Sloppy Jose's

Seven super-short school days to go before summer vacation begins, and the countdown is on! Is it just me, or does it seem like there’s a LOT to cram in before next Wednesday arrives?! We’ve gotta get our kids through field day, picnics and class trips; help ’em wrap up last minute projects and study for final exams; attend music programs, graduations, dances, and carpool to a seemingly endless string of parties…the list goes on and on. You probably have a few fabulous functions of your own that I haven’t mentioned. Go ahead and pile ’em on. We’re moms. We can deal.

Not to throw more fuel on the fire, but I’m here to remind you (in a very peaceful, calming, mom-type voice) that busy people are hungry people. Dinner must be served. Don’t shoot the messenger, you had to know it was coming.

Denial – it ain’t just a river in Africa.

(I love that joke.)

Here’s an easy meal for you to make in the morning and stick in the fridge for later in the day. It looks like tacos, but it’s actually a Mexican spin on traditional Sloppy Joe’s. You can serve it on hard shells, soft shells, tostadas, or plain old hamburger buns. We have here a recipe that’s meant to bend the rules, people! If you’re a first-born, type-A, rule following kinda gal, you might want to look for a different, more rigid recipe. Or, have Jimmy John’s tonight.

Anyway, this recipe comes together so fast, you’ll have no excuse not to check a couple of chores off of your ‘to do list’ this afternoon. Like walking the dog. Or quizzing your punk on his Spanish vocab. Or helping to glue foam letters on poster board, fishing paper out of a jammed printer, and writing a thank you note to your kid’s teacher.

Actually, forget all that. In the time you’ve saved by making this simple yet nourishing supper, I recommend that you plop down on the patio with an icy cold beverage and enjoy a few moments of solitude.

You’ve earned it.

Serves: 4

2 T. vegetable oil
1 medium onion, chopped fine
½ t. salt
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 T. chili powder
2 T. cumin
¼ t. cayenne pepper
1 lb. ground beef (I used the sale Tall Grass Ground Chuck)
Ground black pepper
1 t. brown sugar
1 c. tomato puree
½ c. ketchup
¼ c. water
¼ t. Tobasco
1 minced chipotle chile (cut this if YOU CAN’T HANDLE the heat)
1 15.5 oz. can black beans, rinsed and drained
Taco shells, heated according to instructions on box, or hamburger buns

Shredded cheese (Sargento Cheeses are on sale this week, 6/2/10 to 6/8/10) optional
Shredded lettuce if desired (romaine is on sale this week, 6/2/10 to 6/8/10) optional

Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add onion and salt and stir until coated with the oil. Reduce heat to medium, cover, and cook, stirring occasionally, until onion is soft, about 10 minutes. If onion begins to burn after 5 minutes, reduce heat to low. Add garlic, chili powder, cumin, and cayenne and cook, uncovered, stirring constantly, until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add beef and cook, breaking up meat with a wooden spoon, until just pink, about 3 minutes. If mixture appears greasy, drain off the oil and return the meat mixture to the pan. (Mine was; I did.)

Add ¼ teaspoon pepper, brown sugar, tomato puree, ketchup, water, Tobasco, chipotle, and black beans. Simmer until sauce is slightly thicker than ketchup, 8 to 10 minutes. Adjust seasonings to taste. Spoon meat mixture into taco shells or buns, top with cheese and lettuce if desired, and serve.

NOTE: This recipe is easily doubled and freezes well.

Featured, Fresh, Frugal, Fabulous | June 2nd, 2010