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Thursday, April 10, 2014

Homemade Bacon Cheeseburger Hamburger Helper

I've admitted more than once that I actually like Hamburger Helper meals. It's not just the ease of the meal either, I like the taste as well. But as I've said before there are just too many preservatives and additives in those boxed meals that I can't bring myself to ingest on a regular basis, let alone feed them to Bailey.

It's just so easy with these skillet meals and one-pot recipes. I don't know why I don't plan them for every night of the week. It would certainly allow me more relaxation time (read: workout time) and it is so nice to actually get to eat all of the food while it's still hot. That's right, after probably 20 years of cooking (yes, I will be 29 soon and I have been cooking since I was very small) I still have trouble timing meals so that everything is hot when we take it to the table.

This meal tastes a tiny bit Tex-Mex thanks to the chili powder (one of my all-time favorite spices to add to absolutely everything), and a tiny bit spicy from the cayenne pepper. The sauce is creamy and cheesy just like it should be (and I can't stress enough how important it is to shred your own cheese as it melts so much more smoothly). The pasta is tender and flavorful since it's cooked in the spices. This recipe can be lightened by using ground chicken or turkey but I stuck with the ground beef this time for Aaron's sake. The last step is to stir in a few slices of crumbled cooked bacon which brings that bacon cheeseburger flavor out nicely. You could skip the bacon but I thought it made it taste even less like the boxed stuff which is always a plus when you put the effort into making something homemade.

Overall this meal is easy, hot, cheesy, and delicious. The only thing it's missing is some veggies so serve it with a salad.

Homemade Bacon Cheeseburger Hamburger Helper


4-6 slices bacon, cut into small pieces
1 lb ground beef (or chicken or turkey)
2 1/2 cups milk (I used skim because it's what I had on hand tonight)
1 1/2 cups water
2 cups pasta shapes (I used elbow macaroni because I buy it in bulk)
1 Tbsp cornstarch
1 Tbsp chili powder
2 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp sugar
1 tsp salt
3/4 tsp paprika
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1 pinch crushed red pepper flakes (optional)
2 cups cheddar cheese, shredded

Heat a large skillet over medium heat.

Add the bacon and cook until crispy.

Transfer to a plate lined with paper towels and set aside.

Add the ground beef and brown until the meat is cooked through and no longer pink.

In a small bowl combine the cornstarch, chili powder, garlic powder, sugar, salt, paprika, cayenne pepper, and crushed red pepper flakes and mix them up a bit.

Add the pasta and spice mixture to the meat.

Pour in the milk and water and stir to combine. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. Cover and cook 10-12 minutes, until pasta is tender.

Remove from the heat and stir in the cheese. Add about half of the bacon and give it one more stir.

Serve immediately with the remaining bacon sprinkled on top.

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