Monday, September 14, 2015

Perfect Pizza Pasta

We are full swing in school mode over here and desperately trying to find our groove with our new routine since returning to work after a busy summer and maternity leave.  As you know, when it comes to the day to day grind - I am all about anything that saves a little bit of time.  This recipe is no exception.  It is super easy to throw together, can be eaten warm or cool and can be customizable to your child's (and your) individual taste.  This recipe is also a perfect way to use up some leftover veggies you have in your fridge and introduce them in a fun way to get your kiddos excited!

Last week, Benjamin moved up to a preschool classroom at school (wahhhh, where has the time gone!?).  He is absolutely loving his new class and enjoying his new teachers and new room (with all new toys!).  At home, I have had to adjust the way I pack his lunch as well. With this new class, they no longer heat up the children's lunches - which is a major adjustment for us since all of my boys love a warm lunch! (Yes, my husband takes a warm lunch almost everyday).  Until I can find a thermos that works well for his lunches, I'm trying to stick to a main course that travels well, is fun to eat and can be eaten cold/room temperature.  I found some really handy (and thin) ice packs which fit perfectly in our personalized Pottery Barn lunch boxes.  (FYI - to keep the box as cool as can be, I use two of these ice packs in the zipper pouch of the lunch box)

I have recently started purchasing turkey pepperoni and Benjamin is a huge fan.  It makes for a perfect snack and also travels very easily. A week or so ago, we had homemade pizza night and Benjamin had such a blast helping add the toppings to the pizza.  I had some left over toppings so I decided to add some pasta for a new family favorite.  This recipe is a lot of eyeballing and really adding whatever your heart (and tummy) desires.  The best part of this recipe, is that you can make it different every time.  You choose a few options from each of the main ingredient categories and mix and match!  This is a wonderful way to engage children in the process of preparing food.  Toddlers especially love helping in the kitchen and by encouraging this you, in turn, get them excited about helping pack their lunch.  The more fun you make these experiences for them, the more excited (and proud!) they will be to open up their lunch box and scarf their meal down.

I hope your kiddos love this recipe and it puts a smile on their face!  The possibilities are endless... have fun with it!

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Perfect Pizza Pasta

Basic ingredients:
Pasta + Meat + Veggies + Cheese + Sauce

PASTA options (cooked and cooled) -
Wheat/Whole grain pasta
Cheese tortellini
Veggie pasta

MEAT options (cooked, cooled and chopped) -
Turkey pepperoni
Mild Italian sausage
Chicken sausage
Ground beef
Ham cubes

VEGGIE (and one fruit!) option -
Mushrooms
Cherry tomatoes
Peppers
Black Olives
Pineapple
Scallions
Yellow/Red Onion (chopped)

CHEESE options -
Mini mozzarella balls
Mozzarella chunks
Cheddar chunks (white or yellow, mild or sharp)
Pepper Jack chunks (for a little spice)
Monterey Jack chunks

SAUCE options -
Marinara sauce
Meat sauce
Pesto
Alfredo sauce
White sauce (garlic + butter)

Combine all desired ingredients in a bowl until blended and Mangia!
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