Sloppy Joe inspired Halloween Burgers - HAPPY HALLOWEEN

It's Halloween and I looked in Pinterest for nice Halloween themed dishes. Most of them were some kind of candy or appetizers but then I saw Halloween Burgers. I did not want to make a real burger, but the idea of the carved cheese also workes with Sloppy Joe Burgers. A few years ago, we made similar burgers out of a leftover dish. It was not exactly sloppy joes, but it was a ground beef rice dish, that we spread on burger buns, sprinkled with cheese and baked. It was just a leftover dish but it tasted delicious. I wanted to recreate this dish - Halloween themed.


  • 1 Tbsp oil
  • 1 onion - chopped
  • 1 lb ground beef
  • 1/2 cup green bell pepper - diced
  • 1 tsp garlic powder (or 2 garlic cloves - minced)
  • 1/2 cup ketchup (or tomato sauce)
  • 1/4 cup tomato paste
  • 1 tsp mustard
  • 1 Tbsp brown sugar
  • 1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 cup water
  • salt, pepper, cayenne pepper, hot sauce to taste
  • 1/2 cup red bell pepper - diced
  • 1/2 cup yellow bell pepper - diced
  • 125 g uncooked rice
  • 1/2 cup corn
  • 2 cups water
  • 4 slices cheese (preferably cheddar)
  • 4 burger buns (sesame)
 One possible substitute mix for Worcestershire sauce:
  • 1 tsp tamarind paste
  • 1 tsp soy sauce
  • 1 tsp white vinegar
  • pinch of cloves
  • dash of hot sauce


  1. Prepare original sloppy joes: Heat the oil and add the onion. Sauté for a couple of minutes, then add the ground beef. Fry for about 5 minutes, then add the green bell pepper and fry for another 5 minutes. Add the garlic powder, ketchup, tomato paste, mustard, brown sugar, Worcestershire sauce, water and salt/pepper/cayenne/hot sauce to taste. Stir and cook for about 3 minutes. I actually did not have Worcestershire sauce at home, so I tried a substitute. It's not exactly the same, but taste similar enough. You just need some tamarind paste, soy sauce, white vinegar, cloves and hot sauce.
  2. Make it a little unique: Well, I do like to get a little crazy sometimes and add lots of ingredients. So, I also added a few more extras to my sloppy joe mix. I added more bell pepper, uncooked rice and some corn. Add also a little bit more water. Stir and let cook for about 15-20 minutes, till the rice is soft enough and the liquid absorbed.
  3. Carve the cheese: Lay out the cheese slices and cut some scary faces out, like with a pumpkin.
  4. Assemble and Bake the burgers: Now, place the bottom parts of the burger buns on a baking pan. Spread about 3 tablespoons of sloppy sloe filling on each bottom bun and add a slice of cheese on each. Place them in the preheated oven (210 degree Fahrenheit) for about 4 minutes, the cheese just needs to melt a tiny little bit. Take them out and serve with the top bun. Enjoy :)

Original Sloppy Joes

Sloppy Joes with some extra ingredients

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    On Fire - A Night Out in Tallahassee

    As I visited my friends in Florida and we enjoyed Orlando and its attractions, we also went to Tallahassee, where they actually live. I like Tallahassee a lot as it has a southern flair with its trees with Spanish moss and the humidity. Also, I can't complain about the place where they live either as they have a huge pool area that belongs to the apartment complex :)

    During my stay they arranged for a babysitter and took me out one night. As they know how much I love food, they took me to a very special place, Osaka Steakhouse. This restaurant doesn't just have amazing Japanese food, the way it is prepared is the actual experience. If you have ever watched How I Met Your Mother, there is this one episode ("Ducky Tie", season 7 episode 3) at a teppanyaki restaurant where Barney places a bet with Marshall that he can prepare the food better than the cook. I do not want to go into too much detail of the episode but the point is, that Osaka Steakhouse is also a teppanyaki restaurant where the cook prepares the food on an iron griddle on the table in front of you... He starts by cleaning the griddle with actually putting it on fire! Then he adds rice, cracks some eggs, fries some noodles, vegetables and the meat of your choosing (steak, chicken, shrimps, etc.).

    Each person gets a full blown menu with so much food that you have to take home a box (and I actually couldn't stop myself to order an additional side dish, some sushi california rolls, despite my friend's warning):
    • A bowl of soup as a starter (and the broth of a japanese soup is just delicious in flavor)
    • A fresh salad (but not with any kind of dressing, it was unusual but very tasty)
    • Fried rice (your first course from the actual griddle)
    • Fried noodles
    • Grilled vegetables
    • Your choice of meat

    We had a fun time with the most amazing cook. He looked a little frightening but he was hillarious. He actually tricked me and played a little joke on me, pretending to squeeze ketchup on me (it was just a fake bottle with some yarn it it). We were about 7-9 people on the table surrounding the iron griddle plate and it was one person's birthday. For that occasion the cook cut up an onion in rings and put it together as a pyramid and put it on fire.

    But this wasn't the end of the night... My friends then actually took me to get some desert, because even if you are full, there is always space for chocolate! We went to the Melting Pot, a fondue place. They let me pick the desert fondue and I chose the "Flaming Turtle" (for the recipe look here). I did not know that there is actually similar candy out there that you can buy in the store (DeMet's Turtles). The fondu consisted of milk chocolate with caramel and candied pecans. It came with strawberries, blondies, bananas, pineapple, marshmallow, pound cake, rice crispies and brownies. What I didn't read, was, that this dish was "flambéed". This means we ended the night with another meal on fire! Perfect ending and I have to give my friends a big fat THANK YOU! It was an amazing night :)

    The Birthday Onion

    The Flaming Turtle
    My friends' pool :)
    At Tallahassee's Museum... yes, "Museum" :)

    Disney Brunch: Boma - Flavors of Africa

    After my little vacation on the San Juan Islands, I flew to the East Coast to my friends in Florida. And visiting Florida and especially Orlando would not be complete without visiting some of Disney World's attractions. My friends showed me that there is more to Disney World then the Disney Parks. We started my little visit (and I really mean "start" as I just got off the plane after a red eye flight) with an all-you-can-eat brunch buffet at Disney's Animal Kingdom Lodge, one of the Disney Resort Hotels. You don't need to stay at the hotels to be able to enjoy the flair of it and some of their attractions.

    The restaurant was called Boma - Flavors of Africa. The place was cutly furnished in an African safari style with some wild animal statues. They had a huge buffet with different serving stations. After we were seated, we were first given some Jungle Juice (blend of guave, orange and passion fruit juice), coffee and tea. Then we started our adventure at the buffet... They had so many stations, I don't think I can name them all. They basically had it all, the normal breakfast stuff including toasts, bagels, cereals, fruits, bacon, sausage, eggs, pancakes and waffles but also some very special African flavored dishes and sauces that were unknown to me before. What was really nice, was that the stations were arranged in front of the kitchen area and on one side there was a huge carving station with meats spit-roasted over open fire including grilled fresh ham and roasted vegetables. Then there was an omlette station where they prepared your omlette directly in front of you and you could chose your ingredients. So much good stuff, unfortunately you can only eat that much... I would definetely enjoy another visit :)

    Here a quick summary of the stations (might not be complete):

    • Toast, bagel, bread, croissant station
    • Breakfast pastries and breads such as cinamon rolls, muffins, banana bread, etc.
    • Cereal station
    • Create your own Yoghurt station 
    • Fresh fruits and watermelon rind salad
    • Deli meat section with smoked salmon, salami, capern, condiments
    • Pancake and Waffle station
    • Hot Plate station with sausage, bacon, scrambled eggs (plain and one with goat cheese and fresh spinach), breakfast potatoes, sweet plantain chips
    • Omlette station
    • French toast bread pudding with pecan praline sauce
    • Grill station with hand-carved ham and turkey, oak-grilled asparagus and tomatoes and African flavored sauces such as Boma Mustard and Sambal
    • Oatmeal station with brown sugar, raisings, cinnamon and Quinoa Porridge
    • African flavored dishes including a baked turkey-egg dish (Turkey Bobotie), tomatoe stew (Chakalaka), African spiced corn beef hash

    My highlights:

    • Waffles shaped as Mickey Mouse or Simba and M&M pancakes
    • Turkey Bobotie
    • Sweet plantaine chips 
    • Jungle Juice

    They kept the place a little dark, part of the flair of it all, but it made it a little tricky to take good pictures. So, I did my best :) You can also find some nice pictures and descriptions at this Disneyblog. Afterwards, we strolled around outside and were able to see some safari animals as well. It felt like we were already in the Animal Kingdom park which we visited the week after :)

    Quinoa Porridge and Oatmeal
    Turkey Bobotie and Chakalaka
    Carving station with African Sauces

    The week afterwards - at the Disney Parks

    At Disney's Art and Animation Resort

    Dining at Roche Harbor

    If visiting the San Juan Island, it is almost impossible not to go to Roche Harbor, the only other "town" on the island. It is a resort, but you can also buy a day pass for the pool and enjoy the dining options. There is a cute little cafe, the Lime Kiln Café that serves breakfast and lunch. For further lunch and dinner options, you have on the other side Madrona Bar and Grill and basically in the same building, up on top McMillin's Fine Dining.

    I have tried them all and have to tell you, they are uniquely different and special. Here are a few of the options I had or at least tried and can recommend. They tasted delicious, and even better, the environment and nice view was just amazing.

    Lime Kiln Café
    • Hazelnut Crusted Veggie Burger
    • Cubano Sandwich with "Mojo" Pork
    • Roasted Turkey with Cranberry & Cream Cheese

    Madrona Bar and Grill
    • Wild Local's Sockeye Salmon Tacos -- Salmon was just deliciously spiced...
    • Shanghai Street Noodles with Shrimp and Barbeque Pork
    • Pig War Martini -- The island is famous for the little war over a troublesome pig that happened in 1859 between the American and British camp...
    • Key Lime Pie -- as a drink with vanilla ice cream, lime juice, puerto rum and triple sec... just decadent

     McMillin's Fine Dining
    • Dungeness Crab Bisque -- nicely served with warm fresh baked bread. You can get the same bisque downstairs at the Madrona, but ironically, it costs more there and doesn't come with the bread.
    • Strawberry Champagne Mojito

    At Madrona's Bar and Grill

    This drink was called "Key Lime Pie" and had vanilla ice cream in it...

    Cynthia's - Island Café for the Locals

    During my week on the San Juan Island I looked into different breakfast/brunch places. I found this very cute little place, Cynthia's Bistro. It was said that this is the place where locals go to. I even asked some locals and they agreed. I went there a couple of times and the food was very tasty and looked amazing. They have nice outdoor seating in front of the house on the porch and in the back. They are only open for breakfast and lunch and their menu is not very big, but it contains the usual items (egg dishes, pancakes, sandwiches, etc.) with a few special items.

    Here are my favorites:

    • Avacado Breakfast Boat - Two poached eggs on baked avocado, you can order it with crumbled bacon or smoked salmon. I chose the salmon and it was delicious. After 11am they do not serve poached eggs anymore, but you can still get the dish with hard boiled eggs in the shape of poached eggs (that was my dish, see the picture).
    • Claire's Cinnamon French Toast - This might not sound so extra-ordinary, but it was nicely plated and tasted great. They cut the French Toast in stripes and served them with fresh strawberries and maple syrup.
    • Dutch Baby - Sweet or savory version. It was a close call between this and the French Toast. I liked that they had this option.
    • Swedish Pancakes with Lingonberries - I did not try those but they were supposed to be similar to crepes.

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