The Ultimate Sloppy Joe Sandwich


Ultimate Sloppy Joe Sandwich

Who doesn’t love a great sloppy joe sandwich?

Sloppy joes are a quick and easy budget-stretching meal that you can sneak some healthy vegetables into and even your fussiest eaters will still enjoy them. Instead of the go-to commercial sauce that’s laden with chemicals, give this recipe a try next time you’re in the mood for a tasty sloppy joe.

In a large frying pan, begin browning your ground beef. Check through your fridge and gather up some vegetables. I like to make these when I have odds and ends of produce in the fridge that may go to waste if I don’t use them up. Cut your vegetables into large chunks and put them in a food processor. In this batch, I used up some celery, onion, red pepper and carrots. Add a few sprigs of fresh basil if you have it. Pulse until the vegetables are about the same consistency as ground beef.

Vegetables for Sloppy Joes

A great way to use up those vegetable odds and ends.

Mincing the vegetables lets you “hide” those that fussy eaters may not like and really enhances their flavour. Not only does it add some great nutrients, it helps stretch your ground beef, which saves you money.

Once the ground beef is browned, drain off the fat and return it to the pan. Add your minced vegetables and allow the mixture to simmer on medium-low heat for two or three minutes while you prepare the seasonings and the sauce mixture.

Minced Vegetables and Ground Beef

Simmering the vegetables with the ground beef brings out the flavour.

In a small bowl or large measuring cup, mix 3 tbsp of tomato paste or one small can with a cup of water. To the meat and vegetable mixture, add 1 tbsp each of oregano, basil (if you did not have fresh), onion powder, chili powder and minced garlic.

Flavouring for Sloppy Joes

Adding the rest of the flavour profile to the sloppy joe mixture.

Stir in the tomato paste mixture and simmer on low heat for five minutes or until the mixture has thickened and is not watery.

Adding Sauce to Sloppy Joe Mixture

Simmer the sloppy joe mixture until the liquid has been absorbed.

Give the mixture a taste and add salt as desired. Serve on your favourite buns and top with grated cheese if desired. I hope you enjoy this healthier twist on the ultimate sloppy joe sandwich!

Delicious and Healthy Sloppy Joe Sandwich

The ultimate sloppy joe sandwich ready to be devoured!

 

 

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Sweet and Sour Chicken with Pineapple


Pineapple Sweet and Sour Sauce

A versatile sweet and sour sauce that will get even your kids to eat their veggies!

The inspiration for this dish comes from a recipe my mom used to make when my brother and I were younger. Her version was “Hawaiian Hamburgers”, and she would make hamburger patties and top them with this sauce and slices of pineapple. I adapted the recipe some and added some veggies to round out the dish. The beauty of this dish is you can use bone-in or boneless chicken, pork or even shrimp as long as you adjust your cooking times accordingly. For this version I used drumsticks since that is what I had on hand.

Searing Meat

Browning your meat helps seal in flavour and moisture.

Begin with searing the meat you will use in your dish. The idea is to get a nice browning on all sides without cooking the meat through.

Bite-Sized Vegetable Chunks

Do not cut your vegetables too small as they will overcook before your meat is done.

While your meat is browning, cut your vegetables into bite-sized chunks. I used onion, carrot, red and green peppers. You will also need one large can of pineapple chunks, reserving the liquid in a 4-cup measure or medium-sized bowl. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.

Saute Vegetables for Sweet and Sour Sauce

Lightly saute the vegetables in an oven-proof pan.

In an oven-proof pan, lightly saute your vegetables and pineapple chunks without browning. As they are cooking, prepare the sauce with the following ingredients:

  • Reserved pineapple juice with enough cold water added to make 2 cups.
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup lightly packed brown sugar
  • 1 tbsp minced ginger
  • 3 tbsp rice or white vinegar
  • 2 heaping tbsp cornstarch
Sweet and Sour Sauce

Pour the sauce over the vegetables in the pan.

Stir the sauce ingredients well and pour over the vegetables in the pan. Turn the heat to medium-high and bring to a low boil, stirring often. As the sauce thickens, the cloudiness will clear.

Meat is Added to Sweet and Sour Sauce

Add the meat to the sauce.

Once the cloudiness has cleared and the sauce has thickened, add your browned meat to the pan. Cover and bake for twenty minutes or until meat is cooked through.

Serve over cooked rice or noodles.

Pineapple and Chicken Sweet and Sour

A tasty dish that is easy to make!

This dish reheats well as leftovers however; you may need to add some water to thin out the sauce once it has been refrigerated. I don’t recommend freezing it as the vegetables will get mushy.

 

 

 

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Porketta Sudbury-Style


Homemade Porketta at a Fraction of the Cost!

Make your own Porketta for a fraction of the cost!

Porketta (porchetta) is a traditional Italian-style pork roast that has become a trademark dish of the city I’m from, Sudbury, Ontario. The major difference between the Italian delicacy and Sudbury’s trademark version is the use of dill in place of fennel seeds. Since I could not find fennel at four different grocery stores, I decided to play with the recipe and come up with my own version of Porketta since I love this succulent roast and I find the store versions either too fatty, or too expensive.

While a pork shoulder or butt is traditionally used for this roast, I used a picnic-style pork shoulder cut which is usually only seven or eight dollars for a three-pound roast when you catch them on sale. I trimmed off the fat rind, and made cuts along the natural grain of the meat to hold the spice mix. Since this roast has a bone, if you place it fat-side down, the grain to cut along will be obvious.

Prepping Pork Picnic Shoulder

If you use the picnic shoulder cut, trim the heavy fat and follow the lines of the meat to make deep slices.

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees, and prepare the spice mix in a small bowl as follows:

Porketta Spice Mix

Salty with a touch of heat from the pepper, porketta spices are a unique blend.

Use two tablespoons each of:

Coarse salt, coarsely ground black pepper, whole peppercorns, dill, minced garlic, oregano, lemon zest and onion powder. Add just enough olive oil to make a paste of the ingredients. If you stir as you add the oil, you will see when it just pulls together.

Use Olive Oil to Add Crunch to your Porketta

Although not traditional, using olive oil to make a paste and removing the pork fat still allows you that delightful crunch on the outside of your Porketta.

Press one heaping tablespoon of the spice mix into the two cuts you will make into the roast. Pour the rest of the mixture over the roast and rub it in well with your hands, coating the entire roast. The coarse salt will help the rest of the spices permeate the meat of your roast.

Bake at 350 for two hours, or until the temperature reads 160 on a meat thermometer. Transfer to a serving plate and lightly cover with foil to rest for about ten minutes so the juices can redistribute and you will not have a dry roast.

Do not Overcook Pork

Do not overcook your Porketta. Roasting until it reaches 160 degrees then tenting with foil will ensure a juicy roast at a safe temp for eating.

Serve with your favourite sides. How easy was that? We just turned a roast under ten dollars into a 15-dollar or better pre-made porketta!

Porketta from Home

Did I mention that leftovers make great sandwiches?

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Asian-Style Steak and Lettuce Wraps


Asian Steak and Vegetables in Lettuce Cups

Tender beef strips and crisp vegetables in a delicious sauce make this healthy and fast meal.

If you are looking for a very quick and healthy weeknight meal, these Asian-Style Steak and Lettuce Wraps might become one of your go-to meals. A slightly spicy and sweet sauce with tender beef and crisp vegetables, this meal is not just quick, it is packed with flavour. With prep and cooking time, you can have these served up in less than thirty minutes.

As always when stir frying, I highly recommend doing your preparation before starting to cook. If you have everything ready to hit the wok or frying pan, the cooking time on this dish is less than ten minutes.

Prep Vegetables and Beef

Prepping everything before starting to cook is the key to being fast.

For the recipe as shown, I thinly sliced a top sirloin steak, a red pepper, some scallions and a celery stalk. Cut your meat against the grain and angle your knife to get thin and tender strips of meat.

In a small bowl, combine 2 Tbsp hoisin sauce, 4 Tbsp soy sauce, 1/2 Tsp of chili garlic sauce (more if you like a lot of heat), 2 Tbsp honey and 1 heaping Tbsp each of minced ginger and garlic. Stir well and set aside.

Heat your wok or heavy frying pan to medium-high heat. Add 2 Tbsp of oil (I like to use sesame) and once it is heated toss in your beef.

Stir Fry the Beef

The key to making sure your beef is tender is to keep it moving in the pan, and fry it quickly.

Cooking the beef at moderately high heat and ensuring you keep it moving in the pan will produce tender beef pieces. If you just let it fry without stirring it constantly, it will boil in the liquid that is released by the meat and the result will be tough. Fry until just cooked through.

Add Stir Fry Sauce and Simmer

Turn down the heat slightly when you add your sauce.

Turn down the heat slightly and add the stir fry sauce. Stir well and allow to simmer for about one minute.

Add Vegetables to Meat Mixture

Be careful not to overcook your vegetables. The texture should be tender-crisp.

Add the vegetables to the meat and sauce mixture and stir fry for about half a minute. The idea is to basically heat the vegetables through while maintaining a tender-crisp texture.

Using tongs or a slotted spoon, fill lettuce leaves with the steak and vegetable mixture and serve. I like to use romaine hearts because they make a great scoop for the stir fry and they hold up well. If you are serving several people, I would recommend putting the steak and veggies into a large bowl, and let everyone fill their own lettuce wraps so the lettuce does not get wilted from the heat.

If you wish to stretch this meal further or want something more substantial than lettuce leaves to pair with it, you can just as easily serve the steak and vegetables over rice or noodles with the sauce.

Fill Romaine Hearts with Stir Fry

Romaine hearts make a great vehicle to deliver this flavourful dish.

I am not great at making things beautiful, but I promise the flavours will make you forget about my messy photo! Hope you enjoy this super-fast and healthy dish.

 

 

 

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Grilled Chicken and Spinach Pizza


Spinach Pizza with Grilled Chicken

Homemade pizza with nutritious toppings.

Making pizza at home is not only much faster than waiting on delivery, it is also much healthier. This version is not your typical pizza, but can be adapted to suit your family’s tastes.

In a large mixing bowl or stand mixer bowl, add 2 ¼ tsp (or one envelope) of quick-rise yeast. Add one tbsp. of sugar and 1 cup of hot tap water.  Allow mixture to activate for about ten minutes, or until foamy. Give the yeast mixture a quick stir and add two cups of flour. If you are using a mixer with a dough hook, mix on the second setting until the dough is riding the bowl. If you are mixing by hand, make sure all of the flour is incorporated and knead into a fairly smooth ball. Let the dough rise, covered with a damp towel for about half an hour or until doubled in size. For step-by-step instructions on the dough, please see: http://foodforays.com/2012/07/26/pizza-dough-made-simple/

Preheat your oven to 500 degrees. This takes some time, so I would do it while the dough is rising. If you have a pizza stone, place it in the middle of the oven to preheat. Pound one large chicken breast with a meat hammer or a heavy frying pan until it is about a quarter-inch thick throughout. Lightly season with salt and pepper and fry in a grill pan, or a regular pan until just cooked through. Once it has cooled enough to handle, slice into bite-sized pieces.

Diced Onion and Grilled Chicken

Grill or pan fry a chicken breast that you have pounded to 1/4-inch thickness, and dice one small onion.

Press out your dough until you have a nice pizza shape. The crust mixture makes a large pizza with a crust that is not overly thick. Apply a layer of your favourite Alfredo sauce evenly over the crust. I like a decent amount of sauce so the pizza is not dry when it is cooked.

Form  your Pizza and Apply Sauce

Form your dough into a pizza shape using your hands or a rolling pin. Apply a generous amount of sauce.

To make the pizza as I did, spread the chicken over the pizza and one small finely diced onion. Add one package of frozen chopped spinach that has been squeezed of all excess moisture. Simply pull apart small pieces and scatter over your crust. Top with sliced mushrooms and about two cups of shredded mozzarella cheese.

Add Toppings to Spinach Pizza

Spread your toppings evenly over the pizza.

Smother with Grated Cheese!

Due to the light flavours in the toppings, this pizza can handle stronger cheese blends such as Emmental or Provolone if you wish.

Pop the pizza into your preheated oven and cook for about 12 minutes or until the crust is golden and the cheese is bubbly. This pizza is a nice change from the more traditional styles and packs a nutritious punch!

Spinach Pizza with Mushrooms and Grilled Chicken

About 45 minutes to prep and cook. All that is left to do is enjoy it!

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