Sunday, January 16, 2011

Ham Mac & Cheese

Mac & cheese is one of my absolute favorite comfort foods. Ask my mom. When most brides are nervously pacing the halls of their home, I was scarfing down my mom's special, homemade mac & cheese.

Any time I see a recipe for mac & cheese, I need to try it. It's not a want--it's a need. I have to make it, mostly to compare it to my favorite family recipe. And while the old family mac & cheese is still my absolute favorite, this is definitely a close second. Leave yourself a lot of time for this one--it took about an hour start to finish. But boy, is it worth it!

What's Needed:
1 1/2 C. dried elbow macaroni (I used 3/4 C. macaroni and 3/4 C. wheat macaroni)
3 C. broccoli florets (I used frozen)
1 ham steak, cooked and then cubed
1 1/2 C. milk (fat-free to reduce points)
4 1/2 tsp. cornstarch
1/4 tsp. black pepper
1 1/2 C. cubed Cheddar cheese
1/2 C. soft bread crumbs (I used Italian seasoned)
1 T. butter or margarine, melted

1. Preheat oven to 350. Cook macaroni according to package directions, adding broccoli and bell pepper for the last 2 minutes of cooking; drain.

2. While the macaroni is cooking, start your sauce. In a small saucepan, stir together milk, cornstarch, and black pepper. Cook and stir until thickened and bubbly. Add Cheddar cheese; stir until melted.

3. Add macaroni mixture and cooked ham steak to a very large bowl. Stir sauce into macaroni mixture. Spoon into an ungreased 9x13-inch baking pan.

4. Bake, covered, for 20 minutes. In a small bowl, combine bread crumbs and butter. Uncover casserole; sprinkle with bread crumb mixture. Bake about 15 minutes more or until bubbly and crumbs are lightly browned.

Makes 6 servings

Husband's Grade: A+
PointsPlus: 9 (for 1/6 of the casserole)

Inspired by: Better Homes & Gardens: 9x13 The Pan That Can

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