Thursday, September 26, 2013

Homemade Gluten Free Hamburger Helper

Do you like Hamburger Helper? It's okay to say, "yes". There's no judgement going on here from my end. I'm doing a whole blog post on it so I have no room to judge. I won't tell anyone if you do say, "yes". Your secret is safe with me.

If you did say, "yes", definitely keep reading on. You don't even have to be gluten free. I started making this as a non gluten free recipe and just decided one night that I wanted it so I adapted it to be gluten free, which wasn't hard at all.

I'm not quite sure how my mother ever convinced me to try Hamburger Helper with as picky as I was. She did though and it's now one of those guilty pleasures of mine. When I decided I wanted to eat a little more consciously, this is one of the things I took a look at. We didn't eat it often but when we did, I knew there were absolutely no redeeming qualities about it whatsoever and looked to see if I could change it. 

My first move was to replace the Betty Crocker brand with the Annie's brand. Annie's was made with more natural ingredients and I felt better serving it when we did have it. I was buying it at Target and then it disappeared. I would check every time I went in and it never showed back up. I was quite disappointed because it was actually so much better than the Betty Crocker brand. It had a really decent taste to it, no matter how bad it looked in your bowl. I did see it still on the shelves of one of the supermarkets here. However, they wanted over $5 a box for it. There was NO way I was paying that much for a box that had a little itty bit of pasta and a pouch of seasonings in it. No way, no how. I decided to see if I could make it at home. Of course I could.

I made it a few times and again, so much better than the Betty Crocker brand. Who knew in all those years that I'd been eating that brand that there were alternatives out there that were not only better for you, but tasted better too. When you are making it right from the start in your own kitchen, you have control over every ingredient in it and that is a huge plus when you are trying to eat more consciously. I was happy to have found my way to making homemade Hamburger Helper.

Fast forward to my current eating limitations. I hadn't thought about Hamburger Helper of any sort in a while until I had wandered into an odd lot store a couple months ago. They had a gluten free version of it put out by Sam Mills. I love, love, love Sam Mills gluten free corn pasta so I grabbed a couple boxes. They were due to expire within the next 6 weeks so 2 were more than enough. We tried it and it was pretty darn good. More like the Annie's brand than Betty Crocker in flavor. I searched around to see if I could find this anywhere else with better sell by dates but it just wasn't happening so I forgot about it.

That was until this week. I got a craving. I know, a craving for Hamburger Helper? Yeah, it happened. What can I say? I know most people crave things that are much more distinguished than slop like this. Tomorrow I may very well be craving something much more hoity-toity but for now I'm running with the Helper.

I pulled up a search for "homemade cheeseburger Hamburger Helper" and they all came up. They're all very similar but I used this one from Food.com:

Homemade Cheeseburger Macaroni Hamburger Helper  

This is what I did differently:

-The most obvious, in my case, would be to swap out the regular pasta for gluten free. I used DeBoles Corn Pasta and it turned out quite well. I only cooked it for about 8 minutes instead of the suggested 12. It was tender at that point and I didn't want to risk over cooking it to the point where it completely disintegrated. I won't be buying this brand again though as there is no mention of it being GMO free on the box or their website.

-I used grass fed ground beef. Luckily, we have a store right in our city that sells this for a pretty reasonable price. I always have a few pounds in my freezer for main meal dishes similar to this or to make a few burger patties with. 

-I used organic cornstarch so that I could be sure that the corn was not from GMO sources. It is so hard to avoid food with GMO's in them so when I can, I grab every opportunity to buy ingredients that I know do not have them. 

That's pretty much it.  I didn't bother taking a picture of it. We all know what it looks like and we all know it's not pretty. I would like to encourage you to actually try this and I'm pretty sure any picture I could take would only do the opposite. 

So, if you are a proud Hamburger Helper lover, a closet Hamburger Helper lover or just a brave soul who is willing to give something new a try, give this a whirl. If someone presented this recipe to you as a one skillet dinner recipe with no knowledge of Hamburger Helper ever existing, it might not sound too bad, right? Maybe? Enjoy!

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