Aug 27, 2014

Sloppy Jo'tatoes!



What do you get when you make some sweet-and-smoky Sloppy Joe filling, and pile it on top of a loaded baked potato? A Sloppy Jo'tato!

One of our favorite things to eat in Kansas City is the "Barbecue Baked Potato," a loaded baked potato topped with pulled pork at Fiorella's Jack Stack Barbecue, and that was part of the inspiration for this dish.

This would make a great family-friendly dinner, or a creative addition to a baked potato bar for a party or cook-out.

Sloppy Jo'tatoes Recipe

2 servings

1 or 2 russet potatoes
1 batch of Emergency BBQ Sauce
1/2 medium yellow onion, chopped
1/2 lb. ground beef
optional toppings: butter, shredded cheese, sour cream, chives or green onions

1. Bake your potato(es) however you usually do. (I used one large potato split between my husband and me. You could use one whole potato per person, if you like.) My method is to prick, butter, and salt the outside, then bake directly on the middle oven rack at 450 F for about 45 minutes.

2. Meanwhile, mix up a batch of my Emergency BBQ Sauce. Let it mellow over low heat while you complete the rest of the dish. (Or use about 1 cup of your favorite bottled sauce. But watch out for corn syrup and other nasty chemicals!)

3. Ten or so minutes before the potatoes are due to be done, saute the onion till translucent, then brown the ground beef in a large skillet. Drain off the excess fat, then add the BBQ sauce into the meat mixture -- just until it gets as saucy as you like it. Stir it together, and taste to adjust seasoning if necessary. Keep that mixture over low heat till your potatoes are ready.

4. Check your potatoes to make sure they're done. If not, a bit of time in the microwave might help finish them off. When done, split them open, mash slightly with a fork, and top as you like with butter, shredded cheddar or cheddar-jack cheese, and the Sloppy Joe mix. Then continue to top -- as you wish -- with sour cream, and chopped chives or green onions.

Not too happy with the photo I got,
but the taste more than made up for it!
Mmm-mmm-mm!

Here is nutritional info (via myfitnesspal.com) for one serving, based on using one large potato for two people, and only using about 2/3 of the BBQ sauce. Oh, and I also cut the sugar in the sauce from 1/4 c. of brown sugar to 2 T. of maple syrup.

Nutrition Facts
Servings 2.0
Amount Per Serving
Calories 448
% Daily Value *
Total Fat 21 g33 %
Saturated Fat 12 g59 %
Monounsaturated Fat 7 g
Polyunsaturated Fat 1 g
Trans Fat 0 g
Cholesterol 135 mg45 %
Sodium 377 mg16 %
Potassium 977 mg28 %
Total Carbohydrate 28 g9 %
Dietary Fiber 2 g9 %
Sugars 11 g
Protein 36 g73 %
Vitamin A8 %
Vitamin C30 %
Calcium7 %
Iron25 %




Aug 24, 2014

Summer tomatoes, how do I love thee?

On BLT's, oven-dried, oven-roasted, in a sauce...


I had some less-than-stellar farmstand beefsteak tomatoes last week taking up space in my fridge. Actually, just several slices from one large tomato. The flavor was only so-so in the BLT's we'd sliced them for, but I was reluctant to throw them out, so there they sat.

Then something (probably something on Pinterest) made me think of oven-dried tomatoes. Which are basically sun-dried tomatoes, with more control and fewer bugs.


Tried it: uh, YUM!

Below are links to several recipes, but since most of them call for Roma or cherry tomatoes, I was kind of improvising. The first one on the list is the process that I more-or-less followed. Here's mine:

  • oven preheated to 200 F
  • large tomato, sliced into 1/4" slices
  • seeds and the jelly around them poked out and set aside
  • tomato slices on a cooling rack; rack nestled in my favorite baking sheet
  • checked after a couple hours.

Because mine were thin and mostly jelly-less, they dried out pretty quickly. In two or three hours, some of them were already crispy. So crispy, in fact, that the pieces with a fair amount of peel were like super-tomatoey potato chips. And the tart, intense flavor? Hugely improved over the disappointing fresh version. I chowed down! (Hubs thought they tasted kinda burnt, but I thought they tasted great! Maybe he just got a bad one.) I'll probably try some more next week, to see if I can recreate that great accident.
Oven-dried tomatoes from About.com
> Oven-dried tomatoes from Food Network
> Oven-dried tomatoes from Tomato Dirt

I mentioned that I had poked out the juices/goop from the slices before baking. One of the recipes I read mentioned "tomato water;" never heard of that, so I googled it. One "recipe" required a food processor, cheesecloth, and eight hours. But I wasn't up for that, so I just took the goop, seeds and liquid and poured the whole mess through a sieve. It yielded about a couple tablespoons of tomato-pink liquid. There wasn't enough of it to use in a recipe, but I tasted it -- then added a wee bit of salt -- and tasted it again, and it was delish! I can see it being a great liquid to poach fish in, or to put up in the freezer to add a little genuine summer taste to a winter marinara or soup.

About tomato water, from Bon Appetit
About tomato water, from New York Times

Also, if you want something a little less dehydrated, here's a recipe for roasted tomatoes, which just takes them to a concentrated but still fairly moist stage. I haven't tried this method, but if I did, I would make them without the herbs, to make them more versatile. 
Oven-roasted tomatoes from Kalyn's Kitchen

Aug 21, 2014

3 hours on the weekend, 10 meals for the week!

Minimizing prep time for dinner by combining two nights of prep is something I've had in mind to write about here, but just haven't gotten to it. Then I found out about a Columbia University student who has this concept completely nailed!

Wow! So impressed by this guy. He's pursuing a PhD in Electrical Engineering, which has got to keep his schedule busy. But every weekend, he takes a few hours to prep and package five lunches and five dinners for the upcoming week.


And this is no tuna casserole or hamburger surprise! His meals feature things like lemon tilapia, roasted carrots, mashed sweet potatoes with honey and cinnamon, Cajun rice.

I have got in the habit of keeping my freezer stashed with healthy homemade burritos, and even though I eat them almost every weekday -- with lapses for leftovers or lunch out with a friend -- I don't get tired of it. I love how easy and thought-less it is to just grab one and pop it in the microwave. And it's been part of the bigger effort that's enabled me to lose more than 20 pounds in the last few months! I will write about that here some day.

But for now, check out Sean's plan. Get the whole story (and a couple recipes) here.