My mom never made Hamburger Helper as we were growing up, no matter how often we begged her after seeing those commercials with the cute little talking hand. In fact, we didn’t eat many casseroles at all back then. Maybe that’s why I cook them so much — I’m making up for lost time (and I don’t make Hamburger Helper either).
Tonight, I decided to make up a recipe incorporating some pre-made bison sloppy joe mix that I bought yesterday at the farmer’s market (the farmer told me she often turned the mix into either spaghetti sauce or chili). Here’s how I did it:
1 lb. pre-made bison sloppy joe mix (you could add spicy sausage instead and it would be really good too)
2 1/2 c. dried spiral pasta
1 tsp. olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
10 oz. frozen tomatoes
1/2 tsp. Italian seasoning
2 tbsp. flour
1 c. 2% milk
1 c. cottage cheese
1 c. shredded extra-sharp cheddar cheese (plus more for sprinkling on top of the casserole)
2 tbsp. shredded Parm
I heated up the sloppy joe mix and set it aside. Meanwhile, I boiled water to cook the pasta. While that was going, I sauteed the garlic in the olive oil for one minute before adding the thawed tomatoes and Italian seasoning. The tomatoes released a lot of water, so I let that simmer pretty steadily for about 10 minutes, to let the liquid cook down.
Once I drained the pasta, I whisked the flour and milk together and then heated it up in the empty pasta pot, whisking it constantly until it started to thicken. Then I added the cottage cheese and most of the cheddar and stirred to melt everything together pretty well. Then I poured in the still hot pasta, the sloppy joe mix and the tomato mixture and stirred it all up.
This I poured into a greased 13×9 pan. I topped it all off with the remaining shredded cheeses and baked it, uncovered, at 350 degrees for 20 minutes.
It’s quite tasty and made at least six servings of a little over 1 cup each. The only change I would make in the future would be to add more vegetables. I could have easily doubled the amount of tomatoes or added zucchini, carrots, onions, etc.