“It is difficult in the South to eat healthy because everything is fried and full of flavor . . . and calories! I have had to learn how to make substitutions so that we can enjoy all of the favorites I grew up on without all of the guilt or sacrificing great taste,” DeMarcus, whose recipe appears in the Southern Living Country Music’s Greatest Eats cookbook, tells Us Weekly. “It is incredibly important to me that I start my children out on a healthy path, even if they don’t realize they are eating healthier options.”
Though DeMarcus’ musician hubby is usually the one to whip up dinner dishes (lasagna and chili are his specialties), when the TV personality and former pageant queen makes this dish, kids Madeline and Dylan are quick to come to the table. “Pizza Casserole is a huge hit in my house because it’s like wrapping an entire pizza up in a Pyrex: What’s not to love?!” DeMarcus says, adding that her family often uses wheat or gluten-free pasta for a healthier alternative. “It’s even great the next day for lunch. For any busy mom, that’s always an added plus!”
Miss Caron’s Pizza Casserole
makes: 8 servings
hands-on time: 20 min.
total time: 1 hour, 5 min.
1 lb. ground beef
1/2 yellow onion, chopped
8 oz. uncooked elbow macaroni
2 (14-oz.) jars pizza sauce
1 (3.5-oz.) package pepperoni slices
1 (8-oz.) package shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese
Garnish: fresh oregano leaves
1. Preheat oven to 350°. Brown meat with onion in a large skillet over medium heat 7 to 8 minutes; drain and set aside.
2. Prepare macaroni according to package directions. Stir pizza sauce and cooked macaroni into meat mixture.
3. Spoon half of meat mixture into a lightly greased 13- x 9-inch baking dish. Top with half of pepperoni and half of shredded cheese; repeat layers.
4. Bake at 350° for 25 to 30 minutes or until bubbly.
Reprinted with permission from Southern Living Country Music’s Greatest Eats, presented by CMT.