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:

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:

 

Thai Beef with Basil

IMG_0414IMG_0426

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

IMG_3112IMG_3104
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.

Beef Tamale Casserole

IMG_9154IMG_9145Beef Tamale Casserole
adapted from Jo Cooks

Ingredients

For Cornbread

  • 1 package Jiffy corn muffin mix
  • 1 egg
  • 1/3 cup milk
  • 14.75 oz cream style corn (1 can)
  • 4-oz can diced green chiles (or chopped Hatch chiles)

For Beef

  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 1 lb ground beef
  • 1 medium sweet onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon Mexican oregano
  • 1 teaspoon chile powder (I use half ancho, half NM)
  • salt and pepper to taste

For Casserole

  • 1 (10-oz) can enchilada sauce
  • 1-1/2 cups shredded cheese shredded (cheddar, Monterey Jack, or blend)
  • 1 tablespoon chopped cilantro

Optional Toppings: sour cream, avocado, fresh sliced or pickled jalapenos, salsa, hot sauce

Method

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees F.

Add the Jiffy mix, egg, and milk to a medium bowl and whisk together. Stir in the creamed corn and the green chiles.  Pour the cornbread mixture into a large ovenproof skillet or a 9×9 inch baking pan. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until the edges are golden and the cornbread is done.

Meanwhile, in another medium skillet, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the ground beef and cook until no longer pink, about 5 minutes. Add the onion, garlic, cumin, oregano, chile powder, salt, and pepper and stir. Cook until the onion has softened, another 3 to 5 minutes. Add half of the enchilada sauce to the meat mixture and stir. Set aside.

When the cornbread is done, poke holes all over the top with a fork. Pour the remaining enchilada sauce over the top of the cornbread and spread. Top with the ground beef and the shredded cheese. Bake the casserole for another 15 minutes or until the cheese has melted and has started to lightly brown on top.

Let cool for about 5 minutes, then top cilantro and other toppings, as desired.

NOTES

This is the third recipe for “tamale casserole” I have tried and by far our favorite. I don’t know if it’s that it uses ground beef (as opposed to chicken), that the enchilada sauce is 50/50 in the beef and the cornbread instead of 100% poured into the cornbread, or that I cooked it in a cast iron skillet instead of a pan. But the minute we dove into this one, I knew I had finally found the keeper. Awesome dish.

 

Carne Guisada

IMG_3010Carne Guisada
with thanks to My Cocina, My Kitchen

Ingredients

  • 2 pounds sirloin or chuck steak OR pork shoulder, cut into 1-inch chunks
  • 4 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 2 teaspoons cumin seeds
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 1/2 teaspoon black peppercorns
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/2 large white onion, chopped
  • 1 medium tomato, chopped
  • 1/4 cup chopped cilantro leaves
  • 1 serrano pepper, slightly toasted, peeled, seeded, and chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon Mexican oregano (regular is fine)
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups beef or chicken broth

Method

Dredge the cubed meat in flour, coating well.

In a heavy, deep-sided skillet or Dutch oven, add the oil and heat over medium heat. Add the meat and brown thoroughly, stirring often.

While the meat is browning, in a small saute pan, toast the cumin seeds and then add them to the molcajete (mortar and pestle). Use the same pan to toast the serrano pepper.

In a molcajete which already has the cumin, add the garlic, and black peppercorns. Grind into a paste. Add 1/2 cup of water and stir (this is to make sure you remove all the paste from the molcajete) and set aside.

Once the meat is browned, add the garlic, comino and peppercorn paste and liquid from molcajete to the pot. Add the onion, tomato, cilantro, serrano, oregano,  paprika, chili powder, and salt and saute for 3 to 4 minutes.

Add broth, bring to a boil and then reduce heat to low, cover, and cook for 1-1/2 to 2 hours, stirring occasionally, until the meat is tender and the mixture has cooked down to a thick sauce.

NOTES

THIS DISH. This dish is a distinct food memory of my younger years. Steve’s sister used to make this from time to time when we were young and dating and we were living with his family. We loved it so so much and WHY OH WHY did I wait so long to make this myself??

This was even better than I imagined it would be. Savory, spicy, and near-addictively good. I made it the first time with chuck steak, the second time with pork shoulder. Both outstanding. Served with rice, tortillas, and avocado for dinner and with rice and a fried egg for lunch the next day. Incredible, all the way around.

Bacon Cheeseburger Tater Tot Casserole

img_7161Bacon Cheeseburger Tater Tot Casserole
with thanks to The Saucy Southerner

Ingredients

  • 4 slices thick bacon, chopped
  • 1 pound lean ground beef
  • 1/2 medium sweet onion, diced
  • 1 clove garlic, minced or grated
  • 1/4 cup ketchup
  • 1 tablespoon yellow mustard
  • 1 tablespoon dill pickle relish
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 2 ounces grated sharp cheddar cheese
  • 2 cups frozen tater tots, thawed (I weigh out about 6 servings from the bag)

Method

Heat oven to 400°F. Prepare a small casserole dish with a light coat of cooking spray.

In a large skillet, over medium-high heat, cook bacon until crisp; drain on paper towels. Drain bacon fat from skillet.

In same skillet, add the beef, onion, and garlic and cook over medium-high heat 5 to 7 minutes, stirring occasionally, until beef is thoroughly cooked; drain if necessary.

Stir in ketchup, mustard, pickle relish, salt, pepper, 1/4 of the crumbled bacon and 3/4 of the cheese.

Spoon into prepared casserole. Top with tater tots.

Bake uncovered 30 minutes or until bubbly around edges and potatoes are golden brown. Sprinkle with remaining cheese and crumbled bacon.

Bake 5 minutes longer or until cheese is melted.

NOTES

When I saw this, I knew immediately Steve would go crazy for it, and he did. I’ve made it three times in the last five weeks and don’t plan on putting it off the menu anytime soon. So easy, so good!

Note: the original recipe was exactly double mine, but since I only needed four servings, I cut it right in half. It scales perfectly.