Brenda Stanley
Belle's Smokin' Sloppy Joe.

Most people can immediately name off a favorite dish they can’t live without. For me, it is easier to list what I don’t like, because I love food. However, there is one item I seem to want constantly. That food is bacon — I love bacon. The smoky, savory flavor is a wonderful addition to so many dishes.

This bacon sauce has an incredible combination of flavors. Just the smell of bacon frying is enough to stir the senses. I then add onion, garlic and spices. All this combined with a hearty marinara and you have the perfect sauce for any pasta or sloppy joe.

And if you’re worried that bacon means this sauce will add to your waistline, don’t be. Bacon does get a bad rap for being high in fat and calories, but actually it only has about 50 calories per slice. If you figure the recipe below has four slices and it makes four servings, the bacon really isn’t adding all that much. Rationalization? Maybe, but oh so worth it.

It’s like the time I bought my first pair of thermal overalls so I could feed my chickens in the winter. I kept looking for a mirror in the dressing room. Then I thought, “Does it really matter what I look like in thermal coveralls?” Sometimes you go for what feels good and let the rest go. So, go for the bacon and enjoy it.

A savory, smoky and hearty pasta dish that is perfect for a winter evening. A side salad or steamed vegetable is all that is needed to complete this satisfying meal. Reduce the marinara to 14 ounces and add some browned ground beef and you have an incredible smokin’ sloppy joe.


4 strips regular bacon, chopped

½ cup onion, diced

1 teaspoon crushed red peppers

1 teaspoon garlic, minced

Salt and pepper

One 32-ounce jar marinara sauce

One 10-14 ounce can diced tomatoes, drained

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Fry bacon, garlic and onion until bacon is crisp and onion is browned. Remove from pan and drain on paper towels. Drain fat from pan and return bacon, onion and garlic. Add remaining ingredients and simmer for 30 minutes on low. Serve over pasta.


Follow the recipe above, adding one pound of browned ground beef and reduce the marinara sauce to 14 ounces. Serve on toasted buns with sliced dill pickles and cheddar cheese.

Brenda Stanley is the mother of five children, including two sets of

twins, and a grandmother of three. She is a cookbook author and

novelist. Her website is at