Sometimes it seems as if I am dating a 2-year-old. Ladies, do you feel me? Just the other day Walt asked if from now on we could put a Lego man in my food photos - somewhere subtle, like in the background, and it has to be a different one every time. This question came with a cute impersonation of him standing tall like a Lego man, arms waving high in the air. (If Lego Darth Vader appears in my next blog post, you'll know why.) It keeps me young, I tell you.
And with having a toddler -- at least so I've been told -- comes food phobias, tantrums, and force-feedings. Not much different than Walt if you ask me. If Walt could have his way, he would live off Spaghettio's, Beanie Weanies, and canned tomato soup. Not a green (or orange or purple) vegetable in sight. Well, except for peas. He loves peas. And corn. He loves corn, too.
Lately we've both been working odd hours, so our meal time together has been a little hit or miss. I do try, however, to make sure we share some sort of breakfast, lunch, or dinner together each day. In addition, I've been adding some "man food" to my cooking arsenal to keep him happy. By "man food" I mean boy-approved meals that I can make in large batches and store in the fridge, so when I'm not home he's not left to his own devices. (Twenty piece McNuggets, anyone?)
Take Sloppy Joes, for instance. The perfect "man food." I served these with potato chips and a side of steamed broccoli. Then I watched Walt giddily shove a pile of broccoli into his mouth, quickly followed by a fistful of potato chips. Apparently the salt and crunch make the vegetables taste better? And then, with all of the enthusiasm of a small child learning to ride his first bike (or poop in the potty), Walt opened his mouth far and wide to reveal his wonderful accomplishment to the world. I beamed with pride and joy. Oh well, at least he ate his veggies.
Yields 6 - 8 sandwiches
I loaded this Sloppy Joe filling up with extra vegetables to make these a healthy and satisfying meal -- suitable for both toddlers and boyfriends alike. The Heinz Chili Sauce adds a nice kick as opposed to regular ketchup, as does the addition of Italian sausage (but feel free to use whatever you have on hand). Hands down the best Sloppy Joes I've ever eaten!
1 onion, finely diced
1 celery stock, finely diced
1 carrot, finely diced
1 each small red and green bell pepper, finely diced
1 pound ground beef
1 pound Italian sausage, casings removed (mild or spicy)
1 (8 ounce) can tomato sauce
1 cup Heinz Chili Sauce (or ketchup)
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon mustard (yellow or Dijon)
1 tablespoon cider vinegar
1 tablespoon packed brown sugar
Kosher salt and pepper, to taste
Hamburger buns or Texas toast
Warm a few tablespoons of canola oil in a large fry pan or braiser over medium heat. Add the vegetables and cook until tender, stirring occasionally, about 5 - 7 minutes. Increase the heat to medium-high and add the beef and sausage. Cook, stirring and breaking up the meat with a wooden spoon, until it is no longer pink, about 10 minutes. Stir in the tomato sauce, chili sauce, Worcestershire sauce, mustard, vinegar, sugar, salt and pepper and bring to a gentle boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low/low and simmer, stirring frequently, for about 20 minutes to blend the flavors.
Serve with steamed hamburger buns, potato chips, and pickles. And don't forget the napkins!