Thursday, February 9, 2012

Stepping Out of the Weekly Rut

Last spring, when my boys had swimming lessons at 5:00, we had a pretty good routine. I would pick up my son from school and we would go right to the pool. The pool had a little sitting area where we would could have a snack (I usually packed something) and do homework. We finished up around 4:30, which gave us enough time to change without rushing and maybe watch the diving team. When we got home, we would have a quick dinner, which on most nights was scrambled eggs and toast. If you ask my kids, they'll tell you that this is their favourite dinner. So, eggs for dinner became synonymous with swimming night.

This year, the lessons start a little later which allowed us to eat a light dinner (eggs, toast and raw veggies) before we left, then a piece of fruit and glass of milk when we got home. This week, I had another idea. Something I thought the kids would like, that would give them enough protein and vegetables to make it through swimming, and not be starving by breakfast. I made Sloppy Joes. Too make it even easier, I used the slow cooker but in a short time you could also make it in a skillet. Or as a faster alternative, make the meat with sauce the night before. Place in some Tupperware in the fridge. Simply toast the buns and heat up the meat mixture in the microwave. (Nice lunch idea too)

To my surprise, I only found a couple cookbooks with recipes for Sloppy Joes, none of which jumped out at me so I came up with this one. But if you have a favourite recipe, call your mom or dig it out, and reintroduce your family to a busy-night, quick dinner solution that will have them coming back for more.

So, what's for dinner tonight?

Chipotle Ranch Sloppy Joes


1 T vegetable or canola oil

1 small onion, finely chopped

3 cloves garlic, minced

1 lb ground beef (pref. extra lean)

1/4 C ground flaxseeds

1 pobano pepper, finely chopped

1 small can chopped green chilies

1 T chipotle peppers in adobo sauce, pureed (or more to taste)

1 C chili sauce

1 t cumin

1 T red wine vinegar

1 C coleslaw mix

1-2 T ranch dressing


4 burger buns


In a skillet, heat the oil. Add the onions and garlic. Once the onions have cooked a couple minutes, add the meat; breaking it up with a spoon or spatula. When the meat is almost completely cooked, add the flaxseeds. Mix well.

Transfer mixture to a slow cooker. Add the pepper, chilies, chipotles, chili sauce, cumin and vinegar. Mix well. Set to low, and let cook 6 - 8 hours.

In a small bowl, mix together coleslaw mix and ranch dressing.

When you are ready to serve, butter the buns and toast in a skillet. Place 1/4 of the meat mixture on the bun. Top with 1/4 of the coleslaw mixture.

As a note, if you have never bought chipotle peppers before, they are smoked jalapeno peppers in a tomato/ vinegar sauce and are usually found in the Mexican food aisle in a can. When I bring them home, I place the entire jar in the food processor and puree it, then place it in a freezer bag or container and use it as I need it. You can also substitute it for Chipotle Chili Powder.

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