I know, I know, I’m a few days behind. Over the weekend, I attended this awesome conference on trauma and dissociation. Yes, nerd alert. This particular conference tends to be my absolute favorite of the year. The topic may be ominous, but the people who do this work are so wonderful, and I love getting to see colleagues that live all over the world. Maybe one day I’ll post a presentation I’ve done or a paper I’ve written – ha. Just kidding. My husband regularly reminds me that while my nerdiness knows no bounds, others do have their limits.

Full disclosure: I have been crafting up a storm. A storm. Little man’s 2nd birthday is just a little over a week away and his party – two weeks! I can’t wait to see how everything pulls together. Not to mention the holidays – ahhhhhh. However, the holiday crafting storm must stay under wraps until after Christmas.  The little guy has sworn me to secrecy…

So you are stuck with yet another recipe from me this week. Now that it is getting colder, I’m excited to break out some of my “cozier” recipes. You know what I mean, those recipes that are full of milk and cheese and keep your bellies feeling warm and full. This recipe is for homemade hamburger helper, which brings back all kinds of childhood memories. Not only did we occasionally have the boxed variety, but my dad made a pretty mean rendition of this. I wish I had his “recipe”, but this is a delicious alternative.

Adapted from Divas Can Cook:


  • 1 lb ground beef
  • 2 cups milk
  • 1 cup cold water
  • 2 cups elbow macaroni, uncooked
  • ½ teaspoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt or seasoning salt
  • ¼ teaspoon black pepper
  • ¾ teaspoon oregano
  • ¾ teaspoon parsley
  • ¾ garlic powder
  • ½ teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 2 cups cheddar cheese, shredded
  • 1 bag of steamable veggies to go in the microwave as you cook (I like peas or broccoli, personally).

My favorite things about this recipe?

  1. All of the measurements are the same, so in essence, you only need two measuring cups – 1 cup and 1/4 tsp. There is nothing I hate more than a kitchen that looks like a war zone after I’m done. Oh wait, cleaning up said war zone. I hate that more.
  2. Because you only need two measuring cups, a skillet, and a colander, clean up is super easy and I only have one thing to keep track of. Even my steamable veggies can just sit in the microwave until I’m ready for them. I am terrible at timing side dishes and the main course. Usually something ends up cold or sad looking. Sometimes it’s my family’s faces. But not this time!
  3. The easy setup and clean up allows for simultaneous playing. This makes my little man happy which means that I don’t have to cook while a whining/crying/”help”/”ma maaaaaaa” soundtrack in the background.
  4. This homemade recipe takes the same amount of time as the boxed version, which means I get credit for a healthier version but still get the quick turnaround.


Brown ground meat in a skillet over medium heat.

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Drain meat & return to skillet. Add remaining ingredients except for the cheese and veggies. Veggies can go into the microwave for steaming at this point.

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Stir to combine. Bring to a boil.

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Reduce heat, cover and cook until pasta is tender, about 9-10 minutes. Stir occasionally.

Remove from heat and stir in cheese. Sauce may be thin, but it will thicken as it sits for a few minutes. Pour over bed of steamed veggies. I have used peas and broccoli, and love Diva’s suggestion of tomatoes (maybe next time!).

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Yum. Take that, Betty Crocker. Just kidding. I love you, and I still need you.