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Save time: Whip up this dinner ahead of time to make back-to-school week easier

By: ALISON LADMAN The Associated Press
August 27, 2014 Updated: August 27, 2014 at 4:20 am
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photo - This June 9, 2014 photo shows easy overnight ham and cheese casserole in Concord, N.H. (AP Photo/Matthew Mead)
This June 9, 2014 photo shows easy overnight ham and cheese casserole in Concord, N.H. (AP Photo/Matthew Mead) 

Those first few weeks when the kids head back to school can be among the most hectic for families. The lazy days of summer quickly give way to crazy schedules, homework and afterschool activities. And don't forget somehow managing to slip dinner into the middle of all that.

This is why a do-ahead dinner can be a lifesaver as families get accustomed to their new routines. So we created this easy, kid-friendly ham and cheese casserole that can be prepped and refrigerated the night before, then just popped in the oven the next evening.

And here's another bonus - the leftovers make a great breakfast the next day, too.

EASY OVERNIGHT HAM AND CHEESE CASSEROLE

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Yield: 12 servings


10-ounce package frozen chopped spinach, thawed 
4 eggs 
2 cups whole milk 
1/2 cup light mayonnaise 
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard 
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt 
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper 
1/2 teaspoon onion powder 
20-ounce ham steak, diced 
3 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese, divided 
2 medium carrots, grated 
2 medium turnips, grated 
20-ounce package refrigerated shredded potatoes

Procedure:

Coat a 9-by-13-inch baking pan with cooking spray.

Place the spinach in a mesh strainer and squeeze out as much water as possible. Set aside.

In a large bowl, beat the eggs with the milk, mayonnaise, mustard, salt, pepper and onion powder until smooth. Stir in the squeezed spinach, ham, 2 cups
 of the cheese, the carrots, turnips and potatoes. Spoon the mixture into the prepared pan. Sprinkle the remaining 1 cup of cheese over the top of the casserole.

At this point, the casserole can be covered and refrigerated for up to a day.

When ready to bake, heat the oven to 350 F. Bake for 45 to 60 minutes, or until puffed and golden and a knife inserted at the center comes out clean. Serve warm.

Nutrition information per serving: 380 calories; 180 calories from fat (47 percent of total calories); 20 g fat (8 g saturated; 0 g trans fats); 120 mg cholesterol; 25 g carbohydrate; 3 g fiber; 4 g sugar; 23 g protein; 1,090 mg sodium.

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