It is officially the first day of fall and, in this household anyway, the official beginning of comfort food season. I thought I would kick off the season with an adapted version of homemade hamburger helper that I found online. What I particularly liked about this version is that it contains vegetables in the form of shredded zucchini that disappears into the mix, so no one’s the wiser. Whether your kids like or don’t like vegetables, they won’t even know they are there in this comforting and delicious casserole. You will find it hearty and satisfying, the kids will love it.
2 T. olive oil
1 lb. ground chuck
1 medium onion, chopped
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
½ t. Montreal steak seasoning
1 t. chili powder
1 t. paprika
1 t. garlic powder
10 oz. medium shells
1 zucchini, grated (about 1 c.)
2 c. beef broth
1½ c. whole milk
1½ -2 c. shredded cheddar cheese
1 T. ketchup
Place beef and onion in a large pot (I used this one) set over medium/high heat; season with salt and pepper. Cook until the meat is browned, breaking up as you go, 10 to 12 minutes. Stir in the steak seasoning, chili powder, paprika, and garlic powder, and cook another minute.
Add pasta and zucchini and toss to coat. Pour in broth and milk; add ketchup, stirring to combine. Bring to a gentle boil over medium/high heat, and simmer 8 to 10 minutes until the pasta is al dente, stirring occasionally. Stir in the cheese and cook until melted and creamy.