Saturday, June 11, 2011

Hamburger Helper Fairy Chef Style

I have, a number of times, received emails from folks asking for recipes that take less preparation time, particularly something relatively easy to make to feed hungry children for dinner.

I don't know about all ya'll, but while my Mama did generally make home cooked meals every night, sometimes she cheated and out came the Hamburger Helper. I was partially fond of the Beef Stroganoff.

Unfortunately, the back of the package reads like a high school chemistry lab experiment.

So, tonight, I present to you a similarily quick hamburger meal but better for you (and you can pronounce all of the ingredients without a master's degree in inorganic chemistry).

Hamburger Helper Fairy Chef Style

1 lb ground beef
1/4 red onion chopped
1/2 cup zuchinni sliced
1/2 cup portobello mushrooms or button mushrooms
1/2 cup snow peas
1/2 red bell pepper
1/2 orange or yellow bell pepper
2 packets Goya Sazon con Azafran
1/2 cup soy sauce
2 cloves of garlic minced
2 tbsp olive oil*

First in a large skillet or wok heat the oil. Add the onions and garlic and brown for three minutes. Then add the hamburger along with the soy sauce and the Goya seasoning packets. When the hamburger is about half way done cooking add in the rest of the vegetables. Mix thoroughly until the veggies are al dente.

Serve this over jasmine rice.

Also, to save even more time, most grocery stories have pre-packaged, pre-chopped fresh vegetables. Economically, this makes less sense to buy the veggies this way, but if you are pressed for time they are usually relatively inexpensive (though very expensive for the amount you actually get). The upside is that it cuts out about 10-15 minutes prep time because of the lack of need to do much chopping.

The kids will love this dish.

This recipe will feed four people at a cost of about $9 and is way healthier than Hamburger Helper with about the same prep time.

*Please note...ALWAYS use Extra Virgin Olive Oil. Extra Virgin indicates first pressing and does not involve chemicals in the extraction processing...every level of purity down from extra virgin requires more and more chemicals to extract the oil from the same pressed olives.


  1. my husband will make a homemade hamburger helper too - because ialways whine how salty those things are...he will use soy sauce or Maggi sauce and the goya seasonings - sometimes he uses worcestire sauce too. it is amazing what you can make with some random spices and a few fresh veg!

  2. Hey Brandon. I agree to always use extra virgin olive oil, but your description isn't quite right. There is only one pressing of olives. There are a variety of ways but they all produce virgin olive oil. Extra virgin just means virgin that meets higher standards. Plain virgin used olives that sat around a bit too long or something else that wasn't perfect enough. Plain virgin is totally fine to use, though hard to find and I wouldn't use it for salad dressings or other things where the flavor comes through.

    Pure or lite olive oil is refined. It basically comes from virgin/extra virgin oil that went off enough to keep from meeting the virgin standards (including oil that the manufacturers knew would be refined right off the bat).

    Refined fats are even more unhealthy than refined carbs. The extremely high heat used (more than you would get in a home kitchen) damages the oils in way that make them awful for your body. Refining also removes antioxidants and other healthful components that you need to properly utilize the oil. Sure, it lasts longer without going rancid, but who wants to eat food that never goes bad, ew!

    The next method of extracting oil is the last. You take the pomace (what's leftover after pressing out the oil per above) and either submit it to long periods of boiling (old method, rarely used) or add hexane, a nasty ass industrial solvent (all available pomace olive oil uses this method, with the exception of one mail order company; it's so toxic I've been told the process is banned in the US, though I'm not sure that's the case. Certainly the products of it are allowed. The promoters say it "burns off" during processing...uh huh, and where exactly does it go?).

    Pomace oil is traditionally used for soap and lamp oil. But some people eat it!!! And it's commonly mixed into "pure" olive oil to make it cheaper. You will recognize it because it's bright green. Not the good green of freshly pressed olives (some give oil that is naturally green), but green that looks like food dye. If you see green soap, you know it was made with hexane.