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Forget Hamburger Helper: 8 Ways to Improve Ground Beef

Forget Hamburger Helper: 8 Ways to Improve Ground Beef

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Ground beef is inexpensive, delicious, and can be used in a variety of different recipes

Try some of these weeknight meals using ground beef.

Having a variety of weeknight meals in your arsenal is important. And after you have made chicken and pasta every which way, it’s time to turn to beef — after all, it is what’s for dinner. While filet mignon and other cuts of steak can be expensive, ground beef is inexpensive, delicious, and can be used in a variety of different recipes.

Next time you’re looking for quick and easy weeknight meals, think of ground beef, which is a hearty ingredient that cooks in minutes. With so many possibilities for ground beef, this week we put the Culinary Content Network and our staff to the test to come up with tasty ground beef recipes that are anything but boring. Here are some of the highlights:

  • Milisa Armstrong from Miss in the Kitchen shares with us an easy taco salad recipe complete with salsa ranch dressing. Armstrong is a member of The Culinary Content Network.
  • Kate Dean of I Heart Eating contributed her recipe for Crock-Pot chili pie with Frito chips added on top for extra crunch. Dean is a member of The Culinary Content Network.
  • The winner this week is Carly Goldsmith, the copy editor at The Daily Meal. Carly’s baked ziti with ground beef recipe is hearty, simple, and perfect for a cold night.

All of the recipes featured can be made at home for about $30 or less, excluding the cost of small amounts of basic ingredients such as butter, oil, flour, sugar, salt, pepper, and other dried herbs and spices.

Emily Jacobs is the Recipe editor at The Daily Meal. Follow her on Twitter @EmilyRecipes.

Better Than a Box Hamburger Helper

Heat a Dutch oven or a large, deep 12-inch skillet with a sturdy bottom over medium-low heat. Add the oil onion, carrot, salt, and pepper. Let cook until the onion turns brown and soft, about 10 minutes (don't shortcut this step it builds a lot of flavor).

Step 2

Add the garlic and let cook just until fragrant, about 30 seconds.

Step 3

Increase heat to medium-high and add the ground beef. With the back of a large spoon or a sturdy spatula, break the meat into small pieces. Continue to brown, stirring periodically, until the meat is browned and cooked through, about 6 minutes.

Step 4

Remove pan from the heat and carefully drain off any excess fat, leaving just a little bit in the pan to keep the meat moist (if you are using meat that is 93% lean, you likely will not need to drain it).

Step 5

Return the pan to the medium-high heat. Stir in the hot sauce, Dijon, and smoked paprika. Add the beef broth. Scrape up any browned bits stuck to the pan.

Step 6

Stir in half of the chives, then sprinkle the remaining chives on top. Enjoy hot.

Step 7

Remove the pan from the heat and let cool 1 minute. Add the Greek yogurt and cheddar. Stir until the cheese is melted and the ingredients are well combined.

Step 8

Once the liquid is boiling, add the pasta and cook until al dente according to package instructions, stirring often and scraping a spoon along the bottom of the pan to keep it from sticking. If at any point the pasta becomes to dry, splash in a bit of water.

Recipe Summary

  • 1 pound lean ground beef
  • 3 cups peeled and thinly sliced potatoes
  • 1 (10.75 ounce) can condensed cream of mushroom soup
  • ½ cup chopped onion
  • ¾ cup milk
  • salt to taste
  • freshly ground pepper, to taste
  • 1 cup shredded Cheddar cheese

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).

In a medium skillet over medium heat, brown the ground beef drain fat.

In a medium mixing bowl, combine cream of mushroom soup, onion, milk, salt and pepper to taste.

Alternately layer the potatoes, soup mixture and meat in a 11x7 inch (2 quart) baking dish. Bake in the preheated oven for 1 to 1 1/2 hours, or until potatoes are tender. Top with Cheddar cheese, and continue baking until cheese is melted.

FORGET eating out and use your slow cooker!

If you fail to plan your dinner, you’re guaranteed to spend more… eating food out, or ordering in – which is usually NOT the best for you! When I don’t plan, that means Dave runs straight for Pizza.

Because I really DON’T need pizza on my hips right now, we’re all about using the slow cooker to cook ahead – have shredded, cooked chicken on hand for tacos, and keep potatoes in mind for a healthy alternative for dinner – you can cook those in the crock pot too!


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