Sloppy Joe's

Sometimes my own search engine frustrates me as back in 2006, 2007, 2008...  blogger wasn't quite like it is now and often times back then an entire month would archive together but not the posts separately.  So, needless to say there are a couple recipes I search for - knowing they are here - and have a hard time finding them.   Now, since my site is primarily for me and my kids to use and easy and quickly find the recipes our family loves...  it makes no sense to search so long for some of the same recipes over and over again that for whatever reason, my site likes to hide from me.

And this is one of them!  SO MANY TIMES I have to do digging for my recipe for Sloppy Joe's.  And YES I do have it on a recipe card in one of my recipe books, but sometimes I like to put my laptop up on the counter and simply look at the recipe on my site.  My old eyes aren't what they used to be and it's just easy to do it that way rather than looking down at my little recipe card each time.

So here it is...   again.  Ha ha.  This is cut and pasted from my original entry back in 2008.

Sloppy Joes

1 lb. ground beef
3/4 lb. ground turkey
1/2 large onion, diced
4 T chili powder
6 T bbq sauce (I used 6 T ketchup with 6 t yellow mustard)
1 t Worcestershire sauce
1 c ketchup
2 T sugar
1 c milk
4 t vinegar
1 1/2 T flour
salt and pepper

Brown the ground beef and turkey with the diced onion. Add the rest of the spices and simmer 5 minutes. Serve on buns.

Pinata Cookies - with the Donkey Cookie Cutter (otherwise known as a Democrat Cookie Cutter)

Back in 2012 I was browsing the SheKnows site and saw the awesome Pinata Cookies that were so popular that Spring.  I just checked today and am thrilled it's still up and running!  Many times I bookmark a site or a particular recipe only to find it's long gone in 6 months or a year or two, so I usually try to download my favorites to my website to store and keep them 'just in case'.  This one is still going strong.  Probably because they are just that cool.

Although I didn't plan on hosting a Cinco de Mayo party that year, I loved this idea and had a moment of 'why didn't I ever think of this!?'   I saved the idea to my files to make after we knew some people in our new city/state that we had just relocated to, or for a birthday as a "pinata" birthday goodie.

If you by chance haven't seen the M&M stuffed cookies (although they are ALL over the internet so you'd have to try pretty hard not to, LOL)  they are a multi-colored sugar cookie with a second for the back side and sandwiched in between them is a third cookie with the ears and feet cut off and used to hide the goodies inside.

Photo's from the link above at SheKnows

  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 cup butter
  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon almond extract
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 5 cups flour
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla
  • Mini M&M candies
  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar (frosting)
  • 2 teaspoons milk (frosting)

Cream sugars with butter. Beat in eggs. Add oil. Combine dry ingredients together, and then gradually add them to the mixture. Mix in vanilla and almond extract.

Split dough into five, even-sized balls and one smaller ball (this will be the black one). Add food coloring to each of the dough balls until desired color is achieved. Gel food coloring gives you more intense colors than liquid.

Use a container the same approximate width of your donkey/burro piñata cookie cutter, and line it with plastic food wrap. Split all of your colored dough balls in half (except the black) and begin layering the dough in the container, starting with the black dough on the bottom. Alternate the colors so that you end up with two layers of each color by the time you're done.

Cover the layered dough and freeze for four hours or overnight. This is the perfect time to conserve your creative juices for what lies ahead.

Remove the dough from the container and unwrap from the plastic. Cut slices, approximately 1/4-inch wide. Place them on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake them at 350 degrees F for 12 minutes.

Immediately after you take them out of the oven, use your burro piñata cookie cutter to cut the cookie shapes. Working in sets of three, be sure to cut two burro piñata cookies in one direction and one burro piñata cookie in the opposite direction. (Just flip your cookie cutter over.) That way, when you go to assemble them, the finished cookie will look "pretty" on both sides -- because the baked, bottom sides will be hidden.

For the middle cookies in each set, cut off the ears and legs, and cut out the center where the M&Ms will go. I used a small square cutter, and made three cuts to get a narrow rectangle. Try to work quickly, because as the cookies cool, they are more likely to crumble or break. Let them cool on the baking sheet before you move them and remove the excess, outer cookie.

I haven't made these yet - the photo's are from the recipe link above

To assemble, take the first piñata cookie and lay it upside down so that the baked bottom is facing up. Outline the center of the piñata body with a "frosting glue" mixture of milk and powdered sugar. (I used 1/2 cup of powdered sugar and two teaspoons of milk. If you put it inside a Ziploc bag and cut off a tiny tip of the bag's corner, you can pipe it onto the cookie easily.)
Put the middle cookie on top of the frosting glue and add the M&Ms to the open center. Put another outline of frosting glue on the middle cookie and place the opposite-cut piñata cookie on top (so that the pretty side is facing out). Let these sit and harden for at least 30 minutes before you stand them upright.

As noted in the recipe above, you will need vibrant, gel food colors, not liquid.  Liquid can't get as vibrant and for the amount you add, your dough becomes too sticky and wet.

I found these on Amazon.  They are highly rate and are the Americolor Soft Gel Paste Student Kit- Culinary Academy 1st Choice!

Now for the cutter's!  This is the cookie cutter most of my visitor's end up purchasing;  It's the first Choice of most of my readers...

Copper!  This cookie cutter is most beloved.  A little more expensive, but it's copper, handmade in the USA and is large enough to not only tell it's a donkey, but works for the Pinata cookies as there is room to stuff them! 

  • Handmade in the USA from timelessly beautiful solid copper, this cookie cutter is a work of exceptional quality and durability. Sizes may vary slightly due to the handcrafted nature of this product. One side of the copper is tightly folded over for safety and stability.
  • In business since 1983, we have served well over 100,000 customers who've discovered the timeless value of our superbly made, high quality, beautiful copper cookie cutters.
  • Apart from the actual bending of each cookie cutter, each of our cookie cutters undergo a 15-step manufacturing process overseen by our Coppersmith Ray Braman. This process is designed to ensure every cutter that leaves our workshop is of the highest quality. These production qualities are very unique, and quite extraordinary given the many shapes, sizes, and categories of copper cookie cutters we offer.
  • Our copper cookie cutters are hand-formed, hand-soldered, and marked with our "Maker's Mark". The maker's mark dates back to the early middle ages when metal craftsmen marked each piece they created with a distinctive symbol, much like an artist signs a finished painting.
  • Because of the attention to quality in making this cookie cutter, we generally cannot undercut the prices of the more common foreign made or lighter weight copper cookie cutters on the market.

Democratic Donkey Cookie Cutter
If you can't get the copper cookie cutter above, this would be my second choice.  It's large enough to use for a stuffed Pinata Cookies as it says it is 4.8" tall at the highest but I also love that it has a handle on it!  This really is helpful and is a plus when you are stamping out many cookies.  This would be a great option if you need a nice large cookie cutter.

  • Made of tin wth sturdy handle
  • Colorful card with cookie recipe included
  • Great also for brownies and finger sandwhiches
  • Made in the USA!

These not in my top choices at all for pinata cookies because they are so tiny however, if you need to make donkey cookies for a barnyard party, a democrat political event or yes... even pinata cookies with just a tiny bit of 'candy stuffing' these would do on a very tight, small budget.  And admittedly, I'm usually in that very tight, small budget crowd!!

  • Made in the USA
  • Cookie cutter measures approx. 3"
  • Made of tin plated steel
  • Great for cookies, sandwiches, brownies . . .
*He's a little guy!  Only 3 inches big at his tallest!  Won't work especially well for Pinata cookies, but it could be done. 

  • Tinplated steel
  • Wipe with damp cloth to clean
  • Heavy duty, not flimsy
  • Great for cutting cookie dough, craft clay, soft fruits.
  • Not Dishwasher safe
*This one is very tiny and does not have a handle.  Some reviewers have complained about the size, the shape and the fact that it doesn't resemble a donkey well enough.


Autumn Cravings: Pumpkin Bars! Both regular and sugar free

If you follow me on Twitter, you know I've been thinking about pumpkin bars.  It's that time of year when my body starts to crave pumpkin.  (Odd since I did not grow up in a house that ate pumpkin in any way, shape or form except sometimes a pumpkin pie at Thanksgiving - which I never liked nor ate).  But my first bite of a pumpkin bar was at the cookie and punch reception in the school gym after an elementary school concert.  Pumpkin bars, spice bars... the things little children normally don't 'go for' I went for!  My first bite was heaven and I've loved pumpkin and spice 'things' (cake, pie, bars, cookies, muffins, rolls, coffee drinks, pumpkin squash pasta)  ever since.

This is a great three layer pumpkin bar that you could make sugar free if you have a sugar free cake mix on hand and use natural sweeteners instead of the brown sugar and sugar.  I'll link to those options from online retailers below this post in case you can't get them where you live.  I can find sugar free cake mixes at *some* Walmarts (but not all) and I used to find them at my local Publix but they discontinued them within the last 4 months. 

Triple Layer Pumpkin Bars

1 yellow cake mix, divided. Save 1 cup out for top.
1/2 c real butter
1 egg

2 eggs
3/4 c milk
20 oz. pumpkin
1/2 c brown sugar
1 t vanilla - liquid or powder
2 t pumpkin pie spices

1 cup of the dry cake mix reserved from bottom layer
1/4 c sugar
1 t cinnamon
1/4 c butter

Combine the bottom layer ingredients; dry cake mix, butter and egg.  Press into a 9X13" pan or the equivalent sized pan.  I used 10X10.  Mix together the filling ingredients by hand, whisk or electric.  When blended smooth spread over the bottom layer.  Mix together the reserved 1 cup dry cake mix with the sugar, cinnamon and butter.  When crumbly, sprinkle over the top.  Bake at 350 degrees for 45-50 minutes.  Cool completely and preferably chill before cutting. 

Sugar Free, Low Carb Pumpkin Bars

3/4 c almond flour
1/4 c coconut flour
2 t oat flour
1/2 t baking powder
1/2 t salt
1 1/2 t pumpkin pie spice
2/3 c pumpkin puree
2 eggs
1/4 c coconut oil
1/4 c Brown Sugar substitute
3/4 c granular sugar free sweetener of your choice
1 1/2 t vanilla

In a bowl mix the almond, coconut and oat flours with the baking powder, salt and pumpkin pie spice.  If you don't have pumpkin pie spice, just use about 1 teaspoon cinnamon, and 1/4 t ginger, nutmeg, cloves and allspice.  In another bowl mix the pumpkin, eggs and oil.  Add the sugar substitutes and vanilla.  Pour into a greased pan of your choice.  10X10", 12X8", 8X8" - the bigger the pan, the thinner the bar.  Bake at 350 degrees for 25-40 minutes depending on how big of a pan you used. 

Cool Completely.  Frost with a basic cream cheese frosting.  You mix one version up by beating together 8 oz. cream cheese with  3 T butter, 2 t vanilla, 1/4 c sugar substitute (I used Just Like Sugar and Ideal Brown Sugar** - mixed together, with about 10 drops liquid sweetener).   Refrigerate. 

** Unfortunately it seems Ideal has stopped making their brown sugar style sweetener.  Which is too bad because it was my favorite.  I now use the Just Like Sugar brand brown (which you find the link on Amazon below if you need it)

Some products you might be interested in that are used in the above recipes;

Pillsbury Moist Supreme Sugar Free Classic Yellow Premium Cake Mix (Pack of 2)
 Ideal No Calorie Sweetener
Just Like Sugar Brown Sweetener

Bob's Red Mill Almond Meal/Flour, 16 oz
Coconut Secret Raw Coconut Flour

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