Tree of Life Learning

Striving for Academic Excellence Through Christ-Centered Education

Friday Fun Pt 2: Make Your Own Skillet Helper

Ah the power of the smiling Gloved Hand. He’s super skilled at creating whine free dinners and the secret delight of untolled husbands. What’s not to love? All you have to do is open the box, dump everything in the pan,  add your meat and presto (or in about about 30 minutes) you’re a Dinner Diva! Look at you!!!!

But I know how to beat him at his own game.Hamburger Helper Famous Hand

Why would you ever want to? Well, true, he’s friendly enough, but he’s also using about 4 different types of food coloring in each box and he’s well preserved enough to last at least 2 years in your cupboard shelf.

Going Inside the Box

Pasta: Probably THE signature ingredient in the Hand’s recipe. Pasta spells magic to kiddos–use about 1 + 1/2 cups of small pasta (elbow macaroni or shells) in your own helper kit;
Cheese: Cheese makes almost anything taste good. In the box it’s powdered cheese, of course, but you can use 1 cup of your favorite shreds for out- of- this- world,original flavor;
Liquid: The Hand uses about 3 cups of liquid–usually some combination of milk and water–for its consistency and its sauces. You’ll need to do the same;
Ground Beef: Feel free to think outside the beef for a second. You could easily use any ground meat: chicken, turkey, or even sausage. Whatever meat you choose, you’ll need 1 pound (16 oz) of it.
Spices: No, this is NOT the time to go weak in the knees. You CAN make a mix that’s every bit as good as the Hand. Start with 1/2 teaspoon each of salt and sugar–okay, the box uses more of both but let’s keep the high-blood pressure and diabetes to a minimum, shall we?– (Yes, the Hand uses sugar. Look at it this way: at least now you’re in control of how much you eat. Don’t like the 1/2 teaspoon idea: add more or leave it out, altogether, at your pleasure.) Now to build flavor: think about recipes you know and enjoy. Mix together the spices they call for in increments of 1/2 teaspoon each. (Go small at first. You can always add more later.) Do the fingertip test. Do you like what you taste? If not, go back to the drawing board. If you’re totally stuck for flavor inspiration, call your mother or one of the sweet old ladies at church. They’ll know what to do! 🙂
Add if You Like: Don’t go crazy, but it’s fine to to add things like onion, mushroom, or bell pepper. Just keep your dices small and limit them to about a 1/2 cup each.

To Make:

Your kit works exactly the same way the Hand’s does, so cook Skillet Helper the way you normally would. There’s still no need to boil pasta ahead. Everything cooks in one pan.


Friday Fun Pt 1 Make Your Own Electrlyte-Filled Sports Drink

Sea Salt, Salt Sub, Kool Aid Sugar

Make Your Own Gatorade as Seen at

We know basketball superstars can’t workout without it, and if you sweat too, you should think about it, but you can do much better price wise (save at least 1/2 the cost) and health wise if you make your own electrolyte-filled sports drink at home.

Interestingly enough, the makers of the famous sports drink insist the body must have an ample amount of sugar in order to absorb minerals properly. I’m not a chemist. I don’t know if this is true, but it sounds fishy to me.


1 Kool-Aid packet
1/4 tsp Morton Lite salt
1/4 tsp sea salt
generous 1/3 cup sugar, depending on your taste for sweet vs saltiness
2 quarts water
+ 2 qt pitcher
Note: This recipe works perfectly for those of you looking to make your own Pedialyte.