Saturday, February 7, 2015

Shells and cheese with tomatoes and ham

I made this on Super Bowl Sunday. We were completely snowed in. Scott tried to get out twice-once we got stuck in our driveway, the other in the street. Thank goodness I had gone to the store on Saturday. Take a look at all the snow (right after we shoveled our garage area I might add):

Anyway, I was a bit nervous about this recipe because of the tomatoes. I've recently learned to get along and kind of like tomatoes, but trying them in new things concerns me. I love macaroni and cheese the way it is...cheesy, gooey and warm. Changing things up reminds me of a terrifying time in my childhood my dad tried to make Kraft Macaroni and Cheese with Vienna Sausages. It was absolutely terrible.

Whenever I make macaroni and cheese at home now, Scott always wants to know if I'm putting breadcrumbs on top to make it crunchy. I think that's a big deal to him. Since we really don't buy much processed items, I have no problem accommodating that.

In the end, three of us ended up finishing the entire pan of this stuff (yes, that's two servings each!). It was absolutely delicious, warm and just like a comfort food. It's easy and pretty quick to make too!

Shells and cheese with tomatoes and ham-adapted from Fall Baking by Better Crocker
Total time: 45 minutes
Serves 6

  • 8 ounces uncooked medium shell pasta
  • 1/4 cup salted butter
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground mustard
  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 2 cups low fat milk
  • 1 1/2 cups ham, cooked and diced
  • 1 can (14.5 ounces) diced tomatoes, drained
  • 2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1 cup bread crumbs
  • 2 tablespoons salted butter, melted
Heat oven to 350 degrees. Cook and drain pasta as directed on package using the minimum cook time.

Meanwhile, in a large saucepan, melt 1/4 cup butter over medium-high heat. Cook garlic in butter, stirring until golden. Reduce heat to meduim and stir in flour, salt, mustard and cayenne pepper. Cook and stir until mixture is smooth and bubbly. Slowly add milk, stirring constantly, until the mixture boils and thickens, about 5 minutes. Gently stir in ham, tomatoes and pasta.

Remove from heat and stir in cheese until melted. Spoon into a greased 9x13 inch baking dish. In a small bowl, mix breadcrumbs and melted butter, then sprinkle over pasta. 

Bake uncovered for 20 minutes or until browned and bubbly.
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