Baked Pasta with Ham and Cheese

12 oz. uncooked pasta (3 cups uncooked mini shells)
8 oz. (2 cups) Extra sharp cheddar cheese
8 oz. (2 cups) Smoked Gouda cheese
4 oz. (1 cup) Muenster cheese
4 oz. (1 cup) Asiago cheese
½ lb. Smoked ham
½ cup Finely chopped onions
1 Tbsp. Chopped garlic
1⅓ cups Whole milk
1 Tbsp. Flour

4 oz. (1 cup) Extra sharp cheddar cheese to sprinkle on top (optional)

Cook the pasta according to the directions on the box. A small pasta works well, such as miniature penne, shells or rotini. Miniature rotelle (wagon wheels) works great for children.

Shred all the cheese. (Hint: With soft cheeses particularly, it helps to put the cheese in the freezer for 30 minutes before shredding.) Dice the ham according to your preference. One recommendation is to the purchase the ham from the deli, sliced very thick, then cut into small pieces, perhaps ¼" in size.

Lightly grease a 9"x13" glass baking dish. Preheat the oven to 350°.

In a large mixing bowl, combine all the ingredients, except some of the shredded cheddar cheese. Reserve 4 oz. of the cheddar for later use. Sift the flour into the mixture using a small strainer and stir it in. Fold the mixture into the baking dish.

Bake uncovered for 25 minutes. Carefully remove the baking dish from the oven. Stir the pasta gently. Add the remaining cheddar cheese by spreading it evenly over the pasta. (Hint: If you are using white cheddar, use yellow cheddar in this step.) Return the pasta to the oven for an additional 10 minutes.

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