Cheeseburger Pasta Bake

This cheeseburger pasta bake, topped with gooey cheese, is super simple to make, and will have your kids wanting more.

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I made a really nice lamb casserole yesterday for Sunday dinner. It was flavoursome, and melt-in-the-mouth. Everything a lamb casserole should be. I really was pleased with it. The girls barely looked at it (crying emoji). Henry, bless him, ate three helpings. I wouldn’t say the girls are fussy eaters, they’re really not. But there’s still a lot of stuff they won’t eat. It’s probably made worse by the fact there’s three of them, and they all dislike different things. So whilst one is eating something but not something else, another is eating what the other doesn’t like but not touching what they do like. Are you keeping up with this? No, neither am I. Hence the frustration.

Cheeseburger Pasta Bake - A super simple pasta dish, with the flavours of a burger and covered in gooey cheese. Kids will love this! | thehecticcook.com

Something they all do appear to like though, is pasta. Buckets of the stuff. I buy the 3kg bags from Asda as we get through so much. So I’m always on the look out for different things to do with pasta. I could chuck spaghetti bolognese or my mac’n’cheese at them continually, but I like to try new stuff – and living on the edge. I’ve tried a couple of different recipes for Cheeseburger Pasta, the most recent was one from Slimming Eats. I tweaked it a little bit to suit us (my kids can spot an onion a mile off), and it went down a treat with the kids. Empty bowls all round. Hurrah.

Cheeseburger Pasta Bake - A super simple pasta dish, with the flavours of a burger and covered in gooey cheese. Kids will love this! | thehecticcook.com

This recipe is really easy, so I didn’t photograph the various steps of the process. But the recipe is below. Regards quantities of pasta, I use about 400g to feed 2 adults and 4 children (with large appetites). Gauge however much you’ll need for your family. Give this a go, especially if you have pasta-loving children like me.

Happy cooking!

Cheeseburger Pasta Bake - A super simple pasta dish, with the flavours of a burger and covered in gooey cheese. Kids will love this! | thehecticcook.com

Ingredients

Serves 4 adults (or 2 adults and 3-4 kids)

400g uncooked pasta
500g beef mince
1 tsp of paprika
1/2 tsp onion powder
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp mustard powder
pinch of salt and pepper
1 tin of chopped tomatoes
2 tbsp tomato puree
1/2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp sugar
120g cheddar cheese (save a little to sprinkle on top)

  1. Cook the pasta in a large pan of salted boiling water until soft (I don’t really do al dente, so cook the pasta until it is how you like it). 
  2. In a small bowl combine the paprika, garlic powder, onion powder, mustard powder, salt and pepper.
  3. Heat a large pan over a medium heat and brown the mince.
  4. Add the mix of spices, tomatoes, tomato puree, Worcestershire sauce and sugar, and stir to mix. Let this cook for a while whilst the pasta is cooking.
  5. Once the pasta is ready, drain it, then add it to the mince mixture and stir to combine.
  6. Stir through most of the cheese, then pour into an ovenproof dish (or make it in an ovenproof pan, thus saving some washing up).
  7. Top with the remaining cheese, and grill until golden and bubbling.
  8. Serve.

 

If you like this, why not try my Sausage Pasta Bake, or my Quick & Easy Tuna Pasta Bake?

  Sausage Pasta Bake - This super simple and quick pasta dish tastes like it should be full of calories, but it really isn't. Perfect for a midweek dinner. | thehecticcook.com  Quick & Simple Tuna Pasta Bake - A really simple creamy tomato pasta dish that is quick to make and will be loved by the whole family. | thehecticcook.com

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Cauliflower Cheese

Cauliflower Cheese – Florets of cauliflower smothered in a thick cheese sauce, topped with melted golden cheddar, this is the ultimate side dish, or a meal in itself!

Cauliflower Cheese - Florets of cauliflower smothered in a thick cheese sauce, topped with melted golden cheddar, this is the ultimate side dish, or a meal in itself! | thehecticcook.com

Cauliflower has become a bit of a super-food in recent times. It’s the go-to vegetable for many a health conscious type. Cauliflower rice, roasted cauliflower etc. If you’re trying to reduce your carbs and be a bit healthier, it’s the veg for you. This recipe then, probably isn’t. This takes a healthy vegetable and covers it in a thick cheese sauce. And then smothers it in some more cheese. Healthy? Probably not. Delicious? Hell yeah!

Cauliflower Cheese - Florets of cauliflower smothered in a thick cheese sauce, topped with melted golden cheddar, this is the ultimate side dish, or a meal in itself! | thehecticcook.com

I’ve been making this particular cauliflower cheese for many years now. The original recipe came from Delicious magazine. It’s not as straight forward a cheese sauce as my macaroni cheese, but it’s worth the extra effort (which is still fairly minimal – I’m not keen on effort).

Ingredients

1 head of cauliflower
500ml (1 pint) of milk
2 cloves
1 small onion, chopped
1 bay leaf
75g butter
50g plain flour
200g cheddar cheese, grated

1. Break your cauliflower up into florets of similar size (not too big).

Cauliflower Cheese - Florets of cauliflower smothered in a thick cheese sauce, topped with melted golden cheddar, this is the ultimate side dish, or a meal in itself! | thehecticcook.com2. Place the florets in a microwaveable dish, add a couple tablespoons of water, and cook on full power for 8-10 minutes until the cauliflower is cooked through. It needs to be pretty much cooked since although you’ll be putting it in the oven later, I find it doesn’t really cook the cauliflower much more.

Cauliflower Cheese - Florets of cauliflower smothered in a thick cheese sauce, topped with melted golden cheddar, this is the ultimate side dish, or a meal in itself! | thehecticcook.com

If you don’t want to microwave it just pop the cauliflower in a pan of boiling water and cook until done (similar time).

3. Drain and leave the cauliflower uncovered to dry whilst you make the cheese sauce – this is important because you don’t want soggy cauliflower watering down your sauce.

4. In a small saucepan add the milk, cloves, onion and bay leaf. Bring to a simmer over a medium heat for a couple of minutes, then take the pan off the heat, cover it and leave the milk to infuse for about 10 minutes.

Cauliflower Cheese - Florets of cauliflower smothered in a thick cheese sauce, topped with melted golden cheddar, this is the ultimate side dish, or a meal in itself! | thehecticcook.com

5. Preheat your oven to 170°C (fan) / 325°F.

6. In a separate pan, over a medium low heat, melt the butter.

Cauliflower Cheese - Florets of cauliflower smothered in a thick cheese sauce, topped with melted golden cheddar, this is the ultimate side dish, or a meal in itself! | thehecticcook.com

7. Add the flour and stir through. Cook for a few minutes (to cook the flour).

Cauliflower Cheese - Florets of cauliflower smothered in a thick cheese sauce, topped with melted golden cheddar, this is the ultimate side dish, or a meal in itself! | thehecticcook.com

8. Strain the hot infused milk (through a sieve) into the butter/flour mixture and whisk until smooth.

Cauliflower Cheese - Florets of cauliflower smothered in a thick cheese sauce, topped with melted golden cheddar, this is the ultimate side dish, or a meal in itself! | thehecticcook.com

Over a low heat, stir the sauce with a wooden spoon until the sauce thickens. This won’t take long because the milk was hot when added.

Cauliflower Cheese - Florets of cauliflower smothered in a thick cheese sauce, topped with melted golden cheddar, this is the ultimate side dish, or a meal in itself! | thehecticcook.com

9. Season with a little white pepper.

Cauliflower Cheese - Florets of cauliflower smothered in a thick cheese sauce, topped with melted golden cheddar, this is the ultimate side dish, or a meal in itself! | thehecticcook.com

10. Add the grated cheese, leaving a little to top the dish. Stir through until fully melted.

Cauliflower Cheese - Florets of cauliflower smothered in a thick cheese sauce, topped with melted golden cheddar, this is the ultimate side dish, or a meal in itself! | thehecticcook.com

11. Place the cauliflower in an ovenproof dish (I usually just use the dish I microwaved it in, but I was going for pretty pictures here so changed dishes). Pour over the cheese sauce so that every floret is covered, then top with the remaining grated cheese.

Cauliflower Cheese - Florets of cauliflower smothered in a thick cheese sauce, topped with melted golden cheddar, this is the ultimate side dish, or a meal in itself! | thehecticcook.com

12. Place on a tray in the oven (there’s a good chance it will bubble over the edge so the tray will save you cleaning your oven) and cook for 25-30 minutes until the sauce is bubbling and the melted cheese is lovely and golden.

Cauliflower Cheese - Florets of cauliflower smothered in a thick cheese sauce, topped with melted golden cheddar, this is the ultimate side dish, or a meal in itself! | thehecticcook.com

13. Remove from the oven and leave to stand for a few minutes to let it all come together. Then serve.

This cauliflower cheese is gorgeous served with roast gammon, or roast lamb. It’s equally good served with sausages for a simple meal. Or just serve it as the main dish. It’s that good. Whatever you do, give it a go and let me know what you think 🙂

Cauliflower Cheese - Florets of cauliflower smothered in a thick cheese sauce, topped with melted golden cheddar, this is the ultimate side dish, or a meal in itself! | thehecticcook.com

Happy cooking!

Macaroni Cheese

A step-by-step guide to cooking this simple and delish family staple.

My girls turned four at the weekend. Four! Woo bloody hoo!! Four just seems better; more independent; almost human. Life is definitely getting easier. Let’s not get carried away, it’s not easy. Three young children constantly asking questions, wanting your attention simultaneously, fighting and squabbling over trivia. But we’re getting there (fist pumps the air).

We had a bit of a get-together to celebrate. I cooked some stovies and made a cake. The kids played pass-the-parcel (20 friggin layers of paper). And the adults drank wine. We didn’t take many photos, but the Husband took some of the girls blowing out the candles on their cake.

The Hectic Cook | thehecticcook.com

That’s the best one. Seriously. We do have 3 daughters. What’s that saying about if you want something doing right…?

Talking of my kids (seamless link), macaroni cheese is one of those dishes they get a fair bit. It’s an old faithful. Plus I always have the ingredients in the cupboard. There is absolutely nothing fancy about this recipe. Many of you will have your own recipe, it’s a classic, and you’ll possibly make it differently. But this is how my mum taught me to make macaroni cheese. So this is how I do it.

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Ingredients (Serves 2 adults / 4 kids)

200g macaroni
30g butter
30g plain flour
300ml milk
80g grated cheddar cheese, plus a little extra for the top
White pepper (optional)

Note:

These quantities can be easily doubled.

1. Cook the macaroni (or whatever type of pasta you wish/have). I find I have to add the macaroni to a boiling pan of slightly salted water, then give it a stir every few minutes to stop it all sticking to the bottom of the pan. It’ll take around 15 minutes.

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2. Whilst the pasta is cooking, grate the cheese ready to go before you start to make the sauce, then there’s no fear of sauces burning.

3. To make the cheese sauce, melt the butter over a medium heat. Add the flour and stir to fully incorporate (to make a roux).

Macaroni Cheese - a step-by-step guide to making this classic dish | theehecticcook.com

Let this cook for a few minutes to cook the flour.

Macaroni Cheese - a step-by-step guide to making this classic dish | theehecticcook.com

4. Start to add the milk. I tend to add a bit at a time and stir it into the roux. Use a whisk to stir your sauce as it’ll get rid of any lumps that might arise, but take a spoon once around the edge of the pan after you’ve added all of the milk in case there’s some solid mixture lurking at the bottom.

Macaroni Cheese - a step-by-step guide to making this classic dish | theehecticcook.com

Keep whisking until the sauce begins to thicken. This should all be done on a medium heat, and don’t leave it for any length of time as the sauce will burn to the bottom of the pot fairly quickly (if WW3 breaks out in the living room whilst making the sauce, just let them get on with it).

Macaroni Cheese - a step-by-step guide to making this classic dish | theehecticcook.com

5. Once the sauce has thickened, take your pan off the heat and add the cheese. The amount of cheese is subjective. We like our macaroni cheese fairly cheesy, so 80g works for us. But add some and taste. Work out for yourself how cheesy you like it.

Macaroni Cheese - a step-by-step guide to making this classic dish | theehecticcook.com

Stir in the cheese until it has melted, then add a little white pepper if desired (I often leave this out because if I’m heavy handed with it, the kids aren’t happy). Stir the pasta into the cheese sauce and transfer to a heatproof dish. Top with some extra grated cheese.

Macaroni Cheese - a step-by-step guide to making this classic dish | theehecticcook.com

Macaroni Cheese - a step-by-step guide to making this classic dish | theehecticcook.com

6. Pop this under a hot grill for about 5-10 minutes until the cheese on top has melted and started to turn golden.

Macaroni Cheese - a step-by-step guide to making this classic dish | theehecticcook.com

And serve.

Macaroni Cheese - a step-by-step guide to making this classic dish | theehecticcook.com

I love the simplicity of macaroni cheese. And yet it’s bloody tasty. You can serve it with sausages; with fish fingers; stir through gammon or bacon; or eat it blissfully on its own. However you serve it, just one word of warning. Don’t save leftovers. Second day macaroni cheese is totally boggin’.

Macaroni Cheese - a step-by-step guide to making this classic dish | theehecticcook.com

 

Happy cooking!

 

Cheese & Bean Pastry Pie

Cheese and bean pastry pie is incredibly quick and surprisingly delicious, just don’t consider the calorie content!

So it’s been hotter than the sun here today. No exaggeration. I’m Scottish. I don’t do heat. I’ve spent the whole of today sweating. No, that’s not a pretty look. On days like today, spending a lot of time in the kitchen is to be avoided. Unfortunately should you have children, there is a certain requirement still to feed them – seemingly not to is regarded as neglect?

This recipe is not going to win me any prizes. It’s neither cordon bleu cooking, nor is it particularly nutritionally virtuous. But it is stupidly quick and simple. If you can bear to put the oven on in this heat, you’ll be spending minimal amounts of time in the kitchen preparing this dish. But the kids should be happy with the result. As a ‘go-to’ meal, this ticks a lot of boxes. Just maybe don’t feed it to them every day.

Ingredients

500g block of puff pastry 
1 tin of baked beans
∼ 100g cheddar cheese

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1. Flour your surface and roll out the pastry into a large square until it’s about 0.5cm thick. I tend to keep a block of puff pastry in my freezer as it comes in useful. Just remember to take it out to defrost if you’re planning on making this.

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2. Transfer this to a lightly oiled baking tray and prick it all over with a fork, leaving about a centimetre around the edge. This should stop the middle from rising too much, although it’ll probably rise a bit.

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3. Cover the pastry with the tin of beans, spreading it out all over, again leaving a border around the edge. Choice of beans is not important. Honestly. Use whatever beans you want. Don’t feel any ‘bean pressure’ to use a particular brand.

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4. Sprinkle the cheese over the beans and then bake in a preheated over, 180°C/350ºF/Gas 4, for about 20-25 minutes until the pastry has turned golden and the cheese is bubbling. You could egg-wash the edge, but I didn’t, and it’s just adding more faff to an otherwise faff-less meal.

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Cheese and bean pastry pie - incredibly quick and easy, just don't worry about the calorie content | thehecticcook.com

5. Slice up and serve.

Cheese and bean pastry pie - incredibly quick and easy, just don't worry about the calorie content! | thehecticcook.com

Like I said, this recipe is not going to win prizes. If you haven’t thought of this dish already, you’ll wonder why not. But with only 3 ingredients, and minimal effort, it’s the kind of meal to keep in the back pocket for days when you really can’t be bothered – and don’t really care about the nutritional intake of your kids. Oh and this tastes pretty good, so if you don’t have kids, make this for yourself and don’t think about the calories 😛

Happy cooking!

[amd-zlrecipe-recipe:2]

Cheesy Tatties – A Perfect Side Dish

Cheesy tatties are the perfect side dish to so many meals. Pair them with slow cooked gammon, thick pork sausages, or eat them just as they are. Cheesy, homely, comforting food. Yum!

Ok, I’ll admit, hands up, the title is ever so slightly misleading. I’m not lying to you when I say that Cheesy Tatties are a fantastic side dish, perfect for ham, sausages, all manner of meaty mains. You could even just have a plate of cheesy tatties by itself. Delicious. This is my Mum’s recipe and I was brought up loving this dish. It’s homely, it’s tasty, and best of all? It’s so friggin’ easy!

However. This falls into the ‘children trap’. I made this dish to go with a lovely slow-cooked gammon as Sunday dinner recently. I figured, regards the kids, what’s not to like? Potatoes? Good. Cheese? Good. Surely a winner??

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Ha. Another occasion in which I was seriously duped and the old ‘mealtime lottery’ came into play. None of them ate it. None. Nadda. Not one *sad face*. How could I have gotten this so wrong? How? How I ask you? But then I remembered. I was dealing with children. I’m sure they see it as their duty to keep you guessing. To change their minds as often as they change their socks. To majorly piss you off.

Ingredients

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1 tbsp oil
1 onion, sliced or diced
∼ 4 large potatoes, sliced 
150g cheese, grated
3/4 pint of stock

1. Heat the oil in a frying pan over a medium heat, then add the onion and cook until soft and golden brown. This is pretty much all the cooking you do for this dish. You can either dice or slice your onion. I was serving this to the kids so I diced it (for all the good it did me).

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2. Butter/oil a large ovenproof dish.

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3. Start to layer up in the dish: potato slices; onion; a little seasoning; cheese. Do this three times (or until you’ve used up all of your ingredients). Once finished layering, pour the stock over the potatoes. Because I was serving this with gammon, I used ham stock. But you could use vegetable/chicken/beef stock, whatever you fancy and that suits your meal.

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4. Cover your dish with foil and pop this into a preheated oven, 170°C/325°F/Gas 3 for 90 minutes, then remove the foil and return to the oven uncovered for 30 minutes. The potatoes should be soft and the topping should be browned and slightly crispy – admittedly the topping of mine was very crispy. Ahem.

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So it may not be my ‘perfect’ side dish, if two thirds of the family won’t eat it. But I won’t be put off. And they’ll be getting cheesy tatties again. Just don’t tell them.

Happy cooking!

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