You know what’s really empowering, Foodies?
Making something the way you like it, just because that’s how you like it. Not the way the kids like it or your spouse likes it, but just the way you want it.
I had an epiphany recently. I’ve spent a lot of my post-op career catering to everyone’s preferences in my crusade to get my kids and family to eat healthier. In the process I did several things:
- I stopped even thinking about what I like the best and why.
- I put my children under the delusion that they live in a 24-hour diner, complete with a short-order cook.
- I got a case of “food burn-out.”
What’s food burn-out? You all have experienced it, I’m sure. It’s when you just get tired of thinking about, prepping, and cooking food. So you don’t. Instead you eat things that are convenient (and sometimes not healthy). Or worse, you fall back on take-out a lot.
As for me, I fell back on my default foods (stuff I could eat anytime like cottage cheese and Greek yogurt) and let the kids go crazy with take-out. Bad mom!
What I’ve learned from this is that even when it comes to cooking my needs are important too. So I vow to make more meals the way I like them!
Which is what brings us to this pizza casserole. There are several reasons why my daughters probably won’t touch it. For Diva, the Elder, it contains three vegetables that are on her “no fly” list (I’ve tried to get her to embrace more veggies…she’s 16 so at this point trickery doesn’t work anymore!). For Diva, the Younger, (13) she now eats a pescetarian diet and so the ground meat is no-go. But me? I love it! So here goes.
Nik’s Pizza Casserole
- 2 c. whatever veggies you like, diced (I used onions, yellow bell peppers, and zucchini)
- 1 clove garlic, minced (or 1 tsp. already minced garlic)
- 1 lb. Italian-style ground meat (I used turkey)
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- 1.5 c. your favorite pizza or spaghetti sauce
- 1.5 c. shredded pizza blend or Italian-blend cheese (or mozzarella if you like to keep it simple)
- Toppings: I used one serving of turkey pepperoni (17 slices) and 1/4 c. sliced olives, but add anything you like on top of pizza!
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.
Set a skillet over medium-high heat and let it get hot (2-3 minutes) before adding nonstick cooking spray (or 1 tbsp. of oil if you like that better). Add veggies and saute for 2-3 minutes until soft. Add garlic and saute an additional minute or so.
Add the ground meat, breaking it up with a spatula and mixing in the vegetables. Cook until meat is done through. Drain meat of any excess fluid with a colander.
Turn stove heat to medium-low and add sauce, stirring to fully combine. Simmer about 5-7 minutes or until sauce turns a deeper shade of red. Your mixture should be saucy but not soupy. Ultimately the veggies will continue releasing water as they cook so you don’t want your sauce to have too much liquid. If there seems to be a lot, drain some of it off before doing the next step.
Transfer mixture to a casserole dish (this is an 8 x 8) and spread to make sure it’s an even layer. Now comes the fun part. Toppings! I love pepperoni and black olives on pizza so that’s what I topped mine with, along with the shredded cheese.
I baked mine for about 20 minutes, long enough for the cheese to melt, brown just a bit and for the pepperonis to become slightly crispy. Technically it’s ready when the cheese is melted so let it go as long as you want until it’s the way you like it!