Sloppy Joes

Today we had a big storm, with lots of thunder and lightning and an inch of rain. It was a good evening for Sloppy Joes, so that’s what we had! I found a recipe in a cookbook, but then the more I looked at it the more ideas I had…so this recipe is actually my own creation. I hope you enjoy it as much as we did!

Ingredients:

-1 T olive oil
-1/2 c onion, diced
-1/2 c sweet pepper, diced
-1 stalk celery, diced
1 lb. ground beef
1 1/2 c tomato product*
1/4 c water
1/4 c ketchup
1 T worcestershire sauce

6 rolls, split (I used the rolls from my pizza dough recipe)
12 thin slices of sharp cheddar cheese

*tomato product: you can use tomato sauce, spaghetti sauce, leftover chili, salsa, or whatever you have and is convenient. One of the great things about Sloppy Joes is how flexible they are. This evening I had a quart jar of homemade salsa I wanted to use up, so I put in 1 1/2 c of that. It made for a wonderful flavor base and I would definitely do it again! Just keep in mind that the texture of your finished product will change depending on what you put in.

Directions:

Sauté onion, celery, and pepper in oil in a large skillet over medium heat. When they are cooked to desired softness (remember they will cook a little more in the final stage), pour into a bowl and set aside. Brown ground beef in skillet with a little water, breaking into small pieces. Add vegetables back in, along with the tomato, water, ketchup, and worcestershire sauce. Bring to a simmer and cook until it reaches desired consistency. Since I used salsa and the mixture wasn’t very watery, I cooked it over low heat to blend flavors, but didn’t leave it on very long as it didn’t need to cook down.

Toast the buns cut side up. I served them with a little butter on the bun, sloppy joe, then a slice of cheese on top. I also made french fries with potatoes from our garden, and we had peach pie and homemade ice cream for dessert. What an evening!

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Pizza Dough

I love making pizza dough because there are so many things I can do with it: pizza, of course…but also stromboli, hotdog and hamburger buns, pigs-in-a-blanket, and pizza balls. I made a double batch a few days ago for pigs in a blanket, and today I’m using the rest to make pizza balls. Last week I made mozzarella cheese, so I’m fully expecting them to be extra delicious! But the base of it all is the dough, so here you go:

Ingredients:

-1 pkg (2 1/2 t) active dry yeast
-1 t sugar
-1 c warm water
-2 1/2 c flour
-2 T olive oil
-1 t salt

Directions:

In a large bowl (I put everything straight into my kitchenaid mixer bowl), dissolve yeast and sugar in warm water and let stand for about 10 minutes in a warm place. Add oil and salt, mix well, then add flour. I add a cup, beat it, add another cup, beat it, then add the final half cup and knead for about 5 minutes. The final dough should be very slightly sticky to touch, but hold its shape. Oil the bowl and cover with a warm, damp paper towel. Let it rise until double, about one hour. (I like to turn the oven on to 350°F for about 1 minute, then turn it off and put the dough in. That gets the environment warm, and the closed door holds the heat in and keeps drafts out. Just make sure not to leave the oven on too long; if it is too hot it will kill the yeast and the dough won’t rise.)

When the dough is about doubled, take it out and punch it down. From there, use your imagination!

Makes 1 large round pizza, 12 pigs in a blanket, an 8×8 pan of pizza balls, a dozen rolls, or 1 stromboli.

***I frequently double this recipe and put half the dough in the refrigerator for use a few days later on another meal. It also can be frozen for longer storage–just thaw completely at room temperature before using.