Tuesday, November 10, 2009

LOVE in a Deep Dish Casserole! = )

The cooler weather of fall always brings certain recipes to mind…things like my Mom’s Ham and Noodle Casserole, an all-time family favorite. Nothing fancy, just old fashioned home-cooked love & goodness.

When we were growing up, Mom would always make our favorite dinner on our birthday. I asked for this…every time. Even for Brennan, this is a dish that says LOVE like no other. = )

As you can imagine, I was very eager to make this for Tom when we were first married. Armed with step-by-step instructions from Mom, I headed to the store for the ingredients. I got home and busily started preparing the meal. I could hardly wait until he tasted it.

The first step was to dice two thick slices of ham I had gotten from the butcher into bite-sized pieces. Since the next step would take about 20 minutes, I thought I should put the ham back in the fridge to keep cold until I needed it. I put the water on for the noodles, then chopped and began to sauté the celery and onions for the sauce. So far, so good.

By the time the noodles were done, the sauce was almost ready. I drained and placed them carefully in my brand new casserole dish. Soon, the sauce was done and I poured it over all the noodles. It smelled just like Mom's and the consistency was perfect! I was so pleased with myself.

I toasted and cubed the bread for the topping, drizzled it with melted margarine and placed it in the oven. I had talked so much about this meal, Tom was quite anxious to try it. Soon, 30 minutes had passed and it was time.
The table was set with our new Pfalzgraf dishes. I placed a generous portion on his plate along with some salad, and sat down across from him. I watched eagerly (and a bit nervously) as he took the first bite.

"Oh, hon…this is really good!"

I beamed.

He took another bite, "Wow, yes…I really like this…it’s delicious!"

Just as I was preparing to take my first bite, he said,

"...and what’s this called again?"

"Ham and Noodle Casserole"

"Hmm" he said, as he took another bite and gave particular attention to its taste..."that’s odd..."

"What’s that?"

"For some reason, I can't taste the ham."

Suddenly my mind flashed to the ham, in all its diced glory, sitting on the dish...still in the fridge. Oops. (So much for impressing my new hubby with my cooking finesse!) LOL! We both had quite a giggle and it’s been a favorite family story for years. To this day if I mention I’m making it, someone will inevitably say…”Don’t forget the ham!”

Hope you enjoy (and don't YOU forget the ham!)

Mom's Ham & Noodle Casserole

10 ounces of noodles (I use No Yolks) – cooked and drained

1-2 Cups of Ham (I use 1 pkg of John Morrell diced ham (drained) looks like about 1 ½ cups) OR get two thick slices (¼”) of lean ham from the deli and cube it

1 cup celery (finely chopped)

1 small onion (finely chopped)

¼ + 1 Tablespoon Margarine or Butter (I use I Can’t Believe it’s Not Butter – Light)

2 cups of milk

8-10 Slices of American Cheese (torn into small pieces)
(I use Kraft 2 % singles but Land O Lakes tastes better)

8 slices whole wheat toast (cubed)

Saute celery and onion in ¼ cup margarine or butter until nearly transparent, add in flour and stir coating celery and onions. Add in milk slowly, stirring often until it begins to thicken. (Skim takes quite a while longer to thicken than 2 % or whole milk.) When sauce begins to thicken, add in cheese, stirring until all melted. Add salt and pepper to taste.

In a casserole dish sprayed with Pam, spread noodles. Sprinkle ham on top. Pour sauce mixture over all and stir to coat evenly. Top with cubed toast. Melt 1 Tablespoons of butter or margarine and lightly drizzle over toast. Bake at 350 for 30 minutes or until heated through.

Serve with salad or other green vegetable. Approximately 6 servings for the average family, 4 if you live in our house! ; )


Just a little something from Judy said...

I am always excited when I see a new post from you, and this one is so much fun to read. I can relate to it, and it brought me a smile this Tuesday afternoon. I like down home delicious recipes like this one,and I am so thankful that you shared it. Each of my girls enjoy this kind of cooking, especially with the ham.

Hope you are having a good day my friend.

Jennifer said...

For some reason, these brought wonderful memories of my mom to mind...she must have made something similar but I'm not sure. But this surely looks like something Hubbie would love and a new way to use ham is great! I'll be trying it soon - and including the ham!!

Happy@Home said...

I enjoyed reading your story about making this special recipe for your new husband. It reminded me of the time I made chili for my husband when we were just dating. It wasn't until we were eating it that I discovered I forgot to add the beans. All these years later I still hear "don't forget the beans" when I make chili.

Thanks for sharing your recipe. It sounds yummy.

Paula (SweetPea) said...

That is TOO funny, Tracy. But hey it liked it without the ham too.

LisaShaw said...

Hey Sweetie,

This brings me back to my times with my Grandparents. Favorite meals on Birthday's and holiday's.

Thanks for sharing with us. Love you.

Krista said...

Reminded me of my nana's goulash...mmmm. I enjoyed your post today and thank you for sharing the recipe!

Sweet blessings,

elaine @ peace for the journey said...

Another good "add" to my limited list of recipes I can actually do. What would I do without you?


Lea said...

I'm filing this one! IT LOOKS DIVINE! AND I guess the ham is sorta optional? lol