Feeding my preschooler, Ginny, is a challenge on a good day. She is very picky and more than willing to go hungry if we don’t feed her what she wants for dinner. I’m also willing to let her go hungry because I’m not a short-order cook. Thank you very much!
What drives me nuts is that one day she’ll eat chicken strips or nuggets and love them. A few days later, she will say, “I don’t like chicken, Mommy.” I’ll remind her that she liked it the other day, but there is no convincing her. She’ll reassert with “No, Mommy. I don’t like it at all.” Even more frustrating is her unwillingness to even try something. She’ll look at what’s on the table and declare, “That’s yucky. I don’t like it.” Then, we’ll convince her to at least lick it. She’ll say, “Oh, I like it.” But will she eat it? Nope.
Luckily, there are a few foods that Ginny won’t refuse (well, most of the time): pasta, pizza, white rice, ramen noodles, and pepperoni. When we plan our meals, we try to incorporate one of those foods, if we can. Well, at least 90% of our meals have one of those. My husband and I do like a bit more variety than our daughter. (Oh, and just so she isn’t ignored, Grace is not picky like her sister and will eat what we give most of the time.)
This recipe for Pizza Pasta incorporates two of Ginny’s food loves: pasta and pepperoni. At first, when she looked at it, she declared that she didn’t like it. I replied, “But, Ginny, it has pepperoni!” Her eyes lit up, and she decided she would eat it.
I started by boiling a pound of rigatoni for 5 minutes then draining it. I love my pasta al dente and didn’t want it mushy. Instead of cooking the pasta all the way, I stopped before it reached the al dente stage so it would maintain firmness after cooking for 4 hours in the slow cooker.
I pulled together the rest of my ingredients: 32-oz jar spaghetti sauce, 1 pound browned ground beef, 3 cups shredded mozzarella, 8 oz pepperoni slices, 4 oz can of sliced mushrooms, salt, cracked black pepper, and Italian seasoning.In my lined 5 quart slow cooker, I poured half a 32-oz jar of spaghetti sauce, followed by half the beef, half the mozzarella, half the pepperoni, and half the mushrooms. I sprinkled a dash of salt, pepper, and about a teaspoon of Italian seasoning. Then, I repeated with the remaining ingredients.
I put the cover on the slow cooker and allowed it to cook on low for 4 hours.
What I love about this recipe is how easy it is to make. It is not only great for the family, but would make the perfect dish for a potluck. Oh, and did I mention that both of my girls loved this? It was a hit. Well, it was until Ginny saw the meat was touching the pasta after eating half of the serving on her plate. Oh well. Maybe next time.
- 1 lb rigatoni
- 32 oz. jar spaghetti sauce
- 1 lb ground beef, browned
- 3 C. shredded mozzarella
- 8 oz. pepperoni slices
- 1 4 oz. can sliced mushrooms
- cracked black pepper
- 2 tsp Italian seasoning
- Boil the rigatoni for 5 minutes then drain. Don't let it cook all the way if you want it to remain al dente when you eat the pasta.
- In the slow cooker, place half of each ingredient, in the following order: sauce, pasta, cheese, pepperoni, and mushrooms. Sprinkle a dash of salt, pepper, and 1 tsp Italian seasoning. Repeat with the remaining ingredients.
- Cover and cook on low for 4-5 hours.