Better than prepackaged: Easy-to-make comfort food

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I’m a huge fan of comfort food.  I’m also a huge fan of knowing exactly what’s going into my food.  That’s one of my big reasons for making so much from scratch, that and the bigger feeling of accomplishment.  It’s an unsettling feeling to me to flip over a food package and not be able to pronounce half the ingredients – something in that tells me it can’t be healthy.

I know that the orange dust packet I add to my mac and cheese can’t really be anything in the dairy family, no matter how cheese-flavored it tastes.  So this week I bring you some home made cheeseburger macaroni.  It’s a little more dressed up than the boxed stuff, it tastes much better, and it really has the same steps, so it doesn’t take any extra time.

Cheeseburger Macaroni

  • 1 lb. Ground beef
  • 1 Tbsp. Corn starch
  • 2 tsp. Paprika
  • 1 tsp. Onion powder
  • 1 tsp. Garlic powder
  • 1 tsp. Salt
  • ¼ tsp. Pepper
  • 1 Cup hot water
  • 2 Cups milk
  • 3 Cups shredded cheddar
  • 1½ Cup small pasta of choice

Brown and drain ground beef.  Pour milk into measuring cup, stir into it seasonings and corn starch, add mixture, pasta, and hot water to the hamburger. Bring to a boil, then reduce to simmer for 10 minutes, or until pasta is al dente. Turn off heat, stir in cheese until melted.  Let stand 5 minutes until sauce is thickened.

This next one is a slight twist on an old favorite.  I have to admit, this one was inspired by the abundance of my refrigerator.  I had most of a can of chipotles in adobo sauce, peppers to use, and no idea or real desire to look up what was in traditional stuffed peppers.  I saw the peppers there on the fridge shelf, and got inspired.  I thought I would need tomato paste to hold the rice mixture together, but was pleasantly surprised by how well the adobo sauce did it instead.  I think the only thing I’d do differently for next time was chop the chipotles a little finer, so they distribute a little better throughout the filling.

Vegetarian Southwest Stuffed Peppers – Gluten Free!

  • 1 Cup cooked rice
  • 1 can black beans, drained
  • 1 can diced tomatoes, drained
  • 1 can whole kernel corn, drained
  • 1 can chipotle peppers in adobo sauce, peppers diced
  • 1 tsp. Coriander
  • 4 green peppers
  • 1 Cup shredded cheddar cheese

Cut the tops off of green peppers, remove seeds and membrane.  Boil in large kettle until soft, but not collapsing.  Cook rice, and while it is cooking, mix remaining ingredients in large pot.  When rice is ready, add it to the beans, tomatoes, peppers and corn.

Preheat oven at 325.  Arrange green peppers in a baking dish, and scoop in rice mixture.  The remaining filling can go in the bottom of the baking dish.  Top with cheese, bake for 20 minutes.

Tip of the week: If you’re sauteeing something and decide you need more oil, add it along the edges of the pan, so that by the time it reaches the food you’re cooking, the oil will be heated to the right temperature.

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