Picky eater rescues mac and cheese

Aaron Lighter's improvised recipe featured in church cookbook

Aaron Lighter's improvised recipe featured in church cookbook

November 28, 2009|By TIFFANY ARNOLD

How do you get a kid to eat macaroni?

Well, if your child is 12-year-old Aaron Lighter, you put pepperoni in it.

"I really like pepperoni," says Aaron, a seventh grader at E. Russell Hicks Middle School.

There are certain food pairings that simply go unquestioned -- peanut butter and jelly, peas and carrots, fries and ketchup.

For Aaron, pepperoni and macaroni is one of those golden pairings.

In fact, Aaron liked it so much -- he says he eats it every two weeks, though his mom said it's more like once a month -- he decided to share it with the world. Aaron's macaroni and cheese pepperoni recipe is part of a cookbook, "Recipes from the Heart," a fundraiser for his family's church, St. Paul's Lutheran Church in Funkstown.

Aaron's recipe is kid friendly and it encourages child-parent interaction in the kitchen, with an ingredients list like "three handfuls of elbow macaroni" -- that's an adult-size hand. The recipe promises to serve one "hungry boy one meal."


The money raised from the books' sales will go toward the church's copy machine fund. The copier broke and will cost somewhere in the $5,000 range to replace.

"If the copy machine goes bad, it's rough," says Doris Richardson, a parishioner who's been helping in the cookbook efforts. "Think of all the bulletins."

Richardson said coming up with a cookbook seemed like an easy way to go.

"Lutherans love to eat. We've got some great cooks," she said.

Aaron, who lives in Hagerstown, improvised the recipe because his folks couldn't get him to eat plain macaroni. He still won't touch macaroni with ham, said Aaron's father, Lloyd "Andy" Lighter.

"He's a very picky eater," his dad said.

But it doesn't take much coaxing to get Aaron to eat pepperoni. If the family orders his favorite food, pepperoni pizza, Aaron's mother Karen Lighter might toss extra pepperoni on it if she surveys it and finds there aren't enough.

"We keep pepperoni on hand at all times," Karen Lighter said.

If he orders a sub, you can bet he's going to request extra pepperoni.

"If you want to get him to eat it, other than turn it into candy, put some pepperoni on it," Aaron's dad said.

So when faced with the prospect of eating yet another serving of plain macaroni, "I just put pepperoni in it to see if I liked it," Aaron said.

Aaron's macaroni-and-cheese pepperoni

3 adult-size handfuls of elbow macaroni
4 ounces cheddar cheese, grated
10 slices pepperoni, quartered; more or less to taste
4 slices American cheese, cut into strips
2 tablespoons milk
2 tablespoons Parmesan cheese, more or less to taste

Add the macaroni to lightly salted boiling water and cook 6 minutes. Drain well.

Preheat over to 350 degrees.

In a small, 1-quart casserole dish, mix cooked macaroni with the grated cheddar, pepperoni, American cheese strips and milk. Sprinkle the Parmesan on top.

Cover until lightly browned. Bake for about 30 minutes.

Serves one hungry boy one meal.

Where to buy

o To purchase St. Paul's Lutheran Church's "Recipes from the Heart," call 301-797-6053.

-- Courtesy of Aaron Lighter, 12, of Hagerstown

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