can be on the table in 20 minutes or less. Great for those nights when you are running short of cooking time.
 
Monster cookies
1 cup butter
2 cups brown sugar
2 cups white sugar
6 eggs
1 tablespoon corn syrup
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
4 teaspoons baking soda
1 1/2 pounds peanut butter
9 cups quick oats
1 cup chopped nuts (optional)
M&M’s to taste (or other favorite chips: butterscotch, vanilla, chocolate)
    Cream butter and sugars. Add eggs one at a time. Add syrup, vanilla and baking soda. Blend in peanut butter. Add oatmeal. May have to stir in the last two cups by hand if mixer is not big enough to handle the job. Stir in nuts and candy or chips. Scoop out on a greased cookie sheet. I use parchment paper instead of greasing baking sheet. Bake at 350 degrees for 10-12 minutes. Let cool before removing from cookie sheet. Do not over bake. Makes 8 dozen. These freeze great, if they last long enough to make it to the freezer.
    As their four children pursue dairy careers off the family farm, Natalie and Mark are starting a new adventure of milking registered Holsteins just because they like good cows on their farm north of Rice, Minnesota.