So I challenged my family to a month of new dinners that are kiddo approved. What does that mean? Well it means I’m on a new mission to make kiddo friendly meals, well maybe I should be more specific, not only do I want to make these kiddo friendly dinner ideas, I want to make them and have my children actually love them. Then I’ll be sharing them with all of you! Allow me to introduce this Cheesy Ham and Peas dinner.
I’ll be the first to admit that we are well into the winter blues here in our house. We’ve fallen into the technology, tv watching while we eat dinner, serving the same boxed mac and cheese and frozen nuggets kind of winter blues. I looked around one day and realized something needed to be done. So during school vacation I took away the ipads away once and for all. I also reinstated family dinners and stopped cooking two different meals a night. Yes it’s a lot of work but I enjoy experimenting and I know my kids won’t touch half of what I experiment with so it turned into two dinners a night for me and I knew things had to change. It was tough at first the first five or so nights my son would ask “Are we eating alone or together?” I’d reply with, we are eating together every night buddy. Then I’d get the usual, “Ohhhhhhh nooooooooo it’s going to be gross!” as he continued to throw himself on the floor and thrash around. I even went back to my one bite rule. I always make sure there is something on the plate that they like, whether it be pasta, potatoes or straight up peas! They have to try a bite of everything on their plate and if they don’t like it that’s okay, they can eat as much of the one item they do like. I got the occasional “this is gross!” or one night it was “this tastes like dirt!” However, my son decided he liked turkey kielbasa and ham so I’m going with it.
First up is an easy cheesy recipe that was inspired by scattered thoughts of a crafty mom. However, I ended up with this cheesy ham and peas recipe instead altering the cheese sauce a bit. It has the secret ingredient that all kids love but knowing I made it verses it coming out of a box helped ease the “health” guilt. I got a big thumbs up! They ate it! They actually ate it. My daughter left the ham and my son picked out the ham and ate that first! Now I’ll do what I usually do, I get so excited that they like a dish I’ll start serving it once a week and then they will tire of it.
Cheesy Ham and Peas
Serving Size: 1 cup
3 cups of your favorite pasta (I used small ziti)
4 ounces of velveeta cheese, cut into chunks (I used light)
1/2 cup of skim evaporated milk
1 1/4 cup of chicken stock (I use lower sodium)
1 tbsp of unsalted butter
3 tbsp of flour
1 tsp. onion powder
1 tsp. garlic powder
salt (use your judgement)
1 cup of frozen peas
1 cup of cooked ham (I buy the ham steaks that come 2 in a package)
Cook pasta according to package directions. The last few minutes of cook time add the frozen peas. Strain and set aside.
In a small sauce pan melt butter. Add flour and stir to make paste.
Add the broth slowly, whisking out the lumps as you go. By the time you add the last of the broth the lumps should be gone.
Add the evaporated milk stirring and allowing the sauce to thicken.
Add the onion powder, garlic powder and season with salt. Add the velveeta and stir to melt. Pour cheese sauce into the pasta and peas and stir to combine.