Home Made Hamburger Helper

Sunday, May 25th, 2014

Some things just taste like home.

About five years ago, I was introduced to Emilio’s by my oldest brother. I wasn’t exactly sure what to think, the dive was in a parking garage and had about four tables. After having an order of pancakes that one time, we made it a tradition to go every Saturday morning.

This happened for a few months until my oldest brother moved away. I still made an effort to go frequently with others, but it was never weekly like before.

And then they closed.

I was saddened after hearing the news and always dreamed of their pancakes afterward. So warm with the taste of cinnamon in every bite. Rosa’s warm welcome every time we came in. Emilio’s teasing ways.

And then, two years later, after I moved for work, I heard they re-opened.


You can bet I made the drive back there and it’s pretty much the same as I remembered it years ago. They’ve got a lot more table space, and a lot more customers as well. I visit every so often, and Rosa always comes out of the kitchen to greet me with my stack of warm, delicious pancakes.

Emilio's Pancakes

I’ve tried to recreate them several times on my own, but they’re never the same. Emilio won’t share his recipe either. What a guy.


Rosa, myself and Emilio. You can’t help but be reminded of someone…

Part of the taste must be the memories I have every time I go. Just like when I was a kid, I remember my dad made Hamburger Helper all the time for us to eat. Forget steak, the fun I had making dinner with my dad and arguing with my brothers at the table about important topics such as whether Digimon or Pokemon was better makes me smile every time I see a box at the grocery store.

After aging a few years and knowing the difference between food and chemicals, I’m a bit weary of boxed Hamburger Helper. After searching online for dinner ideas, I found this recipe.

And I love it. Just like home.

Hamburger Helper

Homemade Hamburger Helper
Serves 5
Recipe from Iowa Girl Eats

You’ll need…
1 lb lean ground beef
*Somewhere around 90/10. You don’t want it to be dry.
1 tablespoon cornstarch
2 teaspoons paprika
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon sugar
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1 cup hot water
2 cups skim milk
1-1/2 cups bowtie or other pasta
1 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese

  • Brown ground beef in a skillet or pot over medium-high heat. If these’s a lot of grease (which there shouldn’t be), you can drain it. Return to skillet/pot.
  • Sprinkle evenly cornstarch, seasonings and add hot water, milk and pasta. Stir together until combined and bring to boil. Reduce heat to medium-low, place a lid on top and simmer for about 10 minutes (or until the pasta is cooked to your liking) while stirring frequently.
  • Turn off the heat and stir in the cheddar cheese until its melted. Allow to sit for 5 minutes or until the sauce has thickened.

Hamburger Helper

You can’t tell me this doesn’t look a winner.