Twenty Minute Homemade Sloppy Joes…..

It is that time of year when there just isn’t loads of extra time to spend in the kitchen.  I do not make this meal often enough for my people as they go nuts when I make them!  So simple.   I make my Sloppy Joes with ground turkey and a few basic ingredients.  Since your family will love this, double or triple the recipe and freeze it for a couple of other quick weeknight meals.  You’ll be so happy you did!

If you REALLY want to drive ’em crazy make these.  My Oven French Fries  are sure to please and they actually taste like a real potato…imagine that!  They take a bit more effort than opening a bag (which I am certainly not above!) but will be well worth it!

Homemade Sloppy Joes

1 1/2 lbs. ground turkey*
2 teaspoons vegetable oil
1 medium onion, finely diced
4 cloves fresh garlic, finely minced
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1 tablespoon chili powder, or more to your taste
1 6 ounce can of tomato paste
3 tablespoons brown sugar
2 cups water
8 hamburger buns

1)  Heat a large heavy skillet over medium heat.  Add the oil.  Add the ground meat to to the hot skillet and add the onion garlic and salt and pepper.  Cook until the meat is cooked through.
2)   Add the chili powder, tomato paste and the brown sugar.  Stir the mixture to incorporate the ingredients into the meat.  Add the water all at once.  Simmer for about 10 minutes or until you’ve achieved the right consistency for the saucy meat to to onto a bun.  Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary.  Makes 8 happy, smiley, and very much appreciated servings.

There you go.  An easy, delicious and healthy dinner for your family that everyone will LOVE.

Have a great weekend!


*you can substitute beef for the turkey meat.  I would suggest cooking the beef all the way through and then draining off any excess fat before adding the rest of the ingredients.

Great Northern Bean Soup with Homemade Italian Chicken Sausage…..

Great northern beans are a lovely, mild white bean.  Soak them over night to make for quicker cooking the next day.  For an extra creamy textured soup, puree a couple of cups after the beans have fully cooked or use an immersion blender for a few seconds.  Use a small amount of chicken sausage (recipe below) as the flavor goes a long way.

Great Northern Bean Soup with Homemade Chicken Sausage

1 lb. dried great northern beans, soaked over night, drained and rinsed
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 lb. homemade chicken Italian sausage (recipe below)
1 large sweet onion, diced (about 2 cups)
2 cups celery, cut into 1/2″ pieces
3 large cloves garlic, minced
2 cups carrots, cut into 1/2″ pieces
2 tablespoons dried or fresh parsley
2 teaspoons dried thyme
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper

1)  The night before cooking, sort through the beans to pick out any debris.  Place in a large cooking pot and cover with 2″ of water.  Allow to soak over night.
2)  The next day, drain and rinse the beans. 
3)  Into the large pot, add the olive oil and warm over medium-high heat.  Add the Italian sausage to the hot pan and cook through.  Add the onion and celery.  Cook for about 7 minutes.  Add the garlic, cook another minute.
4)  Add the carrots, parsley, thyme, salt, and pepper.  Add the beans to the pot and fill the pot with water to cover the beans 1″.  Cook over medium heat for 1-1 1/2 hours.  Stir often to prevent sticking.  Add additional water if the water cooks below the beans.  Once the beans are done,  taste.  Add additional seasoning if necessary.  Remove a couple of cups of hot soup and place in a blender or food processor.  Blend until smooth and add back to soup.  Makes about 8 one cup servings.

Baked Falafel Sliders with Yogurt Tahini Sauce…..

I now completely understand why these luscious cakes are fried.  Most often, I’ve had them fried until very dark brown.  I can only asssume that after working with my falafel mixture, it is needed to keep its shape.  That being said, I had to take an extra step in my preparation.  I found that when I only baked them, as I would most of my “oven fried” recipes, they were very soft and would not keep their shape very well.  I baked, allowed them to cool, then I pan fried them in a little olive oil.  This had a more favorable result.    Lightly crispy on the outside and tender and flavorful on the inside.  I loved them!

Here we go…

I used my food processor to blend the canned chick peas.  I’ve read recipes where you’re instructed to mash them with a spoon, seems difficult to me.   After you’ve processed the chick peas, add the rest of the falafel ingredients.  Process until well blended.  Refrigerate for at least an hour.

Non stick foil line a cookie sheet.  Pour about a tablespoon of olive oil over the sheet and spread with your hand to coat the whole sheet.  Preheat the oven to 375′.

For uniform cakes, I use a large ice cream or a cookie scoop. 

Scoop into your hand and shape into a small patty. 

Carefully dredge in bread crumbs.

Place on prepared cookie sheet.

Drizzle the tops with a small amount of olive oil.  (you can see that I made a huge recipe here, this recipe only makes 8)  Bake for 30 minutes.  Allow the cakes to cool for easier handeling.  Heat a skillet over medium heat and add a couple of tablespoons of olive oil.  Once the oil is very hot, add the cakes, be careful not to crowd, and brown on both sides. (3-4 minutes per side)  Serve inside a quartered pita bread with fresh cucumber, thinly sliced sweet onion, and tahini sauce.  Serve with a yummy tabbouleh salad.  Healthy and soooooo delicious!

Yogurt Tahini Sauce

½ cup tahini
2 cloves garlic, crushed
2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 tablespoons yogurt
¼ teaspoon salt
½ cup water


1 can chick peas, drained
1/2 large onion, coarsely chopped
2 tablespoons flat leaf parsley
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
3 large cloves fresh garlic, coarsely chopped
1 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon coriander
1 teaspoon baking power
2 tablespoons flour
1 tablespoon water
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1/2 cup unseasoned bread crumbs.
Olive oil for frying and to coat the cookie sheet

Pita bread, cut into quarters
1 medium cucumber, thinly sliced
1 small sweet onion, thinly sliced

1)  Whisk all yogurt tahini sauce ingredients together until well blended.  Refrigerate until you’re ready to serve.
2)  Place the chick peas into the food processor and process until smooth.  Add the rest of the ingredients and process until well blended.  Refrigerate for at least an hour.
3)  Preheat oven to 375′.  Non stick foil line a cookie sheet and add a couple of tablespoons of olive oil, spread over sheet to coat.
4)  Scoop out the dough using a 2 tablespoon cookie scoop.  Carefully shape into a small patty and coat with bread crumbs.  Place on the cookie sheet.  Drizzle with a small amount of olive oil.
5)  Bake for 30 minutes.  Remove from oven and allow to cool for about 20 minutes.
6)  Heat skillet over medium heat, add olive oil to coat the bottom of the pan, about 2 tablespoons.  When very hot, fry each falafel until nicely browned.  Allow to drain on a paper towel lined plate.  Serve with pita bread, tahini sauce, fresh sliced sweet onion, and fresh cucumber.  Makes 8 falafel.  Serves 4.

*for an interesting appetizer, use a small cookie scoop and make them bite size.  Serve with the yogurt tahini sauce for dipping.

Louisiana Red Beans and Rice, My Version

One word…delicious.  I actually made this recipe with dried red beans, however, cooking time was about five hours!  As previously mentioned, sometimes the beans have been on the shelf awhile and require extra cooking time.   I made a very time saving modification and used canned red beans, equally delicious.  When using canned beans, it is best to drain and rinse as there is a HUGE amount of sodium in the liquid.

Most red beans and rice recipes add the rice right to the beans.  I think it best to serve the beans over rice.  I find that when the rice is added to the beans the rice absorbs all of the flavorful liquid, leftovers dry out.   Make a double batch and freeze for later.  Remember to label and date.

Make this with our without the sausage.  There is quite a bit of ingredient used for seasoning.  One of which is not on my pantry list, but will be going forward.  It’s Liquid Smoke and I love it.  This adds amazing smokey flavor to any dish.  The beans are very hearty so you would not miss the sausage.

Here we go:

You will need a medium diced onion, and a small red, yellow, and green pepper, all diced.  We’ve got a nice healthy start, don’t we?  Heat a large heavy pot over medium heat and add 2 tablespoons of olive oil.  Add the veggies to the pot.

Add  a cup of diced parsley with the leaves.  The leaves add a lovely mild flavor…
You’ll need a serrano chili.  They’re small and quite hot, but we’re only adding one to the pot.  Unless you remove the seeds and membrane, it’ll blow your head off!  I use gloves when handling hot peppers.
Carefully slice the pepper in half.
Using a spoon or a small knife, carefully remove the seeds and membrane.
Finely dice the peppers and add to the pot.
Once the pepper and onions are soft, add three large cloves of minced garlic, cook about one minute.
Add 3 cups of stock.  If you have some homemade stock, go ahead and use it.  If not, you can also use my favorite back up, Better Than Bouillon.  Use 1 teaspoon per one cup of water. 
Add two cans of drained and rinsed red beans and a can of vegetarian refried beans.  The refried beans will thicken the liquid giving it nice body.
Now for the seasonings….you’ll need sweet or smoked paprika, bay leaves, balsamic vinegar, liquid smoke, low sodium soy sauce, molasses, tomato paste, and a small amount of sherry at the very end.  These all go in the pot (except for the sherry) and allow to simmer, uncovered,  for 30 minutes.  Stir often to prevent sticking.  Add additional water if your beans are too thick.

Add the sliced sausage and the sherry, simmer another 10-15 additional minutes. 

I did not add any additional salt, as there is plenty of sodium in the soy sauce and bouillon.  If you use your own unseasoned chicken stock, you may have to add a small amount more salt.  Season to taste.
Red Beans and Rice with Spicy Smoked Sausage

2 cups (uncooked) brown or white rice, cooked according to package instructions (4 cups cooked)
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 small red bell pepper, seeded and diced
1 small yellow pepper, seeded and diced
1 small green pepper, seeded and diced
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1 cup celery and leaves, finely chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 small Serrano chili, seeded and minced
3 cups or more vegetable or chicken stock
2 15 ounce cans red beans, drained and rinsed
1 15 ounce can vegetarian refried beans
1 teaspoon liquid smoke
2 bay leaves
2 teaspoons smoked or sweet paprika
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
3 tablespoons low sodium soy sauce
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 tablespoon molasses
12-16 ounce package cooked smokey or spicy sausage, cut into ¼” diagonal pieces
1 tablespoons sherry

1) Heat a large soup pot over medium heat and add olive oil. Once oil is hot, add the red, yellow, and green peppers, onions, and celery. Cook for about 10 minutes or until vegetables are soft. Add the garlic and the Serrano chili, cook another minute.
2) Add the chicken stock, the red beans, and refried beans to the pot. Stir until the refried beans have dissolved in the liquid.
3) Add the liquid smoke through the molasses. Simmer over medium heat for 30 minutes, stir often.
4) Add the sausage and sherry, simmer another 10 minutes.  Remove bay leaves.  Makes about eight servings. Serve over ½ cup of rice.

*serve with hot sauce if you wish.
*for vegetarian, simply omit the sausage and use vegetable stock.