Sloppy Joes

Sloppy Joes

Several people gave me cookbooks as wedding gifts (along with some cute baskets and kitchen gadgets) and until this week they've sat unused. I've collected several cookbooks on my own, but I really haven't used them all that often. I lived alone for most of my post-college years so I didn't do a lot of cooking. (I also ate healthier and less, but that's a topic for another post.) Now that I have a house and a huge kitchen - very chef-friendly thanks to my fantastic cook of a grandmother - I'm more into cooking than maybe I've ever been.

If I was cooking just for myself I'd eat a lot of salads with fruits and grilled chicken and a steak here or there. Since I'm not and I have a husband who's a picky eater I find myself going to some very classic American dishes. Brad likes ground beef, but he won't touch steak. (He hates the texture, which is what guides a lot of his food pickyness.) I find myself looking for recipes that incorporate ground beef, but not just in sauces, meatloaves and packaged meals. I try not to cook red meat more than once a week, and this week I decided to find a homemade recipe for a traditional dinner: Sloppy Joes.

They aren't my favorite, and that's mostly because the few times I've eaten them in my life the mixture came from a can, so it was waxy and pasty - to choose a few of my favorite canned-food adjectives. We were given The Great American Cookbook by one of Brad's cousins, and since Sloppy Joes are decidely American I didn't have to go too far for a good recipe.

Brad liked them so much that he ate two for dinner. I ate half of one with a large salad. They're traditionally served with chips, and I think some jalapeno kettle chips would be fantastic with them. Unfortunately, chips don't fit in with my current trying-to-eat-healthy lifestyle, so y'all will just have to tell me how they pair.

Sloppy Joes / The Great American Cookbook / Serves 4
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1 T. sunflower seed or corn oil
1 onion, finely chopped
1 red bell pepper, cored, seeded and finely chopped
1 pound fresh ground beef
1 T. AP flour
1/2 tsp. dried thyme
1 1/4 can condensed cream of tomato soup
1/2 C. water
1/2 T. worcestershire sauce, or to taste
Salt and pepper to taste (I omitted the salt.)
Four buns (I used Sara Lee whole wheat.)

1. Heat oil in large skillet or pan over medium-highheat. Add onion and pepper, stirring frequently, for5 to 8 minutes or until soft but not browned. Add beefand cook, stirring constantly, and breaking up meat witha wooden spoon until no pinkness remains. Sprinkle inthe flour and thyme and cook, stirring constantly, twominutes.

2. Stir in soup, water, worcestershire sauce and saltand pepper to taste. Bring to a boil, then reduce heatand simmer, stirring occasionally or until the mixturethickens and the beef is cooked through.

3. Place bottom half of bun on plate, spoon Sloppy Joe mixture over, and replace top halves. These are messy,and unless you enjoy sticky fingers, try a knife and fork.

* These should be served hot, but can be made ahead and rewarmed.
* This recipe easily doubles and can be frozen for up to three months.