Monday, July 30, 2012

This is NO Hamburger Helper

When Mr. Spouse & I were first married, I couldn’t cook to save my life.  I mean, even toast seemed to be a challenge for me.  I eventually learned what a stove could do and I made an INSANE amount of Hamburger Helper for our nightly dinners...yes, we dined on it almost nightly.  I gag just typing those words.  To this day, it’s hard for me to eat any kind of pasta with hamburger meat in it.  However, I found this recipe on Pinterest and thought it looked too good not to try.  It looked like a far cry from the beef stroganof that gives me nightmares to this day.  If Hamburger Helper would’ve tasted like this, I don’t think I ever would’ve stopped eating it!!!



via Living Light

1 lb. penne pasta

1 1/2 lbs. ground turkey {or ground beef}

1 tbsp. cumin

1 tbsp. ground coriander

2 tbsp. chili powder

Coarse ground black pepper

1 large yellow onion, chopped

3 garlic cloves, chopped {I used about 5-6!  I LOVE garlic.}

1 jalapeno, chopped

2 tbsp. butter

2 tbsp. all-purpose flour

2 cups milk

2 1/2 cups shredded cheddar cheese

1/4 cups fresh cilantro, chopped

1 can {14 oz.} fire roasted diced tomatoes




As you can see, I opted for the turkey instead of the hamburger meat :)  In all honesty, I really prefer ground turkey instead of ground beef!!! 

Cook pasta according to package directions.  While that’s cooking, chop your onions and jalapeno.  If you’re allergic to raw jalapenos like I am, have Mr. Spouse do the chopping instead.  Cook the turkey until it starts to brown and then toss in the onion, garlic, and jalapeno.  Cook for another 5-7 minutes.  Drain & return to skillet.  The recipe called for 3 cloves of garlic, but I’m obsessed with the flavor and I used about 5-6.  Just doing my part to keep the vampires away ;)

quesopasta2  quesopasta3

Toss in the cumin, coriander, and chili powder.  Mix well and remove from heat.  Make sure the meat is evenly coated with spices!  Set aside.


In a medium/large saucepan, melt the butter and then add the flour.  Mix until it looks like a flour-y little paste.


Then whisk in the milk until it starts to bubble.  Add in the cheese & cilantro.  The original recipe called for parsley also, but the market was out of it so I didn’t bother.  Once the cheese is melted, toss in the diced tomatoes and mix until combined.  You’ll have a lovely little queso sauce waiting for you and you’ll smile at the pan of cheese sauce staring back at you.


Now take the turkey & all of it’s spices and add it to the drained pasta. 


Pour the queso sauce on top of that and stir until combined.  Now serve yourself a generous helping and prepare for your taste buds to cheer.


So.stinkin’.good.   To my surprise, it wasn’t spicy at all.  I was expecting it to pack a little heat from the jalapeno & chili powder, but it didn’t.  My 3-year-old devoured an entire plate and went back for more!  He’s got a pretty sensitive palate when it comes to anything that has a little kick to it, but he didn’t say a thing about this dish. 

See…totally 3-year-old approved. And let’s be real.  How can you argue with cuteness…and a crazy, ridiculous silly face?!?!


I polished off my pasta with some shaved parmesan and all was right in the world of carbs. My parents ended up stopping by the night I whipped this up and they both loved it, too. As far as my dad is concerned, that says A LOT!!!! He has a very opinionated taste palate. When he served himself a second helping, I knew it had to be good! HA!!


This is definitely NO Hamburger Helper.  A far cry from it, for sure!!


  1. Very random I made this last week from a pin! It was really good!

  2. Thanks so much for sharing this and talking about the heat factor. Defintely will be making this. We make your 2 timing pasta alot and it's now my go to meal for other families.

  3. Now Ive got my sat go to meal. Looks great.

  4. Um, yum! I'm emailing this post to my wife in the hopes that I'll be dining on it soon! Thanks!