With work, keeping up with a home and chasing after a very active toddler, time is at a premium. Admittedly, there have been evenings where I have turned to convenience foods or meal kits in a pinch. It's something I have never liked to do, knowing they are packed with sodium, fat and processed junk ingredients. Using the slow cooker is great when planning ahead but, sometimes a meal needs to be put together on a shorter timeline and still be appealing to everyone.
Surely, something like a Hamburger Helper could be made out of pantry ingredients, right? I looked for a basic recipe online, came up with a few and played around to make my own version. It took 30 minutes from start to finish, ended up tasty and made enough for two plus meals for our family of three. The guys were happy with the flavor and I was happy to find a quick, healthier alternative to a meal in box. The ingredient list may look long but, many are spices. Give it a try and let me know what you think!
1 lb. box elbow macaroni
1 small onion, diced
1 lb. lean ground beef or ground turkey
1 red bell pepper, diced
1 yellow bell pepper, diced
2 Tbsp butter or margarine
1.5 cups skim milk
1/4 cup flour
1 tsp seasoned salt
1/2 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp black pepper
1 Tbsp parsley
2 cups shredded cheddar jack cheese, (8 oz. bag)
Brown meat in skillet with onion. Add peppers and saute 4-5 minutes until tender. Meanwhile, boil pasta in a separate pot. Drain and set aside.
In pasta pot, melt butter over medium heat. Whisk milk, flour and all seasonings together then add to pan with butter. Once milk mixture is warm, add cheese and whisk until melted. Add pasta and meat mixture and stir. Serve immediately.