Homemade Hamburger Helper

Hi there.

Do you need some comfort food? Something that invites your soul to snuggle up against some memories of simpler times, of peaceful days when the world made sense? Something that fills your belly with a perfect medley of carbs, fat, protein, and flavor?

Me too.

This fall has been crazy. In mid-August I dove headfirst into some projects at work that required every ounce of creativity, planning, and time that I possessed. I took on a leadership role in my choir. I volunteered for an election that, well, let’s just say it didn’t go the way I’d hoped, and since then have still had trouble finding my bearings in this strange, post-election world. Sharing new recipes with you just hasn’t been at the top of the list.

But now it is! As the flood recedes, I’m finally finding myself looking through cookbooks again, browsing the wild and wonderful internet for tasty new things to cook. Which is how I found this one.


Classic Meatballs

And now, for something thoroughly NOT wedding cake:


After spending the majority of last week baking more cake than many people bake in a lifetime, I’m celebrating this week by not baking anything sweet. No cookies, no cakes, no pies, nothin’. Instead, MEATBALLS.

These particular meatballs are a blend, primarily, of ground beef and ground pork. You can really mix and match any ground meats you like, or you can just use one variety. I’ve made excellent batches using only ground turkey, but beef and pork were in the freezer, so there you are. But contrary to their name, meatballs are not entirely meat. I daresay that every recipe I’ve seen suggests that bread crumbs are just as important as the meat itself.

Let’s actually talk about bread crumbs for a moment. Bread crumbs are incredibly easy to produce (if you have bread, you can make bread crumbs), but they have still managed to find their way onto the shelves of grocery stores in a consistency that often is not so much of crumbs as it is a fine dust. If you have fresh bread, a few minutes in the oven will crisp it enough that you can smash it into crumbs at whatever consistency you fancy. Or, if you have trouble making it through a baguette before it goes stale, as I always seem to do, you can grind that sucker up in the food processor for bread crumbs far more satisfying and probably more economical than the canisters at the store.


Homemade Beef Jerky

Landing in North Carolina, and dragging luggage out of the airport in the peak of summer, is always rather shocking after several days in the cool, dry air of southwest Colorado. Sure, my hometown is hot during the day at this time of year too, but no matter what temperature the mercury hits while the sun is up, the air cools each night jeans-and-sweatshirt weather.

Every trip to Colorado seems too short, but sometimes, I get to bring little tastes of home back with me. And this time, it’s some tasty homemade jerky!


Vegetable Beef Soup

I’ve been making a lot of soup lately. I crave it when it gets cold, when it gets cloudy, or when I just want to eat the embodiment of warmth and comfort.

Do you know the story of Stone Soup? An old folk tale that varies from culture to culture, the story centers around a traveler who arrives in a small village seeking food. At every door he is turned away as the villagers attempt to protect their meager pantries. The traveler then asks, quite simply for a stone and a kettle so that he might prepare a delicious soup.

Curious, the villagers slowly emerge from their homes and begin to offer small ingredients that will improve the soup: a bunch of carrots, an ear of corn, some grains of pepper. In no time at all, a hearty, filling soup feeds not only the traveler but the entire village, and the modest contribution of each villager yields an excellent meal for everyone.



If there’s one thing I know about lasagne, it’s this.

My mom’s recipe is the best one.

I’ve never tasted it’s equal.

Which leads me to the second thing I know about lasagne.

Sometimes, getting exactly what you want require cheap, grocery store tomato sauce, cottage cheese, and dried pasta.

Sure, I’ve localed it up a bit with some fantastic locally raised beef and parsley from my garden, but this semi-unusual way of preparing lasagne is the way I was taught, and as we’ve already discussed, it’s the most delicious way to do so. Why break something that works so beautifully?

This is not to say that I will never foray into fancy lasagnes with handmade noodles and fresh tomato sauces, but I doubt I will ever abandon this one.



At all of the various jobs I have held in the last several years, I’ve packed my lunch almost every day.

Sometimes I take leftovers, sometimes a sandwich, sometimes a bizarre assortment of whatever I can grab from the fridge or pantry in the morning as I’m rushing to leave my apartment and make it to work on time.

Bierocks, however, make fairly regular appearances on my lunch menu, and they also tend to illicit the most curiosity from my colleagues.

You’re probably asking yourself the same question my colleagues did: what the heck is a bierock? As a kid, I interpreted them as German egg rolls. That was… incorrect. So I did a little research: pretty much everyone seems to agree that they are “meat turnovers” originally from Eastern Europe, most likely Germany or Russia. The recipe  I modified is titled “German-Austrian Bierocks”, so who knows. They are definitely NOT fancy; in fact, they’re about as close to peasant food as you can get. I mean, they are basically little pouches of simple bread dough filled with cabbage, onion, and ground beef.

But each little wonder is warm, savory, and filling: right in line with what I usually crave for lunch. Better still, bierocks freeze amazingly well, and since each batch makes almost four dozen of them, they are perfect for days when I need to pack lunch quickly but don’t have anything else prepared. Homemade frozen meals without all the packaging and bizarre preservatives. Brilliant!

I think you should make some. They’re tasty! But, they are a bit of a process, so think of this more as a food preservation project than making an evening meal. I rarely actually eat a single one of these the same day I make them.