Super Simple Sloppy Joes

The Starving Artist recently splurged a bit on a nostalgic impulse buy. When the UPS man showed up with his giant box, I was once again the proud owner of a brand spank'n new, cherry red, Schwinn cruiser. One speed and pedal brakes, just like when I was a 10 years old. Those were the glory days. That bike bought freedom. Cruising the neighborhood, pop'n wheelies, baseball cards in the spokes, stopping by a neighbor's house to grab a quick drink from the hose – not a care in the world. Just be home when the street lights come on. And once you got home, mom had the perfect summer supper on the stove. Sloppy Joes. So drop your bike in the front yard, sprint to the kitchen, and grab a plate of these Super Simple Sloppy Joes. Nostalgia tastes great.



  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 1 & 1/2 cups ketchup
  • 1 cup chunky salsa (I used H-E-B Thick N' Chunky Mild Salsa)
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 tablespoons white vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • 1 teaspoon hot sauce
  • Potato rolls, for serving


  1. Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat and stir in the ground beef. Cook and stir until the beef is crumbly, evenly browned, and no longer pink. Drain and discard any excess grease.
  2. Next, stir in ketchup, salsa, brown sugar, Worcestershire sauce, white vinegar, Dijon mustard, and hot sauce. Bring to a simmer and cook, stirring occasionally, over low heat for 20-30 minutes. Serve on potato rolls, and taste the nostalgia.

Cheesy Beef & Noodle Casserole

One of the benefits of being a starving artist is the innate ability to justify long periods of inactivity. The inspiration isn't there, so you wait. And wait. And wait some more. Before you know it, when inspiration finally hits, it's been almost a year, and the weight to make something special of the late arriving but interesting idea looms large. "Don't screw it up" is top of mind, so you dive in with gusto leavened with a light touch, and as few distractions as possible. That's what's perfect about this casserole. It's full of flavor, easy to make, and almost impossible to screw up. If art were as easy as this tasty dish, I wouldn't still be a starving artist. Sorry StudioHotplate has been on such a long hiatus, but if I'm not in the studio, the hotplate goes unmanned. Anyhow, I'm back, inspired, and so is this Cheesy Beef & Noodle Casserole.



  • 12 ounces egg noodles uncooked
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 1 & 1/4 lbs lean ground beef I used 90% lean
  • 1 onion finely chopped
  • 2 teaspoons minced garlic
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 teaspoons Italian seasoning
  • 16 ounces canned tomato sauce
  • 2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
  • 2 tablespoons chopped parsley


  1. Bring a pot of salted water to a boil, then add the egg noodles and cook according to package directions. While your noodles cook, preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
  2. While the noodles are cooking, heat the olive oil in a large pan over medium high heat, then add the ground beef to the pan and cook for 4-5 minutes, breaking up the meat with a spatula.
  3. Next, add the onion and garlic to the pan and cook for an additional 5 minutes, or until the onion has softened and beef is cooked through.
  4. Now, add the tomato sauce and Italian seasoning to the beef and stir to combine.
  5. Drain the noodles and add to the pan with the beef, then toss to combine.
  6. Finally, pour the beef and noodle mixture into a 9"x13" baking dish that's been coated in cooking spray, top with cheddar cheese, and bake for 10-15 minutes or until cheese is melted.
  7. Sprinkle with parsley and serve.

Dijon Chardonnay Chicken Legs

Do you know what the most expensive cut of chicken is? If you guessed boneless, skinless chicken breasts, you're right. But shockingly, the second most expensive is chicken wings. Now I know why I never go to Hooters. Well that, and the Starving Artist is a leg man, so if I'm plan ogling a woman's legs, I'd prefer they not be covered with cheap tan pantyhose. Anyhow, I'm getting off track. I had a hankering for chicken wings this weekend, but the budget wouldn't manage it – and still allow for wine. So I went with whole chicken legs, the cheapest cut of chicken there is. And man, am I glad I did. Not only did this allow me to stretch my budget, but it opened the door to an extra bottle of wine. And I love these delicious Chicken Legs with a Dijon Chardonnay Glaze. Like I said, I'm a leg man.


Ingredients for the Brine

  • 1 gallon (16 cups) water, divided
  • 1 cup kosher salt
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 tablespoons black peppercorns
  • 6 whole chicken legs (drumstick and thigh intact)

Ingredients for the Chicken

  • 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • 1/4 cup neutral cooking oil, such as canola or safflower
  • 1/4 cup dry white wine ( I used Chardonnay)
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper


  1. For the brine, in a large stock pot, cover the chicken with about 12 cups of cold water. In another saucepan, heat 4 cups of water until almost boiling. Add the salt, sugar, and peppercorns, then stir until completely dissolved. Add the water from the saucepan to the stock pot with the chicken. Cover, and refrigerate the chicken for a minimum of 2 hours.
  2. Next, remove the chicken from the brine, rinse in cold water, and pat dry with paper towels. In a small bowl, whisk the Dijon mustard, cooking oil, and wine until well combined.
  3. Finally, place the chicken legs skin-side up on large cast iron grill pan or a rimmed baking sheet. Brush the tops with the mustard sauce and season with salt and pepper. Cook in a 350 degree oven until the internal temperature reaches 165 degrees with an instant read thermometer inserted in the thickest part of the meat, about 45 to 50 minutes. If you'd like some sexy grill marks on your chicken, flip the legs on your grill pan for the last 5 minutes.

Fake Shack Burger

Growing up in Texas – and Texas means Whataburger country – the Starving Artist developed a certain taste in burgers. Mustard, lettuce, pickles, onions – occasionally tomatoes – and always American cheese. Simple, delicious, and proper. That was until a few years back when I tasted my first Shake Shack Burger. Oh yeah, that special sauce. I can't speak from personal experience, but it felt like meeting a woman in a hotel bar on a business trip, slowly hiding your wedding ring, and... well, I won't go any further. I cheated on Whataburger, and now I'm in love with my mistress. I've spent years trying to recreate that amazing sauce, and I think I've finally found it in the studio. Introducing the Fake Shack Burger. I know, lousy name, and it probably violates all kinds of copyright laws. But have a heart. The Starving Artist can't be endlessly creative. Or responsible. Anyhow, enjoy this burger.


 Sauce Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 1 tablespoon ketchup
  • 1 tablespoon yellow mustard
  • 1 tablespoon relish
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon paprika
  • Pinch cayenne pepper

Burger Ingredients

  • 8 ounces ground beef sirloin
  • 8 ounces ground beef chuck
  • 2 tablespoons butter, at room temperature
  • 4 potato burger buns
  • 4 tablespoons shack sauce
  • Your favorite lettuce
  • 8 slices ripe plum tomatoes
  • 1/2 teaspoon vegetable oil
  • Kosher salt
  • Black pepper, freshly ground
  • 4 slices yellow American cheese


  1. Combine the mayonnaise, ketchup, mustard, pickles, garlic powder, paprika, and cayenne in a food processor and process until smooth. Set aside. (It makes about 3/4 cup sauce.)
  2. Now, gently mix together the sirloin and  chuck in a mixing bowl until just combined. Form into 4 patties, each about 2 inches tall and 2 1/2 inches wide. Refrigerate until ready to cook.
  3. Next, split open the buns and spread with a thin coating of butter, then toast in a skillet until brown, about 1 minute. Spread about 1 tablespoon of shake sauce on the top half of each bun, then place lettuce and tomato on the top half of each bun.
  4. Now comes the fun. Add oil to a large, heavy-bottomed skillet, then heat over medium-high heat until just beginning to smoke. Generously season your hamburger patties on top side with salt and pepper, then transfer, seasoned side down, to the hot skillet. Use a heavy, flat spatula to press down and lightly flatten the beef patties. Season top-facing side with salt and pepper. Cook until a crisp brown crust has formed, about 2-3 minutes.
  5. Finally, carefully loosen any crusty parts of the burger patties from the skillet, and flip over. Top each patty with 1 slice of American cheese and cook until the cheese has melted, about 1 minute longer. Transfer the patties to burger bun bottoms, top with the the top bun (including tomatoes and lettuce), and serve hot.

Lazy Artist's Naan Margherita Pizza

The Starving Artist would like to apologize for being a slacker of late when it comes to posting StudioHotplate's usual Monday recipes. But come on, what do you really expect from an artist? While camping out on the couch for 6 weeks with a broken leg, it was all to easy to embrace the laziness that leads to a life of Netflix binging and Starving Artisthood. But that's all behind me now. I'm back – at least for this week – and I hope you enjoy my Lazy Artist's Naan Margherita Pizza. It's delicious, and you'll barely have to lift a finger – or leg – to enjoy it.



  • 1 Naan bread
  • 3 pieces of fresh mozzarella cheese sliced about 1/4 inch thick
  • 1 tomato, sliced as thin as possible
  • 5-6 leaves basil, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, pressed
  • 1 & 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 & 1/2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • Salt & pepper to taste


  1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.
  2. To start, press your fresh garlic, mix with the olive oil, brush the Naan bread with with half of the oil and garlic mixture, then place in the oven for 5 minutes to crisp up.
  3. Next, remove from oven and place 3 slices of cheese on top of the Naan, sprinkle it with salt and pepper, then place the sliced tomatoes on top and repeat with a sprinkling of salt and pepper.
  4. Place back in the oven for another 5 minutes, plus an extra 2-3 minutes on broil. Watch the bread closely, if its too dark before 2-3 minutes, remove it from the oven.
  5. Meanwhile mix the remaining oil and garlic with the balsamic vinegar, stirring until a smooth emulsion forms.
  6. Once the pizza is baked and the edges are golden in color, remove from the oven, drizzle with however much of the balsamic vinegar mixture you would like, then sprinkle with basil leaves.
  7. Slice, serve, and enjoy!