Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Lasagna Hamburger Buddy

This meal makes a quick and easy weeknight dinner for your family.  I can remember my mother buying a box of Hamburger Helper way back in the early 1970's when it first came on the market.  She left it sitting in the pantry so long that when I finally decided that I would make it for dinner myself, the box was full of weevils. Yuck!  I could not get that out of my mind.  I have no idea what we ate that night but I probably didn't eat much of whatever it was.  In any event, you don't have to go to the supermarket to buy a box of Hamburger Helper.  It is probably a lot healthier and tastier if you make it yourself.  You can make almost any variety of Hamburger Helper yourself with a little forethought and planning.  What you need to have on hand to create homemade helpers: Ground beef, various herbs and seasonings and other basic pantry items (such as sugar, salt, and corn starch), pasta, rice, potatoes, canned tomatoes, and cheese. (You can buy large bags of shredded cheeses to shortcut this step, or buy blocks of cheese and shred it yourself.) Some varieties also call for Frito's or nacho chips, and most call for milk because it makes a creamier sauce. Keep a large box of dry milk in the pantry so that you are never out of milk.

Homemade Hamburger (Helper) Buddy Basics:  When creating your own helpers, keep in mind that most packages of Hamburger Helper include about 1-1/2 cups of pasta plus a packet of sauce seasonings, sometimes dried tomatoes, and sometimes a packet of dried cheese, depending on the variety. If there’s anything more unappetizing than dried cheese, I can’t imagine what it is. Some varieties use rice or dried sliced potatoes instead of pasta. Whatever you’re using for the starch base in the dish–1-1/2 cups is a good rule of thumb when making homemade helpers (except rice, which works better with only 1 cup of rice added). The total amount of liquid that should be added will equal about 3 cups in total.

Lasagna Hamburger Buddy 
(Copycat Recipe)

1 pound ground beef
2-1/4 cups hot water
1/2 cup milk
1-1/2 cups lasagna broken into small pieces or small egg noodles
1 cup stewed or diced canned tomatoes
1/2 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
1/4 cup shredded Parmesan cheese

Prepare a spice packet including:

1 tablespoon corn starch
1 tablespoon mixed Italian herbs
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon garlic
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon sugar

After browning and draining the ground beef (one pound), in the same skillet add water and milk and tomato sauce, seasonings, and simmer (about 10-20 minutes). Stir in 1/2 cup mozzarella, shredded, near the end, sprinkle the top with Parmesan cheese during the 5-minute standing period.  Serve.


The Creative Cook