Today is National Pasta Day! I’m not sure why every day isn’t national pasta day, but I’m glad one of my favorite foods is getting a day to shine. In honor of this much deserved holiday, I made Cheeseburger Mac and Cheese.
Who Says You’ve Got to Be Fancy Every Night?
At least two nights a week (sometimes more), Hubby is not home for dinner. Child #1 is now an independent driver and gainfully employed, so he’s not home for dinner very often either. That leaves me and Child #2 to fend for ourselves several times a week. Child #2 has weird food preferences. While she will slurp up mussels like nobody’s business, the idea pork passing her lips has her running for the hills screaming. She’ll chow down on on obscure foods like Louisiana Gumbo, but suggesting she eat chicken for dinner will get a death ray stare sent your way. Needless to say, cooking dinner for just her and me can get ugly.
We have a four or five meal rotation of “Picky Eater Approved Meals” for these nights. But they’re getting old. I’m getting tired of the same old, same old. I needed to shake it up. One of her favorites is Mac & Cheese, so I came across this recipe for Cheeseburger Mac and Cheese that I wanted to try. Actually, it was branded as a “Hamburger Helper” knock-off, but I didn’t think I would be able to sell that to her because she has never liked Hamburger Helper. (I know! What kid doesn’t love Hamburger Helper? Weirdo.)
Quick & Easy
Two of my favorite words in the English language. Um, when we’re talking about cooking, that is. I figured I had nothing to lose with trying this recipe. I had all the ingredients at home already and it wouldn’t take long to make. Plus, I’ve got the pizzeria on speed-dial if it didn’t work out.
Before I started, I read through some of the comments on the original recipe. There were a lot of complaints about it being too liquid-y and bland. I’m sure taste preferences vary from person to person, but bland is like a bad word in this house. I decided to adjust the recipe right out of the gate and not risk and liquid-y, bland mess. And a phone call to the pizzeria.
The Key to Cheeseburger Mac and Cheese is the Cheeseburger…and the Cheese…and the Pasta
Brown the meat in a deep skillet on the stove. If you have one with a lid, that’s the best because you’re going to add liquid. After you brown the meat, drain the fat and keep the meat in the skillet. Add the cornstarch, spices, milk, and uncooked pasta to the skillet and bring to a boil. I doubled all the spices in the original recipe, and cut the liquid to avoid the liquid-y, bland issue. I think it worked well, but feel free to taste as you cook to create a flavor profile that you like. Yes, I used the term flavor profile for knock-off Hamburger Helper.
Once you reach a boil, lower to a simmer until pasta is tender (about 5 minutes—I was shocked how quickly it cooked.) When the pasta is tender, take off heat and add the cheese. We love cheese. Like…a lot. Like…joining a cheese fan club level of loving cheese. Therefore, I also used A LOT of cheese, but I think it was the perfect amount for this dish. If you are not a cheese lover (why are you even reading this then????), feel free to use less cheese. (I don’t know why you would, though….)
Scoop it into bowls and enjoy!
This was a nice combo of spices and although it was a simple meal, both Child #2 and I enjoyed generous helpings. Try it yourself for a quick weeknight dinner. Cheeseburger Mac and Cheese…from pantry to table in less than 20 minutes!
- 1 lb of ground beef
- 2 1/2 c. milk
- 2 c. uncooked pasta
- 1 tsp cornstarch
- 2 TBSP paprika
- 2-3 tsp onion powder
- 2-3 tsp garlic powder
- 1 tsp sugar or Stevia (I used Stevia)
- salt & pepper to taste
- 2 c. shredded cheddar cheese
- Brown the meat in a deep skillet on the stove. If you have one with a lid, that's the best because you're going to add liquid.
- After you brown the meat, drain the fat and keep the meat in the skillet.
- Add the cornstarch, spices, milk, and uncooked pasta to the skillet and bring to a boil.
- Reduce to a simmer until pasta is tender.
- Taste mixture after the milk is absorbed and add more spice if you'd like. Add salt & pepper at this time. Stir.
- Remove from heat and add cheese. Stir until cheese is melted.
- Serve and enjoy!