Saturday, January 19, 2013

sloppy joes, homemade

I haven't made homemade sloppy joes before. Usually I use this:

If you're in a bind, it's great sauce.

However.... I may have found something better. I've been hanging out over at Country Living, where despite the emphasis on decor, they have put together a fair amount of quick weeknight recipes. This is one of them, adapted in the usual style of "what's available in pantry".

Sloppy Joes, adapted from Country Living.

1/2 onion, diced
1/2 green pepper, diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 lb. ground chuck
1/2 can tomato paste
1/2 t. dry mustard
1/4 t. paprika
fresh ground black pepper
3/4 cup chicken broth
1/2 cup ketchup
2 T. Worcestershire sauce

Heat 1 T. olive oil, and saute onion, green pepper and garlic. Set aside. Place ground beef in the pan and brown. Drain off grease. Add remaining ingredients, and bring to boil. Turn to low and let simmer about 20-25 minutes.

I served this over toasted French bread, and let me tell you, I think the extra ketchup and green peppers made this sauce. It was pretty good. You could also add shredded Cheddar cheese on top.

As a side, I had steamed broccoli and carrots. I lost my plastic microwave steamer somewhere along the way, so now I use the old metal steamer and pan that have been sitting at the back of the cabinet. Turns out it takes about 20 minutes or so to steam those as well, on medium heat. So, combined, this is about a half-hour from prep to table. Not too shabby.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Campfire vegetable bean soup with ham

Once again, we fired up the cast-iron pot, snow and cold be damned! This time it was for some vegetable bean soup with ham. I took a few cues from this recipe from Taste of Home, but in the end, of course, it ended up being another exercise in punting. In this case, the kick was good.

Photos courtesy of my lovely husband

First, if you're going to use dried beans, or a mixture of dried beans and lentils, like I did, remember you'll need about a day to prep these ahead of time. Also, make sure to have plenty of wood on hand, as this soup takes about an hour and a half to cook over the fire.

So, you'll need:

1 lb. dried beans (I used a mixture of navy, pinto, red, black and lentils)
Water to cover - about 3-4 cups
3 carrots, peeled and sliced
1 celery stalk, diced
1/2 onion, diced
1/2 package baby bella mushrooms, cleaned and chopped
10-12 brussel sprouts, trimmed and quartered
1 1/2 lbs. of ham, chopped
1/2 lb. bacon, cooked and diced
1/2 12-oz. beer (We used a stout)
4 c. chicken stock
2-3 cups water
3 beef boullion cubes

The day before you cook:

Place beans in Dutch oven and cover with water. Bring to boil for two minutes. Turn off heat and let sit in water for up to four hours. Place beans and water in a tupperware container and place in fridge overnight. You could probably let this sit out too -- your call.

You could also use two to three cans of beans. I'd choose black beans and pinto beans, myself.

The day of cooking:

Get your fire stoked up, or if you have a fire helper, ask them to get the fire burning about an hour before you put the soup on.

Place beans in cast-iron pot as well as the remaining ingredients from carrots on down. A note about the  2-4 cups of water -- you may want to start with 2 cups and add more about halfway through cooking if needed. I used the entire 4 cups right off the bat and felt like we had to wait a long time for it to cook down. This worked out, as the beans needed the entire time to cook down, but the broth was still thinner than I would have liked.

Cook over the fire for about an hour and a half, checking periodically.

To cook on the stove:

I haven't tried this, but I would follow all the directions, but hold off on adding water until 30 minutes in if needed. I'd bring it to a boil for a few minutes and then keep it a high simmer for about an hour or so. The key is when the beans are done. If you use canned beans, you will want to test the carrots as a guide for its doneness.

We cooked this over a medium-low fire on a chilly, snowy night. It was delicious!