This has somehow turned into a cooking blog. How'd that happen? Well, every day I do a bunch of things, some interesting, mostly not. I think cooking is the most consistently interesting thing I'm doing these days. And I have to cook. Every day.
Actually, I love to cook. I go through spells where I cook all the time and get really ambitious and fancy and then there are the low times where I don't have the energy to stir or sautee or wash a pot so we eat out instead. The last six months or so was more of the latter for us. I not only lacked the energy but also the inspiration to cook anything. That was a little weird.
But now I have to cook (for the sake of our budget) and I think it will be helpful for me to document the different things I make so I can reference it on those nights when I am stumped for something to cook. Like this dish which I used to make on a regular basis. I completely forgot about it. I think the last time I made it must have been like a year ago.
Sometimes I'm in the mood for something in particular but don't know how to make it (jerk chicken with plantains and moro?) so I look it up on recipe sites and browse a few different recipes to get a basic idea of how it's done. Other times I'm in the store and a vegetable will look particularly fetching so I get inspired by that to create something on the fly (like the sole I made the other night). This dish is one of the ones I created on the fly. I must have been inspired by mushrooms. I can't imagine it was sour cream or ground meat. Hm. Who knows?
(Unrelated: Wow. There's an awesome Tom Waits song playing on the radio right now. It's called Jersey Girl and he is just wailing from his gut. Whoo. Gets me right there.)
Anyways, tonight's dinner is Fancy Hamburger Helper. Didn't you just love hamburger helper when you were a kid? Was that just us? My mom cooked a lot too. So much so that ordering from McDonald's was considered eating out. Don't even get me started on Pizza Hut. Nowadays, I don't think I could eat real hamburger helper. Actually, I know I can't. My 10 year old nephew made it for us for dinner one night and I nearly gagged on the sodium. So weird cause if someone told me that there was freshly whipped up spam musubi waiting in the kitchen, I'd be the first in line to stuff my face. I'm complex like that. Anyways, every once in a blue moon mom would take a break from the biscuits and gravy and country fried steaks and serve up a plate of hamburger helper and we kids would do a little dance around the table with anticipation. Usually to the tune of "I Wanna Be Like You" from the Jungle Book. I kid you not.
Okay, I'm really chatty tonight. On with the recipe:
Fancy Hamburger Helper
1 medium onion chopped
1 stalk of celery (optional - I just had it around in the fridge and wanted to use it up)
5-6 medium sized portobello mushrooms (or two of those squarish buckets of white mushrooms) chopped up as well
tub of sour cream
1 lb of ground meat (I used buffalo cause M told me that he heard that it's even leaner and healthier than turkey. Who knew? But in the past I have used ground beef or ground turkey)
1/2 lb of pasta cooked al dente (I really wanted to use parpadelle noodles but didn't have the motivation to make them from scratch and couldn't find them at the store. So I just used dried pasta instead. Usually one bag is a lb, so I cooked up all of it and just used about half.)
1 clove of minced garlic
1 teaspoon of oregano
sprinkles of freshly ground sea salt, black pepper and white pepper (okay, I don't actually have white peppercorns to freshly grind just the salt and black pepper) to taste
Start pasta water and throw in pasta when water comes to a rolling boil.
Chop all them vegetables up.
We are the onions.
We are mushrooms.
We are the optional opportune celery.
Sautee onions and celery first in a drizzle of olive oil. Add garlic too and cook until onions are translucent.
Add mushrooms to pan and sautee until they are tender (about 5 minutes? maybe longer. I should have been more attentive to the times).
By now the pasta should be done. Whoops, a little past al dente. Perhaps after the chopping phase, you should check in on the little buggers.
Drain and set aside. Don't put them back in the pot you used to cook 'em in, or put them in a bowl on top of the stove, the heat will keep 'em cooking and you don't want that.
Back to the sautee pan. Add the meat and break down with the back of a wooden spoon to brown evenly.
Cook stirring occasionally until meat is completely browned. There should still be some juices in the pan from the meat though.
Add seasonings and oregano. Stir to incorporate and add sour cream.
Stir to completely incorporate.
Whoops. I seem to have stopped taking photos at this point. Well, once the sour cream is completely incorporated, add the pasta. I added a little more than half the package which I think was a little too much. I like the ratios to be a little heavier on the meat sauce. Rats. Oh well, it was still a tasty dinner.
I served it with a simple salad of red leaf lettuce tossed with chopped apples, pear, some candied chopped walnuts and the mustard vinaigrette from last night's dinner.