Magda’s Moroccan Homemade Hamburger Helper

moroccan beef skillet dinner

The other day, I had a delicious lamb tagine. It was a lovingly made, braised dish that took the chef hours to prepare. Though I generally dislike lamb, the chef used Australian lamb (which is a bit less game) and added enough wonderful Moroccan flavours, that I thoroughly enjoyed the dish. Regardless of how delicious I found it, I knew that it would never appeal to my picky son.

So . . .. I created this month’s recipe which aims to mimic the flavours of a traditional tagine with a quick and easy preparation and with main ingredients I knew would appeal to my son and to most kids, ground meat and pasta. It was a huge hit!
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Moroccan Homemade Hamburger Helper

Yield – 4 servings

Preparation Time – 15 minutes

Cooking Time – 30 minutes


  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 1 teaspoon ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon tumeric
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1/2 onion diced
  • 1 pound ground meat (beef, turkey, chicken, pork, whatever suits your fancy)
  • 4 cups hot water (I boil it in a kettle, but you can use hot tap water)
  • 1/2 pound short pasta (bow ties, macaroni or other)
  • 5-7 dried apricots, roughly chopped (or whatever dried fruit you prefer)
  • 2 tablespoons sesame seeds, lightly toasted on a pan (or chopped nuts)
  • 1 tablespoon honey

Carrot Ribbon Salad

  • 2 medium carrots
  • 1/2 tablespoon rice vinegar
  • 1/2 tablespoon lime juice
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/2 tablespoon cilantro (finely diced)
  • 1/2 teaspoon honey
  • salt and pepper to taste


  1. Combine the cornstarch and spices in a small bowl.
  2. Add oil to a large skillet.
  3. When hot, cook the diced onions until translucent.
  4. Add the ground beef and cook until browned through. Drain excess fat.
  5. Sprinkle the spices over the meat. Add the hot water and the pasta.
  6. Stir to thoroughly combine. Cook for 15 minutes or so, until all the water is absorbed, stirring occasionally.
  7. Stir in the chopped apricots, honey and sesame seeds and cook for an additional minute.
  8. Serve with a salad. I made the carrot ribbon salad below.

Directions for Carrot Ribbon Salad

  1. Scrub carrots and then use a peeler to create carrot ribbons.
  2. I blanche my carrots as my son and husband are allergic to raw carrots, but you can just use them raw.
  3. In a small bowl, combine the rest of the ingredients into a dressing.
  4. Pour just enough dressing over the carrots to coat, but not so it drips.
Magda’s Frugal Tip: Keep your mouth shut at the dentist — OK, so I don’t mean that literally, however, you may want to keep the chatter to a minimum. I have a great relationship with my dental hygienist, we have a lot in common and we both love to chat. However, my hygienist and my dentist and many other professionals, charge by the time spent in their office, not the time that they actually spend working. So, while you are relating the latest funny incident in your life, your dental health professionals cannot actually be doing what they need to do in your mouth and you are paying them to listen to you chat. So, perhaps you should keep you mouth open, but keep the chat to a minimum at least at the dentist’s office.

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  1. Amy Brown says

    Your frugal tip is just plain wrong. I am a dental hygienist. We charge for the hour you are booked in my chair. If it takes more time, or less, we charge the same. Part of my job is to try to stay on time for the patients after you! But if you need to talk, go ahead! We love to understand more of how our patients tick.

    Now with lawyers, your tip may be correct!

    • Jenn K says

      Amy, I completely understand your point. It might be different for Magda as she’s in Canada and I know their healthcare system is different from the US. :)

  2. Magda says

    Thank you Amy for making that point. I am not sure if it is a Canada versus US distinction, other areas of Canada may have a system similar to the one Amy describes. but I just don’t know.. I know that in my area of Ontario, the dental hygienists and dentists charge in increments of 10 to 15 minutes: the longer it takes to clean your teeth, the more you get charged and vice verse.

    I was using the dental hygienist as an illustration for any professional who charges in blocks of time, I did not mean to point anyone out in particular.

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