I think I'm developing an unhealthy love for my crockpot. Remember last year when I didn't even like it and simply resorted to using it out of sheer desperation? Yeah. Who was that lady? Crazy. :) Since the original Crockpot Week Challenge, I have amassed quite the library of crockpot recipes, and feel pretty comfortable with the device now so that I can test and invent my own brand of crockpot cookery. Rather than feeling it is an evil device devised simply to overcook otherwise delicious food, I have found the crockpot to be the mother's lifesaver. A special friend that waves hello at me in the morning and says, "Hey. I can help make your day a little easier. Let me cook dinner tonight." :)
I'm incredibly tired. I mean like college finals tired, only I'm not 20 anymore. Chloe decided to play Bedtime Challenge with me last night until 11pm, when I finally figured out that she had figured out that I would keep coming into her room if she got up, stripped naked, donned a tutu, turned her light on, and began kicking her door. I sat her in the naughty chair, and she practically shivered with delight at the special post-bedtime attention. Eventually I realized the proper tactic in that situation was to just sit in my bed and not sleep, pretending to ignore the rustles, the lights, and the knocking until finally it subsided.
Then Liam got up for the second night in a row at around midnight and decided to just stay-up, since it was so close to morning and all. Brian tried for about 45 minutes to be the Liam's Midnight Fiesta person, until abandoning it after my baby boy sat outside our bedroom door crying, knocking, and saying "mamamamamamaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa....." I knew it was over when Brian crawled back into bed and "joked" about just letting him run around. *shakes head* Men. He then rolled over and went to sleep, which left me to scoop up Liam and hunker in for several hours of Sesame Street and cuddles. (To his credit, Liam is very sick and also cutting the last of his teeth, so he's allowed special Midnight Fiestas..... for now).
I finally got Liam to sleep, went to turn off the light in Chloe's room and move her tutu and sparkle-shoe clad body into her bed, and got myself back in bed when I heard an ominous, "THWACK. SCRATCH. MEEEEEEEOOOOOOOOW!" come from the laundry room. Oh dear God not again. I went into the hallway and sure enough, there, struggling for life in my sweet fluffy unassuming cat's mouth was a brown mouse. This time I felt no duty to stay-up and attempt to rescue it as I had last time. I muttered something about Pumpers being a good kitty. Pretended not to be totally grossed out. And, once again, hobbled back to bed.
I say hobbled because my sciatica has been super bad since Thanksgiving and I'm getting really tired of it. We will have health insurance very soon, though, with Brian's new job, and apparently all I need to do is see a chiropractor. I'm totally geeking out over the possibility of doing that and NOT hurting anymore. :)
Anyway..... back to the crockpot. This morning I stumbled out of bed and gave it a big fat hug: "You're in charge today, pal." I tossed FROZEN ground beef in with a bunch of other things I didn't bother measuring, flipped it on, and walked away. I just checked on it, and I have abso-friggin-licious sloppy joe mix for Sloppy Joe Grilled Cheeses. I love you, crockpot.
Since I am utterly amazed at the ability to throw frozen ground beef into the crockpot and have it come out this perfect, I feel obligated to share with you all an approximation of what I did. Let's all keep in mind I was drunk on no-sleep and 2 cups of coffee (this is what I imagine drinking one of those bad-for-you cocktails of red bull and sedatives feels like) so I wasn't exactly breaking out the measuring cups and spoons, alright? :)
Crockpot Sloppy Joe Mix
Yield: about 8 servings
about 1 1/2 pounds ground beef, frozen
about 1 C tomato sauce
about 1/2 C apple cider vinegar
about 1 T molasses
about 1 t worcestershire sauce
about 1 t onion powder
about 1/2 t garlic powder
plenty of sea salt and black pepper
about 1/2 to 3/4 C brown sugar (that's hard to guess because I usually pack it and this I just sprinkled in)
a dash of cayenne pepper
about 2 T yellow mustard
2 ounces of applesauce (I also think grape jelly would be good, or apple butter)
Place everything in the crockpot sprayed with Pam. Turn the thing on low and stir, periodically, to break-up the frozen/cooking meat. It will be really really watery at first as the meat thaws, but let it go for a good 6 hours and it should thicken-up perfectly. Keep an eye on it or it will burn if you over-cook it.
Obvious question: is it greasy? No. Not really. And I'm amazed. I had planned to drain it and add more sauce, but it came out great. Is that waist-line friendly? Not really, but that wasn't my primary concern with this dinner. And no, this wasn't even lean ground beef. It came out of a family pack that was on sale at Marsh.
With this delightful and kid-friendly concoction, I plan to ask Brian to assemble an even more delightful and more kid-friendly concoction called:
Sloppy Joe Grilled Cheese
Yield: 1 sandwich
2 thick slices of homemade white bread, or texas toast, or even something more fancy
2 slices of your cheese or cheeses of choice (I'm going American and sharp cheddar)
about 1/4 C of sloppy joe mix
Butter the bread and put it in a hot pan. Assemble just like you would a regular grilled cheese. Yum!
We're having this gourmet meal with frozen sweet potato tater tots and veggies n dip! Brian's in charge of the tots and the veggies, 'cause this momma's going to bed! Oh yeah. :)