Here’s another easy recipe that gives your ordinary casserole a surprisingly good twist. Why? Because you don’t just melt the cheese once, you bake it again for the sweet potatoes to tenderize. When it all comes together, you get a really filling dish that’s good with steak, barbeque or friend chicken. The meal is complete by itself, but I say, what’s wrong with more meat, right?

I just have one thing to tell you: Replace the ingredients that came from a can into the fresh variety. For example, I swapped out the mushrooms into shitake or any kind you prefer. Also, you can make your tomato sauce fresh if you know how (I’ll teach you how to make one from scratch next time). Olives can also be fresh in this case. It’s totally up to you. I’ve added some sweet potatoes here to add more texture. Somehow, it all goes together very well.

Now, you’ll enjoy making this dish because it’s indeed VERY easy to make. You’d think that by cooking it twice, it would take a long time to get done. I’m making sure that it won’t. Besides, baking this at the end gives you enough time to prepare a quick dessert while you wait. Use your imagination. I’d usually just catch up on my reading.

With this dish, cheese cravings would be satisfied. Every time I add cheese on any recipe, the family would be able to consume two servings. For me, that means mission accomplished. I really won’t mind them ever asking for second helpings because I’d do it too (don’t judge me, I’m a Mom). Get your kids to help you; it’s much for fun this way.


  • 3 cups uncooked rigatoni pasta (9 oz)
  • 1/2 lb lean ground beef
  • 1/4 cup sliced ripe olives
  • 1 jar (4.5 oz) mushroom pieces and stems, drained
  • 1 jar (26 to 28 oz) tomato pasta sauce (any variety)
  • 1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese (4 oz)
  1. Start by preheating the oven to 350°F.
  2. Next, cook the pasta according to packet instructions. Make sure to drain them and set aside.
  3. While that’s cooking, place beef into a 10-inch skillet and cook over medium heat for about 10 minutes. Stir occasionally or until the meat turns brown. Then drain and set aside.
  4. Prepare an ungreased 2 and ½-quart casserole. In it, mix the pasta, beef and remaining ingredients including the sweet potatoes except the cheese.
  5. Cover this mixture and place in the oven to bake for about half an hour. Or, you can check if it is hot and bubbly. When it’s ready, sprinkle with cheese on top.
  6. Remove the cover and bake this again for another 5 minutes longer or until you see the cheese melting and browned. Best served hot.