Thursday, July 28

Zucchini Hamburger Helper (from scratch)




Howdy. Its hot today. It was hot yesterday. Heating up the kitchen is not something I am fond of in the hot southern Az summer so this 20 minute family favorite is the top of my "go to" summer dinner list. Its healthy, easily flexible use whatever milk product you have, whatever cheese you want, any sort of ground meat, and it always comes out amazingly flavorful and kid friendly. Plus it helps my very sweet husband retain some of his childhood memories of eating the kind from the box because I am not buying the box stuff. 

I heart zucchini. Its my healthy favorite vegetable. Whenever I want to make something healthier I add in zucchini. In the summer, this lovable green vegetable are huge, yummy,  and super cheap. I changed this recipe up from the original by adding in zucchini, more pasta, more cheese, and switching to a whole grain pasta. Check out these meaty and cheesy pics and the recipe below for a great meal.  






Zucchini Hamburger Helper (from Scratch)
Serves 4-5 
Adapted from this really great blog: Farmgirl Gourmet




Ingredients:

1 lb ground beef (I used 85%) but ground turkey works well too
1 large zucchini or about 2 cups worth, diced into small sized cubes (for kids and husbands)
2 1/2 cups of milk (I used 2%)
2 1/2 cups of hot water
3 cups of whole grain elbow pasta
1 Tbs cornstarch
1 Tbs chili powder
2 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp sugar
2 tsp salt
1 tsp smoked sweet paprika
1/4 tsp or a pinch of red pepper flakes
2 1/2 cups of shredded cheddar cheese (seriously any kind of great melting cheese is good)






How to make it: 

1. In a deep pan with a lid, start cooking the meat over medium heat. Add a little oil or butter if you need it. 
2. When the meat is almost cooked all the way through add in the zucchini and sauté for a couple minutes breaking up the larger pieces of meat as you go. 
3. When the meat is caramelized and cooked all the way through and the zucchini has a bit of color on it, add in everything else except the cheese. Stir so the spices get evenly distributed.   
4. Bring the pan and contents to a boil, then reduce to the heat to low, cover with a lid, and simmer for 10-12 minutes. t will look super soupy like you added too much liquids but don't worry. It will thicken. Mine was good at 11 minutes. 



Hint: Pasta can be tested to see if its done two ways. You can taste it. Or you can break or cut it open and if there is no white on the inside then it is cooked. 

5. Turn the heat off on the pan when the pasta is cooked to your liking. Stir in the huge mound of yummy cheese and as soon as its melted about 37 seconds later. Serve it up and enjoy!