Friday, July 27, 2012

Cheesy Meaty Pasta {Homemade Hamburger Helper}

I have to admit that I absolutely love Hamburger Helpers.  So does our son.  But I know that they aren't that healthy for us.  So today I decided I would try to make our own version in the crockpot.  I don't have any ground chuck on hand, but I did find some frozen pre-cooked meatballs with italian seasonings.  I think they'll work just fine.  This is an easy dump and go meal if you are home during the day or looking for a quick crock pot meal.  The pasta softens within 2-3 hours and the meat crumbles nicely.

It's cooking now and so far it looks great! Dry pasta is in there too.  Everything started frozen or in it's natural state.  I'll update later tonight with the recipe and we'll let you know how it turns out!

This recipe calls for an entire box of pasta so there will be plenty of servings.  Since we have a family of 3, that means plenty of leftovers for us :)

Here's a sneak peek; I know it's hard to tell, but there are broken up meatballs in the mix too:

-1 box of whole wheat pasta (we had penne in the house)
-1.5 lbs. of hamburger or 1 (14 oz.) bag of frozen pre-made meatballs
-1 jar of your favorite spaghetti sauce
-1 jar of water (fill up the spaghetti sauce jar)
-2 tablespoons minced garlic
-1 tablespoon of oregano
-2 teaspoons of onion powder
-1 full bag (2 cups) of shredded reduced fat cheddar cheese
-4 slices of sharp cheddar cheese (optional; we like it extra cheesy)

Spread about 1/4 of your spaghetti sauce on the bottom of the crockpot. Layer the meatballs on top of the sauce (still frozen), or place the frozen ground beef on top of the sauce.  Pour the rest of the sauce overtop of the meatballs.  Place the pasta over top of the rest of the sauce, then fill the spaghetti sauce jar to the top with water and pour in the saucy water to moisten the pasta.  Sprinkle about 1/2 the bag of the shredded reduced fat cheddar over top of the pasta.  Cook on low for 3-4 hours.  Be sure to stir often and break up the meat as it cooks.  As it softens, it will break up easily with a wooden spoon.  When there are only about 20 minutes remaining, place the rest of the shredded cheese on top and turn off the crock pot.  If you'd like to have yours extra cheesy, lay the 4 slices of sharp cheddar cheese on top of the shredded cheese.  

I'll update with pictures of our plates tonight after hubby gets home in about an hour!

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