Sloppy Joes and Oklahoma Salad

Sandwiched…and a very special salad

We’re in the hot and humid days of summer here in Michigan, and the 4th of July weekend is coming up. As usual I’m thinking, how did this get here so fast? The kids just got out of school! I’ve always been annoyed when people say “it’s the middle of summer”, because I feel like I’ve been cramming in as much as I can up until now, and I’m just getting to the point of slowing the pace down around here and settling into it. Anyway, enough of my complaining…there’s still plenty of summer ahead to enjoy.

With wanting to make the most of our time, and the weather being so hot, sandwiches are on our menu at least once a week this time of year. When you think about it, sandwiches are the classic summertime meal: hamburgers and hot dogs on the grill or BLTs made with the first tomatoes off the vine from the garden. They’re another great way to keep dinner simple – again, just add a salad or some fresh fruit and you’re done. My family likes these sloppy joes, and they’re good on a weeknight, when you just want to make dinner in the kitchen and not head out to the grill.

Sloppy Joes

1 lb. lean ground beef (or ground turkey)
1 small onion, chopped
½ green pepper, chopped (optional)
½ cup ketchup
½ teaspoon sugar
½ teaspoon celery salt
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon black pepper
½ teaspoon mustard
½ teaspoon vinegar
½ teaspoon Worcestershire sauce

The green pepper in this recipe is an ingredient I add to get my family to eat more green vegetables — our original family recipe doesn’t include it. The peppers add some flavor, if you like them. If not, just leave them out.

Some brands of ketchup are made without high fructose corn syrup, now. Check the label — usually they put it in large print on the front too, because people are more aware of avoiding this these days.

I usually like to substitute lite soy sauce for regular, but in this dressing recipe it’s not as good. I think you need the saltiness to balance off the sweetness from the sugar.
In a large skillet, brown ground beef with onion and green pepper over medium heat. Drain any excess fat. Add all remaining ingredients, mix well and simmer for 15 minutes. Serve on whole-grain (or your family’s favorite) hamburger buns. Serves about 4 people.

This is a yummy salad that goes great with this dinner. It’s one of those recipes that I tasted at a potluck (it makes enough for a crowd) and asked for the recipe right away. Since then, I’ve been asked for the recipe many times, too. We were in Oklahoma when we first had this, and that’s where our daughter was born, so we’ve named it after our very special trip there.

Oklahoma Salad

Salad:

2 heads romaine lettuce
1 bunch broccoli
1 bunch green onions
1½ cups (about 7 oz.) sunflower seed kernels
2 packages Ramen noodles (minus seasoning packet)
3 Tablespoons butter
3 Tablespoons olive oil

A great way to make this more quickly on a weeknight is to use toasted, sliced almonds and chow mein noodles in place of having to toast the Ramen noodles and sunflower seed kernels.

Melt butter with olive oil in a non-stick pan. Crumble Ramen noodles. Brown noodles and sunflower seeds on low heat about 30 minutes. Spread seed mixture out to cool completely. Chop broccoli, green onions and lettuce. Mix all together and toss with some of the dressing.

Dressing:

1 cup sugar (or 2/3 cup agave nectar*)
1 cup canola oil
½ cup apple cider vinegar
4 teaspoons soy sauce

I usually like to substitute lite soy sauce for regular, but in this dressing recipe it’s not as good. I think you need the saltiness to balance off the sweetness from the sugar.

Place ingredients in a bowl and whisk together thoroughly. You will probably have some dressing left over after tossing some with the salad. Always stir dressing from the bottom before using. (The sugar settles to the bottom.)

*Agave nectar is a natural sweetener that is sweeter than sugar, so you can use less.

Sometimes our days can feel like we’re squeezing in as much as we can, especially with having a family. When I feel like there’s so much to get done each day and I start asking myself, “when do I get to just relax and have some fun?”, I know it’s time to let some stuff go. Let’s see…the kids can do the dishes tonight while I take a walk with my husband. And then we could all play some cards out on the deck and maybe even roast some marshmallows out there. Sounds like summer is finally here….

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  4. We eat your Oklahoma salad all throughout the year! It’s rather addictive!

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