Cooking with Lisa

Sloppy Yossels and other goodies from quarantine


This is an excerpt from Lisa Maybruch’s blog, Cooking with Lisa. It appears regularly on the Jewish Alliance of Greater Rhode Island’s website and occasionally here.

Back in the day, like, 2 months ago, dinner was always something quick and easy. I tried to find hearty recipes that could be made in advance or that I could whip up in a few minutes after work. With more time to cook, I’ve been experimenting with new ingredients and more-complicated dishes, but I recognize that not everyone has that luxury, even in isolation when we think there’s more time. Many of my friends and family members have been trying to find a balance between working, teaching, and entertaining their kids. I wanted to dedicate this blog to all you hardworking caretakers and hope you become inspired to cook with your kids and find it fun!

What’s simple, easy and tastes delicious? No, this isn’t a riddle, and I promise it’s not another cheesy joke. Seriously, what comes to mind?! For me, it’s pasta and meat sauce. Growing up, my family called this dish “Sloppy Yossels.” My mom, I mean my research partner, explained that Yossel is one of few Hebrew derivatives of the name Joe. Instead of the infamous dish called Sloppy Joe, we kept it more traditionally Jewish and thus the Sloppy Yossel was born! Sometimes we would get a little fancy and make some garlic knots to go along with it, but even then it was still semi-homemade. You just have to brown the ground beef over the stovetop, mix in a can of tomato sauce, and then throw it over a bowl of pasta. For the side dish you take some pizza dough, roll it, knot it, bake it, then cover it with butter and garlic, and…voila! There’s really nothing complicated about it unless you wanted to make the sauce and dough from scratch. I was making Sloppy Yossels the other night; when I wanted to zhuzh it up, I turned to Miriam Pascal.

To refresh your memory, Miriam’s criteria for a good recipe are “simple, easy and accessible.” For me, the emphasis is on simple, and recreating familiar dishes in a unique way. Cue Miriam’s recipe for Meat-Stuffed Garlic Bread. I thought this was the perfect combination of my favorite dish, but with an alternative flavor. So, grab yourself some pizza dough, a package of ground beef, pesto sauce (homemade or canned), and the kids for some extra hands!

I started by cooking the ground beef on the stove, mixing in my pesto sauce once the meat was completely browned. I used some canned pesto I found in the back of my refrigerator, but I’m sure fresh herbs would be fabulous! If you don’t have either, tomato sauce would also be great. While that was cooking, I rolled out the pizza dough and cut circles with the top of a drinking glass. You could also use a cookie cutter, or just roll the dough into balls and flatten them between your hands.

I usually find pizza dough in the refrigerated aisle of the grocery store, but if you prefer homemade dough I say go for it! If you find your pizza dough is hard to work with, let it sit for a few minutes to let the gluten relax.

Once all of these components are complete, you’re ready to assemble. Place a small amount of meat in the middle of your dough, then pinch the dough together to seal in the meat filling.

Place your dough pinched-side down on a baking sheet, then bake at 400 degrees for 20 minutes. About halfway through I brushed extra pesto sauce over the top of my dough.

When it’s done, let it cool – the center will be hot! Then, enjoy! Miriam Pascal placed this recipe in the appetizer section of her book, “More Real Life Kosher Cooking.” But, if you eat four of them, does it count as a main meal?

I think this is a great recipe to try at home with your kids. They will have so much fun with the assembly and baking, and then dunking their delicious creations in some tomato sauce!

Sloppy Yossels

A Maybruch Family Staple


1 green pepper, chopped

1 onion, chopped

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 pound ground beef

1 can favorite tomato sauce

1 box favorite pasta


Saute pepper and onion on medium-high heat for 5 minutes, or until soft. Add in garlic and cook for another minute. Add ground beef and cook until completely brown (approximately 7-10 minutes). While meat is browning, start to cook your pasta according to the directions on the box.

Once the meat is completely browned, drain the fat in the pan if desired and add in your favorite sauce! Depending on how saucy you like it, you may add more sauce. Simmer on low until your pasta is finished cooking and meat is cooked through. Place a heaping spoonful of meat mixture onto your pasta and enjoy!

This recipe is so versatile. You can replace the green peppers with any color pepper, use homemade sauce or diced tomatoes and add in any seasoning you desire!

LISA MAYBRUCH ( is manager of adult programs at the Jewish Alliance. This blog originally appeared April 30  at During her time at home, Lisa has been cooking through Miriam Pascal’s book, “More Real Life Kosher Cooking.”