Who recalls eating a Sloppy Joe as a child? I am not sure if my mom recalls making these for my sisters and I, but I sure do. I bet my sisters do too. It was the type of meal that was so easy for mom to whip up during a busy week of running around with 4 daughters. She sure kept busy carpooling us to sports like tennis and swimming. We also had camp and hanging out at the pool on days we didn’t have practice, tennis matches or swim meets. Somedays we did all of these activities. Wow, I am exhausted just thinking about all of that activity! I don’t know how she did it with all of us girls everyday. I also don’t know how she got dinner on the table every night after all that running around, but somehow she did. Maybe it had something to do with creating simple meals like the Sloppy Joe sandwich. But, heck, what was easier than browning some meat and pouring a can of sloppy joe mix into it and throwing it on a bun? Or if you were feeling adventurous, you could use a seasoning packet, a can of paste and a little water. Honestly, we didn’t care how she made it, we just knew that we loved it. So, on nights when my mom would say it was a Sloppy Joe night, we all got excited.
Turn the clock ahead a few years (I wont say how many) to 2016 and here I am now carpooling my 2 kids all over the place to sports, to friend’s houses or to camp. I find myself always looking for easy & quick weeknight meals to create. Not only do I like to create dishes that are quick and easy, I look for ways to add healthier ingredients. Most importantly, I want to create meals that my family will enjoy. I wish I could just serve my kids all the delicious veggies available to us. But, let’s face it, kids can be picky and I have 2 of them to feed. Last thing I want after a long, busy day is me begging them to try their veggies. If you are like me, I love it when I can create a recipe that I can sneak in some healthy ingredients without my kids even knowing it. I usually fess up to it by the time they finish their meal and after they have told me several times how much they loved it. Sometimes, I sit there watching them eat and think “if they only knew what I put in there”!! Oh, someday they will be in my shoes and they will finally understand. Funny story, I made homemade pirogies one night and filled them with a mushroom mixture. I told my kids it was a steak mixture. Guess what? they not only ate it but absolutely LOVED it!!!
Ok, back to Sloppy Joes. Nowadays, you will find all different types of recipes for this sandwich and after all these years, it is still a Sloppy Joe. It sure lives up to its name, “Sloppy”! As you take a bite into the sandwich, the meat spills out onto your plate. The extra meat that spills onto your plate was always great to scoop up with some chips. Don’t have chips, don’t worry. A fork will do just fine to scoop up anything that falls off that bun. No Sloppy Joe meat leftover on our plates.
My Sloppy Joe has a somewhat savory yet sweet taste and is a hardy meal with the addition of the sautéed veggies and fire roasted tomatoes. Mushrooms are a fantastic addition. Not only do they add some nice flavor once browned, they also take on the same texture as the meat so they are very easy to disguise. My family loves to add a slice of cheese to the bottom half of the roll. I have found that toasting the inside of the roll and adding the cheese helps to keep the bun from getting too soggy. The kids love a simple hamburger bun with their Sloppy Joe. My husband and I enjoy a nice Onion Roll with ours. The flavor of the onion roll compliments the sandwich, it stands up to the meat mixture very well, plus it looks nice. I will tell you something; there is nothing better than making these Sloppy Joes from scratch. They are quick & easy and my version uses fresh ingredients. The best part, I love that my kids devour and enjoy this sandwich as much as I did when I was a kid. Hopefully they can tell their kids someday about their fond memories of their mom making Sloppy Joes (from scratch)!
Dee’s Sloppy Joe
Makes approx. 8-10 Servings
1 lb., Ground Meat (80/20)
1 Tablespoon, Olive Oil
1 Tablespoon, Butter
1 White Onion, chopped
2 small Carrots, finely chopped
1 Celery Stalk, finely chopped
6 Larger, Mushrooms, finely chopped *used Cremini (baby Bellas) in this recipe
3 Garlic Cloves, finely minced
1 Teaspoon, Garlic Salt
1 Teaspoon, Onion Powder
1 Teaspoon, Chili Powder
1 Teaspoon, Cumin
1/2 Teaspoon, Paprika
1 Can (14.5 oz.), Fire Roasted Tomatoes
1 Can (6 oz.), Tomato Paste
1 1/2 Cans, Water (use the tomato paste can)
Several good dashes, Worcestershire Sauce
1/4 Cup, Ketchup
3 Tablespoons, Brown Sugar
Fresh Rolls *(I like to use a nice Onion Roll)
Heat a cast iron skillet on the stove over medium heat. Once the pan is nice and hot, add the olive oil and butter. Once the butter melts, add the onion. Sauté for about 5 minutes and then add the carrots, celery and mushrooms. Cook until they start to get tender, another 5 minutes or so. Season with S&P and add the fresh minced garlic. Cook for about another minute.
While the veggies are sautéing, chop up the can of fire roasted tomatoes. You can leave these whole if you like. My kids prefer that I chop them up finer so I place them into my mini food chopper and almost puree them.
Once the veggie mixture is nice and tender, add the Ground Meat to the mixture and stir well. Using a wooden spoon or spatula, break up the meat into smaller pieces. Cook just until meat is browned then add the Worcestershire sauce. Season the meat with the S&P, Garlic Salt, Onion Powder, Chili Powder, Cumin and mix well. Stir in the brown sugar. Once everything is nicely combined, add the fire roasted tomatoes, tomato paste, water, ketchup and stir until all ingredients together.
Turn heat to low and simmer for about 5 minutes. You should have a nice, thick mixture. If it is too thick you can always add a little more water.
Toast up the buns (I usually just toast the inside of our rolls by laying them flat on top of our toaster). You can also grill them in a grill pan. Place some of the Sloppy Joe mixture onto each roll and serve. Our family likes to add a piece of American Cheese to the bottom of the roll before adding the meat to the sandwich. That also helps to keep the rolls from getting too soggy and falling apart.
That is it! This is such a quick and easy meal to make. The little kids and big kids (a.k.a. adults) love these! They are so delicious when you make them homemade.