Sassy Beef and Mushroom Sloppy Joes

March 3, 2017
Sassy Beef and Mushroom Sloppy Joes - They might be a mess of a meal (3 napkins required) but they're full of richly flavored beef & mushrooms

“How ‘ya ‘doing Grandma?”

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I'm at home on a quiet afternoon getting ready for an impromptu dinner party.  An unseasonably warm day for March; the kitties are sitting in windows, enjoying the first warm breezes of the season.  Salsa is chilling alongside bottles of wine in the fridge; lasagna in the oven

Later there will be bread crumbs at our feet, tomato stains and candle wax drips on the tablecloth, and blue lidded containers sent home with left-overs.  A sink full of dishes best tackled after changing into pajamas

Later we'll sit down for dinner and share stories of winter vacations, laughter, advice.

But for now, I Face Time with a toddler who I've missed, so very much

— — —

“Did you get to visit your brother at the hospital today?  It's such a bummer to be sick.”

“Yep, and guess what?!  Mommy and I had pancakes with extra syrup!  Grandma, are you comin' visit?”

“I'm thinking about it, Sweetie.”

“Ummm .. Oh, and I played wif trucks, and I slid down the big hill into the snow with my f'nds”

“Tell me about the friends at your new school” 

 “Yeah, and they tell me what to do some-thimes, and I have to think if I want to do it.  And then I have to think if I don't want to do it.  But I have to think, you know, Grandma?  And then I have to do what I tell my-shelf to do.”

“That's very wise.”


Sassy Beef and Mushroom Sloppy Joes - They might be a mess of a meal (3 napkins required) but they're full of richly flavored beef & mushrooms

I’ve always wanted to raise children of character, not of compliance.  I’ve always wanted them to ask questions, to push back, to buck the system when necessary

I’ve always forgotten to do the same

— — —

Today, Part III of a short series devoted to “I can” vs. “I can't”   A series inspired by a friend and health coach who's on a mission to prove to her clients that “Yes, they can!”  Turns out the girl who's usually gung-ho, tells herself “I can't” more often than I ever realized

I've been sharing how I've handled a few of my can'ts these past few weeks, and found answers to the question

“So if you can't do that; what can you do instead?”

Sassy Beef and Mushroom Sloppy Joes - They might be a mess of a meal (3 napkins required) but they're full of richly flavored beef & mushrooms

The largest obstacle in my life-long battle with the scale has been, by far, falling off the wagon when I'm feeling sad, worried, stressed, or anxious

During my 20s and 30s, when it happened, I binged.  In my 40s I've stopped, and instead find myself craving sweets when I haven't been hungry for them in weeks.  Or in the kitchen mindlessly snacking at 2 am (or 2 pm and every hour in between)

It came to a head a couple of months ago when a late-night email threw me off my game.  So much so, that as the scale began its upward creep.  I sought advice from the counselor who's chair I've retreated to over the years.  A kind soul with wise words, for the times I'm feeling hopelessly stuck

He's been teaching me how to have a voice in these kinds of situations, so I can feel empowered and turn less to food for comfort .. aka boundaries

“You can create your own boundaries around how you allow others to speak to you. 

It's up to you do decide what you're willing to take into your life.  When in doubt, ask yourself the question:  Would you be ok if this were happening to a child or to someone you loved?”

“The first few times you say it out loud, defend a boundary, it's going to feel uncomfortable.  Expect people to tell you why you're wrong or argue their point    

Over time, you'll discover the eating behavior that typically happens afterward will become less and less and less.  You’ll go from a place of feeling like someone ran all over you, to feeling like you had a voice”    ~ Wise Words

Sassy Beef and Mushroom Sloppy Joes - They might be a mess of a meal (3 napkins required) but they're full of richly flavored beef & mushrooms

I’ve had a long run of not thinking.  I’ve had a long run of compliance, of doing what’s expected, of joining the masses in an attempt to keep the peace; to not make waves, to float through life without conflict, without offense.

Sometimes it serves me well

Other times it does not

— — —

And so boundaries

If you're someone who's never had any, establishing them is tricky (at best).  We practice

“In this situation, what would a normal person do?”

He smiles, “What would you like to do?”

“I'd like to do this.  But if I do, I fear it will hurt someone's feelings, or they'll be even more upset with me.”

(Don't do what they tell you to do, Grandma)

I practice on my own.  It goes badly, most of the time.  He and I practice some more

And then one day I start to notice something strange.  Could it be that he was right?  The last time I was in the kitchen at 2 am, I was truly hungry and cut myself part of a grapefruit.  The yearly delivery of girl scout cookies has gone untouched, and I'm feeling

strangely in control

Sassy Beef and Mushroom Sloppy Joes - They might be a mess of a meal (3 napkins required) but they're full of richly flavored beef & mushrooms

Last weekend, breakfast was served in bed.  It's early, we're in pajamas, and my husband is offering runny eggs + tomato over a friend's homemade sourdough.  Three puppies + 2 humans + 2 kitties all smooshed onto the square of our bed, vying for room to spread out

I feel the steady thump of Harry's heartbeat against my back.  A wave of gratitude to be on the other side of a, particularly challenging week.  I know my husband feels it too.  Do they know I'd choose this a hundred times if I could?

(Don't do what they tell you to do, Grandma)

— — —

What are some other tips and tricks, for when life has gotten the better of us, and we're feeling emotional?

( .. to be continued .. )

Sassy Beef and Mushroom Sloppy Joes - They might be a mess of a meal (3 napkins required) but they're full of richly flavored beef & mushrooms


Some foods are memory triggers; meals that send you back to long-forgotten moments in your life.  The sloppy Joe sandwich is one such time machine

I loved the afternoons spent in the kitchen just he and I.  Or as cooking with a three-year-old goes, the snippets of time while he fluttered to and fro.  One of our favorite sandwiches was the sloppy joe

This version is an adaptation from Betty Crocker, and the closest I've come to the version my mother (and the lunch ladies) made when we were kids.  They're a delicious mess-of-a-meal (three + napkins required).  A sweet and spicy hill of thick sautéed ground beef and mushrooms spilling out of a bun.

Anything you want to put on them will never bad.  They're such a fun way to make memories and a terrific antidote to the pressures of adulting

Guaranteed to serve up lots of sloppy smiles and kisses(!)



ps:  You can read more of the “I can” vs. “I can't”  series in Part I  |  Part II   |  Part IV

I'm participating as part of the  Iowa Food and Family Project‘s blogger team in this year's annual Live Healthy Iowa 10 Week Challenge.  More stories from the Challenge can be found here 

— — —

~ Adapted from Betty Crocker

Sassy Beef and Mushroom Sloppy Joes


  • 1 lb ground beef
  • 8 oz mushrooms, chopped
  • cup onion, chopped
  • 1 cup ketchup
  • ½ cup chili sauce
  • 1 Tbsp natural sugar, optional (such as Sugar in the Raw or turbinado)
  • 1 Tbsp brown sugar
  • 1 ½ Tbsp cider vinegar
  • 1 Tbsp ground mustard
  • fine grain sea salt + freshly ground black pepper
  • 6 hamburger buns, split


  • In a large skillet, cook the beef, mushrooms, and onion over medium heat until meat is no longer pink and vegetables are tender; drain.
  • Stir in the ketchup, chili sauce, sugars, vinegar, mustard, salt, and pepper.
  • Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer, uncovered, for 15 minutes.
  • Serve on buns with your favorite toppings
Serves: 6
Nutrition + Show
Calories 360
Total Fat 12.5g
Saturated Fat 4.5g
Carbohydrates 35.7g
Fiber 3.3g
Sugars 15.4g
Protein 26.7g
Print This Recipe

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  • Reply Cassidy March 3, 2017 at 4:39 am

    These look delicious! Sloppy joes remind me of my childhood – but I like how these have the mushrooms to add a little bit of nutrition other than meat, ya know? Thanks for sharing. I will have to make them once I am back in the US and can get the supplies!

  • Reply Jennifer S March 3, 2017 at 1:19 pm

    5 stars
    Oh yummy! Those look delicious! This would go over very well with my family, I’d just have to make half with mushrooms half without LOL. I like that it’s all in one pan and not switching back and forth, and it can be an easy dinner when you’re unsure of what to make that night!

  • Reply Stacie March 3, 2017 at 1:55 pm

    5 stars
    Those look so good! I actually make a recipe very similar to this that my family loves, so I know this one will be a big hit. Thanks!

  • Reply Vera Bortolotto March 3, 2017 at 1:59 pm

    5 stars
    My family loves sloppy Joes. I have never added mushrooms though. It is something that I will need to add in but I will need to make them super small so the kids dont notice it. lol

  • Reply Lisa Favre March 3, 2017 at 4:51 pm

    Oh my… my husband would ADORE these sloppy joes! I’m loving the fact that there are mushrooms in the mix. He would love the fact that it’s so meat-y! Win-win!

  • Reply Karissa March 3, 2017 at 5:50 pm

    Yummy! Those look like some tasty (and very messy) burgers! I could sink my teeth into those!

  • Reply Louise Bishop March 3, 2017 at 8:02 pm

    I’ve never thought about adding mushrooms before. That actually sounds really good.

  • Reply Sheena Tatum March 3, 2017 at 8:03 pm

    I think you should chose dinner for me tomorrow. This sounds easy and the kids would love it.

  • Reply Jennifer L March 4, 2017 at 12:02 am

    5 stars
    Ive never been a sloppy joe kind of gal but these look really good. I love the addition of mushrooms so I will be adding this to my menu for the week. Just love your recipes!

  • Reply Annie March 4, 2017 at 12:19 am

    The sandwiches look awesome! My family loves burger sloppy joe. I’m planning to make burgers for dinner,so this is so timely.

  • Reply Lindsey March 4, 2017 at 12:52 am

    I’ve never had a sloppy joe before and boy does it look good, love how you played crisps next to it to add some crunch

  • Reply Brian March 4, 2017 at 4:03 am

    Like Eddie Vedder said in July 2003, “The thing about living in the moment is that there’s a moment after that.”

  • Reply Ginger March 4, 2017 at 4:41 am

    Your grandson sounds like a little warrior and you sound incredibly strong too. Also, the sloppy joes look excellent!

  • Reply Anton March 4, 2017 at 4:46 am

    Wow, that looks like some fantastic comfort food! Wouldn’t mid having one right now.

  • Reply lisa March 4, 2017 at 12:00 pm

    5 stars
    Oh yes, I’m making this today! OMGoodness this looks so delicious and of course very easy to make. Thanks for sharing!

  • Reply Ann Bacciaglia March 4, 2017 at 1:38 pm

    Sloppy Joes are always a big hit in my house. This recipe looks so delicious and easy to make. I will have to get what I need to make it this weekend.

  • Reply Bee March 4, 2017 at 3:23 pm

    I just came to drop a feedback. I tried making this and my family loved it. I’m your new follower . I have to try a few more from you

  • Reply Amber March 4, 2017 at 7:35 pm

    5 stars
    Oh my goodness! This is really tempting and tasty for sure! I’m going to try to make this.

  • Reply Victoria Heckstall March 4, 2017 at 7:42 pm

    5 stars
    I really love this, I wanna grab it from my screen! I’m going to try this one

  • Reply Tami Qualls March 4, 2017 at 7:43 pm

    I’m always on the lookout for new recipes. Having a hungry hubby and two starving teens, it’s hard to keep them interested in the same ‘ol menu. I think even my 4 year old will enjoy these.

  • Reply Heather March 4, 2017 at 9:13 pm

    What timing! Yesterday my husband and I were in the grocery store and I saw an end-cap with Manwich cans and I mentioned I couldn’t remember the last time I had Sloppy Joes, but the canned stuff just isn’t appealing. Then I see this! SCORE! My husband said, “Those look good. Yeah!” So definitely pinning and will be making. Thank you for the fun recipe!

  • Reply Stephanie March 4, 2017 at 11:00 pm

    Wow! That looks like such an enjoyable dish. I think I will try this. I just got some ground turkey. I wonder how it would taste with turkey meat. Hmmm!

  • Reply R U S S March 5, 2017 at 4:21 am

    5 stars
    Those look really goood. Sloppy Joes are my fave but I have not tried making them on my own. But this time, I think I would. You make it sound so simple.

  • Reply Jenna March 5, 2017 at 8:09 am

    I used to love Sloppy Joes when I was a kid, then I stopped eating it so often because I knew how bad the packaged stuff was. THEN, when I stopped eating meat, I stopped eating it altogether (obviously!). I do make a good homemade version for my hubby and the kids though!

  • Reply Emma March 5, 2017 at 8:26 am

    These sound great. I love how you’ve bulked up the meat with mushrooms to add more taste and flavour with out the extra calories. A really yummy meal!

  • Reply Eloise March 5, 2017 at 3:29 pm

    And now i want this for dinner… I’ll have to go to the store and get what I need, thanks for the idea! : )

  • Reply Sam March 5, 2017 at 7:32 pm

    I love mushrooms. I have never been a fan of sloppy joes, but I am tempted to try a meatless version of this recipe. Comfort foods are so satisfying!

  • Reply Liza March 5, 2017 at 8:54 pm

    5 stars
    These sandwiches look delicious and something that I might have to try.

    I totally need to work on the “I can” attitude. When I get down and depressed, my I can’ts creep up way more than they probably should.

  • Reply E H March 5, 2017 at 9:04 pm

    Good luck to you on your weight loss journey, and combatting those fears and cravings. I am trying to lose weight now myself, and it is such a long road, and I am fighting over each pound with myself – not an easy road to take.

  • Reply Nickida March 6, 2017 at 1:44 am

    I like this jazzed up version of sloppy joe. My husband would love this because of the mushrooms. I’ll have to try this and hide the mushrooms by cutting them small.

  • Reply Annemarie LeBlanc March 6, 2017 at 3:27 am

    5 stars
    My husband just asked me if we could have sloppy joes for dinner some time. I’m in luck. I’m saving your recipe and making this for him. I wish you well on your weight loss journey. I can so relate, although my dietary restriction is to stay away from starchy foods and sweets. (I am diabetic) It is such a challenge to stay away from food you love!

  • Reply Rebecca March 6, 2017 at 4:26 am

    Oh my goodness, these look amazing! I am so hungry now haha! It’s funny how foods can trigger certain memories and I love building memories from the food we eat, whether it’s family favourites or meals we have on holidays. Thanks for sharing! x

  • Reply Elizabeth O. March 6, 2017 at 4:55 am

    What a cute little boy. I love that he needs time to think if he’s going to do something or not, that’s good character right there. It’s always nice to see yourself improve especially when it comes to eating habits. Isn’t it the best feeling in the world to be cuddled up in bed with the people/animals you love! It’s definitely the perfect way to cap off a week especially if it’s a stressful one. The sliders look ahhhh-mazing!

  • Reply Ana De- Jesus March 6, 2017 at 7:02 am

    That is an interesting point to make, raising kids of character who are encouraged to ask questions and not be compliant is a must but we ‘like you said’ often forget to do the same. Still the sloppy joes look good x

  • Reply Kristina March 6, 2017 at 7:26 am

    5 stars
    Looks so yum! I am going to make lunch now, thanks for making me hungry haha
    Lovely post!!

    K xxx

  • Reply Lynndee March 6, 2017 at 9:37 am

    I love mushrooms! This must be so yummy! Thanks for sharing the recipe. I’m definitely going to make this this week.

  • Reply Mary March 6, 2017 at 1:15 pm

    These look so yummy! I’ve never been one for sloppy joes, but I might try this. I have to say it’s always young children who seem a lot wiser than we give them credit for. YOur grandchild needs to be a motivational speaker. Lol.

  • Reply Kathy March 7, 2017 at 12:50 pm

    I love Sloppy Joes, I never thought about adding mushrooms. This recipe looks good, homemade is the only way I make them!

  • Reply Claudia Blanton March 7, 2017 at 11:01 pm

    5 stars
    I usually use lentils instead of ground beef in my sloppy joes, just to make them healthier, and so my vegan daughter can eat them too, but these make me grave the real thing. I will give it a try, Thanks!

  • Reply Veethee Dixit March 8, 2017 at 12:29 am

    5 stars
    It sure looks delicious. But I can’t have it since I am a vegetarian. Although, my sister would love it!

  • Reply Kimberly C. March 8, 2017 at 2:28 am

    This is surprisingly easy to make. Love how your photos are so clear. Very nice!

  • Reply chichi March 8, 2017 at 3:31 am

    i will love to make it this sunday for a get together only substituting the beef with lamb! perfect timing!

  • Reply Ana Ojha March 8, 2017 at 7:57 am

    5 stars
    Loved reading your “I can” vs “I can’t” series and you’ve shared your perspective very nicely. What a cute little boy and couldn’t agree more with you that it’s important to raise a kid of character. Also, your recipe looks incredibly delicious and making me hungry!

  • Reply Shannon Gurnee March 8, 2017 at 3:56 pm

    These look and sound amazing! I used to love Sloppy Joes when I was a kid.

  • Reply Chinedu Agwu March 9, 2017 at 8:05 am

    The sloppy joes looks great – i was actually salivating as I read your post. And yes I agree, raising a child of character is very important in this day and age. 🙂

  • Reply Joely Smith March 9, 2017 at 4:43 pm

    5 stars
    We love sloppy joes but they are sometimes too ummm sloppy LOL. I like how yours look a bit thicker and so much yummier! Will try your recipe!

  • Reply Morgan March 9, 2017 at 4:49 pm

    I used to love Sloppy Joe’s as a child. It’s been AGES since I’ve eaten it. I now make a vegan version with crumbled tempeh and tofu! It’s just as delicious!

  • Reply Cacinda March 9, 2017 at 5:22 pm

    5 stars
    This was such a great post! For me it is meatloaf, it never fails to give me flashbacks of my childhood. I have never really tried anything besides the basics with my sloppy joes but these look yummy.

  • Reply Becky March 9, 2017 at 8:11 pm

    5 stars
    I truly love how you incorporated your story about “I can vs I can’t” with the childhood memories Sloppy Joes brings back. I enjoyed reading your whole post and your recipe looks delicious.

  • Reply Censie Sawyer March 10, 2017 at 10:18 am

    Oh man, I cannot remember the last time we had sloppy joes. I am actually working on our meal plan for next week right. I am so going to add sloppy joes to our plan. YUM! Great post. I love thinking back to childhood memories.

  • Reply Sandy N Vyjay March 10, 2017 at 10:41 am

    Sloppy Joe looked amazing and extremely mouth watering. Instead of beef the addition of tofu with mushrooms or probably cottage cheese would go quite well. I loved this recipe!

  • Reply Jennifer Seigler March 10, 2017 at 10:47 pm

    5 stars
    I just love your writing style. It seems like I am reading through the thoughts in your brain and then you go ahead and insert a recipe that makes my mouth water! Thanks for sharing it. We’re going to be sloppy and messy and sit back with happy tummies!

  • Reply Aileen Adalid March 11, 2017 at 11:32 am

    This looks so great! And a great snack for the family 😀 Thanks for sharing this recipe; it also looks very easy to prepare!

  • Reply Alyssa March 11, 2017 at 1:14 pm

    5 stars
    I’m a huge fan of sloppy joes! Adding mushrooms is a such a great idea since they have an inherent meatiness to them. I love your story too. Thanks for sharing this great post! Can’t wait to try this recipe.

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