Sunday, December 20, 2015

Ham and Cheese Macaroni Casserole

Ham and Cheese Macaroni Casserole is a total comfort food for my family.  My kids love any style of mac and cheese they can dig a fork into so I knew this dish would be a winner at my dinner table.

I also knew that I would win extra points with my son who is a self-proclaimed carnivore.  He will eat mac and cheese, but is always asking where the meat is in the meal.  So,  I decided to make him extra happy by adding small diced up pieces of ham into this mac and cheese.  

The casserole only takes about 30 minutes to cook if you want to use two pans to move things quickly.  So this meal is something that you can get on the table on those busy weeknights without any problem.   

It's a great comfort food casserole that feeds my entire family and makes enough for leftovers so I don't have to cook again. 

Ham and Cheese Macaroni Casserole
Recipe by Ramona from Kitchen Simmer

1 box of tube style pasta (any shape)
2 medium red or yellow onions chopped
2-4 sweet pepper sliced 
1 pound diced cooked ham (any kind you like)
1 tsp garlic powder
salt and black pepper to taste
red chili flakes to taste
2Tbs butter/margarine
1 1/2 Tbs all purpose flour
1 heaping Tbs Dijon mustard
1 1/2 cups milk 
1/2 cup pasta water
4 cups cheddar cheese (cheddar/mozzarella mix is best)


Step 1:  Boil pasta according to box instructions in well salted water.   Drain pasta 2 minutes shy of fully cooked and reserve 1 cup of pasta water. 
Step 2: Saute chopped onions and chilies in 2 Tbs canola oil and a little salt until softened.   Then add the diced ham, black pepper, garlic powder and red chili flakes and saute for another few minutes.  Taste for seasoning and remove ham mixture out of pan to proceed. 

Step 3: Add butter and flour to pan and cook for 1 minute.  Then add the Dijon mustard and cook for another 20 seconds. 


Step 4:
Slowly add the milk to flour/butter roux and whisk for no lumps.  Then stir 1/2 cup of pasta water and 3 cups of the shredded cheese until cheese sauce forms.      

Step 5:
Add cooked pasta and 2/3 of the cooked ham mixture to pan.  Stir well and cook for 2 minutes.  Transfer to a buttered baking dish and top with remaining ham mixture and cup of cheese.  Bake in a 375 degree oven for 20-25 minutes.  Serve hot.  Enjoy.


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