Homemade Cheeseburger Macaroni

Anyone else have fond memories of Hamburger Helper growing up? Yeah. Me too. So when I came across this from-scratch recipe on Pinterest I was so, so, so excited. This is a super simple weeknight dish – it’s a one pot meal that takes 20 minutes start to finish. It was also a crowd pleaser… Brogan shouted, “Mommy, this is the best dinner ever! I want you to make this again!” Now it’s not the first time he’s flattered me with such a compliment, but regardless, he really liked it. Even the adults around here went back for seconds. I ate it as leftovers for lunch today and it was great reheated. I stuck really close to the original recipe, except that I added some diced onion to the ground beef, and used black pepper instead of cayenne pepper and red pepper flakes (it would have been too spicy for my boys). Hope you enjoy!

Cheeseburger Macaroni

Homemade Cheeseburger Macaroni

1 1/3 lbs ground beef
1/2 cup onion, finely diced
2 1/2 cups milk
1 1/2 cups water
2 cups elbow macaroni (uncooked)
1 tbsp corn starch
1 tbsp chili powder
2 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp salt
1 tsp sugar
3/4 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp pepper
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese

1.) In a large skillet or dutch oven, add onion and brown meat over medium-high. Drain off any fat.
2.) Add milk, water, macaroni, corn starch, chili powder, garlic powder, salt, sugar, paprika and pepper. Stir well, reduce heat, cover and simmer for 10 to 12 minutes, or until macaroni is done. Stir occasionally to make sure the macaroni does not stick to the bottom.
3.) When macaroni is finished, remove form heat, and stir in cheddar cheese.

Cheeseburger Macaroni1


Adapted from Farmgirl Gourmet’s Homemade Hamburger Helper

Spaghetti with Meat Sauce

I’m pretty sure that spaghetti makes it on most people’s weekly dinner plan. Why? It’s easy. Even when it’s from scratch, it’s easy. I only recently started making my spaghetti sauce from scratch. I’m not against the jar – and truthfully, I keep a couple jars in the pantry in case I’m ever in a pinch – but I’ve come to like the taste of my homemade better. I timed myself tonight from start to finish and the sauce is truly a 30-minute meal. However, I forgot to get my water boiling for the pasta when I first started the sauce, so dinner was a little delayed. This recipe makes a pretty large pot of sauce. I will use it for leftovers, but it also freezes really well in a gallon Ziploc bag if you’re not a leftover person. Hope you enjoy!

Spaghetti with Meat Sauce

Spaghetti with Meat Sauce

1 lb angel hair pasta (if you plan to freeze half your sauce, use 1/2 lb)
1 1/3 lb ground beef
1 large sweet onion, diced
1 tbsp minced garlic
2 26-oz boxes of petite cut tomatoes (or 4 14-oz cans)
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
2 tsp dried basil
2 tsp dried oregano
1 tbsp sugar
1 tbsp tomato paste
1/3 cup red wine
Parmesan cheese, for topping

1.) Start heating a large pot of salted water to boil for the pasta. When water is boiling, add pasta and cook according to the box.
2.) In another large pot, brown ground beef over medium-high heat and drain if needed. Add diced onion and garlic and sauté until onion is translucent, about 4 to 5 minutes.
3.) Add remaining ingredients (except parm), stir well and reduce heat to medium-low. Simmer uncovered for 15 to 20 minutes.
4.) Serve topped with parmesan cheese.

Spaghetti with Meat Sauce2

To get other dinner ideas, see my 4 weeks of (different) home-cooked meals post.

Shrimp Bake

This dish is one my mom used to make when I was growing up, and it was always one of my favorites. Tonight was my first time trying it… when I wasn’t able to reach her for the recipe this evening, I had to go off of memory and try to figure out how she got it to taste so great. Good news is, I think I figured it out. My mom made hers with shrimp, scallops and crab meat, but I only had shrimp on hand, so shrimp alone it was.

This is a pretty easy meal to make – sauté mushrooms, onions and garlic, deglaze with wine, toss with shrimp and top with provolone… voila, you have a dinner that tastes great with very little effort. I served mine over some jasmine rice (I cooked it according to the package but substituted chicken stock for water, added 1 tsp minced garlic, 1 tsp of salt and 2 tbsp of olive oil).  It was the perfect amount of flavor to pair with this shrimp (that makes its own sauce as it cooks).  Hope you enjoy this as much as we did tonight, and I did growing up!

Shrimp bake 2

Shrimp Bake

2 tbsp olive oil
1 1/2 lbs shrimp, peeled, deveined, tails removed
8 oz mushrooms, sliced
1 half sweet onion, diced
1 tbsp minced garlic
1/2 cup white wine
Salt and pepper
3 – 4 slices provolone cheese

1.) Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
2.) In a saute pan, heat olive oil. Add onions, mushrooms and garlic and saute until onion is translucent, and pan starts to brown. Deglaze with white wine; simmer for about 5 minutes.
3.) In a casserole dish, combine raw shrimp with sautéed onions and mushrooms and mix well. Top with slices of provolone cheese. Bake for about 20 minutes, or until shrimp are pink and cheese is browning.

Shrimp bake sauted mushrooms and onions


Shrimp Bake 1


Shrimp bake provolone


Shrimp bake 3

Mexican Shrimp with Cilantro Lime Rice

Last night for dinner, I wanted to try something new with shrimp.  My go-to with shrimp is pasta or scampi, but I was wanting my weekly Mexican fix.  What to do, what to do…  So I decided on  shrimp with Mexican seasoning, sautéed with black beans, corn, salsa, lime juice and cilantro. I served it on top of copy-cat Chipotle cilantro lime rice. If I haven’t mentioned before, I LOVE Chipotle – one of my favorite places to eat. Good quality food, reasonable prices, and right across the street from my office makes it good and dangerous. But I digress.

This meal qualifies for the 30-minute designation, so it’s definitely weeknight worthy.  Since shrimp takes such a short time to defrost, I try to keep some in the freezer and it’s always good for a last minute dinner.  All three of my boys finished their plates with this one so it was a dinner success! Hope you enjoy!

Mexican shrimp 3

Mexican Shrimp with Black Bean and Corn Salsa

2-3 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp minced garlic
1 lb shrimp (make it easy – buy it peeled and deveined!)
1/4 tsp each – cumin, chili powder, paprika
Salt and pepper
1/2 cup fresh salsa (I used Publix deli brand)
1 14.5-oz can black beans, drained
1 14.5-oz can corn, drained (or 2 ears fresh corn)
Juice of 1 lime
1/4 cup cilantro, chopped

1.) Heat olive oil in large skillet over medium-high heat. Add garlic, saute for 1 minute. Add shrimp to skillet and sprinkle, cumin, chili powder, paprika, salt and pepper over it.
2.) Saute shrimp for about 5 minutes, or until shrimp is pink,  stirring well to incorporate all the spices.
3.) Add salsa, black beans, corn, lime juice and cilantro. Continue to cook until heated thoroughly. Remove from heat.

Mexican shrimp 1 Mexican shrimp 2

Cilantro Lime Rice

1 1/2 cup water
1 cup jasmine rice
1 tbsp olive oil
3/4 tsp salt
Zest of 1 lime
Juice of 1 lime
1/4 cup cilantro, chopped

1.) Heat water, salt and olive oil until boiling. Add rice, reduce heat and cover. Cook over low for 15 minutes. Remove from heat.
2.) Stir in lime zest, lime juice and cilantro.

Cilantro lime rice ingredients Cilantro lime rice

Lobster Pasta with Tarragon Tomato Sauce

I took advantage of another Publix sale on lobster this weekend.  So tonight when it was time to figure out what to make for dinner, I decided on a pasta dish for a couple of reasons… first, my time was limited – Blake was working late and Beckett was pretty grumpy, so dinner had to be 30 minutes or less.  Secondly, the boys love pasta.  So pasta it was.  I took to the pantry and fridge for some inspiration, and come up with this recipe.  I don’t use tarragon very often, as it has such a unique flavor, but branching out and trying it with this tomato-based sauce makes me want to experiment with it more.  The boys ate this really well, and I loved it!  It was full of flavor – I think largely in part to the way I cooked the pasta.  Rather than pour out the salty water I cooked the lobster in, I kept it boiling on the stove and used it for the pasta.  It saved time, saved a pot and boosted the flavor – win, win and win!

Lobster tarragon pasta

Lobster Pasta with Tarragon Tomato Sauce

4 lobster tails
12 ozs bow tie pasta
1 tbsp butter
1 tbsp olive oil
1 shallot, minced
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 large tomatoes, diced
1 zucchini, cut lengthwise then sliced
1 tbsp dried tarragon
1 tsp dried basil
1/3 cup heavy cream
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
Feta cheese

1.) In a large pot, bring 6 quarts of water to a boil.  Salt generously.  Place lobster tails in boiling water and boil for about 12 minutes. Remove lobster tails and reserve water. Add pasta to the boiling lobster water and cook according to the package until al dente.
2.) Remove lobster from shells, and coarsely chop. Set aside.
3.) In a large saute pan, heat butter and olive oil. Add shallot and garlic and saute for 2 to 3 minutes.  Add diced tomatoes, zucchini, tarragon and basil.  Simmer for 5 to 7 minutes, or until a tomatoes begin to break down.  Stir in cream, salt and pepper.
4.) Add lobster and pasta to tomato sauce, mix well.  Serve topped with feta cheese.