featuring guest mystery authors; crafting tips and projects; recipes from food editor and sleuthing sidekick Cloris McWerther; and decorating, travel, fashion, health, beauty, and finance tips from the rest of the American Woman editors.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014


photo by Masparasol
Watercress? Who knew?

The buzzword in healthy eating over the last few years has been “superfoods.” But what exactly is a “superfood”? Actually, it’s a marketing concept. However, there are some foods that are really, really good for us. Research has shown that certain foods over time are associated with a reduction in cancer and other diseases. We know there are foods we should eat and foods we should stay away from or eat sparingly. But fads come and go. So how do you choose?

Researchers at William Paterson University have come up with a list of “41 powrhouse fruits and vegetables” which are ranked by the amount of 17 critical nutrients contained in them. Foods were scored by their fiber content as well as various vitamins and minerals deemed vital to public health. The study was recently published in a CDC journal article. Topping the list was watercress, followed by Chinese cabbage, chard, beet greens, spinach, and hickory.

Fruits ranked a lot lower than vegetables. The highest-ranking fruits were red peppers (yes, peppers are really a fruit,) pumpkins, tomatoes, and lemons. Even more surprising, blueberries, which we’ve been told for years are really, really good for us, didn’t even make the list. Neither did cranberries and raspberries. This is because although these berries are rich in phytochemicals, which are non-essential nutrients that have protective or disease prevention properties, there’s no uniform data on food phytochemicals or recommended consumption levels. The scores in the study are based solely on nutrients.

If you’d like to see the complete list, you can find it here

Tuesday, August 19, 2014


E. Ayers is a multi-published author of over twenty books and has spent plenty of time on Amazon’s top 100 authors list. She’s best known for her sweet westerns and her sexier River City novels. She’s also a proud member of the Authors of Main Street, which means her books are suitable for the average adult audience. Her newest release is Campaign (Brad and Ryn’s Story), a River City novel. Just jump into this series because the glue that ties the books together is the city. Learn more about E. at her blog and website.

Today E. joins us with some interesting suggestions for leftovers.

Hi Cloris, it’s fun to see you again. Cooking can be boring or wonderful. I think the day-to-day drudge used to get to me. Breakfast, lunch, dinner, breakfast, lunch… Then all it takes is one picky-eater in the family and well, you know how that goes. Add to it a tight budget, and I got creative in the kitchen. In those days, there was no surfing the web for exotic recipes, but I often hit the cookbooks looking for something different.

Parents who had been through two World Wars and were married during the Great Depression raised me to eat everything that was on my plate. They encouraged me to try new things, but once it hit my plate, I was expected to eat it. Omigosh, do not waste food! Mom saved every little thing, then had a meal that she called her merry mix-ups, which was nothing but leftovers from the week. I tried that a few times but my husband refused to eat leftovers no matter how I tried to disguise them. Nor would he eat that last tablespoon of green beans. I didn’t have the heart to toss them in the trash. What was I to do?

Guilt crawled over me and I’d eat whatever was left. My husbands motto became waste it, don’t waist it. Okay, I got his point. I didn’t need to gain extra pounds.

The most important thing I learned to do was keep clearly marked containers in the freezer. One was for leftover veggies, the other for leftover potatoes, then one for beef, one for chicken, and one for ham. Leftovers hit the containers! Not plate scrapings but leftovers. You made six hamburgers but ate five, that little end piece from the roast, the ham bone from Sunday’s dinner, the tablespoon of peas, the leftover squash, a quarter cup of beans, that dollop of mashed potatoes, those ten little french-fries, and that half of the baked potato because the youngest only eats half. These containers became my budget stretchers and my source of free or almost free meals!

Leftover mac and cheese can easily be added to a beef-based soup, as can leftover spaghetti. I’d cut the spaghetti up into tiny bits before freezing. And add it to beef soup.

Also do not use plastic containers that had once contained store bought foods or takeout. Use containers specifically designed for freezing. This is important to maintain the quality of the food being stored. I’d permanently mark the containers and reuse them for the same foods.

To save time later, I’d cut up the vegetables before I froze them. And depending on the size of the meat, I might or might not cut it up. That little wedge of beef will flake apart, but if I cut it up, it won’t take as long to cook. Most of the time, I pulled the chicken off the bones, but allowed any leftover legs or thighs to remain whole. Chicken leg bones make better stock than the thin breastbones or wings. Ham tends to remain whole, so cut it into small chunks. Always save that ham bone for the stock!

When I had a full container of chicken, I dropped it in a large soup pan and covered it with water. Let it simmer with a carrot, onion, that celery that lost its crunch, and a dash of salt to taste. I’d lift the chicken and pull it from the bones. Then I’d lift the veggies from the pot, strain the broth, run the carrot, onion, and celery through the blender with a little broth and return it to the stock, add the chicken meat, a pinch of turmeric to give it a little yellow color. Often I’d return the stock to the refrigerator overnight or for several hours. This allows the fat to come to the top and be skimmed or lifted off. No one wants greasy soup. A few little bits of fat does add flavor, but lowering the overall fat content is important.

If you’ve made a huge batch of stock, you can freeze the plain stock. This will save time later. It can be added to other recipes or used as a base for gravies.

Use some fun noodles such as ABC’s or stars. There are lots of interesting miniature noodles and pastas available today and they aren’t that expensive to use. Kids love seeing different types of noodles from the traditional ABC’s or stars. Most of the time you will find these on the grocer’s shelves near the spaghetti noodles or in their gourmet section. (Don’t forget to check the Chinese food area!) Or you can use rice or beans. Put the stock, meat, frozen veggies (optional,) pasta or rice back on the stove and cook until the noodles or rice are done. Free or almost free soup.

Or thicken it a little bit and add dumplings and a handful of frozen peas, and maybe a little more sliced carrot for chicken and dumplings. Keep the noodles out of it and add potatoes. After it gets good and thick, put it between two pie crusts and you have chicken potpie!

Do the same thing with the leftover beef, except this time add the vegetables and potatoes for a hearty beef vegetable soup. If you have lots of potatoes, you can cook it longer. It’ll thicken until you have beef stew! Or put it between pie crusts for beef potpie.

Ham? Lentil, split pea, or bean soup. (We’re talking under a dollar to buy some dried beans and make a big pot of soup!)

Vegetarians can make a vegetable-based stock with leftovers. I’d often make such stock especially in the summer when my garden was overflowing. I’d cook everything and then when it cooled, I run it through the blender and make a slurry. This can be added to gravies or used as a soup base.

It doesn’t take a lot of meat. If you have two or three pieces, you can make a small pot. Most of the time, I had enough leftovers to make a beef soup and a chicken soup at least once a month. Occasionally I’d buy a beef soup bone from the butcher. (After making the stock, your pooch will love the bone, just be certain it’s bigger than his mouth. You don’t want him choking on it!) If I didn’t quite have enough to make a hearty soup but I had a tasty stock, I’d cut up an extra potato and add it, or I’d use more pasta.

With today’s crock-pots, it’s twice as easy!

Free or almost free food is a great way to avoid waste and stretch the budget to the max. And you really don’t need a recipe, just do it. No little pastas? Use the big ones! That half-cup of ziti or rotini at the bottom of the box - toss them in. Rice noodles, bean threads…experiment! If you want to add some basil, cilantro, or oregano, do it. A little sea salt, freshly ground pepper, and extra onion… You know what you like. Taste it as you go! If you hate it, toss it! You would have thrown all those leftovers away, anyway.

Things I learned not to add: pickled beets, cabbage, okra, or any strong tasting vegetable. I kept my tomato-based things in a separate container. Tomato and chicken didn’t go over very well in my house. Pickled beets would show up the following day as my favorite leftover. Cabbage does work with ham-based soups so I’d freeze it in a small container, but sauerkraut didn’t seem to be worth saving for soup. Mashed potatoes will thicken anything!

When the empty nest set in, I figured my days of leftovers were gone. I think they doubled. No matter how hard I tried to cut down on portions, it was impossible for two people to eat everything! But I did learn to make smaller batches of soup or I’d share with my married children, or an elderly neighbor. Soup is freezable! I’d freeze it in individual-sized batches, dump one in a microwave-safe bowl and nuke it for lunch!

Campaign (Brad and Ryn’s Story,) a River City novel
Brad Shoemaker was blindsided when he discovered that love could be silent, and Kathryn “Ryn” Demary is mute. But when Mayor Bruno Giovanni is forced into early retirement, he chooses Brad to run in his place. Ryn is determined to campaign at Brad’s side, but instead of being an asset, she just might be his biggest liability. Ryn finds herself campaigning not just for Brad to become mayor but also for his love. Politics can get dirty and Ryn’s caught in the middle.

Buy Link (also available as part of Kindle Unlimited)

Monday, August 18, 2014


Donis Casey's Great-aunt and Grandmother
Donis Casey makes a return appearance to Killer Crafts & Crafty Killers today. Donis is the author of the award-winning Alafair Tucker Mystery series, featuring the sleuthing mother of ten children. The series is set in Oklahoma and Arizona during the booming 1910s. Today Donis stops by to discuss fashionistas of a bygone era. Learn more about Donis and her books at her website.

Self-Made Fashionistas
I have been called penurious in my time. Yet, in comparison to my mother, or even more so with her own parents, who actually had to support themselves and their families during the worst downturn in U.S. history, I am downright profligate.

Nobody knows from frugal any more. 

I recently saw a woman on television saying that there is a trend among fashionable young people to buy cheap, hip clothing that may fall apart the first time you wash it. But they don’t care. They only spend $30 or so for something they throw away when it’s ruined, and then they can buy something even more stylish and up to date.

I make no judgment. I’d rather be in a position to do that than have to wear clothes I made myself out of a flour sack. For much of American history, few farm families had the money to buy ready-made clothing from a store. Clothes were homemade and worn until they were so patched and stained that they were unwearable. After which, the mother would use what was left to make a quilt, or a rag rug, or a mop. Then use the scraps to make a patch for a shirt elbow or the knee of some trousers, or a button cover, until the material disintegrated into molecules and floated away on the breeze.

In the mid-1800s, companies that sold sugar, flour, and animal feed began selling their goods packed into heavy cotton sacks instead of boxes and barrels. It didn’t take long for women to realize that once the bag was empty, they were in possession of a piece of durable fabric that made really nice, cheap clothes for the kids. Or work shirts for the men in the family, or aprons for themselves. Once the flour and chicken feed companies found out what was going on in homes around the country, they started printing pretty designs on the bags, and suddenly every rural child in America was wearing a dress or shirt with little pink flowers on it, or underwear with “Pillsbury” printed across the seat.

Not long ago I received a note from a second cousin of mine who said, “Aunt Thelma always bragged about how Grandma Bourland (our mutual great aunt and great-grandmother) only had to look at a photo of a dress to be able to copy it.” That comment made me smile, because my grandmother on the other side of the family had said exactly the same thing about her mother.  

“Ma didn’t even need a pattern,” Grandma Casey told me. “You’d just tell her, ‘I want pleats here and this kind of sleeve,’ and she’d whip it up.”

She did, too. I have a photo of my grandmother (above photo) and her sister, both clad in dresses their mother made for them. For a fictional wedding in one of my books, I dressed the bride in my Grandma’s fabulous outfit.

I suppose if you had seven daughters and you made every stitch of clothing they wore from birth until they left home, not to mention clothing for your sons and your husband and yourself, you’d become an expert seamstress in short order. Even if you had to sew it all on a treadle machine. Many years ago I tried to make something on my grandmother’s treadle sewing machine. You really have to get the knack of pumping the treadle up and down with your feet. It’s like rubbing your head and patting your tummy at the same time.

Handmade 70's Dress
My own mother made a lot of clothing for her three daughters. We did not live on a farm and could well afford store-bought clothes, but Mama grew up in the country during the depression, and she was the living embodiment of frugality. If she could make do, she did. I never felt put-upon by wearing homemade clothes, because what my mother made was excellent. She had a great eye for material and color and we girls always looked tres chic. I so loved some of the dresses she made for me in the ‘70s that I still have them to this day. I think they are museum quality. I’d model some for you, Dear Reader, but these days I couldn’t get into them with a shoehorn.

The world has changed. Even if you wanted to make your own clothes, it’s not as easy as it used to be to find a place to buy fabric. My mother taught me to sew, but I learned in school, too, back when all the girls took Home Ec and all the boys took Shop. I have the skills, but no longer have the time or equipment to make my own outfits from scratch. I still mend and patch and make it last, if it’s a piece I like. But how I envy anyone who has the eye, and the will, to make a piece of clothing that is unique and totally hers. 

Hell With the Lid Blown Off
In the summer of 1916, a big twister brings destruction to the land around Boynton, OK.  Alafair Tucker’s family and neighbors are not spared the ruin and grief spread by the storm.  But no one is going to mourn for Jubal Beldon, who made it his business to know the ugly secrets of everyone in town. It doesn’t matter if Jubal’s insinuations are true or not. In a small town like Boynton, rumor is as damaging as fact.

But as Mr. Lee the undertaker does his grim duty for the storm victims, he discovers that even in death Jubal isn’t going to leave his neighbors in peace.  He was already dead when the tornado carried his body to the middle of a fallow field. Had he died in an accident or had he been murdered by someone whose secret he had threatened to expose? There are dozens of people who would have been happy to do the deed, including members of Jubal’s own family.

As Sheriff Scott Tucker and his deputy Trenton Calder look into the circumstances surrounding Jubal’s demise, it begins to look like the prime suspect may be someone very dear to the widow Beckie MacKenzie, the beloved music teacher and mentor of Alafair’s daughter Ruth.  Ruth fears that the secrets exposed by the investigation are going to cause more damage to her friend’s life than the tornado. Alafair has her own suspicions about how Jubal Beldon came to die, and the reason may hit very close to home.

Buy Links

Friday, August 15, 2014


Christine Keleny likes working with her hands. She crochets, sews, tiles, paints, cross stitches, frames pictures, stains furniture, and cuts and splits firewood, but her main loves are writing and helping others publish the book of their dreams. Learn mor about her at CK Book Publishing and her blog. 

I was thrilled when I found Anastasia’s site about mystery novels and the people that write them. What a good idea, I thought, to write on a mystery writers site about the writers of one of the most famous girl sleuths to date: Nancy Drew. I’m glad Anastasia agreed!

Oddly enough, I didn’t read Nancy when I was growing up. I read mostly Agatha Christie and a few other obscure mystery writers, but my daughter (now 18) is an avid reader, and she read all of the Nancy Drew books our library owned, some 56 of them or so. I am a student of history, so when I started writing, I naturally gravitated to historical fiction. I’m not sure what made me think of doing a story about Nancy Drew, but I’m glad I did. It’s really quite an interesting story.

Did you know there is an ongoing dispute about who the real creator of Nancy is? I’m sure all you seasoned mystery writers know that Carolyn Keene is a pseudonym. So is Laura Lee Hope of the Bobbsey Twins and Franklin Dixon of the very popular Hardy Boys. All these stories are the brainchild of one of the most prolific children’s writers of the twentieth century: Edward Stratemeyer. The problem with Nancy, however, is that Edward died soon after he had sent the first three Nancy stories off to his publisher.

Edward’s first ghostwriter to work on Nancy (he just called them “writers”) was Mildred Augustine Wirt Benson. And as with all of Edward’s stories, she worked off outlines Edward had given her.

As I was writing my stories, I was lucky enough to correspond with two people who had some firsthand information about the people who wrote the Nancy Drew stories. One of those people is Geoffrey S. Lapin. Geoffrey developed a relationship with Mildred “Millie” Wirt Benson when he found out that she had written many of the first stories.

You see, all writers for the Syndicate signed agreements that gave up any rights they might have to the stories they wrote, and the Syndicate required these writers not to tell anyone what stories they had written. Mr. Lapin didn’t quite agree. He even purchased one of the original three outlines that Edward had sent to Millie (an item I was not able to get my hands on before communicating with Mr. Lapin.) He had talked with one of the three young women who ended up being a partner in the Syndicate (Edward’s, then his daughter’s, book company) in the 1980s.

Geoffrey said that the first outline for The Secret of the Old Clock was three pages long and included much detail about what and how Edward wanted his story written – including the dialect of the “colored” character in the story. The second outline for The Hidden Staircase was only two pages and supposedly the outline for The Bungalow Mystery was even shorter. Apparently Mildred was getting the idea of what Edward was looking for. This was all well and good until May of 1930 when Edward died of pneumonia.

What was to become of the Syndicate and all its stories – Nancy Drew, the Hardy Boys, The Bobbsey Twins, Tom Swift, Ruth Fielding just to name a few?

Harriet’s two daughters, Harriet Adams and Edna Stratemeyer, ended up deciding to run the company when they couldn’t find anyone (post-depression) to buy it, and that’s when the trouble began. Harriet – who primarily ran the company – didn’t like the way Mildred wrote the Nancy stories, so she started giving Mildred lengthy outlines again and edited out what she didn’t like once she received Mildred’s completed manuscripts. These women politely battled each other until 1953, when Mildred wrote her last Nancy story: The Clue of the Velvet Mask (Nancy book #26.)

After this Harriet and a few other ghostwriters took over Nancy, but Harriet always did the final edits on her Nancy stories. Harriet was the one who oversaw the refreshing of all the original Nancy stories in the 1950s at the behest of the publishers, when the original blue roadster changed to the beloved blue convertible and Nancy matured from 16 years of age to 18, so she could legally drive in all 50 states!

The other person I had helping me with my book was Edward’s great-granddaughter, Cynthia Lum. Cynthia is adamant that Harriet is the real creator of Nancy, and she has a good argument toward that point, but I don’t think it’s as simple as that. In my story, I lay out the lives of the three primary creators of Nancy and let the reader decide who her real creator is.

Will the Real Carolyn Keene Please Stand Up? tells of the lives of the three primary creators of the Nancy Drew mystery series and how the plucky, intelligent, resourceful, and famous girl sleuth came to life, along with the controversy that still rages on about who really created the Nancy Drew that millions of readers across the globe have come to know and love.

Thursday, August 14, 2014


Storm Lake
It was culture shock when a city girl from D.C. moved to Louisiana thirty years ago. Rural back roads, country living, and critters! And so much bad weather. In the South, Livia Quinn’s childhood fear of storms became an irresistible preoccupation. She survived tornado outbreaks, Katrina, Rita, Gustav, Isaac, and the Mississippi River flood. All became fodder for the Storm Lake series, a sometimes magical, always mysterious lake about which Livia has written several paranormal novels based in Destiny, and romantic suspense novels set in Larue and Thunder Point. Today Livia takes us on a tour of the area. Learn more about Livia and her books at her website.  

Welcome to Storm Lake
The Storm Lake Tourism and Development Board describes the towns surrounding the lake as a topographical mixing pot of swamps, vast areas of open waterways, and deep-water seiches—the ultimate fishing and vacation experience. There are many activities to choose from, including charter fishing, nature walks, tours of the studios in Larue, known as “Hollywood South,” and even surfing. Infamous for its crazy weather, the tourism board encourages businesses to promote both the lake’s attractions and its mysterious nature. (See the Accommodations Page for information on lodging around the lake.)


On the west end: Destiny
Some people swear there have been sightings of supernatural beings near Destiny, a vast area of swamps and bayous, a wetlands dream.

Features: A scenic drive around the west end from Hugo to Amity, but no accommodations in Destiny at this time. There is a B&B, but it is booked year round and there is no waiting list.

Author Tip: It is rumored that a family of storm-wielding Paramortals have lived here for thousands of years. The good news: it is said their purpose is to protect humans and weaker species. That does leave some to wonder… protect us from what?

A sunset cruise from Hugo to Fierce Winds Island looking toward Destiny affords some spectacular photo opportunities.
On the southeast side: Larue
“Hollywood South” boasts many studios in the country’s third largest film producing state. Larue’s proximity to New Orleans means plenty of venues and film ventures for visitors to both spectate and even participate as extras.

Features: Knights Production Inc. uses current and former military or law enforcement professionals in their photo shoots.

Author Tip: Visit some of your favorite movie sites that have appeared on screen, or sit in on a photo shoot for a romance novel cover like this one. Make your reservations with Buffy Romano at Knights. You might even get lucky and meet a movie star!

Thunderpoint: Directly east from Destiny, across 35 miles of open water lies Thunderpoint, an area protected by the sea walls from the seiches and violent weather that travels the length of the lake and picks up steam in deeper waters. Those same deep waters offer some of the best charter fishing and awesome inland surfing.

Features: Golf course, airport, charter fishing, dinner cruise, jazz breakfast cruise, lightning lab, RV campgrounds & cabins.

Author Tip: If you’re fascinated by weatherological issues, you might enjoy a trip to the Point and a visit with local weather scientist Brenna McLaren, who operates a privately funded lightning forensics lab right at the edge of Storm Lake. Check in at the marina, rent a lakeside cabin or stay in one of the many secluded campgrounds

On the north shore: Campbell Green
Gambpell Green, a self-sustainable GREEN farm with a long Scottish heritage, was recently taken over by a former ad exec from NYC with ties to the original landowners. Mystiq Campbell has been the driving force in the all-GREEN environment. If there’s an issue with the ecosystem on the lake you can contact mystiq here: mystiqcampbell@campbellgreen.com

Features: Five star restaurant on the northern bank.

To the South:
Twin Lakes Convention Center offers a full range of convention facilities and a sparkling new venue. See the Twin Lakes page for full details.

PLEASE NOTE: There are many great attractions around Storm Lake. There’s only one problem—the lake exists only in Livia Quinn’s fertile mind.

Storm Crazy
Storm Lake—Is it Mayberry or Middle Earth?
To say I was having a bad day would be like saying Katrina dropped a little rain on the Gulf Coast. My name is Tempest Pomeroy. I’m a mail carrier in Destiny, Louisiana, and a Paramortal like my family. Or I’m supposed to be. If I didn’t have a few little talents, I’d think I was adopted.

Before I left for work, I discovered my brother’s amphora missing from the mantle—that’s genie bottle to you mere-mortals. On my first delivery, a handsome scantily clad doctor triggered some sort of hallucination with just a touch. Pheromones? Then one of my customers had a stroke while reading me the riot act over a piece of mail, but I saved the old grouch with a zap of my Zeus juice, just before Destiny’s hunky new sheriff showed up.

He made another appearance when the owner of Flowers by Dick filed a complaint against me for dropping a seventy-five pound box on his foot. Yeah, I did it, but it was kind of an accident. He put his hand where it didn’t belong and I… sorta dropped the box. Things went downhill from there. I discovered a dead body in the clubhouse and rescued my brother’s bottle from a locker, bashing it in with a Greg Norman wedge. And wouldn’t you know - him again.

I’ve denied my heritage as a Tempestaerie for too long. Now, my mother’s out of pocket, my brother’s missing and the sheriff thinks one of us is guilty of murder. Is it any wonder I’m calling this the worst M.A.L.E day of my life?

Oh, and the sheriff? He thought he’d settled in a normal small town to raise his teenage daughter. Like Mayberry. We’ll see how that turns out… Things better settle down soon, ‘cause I’m about to go Storm Crazy.

Storm Crazy, the first book in the Destiny Paramortals is free today: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00L02VHE0 

Wednesday, August 13, 2014


{{{{{Stress}}}}} We all deal with it. But stress isn’t good for us. It can make us physically sick. It can make us depressed. It can affect those around us. It can hinder our work. Stress will never go away. It’s a fact of life, but there are ways to cope with it, minimize it. Even get rid of some of it some of the time.

Many people swear by yoga. Others are into meditation. Lots of us exercise to relieve stress. All are great. However, sometimes we don’t have the luxury of taking a yoga, meditation or exercise break at specific times when we’re feeling overwhelmed. We need something we can do while at our desks or when we’re stuck in a traffic jam and late for a doctor’s appointment.

Here are two stress relievers to try for those times when your usual mode of stress relief isn’t available to you:

1. Take slow, deep breaths, sighing loudly, for two minutes. Large exhalations of air help your body release tension and pent-up anxiety.

2. Sing! According to a recent survey, the breathing patterns used while singing can positively influence your heart rate and health. It’s similar to doing yoga breathing exercises. (This one is best in the car with the windows rolled up if, like me, you can’t carry a tune to save your life!)

Tuesday, August 12, 2014


This frittata is great for breakfast, lunch, brunch, or dinner.

Potato, Ham & Spinach Frittata
serves 4

cooking spray
2 tablespoons olive oil
3/4 lb. fingerling potatoes, sliced thinly
1 small onion, peeled and chopped
half bag fresh baby spinach, washed and dried
1 cup cubed ham
1 cup grated Cheddar cheese
9 large eggs
1/2 milk
1/2 teaspoon salt (optional)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Heat oil in skillet over medium heat. Add potatoes and onions. Tossing occasionally, cook until slightly caramelized. Add spinach. Continue cooking until spinach wilts.

Spray 3 qt. casserole with cooking spray. Spread potato/vegetable mixture evenly in dish. Add ham. Sprinkle cheese over mixture.

In a large bowl whisk together eggs, milk, and salt if desired. (Note: I prefer to omit salt since the ham is salty.)

Pour egg mixture into casserole. Bake until eggs are set (approximately 12 to 15 minutes.)