Sunday, October 14, 2012

sloppy joes, sloppy, sloppy joes...

A few weeks ago, I won three spice blends from a company called The Zesty Moose....a contest on another blog I follow.  It's such a rare occurrence that I win anything-- so getting this package in the mail one day was super exciting.
With school keeping me pretty busy, I kind of forgot about these in my pantry.  Until yesterday.

I came back from a shopping trip with a ton of was a chilly, rainy day and I was in the mood for making soup. 

After making the minestrone, I had a few leftover ingredients and started brainstorming what to do with them.  I decided on sloppy joes....because (a) I bought some ground meat on sale, (b) it gave me a reason to try one of my spice blends and (c) I just love sloppy joes.

As seems to be the requirement for blog recipe posts, here is the requisite photo of ingredients:
ground meat (my package was just over a pound)
orange bell pepper (you could use any color)
tomato paste
can of crushed tomatoes (about 15 oz.)
dry red wine
worcestershire sauce
broth or stock (beef or veggie)
seasonings (more about that later)
A few things I've used in the past but weren't in this recipe...
My first step was to chop the veggies.  This is always my favorite step.  I have a crazy love for chopping.  If I ever decide to take on a second job, it will probably be as a sous chef.  :)
First, I chopped the onions.  And took a break halfway to wipe the tears from my eyes (and take this picture).  If you have any suggestion for how to cut an onion without tearing up, do share!
Next was the garlic.  Which, if you read my last post, is another one of my loves.
I grated a few cloves.  Don't forget to scrape the back of the grater!
For the bell pepper, I learned a new method of chopping it to waste less.
First, you chop off the top and bottom.  Then you cut out the middle ribs/seeds.  That way you can chop all of it without throwing away any of it with the stem/ribs!
After chopping the top and bottom, slice the middle section into thin strips.  Turn these and dice to the desired size.  I chopped mine pretty small for this recipe, to match the size of the onions.
Drizzle a little extra virgin olive oil in a pan, and add the ground meat. 
Brown up the meat, and depending on what kind of meat you use, you may need to drain the extra fat.
I learned this great trick on Pinterest for draining fat with an easy clean up.  Line a bowl with some foil, and pour the fat into the foil.  Once it hardens, all you need to do is take the foil out and throw it away! 
Add the chopped veggies to the meat, and saute up a little while (I added another drizzle of oil). 
I buy my tomato paste in a tube when I know I won't be using an entire can.  I just squirted about 2 tablespoons of tomato paste into the pan and stirred it up until it was fragrant.
Next, I poured about a half cup of dry red wine in the mixture and cooked it out for a minute.
Next, a little worcestershire sauce...
And then the spice mix.  I started with a heaping teaspoon of it. 
This mix has a ton of fantastic flavor:  garlic salt, onion granules, minced garlic, chili powder, jalapeno powder, cilantro, cumin, lime powder, and tomato powder.
(I added another half teaspoon-full of it needed an extra kick!)
Finally, to give it that "sloppy" consistency, I added a can of crushed tomatoes.
I also added about a cup of veggie broth I had leftover from last night's soup.  To make sure I had every last bit out of the can of tomatoes, I "rinsed" out the can with the broth.  No picture of this....sorry.  I did take a picture of how sloppy it looked after all the ingredients were added:
Leave this simmering on the stove for as long as you want-- basically, until the consistency is what you want it to be.  This is what mine looked like when I was ready to eat.
(Oh, and I did add a few squirts of mustard and ketchup at one point.  I just couldn't resist adding a couple more ingredients!)
After toasting up a couple hamburger buns, I topped my bun with some sloppy goodness.
And just couldn't help myself.....a little shredded mozzarella was necessary.
Okay, not necessary.  But a really, really good idea.
With a side of some lightly salted potato chips (love them more than the regular-salted ones!), my comfort-food fix for the day was complete. 
Thanks again to Mom Colored Glasses for the giveaway, and to The Zesty Moose for the freebie!
I'm looking forward to trying out more new recipes with these fun spice mixes!  :)


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