Runner recipes: Grandma Wade’s Roni Roni


Blake McKee

Grandma Wade’s Roni Roni.

Blake McKee, Podcast Reporter

It’s not uncommon for someone to have a favorite childhood dish that always managed to put a smile on their face. Growing up, my grandmother would fix a dish that her mother also made for her: Roni Roni. Roni Roni is a lot like Hamburger Helper in nature, so it’s easy to cook and loaded with flavor. This dish is perfect for a mid-size family dinner. 


Yield: 5-6 servings  

Prep Time: 5 minutes 

Cook Time: 30 minutes 

Total Time: 35 minutes 


Cook the beef in a frying pan over medium-high heat. (Blake McKee)


1 pound ground beef 

8 ounces penne pasta 

ounces shredded Monterey jack cheese 

½ cup of sliced mushrooms

¾ jar of Ragu tomato sauce  

1 teaspoon of thyme 

Salt, to taste 

Pepper, to taste  



Place a medium-sized ungreased frying pan over medium-high heat. Once the pan is hot, begin cooking the ground beef, and add the thyme 

As the ground beef is browning, add the sliced mushrooms to the pan.  

After 10 minutes, the mushrooms should be sauteed, and the ground beef should be completely browned. Slowly pour the contents of the pan into a strainer to get rid of any unwanted excess grease; be careful, the grease will be extremely hot.  

Once it is drained, immediately pour the ground beef and mushrooms back into the original pan over low heat. 

Once the beef has mostly browned, add the mushrooms. (Blake McKee)

Fill a medium-sized pot halfway with water, place the pot on a separate burner over high heat, and bring the water to a boil. Once the water is boiling, pour the penne pasta into the pot. 

Be sure to stir the pasta, so it doesn’t stick to the bottom. The pasta should be fully cooked in 10 minutes, regardless of the brand. Use a strainer to drain the water. 

Put the strained penne back in the pot, and add ¾ of a jar of Ragu tomato sauce into the pot, and stir.  

Once it is mixed well, mix in the ground beef and mushrooms. Finally, add salt and pepper to taste; Grandma Wade used a pinch of each. 

Pour the pasta mixture into a medium baking pan, and preheat your oven to 400F. Add a layer of the shredded cheese, and then bake.  

Bake the contents for about 10 minutes, or until the cheese is nice and melted. Be careful not to overcook the inner layers of the Roni Roni; this could cause the dish to become too dry

Pull the dish out of the oven, and let it cool down for 4-5 minutes. After it has cooled enough to eat, the Roni Roni is ready to serve!  

This dish pairs well with Texas cheese toast and a cold glass of milk.  

If you have a recipe that you would like to share with The Runner, send it in to [email protected] for your recipe to be featured! 

After combining the ingredients, transfer it to a baking dish and top with cheese. (Blake McKee)