I spent the week of Thanksgiving in my childhood home. It’s been a very long time since I spent that much time at home. My family and I slept in my childhood room, which no longer resembles my childhood room. Twenty or so years ago, I never would have imagined that someday I’d be a guest in that room, along with a husband, a dog, and two little kids, with another on the way. It seems like yesterday that I was sitting on my bright pink carpet playing with Barbies and negotiating self-serving Barbie clothes trades with my sisters. It’s funny how quickly time passes and life changes.
I am fortunate to have grown up in a beautiful, wooded area, steps away from a New York State Park and the Long Island Sound. As a child, my siblings and I spent endless hours biking through the park, walking along the boardwalk, collecting rocks and shells on the beach, and precariously frolicking on the jetty. As a teen, the park provided a quiet refuge, when I needed a break from life. A hour or so on the swings or a peaceful walk on the beach would set me right as rain. I loved growing up by that park and the beach.
Fortunately, a wave of unseasonably warm weather swept through Long Island earlier in the week, creating the perfect opportunity to spend a little time in the park with the boys. We played in the playground, watched ducks swim between the reeds, and gazed at the peaceful Long Island Sound. Our afternoon at the park gave me one more thing to add to my long list of things I’m thankful for.
During our week at home, we ate like we ate when I was a child. My family rarely ate food which could be called fancy or gourmet, by any stretch of the imagination. But it was always fresh, delicious, and comforting; spaghetti and meatballs, grilled steaks with baked potatoes, baked pasta dishes, and roasted meats.
During one of our nights at home, my dad made one of his favorite weeknight meals. It’s not a recipe which I remember from my childhood, but rather a newer recipe he’s discovered since I’ve been gone. Ironically, this new recipe comes from a 1972 edition of the Better Homes and Gardens ground meat cookbook. It’s hard to beat the classics!
I’ve never had Hamburger Helper, but I’d imagine that this dish is similar, except it’s completely homemade, without all of the preservatives and excess sodium in the boxed stuff. And though I’ve never made Hamburger Helper, I can’t imagine that it would be any simpler to make than this dish is. So, when you’re looking to make a quick meal out of that ground beef you’ve got in the freezer, make this instead. It’s called Macaroni Beef Supper. You’ve got to love a dish that calls itself a supper. I know I sure do!
Macaroni Beef Supper
Adapted from the Better Homes and Garden recipe for Macaroni Beef Supper
- 1 1/2 pounds Ground Beef
- 1 Onion, finely chopped (Click here for my photo guide on How to Chop an Onion)
- 1 clove Garlic, minced
- 1/2 cup Water
- 2 8-ounce cans Tomato Sauce
- 1 6-ounce can Sliced Mushrooms, drained (or substitute 2 cups Fresh Mushrooms, sliced)
- 1 pound Pasta, cooked and drained*
- 1 Tablespoon Vinegar
- 1 teaspoon Salt
- 1 teaspoon Chili Powder
- 1 teaspoon Worchestershire Sauce
- 1 1/4 cups American Cheese, chopped
*Slightly undercook the pasta, since it will have time to finish cooking with the other ingredients.
Cook the beef for a few minutes in a skillet over medium heat, using a spoon to break up the pieces. Add the onion and garlic. Continue cooking until the beef is fully cooked and the onion is tender.
Stir in the remaining ingredients, except the cheese.
Cover and simmer for 25 minutes. Stir in 1 cup of the cheese, until melted.
Sprinkle the remaining cheese on top and serve.