Sloppy Joes

We used to go north to our cottage on weekends and Sloppy Joes were frequently our go-to Friday night supper.  Easy to prepare, especially because they involved browning some ground beef, opening a can of Manwich, stirring and loading it onto a bun.  I always had cans of Manwich in the cupboard.  Manwich first came out in 1969 and was marketed as a fast, one dish meal.  It arrived on the scene before Hamburger Helper but much later than Kraft Macaroni and Cheese which came out in the 1930s.  I’m sure, back in the day, I tried a few varieties of Hamburger Helper and I know I whipped up more than a few batches of neon orange Mac and Cheese.  Now I prefer making my own Mac and Cheese, casseroles concoctions, and Sloppy Joes.  Perhaps we ate Sloppy Joes a little too often because I hadn’t made them in years.  Recently we had guests over for a casual supper and I decided to try making them, sans Manwich.  They tasted mighty good.

Sloppy Joe Ingredients:

2 pounds ground beef

1 cup diced onion

1 cup diced celery

2-3 gloves of garlic minced

1 12oz bottle of chili sauce

1/4 c brown sugar

1/4 c cider vinegar

1 T yellow mustard

2 T Worcestershire sauce

1/4 cup sweet pickle relish (the secret ingredient)

In a heavy skillet brown the meat and season with salt and pepper.  Use a colander to drain the meat and remove the grease.

In the same skillet, saute the onion, celery and garlic for 2-3 minutes until tender but not browned.

Whisk together the chili sauce, cider vinegar, brown sugar, mustard and Worcestershire.

You can combine all of the components in the skillet and simmer for 10 minutes or put them all in a crock pot on low until you’re ready to serve.  I use the crock pot.  Either way, you want the flavors to meld.

Just before you’re ready to serve the Sloppy Joes stir in 1/4 cup of sweet pickle relish, my no longer secret ingredient.

I served the sloppy joes on seasame seed buns with corn on the cob, coleslaw and chips.  You can choose your favorite sides.

NOTE:  If you don’t have chili sauce in your pantry you can substitute a cup and a half of your favorite catsup.  My hands down favorite catsup is Brooks Tangy.

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Sangria and Poblano-Jalapeño Jellies

I’m not a huge fan of Sangria or hot peppers but love both of these jellies.  You could spread them on your English muffin but I would call these  hors d’oeuvre jellies.  They are amazing on crackers with a little creamy cheese.  Goat cheese is great with the poblano-jalapeño jelly and Brie is wonderful with the sangria.  Any one of your favorite creamy cheeses will do.  Or just spread a little jelly love on a cracker or a piece of Finn Crisp and enjoy.

I found these two recipes in a Better Homes & Gardens special publication.  I love experimenting and trying new things so I gave these a shot.  Loved them both, as did my taste testers, and ended up making two batches of each.  The sangria is the easiest jelly ever.

Sangria Ingredients:

2-3 oranges – enough for 1/2 cup of juice plus zest

2-3 limes – enough for 1/4 cup of juice plus zest

1 bottle dry red wine

5 cups sugar

1 6-oz pkg (2 foil pouches) of liquid pectin

2 T brandy

Remove 2 tsp of zest from the oranges and 1 tsp of zest from the limes.  Squeeze the juice from the fruit and measure out 1/2 cup of orange juice and 1/4 cup of lime juice.

Combine the wine, zest, juice, and sugar in a heavy nonreactive  kettle.

Bring to a full rolling boil stirring constantly.  Quickly stir in pectin.  Again bring to a full rolling boil stirring constantly.  Boil hard for 1 minute stirring constantly.  Remove from the heat.  Skim off any foam with a metal spoon.  Stir in the brandy.  Ladle the jelly into hot sterilized half-pint jelly jars leaving 1/4 inch headspace.

Process filled jars in a boiling water canner for 5 minutes starting the timer when the water returns to a boil.  Remove jars from the canner and cool on wire racks.

Poblano-Jalapeño Ingredients:

5 1/2 cups of sugar

2 1/2 cups finely chopped and seeded fresh poblano peppers

1/2 cup finely chopped and seeded fresh jalapeño peppers

1 cup cider vinegar

1/2 cup water

1 1/2 tsp salt

1/2 cup lime juice

1 6-oz pkg (2 foil pouches) liquid fruit pectin

Green food coloring

In a heavy kettle combine the sugar, chopped peppers, vinegar, water and salt.

Bring to a boil and cook, uncovered, for 5 minutes stirring frequently.  Remove from heat, cover and let stand for 30 minutes.  Stir lime juice into the pepper mixture and bring to a boil stirring constantly.  Boil one minute stirring constantly.  Quickly stir in the pectin and bring to a full rolling boil.  Boil hard for one minute.  Remove from the heat.  Stir in a little green food coloring.  While the food coloring is optional the jelly is pretty ugly without it.

Ladle the jelly into half pint sterilized jelly jars leaving 1/4 inch of headspace.  Process filled jars in a boiling water canner for 10 minutes, starting the timer when the water returns to boiling.  Remove jars from canner and cool on wire racks.

The results are amazing!  Hope you’ll give these a try.

NOTE:  It’s a lot of pepper chopping but food processors tend to turn peppers into liquid mush.  Just get a good sharp knife out and chop chop.  The pepper jelly is NOT hot.  You get the great flavor from both peppers without the heat.

Spanish Rice

Pork Loin with Tomatillo Salsa and Spanish Rice.  That was last nights supper.    (You can find the recipe for Roasted Tomatillo Salsa in an earlier post.)

This Spanish Rice recipe is one I started making in the early 70s. It is listed under “Pork Casseroles” in the Better Homes and Gardens New Cook Book that I received as a gift from my Home Economics teacher, Mrs. Little.  It has a serious burn mark on the back cover…another down side of electric stoves I say, and several pages that have splatter on them.  For several years, when I first started cooking, it was my go to book.

We all either own one of these books or have seen them in antique shops.  The Spanish Rice recipe is listed next to the Cantonese Casserole which calls for frozen French style green beans, soy sauce, sour cream, cubed ham and water chestnuts topped with buttered soft bread crumbs and then baked.  I never did make Cantonese Casserole.  On the opposite page are Glamorous Rice Rings…which call for pressing hot cooked rice with chopped canned pimientos and peas into a ring mold.

As you read this cookbook you’ll find that the ring mold was a must have in every kitchen.  It was used for salads like the Harvest Fruit Mold, Frosted Cranberry Salad or Rosy Strawberry Ring; vegetable dishes like Tomato Aspic; and main dishes like Jellied Chicken Salad.  Back in the day we had lots of “molds” hanging in our kitchens.  Of course the conventional ring mold but others shaped like a fish or fruit or fancy loaf shapes.  I  love this cookbook.  There are some tried and true recipes that I still use today including a never fail pie crust recipe written in the margins.

Back to my Spanish Rice.  I have modified the recipe a bit but even in its original form it is a good recipe.

Ingredients:

3-4 slices of bacon

1 cup diced sweet onion like Vidallia

1 half sweet bell pepper diced

2 cloves of garlic minced

1 pint tomatoes

2 cups chicken broth

1 cup uncooked long grain rice

1/2 cup chili sauce

1 tsp brown sugar

1 T Worcestershire

Fresh cilantro to taste

Salt and pepper to taste

In Dutch oven or heavy skillet cook the bacon over medium heat until crisp.  Set aside.

Add the onion, pepper and garlic to the bacon grease and cook over medium heat until tender but not brown.  Two to three minutes.

Stir in the tomatoes, broth, rice, chili sauce, brown sugar and Worcestershire sauce.

Bring to a boil.  Reduce the heat, cover and simmer for 30-35 minutes until all of the liquid is absorbed.  Once the rice is done stir in the crumbled crisp bacon and cilantro.

Dish up and enjoy.  This was a perfect side to my pork loin but would also go well with pork chops or roast chicken.  The tomatillo salsa kicked the pork up a bit.

NOTE:  When I buy bacon I freeze some in 3-4 slice servings to use in recipes like this one.

The original recipe calls for 8 slices of bacon, thus qualifying it as a Pork Casserole.  I reduced that significantly but you’re welcome to add more bacon if you’d like.  If you do use significantly more bacon be sure to drain off most of the grease before cooking the vegetables.

I was fortunate to have a jar of chili sauce that someone had made and given to me.  It was excellent!  Perfect for this recipe.  I wish I remembered who gave it to me so I could thank them.  I think I’ll add chili sauce to my tomato canning this summer.

 

Potato Salad

Today is our friend Joyce’s annual 4th of July party.  She loves to entertain and is a natural at making people feel welcome and comfortable.  And she LOVES feeding people.  She makes the main dishes…her famous lemon breaded chicken, meatballs, and sauerkraut with several different kinds of sausage.  People bring dishes to pass and today I’m making potato salad.

I have never been a big fan of potato salads.  But I do like this recipe.  This is not the traditional mayonnaise, mustard and egg potato salad most of us are familiar with.  This salad is perfect  for hot days when we all worry about having to keep mayonnaise based foods adequately chilled so as not to poison our guests.  Actually this salad tastes best served at room temperature.  Lots of veggies make this salad colorful and marginally healthier.

Salad Ingredients:

5# Yukon gold or redskin potatoes

1# green beans

3 sweet bell peppers (one each red, yellow and orange)

2 bunches green onions

4-5 stalks of celery

Dressing Ingredients:

1/2 cup vegetable oil

1/2 cup white wine vinegar

2 T whole grain mustard

2 T Franks hot sauce

2 tsp salt

I leave the skin on the potatoes.  Cut the potatoes into potato salad size pieces.  Rinse them well and cook until tender.  Blanch the green beans and set aside.  While the potatoes are cooking rough chop all of the vegetables.

You want to dress this salad while the potatoes are still warm so they absorb the dressing.

Whisk all the dressing ingredients together.

Put all of the rough chopped vegetables in a large mixing bowl.  Add the drained, still warm potatoes to the mixing bowl and pour on the dressing.  Gently toss all the ingredients together.

While this salad is good cold it is really best served warm or at room temperature.  It’s a bit reminiscent of German potato salad.  Make sure you sample a bite.  Or two.

NOTE:  If you’d like to serve this as an entree cut some spicy smoked sausage or polish sausage into bite size pieces and brown them in a little olive oil.  Stir the sausage pieces into the potato salad and serve with a fresh green salad.

Enjoy!