Baked Mac & Cheese with Ham

My mom always makes homemade mac & cheese. We never ate the boxed stuff. When I was little, I didn't like onions, so she would actually make a separate dish without onions. My mom makes everything homemade. Everything she makes is full of love. I don't know why but anything she makes tastes better than when I make it (and I'm a pretty darn good cook myself!). Growing up, I would often help prepare meals. I'd be tasked with stirring the sauce while she tended to everything else. I cherish those cooking days with Mom. Thanks for passing on your cooking and baking skills to me!




1 lb. pasta (any shape will do - cavatappi, penne, shells, or macaroni are good) 2-3 T. butter 1 medium onion, chopped Enough flour to make a roux Salt and pepper, to taste 3-4 cups of Skim or low-fat milk 3 cups sharp white cheddar cheese, shredded ½ pound diced ham Topping: ⅓ cup seasoned bread crumbs ¼ cup Parmesan cheese, grated Drizzle of olive oil

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Preheat oven to 375ºF. Boil pasta according to package directions. To make the sauce: 1. Melt the butter in a saucepan over medium heat. 2. Add onions. Season with salt and pepper. Saute until translucent. 3. Whisk in flour to make a thick roux (you can always add more flour, but you can't take it out!). Cook for a minute or so. 4. Slowly whisk in the milk until it's all incorporated. 5. Bring it up to a boil (should be thickened at that point). 6. Add shredded cheese and whisk until melted/incorporated into the sauce. 7. Mix pasta with the sauce. Add the diced ham. 8. Make topping by mixing together the bread crumbs, Parmesan cheese, and a little bit of olive oil. 9. Pour pasta, ham, and cheese sauce mixture into a 9x13 baking dish. 10. Sprinkle the topping over the entire dish. 11. Bake for 10 minutes or until top is browned.