Sunday, August 25, 2013

Hamburger Helper Homemade

My mother never cooked from a box, and I have tried to emulate her and prepare food that's fresh, healthy, and delicious from scratch.

For college students branching out on a budget, both money and time-wise, it is tempting to opt for processed, prepackaged microwave meals--I'd encourage you to steer clear except on rare occasions when things have simply gotten too busy.

Evidence suggests that cooking with fresh ingredients is cheaper, healthier, more environmentally friendly, and above all, tastier.  You don't need to be a chef, but a few kitchen skills and ingredients will take you a long way.

Today's recipe is great for having friends over. I personally like this recipe with garlic and red pepper flakes.  Try it out this week.  Total approximate cost: $12-15 for 2-4 servings.  (Adapted from a rarely disappointing blog site: recipes)

5-quart sauce pan for boiling pasta
Large skillet
Slotted spoon, optional (just drain meat in bowl with paper towel)
Chopping knife

1 lb of elbow or penne pasta
1 lb ground beef
1 1/2 -2 cups onion, diced
2-3 Tbls extra-virgin olive oil
Oregano, dried or fresh
1 clove garlic, minced (optional)

1 Tbls ketchup
2 tsp tomato paste (I recommend getting it in a tube so that you have a way to easily store it)
15 oz tomato sauce (Hunt's is recommended)
Salt & Pepper
Red pepper flakes (optional)

1/3 cup parmesan cheese, grated
1 cup sharp cheddar cheese, grated

1. Wash your hands and read the recipe.
2. In a sauce pan, boil pasta, drain, and set aside.

3. Prepare you skillet with 1-2 Tbls of olive oil on MEDIUM-HIGH heat.

4. Brown meat until "almost" done.  Add garlic if you are using.  Drain and set aside.

5. Use the same skillet to saute onions until translucent and slightly browned.

6. Add meat back to onions.

7. If you have oregano, add a 1 tsp of dried oregano or 1 Tbls of fresh oregano

8. Add tomato sauce, tomato paste, and ketchup. Add red pepper flakes if using.

9. Add pepper.

10. Remove skillet from heat and add your cheeses.  Combine well.

11. If your skillet is not large enough to add cooked pasta, use a large mixing bowl to combine the two.

12. Add some garlic bread and a salad.
13. Let everyone dig in and enjoy a homecooked meal with great conversation.
14. Remember your childhood.

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