Thursday, August 25, 2011

To those of you still making Hamburger Helper...

...just stop it! Stop it right now! You'll get cancer and die. Well, maybe not. But there are unpronounceable words in that stuff! Why would you want to eat that?

I know a topic like this isn't very "gourmet", but I had this epiphany when I was flying around like a mad woman trying to come up with something to make my fiance for dinner. I was running late (as usual) and had about 30 minutes to cook something, put it in a container, and send him on his way to work (3rd shift). I thought about burgers or some kind of pasta dish, because he enjoys both. And then the little light bulb in my head came on and I combined the ideas. It turned out to be my version of Hamburger Helper, which tastes way better and could possibly be slightly healthier. Healthier in the sense that you won't get cancer from the preservatives and weird chemicals. By eating my version, you may just have a heart attack. That's easier to come back from than cancer, obviously.*

Anyway, this is a quick meal that I was able to put together in just under 20 minutes. Add a salad or some sauteed veggies for a side dish to lessen the guilt factor.

Elle's [non-cancer causing] Hamburger Helper
1 bag of egg noodles (extra-wide)
1 pound ground beef
1/2 pint cream
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
2 tsp. garlic powder
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. ground black pepper
1 Tbsp. chopped parsley

Boil the egg noodles in salty water until al dente; drain and set aside. In a large skillet, brown the ground beef on medium heat until just cooked through (do not over cook). Strain off any excess fat if necessary. With the skillet set to medium-high, add the cream to the ground beef. When the cream starts to bubble add the spices and stir thoroughly. Then, add the cheese. Continuously stir the mixture until the cheese has melted to make a creamy sauce. Turn the heat off and add in the parsley last.

Ta-da! Dinner :)

I added some frozen peas before I added the cream. You can add any kind of frozen vegetable if you so desire. Charlie just happened to ask for peas. You can also adjust the seasonings and spices as you see fit. Adding some chili powder and ground cumin along with the garlic powder will yield a more "taco" flavored version. Using ground turkey or chicken would be a good alternative to the ground beef, too. As always, I encourage you to play around with the spices and ingredients to suit your tastes.

Now, put down the box of sodium and preservatives and eat something really yummy instead!

*Just as an aside, I know that cancer and heart attacks aren't funny. Luckily, sarcasm can be hilarious. And in my own little world, I'm a hilarious, sarcastic person who happens to be a fabulous chef.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

When last we met...

...Our heroine was unemployed and had too much time on her hands. This allowed her to rant and rave about idiotic television shows. The reason you haven't heard from her since June? She got a job and has been fantastically busy trying to earn a living!

Alright, enough with the third person. It hurts my brain. But yes, I am now gainfully employed and I feel comfortable and settled enough in said job to talk about it with little fear of jinxing myself. And it all started with a message on Facebook.

I was working on a spreadsheet, re-organizing my job hunting processes when I realized I had a message on Facebook. It was from Matt, the former sous chef at Jax, the Bistro where I held my first official restaurant job. When Jax closed (two months after I began working there), we all went our separate ways and I really didn't keep in touch with anyone...with the exception of being "friends" with a few of them on that little social networking site we all love to hate. It's a good thing, too, because he offered me a position as a garde manger at the restaurant he is currently working at. I was surprised that he even remembered me. But after a few phone calls and in-person interviews with the general manager and the owner, I'm SO VERY glad he did remember me.

The restaurant is called Sullivan's Metropolitan Grill. It's in downtown Anderson, about two blocks away from Jax (which is now the Main Street Deli, I believe). The kitchen is small, but nice. I work with a great group of people and I have a pretty rockin' schedule. The schedule may change as the "busy season" gets closer, but for now I still have weekends off. And in this industry? That's dream worthy. My boss isn't a drunk or an uptight, shady European with jealousy issues. And let me tell you, that is a major plus.

I'll admit that I'm tired. Getting back into the swing of things has taken more time than I'd anticipated. But I'm happy to be employed. I'm happy to have an income again. I'm happy to be in a kitchen again. I'm just...happy. It's great!