This comes from the same group that brought us the infamous Honeycrisp and this apple, in fact, is a cross between the Honeycrisp and Zestar apples. Here's my thought process as I ate through my first apple - "Woo! This just might beat Honeycrisp in the crispy department - now wait a second... dang, this is so sweet too!". Then, I wiped my chin as juice was dribbling down, my next mouthful led me to a fascinating tangy finish that was not quite as powerful as a Granny Smith pucker, but still had some pull. I haven't tried baking with it yet, but I'll be interested to see how it holds up to heat - it might make for one sweet apple pie! There is one downside... as they are so new and limited, the apples were darn pricey - three medium-sized ones were just over $5.
Okay, time to move on! Tonight's dinner was definitely one of the more fun recipes we've made in awhile! Think Sloppy Joes and spaghetti, except made in a form that could be picked up with your hands and eaten more like a muffin... yup, that would be Sloppy Joe Spaghetti Cups!
After starting with lean ground sirloin, cooked with chopped onion until the beef was cooked through and had turned into crumbles, we then started layering in flavor by tossing in a couple minced cloves of garlic. One quick note on the meat - using the sirloin, there wasn't much extra fat that needed to be drained away. If you use ground beef with more than 10% fat, you'll need to drain away the excess grease before you add the garlic. Also, this would work just fine with ground chicken, turkey or even soy crumbles if you fancy them.
Stirring the meat mixture around until the garlic was fragrant, Worcestershire sauce, cumin, chili powder, smoked paprika were the next ingredients added to spice up what will become the filling. Dollops of tomato paste are also added now... which brings us to my tomato paste plead. In dishes like this, or when you're using paste in other soups and stews, let the tomato paste hang out in the pan for a minute or two before you start adding liquids. The heat will start to caramelize the paste, adding character by developing the more subtle nuances. The filling then comes together when a cup of water is added and is left to simmer and concentrate down.
While that was happening, we had a half pound of whole-wheat spaghetti, that I snapped in half, cooking away in its salty bath. Breaking the strands in two will make it easier to fit them into the muffin cups shortly! To cool the pasta down quickly and stop it from continuing to cook, it was rinsed with cold water, then drained well. To get that pasta to bind together enough to hold the cup form, we tossed it with a mixture of sour cream, an egg and a bit of sharp white cheddar. Taking a small pile of the coated pasta, we placed it in one of the open wells of a muffin tin and used a spoon to compact it in. A small portion of the thickened Sloppy Joe filling was then scooped into the center of each pasta-filled well, followed by another dose of the cheddar. Once all the wells were filled, the pan was placed into the oven to bake until the cups had warmed through and firmed up.
The original recipe was decidedly different in the seasoning section - it didn't have fresh onions, garlic or Worcestershire sauce and just added a purchased Sloppy Joe mix. As you can see, we didn't go for that, but kept the theme in mind - however, if you have mouths to feed that like food on the plain side, I can see why one may want to go in that direction. Using the nuttier whole-wheat spaghetti adds plenty of nutrition, but it would of course be fine using regular - saying that, because of the way this is put together, I bet one could sneak this by if you don't regularly use whole-wheat. You could even use half whole-wheat and half white if you'd like to slowly start working it in.
If you have small helpers around, you could definitely get them involved with making these snazzy pasta cups - hand them a cookie scoop and let them fill up with the meaty sauce or give them the honor of being the Official Cheese Sprinkler and have them add a few shreds on top of each one!
Sloppy Joe Spaghetti Cups