Mel’s Diner

Sharp Knives, Raw Meat and Fire

Because of this, I’m internet free this week….I do have some recipes, though…


May 4, 2014 Posted by | Random Blather | Leave a comment



How many have you gone through this?  I came home the other night, had no idea what to make for dinner.  I knew I had hamburger in the freezer and I would do something with that.   I’m a 20th century man, so I pulled it out of the freezer and into the microwave to defrost.  All the while I was trying to decide what to make.  My goto was Goulash – always good, but at this point a little boring.  After maybe 15 minutes of painful concentration it hit me – Sloppy Joes!  I have hamburger, tomatoes, onions, sugar, ketchup – even sandwich rolls.

I made these from scratch many years ago and a website search of Melsdiner shows that post is one of the many lost in the great Clearblogs cleansing.  So I searched and found what looked like a really good recipe from Ree Drummond, The Pioneer Woman.  I adapted:

Sloppy Joes

  • 2 Tablespoons Butter
  • 2-1/2 pounds Ground Beef
  • 1/2 whole Large Onion, Diced
  • 1 whole Large Green Bell Pepper, Diced (How did I not have this?  It would have been better with it)
  • 5 cloves Garlic, Minced (5?  C’mon – I used 3)
  • 1-1/2 cup Ketchup
  • 1 cup Water
  • 2 Tablespoons Brown Sugar
  • 2 teaspoons Chili Powder (I used 1 ½ of Ancho and ½ of Chipotle plus a dash of smoked Paprika)
  • 1 teaspoon Dry Mustard
  • 1/2 teaspoon Red Pepper Flakes (more To Taste)
  • Worcestershire Sauce, To Taste
  • 2 Tablespoons Tomato Paste (optional)
  • Tabasco Sauce (optional; To Taste) – none used.
  • Salt to Taste
  • Freshly Ground Black Pepper, To Taste

Preparation Instructions

Add butter to a large skillet or dutch oven over medium high heat. Add ground beef and cook until brown. Drain most of the fat and discard.

Add onions, green pepper, and garlic. Cook for a few minutes, or until vegetables begin to get soft.

Add ketchup, brown sugar, chili pepper, dry mustard, and water. Stir to combine and simmer for 15 minutes, adding salt and pepper to taste. Also add tomato paste, Worcestershire, and Tabasco if desired. Taste and adjust seasonings as needed.

I served in big grinder rolls and happiness was had by all.  This is really a good recipe and kudos to Ree if she came up with it.  If she stole it, well – she stole well.

May 1, 2014 Posted by | Food Network, Main Dish, Sandwich | Leave a comment


A fine recipe coming…I swear.

April 30, 2014 Posted by | Random Blather | Leave a comment


Cheeseburger Soup

Really? Does anyone actually think that sounds bad? Anyone? I asked my boy what he wanted for dinner and this is what he yelled out. OK, quick search for Cheeseburger Soup and I find some recipes. OK (again), I find the same recipe several times. So what the heck, let’s give this a shot.

OK, just kidding, I almost never do a recipe by the letter and this time I kept the record going. It calls for 1/2 pound of ground beef – I went with a full pound of shredded beef (the kind you make sandwiches with) and no sour cream because honestly, it didn’t need it. Oh, and I did make bacon, but I put crumbled pieces on top as a garnish so they wouldn’t get soft and mushy.


1/2 pound ground beef (I used 1 pound of shredded beef, much better)
3/4 cup chopped onion
3/4 cup shredded carrots
3/4 cup diced celery
1 teaspoon dried basil
1 teaspoon dried parsley flakes
4 tablespoons butter, divided
3 cups chicken broth
4 cups diced peeled potatoes (1-3/4 pounds)
1/4 cup All-Purpose Flour
2 cups (8 ounces) process cheese (Velveeta), cubed – (Right, I used 6 ounces of
Monterrey Jack and 2 ounces of sharp Cheddar)
1-1/2 cups milk
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon pepper
1/4 cup sour cream (I used 0 cups of sour cream. The cheddar added the flavor the
the sour cream was there for)
1/3 pound of bacon, diced

In a 3-qt. saucepan, brown beef; drain and set aside. In the same saucepan, saute the onion, carrots, celery, basil and parsley in 1 tablespoon butter until vegetables are tender, about 10 minutes. Add the broth, bring to a boil. Reduce heat; cover and simmer for 10-12 minutes.

At the same time, dice potatoes and cook in boiling salted water in a separate pan. Just before they are done, pull from heat and drain. If they are too close to being done, submerge in cold water to stop the cooking and drain. Set aside.

Meanwhile, in a small skillet, melt remaining butter.  Add flour; cook and stir for 3-5 minutes or until bubbly.  Add to soup with beef, cheese and potatoes; bring to a low simmer. Cook and stir for 2 minutes.  Additionally, in another skillet, cooked diced bacon until crispy, but not burned. Set aside on paper towels.

Yeah, it’s good. Really good. Just make sure the cheese, potatoes and beef don’t come to a boil -just a simmer.  Serve and top with bacon.

April 21, 2014 Posted by | Bacon, Soup | Leave a comment



A happy and blessed Easter to all of you! More real recipe laden food posts coming soon – I promise. (Cheeseburger Soup, anyone?)

April 20, 2014 Posted by | Random Blather | Leave a comment


Really?  How much do I love this!!!  A medium-crappy day at work, home life…well, let’s say I’ve been married 21 years with teenagers.  Then this guy.  Cooking bread in a dutch oven.  Not crazy, my grandfather did it a lot.  In his garage.  OOOOKKKKK, still, not crazy for New Hampshire.  With a fire-starter and a hunting/gutting knife.  Now we have moved into Mike/weirdness territory.  And Mike is Happy.  Mike also likes referring to Mike in the third person…..

April 15, 2014 Posted by | Bread and Stuff | Leave a comment


Back, oh so many years ago….I had a post that became popular.  At least in my micro-blogger world, it became popular.  For a very long time, this was the most visited page on Mel’s Diner.  It took the lovely Nigella and a failed, mace-induced nightmare to do a busty coup d’etat to take top place (Is that actually a win?).  Well, in the resurrection of Mel’s Diner, what should start to get hits again?  Roasted Red Pepper Gnocchi.  To me, a slice of happiness.  To the rest of he world?  The post that won’t die (and I hope it never does).

April 14, 2014 Posted by | Pasta, Presto Pasta Night | Leave a comment


Did anyone see the movie Cast Away with Tom Hanks?  Yeah, me either.  In it, he tries to re-create his old life with no tools but the stuff from a Fed-Ex plane (I mean, who doesn’t use UPS?), but can’t pull it together  As I look back upon my old blog friends, it feels like I was living this movie.  I gaze upon all of the “old regulars”, I see they stopped posting about the same time I did.  Was it because I stopped posting?  IN MY DREAMS!!!!  No, blogging – for the most part – is a short-term exercise.  I miss them all.  Ruth, my other Canadian girl I thought would keep doing it forever, but, alas….no.  The Queen of all Blogging is still my first love, Sara.  Love and Kisses to you, Sara!

April 11, 2014 Posted by | Random Blather | 1 Comment


My good friend brought into work today the new Pepperidge Farms Blueberry Cobbler cookies.  Now, to say I have a love of Blueberries is like saying Justin Bieber somewhat likes public urination.  So, when Tony generously offered me one, I jumped at the chance.  Amusingly noticing the claim on the front I see everywhere, “Naturally Flavored With Other Natural Flavors”,


I switched to the dense list of ingredients.  Imagine my surprise to find in the list, “Cranberries”.  Imagine my further surprise to find Blueberries in the wasteland of “Contains 2% or less of the following:”


What?  Blueberry Cobbler cookies actually have more CRANBERRIES than Blueberries?!?  Cook at home, eat at home, know what you eat……

April 9, 2014 Posted by | Dessert | Leave a comment


So, I made the Peposo Notturno via Bill Buford. I have a feeling the beef shanks he gets are much larger than the ones I get here at my local Market Basket. He said he uses two shanks along with four Tablespoons of black pepper, a Tablespoon of salt, a head of garlic and a bottle of wine. That’s it.  No browning, stock, veggies, pancetta, etc. OK, I did all of that, including removing the bone, marrow and a lot of the connective tissue. As I put it in the oven, I was thinking, “That looks like a lot of ‘stuff’ for so little meat’.  Oh, well – bring it up to a simmer on the stove and into an oven at 200 degrees for 12 hours.



It was too much stuff.  The next time I make this, I will be sure to have at least 2 1/2 to 3 pounds of meat, not just two shanks, trimmed.  The pepper and wine were overpowering, but you could tell they would be wonderful with a bit more (OK, twice as much) beef to slow cook for 12 hours.  Oh, I will do this again….look for the post!



April 7, 2014 Posted by | Random Blather | Leave a comment