May 2, 2012

30 Minute Cheesy Ham Casserole (freezer meal!)

Years ago our church had a huge Christmas dinner party. Apparently we were the "poor starving students" of the bunch, because we were sent home with at least 30 huge baked potatoes and a few whole hams. At the time, I also was the Compassionate Service Leader for our church, which meant I was blessed with the responsibilities of making sure the needs of the members were being taken care of (meals/cleaning/etc for a family with a new baby or a death in the family, families moving in/out, illnesses, childcare, arranging food for funerals, etc.) I knew I could figure out a way to use all of that food to help fulfill those needs. 

I pulled out my trusty Betty Crocker cookbook, whipped up some cheese sauce, and voila! I had plenty of freezer meals ready to heat at a moment's notice! I even had to borrow friend's freezer space to help with the storage. 

Since then, we've used this recipe many times as a quick but yummy meal that the kids always love. 

Shown here with my Apple Spinach Salad
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup flour
salt and pepper to taste
2 cups (about 8 ounces) shredded cheddar cheese - separated 
4 cups milk
4-5 medium peeled, cooked potatoes (steamed, boiled al dente, baked, microwaved...)
2 cups ham, cut into bite size pieces

In a medium saucepan, melt butter over low heat. Stir in flour, salt, and pepper. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until mixture is smooth and bubbly; remove from heat.

Pour milk into pot, mixing quickly with a whisk. Return pot to stove and heat to boiling, stirring constantly. Boil and stir 1 minute. Remove from heat. Quickly add 1 1/2 cups shredded cheese, stirring until melted. 

Grease 9x13" baking pan. Place ham, potatoes, and cheese sauce in baking pan. Sprinkle with remaining cheese. At this point you can cover and freeze, cover and refrigerate to eat later, or bake in 375 degree oven about 15 minutes - until casserole is bubbly and cheese is very lightly browned. 

*some tips - if you bake your potatoes in the oven earlier in the day, they'll be cool to the touch and easy to hand-peel the skins off by the time you're ready to cook dinner. Also, ham lunch meat makes an easy substitution if you don't have a leftover holiday ham.


The Penny Pinchers said...

I have been craving this, ever since you made it for us a while back. LOVE IT!!!!!!!

Megan said...

I don't even remember making it for you! But I don't doubt it... it's so yummy!

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