24 August 2012

Slow Cooker Not-So-Sloppy Joes

Dear Lissy,
The books are out, study areas set up, shiny new school supplies stocked, and assignment books filled and ready for next week.  The first six weeks of school are a bit of a challenge.  I invest a great deal of time up front to insure that each of you will be able to work independently for the remaining 30 weeks.  The garden is still putting out like a champ, so my afternoons are full, too.  Slow cooker meals are a blessing, and I bank all the meals I can into the freezer to give me longer afternoons.
See the original (sweeter!) recipe here.  
Slow Cooker Not-So-Sloppy Joes originally came from allrecipes.com.  The recipe makes a kid-friendly sloppy joe that is thick and sweet.  I modified it for the slow cooker, and increased the recipe to use an entire bag of ground beef from the butcher.  It makes three meals worth of sloppy joe mix for our family of five (Dad & the boys each have two, you and I eat one).  If the mix is too bland for your taste, replace the catsup with your favorite BBQ Sauce.

Slow Cooker Not-So-Sloppy Joes
24 servings
5 lbs lean ground beef, pork, venison, turkey, or combo of all
1 large onion, finely chopped
2 cups finely chopped
1 family sized can condensed tomato soup
1 regular size can condensed tomato soup
3/4 cup catsup
3 Tbsp. rice vinegar
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
1-1/2 tsp. salt (I use celery salt)
1 tsp. garlic powder

24 buns TOTAL.  I usually buy these fresh for each meal, 8 at a time.

If desired, brown ground beef, drain, and rinse.  Very lean beef, venison, or ground turkey will not need to be pre-cooked.  Mix all ingredients in crockpot and cook on low for 6 hours, stirring occasionally so you don't end up with meatloaf.  Mixture will be thick.  Divide mixture and refrigerate portion to be frozen.  **Here's a little trick I learned in the foodservice industry.   Refill 20 oz soda bottles with water and freeze.  When you need to chill a soup or stew quickly, place the frozen bottle into the center of the container of hot soup/stew and the mixture will chill almost twice as fast.  Wash the outside of the bottle and return it to the freezer for future use** Hold portion to be served warm while buns are toasted.  Divide mixture evenly between buns and serve.  Once mixture in fridge is cold, divide into Ziploc bags, press out the air, and freeze flat.

I try to enjoy the busy seasons of life, knowing I'll miss them when they're gone.  Freezer and slow cooker meals help me keep my head and heart stable while my world is on fast forward.

 Much Love,

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