Make Ahead Meal – Mac and Cheese with Ham and Peas
I’ve heard other parents talk about how hard mornings are for them. Waking kids up, getting everyone dressed, fed and out the door in time for the school bus certainly sounds like a challenge, but right now, with just me, my husband and our almost-two-year-old, mornings aren’t too bad. Our most challenging time is the minute Addie and I walk through the door at the end of the day. If her dinner isn’t perfectly portioned out on her purple Doc McStuffins plate, ready to be devoured, it’s melt down city!
Luckily, Scott is a super husband and usually has this under control, but sometimes, well sometimes mama needs to go to Happy Hour after work, and even Superdads can’t pick up kids and get dinner on the table simultaneously, so to ease some of my mama guilt and make life easier for all, I whip up a meal the night before and leave Scott with simple pop in the oven and serve directions. Everyone wins! (Especially me… carefree glass(es) of wine FTW!)
This is a simple, crowd-pleasing supper that makes a TON. Yay for lunch leftovers.
1 pound farfalle pasta
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 cups milk
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
3 cups of shredded cheese (I used Colby Jack, but you can use any cheese you like in your mac and cheese)
1 package (10 ounces) frozen peas, thawed* (see tip below)
1/2 pound finely diced smoked ham
- Heat oven to 350 degrees. Coat 13 x 9 inch baking dish with nonstick cooking spray. Cook pasta in lightly salted water following package directions, about 12 minutes. Drain.
- While pasta is cooking, melt butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Stir in flour until well blended; cook 1 minute. Whisk in 1 cup of milk and cook, whisking continuously, until smooth. Whisk in remaining 1 cup milk and continue to cook, whisking until thickened and smooth, about 7 minutes. Remove from heat; stir in salt and pepper. Whisk in 2 cups of the cheese until smooth.
- In the saucepan, add the pasta, peas and ham to the cheese sauce. Pour into prepared baking dish. Scatter remaining 1 cup cheese evenly over the top.
- If doing as a make ahead meal, let dish cool on the counter. Cover with aluminum foil and put in fridge until ready to bake.
- Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes or until bubbly. Remove from oven; allow to cool 10 minutes.
*An easy way to thaw peas is to pour them into the strainer you will drain the pasta in. When the pasta is ready to be drained, dump it directly on top of the peas and voila! Perfectly thawed peas.