Creative ways to use for Hamburger Helper that taste better?
Somewhere along the way I ended up with several boxes of Hamburger helper in my pantry. When I was younger I used to enjoy them, but now that I'm older and a bit snobbier in my tastes I just can't do it. I don't want to waste it, but any time my husband suggests we make it for dinner to use it up I can't help but wrinkle my nose. I can always think of a more favorable dish to make instead.
So what I'm looking for are creative ways to use my Hamburger Helper without preparing it the conventional way? Something that will add more "Real" flavor and not just the weak, processed taste. I don't mind splitting up the noodles and the spices, I'm not too picky about healthiness (If I need to make something with loads of butter, I'll do it) I just want to make use of these few boxes I have!
Here are the flavors sitting on my shelf:
Cheesy Italian Shells
Four Cheese Lasagna
Double Cheeseburger Macaroni
Any ideas are appreciated!
Thank you :)
pick or combine options:
use well-seasoned sausage (cooked and drained) in lieu of hamburger.
add pureed piquillo peppers or some slices of pimento or roasted red peppers
add sauteed mushrooms
add smoked paprika
add black olives, or better, split kalamatas
dice in some cherry tomatoes, or use some pico de gallo.
use some pickled banana pepper slices or the pickled cherry peppers (be creful, the hot ones are very hot).
add a dash of worcestershire
top with freshly snipped italian parsley or use good quality dried oregano (rubbed between your fingers to break up) into the sauce
add some thinly sliced garlic or roasted garlic
cooks illustrated on tv had a show on one skillet pasta meals, and they might have some seasoning ideas for you to explore. maybe also "everyday food."
Doctor them up with chopped onion, mushrooms, whatever veg is on hand. Add some better cheese and spices.
But the food pantry is a great idea if you're on the fence about using these. Just put them in your car trunk so that next time you're at a market where they are collecting, you're ready.
What I would do is separate the spices from the pasta. Make your hamburger into your favorite meatball recipe, cook and set aside. Cook up the pasta, drain, and add a mix of sauteed onions, garlic, and passata (or blended diced tomatoes) with some basil/oregano/rosemary seasonings plus salt and pepper of course and set aside. Take the mix/spices that you've set aside. Add them to 2 cups of hot water. Stir well. Set aside. Plate the pasta/tomatoes, top with the meatballs. Top with grated reggiano. Then carefully take the prepared spice mix and pour it down the drain. Enjoy!
This time of year I keep a cardboard box in the kitchen. When I come across something in the pantry that I believe should be donated I put it in the box then and there. That way the donation box is packed and ready to go when the kid comes home from school with the food drive flyer or like today when a local TV station is doing drive-through donations at area supermarkets.