Sloppy Turkey Joes

It’s been four months since Covid-19 changed our lives. For most of us fortunate enough to stay healthy we have adjusted to spending more time at home. More time at home for me has meant more cooking. Breakfast is typically a simple no cook meal. Sometimes I’ll cook lunch. Most nights we’ll sit down to a home cooked meal. But after four months you try not to repeat too many dishes and vow to find/make something different. I’ve bought more cookbooks than I care to admit. I’ve spent a lot of time on food blogs looking for something tasty to try. But despite the plethora of recipes on the planet sometimes you just can’t decide what to make.

“Why don’t you make Sloppy Joes?”

Why do I make life so hard on myself sometimes?

The sheer beauty of a dish like Sloppy Joes is its simplicity. This was one of the first recipes our sons learned how to cook when they were kids. Ground meat, ketchup, mustard, done. The kid recipe came from a cookbook for kids that has long since disappeared from my collection. Any Sloppy Joe recipe is simple, easy to fix, and tasty. It’s the perfect recipe to get your kids on a cooking path.

I haven’t written much on the Pandemic Pantry lately. The stores around me are well stocked and my pantry is well stocked. The trick is to pick up a few things at the store every time you shop as potential pantry items. If you use them during the week great but if not,  just toss them in the pantry or freezer for later use. I always pick up a package of ground turkey when shopping. There was an entire package of onion buns in the freezer (if you don’t freeze your bread you should). I like to have bell peppers in the vegetable drawer and I always have onions.

And there you have it. Turkey Joes. Psychologists say it’s important for people to recall and share memories. Recalling and sharing helps us find meaning and connect with others. I believe I’ve found true meaning and can connect with others by remembering and sharing my Sloppy Joe story. If you’re interested in making the original kid version use ground beef, ketchup, and mustard. Leave the rest of the ingredients out. I’m not kidding.

Inspiration: The Chunky Chef (because her SEO consultant is doing a great job).

Turkey Joes

  • 1 pat butter
  • 1 T olive oil
  • 1 lb. ground turkey
  • 1 medium green bell pepper, small dice
  • 1/2 large sweet onion, small dice
  • 1/3 cup ketchup
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 1 T brown sugar
  • 1 T yellow mustard
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • 2 tsp garlic powder
  • salt and pepper
    several dashes of hot sauce

Instructions

  1. Heat butter and oil in large skillet over high heat.
  2. Add the onion and bell pepper, reduce heat to medium and saute for a few minutes until the vegetables have sweated.
  3. Turn the heat back up to high and add turkey. Break apart into crumbles and saute until the meat is no longer pink. Do not drain the meat/veggie mixture.
  4. Everything else in the pool. Mix well and simmer over low heat for around 15 minutes.
  5. I hope you remembered to defrost some buns.

Makes enough for 4 large or 6 smaller sandwiches if you know what I mean and I think you do.

Update 07.29.20

During a recent conversation with my favorite nephew in the United States I happened to mention the kid cookbook that went missing.  The Boss picked up on my error and was rather quick to correct me.

“Is this the book we don’t have anymore?”

img_2073

As a matter of fact yes it is.  Naturally I had to find the Joe recipe.

img_2074

So there you have it.  Proof of the original Joe recipe that I used to start the kids on their own lifelong love of cooking.  Next Gen up will make recipes from this cookbook too.

And yet another reason why my wife of way too many years is The Boss.

 

Badass Black Eyed Peas

chili madness

I make black eyed peas once a year for New Year’s Day.  For good luck and good leftovers.  Every year I always say to myself,

“Self.  You need to write the recipe down.”

And each and every year I forget.  This year however is different.  A friend asked for the recipe.  So I actually sat my butt down into my chair and started writing.  I think my 2020 version of this recipe is better than in years gone by.  But I can’t be absolutely certain because I never wrote down any other versions of this annual bean concoction.  What I am certain of is the 2020 version is Badass.

Before we get to the recipe there’s a few odd tips and tricks you need to know.

  • The beans needs to simmer for several hours.
  • The beans get an overnight soak in filtered water and you will change the water several times.
  • Everyone in the pool.  I don’t cook the beans separately for this dish.
  • Unlike other chili recipes this recipe has hints of chili.  Don’t try to make this a chili because it’s not chili.

So now that you know not to call these beans a chili here’s how to make it Badass.

4 slices center cut bacon
1 T extra virgin olive oil
1 medium sweet onion, diced
1 stalk celery, diced
1 large green pepper, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp each oregano, smoked paprika, chili powder
1 T Mexican oregano
1 T cumin
1 qt low sodium chicken broth
3 T tomato paste
1 lb black eyed peas
1 lb ground turkey 85/15
Salt & pepper to taste
Cayenne pepper to taste

  1. Place the dried beans into a stock pot large enough to hold the beans when fully plumped up.  Rinse the beans with water several times.  Fill the pot with fresh water and soak overnight.
  2. In the morning drain then add fresh water to the beans. Change the soaking water at least twice.
  3. In a large stock pot fry the bacon in the olive oil until the strips are crisp and the fat is rendered.
  4. Saute the onion, celery, and green pepper until softened about five minutes.  Add the garlic and saute another minute.
  5. Add the turkey and brown, breaking up the clumps as you go.
  6. Toss everything else into the pool.  Spices, tomato paste, broth, and beans.
  7. The black eyed peas should be drained and the chicken broth needs to barely cover all of the ingredients.
  8. Bring to a boil then simmer for several hours with the pot partially covered.
  9. Check the pot and stir occasionally.  Add more broth as the peas cook and the dish thickens.
  10. Serve with grated cheese, sour cream, and your favorite hot sauce.
  11. Yum.  Makes about 10-12 servings.

More odd tips

Don’t add salt until the beans are cooked through and soft.  There is plenty of salt in the chili powder and broth so salt last.  As you adjust the seasonings you may want to add more chili powder and/or oregano.  I tend to use garlic powder (my less than top secret favorite flavor enhancer).

This dish tastes better on day two.

Texas Corn Bread of course.

This recipe is not in the book pictured above.  But I like the cover and I’m hoping the author gets the hint.

For my vegan and vegetarian readers this dish is neither vegan nor vegetarian.  Feel free to make your own veggie version with a nice organic vegetable or mushroom broth.

Turkey Meatloaf

By now you know the story: I never ate meatloaf growing up and rarely, if ever, made meatloaf when the kids were kids.  Funny things happen to you when you work from home.  I’ve learned how to take short mini-breaks of about five minutes to do prep work for dinner.  It helps to give yourself brain breaks during the workday and you also get a head start on dinner.  You reduce eye strain and the risk for carpal tunnel syndrome.  And did I mention you get a head start on dinner?  So the other week I found myself staring at a package of ground turkey that I found on sale, wondering what to make for dinner.

Meatloaf!  I went with a recipe that I sort of recalled from watching too many Food Network shows and stuff I had in the fridge.  Mirepoix (onions, carrots, and celery) formed the base of the flavor profile.  Thyme pairs well with turkey.  I was set to go.

Turkey Meatloaf

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 stalks celery diced

2 carrots diced
1 onion, diced
2 teaspoons (about 3 cloves) chopped garlic
1 1/4 pounds ground turkey
2 eggs
3/4 cup bread crumbs, Panko
1/2 cup grated Parmesan

1/4 cup ketchup
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon dried thyme
1 tablespoon dried parsley leaves
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Heat 1 tablespoon of the olive oil in a medium saute pan over medium heat and add the carrots, onions, celery, and garlic. Saute until just soft, remove to a large mixing bowl and cool.
  3. When the vegetables are cool, combine all of the remaining ingredients together.
  4. Form the meat mixture into a brain shaped loaf in an oiled oven tray or baking dish.
  5. Bake for approximately 60 minutes. Remove from the oven and let rest for 5 minutes. Slice and serve.

Tips –

If you have the loaf in the fridge for any amount of time prior to baking, take the meatloaf out of the fridge for at least 30 minutes before baking.  Bringing the meatloaf back to near room temperature reduces the possibility of under-cooking your dinner.  Do not use ground turkey breast.   There is not enough fat and your meatloaf will turn out dry.  Regular plain old ground turkey is a mixture of white and dark meat, skin, and fat.  Trust me, it tastes better.

Mashed potatoes is mandatory.  You can add a vegetable or salad and no one will care.  But mashed is mandatory.

This meatloaf makes great leftovers for sandwiches.

  

Italian Meatloaf

Italian Meatloaf

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 red pepper, seeded, small dice
1 onion, diced
2 teaspoons (about 3 cloves) chopped garlic
2 pounds ground beef (or 1 pound ground turkey and 1 pound beef)
2 eggs
3/4 cup bread crumbs (Italian or Panko)
1 cup grated Parmesan
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons chopped basil leaves
1 tablespoon chopped parsley leaves
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Heat 1 tablespoon of the olive oil in a medium saute pan over medium heat and add the peppers, onions and garlic. Saute until just soft, remove to a plate and cool.
  3. When the peppers and onions are cool, combine all of the remaining ingredients together.
  4. Form the meat mixture into 2 loaf (brain) shapes on an oiled oven tray or baking dish.
  5. Bake for approximately 50 to 60 minutes or until an instant-read thermometer registers 160 degrees F in the middle of the meatloaf. Remove from the oven and let rest for 5 minutes. Slice and serve.

 

When the kids were little I never made meatloaf.  They hated meatloaf.  When I was growing up as a kid my parents never made meatloaf.  I hated meatloaf.

Time passes, people change, tastes change.  I guess decades of going meatloaf-less made me want meatloaf more.  I only started making meatloaf when MedFed began.  MedFed is the code name for meals that freeze well that can be defrosted, heated up, and eaten by time starved medical school students who would quite frankly probably eat anything you put in front of them.  The only problem with my new found meatloaf craving was finding the perfect recipe.

This recipe is adapted from the Food Network’s Michael Chiarello.  It’s tasty, simple, and hearty.  Serve this up with some loaded mashed potatoes and a green vegetable.

TIP – The recipe will make two meatloaves.  There’s nothing better than a cold meatloaf sandwich the next day.  I’ve also heard rumors that you can chop up this leftover meatloaf, heat it up in some marinara sauce, and serve over pasta.  Sounds like something a medical school student would do.

Substituting dried for fresh herbs is OK.  I usually make this with a mixture of beef and turkey.  85/15 is good.  Don’t use ground turkey breast, use regular ground turkey.