Who's That Girl

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WHO'S THAT GIRL: A higher education obsessed foodie who is documenting her life in the kitchen. I love to cook delicious, gourmet-style foods for those I love and always welcome a challenge in the kitchen. With that challenge comes an impromptu nature. I tend to avoid following recipes to the exact, so you are not likely to find very many posted here. Being that I am a Libra and am learning to be free in the kitchen, the story always goes, "A pinch of this and a smattering of that!" Thank you for visiting -- and happy reading!

Monday, December 20, 2010

It's a Fancy Hamburger Helper

A fancy Hamburger Helper? No, no, not -- that is not what I was going for. But, alas, that is exactly what tonight's dish brought immediately to mind.

Ah well.

This was something like three dishes in one. It was meant to be a Greek lasagna dish, but a couple of things happened:

1. I was about one hour late to start dinner.

2. I was feeling exhausted -- no, lazy.

3. I had some leftovers in the fridge that I knew wouldn't be eaten lest I produced a culinary mash up.

That's what I set out to do -- and here it is.

I started out making the meat sauce.

I opted for lamb -- no, not hamburger mince, incidentally -- inspired by a recipe from Saveur. I started out with the onions and green bell peppers.

Once soft, I removed the vegetables from the skillet and cooked the lamb until nearly done.

Then I added some left over chorizo which included rice and onions. I also included the roasted potatoes we were going to have for breakfast this morning but never got to.

When the meat was browned all the way through, I added some chicken stock, a couple of bay leaves, one cinnamon stick and sliced tomatoes.

You can actually see the cinnamon stick in the picture to the left. Awww! And it was quite fragrant to me, which was so lovely. *long, deep sigh*

I cooked this for about 20 minutes -- until the stock was nearly evaporated, which left me with something of a medium-thin sauce. It looked good. In retrospect, I may have gone ahead and added a little bit of tomato paste and some red wine.

With the meat sauce prepared, I added a little bit of nutmeg and ground cinnamon. I honestly did not think that the one cinnamon stick would lend as much flavor as I would have wanted. Turned out that adding the ground cinnamon was a fantastic idea. It turned out to have a subtle but obvious flavor. The nutmeg, along with the cinnamon, had a nice overtone, but not overwhelming. 

I cooked the elbow noodles as I did this. Really, I should have waited much later to make the noodles but I didn't want to fuss with them toward the end.

With the meat sauce prepared, I opted to include a white sauce -- from a can! I have been sitting on this sauce for about six weeks now.

I am not prone to buy canned anything but it did come in handy.

Otherwise I would have just made the sauce from scratch, which would have taken another half hour.

I added some milk and Parmesan cheese to the noodles, then layered the noodles and meat sauce in a baking dish. This was merely for presentation. I could have just as easily mixed the two together and not baked it at all. Right before I put this in the oven for less than 15 minutes, I sprinkled a little bit of black pepper on top.

The meat was the only disappointment. For some reason it quite simply tasted like ground beef. But, in all, the dish wasn't half bad! If I had never had Hamburger Helper in my life I think I could have appreciated this dish much, much more. It had just about everything necessary:

A nice tinge of spice -- not too hot, but not swiftly passing either.

A sweetness provided by the cinnamon and nutmeg combined.

A slight creamy texture -- not overpowering to the point that the dish fell flat on the mouth and stuck to the back of the throat. No, not at all! It carried a wonderful essence -- perhaps the bay leaves and Parmesan intermingling?

The noodles were still soft, but they did not merely give way in the mouth. They were cooked quite perfectly.

But I likely will never cook this again. Not without mass modification. Eggplant anyone? Maybe some cumin and paprika? Or yellow bell peppers?


  1. Yummy! My type of comfort food, esp. in this snowy winter!

  2. Anyone who uses leftovers this seriously is a hero! You deserve a medal.


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