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Slow Cooker Sloppy Joes

You've never had a sloppy joe until you've had a sloppy joe made from scratch. Crammed full of veggies, big on flavour and huge on comfort, these sloppy joes are a great way to get your daily vegetable servings into picky eaters. As if they weren't wonderful enough, they're kind to the wallet and half-your-brain-tied-behind-your-back easy. If you're feeding a big family, I highly recommend doubling or tripling this recipe (most slow-cookers can handle the upsize with no difficulty) and freezing the extras for last-minute meals.
Author Rebecca Lindamood

Ingredients

  • 3 lbs. lean ground beef or turkey
  • 2 large onions finely chopped
  • 1 large red bell pepper seeded and finely chopped
  • 2 large ribs celery finely chopped
  • 1 small carrot peeled and finely chopped or grated
  • 3 cloves garlic peeled and minced
  • 3 6- oz. cans tomato paste
  • 1/3 c. cider vinegar plus extra for adjusting flavor after cooking
  • 1/3 c. firmly packed light brown sugar plus extra for adjusting flavor after cooking
  • 3 teaspoons paprika
  • 2 teaspoons dry mustard
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 2 teaspoons chili powder more or less, to taste
  • 1 teaspoons fresh ground black pepper more or less, to taste
  • ½ teaspoon hot pepper sauce

Instructions

  • In a large skillet over medium high heat, cook the beef with the onions, bell pepper, celery, carrot, and garlic, breaking up meat with a fork or wooden spoon until meat is lightly browned. Drain meat mixture and remove to a slow cooker, adding remaining ingredients. Stir until thoroughly combined, cover and cook on low for six to seven hours. Adjust flavor by adding additional brown sugar and vinegar to taste, if desired.
  • Serve filling loosely piled on rolls with choice of toppings.

To Freeze:

  • Cool the leftovers completely, scoop into a pre-labeled (with contents and date) resealable zipper bags in one-meal-portions. Close the zipper partway and squeeze as much air from the bag as you can without spilling the contents. Finish closing the zipper and lay the bag flat, gently squishing the bag to evenly distribute the sloppy joe filling. Lay the bags on a cookie sheet and place in the freezer until solid.

To Reheat:

  • Snip the top from the freezer bag and empty the contents into a microwave safe bowl or a heavy-bottomed saucepan with a tight fitting lid. If microwaving, cover bowl with plastic wrap, venting one side. Thaw first, then microwave on high, stirring every 2 minutes or so, until the filling is hot through. If using the stovetop, add 1/4 cup of water, lid tightly, and warm over low heat, stirring every 5 minutes or so, until the filling is hot through and through.