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Sunday, March 28, 2010

face off: sloppy joes vs. sloppy sams

picture from

we spent Christmas with my in-laws in UT this year. when all of the family (my hubby is one of 7, so this means lots of people) got together right before Christmas, my husband requested a main course on the 23rd of sloppy joes as an easy and delicious way to feed so many hungry mouths. my hubby's little sister and her husband are vegetarians, so i thought i'd make a complimentary vegetarian version that i'd made before to please both halves of the crowd. i liked having them both there as kind of a "face off". here was, in my opinion, the results of said face off:
  • sloppy joes - traditional recipe, canned sauce, made with ground beef. i usually like them okay, but since i had the below alternative i couldn't even stomach the joes in comparison.
  • sloppy sams - lentils, homemade sauce, sweetened with molasses and brown sugar. simply amazing. i can eat this stuff with a spoon, no bun required.
winner? clearly, the sloppy sams take home the award. cheaper, appease my lentil obsession and way healthier than the traditional joes. put them to the test in your house and let me know if they pass!

sloppy sams
4 big servings
modified from, specifically here

3 cups chicken broth
1 cup lentils, rinsed
1 cup chopped onion
a dash of olive oil
1 15 oz can petite diced tomatoes
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 (6 oz) can tomato paste
1/2 cup ketchup
1 teaspoon ground mustard
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 1/2 tablespoons molasses (use all brown sugar if you don't have it)
1 1/2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 dash worchestershire sauce
salt and pepper to taste
4 hamburger buns

  1. combine broth and lentils in a saucepan. bring to a boil over high heat, then reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer until tender, about 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  2. meanwhile, cook onions with the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat until the onions have softened and turned translucent, about 4 minutes. add tomatoes and garlic, and cook for 5 minutes. stir in tomato paste, ketchup, mustard powder, chili powder, molasses and Worcestershire sauce; simmer 5 to10 minutes until thickened.
  3. drain lentils and reserve cooking liquid (i never have any liquid to drain). stir lentils into sauce mixture, adding cooking liquid or water as needed to obtain the desired "sloppy joe" consistency. serve on buns.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

honey lime enchiladas

picture straight from the source - the sisters cafe

there are few things i love more than enchiladas. my husband loves to tell the story of how i ate 1/2 a 13x9in pan of these little numbers one night. it's true. i really did. i love enchiladas.

i fed these honey lime enchiladas to my parents and grandparents (and my little family) and they took home rave reviews all the way around (except for my dad who thinks nothing sweet should ever touch meat). seriously some of the best enchiladas i've ever had. mmm....

my only change - i used monterrey jack and cheddar instead of mozzarella and cheddar. here they are - enjoy!

Thursday, March 11, 2010

a burger for the health minded

skinny-bovine confession (i'm discovering i have lots of these): there is nothing, i mean nothing, i love more than a good cheeseburger and french fries. or even a bad one really. i love the $1 double stack at wendy's and that is clearly not a fabulous burger.

these black bean burgers i found on sharon's blog (which she found on culinary in the country/desert) are almost better than a real beef burger. they are seriously that good. see the look on my face. sheer heaven, people. we devoured them on our new favorite find - ciabatta buns from wal-mart (6 for $2.50). i would eat anything that comes on these buns. a little expensive for everyday dinners but perfect for date night (which usually entails burgers, especially these pico and guac burgers) around our house. enjoy them!!

black bean mushroom burgers
4 big burgers

1 dash olive oil, plus additional for brushing
1 cup finely chopped onion
8 ounces baby portobello mushrooms, finely chopped (i used cheaper mushies, but portobellos would be amazing if you can afford it!)
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika (or regular)
4 slices whole wheat sandwich bread, lightly toasted
15 ounce can black beans, rinsed and drained
1/4 cup packed fresh cilantro leaves
2 ounces (about 1/2 cup) crumbled goat cheese (again, i used a cheaper cheese, but this would be yummy. i'm thinking feta would be awesome.)
salt and fresh ground black pepper
4 ciabatta buns, split and toasted
your choice of toppings

preheat grill. (Or grill in pan if its your only option...)

in a large skillet, heat a dash of oil over medium-high. add onion - cook until golden, about 3 to 4 minutes. stir in mushrooms, garlic, cumin and paprika - cook until the mushrooms have released their juices, about 4 to 6 minutes. remove from the heat and set aside to cool slightly.

tear toasted bread into pieces and place into a food processor (or blender) - process until broken down into crumbs. pour into a medium bowl. add mushroom mixture, beans and cilantro into the food processor bowl - pulse until combined, but not smooth - leave some chunky bits. scoop mixture into the bowl with the bread crumbs - add goat cheese and season with salt and fresh ground black pepper. mix ingredients together, then divide into four equal portions. with dampened hands, shape each portion into 4 thick patties. lightly brush each side of all patties with oil.

place patties onto the grill and cook until thoroughly heated through and the outside has crisped, about 5 minutes per side (mine takes longer - more like 7 or 8 min). serve burgers on toasted buns and with desired toppings.

and just because i love this cute little spaghetti face....

healthy cooking on a budget

disclaimer: i don't claim to be an expert on cooking, weight loss or even healthy eating, but i do love to cook, find healthy, taste bud-friendly tricks and most of all, i love to eat!

qualifications: what qualifies me to blog on cooking healthy on a small budget? well, as my husband is still a student, my budget is not what you'd call large. and as for the healthy part, when i was 10 i was diagnosed with pancreatitus - a disease that doesn't effect me much anymore unless i eat food that is too greasy or has too much fat (in which case, well, let's just say i get really sick). this had steered my experience and limited cooking expertise in a health-conscious direction.

please feel free to comment, criticise, rate recipes, try ideas and make requests for future posts!