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BACK TO SCHOOL: Recipe for easy overnight ham and cheese casserole

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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.

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EASY OVERNIGHT HAM AND CHEESE CASSEROLE

Start to finish: 1 hour 20 minutes (20 minutes active)

Servings: 12

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

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 1 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 centre comes out clean. Serve warm.

Nutrition information per serving: 380 calories; 180 calories from fat (47 per cent 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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