August 21, 2021

HERITAGE RECIPE: Creamed Ham, Asparagus and Mushrooms (in a noodle ring!)

I hesitate to post photos of this recipe because it looked VERY unappetizing. However, I will spoil the ending and tell you that it was delicious! So don't let the photos turn you off.

When looking for recipes, the "asparagus and mushrooms" caught my eye--other than bell peppers, those are probably my favorite vegetables. Looking at the ingredients, it looked like a rich béchamel sauce with ham, asparagus, and mushrooms. Sounded good!

When reading the directions, I saw that it's served with noodles. "Fill noodle ring with cream sauce or just add noodle to the sauce" is how it's written. Out of curiosity, I googled "noodle ring" and I was instantly sold on this recipe. A noodle ring is about as vintage as you can get and it sounded fun to make. I'll explain more about the noodle ring after the recipe.

This recipe was submitted to the Rockwood, Michigan Area Historical Society by Jean Eagal, in memory of her mother, Elizabeth LaBo. I tried to find some info about them, but I didn't come up with much. Elizabeth was born in 1892 and passed away in 1960. I happened to find this photo of her on an ancestry website, though. She is in the front on the left:

Her only child, Jean, was born in 1925 and passed away in 2014. This is a photo from Jean's obituary:

This recipe is probably from the late 1930's to early 1940's, when noodle rings were popular. Elizabeth's recipe is just for the creamed ham, asparagus, and mushrooms; I used a separate recipe for a noodle ring to serve as suggested. (I'll post specifics in my notes.)

As always, I'm typing out this recipe exactly as submitted to the Historical Society. I made the recipe as written, without making any modifications or substitutions. The "printer-friendly" version (link below) has my clarifications written into it. Make sure you read my notes after the recipe for clarifications.

Here is a printer-friendly version!

Creamed Ham, Asparagus and Mushrooms

3/4 lb. cooked ham
1 pkg. frozen asparagus tips
1 c. cream
2 c. milk
5 Tbsp. butter
5 Tbsp. flour
1 lb. mushrooms
dry mustard

Cut ham into small pieces. Cook and drain asparagus tips and cut into small pieces. Make cream sauce by cooking the cream, milk, butter and flour until thick as a heavy cream. Add ham and asparagus and add salt, pepper and dry mustard to taste. At the last, sauté the mushrooms sliced in 2 tablespoons of butter and add to the sauce. Fill noodle ring with cream sauce or just add noodle to the sauce.

My Notes:

For ingredients specifics - The package of asparagus spears that I used was 12 ounces (4 servings). It came in a steamer bag, so I just steamed it in the microwave for 5 minutes to cook. For the other ingredients, I used heavy whipping cream and whole milk. (In the noodle ring, I used egg noodles.)

First, the noodle ring. As I said, I had no idea what it was. It is just what it sounds like--a ring of noodles. Noodles, along with a few other ingredients like eggs and milk, sometimes cheese, etc., are baked in a bundt pan. When turned onto a platter for serving, you pour some sort of creamed mixture into the center of the "ring".

There are a lot of recipes out there for the noodle ring, but I wanted a very simple "original" recipe--no mix-ins or seasonings, or even cheese (I wanted the Creamed Ham mixture to be the star of the show, since that is the heritage recipe I chose).

I ended up settling on an old Betty Crocker recipe that was as basic as it gets: noodles, eggs, milk, butter, salt, and pepper. You mix them together and pour into a buttered bundt pan. Then you put the pan in another pan that has an inch of water in it. Bake at 350. (Note: I only cooked the noodles for 5 minutes, rather than the 7-8 minutes that the package stated; since it was going in the oven with the milk and eggs, I didn't want it to get too mushy.)


Unfortunately, the Betty Crocker recipe didn't specify how long to bake it; it just said "until silver knife stuck into center comes out clean". (First, this made me laugh because a bundt cake has no center...) When baking the noodles, there really isn't anything that would stick to the knife. But I just baked it while I prepared the cream mixture and checked on it every once in a while to make sure it wasn't burning. It ended up being in there about 35 minutes or so.

This is what it looked like before pouring into the bundt pan--it just looked like buttered noodles, pretty much:

While that was baking, I prepared Elizabeth's recipe for the Creamed Ham, Asparagus, and Mushrooms. I like to use as few pans as possible, so I used the same big pot that I'd cooked the noodles in for cooking the mushrooms and then the whole creamed mixture.

First, I microwaved and chopped the asparagus. Then I sliced the mushrooms and sautéed in butter, per the recipe, and set those aside with the asparagus.

To make the cream sauce, I cooked it like a béchamel (the recipe didn't specify this, but it made the most sense). Melt the butter, add the flour, salt, pepper, and ground mustard. Stir until smooth. Gradually add the milk and cream, stirring constantly to avoid lumps. Bring just barely to a boil so that it thickens, then turn the heat to low.

I added the ham, asparagus, and mushrooms to the pot. It looked like a really good chowder!

I flipped the noodle ring onto a large plate and immediately started laughing; I couldn't help it. I told Jerry he was in for a real treat for dinner tonight! (The black specks are just black pepper)

I didn't like that I could see the egg. I had imagined that it would look like the bottom of "Noah's Spaghetti Pie" (the egg and parmesan cheese stirred into the pasta makes the pasta stick together to form a "crust" for the pie--you can't actually see there is egg in it).

I'm sure the noodle ring would look the same if I'd included cheese, but without the cheese, the egg settled on the bottom of the pan and you can definitely see it. The egg didn't affect the taste at all--it tasted just fine--but I didn't like how it looked.) Note to self: if I make another noodle ring, I'll include a little cheese because I feel like it would look more appealing. 

I ladled the cream mixture into the center of the noodle ring until it was full:

There was still a lot of the cream mixture left, so after taking the above photo, I dumped the rest on top--might as well, right?

I sliced a piece of the noodle ring and loaded it with a lot of the asparagus and mushrooms (and ham--I'm kind of indifferent about ham in general--I don't love it or hate it).

Thankfully, the mess tasted a LOT better than it looked! I was bummed about counting calories because I was thinking I'd want another piece (and it's not exactly low in calories). It was very filling, though--I actually didn't even finish my whole piece because I was full. (I cut the ring into six servings.)

Jerry was skeptical when he saw it, but he said a couple of times how good it was. The kids wanted nothing to do with it, but I begged them to try a bite. Noah grabbed a bite as he was heading out the door to meet his friends, but he actually turned around and then ate several more bites because he said he really liked it. Eli said it was better than he thought, but he still didn't like it enough to want to eat it. No surprise there; Eli is VERY hard to please.

I don't think that this would reheat very well, so I sent the rest of it over to my mom and dad. I haven't heard from her what she thought of it yet. But basically, if you like asparagus and creamy sauces and pasta, you'll like this. The asparagus is definitely the dominant flavor. The pasta tastes just like you would expect pasta to taste. The texture was perfect--not soggy--thanks to undercooking the pasta before it went into the bundt pan.

I would describe the taste/texture as a creamy noodle and asparagus casserole (that happens to have ham and mushrooms in it). And like the recipe states, you can just mix the noodles in with the cream mixture, which is definitely what I would do if making something like this again. I think it would look more appealing as a casserole.

Overall, I really liked trying this recipe. The noodle ring was new to me and a fun way to try out my never-been-used-before bundt pan. I think that thinning out the sauce a little would turn this into a fantastic chowder--I'm definitely going to try it that way soon!


  1. The noodle ring recipe you posted says to bake for 45 minutes. It's at the bottom 🙃.

    My husband makes up his own casseroles with noodles, chicken, cream of chicken soup (this sauce might be a better way to go), and whatever else we have in the house. It can be black beans, water chestnuts, hatch green chiles, cheese. I think this recipe would be a great casserole too. It's fun seeing the heritage recipes come to life!

  2. This looks surprisingly good! :) I think the creamy ham, mushrooms, and asparagus would be good over toast points or toasted English muffins too.

    A couple of days ago, I made the chicken tetrazzini recipe from my old camp (well, enough for 4 servings instead of 150). Egg noodles, chicken, cream of mushroom soup, onions, parsley, cheese, mushrooms, and a few spices. Simple and really comforting.


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