Specialty and Wild, Crazy Specialty

My children have a dish they all generally agree on. My love likes it. My mother likes it. Spare children at our house for dinner love it. I don’t. I will eat it if starved. Maybe.

This recipe came into being once upon a time when I did think I loved it. You see there was a deli that we would stop at after high school. Not really a high school sort of deli but it is where we could get a meatball sub…or their specialty. Oh who knows what they called it at that point. It was pasta, Italian red sauce and cheddar cheese. Probably called “Lets sell our leftover cheese rinds and splash of sauce and few extra noodles under a name like Macaroni and Cheese.” I loved it.

I would think about it now and then but it wasn’t really until I had three kids under 5 or then 6 or so kids under 17 wandering about that it became part of my dinner repertoire. It had no name. It had-Easy, Cheap, kid-friendly, pantry ingredients going for it. This is the dish my big kids request along with Eggs Benedict when they come to visit. This is the dish the youngest will reliably eat every time. This is as they named it…Mommy’s Specialty. Yes, I am embarrassed to admit that my specialty has nothing unprocessed in it. Nothing. Not one thing. I might even find shame in the fact that this was served weekly for a long period of time. But, it is also the dish my kids wanted me to make for them when we visited them in England. It is the dish that makes them smile.

So, I bet you want to know how to make this awesome meal?

Boil a box of penne pasta or rigatoni. I do use a whole grain type these days…most of the time. Drain pasta. While pasta is draining pour a bottle of Ragu Traditional (the odd smooth one) in the pasta pot. (Transparency: Ragu was at BlogHer, but I babbled at THEM about my specialty. (The Ragu folk looked at me like I was vaguely insane.) I also have bought probably 35 bottles of Ragu a year for the last decade and don’t think I have gotten any free unless you count a buy one get one deal at the supermarket. ) No other sauce is the right one for specialty in my family’s eyes. 8 or 9 years ago I tried to use different sauces…the rebellion was imminent. Your family MAY be willing to experiment with other brands. Go for it. I won’t again unless I really can’t make the jump from generic to brand name pricing. ) Add shredded cheddar cheese. Yes, I use the pre-shredded…a whole bag. The regular size (2 cup?) bag not the giant bag. Dump drained pasta back in and stir. Turn stove off right away. If you have an electric stove-remove from burner completely unless you really like scrubbing the pot.

As for wild and crazy-tonight I put some frozen meatballs into bake while pasta cooked and added them to the sauce, right before adding the cheese. Some members of the family weren’t sure about Wild and Crazy Specialty. Others liked it quite a bit.


  1. This sounds a lot easier than similar recipes that have you baking it after you mix the sauce with the pasta and putting the cheese on top. I also think Ragu is the best jar sauce.

  2. Dang, this sounds good, and I just ate breakfast. I’d totally try it, especially with some meatballs or maybe crusty bread.

    (I love that you told the Ragu people at BlogHer about your “specialty.” Geez, they could’ve at least coughed up a coupon!)

  3. Sounds delicious.

  4. My grandmother makes the best ever plain spaghetti. She uses canned tomatoes, ground beef and then spaghetti noodles. It’s SO YUM. And different. Very different.

    My mom makes some awesome baked s’getti. It’s basically the same…cept not 🙂 Use sauce and cooked noodles…she adds meat to hers…then top with lots of mozz cheese and bake til the cheese melts and voila. Serve with rolls.

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