Food Holidays | Southwestern Sloppy Joes on Green Chile Waffles

By Jennifer Fisher,

Southwest Sloppy Joe on Gree Chile Waffle -

There is a lot to love about March.  The arrival of sunshine in the sky and swimsuits at Target, the madness of basketball championships and drinking green St. Patrick’s day beer, and (in Austin) letting your freak fly at the Zilker Kite Festival or partying at SXSW Music Festival with a gazillion of your best friends. March is also the host month to an eclectic array of food holidays that are just too weird and delicious to pass up. Losing an hour to Day Light Savings Time in March means I’ve had to double up on a couple of these excuses to pig out, so I will be celebrating  National Sloppy Joe Day (March 18th) and International Waffle Day (March 25th) in tandem. I’ve made a specially-created recipe for Southwestern Sloppy Joes on Green Chile Cornbread Waffles just for the occasion!

Green Chile Cornbread Waffles -

You may be waffling on the idea of sloppy Joes for dinner –don’t be! This unique and easy dinner recipe will totally erase any bad memory of sub-par sloppy Joes that went down in the elementary school cafeteria.  First of all, the waffle serves as an edible platter with nooks and crannies to catch all the juicy beef topping.  Unlike the traditional enriched, white bread hamburger bun the sloppy Joe is soggily sandwiched between, this open-faced waffle made with cornmeal and cheese creates a crunchier surface that is impervious to the mush factor. Oh, and you’ll love how the addition of green chiles brings a wild yet mild twang to your taste buds. Even though these are savory waffles, I think the leftovers would be delicious served with butter, honey and bacon for breakfast- just saying.

Ingredients for Southwest Sloppy Joe Filling - TheFitFork.comThe sloppy Joe topping is a southwestern-inspired concoction of lean ground beef, corn, black beans, fire-roasted tomatoes and taco seasoning – super tasty, but nothing too fancy-schmancy. I used a seasoning packet along with canned and frozen veggies to keep it convenient for chaotic weeknight dinners. Top the waffle with a big scoop of the beef and then other fixings like crumbled queso fresco, avocado slices, cilantro and salsa. The Waffle House ain’t got nothing on this!

Like most, my version of the sloppy Joe uses ground beef.  I prefer to use ground sirloin, because grinds made from cuts of sirloin are typically the leanest. However, please use a grind that suits your personal preference.  One thing I hear over and over is how confusing it is to pick out ground beef on the meat aisle – it is packaged and labeled so many ways.

ground beef 101This confusion is why I’m giving y’all a quick Ground Beef 101. At the consumer level, the four major varieties of ground beef (aka hamburger meat) in order of leanness are Ground Sirloin, Ground Round, Ground Chuck and regular Ground Beef. These are “source” grinds (with the exception of “regular” ground beef) that come from the cuts of beef described in the name and this origin is what plays the biggest role in each grind’s taste, texture and leanness. For example, the lean-to-fat ratio is usually 90/10%, for ground sirloin, 85/15% for ground round and 80/20% for ground chuck – however, these can vary within each variety. For example, you will often see 93/7% and 96/4% grinds as lean offerings. Although it has a bit more fat with lean-to-fat ratios in the 70/30% range, there is nothing wrong with “regular” ground beef. “Regular” ground beef is taken from a variety of cuts, not just exclusively sirloin, chuck or round and this makes it more economical.  If you’d like your beef leaner, you can always put cooked regular ground beef crumbles in a colander and rinse away fat residue gently with warm water.

There are a few other essentials to know about ground beef. Always cook ground beef (whether burgers, crumbles or meatloaf) to 165 F degrees internal temperature for food safety reasons. Also, raw ground beef has a shorter window for use than most beef cuts due to the nature of the grinding process, Keep uncooked ground beef in the refrigerator for up to two days or in air-tight bags in the freezer for three to four months.  Always thaw in the refrigerator, not on the counter.  If you have questions about grass-fed, grain-finished, grass-finished, natural and certified organic, visit Facts about Beef.

Food Holidays | Southwestern Sloppy Joes on Green Chile Waffles
Recipe type: Dinner
Cuisine: Southwest
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 

This unique take on sloppy Joes is a fun and family-friendly option for a busy week night dinner — eat the leftover waffles for breakfast!
  • For Sloppy Joe Topping:

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • ½ yellow onion, finely chopped
  • 1½ lbs. ground beef
  • 1 cup frozen corn kernels, thawed
  • 1 15-oz. can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 15-oz. can fire-roasted diced tomatoes
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 1.25-oz packet low sodium taco seasoning

  • For Waffles:
  • 1½ cup milk
  • 1 tsp. apple cider vinegar
  • 1 large egg
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • ¾ cup all-purpose flour
  • 1¼ cup yellow cornmeal
  • 1 Tbs. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 tsp. garlic powder
  • ⅓ cup crumbed queso fresco cheese
  • 2 (4-oz) cans diced green chiles, drained
  • Garnish: avocado slices, cilantro leaves, crumbled queso fresco, salsa
  1. Add olive oil to large skillet, bring to medium high heat. Add onions and sauté for 2 to 3 minutes or beginning to turn translucent. Add beef to skillet and cook, breaking up into crumbles, until completely done through. Drain any excess fat.
  2. Lower heat to medium low and add corn, black beans, fire-roasted tomatoes, tomato paste, water and taco seasoning to skillet; stir to combine. Simmer over low heat for 5 to 10 minutes until sauce starts to thicken. Turn off heat and cover with lid to keep warm while waffles are being made.
  3. To make waffles, add milk and vinegar to large bowl and let sit for 5 minutes. After 5 minutes, whisk in egg and oil.
  4. In separate bowl, mix together dry ingredients including flour, corn meal, baking powder, baking soda, garlic powder and salt.
  5. Stir dry ingredients into wet ingredients a bit at a time. To finish batter, gently stir in crumbled cheese and green chiles.
  6. Make waffles using ⅔ cup batter according to waffle iron manufacturer’s directions. Makes about 6 large waffles.
  7. So serve, place ⅙ beef mixture over top of each waffle and garnish with avocado slices, crumbled queso fresco, cilantro and salsa, if desired.

Waffles with Southwestern Sloppy Joe -

Beef Up Romance with Easy Valentine Steak Dinner

By Jennifer Fisher,

Pan Seared Tenderloin Steak with Roasted Balsamic Tomatoes -

Impress your sweetheart this Valentine’s Day with a stay-at-home dinner that gives the best steakhouse in town a run for its money . . . at a fraction of the cost!  Eating in an upscale steakhouse can easily set you back a hundred bucks per person, or so I’m told by friends with expense accounts. Purchasing two servings of top-notch steak from your butcher counter along with all the ingredients for side dishes costs very little in comparison – saving you beacoup de funds for French wine, fancy chocolates and other treats for your sweet.     

Making a memorable meal for a loved one is much more personal than a chef-prepared plate and isn’t nearly as difficult or time consuming as you’d imagine — although I speak from experience, I never let the beneficiary of my beef masterpieces know just how easy.  I’m sharing a swoon-worthy recipe for Pan-Seared Tenderloin Filets with Roasted Balsamic Tomatoes that will have your heart beating and mouthwatering in all the best ways. I hope you get a chance to make it for someone special.

Uncooked Tenderloin Steaks -

I’ve picked tenderloin steaks (filet mignon) for this recipe because it’s my hands-down favorite for special events and everyday celebrations – it’s a lean cut with just 6.7 grams total fat (2.5 saturated) per cooked 3 ounce serving, so tender a knife is nearly optional, and the meaty flavor and succulent texture shines in the spotlight without the need to marinate or over season.  Sometimes the names of steak  can get confusing, especially when certain cuts have multiple monikers. A filet mignon is a steak from the center of the large tenderloin cut that runs down the back of a cow. Cattle don’t use this muscle much and, as a result, roasts and steaks from this hunk of meat deliver a consistently tender experience.

Pan Searing Beef

To get this Valentine’s Day dinner recipe started, these steaks are seared on the stove top in a grill pan (if you want the faux grate marks) or a heavy cast iron skillet. Next, the filets are finished in the oven at a high heat – this two-step process not only saves you from grilling outdoors on a cold winter’s night, but (most importantly) locks in juiciness by creating a caramelized crust that is evenly distributed. Researchers of such meaty studies even say that pan-seared steaks are 4-percent juicier than their flame-kissed cousins.

Slow Roasted Balsamic Tomatoes -

Now, the crowning touch on each steak is a roasted tomato dripping in olive oil and balsamic vinegar.  Let’s be honest, tomatoes this time of year usually flunk out when it comes to flavor – but slow roasting tomatoes in the oven concentrates the sweetness and magnifies the magic that happens when paired with beef – or anything!  You can oven roast any type of tomato, even grape tomatoes, but I choose simple Roma tomatoes because they seemed the right shape for the top of a tenderloin filet! The recipe below makes more tomatoes than you need for atop the steak, but the leftovers (if there are any) can be kept in the refrigerator for up to six weeks.

Tenderloin Steak and Roasted Tomato for Valentines Day


Pan-Seared Tenderloin Filets with Roasted Balsamic Tomatoes
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
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Beef up the romance on Valentine’s Day with this surprisingly easy recipe for filet mignon steaks topped with a slow-roasted balsamic tomato!
  • 2 (4 to 6 ounce) tenderloin steaks, approximately 1 ½ inch thick
  • 1 tablespoon coarse sea salt
  • 1 tablespoon coarse ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 6 Roma or plum tomatoes
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
  • ½ teaspoon thyme
  • 2 tablespoons prepared balsamic syrup (find on vinegar aisle)
  1. Preheat oven to 350 F degrees.
  2. Slices tomatoes in half lengthwise and gently scoop or squeeze out seeds without disturbing pulp.
  3. Place tomatoes cut side up on rimmed baking sheet and drizzle with the olive oil and balsamic vinegar; sprinkle with thyme.
  4. Roast tomatoes for 40 minutes and then raise heat to 400 F degrees.
  5. Continue roasting tomatoes at 400 F degrees for an additional 20 minutes.
  6. While tomatoes are roasting, remove steaks from refrigerator and season generously coat top, bottom and sides with coarse sea salt and coarsely ground black pepper.
  7. When heating oven up to 400 for second stage of tomatoes, start steaks by heating a cast-iron skillet or oven-safe grill pan to medium-high heat. Place steak steaks in pan and let sear for 2 minutes without moving. Using tongs, flip steaks and sear other side for 1 minute.
  8. Place pan containing seared steaks into the center rack of oven (near tomatoes). Cook for approximately 9 – 12 minutes, or until instant-read thermometer reads 135 F degrees. Thinner steaks will cook more quickly.
  9. Using oven mitt, take pan out of oven and promptly remove steaks from hot pan to rest for 10 minutes. Also, remove tomatoes if they are done. During this time, the steaks will continue to cook until reaching about 145 F degrees (medium-rare) and then the temperature will fall back down. Do not cut into steaks until temperature has dropped to 120 F degrees or below.
  10. To serve, top steak with a roasted tomato and drizzle with balsamic syrup.

Eat Real Food & Tips for a Healthy Plate

By Jennifer Fisher, 


Each January, it seems like most of the world begins some sort of “diet.”  I have to admit, I’m not a big fan of “diets,” especially freaky fad diets and super-strict eating regimes that come to a screeching halt once a specific weight goal is attained. However, when the term “diet” is used to reference a life-long commitment to eating healthy, whole REAL foods in moderation along with daily exercise, I’ll eagerly endorse that use of the word! Instead of dieting, per se, I achieve a healthy balance on my plate by visually dividing it up. Half of the plate is dedicated to salad and/or seasonal vegetables; about a quarter is filled with typically lean proteins like beef, chicken, fish and even non-animal sources); and the remaining quarter is earmarked for quality carbohydrates like sweet potatoes, a piece of fruit or whole grains.  I also like to look at my food and make and educated guess if my choices are something my relatives would have eaten generations ago – if it wasn’t a “REAL” or wholesome food 100 years ago, it probably isn’t a “REAL” or wholesome food today.

Beef is definitely a real and wholesome whole food that can be part of a healthy lifestyle when eaten in moderation. Not just the lean cuts of beef that overwhelmingly populate the butcher’s counter (like cuts of sirloin, round and low-fat grinds), but also the more indulgent offerings like ribeye or porterhouse that have a just a touch more fat. That’s because ALL beef includes roughly the same amount of protein and beneficial nutrients per serving, including iron, B vitamins, zinc, selenium and more. And, when being mindful to “eating in moderation,” I’ve found that I can satisfy myself cravings for red meat without overdoing it — still have plenty of room on my plate for all of the other nutritious foods in on the planet like fruit, veggies, and whole grains.

This is what 3 ounces of cooked beef looks like.

This is what a health serving size of cooked beef looks like (3 oz.).

But, what IS moderation when it comes to eating beef? Many nutritionists say about ¼ of our plates should be filled with a quality protein – that’s about 3 ounces of cooked beef, the size of your fist or a deck of cards. Three ounces of beef provides approximately 25 grams of protein, and research suggests this amount is the optional single-sitting portion to assist with weight management and satiety. I’m not a scientist, so please check out this handout which sums up getting lean with protein quite nicely.

Jennifer Fisher - TheFitFork -- Beef Serving Size Fact

So, eating 3 ounces of beef is the “just right” amount. But, you may also be wondering how many times per week to eat beef. Participants in the study for the BOLD diet (Beef in an Optimal Lean Diet) at 4 ounces of beef per day, and many even had reductions in their cholesterol levels! Ounce for ounce, beef provides a very dense source of nutrition – and while it provides more than its fair share of nutrients, supplementing with other proteins ensures that you are addressing all your body’s needs – for example, wild salmon is just a far better source of Omega 3 fatty acids than beef, even grass-fed beef. Cattle ranchers won’t even argue this point. Eat beef a few times per week, at a minimum. If you love to eat beef every day, it IS healthy to do in a 3 ounce cooked portion – but add variety to your diet for the remainder of the day by getting protein from other sources, both plant and animal.

Portion Control Tips -

In terms of portion control, I have a couple other plate tips to share besides dividing your plate up and filling one quarter with 3 ounces of beef! Another tip is to serve your food on a smaller plate – a fist-sized serving of protein doesn’t look like very much on the super-sized plates of today. But, partnered with loads of veggies on a salad plate, a smaller plate tricks your mind into thinking you’ve just been given a very generous serving. Another optical illusion is to serve on a plate that contrasts the color of your food – because doesn’t blend right into the plate, you’ll be more aware of how much you’re eating. Participants in this interesting study served themselves 22 percent more food when using a plate that matched their food!

My final portion control tip may be silly, but it works for me. I like to choose food that looks big!  The perfect example is my recipe for Beef & Veggie Baking Sheet Frittata This super simple breakfast recipe (a creative cross between a casserole, crepe and omelet) is prepared to cook very quickly and be very thin. Because it’s so thin, the serving size looks magnificently large when plated – but really, it’s a modest amount of food.

Beef & Veggie Baking Sheet Egg Recipe



Beef & Veggie Baking Sheet Frittata
Recipe type: Breakfast
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 

This easy breakfast recipe cooks up fast in the oven and uses deli roast beef or leftover steak and whatever vegetables you have in the produce bin!
  • 1 ½ cups egg whites from carton
  • 3 large whole eggs
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper
  • Cooking spray
  • 4 ounces deli roast beef, sliced thinly into strips
  • ½ cup spinach
  • ½ cup assorted chopped vegetables (I used broccoli)
  • 2 tablespoons Parmesan cheese
  • Instructions
  1. Pre-heat oven to 350 F degrees.
  2. In mixing bowl, whisk together egg whites, whole eggs, flour, salt and pepper.
  3. Spray rimmed baking sheet (15.5” x 10.5”) with cooking spray.
  4. Pour egg mixture into pan. Top with roast beef and vegetables. Sprinkle top with cheese.
  5. Bake for approximately 8 minutes or until eggs cooked through.
  6. Cut into 9 rectangles