My original post dates back to 2012, the very early days of Culinary Zest. This past week, I made a batch of this favourite recipe and it made me think it was time to update the original post a bit. The original was lacking in photographs and I felt like it was time to give it a little makeover! Take some time to give my original post a little more of my personal touch and improve a bit on what I consider a great recipe that is highly adaptable.
To this day, this remains one of my staples and I still love it 🙂
I recently made a batch of Sloppy Joes Made Healthy this past week. It reminded me how much I love this recipe and how I have gone on to make it more my own but playing with the ingredients that I add. I usually have chickpeas on hand, canned as well as dried. I don’t have other beans around a lot of the time, so chickpeas has been my go-to bean for this recipe. This week extra lean ground beef was on sale, I substituted this for the ground chicken/turkey.
I couldn’t land my hands on fresh jalapeno at the store to save my life this week. Long red finger chili peppers took their place. I don’t often have worcestershire sauce in my cupboards, I just use soy sauce, but the shock and horror was I discovered I was all out! Me without a bottle of Soy sauce is like me forgetting to breath. I use it that much! I did happen to have a bottle of Ponzu sauce, in it went instead.
I used raw sugar for the brown sugar, though you don’t really need to add this, but I feel like it does add a little something in balancing out all the flavours. Kinda in line with a sour salty sweet balance deal. You don’t need a lot. I often start with a fraction of what I need, taste and see if that’s all it takes to hit the right note.
I also used about a tablespoon of 100% virgin cold-pressed coconut oil to sautee everything up in. I’ve been in love with good coconut oil for over a year now. I can’t get enough of this stuff! My favourite brand to date has been the Kelapo brand. I have used coconut oil to cook with, to take my makeup off with, to moisturize with and even used it in my hair. I have separate containers that I use to put some coconut oil in when I buy a new jar. I have one on my bedside table and in my bathroom. Yah, I would say I’m pretty crazy for the stuff!
I’ve been hard pressed lately to lay my hands on some Kelapo without it costing what I think is an arm and a leg 🙂 Recently, I picked up some President’s Choice coconut oil on sale, it was a really good deal, like $4 dollars or so off, so I decided to bite the coconut and give it a try. I have to say this stuff comes in a close second to my fav Kelapo. It has that great coconut smell and taste that I adoreeeeeeeeeeeee. Like seriously, I open this jar up, give it a good long sniff and just smile from ear to ear. I don’t know what it is, but I loveeeeeeee coconut. I also have a thing for a good coconut milk/cream based curry, so it doesn’t really surprise me all that much!
This go around, after I was done whipping up a batch of Sloppy Joes Made Healthy, I had some extra diced tomato on hand so I just tossed it on top of my sloppy joe. Never waste good food I say!
I also had the chance to start using my new food photography backgrounds that I created last week. I’ve been really happy with them and think they turned out pretty darn good! It’s the little things 🙂
I have a stand-by recipe that I always turn to when I need something fast, delicious and nutritious, I make Sloppy Joes made healthy, a modern twist on an old classic. The recipe I use comes from one of many cookbooks by the Podleski sisters, Janet and Greta, called LooneySpoons, which was their first cookbook.
“Tidy Joes“ is a staple in my home, as it is fast and tastes so much better than anything you could make from a can or packet of seasoning mix. Janet and Greta describe it as “Sloppy Joe’s wholesome and healthy cousin, Tidy, from down south.” I often play around with this recipe depending on what staples I have on hand, I don’t always stick to the recipe 100%. If I don’t have something that is in the recipe, I substitute something that I think will take its place nicely and without altering the overall taste of the recipe.
The following recipe is taken from Janet and Greta Podleski’s cookbook “LooneySpoons” and is found on page 170, give it a try some night. I adapt this recipe as I need to, I’ve included some of my own suggestions for such adaptations in the original recipe, please feel free to make your own!
- 1 pound lean ground chicken or turkey (skinless)
- ½ cup chopped onions
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- ½ cup chopped celery
- ¼ cup grated carrot
- 1 cup cooked romano or pinto beans, mashed (I've substituted other canned beans for these, including chickpeas, they all work well)
- 1 cup cooked brown or white rice
- 1 cup diced tomato (if you don't have any, add extra ketchup, works great)
- ⅔ cup ketchup
- ½ cup chopped green onions
- 2 jalapeno peppers, seeded and minced (omit these if you have someone that dislikes a bit of heat, it doesn't affect the overall taste)
- 2 tablespoons white vinegar
- 1 tablespoon each "lite" Worcestershire sauce and brown sugar (if you don't have Worcestershire sauce, substitute soy sauce, works for me)
- 1-1/2 teaspoons chili powder
- 1 teaspoon each ground cumin and prepared mustard
- ½ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes ( can be omitted without affecting taste)
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper
- 8 hamburger rolls or soft Kaisers (substitute any bread you have on hand, toasted sandwich bread works great)
- Using a nice sized skillet, brown the ground meat with the onions, garlic, celery and grated carrot, the recipe calls for a medium-high heat, stir often and break up any large chunks of meat so that it is all a fairly uniform size, this should take several minutes, if there is any extra fat after it is browned you can drain off the excess fat.
- Add the remaining ingredients to the browned meat and vegetables, stir well so that it is all well incorporated, you can add additional ingredients/seasonings at this point, to suit your palate, if the mixture looks too dry, add some extra ketchup or other liquid till it looks right to you. Cover the skillet and allow to simmer for at least 10 minutes, check on it during this time and give it a stir now and then to make sure it is not sticking to the bottom of the pan.
- After the initial 10 minutes are up, taste and see if you are happy with the balance of seasoning, add anything you think it needs, you want it to be on the thick side so you can spoon it onto the buns or whatever bread you are using. I've used toasted bread slices in place of the buns, use what you have on hand. If it is not thick enough at the end of the 10 minutes cooking time, allow it to continue to cook uncovered till it thickens to your liking.
It’s a great recipe and lends itself well to playing around with ingredients, remove items you dislike or don’t have on hand and replace with something else. The best part of cooking is learning to experiment with your recipes. Recipes aren’t carved in stone, play with them, try different things, improve them and make them your own!