When I Make Homemade Hamburger Helper

| October 2, 2014

It all started with an email exchange.

Paul: “What’s for dinner?”

Me: “Will you eat Hamburger Helper?” [which we haven’t eaten in about a decade]

Paul: “Sure.”

Me: “Good.  That’s what’s for dinner.”

At the appropriate time, I went downstairs to get out the Hamburger Helper that had been sitting in our cabinet for the past two years.  That’s when I saw that it was not Hamburger Helper, it was some kind of Asian rice helper.


WTF.  And it's a two-pack.  Twice the not-gonna-happen.

Aaaand…it’s a two-pack. Twice the not-gonna-happen.

At which point I googled “homemade hamburger helper” because I had ground beef and no plan.  I found a promising-looking recipe from a reliable source and began following the steps she outlined.

First, I browned the beef.

homemade hamburger helper

Real pictures, like a cooking blogger would do.

Soon I added the pasta.

Because I did not scroll to the bottom of the recipe, I did not see the actual list of ingredients.  I saw only the step where you add the spices that were beautifully and colorfully photographed and labeled on a piece of wax paper. Spice-wise, the actual recipe called for 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper, 3/4 tsp paprika, 1 tsp salt, 1 tsp sugar, 2 tsp garlic powder, 1 tbsp chili powder, 1 tbsp cornstarch, and a pinch of crushed red pepper flakes.  What happened in my house, which lacked a few ingredients and, again, the exact measurements:

I can take pretty pictures of spices, too.

I can take pictures of spices, too.

Small lump of Corn starch; Slightly less of a lump of Sugar (which I have to taste every time I use it to make sure it isn’t salt like the time I salted my tea); About as much Salt as sugar; A tablespoon of Crushed red pepper; About a tablespoon of Garlic powder; A lump of Hot shot pepper mix; A shit-ton of Paprika because I had to pour it since the teaspoon didn’t fit into the spice jar.  (I probably should have poured it into the spoon and not the bowl.)



After adding the spices, I reflected on how this looked in no way appetizing.

Not appetizing.

We had no macaroni.  Shells, it is.

When everything was cooked, I added cheddar cheese.  It looked like wet dog food.

homemade hamburger helper

It didn’t taste awful.  Relatively speaking.  I mean, you’re comparing it to Hamburger Helper, right?


Category: In Germany A Broad blog, Shits & Giggles, Uncategorized

About the Author ()

Kari Martindale is a writer and ESL instructor. She’s visited all 50 states and 37 countries, including many of the big cities of Europe and a ton of Christmas Markets. She spends her days straddling the fence between a sense of adventure and a sense of dread. She is married to what is clearly a patient man and has a daughter who, frustratingly, is just like her. Her academic and professional backgrounds are in linguistics and foreign languages. When she's not teaching ESL, she's writing. When she's not writing, she's thinking about her next trip.

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