Ham and Ranch Mac N' Cheese

The chilly breezes and cold nights of October have finally blessed us with their presence. With this comes the craving for warmer hearty and wholesome dishes. The days of cold salads and lighter fare are long gone until the warmth rolls around again. Comfort food classics such as slow roasts, creamy pastas, and huge bowls of comforting soup are dominating my menu. My favorite thing about comfort foods? I always make too much and am left with incredible leftovers for lunch the next day! Nothing beats a healthy and hearty lunch and I'm always so excited to dive right in.

As I was packing my kids lunches for school a few weeks ago I realized how unfair it was that they are sent with cold sandwiches while I get to chow down on amazing leftovers. I started racking my brain for kid friendly comfort foods that I could easily make ahead and pack away in their lunchboxes. Macaroni and cheese was an obvious choice as a deliciously filling and comforting lunch item for kids. What child would turn down cheesy noodles? Some fun macaroni and cheese would be the perfect item for those lunch boxes! Unfortunately my kids tend to gear towards those boxed versions of mac n' cheese, eye roll worthy.... I know. That mild creamy sauce just speaks to them, they don't care what ingredients are listed on the back of the box. Using an old trick I learned while making Pastitsio (a Greek pasta dish) I whipped up a do-it-yourself version of the popular boxed mac n' cheese. Egg stirred right into the hot noodles along with your chosen cheese and low fat milk make an incredibly creamy and light sauce. Don't worry the eggs get cooked to temperature by the hot noodles. No thickening or time consuming sauce making is needed. Just like the boxed stuff, you drain, you stir, you serve. How easy is that?

Eating Muffins Eating Muffins

 

Creamy, mild, and just as quick to cook as the boxed stuff with a fun twist using Litehouse's Instantly Fresh Salad Herb Mix. This herb mix has many of the same flavors as those ranch seasoning packets , only none of the sodium and chemicals. It is such an easy way to add fun ranch flavor to any dish without having to make your own herb blend. A little do-it-yourself ranch seasoning, without that whole "do it" part. Naturally this was a perfect fit to my easy mac n' cheese along with some diced ham, just for fun. Eat this Ranch And Ham Macaroni and Cheese for lunch then turn any leftovers into some amazing Mac N' Cheese Muffins. A second baking with a crispy topping turns those cold leftovers into a second drool worthy meal. You'll never want to throw away cold macaroni again! Don't let the kiddos go without their favorite comfort foods this fall, with this recipe you can easily feed their appetite without all of the guilt provided by that box!

Mac Muffins Mac Muffins

 

Ham and Ranch Mac N' Cheese

Serves 12 | Finish in 12-15 minutes
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Easy, quick, and a kid favorite! Ham and Ranch Mac N' Cheese is a healthier boxed version knock off! A fun twist on a comfort food classic that your kids will love!

Ingredients

2 c. macaroni noodles,
3 Tbsp. butter,
2 eggs,
1 c. grated cheddar cheese,
1/4 c. grated parmesan cheese,
1/4 c. skim milk,
1 c. chopped ham,
2 tsp. Litehouse Instantly Fresh Salad Herb Blend,
1 tsp. salt,
1/2 tsp. pepper,
1/2 c. panko bread crumbs- if making Mac N Cheese Muffins,

Directions

1. Cook the macaroni according to package directions.

2. Drain the noodles then return to the pot and turn the heat to low. Immediately stir in the eggs and continue stirring over low heat for one minute.

3. Stir in the cheeses, milk, ham, herb blend, salt and pepper.

4. Serve as soon as the cheese is melted.

5. To make the muffins heat the oven to 350 degrees.

6. Scoop leftover macaroni and cheese into paper lined muffin tins.

7. Top with the panko crumbs and bake until tops are golden and crispy, about 25 minutes.


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