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Cheesy pasta casserole

Cheesy pasta casserole

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Since Three Times a Day was launched, time has been flying by and every day is different. I am so passionate about what I do that I rarely stop to take time out for myself. I feel like any moment spent relaxing is a waste of time or a missed opportunity to be productive elsewhere.

You're probably wondering what all of this has to do with mac & cheese, but bear with me: when I was making this dish, I remembered all the times my brother and I went to our grandma's to eat homemade macaroni & cheese. Life was perfect. We didn't have a care in the world and we found peace in simply living in the moment and being ourselves.

I think we lose that feeling as we grow up. We don't stop to smell the roses because we let others define us and feel the need to impress them. When I was eating my mac & cheese this week, I took a moment to say hi to the little Marilou in me, and promised her I'd do that more often. 

Life is like a cheesy pasta bake: on the outside, it's crusty and even a little hard in some places. But when you get past the tough parts, you'll realize it's full of goodness.

Features

  • Peanut-free
  • Nut-free
  • Economical

Serves 4–6

Ingredients

  • 14 oz penne
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 1 cup onion, finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 2 1/4 cups milk
  • 1 cup cream
  • 4 cups grated cheese of your choice (I like Kraft's four-cheese Italiano mix)
  • 1 cup cooked ham, roughly chopped
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

Steps

  1. Preheat the oven to 400˚F. 
  2. Cook the pasta according to the package directions. Drain and set aside.
  3. In a pot, melt the butter and soften the onion for 3–4 minutes. Season. 
  4. Add the flour and stir for a few seconds. Do not brown the flour.
  5. Gradually add 3/4 cup milk while whisking. Add the cream and remaining milk. Simmer for 15 minutes, stirring frequently. 
  6. Add 2 cups cheese and mix until texture is smooth. 
  7. Add the pasta and ham, mix well, and pour the mixture into an oven-safe pan or dish. 
  8. Cover with leftover cheese and bake for 20 minutes or until the cheese is nicely browned. 

Tips & tricks

Variations: 

Replace the ham with bacon. (Oh yeah!)

Add sautéed mushrooms or other vegetables. 

 

Cheesy pasta casserole

Cheesy pasta casserole

Ingredients

  • 14 oz penne
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 1 cup onion, finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 2 1/4 cups milk
  • 1 cup cream
  • 4 cups grated cheese of your choice (I like Kraft's four-cheese Italiano mix)
  • 1 cup cooked ham, roughly chopped
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

Steps

  1. Preheat the oven to 400˚F. 
  2. Cook the pasta according to the package directions. Drain and set aside.
  3. In a pot, melt the butter and soften the onion for 3–4 minutes. Season. 
  4. Add the flour and stir for a few seconds. Do not brown the flour.
  5. Gradually add 3/4 cup milk while whisking. Add the cream and remaining milk. Simmer for 15 minutes, stirring frequently. 
  6. Add 2 cups cheese and mix until texture is smooth. 
  7. Add the pasta and ham, mix well, and pour the mixture into an oven-safe pan or dish. 
  8. Cover with leftover cheese and bake for 20 minutes or until the cheese is nicely browned. 

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