This grownup version of hamburger helper mac n cheese is a much healthier option made with turkey, spinach and cheddar.
Remember Hamburger Helper and that weird white hand with the red clown nose who bounced around countertops (he totally freaked me out)?
This is what I’m calling the grownup version. Granted, we never actually had that as kids (along with many other kid friendly/preservative filled foods we were deprived of) but this at least tastes like what I’d expect Hamburger Helper to except with the addition of peppers, spinach & lean turkey.
And minus probably 95% of the ingredients you see here.
That’s kind of sickening isn’t it? And what’s up with the imitation bacon bits, Betty? Go big or go home when it comes to the good stuff!
This is total, complete, utter, 100%, to the max (insert any other descriptor you can think of here) comfort food, that just happens to be pretty healthy too.
This is sit in front of the TV, put your sweats on (I do that a lot if you haven’t noticed), curl up on the couch with a cozy blanket kind of food.
This is food that will win you bonus points with your significant other (especially if they’re mac n cheese fiends like mine) and definitely have them doing the dishes afterwards while you sit and relax. In my infinite wisdom, I made this on a night Ulysses wasn’t home though, so I didn’t even get that luxury. Poor planning on my part.
I usually get really annoyed by mac n cheese recipes out there that have me making rouxes, using multiple pots, dirty whisks all over the place, starting on the stove top, moving to the oven… It’s all just way too complicated for freakin mac n cheese, you know?
I want one pot, cornstarch exists for a reason and don’t make me decide which of my 5 different whisks I need to use.
Problem solved. This fits all those requirements and still tastes like you spent hours in a dirty pot filled kitchen with flour and whisks strewn about.
- 1 lb. lean ground turkey
- 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- 1 red pepper, chopped
- 1 tablespoon cornstarch
- 1 teaspoon paprika
- 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- ¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes
- 1 cup water
- 2 cups milk (1 or 2% is preferable)
- 1½ cup whole wheat elbow pasta
- 1 cup baby spinach, chopped
- 1½ cup grated cheddar cheese
- In a large pot or dutch oven, over medium-high heat, brown turkey with olive oil.
- Drain liquid once browned and return to stove.
- Add garlic & onions and saute for 2-3 minutes until softened.
- Add red pepper and saute for another 2-3 minutes.
- Add cornstarch through pasta, stir, bring to a boil then reduce to a simmer and cover for about 10 minutes.
- Uncover and stir in spinach and cheese. Mix until combined and cheese is melted.
- Turn off heat and let sit for 5-10 minutes until sauce thickens before serving.
*Inspired by Iowa Girl Eats, Cheeseburger Macaroni