It’s a Lunch Date

For more than a year now, I have been blessed by a visit from my parents every couple of weeks. After living thousands of miles away for nearly 25 years, this is a pretty big deal. I returned to Montana 5 years ago – which is very hard to believe. Time marches on at an unbelievable pace! I have now lived in Montana (post college) for more years than anywhere else while we served on active duty. Obviously it has always been “home,” but I honestly have no desire to live anywhere else despite of the beauty and grandeur we have been fortunate to experience.

Sloppy Joes with Pickled Beet & Goat Cheese Salad

Back on topic – my parents come to town regularly for appointments, and for most every visit, we are able to have lunch. I don’t take these visits for granted because honestly, there were too many years when we didn’t have any face to face, intimate conversations. We enjoy great conversations at thoughtfully chosen locations, and are rarely limited by the clock unlike most lunch dates. It is especially meaningful to me because my dad has always been a workaholic (he’s a farmer, after all) and seems to only relax when he’s away from home. The 140 miles is exactly what he needs to relieve some of his stress. We rarely visit the same restaurant twice and if we do, it is months apart. I don’t typically fix the lunches for them for several reasons; Bozeman has a phenomenal restaurant scene and it’s fun to check out all the great places, my dad is allergic to dogs and we have two – sometimes three when the grandpup is here, and while I love to cook, it’s always nice when I can be served too. A weekday lunch is a good excuse to do something different. This week, we continued to switch things up and I fixed a simple and tasty lunch: Sloppy Joes with a side salad & Peach Pie. But it wasn’t a manwich style Sloppy Joe, nor an ordinary salad or pie. Check them out – you won’t be disappointed! Note: Don’t skip over the Baked Beans, they come first for a reason.

Baked Beans

1 can pinto beans
4 slices bacon, chopped
1/8 cup chopped sweet Vidalia onion
1/4 cup ketchup
1/8 cup molasses
2 T. brown sugar
2 T. maple syrup
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. dry mustard
2 tsp. apple cider vinegar
1/2 – 3/4 cup water

Preheat oven to 300°. Heat a large skillet over medium high heat. Add the sliced bacon. Cook until beginning to brown and stir in chopped onion. Saute bacon and onion until the onions begin to soften and bacon is slightly crisp. Drain using a slotted spoon to transfer the bacon and onion to a paper towel covered plate.

Mix together the remaining ingredients. Add in bacon, onion and pinto beans, gently stirring to combine. Pour bean mixture into a 1-2 qt oven safe dish. Add a touch more water if there does not seem to be enough liquid. Cover plan with foil or oven safe lid. Bake covered for 1 1/2 hours. Check after 45-60 minutes and add up to 1/4 cup water if needed. Beans should be thickened. Set aside the baked beans until ready to serve the Sloppy Joes…

*Recipe adapted from

Simple Sloppy Joes

2 lbs. ground beef
1/2 cup chopped Vidalia onion
1 clove garlic, minced
1/3 cup ketchup
1/3 cup barbecue sauce
2 T. apple cider vinegar
1 T. brown sugar
1 tsp. chili powder
1/4 cup water, as needed
Baked Bean recipe above
6 seeded Wheat Montana hamburger buns

Press Saute, add beef to Instant Pot. Cook about 8 minutes or until browned, stirring frequently. Drain off fat. Add onion and garlic to pot; cook and stir 3 minutes. Add ketchup, barbecue sauce, vinegar, Worcestershire sauce, brown sugar and chili powder; mix well.

Secure lid and move pressure release valve to sealing position. Press Manual; cook at high pressure for 10 minutes.

When cooking is complete, press Cancel and use the quick release. Press Saute; add beans to pot and combine. Cook 5 minutes or until mixture thickens, stirring frequently. Serve beef mixture on rolls, with accompanying side salad.

*Recipe adapted from Instant Pot Recipes, 2018.

Pickled Beet and Goat Cheese Salad

pickled beet and goat cheese salad

1/2 bag baby spinach
1/2 bag mixed butter lettuce
1/2 can sliced peaches, cut into chunks
1/4 cup honey roasted pecan pieces
3 large chunks of pickled beets per serving
1/4 cup honey orange goat cheese
pomegranate blueberry vinaigrette
1/2 ripe avocado, cut into 8 slices
black pepper

Toss greens, peaches and pecans with vinaigrette to coat. Evenly divide salad onto luncheon plates. Top with crumbled goat cheese, beets, 2 slices of avocado and black pepper.

Several weeks ago, you might remember I had a case of white peaches on hand. I had made a frozen cream peach pie, covered tightly and set it aside for a random visit of company. Well, this was the day! A rare recipe followed as written, the Frosty Peach Pie Supreme is very light and refreshing on a hot summer day, and pretty healthy, as far as desserts go. Made with reduced sugar yogurt (I used Chobani’s less sugar peach Greek yogurt), low fat whipped cream and a reduced fat graham cracker crust, it is only about as sweet as your peaches.

I hope you can enjoy this meal with someone special, just as we did. Happy Summer!


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