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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Quick & Easy Tuna Pasta Bake

Quick and Simple Tuna Pasta Bake – A really simple creamy tomato pasta dish that is quick to make and will be loved by the whole family.

I realise this isn’t my first recipe for Tuna Pasta Bake. If I’m going to be completely honest though, this version is just as good as my other recipe, Not Just Another Tuna Pasta Bake (I was breaking the mould with that title 😛 ) and is quicker to make. I do love the other version, the cheese sauce made separately adds a gorgeous cheesy creaminess to the dish. But this version is more my go-to. It ticks every box – quick, simple and everyone eats it. And I mean ‘everyone eats it’. We sit down as a family of 6 to this for dinner, and I get 6 clean plates back. Pretty much the Holy Grail of dinners.

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

But before we get to the nitty-gritty (i.e. the recipe) I need to over-share a bit. This happened today:

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

Yup, the girls started school!!! This may very well be the most exciting day of my (somewhat unexciting) life! I’m a tad happy about this.

Quick & Easy Tuna Pasta Bake

Ingredients (Serves 4 adults)

400-450g pasta
1 tbsp oil
2 tsp garlic paste (or 2 cloves of garlic, crushed)
1 tin of chopped tomatoes
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp sugar
1 tbsp fresh basil (or 1 tsp of dried basil)
1/2 tsp chilli flakes (optional)
3 tins of tuna chunks, drained
1 small tin of sweetcorn (or frozen sweetcorn)
100g soft (cream) cheese
100g cheddar cheese, grated

Notes:

• I used 450g to serve 2 adults and 4 kids, but we eat a lot! Use what you think you’ll need.
• I add some chilli flakes as it adds an extra warmth to the dish, but it’ll be absolutely fine to skip this ingredient. 
• I love the frozen fresh basil you can buy from Waitrose (see pic below) and use it in practically every Italian dish. I’ve not found similar anywhere else. If you don’t have fresh basil, dried is fine, just ensure it’s in-date as out-of-date basil has no flavour at all.

1. Boil a large pan of salted water and get your pasta on to cook – different shapes cook at different rates, just check it (i.e. taste it) to find out when it’s done. Once it has cooked, before you drain it, add your sweetcorn in (this is really if you’re using frozen sweetcorn, to defrost it, but it’ll make no difference if you’re using tinned)

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

Drain the pasta and return to the pan.

2. Whilst the pasta is cooking, in a separate pan gently warm the oil and add the garlic. Cook for a couple of minutes but be careful not to let it burn.

3. Add the tomatoes, salt, basil and chilli (if using), then the tuna. Stir and let cook gently for a few minutes. This isn’t cordon bleu cooking (and nothing is cooking from raw in the sauce), so timing is fairly flexible.

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

4. Add the soft cheese and slowly let it melt into the sauce whilst stirring. At this point, preheat your grill to medium.

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

5. Add your sauce to the cooked pasta (in the big pan is a good idea), mix it all together then pour the lot into a large dish. Top with cheese and pop under the preheated grill until the cheese is bubbling and golden.

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

Once you’ve removed this from the grill, serve it straight away. I’m sure it would reheat, but I’ve never had any left to test that theory.

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

This is apparently so tasty that Alice was eating it off the floor whilst uttering the words “…pasta on the floor is so yummy…’. Erm, ok. Lovely child. Seriously though, if you were paying me money for this recipe (which considering its simplicity is, let’s face it, unlikely) I’d be tempted to offer money back guarantees if your family doesn’t like it. So let me know either way 😀

Happy cooking!

If you like this recipe you might also like my Sausage Meatball Spaghetti and Cheats Tuna Pie.

Sausage Meatball Spaghetti - Super simple midweek dinner that the whole family will enjoy | thehecticcook.com Cheats Tuna Pie - a really simple dish that goes down well with the kids | thehecticcook.com

Turkey & Bacon Pie

This turkey and bacon pie is a lovely warming dish for the cold winter evenings. This is a highly versatile pie, great for using up leftovers, that won’t have you slaving away in the kitchen for hours.

I’ve decided that the going success rate of my dishes (obviously with the kids) is 50%. Two out of four will undoubtedly not eat whatever I’ve dished up. Unless it’s covered in cheese, encased in pastry, or all of the above (see tonight’s Facebook post). I’m learning not to take this personally. So what if I’ve slaved away in the kitchen for an hour? Selflessly creating some gastronomic masterpiece that would be received with rapture by most? Giving my heart and soul into these dinners…?

Ok, so maybe overplaying this slightly. But it’s slightly depressing when you find yourself binning a substantial amount of the meal you’ve just made. And they’re not consistent. Oh the little buggers don’t even give me that. Lucy doesn’t eat potatoes. Alice doesn’t eat chicken. Oh wait a minute, no that’s Hannah not eating potatoes tonight. And Alice has just polished off a plate of chicken. I give up. Henry is my little soldier, mostly eating what I give him. Apart from onions. And sometimes chicken. Give me friggin strength.

This dish was a ’50 percenter’. However, they did all eat some of it at least. And in my book that’s a success. It’s a HC household staple (oh yeah I just keep on making the same shit, whether they eat it or not, they’ll never drag me down…). It’s a hugely versatile dish. For this occasion I made it with turkey, bacon and mashed potato topping. But you can easily substitute chicken for the turkey; leave out the bacon; use pastry to top it. I often make this with a puff pastry base and top – a true pie. Your hips will never forgive you, but your belly will love you.

Ingredients (serves 4)

1 tbsp oil
2 turkey breasts  
4 slices of back bacon 
green pepper, diced
potatoes, peeled and cubed
50g butter
50g plain flour
400ml hot chicken stock
1 tsp tarragon
white pepper
dash of lemon juice

Note:

The turkey breast weighed approx 700g – those things are friggin massive! I used smoke back bacon, but it doesn’t really matter. I didn’t actually add the green pepper this time as it was for the kids, and they’re fussy little buggars. I tend to use one medium potato per child, two per adult – but use however many you think you’ll need.

1. Heat the oil in a large pan over a medium heat. Add the turkey and brown.

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Add the bacon and cook through. If you’re using green pepper, add it at this point and let it soften. Move the meat (and green pepper) into your ovenproof dish that you’ll be using to assemble the pie – this is simply to save on dishes as it’s all going to end up here anyway. Make sure you save all the juices that will have come off the meat.
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2. Whilst you cook the base of the pie, get your potatoes on to boil. Once they are soft (about 10 minutes) drain them well, then leave them to dry out a bit (without a lid). Mash them really well (the more you mash, the smoother the mash) adding a little butter and milk, plus some seasoning. Set this aside (if you have time, usually I’m juggling both pans at similar times).

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3. To make the sauce, melt the butter over a medium heat, in the same pan as before (you’ll pick up any tasty bits that might have been left from the meat).

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Add the flour, and let cook for a few minutes to cook the flour.

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4. Start adding the hot stock gradually, using a whisk to stir (this gets rid of any lumps). Once you’ve added all of the stock, ensure there’s not lumps – if there are any just keep whisking – then switch to stirring with a wooden spoon (this makes sure you get into the edges of the pan). The sauce shouldn’t take long to thicken.

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5. Once the sauce has thickened, remove from the heat and add the tarragon, white pepper and a splash of lemon juice (I always have bottled lemon juice in the fridge for recipes like this). Return the meat (and green pepper) to the pan and stir it through the sauce.

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Pour this into your ovenproof dish (a casserole dish works fine) and top with the mashed potato – I tend to dollop it on in bits then smooth it out with a fork.
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It does look better with a bit of lovely green pepper through the base – mine looks a bit anaemic, thanks kids.

6. Pop your pie into the oven (180°C/350ºF/Gas 4) and cook it for about 20 minutes, until the top is nicely golden and the sauce is bubbling.

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Serve with some nice bright veg to make your plate look less beige. For an added spot of colour you could add some sweetcorn or peas to the sauce just before pouring it into your ovenproof dish. You can also make this with leftovers. If you have turkey leftover from Christmas, just add it straight into the sauce and warm through. Add cooked ham in the same way, just miss out the first stage of cooking the meat. Play about with the ingredients and make a pie that suits you. The sauce is the key to this dish, and it’s bloody scrummy.

Turkey and Ham Pie

Happy cooking!

[amd-zlrecipe-recipe:6]

 

Moroccan Meatballs

An alternative take on classic meatballs, with a Moroccan twist. A simple and quick meal, perfect for midweek, that will add some spice to your cooking repertoire without slaving over a hot stove for hours.

Christmas has come and gone, and the goose is still fat. Oh dear. Anyone else ready to cut their wrists this January? I have limited willpower at the best of times, but during the festive season, what little willpower I do have, ups and scarpers off on holiday. So here we are (again), trying to lose some poundage. This means that baking in the HC house is out-of-bounds, and dishes are of a much healthier persuasion. No cheese sauces; no pastry; limited carbs… Bloody dull, but when needs must (cries silently into her vegetable soup…).

I’ve made a deal with myself to get blogging more frequently this year, so for about the first month at least, my servings will be on the less calorific side – I can usually manage a month, then it all goes pitifully downhill. Watch this space. So no macaroni cheese; no cheese & bean pastry; no homemade pizza etc etc. You’ll know the diet is over when pudding starts reappearing.

This is a recipe I’ve been making for many years. It’s nigh on impossible to find low fat lamb mince, so if you’re being religious about your healthy eating you might want to buy some lamb leg steaks and blitz them in a food processor. I’m never that religious (can we start to see my problem?) so regular lamb mince does just fine. These meatballs are a lovely Moroccan twist on the usual, and a really quick and simple dish to prepare.

Ingredients (serves 4 adults)

1 onion, finely chopped
1 tbsp olive oil
1.5 tsp ground cumin
2 tbsp clear honey
zest & juice of 1/2 lemon
1 tin chopped tomatoes
1 vegetable stock cube
50g breadcrumbs
2 tbsp milk
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
500g lamb mince
cous cous to serve

1. In a large pan heat the oil, then add the onion and cook over a medium heat for about 10 minutes until soft and golden.

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2. Stir in 1 teaspoon of the ground cumin, the honey, lemon juice, tomatoes, stock cube and 300ml of boiling water. In most recipes I would tend to use bottled lemon juice as I always have some in the fridge, but this recipe requires zest, so only a real lemon would do.

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3. Bring the sauce to a boil and then simmer, uncovered whilst you prepare the meatballs.

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4. In a bowl moisten the breadcrumbs with the milk – I often have a small bag of breadcrumbs at the bottom of the freezer but on this occasion I didn’t, so had to blitz a piece of bread. I tend to also freeze the ends of bread for times like this. Saves waste too.

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To the breadcrumbs mix in 1/2 teaspoon each of cumin and cinnamon, the lemon zest and the mince. Season well.

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5. Shape this mix into approximately 32 small meatballs and drop them into the simmering sauce. Cover your pan and simmer for about 5 minutes.

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6. Remove the lid and simmer for about 10 minutes more (timings are fairly flexible here, you can leave it to simmer for longer, just keep an eye that the sauce doesn’t reduce too much – if it does, add a little water and pop the pan lid back on).

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7. Prepare the cous cous by adding hot stock to the cous cous in a bowl, and covering it with clingfilm for 5 minutes, then fluff with a fork. Definitely use stock to make your cous cous, otherwise it’s fairly tasteless.

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8. Serve your Moroccan meatballs on a bed of cous cous.

Moroccan Meatballs - a gorgeous alternative using the spices of Morocco | thehecticcook.com

On that note, I’m off out tonight so the Husband and the kids are getting pizza 😛

Happy cooking!

[amd-zlrecipe-recipe:5]

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]