Homemade Hamburger Helper

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Fail. Fail, fail, fail.

THE RECIPE: FAIL

So I read through the recipe and thought ok, this sounds easy enough. Surely I can handle browning meat, throwing in some macaroni, and letting it simmer for awhile. I can handle this.

Could. Not. Handle.

I browned the meat and drained it, no problem (even though draining meat it one of my pet peeves. I always make a mess. REALLY need one of these). I threw in some whole wheat macaroni – didn’t I mention I was eating healthier? That’s when things got stupid. The recipe called for 2 1/2 cups of milk and 1.5 cups of water. Hmmm…. that was a lot of liquid. I don’t know about you, but when I think of Hamburger Helper, I think of salty, creamy, gooey, cheesy goodness. That, my friends, was not happening.

It will thicken as it simmers, I logically, hopefully concluded. Not so. After the first 10 minutes, the pasta was still undercooked and the liquid was still thin and watery. In 15 minutes, the pasta was plump and wonderfully al dente, but drowning in all that unappetizing liquid. Desperate, I added a few healthy spoonfuls of greek yogurt. Let is simmer some more. Only slightly better. I mix another spoonful of cornstarch in water and pour that in.

This is when Nick comes home, finding me frowning at an overflowing pan of… goop. I apologize for making him slop and ask if he can save it. He throws in a little more cheese, lets it melt, and decides to take it off the heat to cool. Maybe that would help.

As we wait, Nick presents two cans of dog food he picked up on the way home. We feed our dogs dry food, but they had run out and this wet stuff was the only thing the gas station carried (this was after our grocery store had closed. Stop judging). As I opened it to feed them, all I found think of was how good it smelled, like beef stew, and how much more appetizing it looked than what was currently gooping on the stove. Maybe I was hungry.

THE TASTE: EDIBLE FAIL

Nick said it wasn’t that bad. I did eat a big bowl, but I think the dog food got my appetite up. But it was still sloopy. I’m a texture person. This is so disappointing. I even made extra with the hopes of having leftovers for lunch tomorrow. Nope.

DIFFICULTY: DON’T BOTHER

If you simply must try this recipe for yourself, adjust the liquid mightily. I’d suggest cutting both the milk and the water in half and then slowly adding more if it looks too thin. But I, for one, will stick to the store-bought variety, if I ever feel like indulging again.

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Double Crunch Honey Garlic Chicken

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Let’s read that again. Double. Crunch. Honey. Garlic. Chicken. And that photo – my god. I can almost feel my endorphin levels rising. I’m not going to waste any more time. Read my review then go make this RIGHT NOW.

THE RECIPE: SOLID AS A ROCK.

This pin takes a recipe from one that uses pork, but just ignore that (it calls for 6 pork chops – ignore that too). Just worry about making the crunchy coating and that delicious, sweet, savory sauce. I only prepared two chicken breasts, but I still made the flour dredge according to the recipe. I don’t mind saving what’s left over for when I make this every single day for the rest of my life.

Oh and I didn’t have any sage or nutmeg. Or cayenne. So if you follow the recipe exactly yours might be even more delicious.

THE TASTE: EH.

JUST KIDDING. IT WAS AWESOME.

Seriously though. The chicken was perfectly crunchy and still moist on the inside. I’m always impressed when I cook chicken right. I’ve had a bad track record. It helped that the instructions included actual minutes I should wait before turning. That really helped.

Let me also just take a moment to say that honey garlic sauce is the bomb (sorry, I’m a 90s kid). I only had a tiny bit of soy sauce, so I had to add water to have enough. I think it made my sauce turn out sweeter than intended, not that I’m complaining. So if you’re looking for something a little less on the sweet side, add more soy.

DIFFICULTY: MOSTLY EASY

The only part where I second-guessed myself was finding the perfect time to put the chicken in the oil to fry. Pro tip: before you put your chicken in the oil to try, drop a little of that flour dredge in there. Is it sizzling? Good, it’s hot enough. If it’s not, give it a moment or two and try again. You want that chicken to crisp up, but not burn, so babysit it once you start frying! Testing it worked out great for me, so I’m feeling much better about making this again. And again. And again…

“Crispy” Corn Fritters

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So a few weeks ago, Nick and I invited some friends over for a cookout. We fired up the grill and went a little crazy with the meats – fresh artisan sausages from the wonderful Local Pig, pork tenderloin, steak… and there was only four of us!

I had several ears of corn on hand and had this fritter recipe in my mind for awhile. For some reason – devine? – I decided to bake them instead of frying. Everyone knows fried food is superior in just about every situation, so I’m not sure what I was thinking. But I digress.

THE RECIPE: ?

I followed the preparation exactly (I didn’t have shallot – I used a little bit of onion instead) and ended up with a goopy batter. I spooned a couple of teaspoons onto a cooking sheet, set the over to 400, and hoped for the best. Ten-ish minutes later, I beheld my creation.

THE TASTE: RAVE REVIEWS

So my “crispy fritters” came out as what we now affectionally refer to as “corn cookies”. They were soft and mildly sweet, and ended up as perfect appetizers as we waited for our smorgasbord of meats to cook. Added bonus: I put a little shredded cheddar cheese on top of the second batch at the 5-minute mark and let it get all melty. Delicious!

DIFFICULTY: SUPER EASY

These are great if you need a summery side in a pinch. We seriously couldn’t get enough.