Homemade Hamburger Helper

I was reluctant to publish this post because to me, it’s not the prettiest meal. But it’s a meal my family eats about once a week, and you know why? Because about once a week, I’m overwhelmed. There are too many clients demanding too many things. There are too many meals to cook. Do we really need all these bathrooms that just get dirty? Why are there so many stairs to vacuum? How is the living room dusty again? Why is there laundry everywhere? Didn’t I just sweep? It’s the normal, little things that all add up and at times, it seems like a lot.

Don’t get me wrong. I love my life and I wouldn’t change a single thing. And I’m very grateful that we have too many bathrooms and stairs. But sometimes, we all feel overwhelmed. Sometimes, we just don’t have it in us to put a beautiful meal on the table that took three hours to cook. All we can do is offer food that is simple, easy to bring together, and that doesn’t take too much more of our time.

But even when it’s ugly, it can still nourish our soul. It can still bring us together around the table and remind us that we can face the overwhelm together. And that’s what this one does for my family, even if it’s not the prettiest meal. So, if you’ve ever had a day (and who hasn’t?) this meal may just make it a little better.


1 tablespoon butter

1 pound medium ground beef

1 onion, diced

3 cloves of garlic, minced

1 tablespoon each of fresh rosemary, thyme, and oregano, chopped

2 cups whole canned tomatoes (I have recently fallen in love with Mutti’s line of products)

2 cups chicken, beef, or vegetable broth

8 ounces of penne, or any short pasta

1 cup fresh mozzarella cheese, shredded

2 tablespoons fresh basil, chopped

Salt and pepper, to taste


1.) Place butter in a frying pan over medium heat and melt. Add ground beef, breaking it up as you do. Season with salt and pepper and fry until ground beef is no longer pink, 8 to 10 minutes.

2.) Add onion and cook for about 3 minutes, until translucent. Add garlic and fresh herbs, except basil, and cook for three more minutes. This blooms the fresh herbs in the fat, flavoring the dish throughout.

3.) Add the whole canned tomatoes, breaking them up as you do using a wooden spoon or your hands. Add the stock and the penne. Season with more salt and pepper to taste and stir.

4.) Bring the mixture to a boil over high heat. Lower heat to medium-low and simmer for 15 – 20 minutes until the pasta is tender. The consistency of your sauce will depend entirely on the type and brand of ingredients you are using. If the sauce becomes too loose, turn heat up to reduce it faster. If it becomes too tight, add more water.

5.) When pasta is tender, remove the entire pan from the heat. Add shredded mozzarella and basil and stir.

6.) Serve and enjoy!