Sunday, January 16, 2011

I don't want a Manwich, please.

Since I've been reading a lot of autobiographical confessionals in order to finish up my incomplete and graduate from grad school, I figured it might be a good idea to do a little confessing of my own.


I cannot make bread.

I've tried! Really I have! But no matter what I do, my bread just always seems to come out slightly lacking. Delicious, but lacking.

Other things on my list of foodie failures: french toast and cream cheese frosting. My french toast turns out just like my bread. Underwhelming. And as for my cream cheese frostings... well, I have yet to make a batch that spreads exactly how I want it to.

We all have set backs and limitations in the kitchen, and these are mine. I hope sharing them will make some of you feel better about yours. I mean, making bread from scratch isn't the easiest endeavor, but french toast, really? A three-year-old can make a successful batch of french toast. It may be embarrassing, but I am not afraid to confess my foodie failures!

Which is why my next post will be a detailed break down of my most recent flail in the kitchen: Cheddar-Onion Hamburger Buns.

But more on that next time. Today, we're here for...

Sloppy Joes, Slop-Sloppy Joes!

In my last post, I shared my Barbecue Turkey Loaf recipe in honor of the Conners and their many years of meatloaf-eating on Roseanne. But I have to tell you all that meatloaves and sloppy joes were definitely not a part of my own childhood. I didn't have my first meatloaf until I was an adult trying out the original turkey loaf recipe. I asked my mom once why there were no childhood meatloaf dinners, no meatloaf nights in my recollection, and she told me it was because there were none in hers. Imagine that! A childhood with no meatloaves! Somehow, we managed to survive. But sloppy joes were in the same category, I suppose, because we didn't have any of those, either.

Still, if I was going to make a sloppy joe, it wasn't going to come from a nasty can, that was for damn sure! Sorry, Caribbean Manwich guy. It was at least a year ago when I found a recipe for Guy Fieri's Sloppy Joes in an issue of Food Network Magazine. I made them for the first time on a vacation in Gatlinburg, where I was staying in a cabin with a working kitchen and I would cook dinner most nights rather than eating out. They were pretty yummy, and I don't recall why I never made them again until now, so I recently decided to break out the recipe again. Of course, I adapted the recipe to suit my tastes and, of course, the ingredients I had on hand.

This time, I switched the jalapenos for a chipotle in adobo, and I omitted the bell peppers entirely because I hate, hate, HATE bell peppers. Blech. I realize that probably makes me a terrible foodie, but they just have nothing to offer me. The flavor of bell peppers are too overwhelming and I find that any dish with bell peppers in it tastes almost entirely like them. I also halved the recipe because I was only cooking for two, and I still ended up having leftovers, so the recipe I'm posting would definitely be enough for a family of four.

When I cooked up this batch, I halved the spices (in addition to adding a few of my own), but I stuck to the ratios Guy had. So between the cayenne pepper the recipe called for and the chipotle in adobo that I substituted for the jalapeno, these joes ended up pretty spicy. If you're looking for a milder joe, omit the chipotle or jalapeno entirely.

Hopefully these joes will make you want to sing: Sloppy Joes, Slop-Sloppy Joes! Yeah!

Sloppy Joes


2 teaspoons olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped fine
1 garlic clove, minced
3/4 lb ground beef
spice mix (see below)
3 tablespoons brown sugar
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
2 tablespoons red wine
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1-8 ounce can tomato sauce (I prefer "no salt added")
1/2 can tomato paste
6-8 hamburger buns (your favorite)
french fried onions for garnish (optional)

Spice Mix:

1 teaspoon seasoned salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 1/2 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon dry mustard
1 teaspoon onion powder
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder


1. Heat the olive oil over medium heat in a large skillet. Cook until they just begin to turn golden, add the garlic, and cook for another minute.

2. Add the ground beef to the pan and cook until browned. Drain the meat mixture and return to the skillet, remaining on medium heat.

3. Add the spice mix, the brown sugar, the wine, the vinegar, and the Worcestershire sauce to the pan, mix thoroughly, and let cook for 3-4 minutes or until the wine and vinegar cook down.

4. Mix the tomato sauce and paste with the beef mixture and lower the heat, letting the joe mix simmer for about 30 minutes.

5. Scoop some onto your favorite hamburger buns, top with some french fried onions, if desired, and enjoy! Makes 6-8 sandwiches, depending on how full you stuff 'em.

I served mine on the failed hamburger buns. While definitely tasty, those buns just weren't bun-ny enough.

Stay tuned... next time you'll see my funky buns and where I went wrong!

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