I haven't tried these yet, just got them off another group but they look

interesting so I thought I would pass them along.

Make your Own Hamburger Helper

Today, a recipe: Make your own Hamburger Helper. It's so easy, and

you'll be kicking yourself for spending $2-3 on those little boxes of

chemicals all these years! You can also make this gluten free by using

Chinese rice noodles and cornstarch.

Hamburger Helper is basically meat, sauce, and noodles. The sauce

usually comes in a powdered form, and is highly processed so that all

you have to do is add water. I use egg noodles (plain, yolk free, whole

wheat - whatever floats your boat) or no bake lasagna noodles, broken

up, work well too. Now you know what to do with those crushed pieces in

the bottom of the box! You can scale this up or down: the ratios are

roughly 1 lb. ground meat, 8 oz. egg noodles, 16 oz. of sauce (that's

two cups). But since YOU are in charge here, not Betty Crocker, you can

make it noodlier, saucier, or meatier. Allow 1-1/2 oz. noodles for each

adult portion and 4 oz. of uncooked meat.

Basic recipe

Brown the meat (sometimes I get sassy and use ground sausage. I always

use ground turkey or turkey sausage, it's cheaper, healthier, and once

you throw all the other stuff in you can't tell the difference). Add

some chopped up onions if you've got them. Drain it to reduce fat (dump

meat in colander, rinse with hot water, dump back in pan.)

I usually use half an onion in a recipe, but I'm lazy, too so I usually

chop the entire thing and save half in a sandwich baggie so I only have

to wash the knife and cutting board once. Save money on soap, too!

Now, add sauce:

For Lasagna style, add 1 jar of spaghetti sauce, which I get free with

coupons or buy the WalMart brand, for $1.00/16 oz. jar. I can't make

this same amount of marinara sauce for cheaper than that! My family's

big, so I brown 2 lbs. meat and add 2 jars of sauce, or 1 jar sauce and

1 large can of crushed tomatoes. I like the crushed tomatoes, it is

thicker than tomato sauce but doesn't have chunks like diced tomatoes.

Add garlic and italian seasoning to taste.

For Cheeseburger style, put about a cup of beef broth per pound of meat

in a measuring cup. Add a spoonful of flour or cornstarch. Flour will

give you brown gravy, cornstarch will give you a translucent sauce; use

a small spoon if you go with the cornstarch. Mix it up with a fork until

there are no lumps. Pour it into the skillet and bring to a boil.

For Taco style, drain 1 can of diced tomatoes into a measuring cup (15

oz. size). Add beef broth to make 1 cup, add flour, dump broth and

tomatoes into pot. Add garlic and cumin, and maybe a spoonful or two of

salsa if you prefer. Bring to a boil. (You can add a can of corn or

whole pinto beans if you need to stretch it, or make it meatless. Use

the bean juice and corn water from the can instead of adding water.)

For Stroganoff, make it like the cheeseburger style at this point, using

milk instead of broth. Or use 1/3 dried milk powder mixed into 1 c.

broth . Or, you can add in canned mushrooms; drain into a measuring cup

and add milk to make a cup. I don't buy canned mushrooms, because they

are pretty much expensive and tasteless. I buy dehydrated mushrooms at

the chinese food store (not shitake, just generic dried mushrooms). You

put them in a bowl, add boiling water, and let them sit. Much tastier,

easier to store, and you get tasty mushroom water to use instead. Of

course, that takes some of the convenience out of the hamburger helper

style meal. Put a dash of Worcestshire sauce in if your family like it.

Bring meat and sauce to a boil, stirring often. (For stroganoff, make it

a gently simmer - don't want to have burned milk taste!)

Add the noodles and stir them in. Add more water if needed, so the

noodles mix well into the sauce (note: it should not cover the noodles.

You are not making soup Just enough water that you can mix the noodles

in easily without a lot of clumping or your spoon getting stuck.)

Cover and continue to simmer, stirring often, until the noodles are soft

(15 minutes or so down here at sea level for 16 oz. of noodles).

Now, top it off:

Lasagna style, turn off the stove and stir in some ricotta or cottage

cheese, or I just sprinkle shredded mozzarella on top. Serve.

Cheeseburger, reduce heat to low, add a handful of cheddar cheese, and

stir it in until it melts. Turn stove off, sprinkle more cheese on top,

and serve.

Taco, turn off stove, top with cheese - monterey jack, pepper jack, or

queso fresco are good choices. Serve.

Stroganoff, reduce heat to very low. Add a couple of big spoonfuls of

sour cream and stir into mixture. Cook gently until heated through. You

can use non-fat plain yogurt as well, but it has a more acidic taste so

it won't taste like true stroganoff.