Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Ham and cheese casserole

I know I'm still behind in blogging, but this was this evening's dinner, it is fresh on the brain, and the original recipe (with notes) is readily available, so it wins the "what should I blog while keeping an eye on the little boys in the tub?" contest.  The original is from my Taste of home Simple and delicious magazine.
This meal was pretty good.  I loved the flavor.  My only suggestion for next time would be to just heat through in the pot on the stove.  I stuck it in the oven for less time than called for in the original, but I think all it really did was dry out the noodles on top.  You could easily heat this through on the stovetop, have a more cheesy, less dry meal that is done 15 minutes earlier and used 1 less dish.  What is not to love about that?
Also another tidbit of info - the original called for a 10 oz package of frozen spinach, thawed and squeezed dry.  I have been using fresh in place of this lately and did today, so I wrote the recipe that way.  It really didn't take any more time, or more dishes.  I prepared it and the sauce while the noodles were cooking in the same pan.  Use what works for you.
Here is how I made it today.


  • 1 package (16 oz) of noodles - I used mezzo penne today, but you could use any shape
  • 1/4 cup butter - I actually used about 3 Tablespoons butter and 1 Tablespoon coconut oil -do what works for you.
  • 1/4 cup flour -I used whole wheat
  • 2 cups milk (I used fat free)
  • 1 Tablespoon minced dehydrated onion
  • 2 cups shredded cheddar
  • 1/2 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 8 oz. diced ham (I used 1 store bought package for convenience)
  • 10 oz. spinach
  1. Prepare noodles according to package directions.
  2. Meanwhile, in a large Sauce pan or dutch oven, heat and chop the spinach until wilted. ( For me, the spinach fills my large pan to the top at first, but when cooked, it looks the same size as the 10 oz. frozen box.  I toss the spinach in the pot, grab my kitchen scissors and start chopping while it cooks.  I do that and stir, and by the time I'm done chopping, the spinach is wilted and bright green.  I don't add water or anything, and I don't drain water off.  If I didn't get enough chopping done, I finish chopping at the end.)  Move spinach to a plate.
  3. In the same pan, melt butter (and coconut oil if using.)  Stir in flour until smooth;  gradually add milk.  Add onions.  Bring to a boil;  cook and stir for 2 minutes or until thickened.  Reduce heat.  Stir in cheeses, garlic powder and pepper;  cook and stir until cheese is melted.  Stir in ham. (at this point my noodles were not ready so I just turned the burner all the way down to keep it warm while I waited on the noodles.)  Stir in spinach.
  4. Drain noodles; add to the cheese mixture.  (If desired, transfer to a 9 X 13 and cook for 15 minutes at 375.  However, I find it unnecessary unless you want to add a crispy topping or a bit more cheese to the top.)

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