Italian Cheeseburger Macaroni

As many of you know, the hubs favorite food on the planet is Hamburger Helper.  Seriously, he loves it.  His favorite of all time is the Cheeseburger Macaroni.  And when I cook up a meal for him and he really loves it he always asks me with love sparkling in those beautiful green eyes of his, if this is in fact, Hamburger Helper.   It’s his equivalent of a 5 star rating.  Isn’t he cute?  Anyway, since all my boys love that creepy oversized white glove so much I thought I’d toss together an italian version of their favorite meal.  Give it a go, it’ll be your favorite too!

Best thing about this dish is you can make it in advance and leave it in the fridge to take out and make when you get home after a long day at the playground and everyone is hungry and tired and you don’t feel like cooking because the dog pulled out the trash can and now you have to clean the kitchen and still give everyone a bath and dinner and all you want to do is pour a big glass of wine and watch who Ali chooses on The Bachelorette and dinner is the last thing on your mind…not that I would know anything about that.  This is totally hypothetical, I’m just saying.

recipes for kids kid favorite recipes dinner    Italian Cheeseburger MacaroniItalian Cheeseburger Macaroni

Serves: 6         Prep Time: 20 minutes  Cook time: 30 minutes

2 T  olive oil

1 lb  ground beef

½ large  onion, chopped

1 can diced tomato

1  clove garlic, chopped

8 oz  mushrooms sliced thin

½ T dried oregano

1 t  dried red pepper flakes

1 lb whole wheat penne pasta

3 T butter unsalted

3 T all purpose flour

3 cups                              whole milk

1/2  t  fresh grated nutmeg

2 cups  shredded sharp cheddar cheese

1 cup shredded swiss cheese

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Set a large pot of water over high heat to boil for your pasta.  In  large skillet heat olive oil over medium high heat.  When oil is hot add in onions and mushroom and sautee until soft.  About 6 minutes or so.  When they are soft add in garlic, season with salt and pepper and cook for anrecipes for kids kid favorite recipes dinner    Italian Cheeseburger Macaroniadditional minutes.  Add in your ground beef and cook until brown, about 5 minutes.  Once meat has browned toss in the tomato, oregano, and red pepper flakes.  Season again with S&P and allow to simmer for about 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a large saucepan melt butter over medium high heat.  Whisk in flour and cook for 1 minute.   Slowly whisk in milk, and bring to a gentle boil, stirring constantly.  Once the milk has thickened add in nutmeg and recipes for kids kid favorite recipes dinner    Italian Cheeseburger Macaroniseason with S&P.  Reduce to medium low heat and melt in cheddar and swiss cheeses.  Allow to cook on low for a few minutes.

When water is boiling season water with salt and add pasta.  Note package cooking time and reduce by 2 minutes, the macaroni will continue cooking in therecipes for kids kid favorite recipes dinner    Italian Cheeseburger Macaroni oven later.  Once pasta is cooked, drain and return to pot.  Toss the penne with cheese mixture.

Spray a baking dish with cooking spray and pour half of the pasta mixture into the bottom of the dish.  Spoon the Italian burger mixture over the top in an even layer.  Then cover with remaining pasta.  Top with additional cheddar cheese if desired.  Bake at 375 for 30 minutes and enjoy!

recipes for kids kid favorite recipes dinner    Italian Cheeseburger Macaroni

MAma Mia Meatballs!!!!

I don’t know what they’re  thinking as it’s blazing hot outside but the boys were dying for some meatballs!!!!  Ma?  Can we have meatballs?  Ma? I want spaghetti and meatballs for dinner.  Maaaaa?????  Are we having meatballs?  MAMA MIA, YES!!!  For the love of all that is holy we will have some meatballs for dinner, and as you’ll see later this week for leftovers since in this heat and humidity if you put your time in slaving in front of the oven you’ve earned yourself a leftover meal!  Mangia, mangia!

recipes for kids kid favorite recipes dinner    MAma Mia Meatballs!!!!

1 1/2 lb  ground beef, veal, pork mix (also known as meatloaf mix)

3 T  milk

2 cloves chopped garlic

1 small onion grated

¾ c  bread crumbs

1 egg

¼ c  parmesan cheese

2 T chopped italian parsley


1/4 cup olive oil

flour for sprinkling

recipes for kids kid favorite recipes dinner    MAma Mia Meatballs!!!!Preheat your oven to 375 degrees.  Set a large skillet over medium high heat.  While your olive oil gets hot make your meatballs.  In a large bowl combine the first 9 ingredients.  With clean hands work the ingredients until they are incorporated then form into golf sized balls.  Dust the meatballs with flour.  Working in batches brown each meatball on all sides in your hot olive oil.  Place the browned meatballs in a casserole dish and bake at 375 for 25 minutes until cooked through.

Serve with pasta and marinara for kids kid favorite recipes dinner    MAma Mia Meatballs!!!!

Sloppy Joe DiMaggio’s A La Rachael Ray

I saw her whip this up on TV not too long ago and it’s so much fun.  I make a version of this but I decided to pay hommage to Rachael straight up.   I loved it, but the kids like my turkey burger version better.  Aren’t they good boys???  Next time I’ll post my sloppy doggies version and you can decide!

recipes for kids kid favorite recipes dinner    Sloppy Joe DiMaggio’s A La Rachael Ray

Serves: 9 little leaguers  Prep time:  10 minutes  Cook time:  20 minutes

  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 pounds lean ground sirloin or ground turkey
  • 1 packages beef or pork hot dogs, sliced 1/2-inch thick
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon steak seasoning (recommended: Montreal Steak Seasoning by McCormick)
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 3 tablespoons dark brown sugar
  • 3 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 (14.5-ounce) can tomato sauce
  • 9 soft burger rolls – like at the ballpark

recipes for kids kid favorite recipes dinner    Sloppy Joe DiMaggio’s A La Rachael RayBe sure to have the kids help you with this one.  It’s right up there alley, minimal chopping and lots of goodies they like.  Cooper and Brady helped me whip these up.  Here’s what we did…

Heat the extra-virgin olive oil, a turn of the pan, in a deep skillet over medium-high heat. Add meat and crumble as it browns. Add chopped hot dogs after 3 to 4 minutes then cook 3 to 4 minutes more. Add the onions to the pan and cook to soften, 5 to 6 minutes more. In a bowl mix the spices, sugar, Worcestershire and tomato sauce. Pour sauce over the meat and simmer a few minutes to combine flavors. Slop onto buns and serve.

Supreme Upside Down Pizza

In the mood for something quick hearty and satisfying?  Put down that phone and save yourself the delivery charge…no, I’m not talking DiGiorno, I’m talking about a homemade delight that will have your kids (and you) jumping for joy.

veggies recipes for kids kid favorite recipes dinner    Supreme Upside Down Pizza

Serves: 6-8                        Prep time: 10 minutes                        Cook time: 30 minutes

1 lb  ground beef

3/4 bulk italian sausage

1 c  mushrooms, sliced

1 small onion, chopped

1 t  dried oregano

2 cloves  garlic, chopped


1 28 oz can  chopped tomatoes

1 8 0z can  tomato sauce

1 ½ c  shredded mozzarella cheese

1 tube  refrigerated pizza dough

1 8 oz container fresh mozzarella cheese

In a large skillet brown ground beef and sausage over medium high heat.  Once browned add in mushrooms, onions, and garlic.  Season with oregano and S&P and stir to combine.  Cook for 5 minutes or until veggie start to soften.  Stir in tomato sauce.   Bring to a boil, then turn down to a low simmer.  Cover and let cook for 10 minutes on low heat.

veggies recipes for kids kid favorite recipes dinner    Supreme Upside Down PizzaPour meat mixture into a 13×9 baking dish.  Top with shredded cheese.  Open up pizza dough tube, unroll and top cheese with it.  Bake for 15-17 minutes.  Top with dollops of fresh mozzarella and bake for an additional 5 minutes or until cheese is melted.  Serve with a side salad and your kids will stand on their heads for this one time and time again.

Western Style Beef n’ Beans

recipes for kids kid favorite recipes dinner    Western Style Beef n’ Beans

Serves: a big ol’ crowd Prep Time: 15 minutes Cook Time:  1 hour 25 minutes

3 lbs ground beef

2 medium onions, chopped

2 celery ribs, chopped

2 beef bouillion cubes

1 cup hot beef broth

2 (28 oz) cans baked beans with molasses

1 1/2 cups ketchup

1/4 cup prepared mustard

3 garlic cloves minced


1/2 lb bacon, cooked and crumbled

4 scallions diced

In a dutch oven over medium high heat cook your beef until browned.  Add in your onions and celery and cook until tender.  Drain off excess fat.  Dissolve your bouillon in warmed beef stock and add to meat mixture.  Stir in beans, ketchup, mustard, garlic, and S&P.  Mix well.  recipes for kids kid favorite recipes dinner    Western Style Beef n’ Beans

Cover and bake at 375 degrees for 60-70 minutes.  Stir and top with bacon and scallions.  Serve alongside corn bread and honey butter.  Mmmm good.

Brewhouse Burgers

recipes for kids dinner    Brewhouse  Burgers

Serves: 6  Prep Time:  10 minutes  Cook Time:  20 minutes

2 pounds ground beef

1/ 2 bottled beer

1 large shallot, minced

2 T  grill seasoning

1/2 cup shredded Cheddar

8 slices bacon cooked and crumbled

garlic powder


Romaine lettuce

hamburger rolls, toasted

recipes for kids dinner    Brewhouse  BurgersIn a large bowl mix together the ground beef, beer, shallot and grill seasoning until well incorporated. Shape the beef into 6 equal portions and flatten each portion. Place and equal amount of cheese and bacon in the center of each and wrap the edges around the yummy stuffing to form a ball. Flatten each ball into patties.  Sprinkle the tops of each burger with garlic powder and S&P.

Set up grill (or indoor grill pan) to medium-high heat. Place patties on the hot grill and cook 5-6 minutes per side for medium. Serve over lettuce on toasted buns with your favorite burger toppings.

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