A request came in last week for easy recipes to make with a ten-year-old who’s a picky eater, but a pasta-fanatic.  I say there’s no better way to transition a kid out of picky-eating into mainstream eating than to get him or her to cook, so I rounded up five recipes that I thought would be the hit of any kid’s dinnertable—and one that’s a personal favorite. Happy cooking!

RELATEDSee all of Dara’s Top Five Recipe Lists Here!

No-boil Mac & CheeseKids love to throw everything in a crockpot and walk away, then come back and find that dinner is done.  Some people swear by the one-step of throwing in the dry macaroni, and others insist that you must cook the macaroni first. I’ve found if you’re watching the pot and stirring you can make the dry macaroni work, and it’s delightfully low on clean-up. So, I provide a good recipe to you. If you need to leave the house though, pre-cook the macaroni. 

Baked Ziti with Vegetables Nothing is more Italian-American than baked ziti, and this slightly fancier version includes some shredded veggies, which can give you a good healthy-eating feeling. 

Parmesan Herb Chicken and OrzoA hearty option? How about you cook your chicken, and then at the last add orzo, that small pasta shaped like big-rice?  Fancy! 

Slow-Cooker Chili-MacChili-Mac is a noble American dish.  If you don’t know it’s just chili, and then you add macaroni. You can do this in a crockpot! Or rather, your ten-year old can, and you can reap the rewards. 

Slow Cooker LasagnaEvery generation discovers anew the glory of making lasagna without boiling the noodles, and now it’s the time for the kids! Kids find it so satisfying to build the lasagna in the slow cooker, it’s like making a mosaic, with noodles! 

Pork and Sausage Meatballs Cooked in Sauce Now one for the grown-ups. I actually prefer meatballs cooked in marinara sauce to fried. I think they have more flavor.  I make slow-cooker meatballs cooked in sauce with my own kids fairly often, it’s a very satisfying Sunday project. But, you have to be pretty careful with your hand-cleaning and keep an eye on the little ones so they don’t suddenly grab for a water glass, or a toy, or a pet, with their hands all messy.