Stephanie Bourguignon

As a child of the 70s with two busy working parents I practically grew up on Hamburger Helper. It was one of my favorite meals.

Now that I know what I know about processed foods, I would never, ever go near the stuff (and I hope you won’t either!)

But I wondered…could I make a healthier and cleaner version of this childhood fav?

We found this recipe a week or two ago and made it for the third time today. We can’t get enough! We started with this recipe, and have modified it slightly — and we actually liked it much better.

Stephanie Bourguignon
Serves 8
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Prep Time
20 min
Cook Time
20 min
Total Time
40 min
Prep Time
20 min
Cook Time
20 min
Total Time
40 min
357 calories
26 g
70 g
16 g
25 g
6 g
184 g
449 g
2 g
1 g
8 g
Nutrition Facts
Serving Size
Amount Per Serving
Calories 357
Calories from Fat 148
% Daily Value *
Total Fat 16g
Saturated Fat 6g
Trans Fat 1g
Polyunsaturated Fat 1g
Monounsaturated Fat 7g
Cholesterol 70mg
Sodium 449mg
Total Carbohydrates 26g
Dietary Fiber 1g
Sugars 2g
Protein 25g
Vitamin A
Vitamin C
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your Daily Values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.
  1. 2 pounds organic grass-fed ground beef
  2. 8 oz. fusilli, penne, or caserecce cooked to al dente' (just use any short pasta shape you want)
  3. 1/2 cup beef broth
  4. 1 can organic tomato sauce
  5. 1 can organic diced tomatoes
  6. 1 box Pacific Natural Foods organic + GF condensed cream of mushroom
  7. 1 small onion, diced
  8. 3 T minced garlic
  9. 1 T oregano
  10. 1 t dried parsley or 1 T fresh parsley
  1. Brown ground beef then add in the garlic and onion. Give the onion a few minutes to soften.
  2. Add in everything else except the parsley and pasta. Combine and bring to a boil. Cover and turn down to a very slow simmer for 20 minutes.
  3. When the time is up, stir in the pasta - cooked to al dente' - top with a little parsley, and serve.
  1. If you like "Cheeseburger Helper" like I did as a child, try stirring in a generous amount of shredded sharp cheddar at the very end. It's really good! (But grate your own; don't buy that pre-shredded crap. It contains cellulose; code for wood-pulp.)
Only the Good Notes

hamburger helper 1

hamburger helper 2

hamburger helper 3

hamburger helperStephanie Bourguignon 1 Stephanie Bourguignon 2

Todd loves this so much he’s renamed it “Stephanie Bourguignon.” :D

Here comes Shiloh

Shiloh, 7.5 weeks

Shiloh, to us, represents new life, and moving forward.

She was born on July 21, the day after we found out we’d lost Addison, and the day before my (first) D&C.

She came home to us on September 11, 2011, the tenth anniversary of the most horrific terrorist attacks on American soil…and just 11 days after losing my beloved dog Jake.

Shiloh represents new life, and moving forward. She’s the most beautiful addition to our family we could have ever imagined.

Much more to come on Shiloh. :)

When does it end?

by Hugh MacLeod

I don’t even know where to begin.

I finally got some good news from our OB’s office today, after going through a horrific scare for the past 8 days.

A bit of background…when you are pregnant your body (the embryo, actually…and later the placenta) produces a hormone called hCG. It starts out very low (pregnancy tests can detect it when it reaches about 25) and in a normal pregnancy it will double roughly every 48 hours until about the 12th week, when it starts to go back down.

Over the past few weeks my hCG has been going down, but very, very slowly. I’ve been going in to my OB’s office one or two times a week to have it tested…they want it to get back down to zero before you start trying to get pregnant again. There are many reasons for this, and one of them is that hCG not going down can signal that something isn’t right, such as the presence of placental tissue after a miscarriage. And, sometimes this residual tissue can be abnormal, and it can turn in to cancer.

Last Thursday I received a call from a nurse in our OB’s office telling me that my doctor wanted me to go in for one more blood test, and that if it wasn’t down to zero she was going to refer me to a gynecological oncologist and that I would most likely need Methotrexate, a chemotherapy drug.

This was the day after I had Jake put to sleep, and right after a call from Deceased Pet Care asking me what urn I wanted for Jake. I was already in such a state of shock and grief, I could not even comprehend what she was saying. It was a blur.

I mean, just POUR. IT. ON why don’t you.

I remember asking a few questions – none of which she had answers to.

I don’t think I even started to process that information until several days later. And when I did, I felt so angry that a doctor’s office would allow a nurse to call a patient and casually drop the words “abnormal placental tissue” and “oncologist” and “chemotherapy” without being able to provide me with detailed information on exactly WHY I would need to see an oncologist…what they thought might be going on with me, what the prognosis was. Nothing. And because it was a holiday weekend I could not call until Tuesday.

I did finally speak with my doctor on Wednesday and she explained that her concern was that I still had some abnormal placental tissue and that if my hCG was still not going down she would like to consult with a gynecological oncologist and that the treatment would most likely be Methotrexate, a chemotherapeutic drug that is very effective in treating these kinds of things. She said that they would most likely do a chest x-ray and a head CT to check my lungs and brain for signs of cancer, as those are the places these things usually spread to first.

Hearing all of this nearly sent me over the edge.

First I lose my baby, then another, I have to put my beloved dog Jake down, and now I may have cancer??

The past few days have been sheer Hell. I was glad to finally have a detailed explanation of what she thought I was facing, and I was terrified of what I was potentially facing.

I shared with my OB the fact that I was not at all happy about the phone call I had gotten the week before…that a nurse, not my Dr., had been tasked with delivering the (partial) news, and that she was unable to answer any of my questions. That you don’t just drop the words oncologist and chemotherapy without an explanation!

She apologized profusely and assured me that she would personally call me with the results the next morning so that we could discuss what would be happening next and she could answer any and all questions I had.

Yesterday came and went. No phone call.

This morning when I woke up I called and asked for her and the receptionist told me she was out until Tuesday. I burst in to tears and started sobbing (that poor receptionist). She asked if I wanted to speak with a nurse, and I told her no, that I really needed to speak with a Dr. She put me through to a very helpful nurse who assured me that another OB in the practice would call me today.

The Dr. that called took a good twenty minutes on the phone with me. She read all the way through my chart very thoroughly…even the pathology report from my first D&C, which she took the time to walk through with me.

The path report was completely normal and there was zero indication that any of the tissue was abnormal (in terms of being cancerous). She also walked through every procedure I’ve had recently (the two D&Cs), the results of those, and the results of every blood draw. She said she wanted to be sure she had a very clear picture of everything because so much has happened in the last two months and she could see how it could all be very confusing.

Bottom line, she said as low as my hCG is at this point and the fact that it is consistently falling, she would never have even thought to get an oncologist involved. She said I probably do have a little tissue left over after my D&C, and that’s perfectly normal, and that’s what makes the hCG linger.

Yesterday it was at 8, and when it’s under 5 you are considered medically not pregnant. She recommended that we continue following it all the way down to 0, and she said as young and healthy as I am we can then go ahead and start trying to get pregnant again (more on that in a later post). She thinks it will be at zero in a week or two, and said there is absolutely no reason to suspect that anything is wrong in any way.

So, as you can imagine, we have breathed an enormous sigh of relief today. Finally, some good news (REALLY good news!) around here! Now we can focus on moving forward…and bringing home Shiloh on Sunday.

I talked it over with Todd and I think we are going to switch to the OB I spoke with today. Not that I don’t like mine, but the lack of communication and the way that this whole thing has been handled this past week has been unnerving to say the least. I really liked the communication style and bedside manner of the Dr. I spoke with today, and I have a good friend who has been going to her for years and raves about her. Obviously, they are in the same practice, so it’s no big deal.

So here we are…moving forward…one day at a time.

Life without love, isn’t

A friend and fellow dog-lover wrote this note to me, and I am so touched and moved by it that I wanted to share it here.

by Hugh MacLeod

I just read your back story with Jake, and I want to thank you. 

I want to thank you for releasing Jake from the angst of his abandonment as a puppy. 

I want to thank you for not allowing Jake to be abandoned again in a shelter awaiting another adoption.

I want to thank you for keeping Jake safe all of these years by keeping him away from others.

I want to thank you for avoiding what could have been a horrible tragedy if somehow Jake had found his way into a situation where he became agressive and injured someone, or himself.

Your choice was made out of love, and I thank you.  I know he knows that you love him and that is why you did it.  And I know he is smiling down on you from Heaven where he is finally free from his anger and unhappiness and he can run and play and be the happy dog he was meant to be.

As Todd’s dad so eloquently and accurately stated, sometimes doing the “right thing” is the hardest thing.


One of these precious little girls is coming home with us on Sunday. We are naming her Shiloh (Todd’s idea…and I love it.) She is a Golden Retriever and will be a few days shy of 8 weeks when we bring her home.

We are looking forward to having some new life in our home, and something positive to focus on. She will keep us busy, I’m sure!