About straightarrowlife

Atheist, critical thinker, junglist, cook, runner, writer, scientist. Hardcore Whovian.

Lasagna Hamburger Helper

IMG_0989IMG_1004Lasagna Hamburger Helper
slightly adapted from Jo Cooks

Ingredients

  • 1 lb. ground beef
  • 1 medium sweet onion, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 tablespoon dried basil
  • 1/2 tablespoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 (28-oz.) can crushed tomatoes
  • 8 oz. dry mafalda pasta (SEE NOTES)
  • 3 cups chicken broth
  • 1 cup (4 oz.) shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley

Method

In a large, deep skillet, brown the ground beef over medium-high heat until it is well browned and no longer pink. Drain off any excess fat, if needed.

Add the chopped onion and minced garlic to the skillet and stir. Season with salt, basil, oregano, and crushed red pepper, and cook until the onion gets soft and translucent, about 3 minutes.

Add the crushed tomatoes, pasta, and chicken broth and stir everything together. Bring to a boil then reduce to medium low. Cook for about 15 minutes or until the pasta is cooked through; most of the sauce should be absorbed.

Stir in the cheese and cook for another 30 seconds to a minute until the cheese melts. Garnish with parsley and serve immediately.

NOTES

So freaking good. This was the last of Steve’s helper meal nostalgia tour. At this point, I think I have made every recipe from when we were kids, plus a couple extra. List below.

If you can’t find mafalda pasta nearby (I CANNOT), then buy two boxes of Lasagna Hamburger Helper and just use the noodles from that! That was a brilliant “duh” suggestion from Steve when I couldn’t figure out how I was going to buy the right kind of pasta. Two helper boxes end up being cheaper than buying the specialty noodles online, so it’s a win. Alternatively, you can use any kind of shaped pasta like penne, fusilli, rotini, etc.

Other Homemade Helper Recipes:

Skillet Biscuit Chicken Pot Pie

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IMG_3135Skillet Biscuit Chicken Pot Pie
with nods to Delish and Apple of My Eye

Ingredients

  • 1 large Russet potato, peeled and cubed
  • 1 large carrot, sliced into half moons
  • 1 large celery stalk, sliced into half moons
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 1 medium sweet onion, diced
  • 1 large clove garlic, minced or grated
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • 1 lb shredded cooked chicken (see notes)
  • 1 cup frozen peas
  • 1 cup frozen corn
  • 1 16-oz. can refrigerated biscuits

Method

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Place the potato, carrots, and celery in a large pot. Fill with water to cover and bring to a soft boil, cooking for 10 minutes or until you can pierce through the potatoes with a fork easily. Drain and set aside.

Meanwhile, melt the butter in a cast iron or other large deep skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic and cook 3-4 minutes until the onion is soft. Whisk in the flour and let cook for a minute. Add in the milk and chicken broth, whisking so no lumps remain. Reduce heat to medium low. Season the mixture with salt, pepper, and thyme, and let thicken for 3-4 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the cooked vegetables, chicken, peas, and corn to the skillet and stir to coat evenly. Remove from heat

While the vegetables and sauce are cooking, put the biscuits on a parchment paper lined baking sheet and bake for 10 minutes to cook the bottom. Remove and top the chicken pot pie mixture with the half-cooked biscuits and cook for a further 6-8 minutes or until the biscuit tops are deep golden brown.

Serve hot!

NOTES

This was fantastic. A simple way to have pot pie without fussing over actual crusts.

Philly Cheesesteak Hamburger Helper

IMG_0654Philly Cheesesteak Hamburger Helper
adapted from Dinner Then Dessert

Ingredients

  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 1 large sweet onion, diced
  • 1 large green bell pepper, diced
  • 8 ounces brown mushrooms, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons ketchup
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 teaspoon Kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
  • 4 cups beef or chicken broth
  • 8 ounces elbow macaroni
  • 4 ounces provolone cheese slices, chopped (or 4 ounces shredded)
  • 2 tablespoons minced parsley, for garnish

Method

Add the ground beef to a large deep skillet over medium high heat. Cook until a brown crust appears before breaking the beef apart. Saute until no longer pink.

Add the onions, bell peppers, and mushrooms. Cook for 4-5 minutes, stirring periodically, until the vegetables are soft and the mushrooms have released their liquid.

Add the broth, ketchup, Worcestershire sauce, salt, and black pepper to the pan and stir to combine. Bring to a boil over medium heat, then add macaroni. Cover with a tight fitting lid and cook for 5-7 minutes or until noodles are just barely al dente (do not overcook), stirring once to make sure nothing is sticking. Remove cover, reduce heat to medium low and let simmer for another 5 minutes to thicken before serving. Turn off the heat, add in the provolone cheese and stir until melted and well combined. Garnish with minced parsley. Serve.

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NOTES

Just adding to my Helper meal repertoire! I never thought I would have so many homemade versions of the boxed meals Steve and I subsisted on throughout our early life, but here we are. This one might actually be my favorite. Creamy, savory, and the glorious taste of philly cheesesteak in a simple one-pot. Will make again and again.

Other Homemade Helper Recipes:

 

One-Pot Mexican Chicken and Rice

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One-Pot Mexican Chicken and Rice
adapted from RecipeTin Eats

Ingredients

For spice mix:

  • 1 tablespoon cumin powder
  • 1 tablespoon Mexican oregano
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 2 teaspoons chile powder (I use Ancho and New Mexican)
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder

For chicken:

  • 4 bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 1 tablespoon lime juice

For rice:

  • 1 small sweet onion, chopped
  • 1 red bell pepper, seeded and chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 cup long grain rice
  • 1 cup chicken stock/broth
  • 1 8-oz. can tomato sauce
  • 1 cup frozen corn kernels
  • 1 4-oz. can diced green chiles (I use Hatch chiles)
  • 1 15-oz. can black beans, drained and rinsed

Optional, for garnish: sliced limes, chopped cilantro, sliced jalapeno peppers, sour cream, sliced avocado

Method

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Combine the spice mix ingredients in a small bowl. Place 2 tablespoons of the mix in another large bowl with 1 tablespoon olive oil and 1 tablespoon lime juice. Mix to combine. Toss in chicken and use your hands to slather the mix all over the meat.

Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a deep skillet over medium high heat. Cook chicken skin side down for 3 minutes or until well browned, then flip over and cook on the other side for another 2 minutes. Remove chicken onto a plate.

In the same skillet, still over medium high heat, add the onion, bell pepper, and garlic. Sauté for 3 minutes until the onion and pepper start to brown. Reduce heat to medium, then add the rice. Stir to coat the rice with the onion mixture and oil. Add the chicken stock, tomato sauce, corn, green chiles, beans, and remaining spice mix. Stir to combine.

Place chicken back in the skillet on top of the rice, skin side up. It should be partially submerged in the liquid but most of the skin should be above the liquid. Bring to simmer, then turn off the stove. Cover the skillet with a lid or foil and place into the oven.

Bake for 25 minutes, then remove from the oven and take off the lid/foil. Return the skillet to the oven, uncovered, for 10 to 15 minutes until only small puddles of liquid remain on the surface of the rice. Remove from the oven and allow to rest for 5 to 10 minutes, uncovered, so that any remaining liquid evaporates. Serve with garnishes, as desired.

NOTES

This was one of those meals where Steve and I BOTH said immediately “we could eat this every single week.” We also agreed it is good enough to be guest-worthy. Seriously, I cannot over-emphasize how amazing this was. Just ridiculous.

Bonus: this lays the foundation for all sorts of other chicken and rice skillet dishes. Nagi at RecipeTin Eats already did another one with Greek flavors and I am anxious to see what else I can create with this same method.

Thai Beef with Basil

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Thai Beef with Basil

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1 lb beef sirloin, sliced into thin strips
  • 1 large red bell pepper, sliced into 1 to 2-inch strips
  • 2 large shallots, thinly sliced
  • 4 large cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 Thai bird’s eye chile, minced
  • 3 tablespoons fish sauce
  • 2 tablespoons Golden Mountain seasoning
  • 1 tablespoon dark soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon palm sugar
  • Leaves from 1 bunch Thai basil

Method

Heat wok over high heat and add the oil. Sear the beef until just browned, remove from the wok, and set aside.

Add the bell pepper, onion, garlic, and chiles to the wok and stir-fry for about 3 minutes.

Toss the beef back in, along with the fish sauce, Golden Mountain seasoning, dark soy sauce, and sugar. Stir-fry for another 2 minutes, until sugar has melted away, then fold in the Thai basil until wilted.

Serve with jasmine rice and prik nam pla (Thai chiles in fish sauce) on the side.

NOTES

Easy, authentic, delicious. This is another one of the dishes Steve and I would frequently order at our beloved Thai place in California. And with this recipe, I am that much closer to perfecting all of our favorites at home.

Skillet Salisbury Steak

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Skillet Salisbury Steak
slightly adapted from The Recipe Critic

Ingredients

  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 1/2 cup bread crumbs
  • 2 Tablespoons ketchup
  • 1 Tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 teaspoon mustard powder
  • 1 egg
  • salt and pepper
  • 2 Tablespoons butter

Gravy:

  • 8 ounce mushrooms, sliced
  • 1/2 large sweet onion, sliced
  • 2 cups beef broth
  • 1 Tablespoon ketchup
  • 2 Tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 Tablespoon cornstarch
  • 1 Tablespoon water

Method

In a medium sized mixing bowl add the ground beef, bread crumbs, ketchup, Worcestershire sauce, mustard powder, egg, and salt and pepper. Mix with your hands until just combined and shape into 4 oval patties.

Heat the butter in a medium sized skillet over medium high heat. Add the patties and cook until the sides are slightly crisp and cooked throughout. Remove and set aside on a plate.

Add the the mushrooms and onion to the pan and cook until tender. Remove to the plate with the patties.

To make the gravy: Add the beef broth, ketchup, Worcestershire sauce to the skillet. In a small bowl add the cornstarch and water creating a slurry. Whisk it into the gravy and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium low and add the mushrooms, onions, and patties back to the skillet. Allow to simmer until the gravy starts to thicken. Salt and pepper to taste. Serve over mashed potatoes and peas and garnish with fresh parsley if desired.

NOTES

Confession: I have never liked Salisbury steak. I always thought the sauce was too sweet and tangy and gloopy. But when I saw this recipe in my blog feed, I had to admit, Salisbury steak actually looked pretty damn good – and it WAS. I still think the sauce is generally too sweet, so I cut back on the ketchup a touch. I also omitted some of the oil. And I must say, this turned out fantastic. Easy, hearty, savory, and definitely worth repeating.

Butter Chicken

IMG_3094IMG_9960Butter Chicken
adapted from The New York Times

Ingredients

  • 1 cup full-fat Greek yogurt
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon ground turmeric
  • 1 tablespoon garam masala
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut into large chunks
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 large sweet onion, peeled and sliced
  • 3 cloves garlic, peeled and minced or grated
  • 2 tablespoons minced or grated fresh ginger
  • 1/2 tablespoon cumin seeds
  • 1 small cinnamon stick
  • 1 8-oz. can tomato sauce
  • 1 jalapeno (red or green) or serrano pepper, seeded and finely diced
  • kosher salt to taste
  • 1 cup chicken stock
  • 1/2 cup half and half
  • 2 ounces ground almonds (optional)
  • Chopped cilantro, for serving
  • Basmati rice and/or naan, for serving

Method

Whisk together the yogurt, lemon juice, turmeric, garam masala and cumin in a large bowl. Put the chicken in, and coat with the marinade. Cover, and refrigerate (for up to a day).

Melt the butter in a large deep pan over medium heat. Add the onions, and cook, stirring frequently, until translucent. Add the garlic, ginger and cumin seeds, and cook until the onions start to brown.

Add the cinnamon stick, tomato sauce, chile pepper and salt, and cook until the chile pepper is soft, about 2 minutes.

Add the chicken and marinade to the pan, and cook for 2 minutes, then add the chicken stock. Bring the mixture to a boil, then turn the heat to low and simmer, uncovered, for 20 minutes.

Stir in the half and half and simmer until the chicken is cooked through, about 5 minutes.

Add the almonds, if using, and cook for another minute, then remove from heat. Garnish with cilantro and serve over basmati rice and/or with naan on the side.

NOTES

HOLY. CRAP. SO. GOOD.

So, butter chicken. For years, I never bothered to make it because I thought it was just like chicken tikka masala – marinate in lemon, yogurt, spices, cook with more spices, chile pepper, tomato, and cream. Same, right? NOPE. NOPENOPENOPE. I could not have been more mistaken.

This is, hands down, now my favorite Indian dish of all time. I cannot properly explain how complex and delicious and wonderful and amazing this is. Make it. You will not be disappointed.