Monday, February 3, 2014

No "Helper" Needed

Back before I was married, when my husband and I were first living together, I didn't do much of the cooking. I cooked once, maybe twice, a week. The other days either my husband cooked, or we ate out. My repertoiré was nothing to write home about either. Most of what I cooked came from recipes on canned goods, soup mix packages, or were boxed all together. (Everyone has to start somewhere, right?)

One of my favorite recipes came from a can of Del Monte stewed tomatoes. Looking back now, I'm not sure if it was favorite because it was that good, or because it was that easy. No matter though. It was a more homemade approach to cheeseburger macaroni, and the more fresh ingredients (read: less from a box with a glove with only 4 fingers), the better the meal.

Slowly my confidence in the kitchen became to grow. With emphasis on the word "slowly." I bought a 4-ingredient cookbook. Then a 6-ingredient one. And finally I bought a special issue of Cooking Light. They were -- and still are -- a great resource of easy and tasty weeknight meals. And that's where I found this recipe for cheeseburger macaroni. It has more flavor than the Del Monte version, and I quickly switched to this new version of the dish.

And as my confidence in the kitchen grew even more, along with my desire to experiment, this recipe fell to the wayside. But just recently I pulled it out again. I had forgotten how much I enjoyed it. As an added bonus, it was quick and easy to make. And the taste brought me back to all those years ago, first making this dish with my husband in our apartment in New Jersey. It tasted like new beginnings, youth, and love.

The epitome of comfort food.

Cheeseburger Macaroni

Recipe from Cooking Light
Makes 9 1-cup servings


  • 8 ounces uncooked small elbow macaroni
  • 3/4 lb. ground sirloin
  • 1 1/4 cup chopped onion
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 15-oz. cans Italian-style diced tomatoes
  • 1/4 cup ketchup
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 cups reduced fat shredded cheddar, divided


  1. Cook the elbow macaroni according to package directions.
  2. Cook beef, onion, and garlic in a skillet over medium-high heat until beef is browned, stirring to crumble. Drain well and return to pan.
  3. Add tomatoes and next 3 ingredients; cook 3 minutes. Add macaroni and 3/4 cup cheese, and cook 2 minutes or until cheese melts and macaroni is thoroughly heated, stirring occasionally.
  4. Remove from heat; sprinkle with remaining 3/4 cup cheese.

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