Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Cheeseburger pasta was a no-go

My Dad and I were hard pressed for dinner last night.

We both got home from work, Mom went out to dinner with some friends, and my brother was at (yet another) party. Numbly, we started trying to think of something to eat, halfheartedly tossing out suggestions like the vultures from the Jungle Book: "What do you want to do?" I dunno, what do you want to do?", until I noticed our newest edition of Healthy Cooking sitting on the table and observed the dish featured on the cover, a cheeseburger pasta. It looked relatively normal, with tomatoes, cheese, and ground beef, so I pressured my Dad into letting me make it for supper.

However, what may sound good in theory is not always what you get as an end result. I had skimmed over the list of ingredients and not seeing anything outlandish, proceeded to chop up some onion, brown some beef and boil some water. It wasn't until I started progressing farther down the list that I paused and thought Really? That doesn't sound like it would end well..., but I tried to open my mind and trust some random mother who claimed it was a "family favorite" in her house.

Now, when I think cheeseburger pasta, I think of that fabulous kind that Hamburger Helper makes. I figured this would be similar, only with tomatoes. Harmless, right?


This recipe had normal ingredients up until I saw dill pickle relish. And ketchup and mustard. Plus steak seasoning. Oh, dear.

I understand that it's cheeseburger pasta, but this was going all out. It pretty much replaced the bun with penne and the patty with ground beef. It was with great hesitation that I added 2 tbsp of each of those ingredients and a tsp of the seasoning, all the while stirring it and telling myself it was going to be ok.

This pasta, when finished, was one of those dishes that isn't horrendous enough to avoid eating altogether, but if you have nothing else, like we had, and you're tired and just want to eat something, will suffice for a one time ordeal.

The ketchup, mustard and relish were very off-putting. Only on a hamburger can this trifecta of condiments reside happily together, because just slopping them into what otherwise was something perfectly delicious but simple (pasta, onion, tomatoes, and beef) completely took it to a lower level. The last ingredient was shredded cheddar, which I piled on like crazy to hide the repulsive flavor of the condiments even though it was from a Healthy Cooking magazine and required a mere 3/4 cup.

This would be a great recipe for someone who is low on time and doesn't feel like making anything that requires more than minimal effort, but there is a far better recipe that I got from my Mom, which utilizes most of the same ingredients with the addition of a few others, is low cost, not time consuming, and requires little effort. It's a throw everything in the pot and wait kind of dish, called Texas Hash. I'll be posting it soon along with pictures and the article I got the recipe from.

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