American Sloppy Joes From Our American Au Pair

Bethany cooks

The teenagers’ favourite hobby is teasing our American au pair Bethany. One of their ploys involves claiming that Americans eat road kill all the time and demanding she cooks some for them.

She’s a very patient young woman. Note to others, an au pair who has four younger siblings will not be phased by much.

Nonetheless, after the intensity of my husband’s absence, Bethany deserved a break. So she whizzed off south to our house at Jervis Bay this week.

Life is such a game of two halves here at Casa Catastrophe.  Our FIFO husband/dad (that’s fly in, fly out) works a 28 day rotation in the Middle East.

This means he’s away for 31 days and home for 25 day, and he doesn’t work at all when he’s home.

But when he’s on his 28 day rotation, he works 12 hours a day or more, every day. I’d freak out.

Our Intn’l Man of Mystery works in an office in a city in Kurdistan, not out in the desert on the oil rig though, so that’s something.

Anyway, our au pair Bethany has been with us since late October, and she works a lot when hubby is away. So do I, by the way.

So now he’s home, Bethany has zoomed off for a few days of R + R at Jervis Bay, then she’ll be back and is helping another family out in the school holidays.

Then she’ll be back and we have hubby away for the whole month of May, and then Bethany will fly home on June 3rd.  Waahhhhh….

I think I might send a couple of the kids with her.

sloppy joe veg

The teenagers in the house are mad for Bethany’s non-roadkill American meals, she’s cooked us mac n’ cheese, pumpkin pie and now the delicious Sloppy Joes.

Would your kids like these?   The recipe is from a website Bethany found, but I’ve altered it to suit Aussies.

American Sloppy Joes


  • 1 onion, finely diced
  • 1 carrot, grated or finely chopped
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 500g minced beef
  • ½ cup tomato ketchup
  • 2 cups tinned diced tomato
  • 1 tsp Worcestshire sauce
  • 1 tbs red wine vinegar
  • 2 tbs brown sugar
  • pinch ground cloves
  • pinch cayenne pepper
  • round brown rolls (or white hamburger buns)


  1. Heat olive oil in a frying pan on medium heat. Add the carrots and sauté for 5 minutes.
  2. Next, add the onion and garlic and keep cooking for 5 minutes more.
  3. Then add in the mince and brown it, until fairly well browned. You might need to do it in two batches.
  4. Mix browned mince and the vegetables. Add the ketchup, tomato sauce, Worcestershire sauce, vinegar and brown sugar to the pan. Stir to mix well.
  5. Add ground cloves, thyme, and cayenne pepper. Lower the heat to medium low and let simmer for 10 minutes. Adjust seasonings to taste.
  6. Serve with toasted hamburger buns. We like to use brown rolls, well, I do, the kids would much prefer white hamburger buns!


sloppy joes

 We’d heard of sloppy joes before, but hadn’t tried them. 

Have you tried a sloppy joe?

What’s your favourite American food?

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  1. says: Hotly Spiced

    When you rattle off what’s happening in your home, it does make the year sound like it’s racing along and we’ll be celebrating Christmas before we know it. I have heard of sloppy joes but have always been unsure as to what they were. I can see how kids of all ages would love these xx

    1. says: Seana

      One twins baulked, but is terrible with anything new. i found it a bit sweet, might leave out the sugar. Excellent on a bed of salad rather than a bun!

  2. says: Lydia C. Lee

    We had a Betty Crocker cook book growing up, and I was obsessed with Sloppy Joes. We never had them but for my 9th birthday lunch – I think all the party guests thought they were weird, and probably thought my mum couldn’t cook. But I was so excited. Seeing your post title made me smile!

    1. says: Seana

      Am already panicking about the July school holiday, hubby is away for ALL of it and all the kids have three weeks off… and it’s winter. I think I will be hunting for a new au pair to help us out.

  3. says: Aroha

    that brings back memories of the time I spent living in the US! I don’t know how you manage having hubby working so far away for so long at a time. 🙁 must be so hard. xo

    1. says: Seana

      It is hard, I was only just gnashing my teeth and whinging about it to him this morning. Not very pretty, I can tell you.

    1. says: Seana

      Very messy Aleney, but good and I was laughing as I’d heard the term for how many decades but hadn’t known what they were.

  4. says: Amy

    I used to be an au pair in the US, so I have had my fair share of Sloppy Joes,m but I hadn’t thought to make them since I’ve been home ( which has been almost 8 years mind you…. ). As for my favourite American food, I was a sucker for buffalo wings with blue cheese dipping sauce. Its a wonder I didn’t stack on a pile of weight while I was there, I ate so many wings!
    Found you via FYBF

  5. says: Amanda

    I’ve heard about sloppy joes, but I didn’t know what was in them. Sounds like savoury mince rolls – Bearhands loves them. Maybe I’ll surprise him with some next week.

  6. says: budget jan

    So now I know what a sloppy joe is 🙂
    How exotic you are – a hubby who works in Kurdistan – previously I thought fly in fly out jobs were all within Australia – and an Au Pair. I don’t have any children at home but I think I would like an Au Pair. Bethany looks totally unflappable, I wish I was like that. Jervis Bay sounds great. B.H.’s sister and family lived there for a few years and loved it.

    1. says: Seana

      I wish I was unflappable too, but totally not. Add to the mix that I’m taken 50% of the kids to Scotland next Wednesday to visit the aged and infirm relatives…. and we’re a family completely all over the place. It’s …. errrr…. interesting.

  7. Wow! It sounds like a busy life for everyone. Lucky you have a good au pair! I have heard of sloppy joes but I had no idea what it was. It doesn’t sound very appealing but looks good!
    I think my favourite American food is the chocolate brownie ) YUM!

  8. says: Maureen

    I have to laugh at this post. My father was an absolute meat and 2-veg man and one day my mother made sloppy joe’s and my father pushed back his chair and said, “Anyone who’d eat that would eat shi*t with a rusty spoon.” Didn’t phase my mother at all, she said, “More for me!”

    Since I’m American and as well as an Australian, I have a list of foods I miss that’s a mile long. Every time I’m homesick for family, I cook something decadent. 🙂

  9. says: Emily

    I LOVE pumpkin pie, got hooked when I lived in NY some 10 years ago. And I have to say I love the same as Amy, buffalo wings with blue cheese sauce – YUMMO!

  10. says: Me

    It’s interesting to hear how Bethany has introduced new foods to your children. K has been accepted by a USA Au Pair program – her profile was downloaded on Monday night and she has contact by two families so far. One in San Diego and one in Chicago – all very exciting but will have to wait and see how it all works out.
    It sounds like she has been a real life saver for you.
    Have the best day !

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