Wednesday 13 August 2014

Blend & Extend! Tomato Hamburger Macaroni

I tried it again! I blended & extended one of my go-to recipes. Blend and Extend is a concept that Ontario Beef and Mushroom Canada is promoting. I had seen it and thought it was a great idea. I few weeks ago, I made my own version of their taco salad recipe. Last week, I was making a batch of Macaroni with Tomatoes and Hamburger for the freezer. I thought it would be perfect for the Blend and Extend idea, so I gave it a try. It's a great way to add extra vegetables, cut back on the amount of meat you're consuming (because it's often too much!) and keep the same taste, or even make it better!

As a bonus, this is probably my son's new favourite food. He's only 9 months old, so I figure that's a big recipe win! Warning: for little ones, it can be very messy! My son fed himself, so this was a "from high-chair to bathtub" meal. I don't think anything hit the floor though, so it has the Little C stamp of approval!

Not the best picture, but I was
too busy eating to take pictures!

Tomato-Hamburger Macaroni

Ingredients: (This was a double batch, and made a LOT, probably around 10 servings)
  • ~1T oil
  • ~1t of diced garlic
  • 2 cups of finely chopped mushrooms - I used baby bellas
  • a splash of low sodium chicken broth (although water would work)
  • ~1/2 cup onion, chopped finely
  • 300g ground beef
  • salt & pepper
  • 2 cans (28oz cans) of diced tomatoes (The brand I used wasn't watery, like some diced tomatoes can be. The liquid was thick and tomato-y. Since I planned to freeze it, I didn't want to worry about my final product being too dry, so I didn't drain. If I was using tomatoes with a lot of water, I would drain one can.)
  • 2 cans of condensed tomato soup (you could probably use tomato sauce)
  • 2 1/2 cups of macaroni - I used whole wheat
1. Heat oil in a frying pan over medium heat, and add garlic and onions. 
2. Put a pot of water on to boil. Once boiled, add pasta and cook according to instructions on box, until al dente - it will cook a little more when added to the other ingredients, and I think al dente is always good when freezing.
3. Once the onions start to cook, add mushrooms. I usually put a pot lid over the mushrooms until the water starts to come out of them and they start to steam a bit, and not just stick to the pan. Once mushrooms start to reduce, I take the lid off.
4.  Add ground beef.
5.  Add salt and pepper. (Note: Watch the total salt content of your recipe. If you have diced tomatoes that have added salt, I wouldn't add salt at this point. Remember there is also salt in the soup, so if don't overdo it!)
6.  Cook beef mixture until no longer pink and beef starts to brown. Break up beef as it's cooking. Drain off any fat. (I had used extra lean, so there wasn't much.)
7. When beef/mushroom mixture is done, I usually put a little splash of chicken broth in the pan to help scrape off all the little tasty bits on the bottom of the pan. I think they add a lot of flavor, so I don't want to leave them behind.
8. In a large pot, add beef/mushroom mixture, diced tomatoes, soup, and cooked macaroni. Stir and heat through.

I served with a salad. If you want to be fancy, you could add a little grated cheese to the top. :)

You could also add additional veggies to this recipe. I think zucchini would be a good choice, especially if it was grated. (Need to hide the green from your husband kids? Just peel the zucchini before grating.) Next time, I think I'll try that, and I would also add even more mushrooms. They mix in so well with the beef to camouflage themselves.

This was really yummy, and very easy to freeze. It's an easy, quick meal.

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