Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Sloppy Joes. Completely unpretentious but really freaking awesome.

You ever learn to crochet?

I have. Several times. We'll....TRIED to learn. And you know
what, I'm terrible at it. I've bought magazines, how-to books,
watched tutorials on youtube and had several people try to sit
down and try to teach me step by step. I had a hair laying across
my backside a few months back and decided I needed a hobby. I
tried counted cross stitch and ended up throwing the whole mess
across the room over the inability to count and make tiny little
squares. Then, I decided that maybe I should try crocheting.
Again. After I couldn't get it the first time. I've put it down again
for the umpteenth time in.....three days and thought maybe I should
do something constructive instead of glaring at my yarn and
crochet hook and calling it foul names.

Yes, I did that. No, I'm not proud of it but gosh darn it, it's the truth.

So, anyway......yeah.

I've finally decided on my first recipe to go over with you. It's not
SUPER healthy but you can make a couple changes like I have to make it
a little better and kind of mask the changes you've made for the people
you love in your life. (If your family is anything like mine, you've got to
work to prove that vegetables and things like ground turkey and spices
are a good addition to food. It'll take some work but lemme tell you,
remind them that you love them and they will eventually fall in line.
A couple times of "eat what I cook or you go hungry" will make it go
a little quicker, trust me. If not, the Evil Eye works real well, too.)

Sloppy Joes aren't everyone's bag. They WEREN'T mine. The
canned sauce or the packet of seasoning just weren't for me. That's
putting it nicely. I made this recipe:
and I was converted. According to my husband, it was close
enough for him to the sauce but it was like a step up. My kids even
liked it.....and I HID VEGGIES IN IT. Shhhhhh. Don't tell. You
may say that it's not for you, but try it. You might find that you
actually like Sloppy Joes, only it's redefined the food for you. So,
for those of you who like bargains, pay attention. First
thing in the morning is usually when you find the best deals on meat.
Marked down meat does not always mean bad or rotten. Use your
bestjudgement....if it looks okay, then you're probably alright. If
you feel comfortable, call your local store and find out when they
mark down their meat. There's no shame in it. You aren't the first
person to do this. This morning, I paid $20 and got two weeks worth
of ground beef, ground turkey, BLSL chicken thighs, and pork
chops.....all for being their early. If you don't like that, maybe a
cost club is the way to go? Buying into a membership
like Costco is always a good thing to have just for meat. I find
that if I buy the large packages of ground beef or BLSL chicken
breasts, I can portion them out into ziploc bags and pull out the
right amount I need for my meal. (Great thing about Costco is
they sell the Foster Farms BLSL chicken breasts already vaccuum
packed in little packages....usually six or eight to a package. Two
of those breasts are big enough to use in one meal,
stretched out with vegetables and pasta.) It's really all about
what your budget can bend to. Try out what feels good to you.

I have a point.

I have a 1.5 package of extra lean ground beef that I bought marked
down from my local grocery store this morning. Take that and
brown it real nice and once it's cooked, drain it real good and set
it aside in a warmer or something so it's not just sitting there.
Chop up a couple carrots, a couple peppers, fresh garlic, a big onion
and if you're feeling adventurous, maybe grate some zucchini or
have a bunch of spinach ready to throw onto the Joes at the last.
It's all about what you have on hand. (Eye your
grocery store's ads for the week. It's really not all that expensive
to get the paper in your area on the days when they circulate their
weekly ads. Here, I usually see them on Wednesday and Sunday.
If you can, try to buy from your local produce stand. Usually the
produce can be a better quality, sometimes comes from your local
growers and is more reasonable in getting what you need for less
than you're paying at your grocery store. Find out where they are
and do a walk-thru. Dosen't really cost anything to look and you
can take notes. An informed shopper is the ruler of all. I think you
might even qualify for a tee-shirt.) Saute the veggies together in a
large skillet with a little oil, whatever you have is fine. Once they've
started to look "done", throw in the beef and mix it together.

Now, what I usually do is use half ketchup, half chili sauce.
Or even partial BBQ sauce. I'm one of those people who thinks the
flavor of hot ketchup is gag-worthy. You may not feel this way,
and that's okay. I still like you. I buy my ketchup in the BIG tubs
either from Costco or my local discount grocery store. Depending on
where I am financially for that month. BBQ sauce comes from the
same place. Chili sauce usually dosen't cost all much either to make
or buy so depending on how much time I have, I'll do either.
Same with BBQ sauce. There are some great recipes on this site,
all very simple that most ingredients are pretty cheap to acquire
and really make a fabulous product. I like to make my own salsa:
because it's really freakin' simple and once you try homemade,
the jarred stuff just dosen't cut it anymore. I use that in this recipe.
I don't add the brown sugar. I feel that the ketchup is sweet enough
on it's own and my kids don't really need the added sugar. It's all
a personal preferance. You get excited over it, add it. This recipe
dosen't need much else....I like to add a little liquid smoke but I
love the stuff. If I could have it with ice cream, I probably would.
That's also pretty cheap to buy and good to have on hand when
you make your own sauces at home. With all of this said, if you
have a big family and you do use the amount of ground beef
I do and add in another healthy amount of chopped veggies, you
might want to double the sauce. Or at least make a recipe and a half
of the sauce part. Heck, the leftovers are just as good so you might as
well make extra. If you can't eat it all, it freezes well. Any kind of
veggies you want to throw in, go for it. I'm sure you could add corn
and have it come out well. Or use ground turkey. I've done it. You
could even use half black beans. Beans are always cheap and make
a great filler for almost any meal. Add a bit of shredded cheese on
top and a side salad, you've got a great filling meal. I've made
homemade jo-jo's or sweet potato fries and they make a good
side for this main dish as well. Potatoes cost next to nothing and
tossing them with a few choice spices and a little oil and baking
them.....really simple and just super comforting. I don't know if
I was able to help you in any way. I feel like I've been sitting here
rambling on about nothing for a half hour. If I was able to help,
lemme know. So at least I'll know if I was on the right track.
Now, I'm going to try to go back to trying to learn to crochet.
Pray for me.


  1. Sounds good. My family has never been a sloppy joe family - neither kid would eat them. Then, one day my son (now 21) stopped in to see Grandma & Grandpa on his way home from college one weekend and he gets home only to tell me how Grandma made these AWESOME sloppy joes - too bad I didn't know how to make them like that! Wanna know the "recipe" she used - Manwich. Go figure! And, if it makes you feel any better - I did learn to crochet, sort of, when I was a kid with Grandma teaching me. I started a Grannysquare afghan for my then boyfriend - ummm..... I've been married 29 yrs. now and not to that boyfriend. The afghan? It's in a huge garbage bag at the back of my closet. Maybe I should get it out and work on it some more, it's about 1/3 done!

  2. This sounds good enough I might even try it! I am not a sloppy joe lover but might give it another try. As for your learning to crochet, I have the same problem trying to knit. I have tried for years to teach my self to knit but like you I get frustrated and throw my yarn and needles across the room! Maybe this would be a good project for this winter. hmmmm. I will let you know if I have any success! I can crochet pretty well so can always fall back on that! Wish we lived close, maybe I could help you with that.