Work, work, work. Come home. Chores, chores, chores, take care of the kiddos, take care of the significant other, more chores.
“Mom/Dad, I’m starving. When’s dinner?” The absolute last thing you want to do is cook.
You start reaching for your phone to order in a pizza. But you’ve got that pound of hamburger meat sitting in the fridge that needs to be used up (from when you where on the “I’m going to make everything from scratch” kick over the weekend).
But what to do? What to make? Easy peezy. Brown some hamburger, throw in some onions, pasta, cheddar cheese, cream cheese, and a can of diced tomatoes, and voila! You are the next Gordon Ramsey. All in 30 minutes.
Name it something that sounds delicious, like, I dunno, an Easy Cheesy Hamburger Skillet. Tell no one that you were just throwing in the ingredients based on what was in the icebox and pantry. Let them believe you are a cooking genius.Print
A super easy 30-minute weeknight hamburger meal free of the usual additives and preservatives found in the boxed stuff.
- 1 pound elbow pasta (use gluten free if needed)
- 1 pound ground beef or ground turkey
- 1/2 cup chopped mild onion
- 3/4 teaspoon dried basil
- 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
- 1/2 cup cream cheese
- 1/4 cup all purpose flour (or 1/4 cup gluten free flour mix)
- 1 cup milk
- 8 ounces tomato sauce
- 14.5-ounce can diced tomatoes
- salt and pepper to taste
- Cook pasta according to package directions, drain, and set aside.
- Cook ground beef in a 12″ skillet over medium-high heat until it begins to brown.
- Add onion, and continue cooking until meat is done.
- Drain well, then return to the pan.
- Add basil, oregano, and garlic powder, and stir well.
- Add cheddar cheese, cream cheese, and flour to the pan.
- Pour in milk and tomato sauce. Stir well.
- Continue cooking over medium heat until the mixture comes to a low boil and begins to thicken.
- Add the can of diced tomatoes.
- Add the pasta to the pan and stir well to coat with sauce.
- Taste and add salt and pepper as desired.
- Serve hot.
This can also be made without the can of diced tomatoes, but the sauce will be a bit rich. The tartness of the tomatoes help to tame the richness of the cheese blend.
Cooking by the Numbers…
Step 1 – Prep the Onions and Measure Ingredients
Dice up your onions. Measure your other ingredients.
Step 2 – Establish Your Mise en Place
Lay out all of your ingredients so that you can easily get to them.
Step 3 – Boil the Pasta
Boil the pasta in a medium-sized stockpot according to the instructions on the package.
Once it’s done, drain well in a colander.
Step 4 – Brown the Meat
Add your hamburger to a large frying pan. I prefer to use stainless rather than nonstick when browning meat as the Maillard Reaction works much better – meaning it gets browner easier and has a better flavor.
I typically like to use a lean cut of burger meat, but not extra lean. If it is too lean, you’ll actually have to add extra oil to the pan to fight sticking.
Add the onions and fry over medium heat until they are translucent. Drain any excess oil.
Step 5 – Build the Sauce
Add the spices and then add the cream cheese and cheddar. Add the flour, tomato sauce, and milk, and stir well.
Once the flour is well incorporated and the sauce is well mixed, add the can of diced tomatoes.
Step 6 – Build the Sauce
Stir in the cooked macaroni and voila! Dinner is served.
This big pan should serve up to five people, maybe six if stretched with a side salad and some bread on the side.
And all without out the preservatives, MSG, artificial colors, and other additives typically found in the premixed boxed stuff.
What about you? Do you have any tips or recipes to quickly turn a pound of hamburger into a complete meal on a weeknight? Let us know in the comments below and please give this recipe a rating down in the comments area.
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Photos by Mike Quinn, © Ask the Experts, LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. See our TOS for more details.
*Nutritional information derived from a database of known generic and branded foods and ingredients and was not compiled by a registered dietitian or submitted for lab testing. It should be viewed as an approximation.
About Mike Quinn
Mike Quinn spent 20 years in the US Army and traveled extensively all over the world. As part of his military service, Mike sampled coffee and tea from all virtually every geographic region, from the beans from the plantation of an El Salvadorian Army Colonel to "Chi" in Iraq to Turkish Coffee in the Turkish Embassy in Kabul, Afghanistan. He spent nearly a decade in the Republic of Korea where he was exposed to all forms of traditional teas. Mike formerly owned and operated Cup And Brew, an online espresso and coffee equipment retail operation.