Sloppy Joe Bites

Original Recipe HERE

This is a rare recipe that got rave reviews from *J*.  He ate two of them and asked for a third, and the following night he was even excited about leftovers.  The others liked them, too, but I barely paid attention to their reactions because I was busy picking my jaw up off the floor.

I made the from-scratch sloppy joe mixture since cracking open a can of the stuff would resurrect childhood memories better left in the past.  I used Pillsbury Grands buttermilk biscuits, and the ratio of biscuit to joe wasn't balanced.  Next time I'll use smaller biscuits or maybe the flaky kind.

3 Tablespoons brown sugar
1 Tablespoon minced onion
1 Tablespoon paprika [I did 1/2 smoked and 1/2 regular]
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pepper
1 pound ground beef
1 can (15 oz) tomato sauce
6 to 8 ounces water
1 Tablespoon mustard
2 Tablespoons cider vinegar
2 canisters (8 or 10 count each) canned biscuits
1 to 2 cups shredded cheese [I used cheddar]

(1) Mix together brown sugar, minced onion, cumin, paprika, garlic powder, salt, and pepper.
(2) In a large skillet, brown the beef.
(3) Add tomato sauce, 6-8 ounces of water, mustard, cider vinegar, and spice mixture.  Stir to combine; simmer 5-10 minutes. 
(4) Meanwhile, preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Grease muffin tins.
(5) Flatten or roll out biscuits.  Press each into a muffin well.
(6) Fill biscuits with sloppy joe mixture; sprinkle with cheese.
(7) Bake 10-12 minutes.

Kid Participation: 
* Flatten biscuits
* Put biscuits into muffin wells
* Scoop in sloppy joe mixture
* Sprinkle cheese


Basic Buttermilk Waffles

Original Recipe HERE

These are standard, no-frills waffles.  A good recipe for when you want the waffle to just be an accompaniment to elaborate toppings.  Sadly, this night we only had maple syrup...but that classic combo was still a satisfying meal.

I didn't have pastry flour like the original recipe called for, so I used white all-purpose.  They weren't the light, crispy waffles that the pastry flour would've given me, but they were perfectly fine anyway.

I got 11 approximately 4" waffles from this recipe.  Next time I'll double it to have breakfast pre-made for the next day.

2 large eggs
1 & 3/4 cups buttermilk
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, melted & cooled
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 & 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 Tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup almond flour [optional; I used]

(1) Preheat waffle iron.  Spray with non-stick cooking spray.
(2) In a medium bowl, whisk together eggs, buttermilk, butter, and vanilla.
(3) In a separate bowl, sift together flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and almond flour.
(4) Combine dry ingredients into wet until just mixed.
(5) Ladle batter onto iron; cook according to iron's directions.

Kid Participation:
* Measure wet ingredients
* Whisk wet ingredients
* Measure dry ingredients
* Sift dry ingredients
* Combine all ingredients


Bean & Salsa Soup

Original Recipe HERE

This meal is so simple, my three-year old could do it.  So he did.  I assisted with opening cans and operating the stove, but otherwise he did the entire thing.  Everyone had at least one serving and declared it "good." I always have all these ingredients on hand, and this can be prepared hours in advance or in about 15 minutes.

I tweaked the ingredients to make a more substantial soup.  And to negate my previous statement, for once in my life, I didn't have a can of black beans in the pantry, so I used two cans of white beans.  Next time, I'd like something with a little more texture in it: green or red onions, red pepper, or something else to give a little crunch.  Also, I'll probably do a few zaps with the immersion blender to make it thicker.

1 can (15 oz) black beans, drained & rinsed
1 can (15 oz) navy beans [or other white beans], drained & rinsed
2 cups frozen corn
1 jar (12 to 15 oz) salsa
1 can (small) sliced olives, drained & rinsed
2 cups water or broth [I did 1 cup of each]
1 teaspoon Southwest Seasoning [McCormick brand, or any related spices]
flour tortillas [optional]
garnishes (avocado, chives, shredded cheese, sour cream, hot sauce, etc.)

(1) Combine all ingredients except tortillas and garnishes in a soup pot or slow cooker
(2) Heat on the stove until simmering or in the slow cooker for 2 hours on low.
(3) If desired, cut tortillas into bite-size pieces and layer in individual bowls.  Garnish soup to taste.

Kid Participation: Everything.


Egg McMuffin Casserole

Original Recipe HERE

Is it OK to call this an Egg McMuffin casserole?  No McDonald's products were harmed in the making of it.

We had this for dinner, and three out of three kids said they liked it.  No second helpings were had because we were running supremely late and bedtime was on the horizon, but I think they would've if I let them.

I almost put shredded cheese in this (because if it's basically a giant mess of breakfast sandwich-ness, how was there no cheese??), and I'll add it to the egg/milk mixture next time.  I think it would've added that little extra flavor I was looking for (because I forgot to put in the salt and pepper, and I debated things like oregano or Montreal Steak seasoning or Jane's Krazy but didn't follow through).  I could've put vegetables in if diced small and cooked with the sausage, but *P* reminded me that *J* would pick them all out.  Next time I'll sneak some finely chopped spinach and red pepper, maybe.

Also, this is a very kid-friendly meal, preparation-wise.  *P* helped me make it at lunchtime, and I put it in the oven when we got home from afterschool activities at 6:00pm.

6 English muffins, torn into large bite-sized pieces
1 package (1 lb) ground sausage [I used one 16 oz "tube"]
1/2 cup onion, diced small
1 teaspoon jarred minced garlic
8 eggs [I used 4 whole eggs and the equivalent of 4 egg whites]
1 & 1/2 cups milk
2 Tablespoons spicy mustard
salt & pepper

(1) Grease a 9x13" glass baking dish.
(2) In a large skillet over medium heat, brown sausage until no longer pink, breaking it up as it cooks.  Add onion and garlic during final minutes of cooking.
(3) Toss together muffin pieces and sausage mixture.  Spread evenly in baking dish.
(4) In a separate bowl, whisk together eggs, milk, mustard, salt, and pepper.
(5) Pour egg mixture over the muffin mixture.  Bake immediately or cover and refrigerate overnight.
(6) In an oven heated to 350 degrees F, bake casserole 45-50 minutes or until eggs are set in the middle.  Cover with foil during last 15 minutes to avoid browning if needed.

Kid Participation:
* Tear muffins
* Stir together muffins and sausage
* Crack eggs
* Whisk wet ingredients
* Pour egg mixture

Two-Ingredient Cream Cheese Dip

Original Recipe HERE

Possibly the easiest dip ever.  I didn't make this with the brand and flavor that the recipe used...there was no need to make a special trip just for that.  I got a "caramelized onion & balsamic" jelly from the grocery store and figured it was close enough.  The dip was very good, although a little sweet - which would be easily remedied by using a more savory jelly (or just using a relish like the recipe called for).  

Really, you can't go wrong here.  Even a fruit preserve + cream cheese = tasty, especially if scooped with something like graham crackers.  And now this post is going off on a tangent and it'll take longer to read it than make the actual dip, so I will wrap it up.


2 packages (8 oz each) cream cheese, at room temperature [I used Neufchatel]
1 jar (10 oz) pepper and onion relish

(1) In a mixing bowl, beat the cream cheese on medium speed until light and fluffy.
(2) Stir in the relish until thoroughly combined.

Kid Participation: Run mixer.