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Kitchen Mailbox Countdown to Dinner Dining
Countdown to dinner: A child-friendly recipe from a school cook

Thursday, July 13, 2000

Tested by Rebecca Sodergren

Your kids love pizza but turn up their noses at most anything else? You'll probably be able to get them to eat today's Countdown to Dinner dish.

Margie Samek, 72, of Monroeville, invented this recipe in between all of her other activities. During the school year she's a cafeteria employee at North American Martyrs Catholic school in Monroeville. Husband John is a shop supervisor for Woodward Inc. in Mars.

They have eight grown children, six of whom remain in the Pittsburgh area. The other two live in York and Lancaster, Pa. They have 11 grandchildren.

Besides cooking, Samek enjoys crafts and gardening. Until last year, she also played on a softball team.

When we tested this recipe, we cut the margarine to 1 tablespoon. We also added about 1/4 cup water with the potatoes and onions to speed the cooking process. The potatoes were nearly done after about 10 minutes, at which time we removed the lid and allowed the water to boil off. The resulting potatoes were probably a bit softer than they would have been according to Samek's instructions, but they still tasted good.

Also for speed, we elected not to peel the potatoes. Had we peeled them and cooked them according to Samek's instructions, we're not sure we could have beat the 30-minute Countdown clock.

Besides, such speed will probably be necessary if you have pizza-crazy children salivating over the frying pan. Now if only Samek could come up with a way to make broccoli taste like pizza ...

Pizza Pan Potatoes

2 tablespoons margarine
3 large potatoes, peeled, sliced 1/8-inch thick
1 small onion, diced
1 cup mozzarella, shredded
2 ounces pepperoni, sliced
3/4 cup jarred spaghetti sauce
Salt and pepper to taste

Melt margarine in large, heavy skillet. Add potatoes, onion, salt and pepper. Cover and cook over medium heat for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally until potatoes are tender (it's not necessary to brown them).

Sprinkle cheese over potatoes. Pour half of the spaghetti sauce over cheese. Sprinkle with pepperoni and remaining sauce.

Remove from heat. Cover and let stand until cheese melts.

Variation: Add 6 or 8 hot dogs cut into bite-size pieces with the pepperoni.

Do you have an entree, salad or vegetable side dish recipe (no desserts, please!) that can be made in 30 minutes or less from six ingredients or fewer (not counting water, salt and pepper)? Share it with Countdown to Dinner.

The PG tests all recipes and if we select your recipe for publication, you'll receive a free selection from our cookbook grab bag of current releases.

Send your recipe to Countdown to Dinner, Post-Gazette Food, 34 Blvd. of the Allies, Pittsburgh, PA 15222, or fax to 412-263-1313. Please include your name, neighborhood and daytime phone number. Or e-mail to: nanderson@post-gazette.com. Questions? Call 412-263-1760.

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