Tuesday, April 27, 2010

"Would you like a bite of my Sloppy Joseph?"

Nostalgia kicked in the door again today, and reminded me about Sloppy Joes. How could I forget? Just as all-American as the hamburger and twice as hard to eat in public. Notice that you never see Sloppy Joes on restaurant menus? It's because they are more unattractive to watch someone eat than buffalo wings - and watching someone eat buffalo wings can be a friendship killer.

But if you are eating them in the privacy of your own home, who's going to judge? Your kids? Your cats? The Sex & The City re-runs that you watch while you eat so that you don't feel lonely? None of them will judge. They all got problems, too.

Sloppy Joes, also known as "Manwiches" usually come out of a can. You buy a hunk of ground beef, open a can of sauce, add sauce to beef and slap it on a burger bun. The sauce not only has high fructose corn syrup and various dehydrated vegetables (gross), but it is crazy high in sodium. Sure it's easy, but so is my recipe. It doesn't take that much longer to cook these from scratch - I had dinner ready in about a half hour and that includes throwing together the salad.

I have not had a 'Joe' in many years, so I basically winged this from memory. It doesn't taste just like a Manwich, but it tastes really good! We always used to have them with Ruffles potato chips (also terrible for you), so tonight I served them with our favorite kettle-cooked salt and pepper chips and a basic salad. Everyone loved it, and actually finished their meals. Hooray for......

Sloppy Josephs

1 bell pepper, diced
1 small red onion, diced
8 oz mushrooms, chopped fine
3-6 cloves of garlic to taste, chopped fine
splash of red wine
1# ground beef
16 oz tomato sauce (I like the roasted garlic flavor, but plain is fine too)
2T ketchup
2T steak sauce (like A1)
1/2 tsp chili powder (I used chipotle, regular is fine)
1 tsp paprika
1/4 c brown sugar
s/p to taste

Saute' the onions, garlic, mushrooms, and bell pepper in about 2T of oil on high heat for 2-3 minutes. When the vegetables are soft and the mushrooms have released their moisture*, deglaze the pan with the red wine. Cook down the wine (about 1 minute) and then add the ground beef. Brown the ground beef in with the vegetables, frequently chopping it up with a wooden spoon as you go. When the beef is evenly browned, add the chili powder and paprika. Give it a quick stir and then lower the heat to med-low and add in the tomato sauce, steak sauce, and brown sugar. Let simmer for about 15 minutes, season with salt and pepper to taste.

I served this on toasted bulkie rolls with melted smoked Gouda cheese.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Not Very Detailed Restaurant Reviews, by Holly

The past month and a half or so has been a busy time around here. We've been traveling around doing the first leg of our convention schedule and, while it hasn't really afforded me time to cook much more than basic pasta and take-out pizza, I've been trying out some fantastic restaurants.

The highlights so far:

Sky City at the Space Needle in Seattle, WA - This was not my first time at the Space Needle, I had been once before duing the same convention last year. Sure, it's touristy to go to a revolving restaurant but you know what? The food is wonderful, the portions are generous, and the staff is lovely. Highly recommended for a splurge. We started with the Carpaccio and the Prosciutto Wrapped Flagship Cheese, and my entree' was the Seafood Pasta. It was rich, and delicious, and such a large portion that I couldn't finish.

Junior's in Times Square, NYC - Guys, I'm not going to lie to you. I love diner food. I love deli food. Junior's will give me those things, they will give me a huge pile of those things. They give you a selection of complimentary pickles before your meal. My chicken salad was simple, just like I like it. Chicken, mayo, celery. Perfect. I would be remiss not to mention the cheesecake, which is as heavenly as cheesecake gets.

Mercat a la Planxa, Chicago - The ideal review of this place would just be a recording of the gutteral noises that we made while trying the food. High end tapas shared between the six of us, we tried about 20 dishes and I could honestly not pick a favorite. Excellent cocktail menu, as well.

I also updated my flickr stream with some shots of various things including our lovely Easter feast, most of which was provided by Kaliis, all of which was scrumptious. Ogle away.

I will leave you with Food and Wine's recipe for a pitcher of Limoncello Collins, a light and lovely cocktail for the current warm and lovely weather. We drank these with Easter dinner.

Limoncello Collins

  • SERVINGS: Makes 8 Drinks


  1. 16 ounces limoncello
  2. 12 ounces gin
  3. 8 ounces fresh lemon juice
  4. 24 paper thin lemon slices
  5. Ice
  6. 16 ounces chilled club soda
  7. 8 mint sprigs


  1. In a pitcher, combine the limoncello, gin and lemon juice. Cover and refrigerate until chilled, at least 2 hours. Press 3 thin lemon slices against the inside of each of 8 collins glasses. Add ice to the glasses. Stir the limoncello mixture and pour it into the glasses. Stir 2 ounces of club soda into each drink and garnish with a mint sprig.