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Meaty Mac and Cheese

Prep TIME: 10 minutes
TOTAL TIME: 35 minutes
SERVES: 4

Salt to taste
8 oz elbow pasta
4 cups broccoli florets, cut into bite-size pieces
1 lb cubed ham (or boneless ham steaks, cut into 1/2-inch cubes)
2 Tbsp milk, plus 1 cup
2 Tbsp flour
1 Tbsp butter
1 1/2 cups cheddar cheese, shredded

1. Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Add the pasta, and boil until the noodles have 5 minutes left to cook according to package directions. Add the broccoli and ham; continue cooking until the pasta is al dente and the broccoli is bright green and crisp-tender. Drain.

2. While the pasta cooks, make the sauce: Combine 2 Tbsp milk with the flour in a small bowl, and stir until smooth. Melt the butter over medium heat in a saucepan; stir in the flour mixture and whisk in the remaining 1 cup milk, stirring constantly. Continue stirring until the sauce is the consistency of heavy cream, 2 to 3 minutes. Remove from heat, and stir in the cheese until the sauce is smooth again.

3. Toss the pasta mixture with the sauce, and serve. (To reheat, add a little milk to loosen the sauce.)

Optional topping:
Transfer the macaroni and cheese to a baking dish coated with cooking spray. Combine 2 Tbsp melted butter with 1/3 cup each bread crumbs and grated parmesan cheese. Sprinkle the mixture on the pasta. Bake at 450°F until the topping is golden, 3 to 5 minutes.

PER SERVING: (without topping):
593 calories, 23 g fat (11 g saturated), 1,765 mg sodium, 98 mg cholesterol

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