“Since hunger is the most primitive and permanent of human wants, men always want to eat, but since their wish not to be a mere animal is also profound, they have always attended with special care to the manners which conceal the fact that at the table we are animals feeding.” - John Erskine

27 September 2011

Chicken Tortilla Soup

Fall is in the air.  At least around my house.  And while the days are still in the 80s, my Oldest has started talking about getting out the Halloween decorations and having a Halloween party.  (I let him have one last year and apparently now it’s a tradition.)  And with fall and the cooler weather comes a craving for soup.  I don’t eat soup a lot, but I do like soup and dippy roll when it starts to get cold outside.  Not to mention that it’s easy to make.

Not too long ago the girlfriends and I went out for a pedicure and lunch.  Now that is a tradition for me, and one I’m not going to give up anytime soon.  (It can be hard to get my girly groove on in a house full of males.)  Since it was a celebration of my friends birthday, we went Mexican and I “let” her talk me into trying tortilla soup.  She makes it for her family, so I knew she knew what it was and that she liked it.  Now she and I don’t always agree on what’s yummy, and I tried the soup with a bit of trepidation.  But I liked it well enough to be interested in trying to make it myself when I came across this recipe.  You know by now that I “adapted” it to suit my taste of course.

Chicken Tortilla Soup
serves 4
(I tripled the recipe, which was a good thing, since there was nothing left in the pot!)
2 skinless, boneless chicken breasts (I used 2 cans of this)
½ teaspoon olive oil (I used about 1 teaspoon of this even though I wasn’t cooking the chicken ~ just wanted a little olive oil for nutritional value...)
½ teaspoon minced garlic (pulled out my supply of this and used a heaping tablespoon full ~ what can I say, I love garlic!)
¼ teaspoon ground cumin
2 (14.5 ounce) cans chicken broth
1 cup frozen corn kernels
1 cup chopped onion (I dumped in a decent amount of onion powder...)
½ teaspoon chili powder (I will probably cut back on this next time)
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 cup chunky salsa (I liked the flavor the salsa added, but we usually buy medium-spicy ~ I only used 1 cup for the tripled recipe, but it was still a bit spicy)
8 ounces corn tortilla chips (these are my favorites)
½ cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese (optional) (of course I opted for the cheese but I didn’t bother to measure it ~ just sprinkled on as much as looked good)
sour cream (optional)

In a large pot over medium heat, sauté the chicken in the oil for 5 minutes.  Add the garlic and cumin and mix well.  Then add the broth, corn, onion, chili powder, lemon juice and salsa.  Reduce heat to low and simmer for about 20 to 30 minutes.

Break up some tortilla chips into individual bowls and pour soup over chips.  Top with the Monterey Jack cheese and a little sour cream.

My husband loved this soup.  He ate a huge bowl and then went back and finished off the leftovers.  The little ones (and who am I kidding, me too) thought it was too spicy, but otherwise quite liked it, so adjust the heat according to your family’s taste.

23 September 2011

M’s Salsiccia Besciamella

(No pictures today.  Read on and youll see why...)

Do you ever have those days where you have something planned for dinner (which, let’s face it, was pretty rare around here before I started this project) but everything conspires against you?  It was piano-lesson day, and of course kids were late getting out of school and into the car, so we were cutting it close getting to piano on time.  Because the boy who car pools with us lives so far from our house and the piano teacher lives close to our house, I drop Oldest off at piano before taking our car pool home, and then rush like mad to get home before piano lessons are over.  Which has the added anxiety of making me late getting dinner started on piano days.  Still, I usually get home before my husband does, so I was somewhat surprised to see his car pulling into the driveway right behind me.  He left work early, wanting my help picking up our Jeep that was in the shop.  Hmm.  So we seatbelted the kids back in and headed out.  Again.  A block or two from the dealership (its still under warranty, at least) my husband ~ sweet sweet man (who is in front of me in the Jeep with 2 kids, and NO CELL PHONE) ~ decides to go through a yellow light, leaving me to decide to either run the red or stop.  I stopped.  I had one of my babies with me, plus I figured I knew where he was going.  Home.  What I didnt know (no cell phone ~ did I mention he has boycotted them?) was that the Jeep didn’t sound right and he decided to take it back.  (They didn’t put everything back where it belongs when they were done.  Is there anyone who provides decent service anymore?)  So, not being able to see him when the light turns green, I went home.  No Jeep, no husband, no kids in the garage.  I went in the house and the phone was ringing.  Guess who?  My husband, asking did I not see him turn back to the shop.  No, you left me at a red light in rush hour traffic, I did NOT see you turn back to the shop.  Anyway, Middlest and I headed back to pick everyone else up and... to make a long story short (too late!) we didn’t get home until about 6:30.

So, 6:30 and there is no dinner on the table and the plan I had dinner required defrosting of meat (still undone) and several time consuming steps of cooking and preparation to get it into the oven.  The animals were already growling (along with my stomach) and there was no way I (or anyone else) was going to make it until 8:00 without an injury or two.  So I scrapped postponed the meal plan and wracked my brain for something quick and easy.  I had some of this in the fridge that needed to be used and some pasta on hand (always).  This is what I came up with: 

M’s Salsiccia Besciamella
(According to the internet, “bescaimella is a simple white sauce that generally goes into other things, for example lasagna alla bolognese or broiled fennel.  It is bland because it’s meant to be added to other ingredients, providing rich creaminess but not changing the flavor cast of the dish.”  I chose a besciamella ecause I wanted something like a mild alfredo that wouldn’t overpower the taste of the kielbasa.  It’s basically a white rue sauce, but a little runnier.)

2 cups uncooked pasta (about 5½ oz.)
2 tablespoons flour
2 tablespoons butter
2-2½ cups half & half
salt and pepper to taste
pinch nutmeg (optional)
1½ cups parmesan cheese

Cook pasta as directed.

Chop sausage (I used this, yum!) into bite-sized pieces.  Brown sausage in medium saucepan.  Remove from saucepan and set aside.

In same saucepan, melt butter into sausage grease on low heat.  Stir in flour and mixing or whisking until smooth.  Very slowly, in a small stream, pour in 2 cups half & half, stirring constantly to prevent lumps.  Stir slowly over low heat until sauce thickens.  If sauce is too think, add more half & half, stirring constantly, until desired thickness is reached.  If sauce is too thin, add 1 tablespoon butter to mixture and allow to melt.  Remove approximately ¼ cup sauce and add slowly to 1 tablespoon flour in small bowl or cup, stirring or whisking to prevent lumps.  Return flour mixture to sauce, stirring constantly.

Remove sauce from heat.  Stir in parmesan until melted.  Add salt, pepper and nutmeg.

Drain pasta.  Add sausage to pasta.  Pour sauce over pasta mixture, mix well and serve.

I don’t know what goes on in your house (well, for some of you I might ~ at least some of the time) but it’s rare at mine when you can go wrong with pasta.  Add sausage and cheese to it and you have yourself a hit.  The sauce was easy to make and tasted great.  Of course, just about anything with butter, sausage and cheese is going to taste great...

21 September 2011

Midnight Cry Brownies

Remember how I was telling you about all the books I’ve been reading?  I was right in the middle of the beginning of this one (well it makes sense to me) and couldn’t stop turning back to this recipe.  Midnight Cry Brownies.  How can you resist a title like that?  So the protagonist had a little difficulty as a result of trying this recipe, that didn’t mean I was going to have any difficulty as a result of trying this recipe.  I just fell in love with the name of the recipe.  Midnight Cry Brownies.  I read on, I did, but I kept thinking about the way the author described the smell of the brownies ~ how smells of the different ingredients mingled together ~ and I couldn’t stop myself from thinking about how it would add to the story if I was reading with a luscious homebaked Midnight Cry Brownie and a cold glass of milk.  (I would totally be careful not to spill or get chocolate on the pages.  Im talking library book after all.)  I resisted.  I did.  For a chapter and a half I resisted.  But apparently that poltergeist was too strong for me; I had to mark my spot, put the book down open the book up to the recipe and try it! 

Midnight Cry Brownies
1 stick butter
½ cup cocoa
1 tablespoon espresso powder
3 eggs
1 cup raw sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
½ cup flour
½ teaspoon coarse salt

Preheat oven to 350°.

Melt butter & stir in cocoa & espresso powder thoroughly.  Let cool slightly.

In a larger bowl, beat eggs until pale yellow, then add sugar & continue to beat.

Add butter mixture to bowl.  Stir in vanilla & flour until just combined.

Pour into 8×8” glass pan lined with lightly oiled foil.  Sprinkle salt on top.

Bake 30 to 35 minutes, until toothpick in center comes out clean.

Maybe because Ginny (the books main character who tells the story) was so careful with the recipe, I felt I needed to be careful too, so I actually followed this one exactly.  Well, almost.  (You’re surprised?  Really?)  I didn’t have any espresso powder in the house, and even if I had I would never have used it.  I wanted to eat (at least) one of these brownies and ever since I was pregnant with my oldest I haven’t been able to endure even the smell of coffee or anything related to it.  Can’t even walk down the coffee aisle in the grocery store (which I have to do because, frustratingly, they seem to always want to put the cereal there) without wanting to toss my cookies in my shoes (so to speak).  But I after having read Ginny’s (Jael McHenry’s) description of the bitter mingling with the sweet, I wanted that experience.  I did have some of this in the house.  Pero.  (Is it weird that Pero is considered a coffee substitute but it doesnt make me sick?  Id say it was the cafeine, but Diet Coke doesnt make me sick either.)  I figured it was rather bitter, and not having read the blurb on the link I just gave you about it tasting like coffee (it so doesnt in my opinion) I gave it a try.  (Worked out kind of well, if you ask me, which you didn’t.  But in a way you did, since you’re here reading my blog, aren’t you?)

I also didn’t have any raw sugar, so I used this.  (I bought mine at Wal-Mart but when I searched their internet site for it I couldnt find it.  Maybe Wal-Mart doesnt sell it anymore.  However I highly recommend trying it, if you can find it.  Love the stuff and use it for baking every chance I get.)  I don’t know if it was the sugar or the salt crystals (I used sea salt, which counts as coarse, right?), but they gave the brownies a few nice crunchy bits that I quite enjoyed.  Something kind of made the bottom taste carmelized the next day too.  Very tasty.  (Yes, believe it or not, I did not eat the whole batch in one sitting ~ although I must say I was tempted.  I even shared.)

My husband wasn’t sure that he liked Midnight Cry Brownies.  Apparently they didnt “call” to him the way they did to me, but then, he’s not really a bitter chocolate fan.  Maybe he just needed to read the description of them in the book.  My oldest, on the other hand, wolfed his down and was caught picking at another still in the pan a moment later.  Cant say I blame him.  I found myself picking bits off the foil after the last one disappeared, wishing I had doubled the recipe...

Can you see how the salt made little holes in the top?  Like Ginny, I wondered what sprinkling the salt on top does differently, other than making little holes, that is.  Anyone out there who knows enough about food chemistry to tell me?

Are these brownies crying to you? YUMmmmmmmmmmm!

20 September 2011

Bread Talk Revisited

Guess what, guess what?!?!?!  I made bread!!!!!  Can you believe it?  I made freshly ground whole wheat (kamut even) bread.  And not only did I make bread, but I made perfect bread!  (Well, perfect for me, and pretty darn perfect for anyone who’s asking.)  I made bread that rose (rised?)  I made bread that was soft and luscious.  I made bread with an awesome crumb.  I made bread with nary a bubble.  I made bread!!!!!

Normally I would give you the recipe, but this was bread of the gods, and so only a bread goddess (or a bread rock star) is worthy of this recipe.  I stole it from her anyway, so I’m giving her complete and total credit.  In fact, really the only reason my bread turned out (and the only reason I was willing to try again if truth be told) was because she took the time to help me trouble shoot.  (She totally read my blog, asked questions, read my explanations, and then told me what I was doing wrong and what to do to fix it.  If I haven't said it yet, Stephanie, YOU ROCK!)  So if you want to participate in your own totally amazing bread nirvana, click here and check out Chef Tess Bakeress.  And while you’re there, check out the billion other amazing recipes on there.  And then, if possible, go to a class she’s giving and learn from her live and in person.

LOVE YOU STEPHANIE!

In the meantime, check out my amazingly incredibly awesomely deliciously perfect bread.  And then, if youre in the neighborhood, stop by and try some with my sister-in-laws homemade blackberry jam.  Mmmm, bread heaven!

 No, its not actually perfect.  I do need to work on my loaf technique.

And since my bread doesnt usually like to rise, I put it in the pans and then put something else in the oven to bake.  Imagine my surprise to find that my bread was rising perfectly, and then over-rising, since I couldnt take what was in the oven out.  It rose right out of the pan!  I baked it anyway and refuse to regret it.

19 September 2011

Flavorful Pot Roast

I’ve been doing A LOT of reading lately.  Three books just this week.  They’ve all been library books, and I feel an obligation to read them fast and get them back so someone else can have them.  That, and  they’ve been all been great books so I haven’t wanted to put them down.

It all started with this one.  I read about it on someone’s blog and decided it sounded interesting.  It was hard for me to get started on it, hard for me to stay with it, (I really hate when stories jump around in the timeline) but by the end I was so glad I picked it up!

Anyway, because I’ve had my nose in a book for so long, I wanted something that pretty much cooks itself.  My husband requested pot roast, so I pulled out my tried and true recipe.  Really, finding this recipe was like falling in love.  It was the right one for me and I just haven’t wanted to look at another roast recipe since.  I’m just not interested.  I even use this recipe to cook chicken, and yes, Thanksgiving turkey.  The juice makes amazing gravy, although you don’t really have to bother, the juice works almost as well ~ just a little runnier.  Oh yeah, I’ve also made this in the oven, slow cooked on low heat.  Mmm!  And since it’s my own (stolen borrowed) recipe there are no changes to be made.  Strait forward and simple.  And no pictures either.  It was gone before I even thought to take one.  (I really have to work on that...)

Flavorful Pot Roast
2½ pounds beef chuck roast
1 envelope dry ranch salad dressing mix
1 envelope dry Italian salad dressing mix
1 envelope brown gravy mix
½ cup water

Place the roast(s) in slow cooker.

In a small bowl combine the salad dressing and gravy mixes; stir in water.  Pour over meat.

Cover and cook on low for 7-8 hours or until tender.  If desired, thicken cooking juices for gravy. 

You can dump potatoes and carrots (even
~ gasp! ~ an onion or two) into the crock to cook in the juice with the meat if you’d like.  You can double, triple, quadruple (you get the picture) the recipe with great results.  Perfect for Sunday dinner.  Yum!

13 September 2011

Shrimp & Rice


Yesterday I finally got back to the gym for the first time in ... well, let’s just say a long time.  It was HARD but I managed to finish the hour long class.  (Aren’t you proud of me?  Can I just say how awesome those ladies are who work so hard to be good, fit teachers and who push inspire us to work harder than we think we can.  Are you feeling it?  Can I get a woot?  Woot!)  Needless to say I was exhausted for the rest of the day (when does that extra energy they promise you for exercising kick in?) and wanted something simple for dinner.  I had some frozen shrimp in my freezer that needed to be used up, and just happened to have a couple of cans of cream of celery soup on hand, so this was it.

Shrimp & Rice
serves 4
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 small onion, chopped
1 red pepper, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1 cups long-grain white rice (uncooked)
1 cans cream of celery soup
2 cups water
1 pound frozen, shelled raw shrimp

In a 12” nonstick skillet, heat olive oil on medium 1 minute.  Add onion and red pepper; cook 5 minutes.  Stir in garlic and rice; cook 1 minute.  Add soup and water; heat to boiling.  Reduce heat to low; cover and simmer 10 minutes.  Stir in shrimp; cover and cook 12 minutes or until rice is done, stirring once.

Simple, and it all cooks in one pan.  I’m all for that!  Plus you don’t have to cook the rice separately.  I (of course) didnt use the onion or the pepper so didn’t do the extra cooking and stirring, just dumped some onion powder and garlic in the olive oil with the rice (short grain, sorry; I really don’t like long grain) and stirred for 1 minute.  And the shrimp I had was precooked, so I cooked everything and then put the shrimp in at the end to warm up.

I have to admit this was not my family’s favorite meal, but it was quick and easy and tasted good and everyone ate it.  Since I left out the pepper I will probably add a few more seasonings next time I make it.  I steamed up some veggies in the microwave (I highly recommend getting some of these ~ LOVE them!) and it was a yummy meal.
 I am not going to get into why Im still using my beautiful orange and yellow porcelain paper plates.  Let’s just say that my oldest is still grounded (until Thursday) and leave it at that.

11 September 2011

Cake Mix Snickerdoodles

I’m thinking it’s time for dessert.  I came across this recipe somewhat by accident and the whole family was in the mood for cookies.  I also needed something to bring to a family party so I decided this would be a great idea.  Surely 3½ dozen would be enough to feed some cookie-hungry animals and then still have plenty to take to the party.  Wrong.  I took chips and salsa, since there was no way the cookies I made would have even made it to the party.  They were gone by the time I turned around to grab the camera, so you’ll have to make due with the picture from the website.  On the other hand, they were very simple to make.  Another reason to keep some white cake mix handy.

Cake Mix Snickerdoodles
makes about 3½ dozen cookies
1 package moist white cake mix
½ cup butter, melted
1 egg
2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Heat oven to 350° (325° for dark or nonstick cookie sheets).  Mix cake mix, butter and egg in large bowl with spoon until dough forms (some dry mix will remain).

Shape dough into 1-inch balls.  Mix sugar and cinnamon in small bowl.  Roll balls in cinnamon-sugar mixture.  Place about 2 inches apart on ungreased cookie sheet.

Bake 10 to 12 minutes or until set.  Remove from cookie sheet to cooling rack.

For Super Snickerdoodles, shape dough into 1½-inch balls and place them 3 inches apart on the cookie sheet; bake 12 to 14 minutes.  You’ll get about 26 large cookies.

They tasted pretty yummy, but didn’t have the “bite” of traditional snickerdoodles, and I had a hard time rolling them in the meager amount of cinnamon sugar they have you make.  (Why yes, yes I did follow the recipe exactly.  What was the matter with me?!?)  While I didn’t have much to throw away I kept having to chase it around the plate.  So next time I make these I think I’ll add a little cream of tartar to the batter, and mix up a little extra cinnamon sugar.  (See, Im ok.  It was just a temporary setback.)
Mmm, snickerdoodles.

10 September 2011

Spinach and Caesar Pasta Salad


Can I just say, I am so glad I decided to do this project (trying out all my untried recipes).  So far I’ve had (mostly) great reviews from the family and it’s been so much easier to get myself to cook.

I love pasta salad.  However, if you haven’t noticed by now, I’m a little picky.  So many people seem to think pasta salad should include things like onions, peppers, nuts, and even (YIKES) fruit.  All things which make eating pasta salad a difficult thing for me.  I have a recipe that I absolutely love but lately I find that Im the only one eating it.  The first few times I took it to extended family at gatherings everyone complemented me on it, but lately Ive noticed other family members bringing different variations.  Guess everyones getting tired of it.  So I decided to branch out and try something new.

Spinach and Caesar Pasta Salad
serves 8
1 box Suddenly Salad Caesar pasta salad mix
12 ounces turkey bacon, cooked and cut into small pieces
10 ounces washed fresh baby spinach leaves
8 ounces sliced fresh mushrooms
5 hard-cooked eggs, sliced
¼ cup sugar
1/3 cup ketchup
¼ cup cider vinegar
¼ cup vegetable oil
1 tablespoon water

Empty pasta mix into 3-quart saucepan 2/3 full of boiling water.  Gently boil uncovered 12 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Drain pasta; rinse with cold water.  Shake to drain well.

In large bowl, gently toss together pasta, bacon, spinach, mushrooms and eggs.  In small bowl, stir together Seasoning and Crouton Blend, sugar, ketchup, vinegar, oil and water.  Just before serving, gently toss salad ingredients with seasoning mixture.  Serve immediately.

I have to say, when I first read through the recipe I didn’t notice the ketchup.  Who puts ketchup in pasta salad?!?  Ew.  But I decided to add it (or at least some of it).  I got myself into a bit of a quagmire following this recipe since I needed to double it (yes, I realize there are only 5 people in my family and this recipe serves 8, but I live with a bunch of animals, remember?  I really thought I should double it, and as it turned out, Im very glad I did) and I only had 1 box of Suddenly Salad and only 10 ounces of spinach.  Since I made so many changes, I decided it might be easier if I just print my version too.  So here it is.

Spinach and Caesar Pasta Salad ~ M’s version
serves 16 (or a male dominated household of 5)
1 box Suddenly Salad Caesar pasta salad mix
6.5 ounces rotini pasta
½ cup bacon bits
10 ounces washed fresh baby spinach leaves
8 ounces sliced fresh mushrooms
5 hard-cooked eggs, sliced
¼ cup sugar
1 packet dry Italian dressing mix
2 teaspoons dry ranch dressing mix
1/3 cup ketchup
½ cup cider vinegar
½ cup olive oil
2 tablespoons water

Empty pasta mix and noodles into a large saucepan 2/3 full of boiling water.  Gently boil uncovered 12 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Drain pasta; rinse with cold water.  Shake to drain well.

In a very large bowl, gently toss together pasta, bacon, spinach, mushrooms and eggs.  In small bowl, stir together Suddenly Salad seasoning blend, dressing mixes, sugar, ketchup, vinegar, oil and water.  Just before serving, gently toss salad ingredients with seasoning mixture.  Serve immediately.

I found that the large bowl I pulled out ~ my largest salad/mixing bowl mind you ~ was barely large enough to hold all the salad and allow me to mix in the dressing, so be sure if you use my doubled up recipe to use a “very” large bowl.  Notice that I only used half the ketchup and sugar.  Even doing that the dressing tasted very sweet to me.  (I’m a huge fan of sweets, but of not of sweet dressings.  How weird am I?)  I only used half the spinach I should have, but still felt that the spinach to pasta ratio was a bit high.  And next time I’m going to boil eggs ahead of time too.  My microwave egg cooker only boils 4 at a time so we were a bit short on eggs.  I don’t think anyone but me even knew they were in there.

In spite of all the changes to the original, I got rave reviews from the whole fam.  Everyone ate what was on their plates, then continued to pick at what was left in the bowl for the rest of the night until it was gone.  (I went to put it away several times and someone would grab it from me and dig in again.  Good thing we all share germs I guess.)  Definitely a recipe to try for the next big family gathering.
 Yes, Im using my fancy paper plates again.  Hey, nothing wrong with eating pasta salad on a paper plate is there?

09 September 2011

Good for You Sloppy Joes


My husband has been on a health kick lately.  Well, his version of a health kick, which consists of, “Can you make more healthy things for dinner?”  Which, when I do, he quite often complains that they don’t taste good.  (Like wanting to add meat to the No Guilt Cheese Enchiladas.)  So I had some trepidations about trying this meal, but I thought, what the hay.  There were still a few leftovers in the fridge if he just couldn’t stand it.  And I’ve never really tried too many of those “hidden vegetable” meals.  Not to say we couldn’t use a few more in our dinner repertoire.

Good for You Sloppy Joes
source: www.kelloggs.com
1 pound lean ground beef
1 small onion, chopped (1/3 cup)
½ cup chopped red or green sweet pepper
½ cup shredded carrot or zucchini
1 cup Kellogg’s All-Bran Original cereal
1 can (15 oz.) tomato sauce
1 can (14.5 oz.) diced fire-roasted tomatoes with green chiles or diced tomatoes with green chiles , undrained
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
2 teaspoons ground cumin
¼ teaspoon salt
8 whole wheat hamburger buns
carrot sticks (optional)

In a large skillet cook beef, onion, sweet pepper, and carrot until meat is brown; drain fat.  Stir in All-Bran, tomato sauce, diced tomatoes, Worcestershire sauce, cumin, and salt.  Bring to boiling.  Reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, 5 minutes, or until desired consistency, stirring occasionally.  Serve in buns.  Serve with carrot sticks (if desired).

Changes?  Of course.  I used onion powder, as usual.  And because I don’t much like peppers but realize that you can’t really have good sloppy joes without them, and because my middlest doesn’t much like tomatoes, I put the green pepper and the diced tomatoes (yep, I actually got a can with green chiles, can you believe it?) in my little food processor and got them all nice and tiny.  No complaints about green peppers from me, no complaints about tomatoes from my middlest.  Although it did make the sauce a little runnier.  That, and I used V8 instead of tomato sauce.  I cut it down to just one 11.5 ounce can, but maybe I’ll have to add more All-Bran next time to soak up a little more of the juice.  Oh, and I used zucchini because my mom had just given me a bag of shredded zuch from her freezer that needed to be used up.  And because I didn’t feel like hunting down my cumin I just used a couple dashes of taco seasoning.  Thats it.  I really stuck to the recipe other than that.  Really.

I was a little worried that the All-Bran would make for a weird consistency – who likes soggy All-Bran?  (And if we’re honest, who likes All-Bran at all?)  We’ve all eaten something that feels like wet sawdust in your mouth, right?  No?  Just me and the Scots?  (Im talking haggis here.  Anyone else try that before?  Tastes good, but feels like wet sawdust.  And just dont ask how they make it!)  Despite being somewhat runny, these were quite good.  Husband approved (before I told him they were “healthy”) and all the kids (who I didn’t bother to tell they were “healthy”) gobbled them up.  It took my littlest quite a while to decide he would even try his – I think he’s getting tired of trying new foods – but when he got hungry enough we finally convinced him and he decided it really was yum.  My oldest went back for seconds!  And a bonus to these healthy sloppy joes: no need for extra veggies!  (At least in my opinion.  Any true health fanatics out there may dispute me on that one.)  They already have zucchini, green pepper and tomatoes, so anything else you eat with it (like the optional carrot sticks – which I think is a bit of overkill if you’re using them in the sloppy joes; why not choose another kind of veggie?) counts as extra!
 My oldest and I put a little lettuce on ours, and our family can’t eat much of anything without adding cheese.  Hope you make some for your family.  Enjoy!