Archive | Pasta RSS feed for this section

Homemade Hamburger Helper Cheeseburger Macaroni

9 Jun

Homemade Hamburger Helper

Sometimes you just want to have some good old comfort food. For most Americans, Hamburger Helper is/was a common staple at dinner time. Only problem is, it’s full of so much salt and additives that you can’t help but feel a little guilty eating it. This is a homemade version that gets rid of all that yucky junk you don’t need and leaves you with only the yummy cheeseburger goodness you want.


  • 1 lb ground beef, turkey or chicken
  • 1 Tablespoon cornstarch
  • 2 teaspoons paprika
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 cup hot water
  • 2 cups milk
  • 1½ cups macaroni (uncooked)
  • 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese


  1. Brown ground beef in a deep pan or pot (you’ll be adding a lot of liquid). Drain the fat.
  2. Add spices, sugar, hot water, milk, & pasta and bring to a boil.
  3. Reduce heat to a simmer and allow to cook until the pasta is tender.
  4. Add cheddar cheese and turn off the heat. Stir until the cheese is melted.
  5. Serve.

Adapted from


Classic Spaghetti & Meatballs

15 Apr
2014-04-09 17.59.35

I had a pretty picture all set up of the beautiful sauce & meatballs sitting on top of the spaghetti with cheese and then I promptly forgot about the picture and ate it instead. So here’s my half-eaten plate of spaghetti & meatballs!

I don’t know what it is about spaghetti and meatballs that’s so fun. It always just looks so delicious and comforting. Now I typically just make spaghetti with meat sauce, but every once in a while I like to mix it up a bit and do meatballs instead. These meatballs are super easy to make and have a great flavor from using a 50/50 mixture of ground pork and ground beef. And the spaghetti sauce is killer too. This whole recipe will probably take close to 2 hours to make, but most of that is for the sauce to simmer. Well worth the time I say.

2014-04-09 16.23.25

For the Meatballs:

  • ¾ pound ground pork
  • ¾ pound ground beef
  • 1 Tablespoon onion, minced
  • ½ teaspoon parsley
  • 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon garlic salt
  • 2 eggs, well beaten
  • 1-1½ cups Italian seasoned breadcrumbs

Preheat oven to 450°F.

In a large mixing bowl add the meats and blend together with your hands. Add the onion, parsley, pepper, and garlic salt. Mix again with your hands until the seasonings are well blended with the meat. Add the eggs and while mixing, add in the bread crumbs ½ cup at a time (up to 1½ cups) until the meat begins to feel slightly firm.

Form the meat into 1½” balls with your hands and place on a baking sheet so the meatballs are close but not touching. Bake for 10 minutes or until browned. The meatballs will not be fully cooked.  (Start sauce while meatballs are cooking).

Adapted from

For the Sauce:

  • 1 Tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 3-4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 (28 ounce) can diced tomatoes
  • 2 (6 ounce) cans tomato paste
  • 2 (15 ounce) cans tomato sauce
  • 2 cups water
  • 3 teaspoons dried basil
  • 2 teaspoons dried parsley flakes
  • 1½ teaspoons brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ¼-½ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • ¼ fresh ground black pepper
  • ¼ cup red wine
  • 1 pound spaghetti noodles

In a large, heavy stockpot, cook the onions in olive oil until softened. Add garlic, tomatoes, tomato paste, tomato sauce, and water. Add basil, parsley, brown sugar, salt, crushed red pepper, and black pepper. Stir well and bring to a simmer. Stir in red wine & meatballs.

Simmer on low, stirring occasionally for at least an hour. About 10-15 minutes before sauce is ready, cook spaghetti noodles.

Spoon sauce and meatballs over drained spaghetti and sprinkle with fresh Parmesan cheese.

Adapted from

Chicken Yakisoba

8 Dec

2013-12-07 19.12.52

It was Saturday night and we were hungry.  I didn’t have any meals planned out so I went to my Pinterest board to see if there was anything I could make with stuff I already had. I’d seen an easy looking recipe for some sort of Ramen noodle stir-fry a couple days before and was happy to see that I could scrounge up enough of the ingredients to give it a fair go.

I made a couple minor adjustments, which I didn’t think hurt the final result at all. First, I didn’t have any cabbage so I didn’t use that, but I would definitely add it next time because cabbage in stir-fry rocks. I also decided to use 3 packages of noodles instead of just 2 because darn it I really like noodles and I typically eat 2 packages myself when I eat them as normally prepared. Plus I figured extra noodles were a good substitution for the missing cabbage! Oh and I also used leftover turkey because we still had some left. Nice change from turkey soup and the like. I just threw it in after the veggies were done cooking so it could heat through. I wouldn’t hesitate to omit the meat completely or substitute some tofu instead.

I must say I was incredibly happy with how this turned out. It had a ton of flavor but wasn’t overwhelming. Even Sylvie liked the noodles. This one is going in my keeper file for quick easy pantry meals.

Go to Recipe

Quick Spinach Alfredo Lasagna

25 Oct

This was another incredibly delicious, fast meal from my America’s Test Kitchen Quick Family Cookbook. I ended up subbing gouda cheese for fontina because they didn’t have it at the grocery store. I also omitted the porcini mushrooms because I couldn’t find those either. Be sure to let it cool a bit otherwise it’ll be a tad runny. This was especially delicious as leftovers the next day!

spinach lasagna


  • 1 (15-ounce) jar Alfredo sauce
  • 1 cup water
  • 10 ounces frozen spinach, thawed, squeezed dry, and chopped fine
  • 1 tomato, cored and cut into ½-inch pieces
  • 4 ounces fontina cheese, shredded (1 cup)
  • 1/8 ounce dried porcini mushrooms, rinsed and minced
  • 4 ounces (½ cup) ricotta cheese (do not use low-fat or nonfat ricotta here)
  • 6 no-boil lasagna noodles


1. Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 425 degrees. Grease 8-inch square baking dish with vegetable oil spray.

2. Combine Alfredo sauce, water, spinach, tomato, ½ cup fontina, and mushrooms in bowl until uniform. Gently fold in ricotta, leaving some clumps. Spread ½ cup sauce into prepared baking dish. Lay 2 noodles into dish, and top with 1 1/3 cups sauce. Repeat layering of noodles and sauces two more times.

3. Cover lasagna and microwave until just warmed in center, about 5 minutes. Uncover, top with remaining ½ cup fontina, and bake until cheese is just beginning to brown, 15 to 20 minutes. Let cool slightly and serve.

Skillet Baked Ziti

15 Sep

skillet penne

For the last year or so I’ve had to stay away from tomatoes and tomato-based dishes because of Sylvie’s intolerance to them. Let me tell you how much more difficult this made meal planning. But, the heavens have opened and it seems the issues have faded and I can now enjoy all things tomato. I’ve been wanting to try this recipe for a while now because it was recommended so highly from my sister, Annie. Plus it’s an America’s Test Kitchen recipe so you can’t go wrong there.

I was very pleased with the results of the this recipe. I was very skeptical as I was making it that it would be horribly bland, but that was not the case. It was super easy to throw together and was on the table in 30 minutes. Did I mention Sylvie scarfed it up? Yeah. This is a keeper.


Serves 4

“To complete this recipe in 30 minutes, preheat your oven before assembling the ingredients. If your skillet is not ovensafe, transfer the pasta mixture to a shallow 2-quart casserole dish before sprinkling with the cheese and baking. Packaged preshredded mozzarella is a real time-saver here. Penne can be used in place of the ziti.”

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 6 medium garlic cloves, minced (about 2 tablespoons)
  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • Table salt
  • 1 (28-ounce) can crushed tomatoes
  • 3 cups water
  • 12 ounces ziti (3 3/4 cups; see note)
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1 ounce Parmesan cheese, grated (about 1/2 cup)
  • 1/4 cup minced fresh basil leaves
  • Ground black pepper
  • 4 ounces whole milk mozzarella cheese, shredded (about 1 cup; see note)
  1. Adjust an oven rack to the middle position and heat the oven to 475 degrees.
  2. Heat the oil in a 12-inch nonstick ovensafe skillet over medium-high heat until hot. Add the garlic, red pepper flakes, and 1/2 teaspoon salt and sauté until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the crushed tomatoes, water, ziti, and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Cover and cook, stirring often and adjusting the heat as needed to maintain a vigorous simmer, until the ziti is almost tender, about 15-18 minutes.
  3. Stir in the cream, Parmesan, and basil. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Sprinkle the mozzarella evenly over the ziti. Transfer the skillet to the oven and bake until the cheese has melted and browned, about 10 minutes. Using potholders (the skillet handle will be hot), remove the skillet from the oven. Serve.

From: America’s Test Kitchen TV Show Cookbook 

Quick and Easy Roasted Red Pepper Pasta

14 Jun


What’s that you say? This recipe is quick AND easy? Well okay, I’ll make it then. Seriously… “quick and easy” is my mantra these days and this recipe lived up to its name. Even better was the fact that it tasted great. Because what sense would it make to make something that was quick and easy but made you throw up? None. So make this. It tastes gooder.

Go to Recipe

Cajun-Style Stove-Top Mac & Cheese

21 Mar

cajun mac and cheese

The other day a friend of mine pointed me to this Food Network link of 50 Mac& Cheese Recipes. As I scanned through all the glorious options I knew I was going to try my hand at several variations. This week as I was planning my menu, I looked through the different recipes and noticed one titled “Andouille  Mac & Cheese.” Now I just so happened to have some smoked sausage leftover from last week and this looked like the perfect recipe to use it up. I figured smoked sausage would be a comparable substitute for andouille. The recipe also called for Peppadew peppers which I’d never heard of, but upon further investigation found that pimentos were an acceptable substitute. So I sort of made the andouille mac & cheese, but sort of not. So I decided to provide you with the recipe as written with my variations thrown in.

By the way, it turned out fabulous and was on the table in less than 30 minutes! I can’t wait to try a different kind!

  • Kosher salt
  • 8 ounces elbow macaroni or other small pasta
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon Cajun seasoning
  • 1 teaspoon mustard powder
  • Pinch of cayenne pepper
  • 1 12-ounce can evaporated milk
  • 1 ½ cups grated mild yellow cheddar cheese
  • ¼ cup diced processed cheese, such as Velveeta
  • 6 ounces browned diced andouille or smoked sausage
  • 1/3 cup chopped Peppadew peppers  or  4 oz. jar diced pimentos, drained
  • 1 sliced scallion
  • Freshly ground black pepper

Bring a pot of salted water to a boil; add the pasta and cook until al dente. Reserve 1 cup cooking water, then drain the pasta.

Meanwhile, melt the butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat; whisk in the flour, Cajun seasoning, mustard powder, and cayenne and cook, whisking, 1 minute. Whisk in the evaporated milk and simmer, stirring occasionally, until slightly thickened, about 5 minutes.

Stir in the cheeses until melted, then add the pasta, sausage, and pimentos. Add just enough of the reserved cooking water to make a thick sauce. Season with salt and black pepper and garnish with sliced scallion.

%d bloggers like this: