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NUTRITIOUS CASSEROLE IS QUICK AND EASY

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Now here's a dish for a busy household. It's hot and comforting, all-in-one easy and completely nutritious.

Using the convenience of the microwave, you can assemble this dinner dish in about 15 minutes; cooking time is about the same. And you won't be heating up the whole house on a hot summer day. Just add a salad for a complete meal.For once you'll be using the microwave for more than making popcorn.

Considering the minimum time and effort expended, the casserole's nutritional profile is not bad - calcium from milk and protein from a small amount of cubed ham, balanced with vitamins from mixed frozen vegetables and carbo-energy from packaged corn-bread stuffing mix.

The dish should be assembled the night before (or the morning of), then popped into the microwave at dinnertime. For the best texture, it should be refrigerated at least five hours ahead of microwaving.

A tired person could put this meal on the table, or even a youngster authorized to use the microwave.

Note: When shopping for frozen vegetables, skip those cliched peas and carrots; opt for a more interesting broccoli or green-bean mixture from a poly pour-out bag.

OVERNIGHT CORNBREAD STUFFING CASSEROLE

1 (8-ounce) package corn-bread stuffing mix (about 31/2 cups dry)

2 cups frozen mixed vegetables, slightly thawed (see note)

11/2 cups cubed cooked ham

3 eggs, lightly beaten

2 cups milk

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1/2 cup shredded Cheddar cheese

In a 12x8x2-inch microwaveable baking dish (or a comparably sized round dish), stir together the stuffing mix, vegetables and ham. In a medium bowl, combine eggs, milk, salt and pepper. Pour over corn-bread mixture.

Cover with plastic wrap; refrigerate at least 5 hours. Remove plastic; cover with waxed paper. Microwave on full power, high, for 6 minutes; rotate 1/4 turn; microwave on medium high (80 percent power) until a knife inserted an inch from center comes out clean, 7 to 9 minutes. Sprinkle with cheese. Let stand, covered, for 10 minutes. Stir gently before serving. Tested in a 625-watt oven.

Makes 4 servings.