Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Ham and Pasta Casserole

The baby boom in my MOMS Club continues. Within three weeks of my baby being born, there were two more babies born--also boys. I'm beginning to wonder who exactly all these boys are going to date because no one in our area seems to be having girl babies. My friend Danielle (Hi, Danielle!) had her baby boy three weeks after mine. Our club took her dinner, but the only night that worked for me to take her dinner was already spoken for by the time I responded, so I lived vicariously (not really) and took her dinner on a random night. I asked her what night would be good--I don't just show up randomly at people's homes with dinner in hand. But wouldn't it be sweet if someone did that for you?! Actually I'd only like it if I had seen the person's kitchen first. I don't like not knowing where my food comes me crazy.

Anyway, I gave Danielle the choice between a chicken and rice casserole or this ham and pasta casserole, and she chose the ham. That worked out great because we had ham for Christmas dinner at my mom's house, so I just brought home a bunch of the leftover ham to use. Win-win-win becuase 1) my mom didn't have to eat ham from Christmas until Valentine's Day, 2) I didn't have to buy ham to make this, and 3) Danielle and her family got dinner. I had made this casserole one time before when my friend Andrea had her baby earlier this year (I'm telling you...stay away from this area unless you want to get pregnant) and also made a batch for us at the same time. We really liked it, but it's not often I have ham on hand, so I hadn't made it since then. It really comes together easily, and it's super tasty.

Ham and Pasta Casserole
6 ounces spaghetti, cut into small lengths
2 cups diced cooked ham
3 tablespoons butter
4 to 6 ounces mushrooms, sliced
4 to 6 green onions, trimmed, thinly sliced
4 tablespoons flour
1 cup chicken broth
1 cup milk
1/2 teaspoon seasoned salt
1/4 teaspoon garlic seasoned pepper or other pepper blend
dash cayenne or other hot pepper, as desired
salt or more seasoned salt and pepper, to taste
1 cup shredded Cheddar cheese

Cook spaghetti in boiling salted water, following package directions. Drain and rinse in hot water; combine with ham in a large bowl.

Heat butter over medium low heat; add sliced mushrooms. Cook, stirring frequently, until mushrooms are tender; add green onions. Stir in flour until blended in thoroughly. Gradually stir in chicken broth and milk. Add seasoned salt, pepper, and hot pepper. Cook, stirring constantly, until thickened. Taste and add more salt and pepper, as needed. Stir into the spaghetti and ham mixture; stir in cheese. Bake at 325° for 25 to 30 minutes, until bubbly and cheese is melted.


I don't think I deviated from the recipe at all, although I did add in a bag of frozen peas to give it a little more color. I had said last time I made this that I thought it would be good replacing some of the chicken broth with white wine and using gruyere instead of the cheddar. But, since Danielle and I are both nursing mommies, I figured I'd stick with the original recipe, even though the alcohol would cook out. Really I was just lazy and didn't notice that comment until after I had gone to the grocery store and got the ingredients listed. So next time I have ham, I'll have to try it that way. Oh, and I used penne instead of spaghetti because it's what I had on hand. I'm telling you, I love Safeway's organic whole wheat pasta!!

Since we already ate it, I can tell you it was great. Danielle said they liked it, too. There was only one serving left after dinner Monday night...I think the husband had thirds at dinner, and I had seconds. Plus a couple bites while I was doing the dishes. ;)

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