Happy quarantine! I bet you could use some comfort food right about now. When I asked my wife what was one of her favorite comfort foods, she immediately said cheeseburger pasta, and I was confused.
I have never made a cheeseburger pasta skillet, and I had no idea what she was requesting. Turns out, my wife was talking about a healthy Hamburger Helper. You know, the "just add beef" box of pasta stuff?
I don't remember the last time I had Hamburger Helper. In fact, I totally forgot about it. When I asked my wife what were the main things it should be, she said "tomato-y, cheesy, a little salty, and beefy." We're in quarantine times, and I did not buy ground beef, but I told her I'd figure it out.
Sure enough, tonight's cheeseburger pasta skillet was a hit. If you are looking for all the comfort and ease but want an upgraded, healthy Hamburger Helper, you have to try this cheeseburger pasta skillet. It hits all the requirements my wife was looking for, but it is lighter, made with ingredients I'm familiar with, and damn delicious.
Life in Quarantine
I don't know about you guys, but life in quarantine has been a rollercoaster. We have been at home, with our kids for 30 days now--thirty long days. Some days have been great, and we have been handling it like champs; we have Zoomed with family members, we've taken family walks, and we've been doing crafts with our kids.
Other days, however, have been hard.
Anxiety and stress have gotten the best of us, and it has been a challenge to do anything remotely educational or Pinterest-worthy with our kids. This week, our governor closed school for the rest of the year, and we now are faced with digital learning until June.
Some people are taking this time as a way to self improve--to work out every day, eat healthily, and work on hobbies. That's amazing. Maybe by the end of all of this, I will be there, but for now, we are looking at survival. Here's a list of some of the things that have helped us survive life with kids in quarantine that may come in handy for you too.
How to make ground turkey taste better
To lighten up the cheeseburger pasta skillet, I use lean ground turkey doctored up with some of my favorite go-to spices that you probably have in your pantry. They key to making ground turkey taste better is to season it heavier than your would ground beef. I like to add Worcestershire sauce and soy sauce because it brings even more depth of flavor. I also saute a diced onion and then I brown up the turkey all in the same pan for more flavor.
This healthy cheeseburger pasta skillet is a one-pot wonder. It makes about 12-14 cups of pasta, so you're gonna need a bigger boat. Here's my favorite pan that I use all the time.
After the turkey and onions were done, I added tomato sauce and low sodium beef broth directly to the pan and brought it to a boil. From here, you're going to add your dry pasta directly to the pan and cook the pasta.
We don't use fake cheese here
If you've cooked my recipes before, you know I have some opinions about cheese. Shelf-stable shaker cheese is not welcome in my house. I don't buy pre-shredded cheese because it never melts the same as home shredded cheese. With that in mind, I use regular full-fat cheese here.
Shave off calories or points by using low-fat cheese or cheese you foolishly bought in a panic. Don't worry about it. In this house, though, we use the real stuff and don't feel bad about it.
Plus, I'm using lean turkey and whole wheat pasta. We've got room for real cheese.
Once the pasta is cooked, you're going to add ketchup (it's weird, but remember it is a cheeseburger pasta skillet) and then fold in the cheese. I am using 8oz of shredded Colby Jack cheese in this recipe, and I folded in about 5 ounces directly into the pasta and covered with the remaining 3.
You decide your ratio however you want, but I wanted to top with cheese for the gram and a picture-perfect cheese pull.
Heat and Eat
Once your pasta is cooked and your cheese is melted, you're ready to eat. I topped my pasta with cheese, preheated the oven to 350, and then put my pasta into the oven before it was done preheating because I was impatient and hungry. All you're doing at this point is melting the cheese so you only need a few minutes.
You don't need to top it at all, but man does it look pretty.
- 1 lb. 99% lean ground turkey
- 1 lb whole wheat pasta
- 1 onion
- 16 oz. tomato sauce
- 4 cups low sodium beef broth
- 8 oz colby jack cheese, shredded
- 2 tsp garlic powder, divided
- 1 tsp onion powder
- 1 tsp worcestershire sauce
- 1 tsp soy sauce
- 1 tsp smoked paprika
- 1 pinch of chili powder
- 1/4 cup ketchup
- kosher salt and pepper
- Optional garnish: chopped scallions or parsley
- Spray a big pot/pan with cooking spray and sautee onion on medium heat for about 5 minutes.
- While onion cooks, combine ground turkey with 1 tsp garlic powder, onion powder, Worcestershire sauce, soy sauce, smoked paprika, and a little bit of black pepper.
- Brown turkey in the pot with the onion (about 3-5 minutes)
- Once the turkey is fully cooked, add 16 oz. tomato sauce and 4 cups of beef broth. Here I added another tsp of garlic powder, a pinch of salt, and a pinch of chili powder–this depends on taste and broth you are using. Bring to boil.
- As soon as the pot is boiling, add pasta to the pot and cook pasta until tender. Stir occasionally.
- When pasta is done, add 1/4 cup ketchup and cheese. If you are finishing the dish with a cheese topping, stir about 5 ounces of the cheese into the pasta and reserve the final three ounces for the topping. Heat pasta in the oven at 350 until the cheese is melted and serve.
I weighed my pasta once it was fully cooked, and the whole dish was 70 ounces. This equated to about 1.5 cups per serving. Pasta and cheese substitutions can impact points if you're following WW.
Serving Size:1.5 cups
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 405Total Fat: 11gSaturated Fat: 6gCholesterol: 60mgSodium: 742mgCarbohydrates: 46gFiber: 5gSugar: 6gProtein: 28g
Want more cheesy carbs in your life?
Cheesy carbs will always be my go-to comfort food. If you love cheese and carbs as much as me, you'll love my Chicken Cordon Bleu Pasta Bake, my Italian Sausage Pasta Bake, or my new Spinach and Artichoke Dip. That last one isn't really carb-focused and it is practically a salad with all the vegetables in there.