Sunday, June 7, 2015

Food Network Inspirations and Sloppy Joes

I've become a bit of a Food Network junkie.  It's always on.  Even when I'm not paying attention.
Good Eats.
The Barefoot Contessa.
The Pioneer Woman.
American Diner Revival.
Diners, Drive-Ins, & Dives.
Mystery Diners.
Anything with Rachel Ray...


It's been really rainy and quite cold here lately, very un-summer-y.  Which just kind of perpetuates my crockpot cooking.  Don't get me wrong - I am obsessed with the crockpot!  I love making one meal that costs less than ten bucks and eating for nearly a week.  But it really does get old.  I want to cook.  To make something on the stove.  Something from beginning to dish-washing in one kitchen trip.

And then suddenly, the sun came out.  The rain stopped.  And it got H-O-T hot here!  Finally!  The warmth. The sunlight. Oh, I've missed this.  I got outside and laid by the pool for some color yesterday, and the band played right on the lake last night.  There's no denying it!  Summer has officially taken stage!

A couple days ago, Ree Drummond, affectionately known as The Pioneer Woman, featured a show about cooking outdoor foods indoors.  It really felt like summer everywhere - both on the tele and out the window.  I wasn't really interested in cooking what she made on the show, but it did get me interested in summer-y foods.  I don't always think the point of watching the Food Network or reading blogs like this or losing a few hours on Pinterest is so much to make what I see in front of me, but to kick up my senses and fire my imagination.  Find my own voice.

Meat and peppers
I started thinking yesterday about macaroni salad.  I've never made it.  Then, I started thinking about potato salad - again, never made it.  As I looked at recipes, I realized that, without the basic ingredients, attempting either/or of them would be quite costly.  And it would not make a complete meal.  Well, it might - but not for a few days at a time.  I might die - simply of from eating solely macaroni and/or potato salad so often in succession.

Adding Sauce
But then the idea of sloppy joes popped into my head.  My grandma taught me to make sloppy joe sauce when I was a little girl - before the idea of cooking for myself ever existed.  I grew up in a small town where the grocery store only has six isles and one cash register - and closed at 6pm everyday, and closed on Sundays.  So if it's some random hour and you want something or get a craving for something - you have to make it yourself, with what is in your house.
Homemade sauce

So my grandma taught me to make sloppy joes for that reason (and probably because she doesn't believe in Manwich).  She told me that all you need is ketchup, mustard, and anything else you want to put in it.  Over the years, I've made it with many different ingredients.  Everything from spices to hot sauce, to just pepper.  Make some hamburger meat, chop it up, done.  Bun or bread.  Cheese or no cheese.  It really doesn't mater.

All mixed together!
I started a new housesitting gig yesterday, so I went to the grocery on my way here.  I decided to throw caution to the wind and make it with only what they have available to me in their kitchen.  I bought small bottles of ketchup and mustard, peppers, buns, and cheese.  As I was waiting for the cheese to be sliced, I saw the macaroni and potato salads pre-made in the deli.  I bought some.  I couldn't resist!  Sometimes, pre-made is cheaper than making it yourself.  And just as good.

Today, I put it all together.  Spices from the pantry, ketchup, mustard - and a new experiment - balsamic vinegar and some wassabi sauce!  Delicious!  Put together on some Hawaiian Rolls and cheese, right next to the store bought side salads - it made a perfect lunch.  And will make a perfect dinner.  And a few more meals this week.  I couldn't be happier.

By the way...I used muenster cheese, which is amazing.  And horseradish cheddar.  This. Is. Heaven.

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