Wednesday, April 22, 2009

"Help" yourself ...

If you're a regular AMGE reader, you already know how much I, ahem, love Hamburger Helper. To wit:

I have a confession: I love Hamburger Helper. No, I freakin' love Hamburger Helper. If'n I ever decide that I would look quite smashing as a 400 lb. tub, I will go on an all-Hamburger Helper diet -- Cheeseburger Macaroni or Double Cheeseburger Macaroni, of course.

All kidding aside, let me say this:

Whenever I want something fast and simple for dinner, I'll whip up a box of Helper, open a can of peas, and drench the whole shebang in Trappey's Louisiana Hot Sauce. Heaven in a single skillet, indeed!

Kansas City Star columnist Jill Wendholt Silva ain't too keen on Helper; thus, she recently came up with a recipe for a one-skillet meal a la Hamburger Helper.

I'm gonna try this soon ... and I'll let you know how it turns out:

The Star’s One-Skillet Italian Meal takes a worthy concept and freshens it up: Add sliced mushrooms (buy them pre-sliced in the produce department), green pepper (buy chopped in the freezer case), fresh zucchini, canned tomatoes and fresh spinach.

Finally, substitute Italian vermicelli (ver-MIH-chell-ee) noodles, literally "little worms," for regular noodles. Vermicelli is thinner than spaghetti, and it’s easy to break up the noodles and add them to the pan. They cook through as the meal simmers on the stovetop.

•Spinach tips: Feel free to substitute alternative vegetable combinations to suit your family’s tastes. Instead of 1 cup fresh spinach, try adding an equal amount of chopped Swiss chard, small chopped broccoli florets or frozen peas. Or use frozen spinach, thawed and drained well. Be sure to adjust cooking time accordingly so the vegetables remain crisp tender.

•Cooking tips: The ground round used in this recipe was 90 percent lean.

If the kids aren’t crazy about tomatoes, use kitchen shears to snip the tomatoes (while still in the can) into small pieces that cook down and nearly disappear.

One-Skillet Italian Meal


1 pound ground round
1 onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 cup sliced fresh mushrooms
1/2 cup chopped green pepper
1 zucchini, cut into 1/2 -inch cubes
4 ounces dry vermicelli, broken into 2-inch pieces
3 teaspoons dried Italian seasoning
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1 (14.5-ounce) can no-salt-added whole tomatoes
2  1/2 cups sodium-reduced tomato juice
1 cup fresh spinach leaves, coarsely chopped
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese


Spray a large (12-inch) skillet with nonstick spray coating. Cook ground round, onion and garlic in skillet over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until meat is browned and onion is tender. Drain and set aside.

Return skillet to heat and add olive oil. Add mushrooms, green pepper and zucchini; stir-fry 2 to 3 minutes. Add dry vermicelli pieces. Cook, stirring occasionally and very gently, until pasta is golden-brown and vegetables are crisp-tender.

Spoon cooked meat into skillet over pasta and vegetables. Add seasonings, tomatoes and tomato juice. Cover, reduce heat to low and simmer 20 minutes.

Stir in spinach, cover and continue to cook 5 minutes. Sprinkle with Parmesan just before serving.


Anonymous said...

Cousin Eddie: I don't know why they call this stuff hamburger helper. It does just fine by itself, huh? I like it better than tuna helper myself, don't you, Clark?

Clark: You're the gourmet around here, Eddie.

Joltin' Django said...

Heh, heh, heh ... you're funny!