Tag: homemade

Foodie Swellness: The ultimate hibernation meal, homemade “Hamburger Helper”

Homemade hamburger helper

Is this dish full of veggies and fibre? Nope. Paleo? Nuh-uh. A rainbow of ingredients chockfull of vitamins and minerals? Not really. It’s pretty beige. But sometimes, like when it’s colder than -30C out and a bomb cyclone is hitting the east coast, you just crave plain old comfort food.

I didn’t grow up eating Hamburger Helper. I actually am not sure if I’ve ever had it. I have always thought it looks delicious in commercials, though. Meaty, creamy, carby. So I suppose I should state that I am not sure if this tastes at all like the boxed HH.

In any case, my recipe is inspired by this one from Dinner Then Dessert, except I added milk to make it creamier and some spices. And the result is everything I wanted for my winter dinner (warm and hearty), eaten tucked under a blanket all cozy, while watching The Mindy Project. It’s the ultimate winter hibernation meal.


Homemade Hamburger Helper

  • 1 pound large elbow macaroni
  • 1 pound lean ground beef
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 yellow onion, diced
  • 1 green bell pepper, diced
  • 2 tablespoons ketchup
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 1 ½ cups beef broth
  • ½ cup milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 to 2 cups mozzarella cheese, shredded (depending on how cheesy you want it!)
  1. Cook the macaroni according to the package directions and drain.
  2. Meanwhile, brown the beef in a large skillet.  Remove beef from skillet.
  3. Add butter to the beef fat in the skillet and saute onion and bell pepper for about five minutes.
  4. Add beef back to the skillet.
  5. In a bowl, mix the beef broth, milk and cornstarch together.
  6. Add the ketchup, Worcestershire sauce, salt, black pepper, cayenne pepper, garlic powder, paprika and beef broth mixture into the skillet.
  7. Cook about three minutes until the sauce thickens slightly.
  8. Add the macaroni to the skillet and mix together gently.
  9. Remove from heat and stir in grated mozzarella.

I’d love to hear from HH fans if this is at all what the boxed variety tastes like. I like the idea of making it from scratch versus using the powdered ingredients and am so pleased with this stick-to-your-hones results of this meal. I rounded out my dinner with a glass of Cabernet but a nice crisp green salad would be a nice side (I just didn’t have anything for a salad in my refrigerator at the time).

Happy hibernating!

2 Comments January 5, 2018

Foodie Swellness: Gnocchi with bacon, spinach and mushrooms


I find I need new and different tastes all the time.  What can I say, my tastebuds get bored easily. I’ve never understood how people can eat the same exact meals every week (well, of course I have some things I do eat regularly, like what I have for breakfast is pretty consistent).

But I do return to certain recipes a few times a year like this pasta dish, for one, and this frittata recipe will become a regular now. And I get pretty excited when I try making a new dish and it’s so yummy that I know it’ll be added into my annual rotation. Especially when it’s a super simple thing to cook but tastes so damn good. Like this gnocchi recipe.

The other night it was freezing cold out and after a few days of eating turkey, I was craving pasta. And then the idea of gnocchi popped into my brain. I used to rely on packaged gnocchi a lot as a fast meal to prep on nights I didn’t feel like cooking but I’ve fallen out of that habit. Well, hello old habit, you’re back in the rotation! Gnocchi always feels to me a bit fancier than pasta, is it just me or do you feel the same? I’ve never made gnocchi from scratch, but I have made gnudi (which is similar to gnocchi except it’s made with ricotta instead of potato), which was most wonderful!

A few quick searches online and I decided I wanted to use bacon as well since I had some in my fridge. I picked up the gnocchi and the other few items and I was ready to go. I think the stewed tomatoes with olive oil and garlic not only added a lot of flavour, it also helped me skip having to mince garlic, so hurray for even simpler prep! Here’s the recipe.

Gnocchi with bacon, spinach and mushrooms

  • 1 package of gnocchi
  • 5 slices of thick-cut bacon, chopped
  • 1 19-oz can of stewed tomatoes with olive oil and garlic
  • two handfuls of mushrooms, sliced
  • half a bag of spinach
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • ½ teaspoon chili pepper flakes
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • pepper and Parmesan, to taste
  1. Fry bacon to desired crispiness in a large pan. Before bacon is entirely done, add mushrooms so that they’re cooked through.
  2. Stir in tomatoes, sugar, chili pepper flakes and balsamic vinegar and cook for about five minutes until flavours are blended. Season with pepper.
  3. In the meanwhile, cook gnocchi in a pot of boiling salted water until done (the gnocchi will float once cooked through). Add spinach and cook for about 30 seconds until wilted.
  4. Drain gnocchi and spinach and add to the pot with the sauce. Stir to combine.
  5. Grate as much Parmesan as you wish! I used Lupa cheese, which chef Massimo Bruno recommended.

Another great thing about this recipe is all the veggies it includes (I’m always looking for ways to eat more veggies). Plus you can easily swap in your fave veggies or use up the ones you have lurking in your fridge. Not a fan of mushrooms? Toss in some chopped carrots instead!

If you’re not in the mood for bacon, I think you could likely make this vegetarian by simply sautéing a chopped onion in a glug of olive oil instead of frying up the bacon to start the sauce (although that bacon fat likely adds a lot of depth of flavour to the sauce…). I haven’t tried it this way but I did consider adding onion to the dish.

Do you have any fave ways to make a quick meal with packaged gnocchi?

Leave a Comment December 30, 2017

Foodie Swellness: Zwilling Pro Smart Chef’s Knife


With more than 30 trips out of town last year, I cooked at home less than often than usual, for sure, but whenever I was home, I did try to prep quick meals and if home for a week or longer I always cook proper meal or two from scratch as I can.

The first time I heard about the Zwilling Pro Smart Chef’s Knife 8″, it was at a media preview where a professional chef was showing how easy it is to use; the special feature of this knife is the raised ridge that helps prevent whatever you’re chopping from sticking to the knife.

I always thought this was only an issue I had when chopping. I always have had to pause and slide carrots or onion off of the blade before continuing to slice. The demo, well, it did seem to work well but watching the chef use it, though, didn’t actually say much to me, because he’s great at chopping precisely and super quickly and without the ingredients staying on the blade because he’s a professional.

But then I got my hands on the knife at home (I’m a Zwilling ambassador) and put on my apron and pretended I was Ina preparing some wonderful meal to welcome Jeffrey home and put this knife to use on some vegetables. First off, wow, it’s so great to have a sharp knife. Definitely made me realize how dull my current regular knife was. (Now I just need to make sure I  keep it sharp!)

This Zwilling Pro Smart Chef’s Knife  is a pleasant weight and feels right in my hand, so much so that I don’t have to steady it with my pointer finger like I usually do when chopping. I know it’s not the proper way to hold a knife but I’ve always found it made chopping easier. But this knife is designed such that I find I can hold it as one should and it totally works like a dream at preventing ingredients sticking onto the blade. My prep time has been cut down and I no longer dread recipes that call for a lot of chopping. I’ve made a lots since receiving it but recent dishes include chicken gnocchi soup and a Bolognese sauce, and dicing the veggies, a task I used to find a chore, was fun. OK almost fun — as much as I enjoy cooking, it’s nice to have meals cooked for you, too, haha!

I think the Pro Smart Chef’s Knife is a great choice if you’re looking for one knife for your kitchen to meet your general slicing and dicing needs (my other must is my bread knife — I use my Staub cocotte to bake no-knead bread). (Oh and btw, did you know there’s a new Zwilling store in Toronto?I have not been yet, but next time I’m in that mall, I’m definitely popping in!)

Leave a Comment January 5, 2017

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