Monday, March 28, 2011

Braised Meatloaf, or how to make friends with meatloaf

 This is so good, catsup is not required!

I know, what on earth could I be talking about? How can anyone not be friends with meatloaf? Well, uhmm, that would of been me. But hold on, I can explain, you see.......

Meatloaf is so, well it's solid, and thick and big. You know a big loaf of meat. That's why we did not get along. When there are only a couple of folks eating, a standard sized meatloaf lasts forever! Most meatloaf recipes are usually 2 pounds of ground meat, which will yield about a 3 pound loaf when you factor in the filler, eggs, milk, etc. That my friends is a lot of, yep you guessed it, meatloaf. We (OK, me especially) are tired of it, before it is gone.

I can and do get creative. I have made spaghetti sauce with leftover meatloaf, I have sliced it and used it in a rice casserole in place of any thing else called for. I have sliced it, covered it with a sauce/gravy and baked it again to re-present it as a new dinner. Leftover meatloaf has been turned into lasagna, hash with eggs, and sandwiches.

There are probably a few more creations, but I think you get the general idea. I myself do enjoy a sandwich of warm meatloaf on buttered bread with mustard. Add some pickles and a celery stick or two and you have a great lunch. A delicious sandwich, but one, maybe two in a week are plenty.

Then I found this recipe, for a stove-top braised meatloaf at Olla Podrida and what a great find it was! One pound of ground beef, braised on top of the stove, a richly flavored pan reduction. Yep, meatloaf heaven! And it is just the right size for small families. Pattie's recipe is dinner guest special. When I got past the wow factor (and wiped my chin!), I concentrated on the technique and the yield. Introducing........

Everyday Braised Meatloaf
adapted from:  Olla Podrida

1 slice bread
2-4 T milk
1 pound lean ground beef
1 egg
1 T finely minced onion
1 T catsup (this touch of sweet will carry the rest of the flavors, you won't taste it separately)
1/2 t garlic salt
fresh pepper to taste ( 4-6 "grinds")
2 T dry bread crumbs
1/3 c Parmesean cheese
2 T finely chopped, ham or salami or  prosciutto or mortadella

1/2 - 3/4 c dry (fine) bread crumbs, plain or Italian flavored

1 T olive oil
1T butter

1/2 c dry white wine
1/2 c beef stock or water
1 small tomato, finely diced
1 small carrot grated ( if desired)
1 T minced onion (if desired)

Place slice of bread and 2 tablespoons of the milk in a skillet, warm gently, stirring until mixture is a creamy mass. You may need up to the full 4 tablespoons of milk, however do not use more. Let cool.

Combine the cooled bread mixture and remaining ingredients for the meatloaf. Mix together gently. On a large sheet of plastic wrap, turn meat mixture out and begin forming a log, approximately 2 1/2 inches thick. Wrap and chill for an hour or place in the freezer for 15 minutes.

In a shallow bowl, add dry bread crumbs. For ease I cut the log in half to make the process of coating and browning easier. Coat the meat mixture in bread crumbs, taking care to maintain the meat loaf shape.

Heat butter and oil in large shallow pan, saute meat loaf piece(s) until golden brown, turning to brown all sides. Take care to not break the loaf apart.

The added vegetables during the braising will add body and additional flavor to the pan sauce reduction.

Add wine, stock and diced tomato, carrot and onion if using, braise covered on low/simmer 1 hour. Remove from pan, set aside. Sieve pan drippings to remove skin and seeds from tomato and another other solids that you do not want in your reduced pan sauce. Skim fat, return to pan and boil down to concentrate and thicken. Serve the reduced pan sauce over the meatloaf or with mashed potatoes.
Serves 4-5

Recipe rating:  Oh Yes! (will make again)

And now an update and open invitation!
Cookbook Sundays has moved, from Toronto Canada to Vancouver Washington U.S.A. Please join me on April 3, 2011 for the first cookbook Sunday, right here at Mom's Sunday Cafe. Cookbook Sundays will run for 8 days each month, the first Sunday through Sunday of the week after. It is fun and so easy to participate, all you have to do is:
1. choose your cookbook
2. select your recipe
3. cook and have a good time
4. share it at Cookbook Sundays!
See you there! 

This post will be shared with:
hearth n soul @ a moderate life
Tuesday Night Supper Club @ fudge ripple

key words: small families, meatloaf, braising

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Pretzel toffee, sweet, salty and so good!

I am a real sucker for the sweet/salty combination. If you are, you must make this. Or at least remember this recipe, for those times when you need a treat, a gift for others, or a project to work on with someone special.
Me and pretzels go way back, I eat them often. I offered this delicious Roasted Pretzels snack some time ago. So falling hard for this pretzel toffee, was very easy!

Pretzel Toffee
adapted from: My Kind of Cooking

small twist pretzels, a 9oz bag will be more than plenty
1 c butter
1 c brown sugar
2 c chocolate chips, a 12 oz bag

Line a 10X15 inch jelly roll pan with foil. Cover the surface of the foil with pretzels, leaving no empty spaces. Set pan aside. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

In a medium size sauce pan, melt butter, stir in sugar. Bring to a boil over medium high heat, allow to boil 2 minutes, adjusting heat as needed to keep a bubbling boil. Do not cook longer than the 2 minutes.

This is the boiling stage you want to maintain for the 2 minutes.

Pour butter mixture evenly over the pretzels, carefully place pan into the oven. Bake 7 - 10 minutes.

Check after 5 minutes to make sure the sugar mixture is not getting too dark around the edges.

Remove from oven, sprinkle chocolate chips over the surface.

Let stand 10 minutes, carefully spread chocolate over surface of the candy.

Let cool, then refrigerate to chill. This will assist in breaking the toffee into pieces.

Break toffee, place in decorative bowl and watch the compliments come your way. This is seriously good!

Recipe rating:  Oh Yes! (will make again)

As always thanks so much for taking a moment to stop and say hello.
I appreciate your time and your comments.

This post is shared with:
Fat Camp Friday @ Mangoes and Chutney
Sunday Potluck @ Mommy's Kitchen
Sunday's at one @ Cocina Diary

and by request:
Sweets for a Saturday @ Sweet as Sugar Cookies

Full Plate Thursday @ Miz Helen Country Cottage

Feed Me Tweet Me Follow Me Home @ 21 Century Housewife

A friendly reminder:
Cookbook Sundays had moved! From Toronto Canada to Vancouver Washington U.S.A. 

Please join me April 3, 2011 for the first cook book Sunday @ Mom's Sunday Cafe. I hope to see you there. Special thanks to Brenda at Brenda's Canadian Kitchen for sharing this great event.

Key words:  candy, toffee, easy, cookbook Sundays

Friday, March 25, 2011

Lemon and Mustard Salad Dressing

If I got to live in a perfect world, I would serve a crisp salad each evening with a freshly made salad dressing, and never purchase another bottle of the stuff. But alas my world is not perfect and even I get tired of salad every night. The homemade salad dressing part? That I can do. There will however be that ever present bottle of Wishbone Italian dressing that Honey believes is absolutely the only dressing that should go on a salad, ever. OK Honey, but take a look at this........

I know, parsley again? Yes and for a good reason. Most salad dressings and vinaigrette, are very high in fat content. Good quality olive oil is wonderful, and we need healthy fats in our diets. But lets be honest, we don't have a problem getting enough fat in our diets here in this country. Maybe the right fats, but certainly not enough fat. Enter parsley, and a host of other ingredients, these ingredients can take the place of some of the added fat and offer good nutrition in the trade. Your own homemade "light" salad dressing.

Lemon Mustard Salad Dressing
adapted from:  Salad Dressings!
by:  Jane Marsh Dieckmann

1 bunch of parsley, washed, dried, trimmed with a 2 inch stem
1 green onion, sliced thin
1 clove garlic, minced
juice of 1 lemon, strained
1 T sugar
1/2 t salt
2 t dijon style mustard, or 1 T of a milder grainy type
1/3 c olive oil
1/2 c buttermilk

Combine all ingredients through olive oil in processor bowl, process until smooth(ish).

 This lovely dressing is delicious over sliced
tomatoes, or steamed and chilled vegetables.

Scrape down sides, add buttermilk, process additional 30 seconds.

Decant into a jar, refrigerate, shake before using. Makes approximately 1 1/2 c cups.

Recipe rating:  Oh Yes! (will make again)

As always, thanks for taking a moment to stop and say hello.
I appreciate your time and your comments.

This post is shared with:
Pennywise Platter Thursday @ nourishing gourmet
Foodie Friday @ designs by gollum
Tweet Me, Feed Me, Follow Me Home Friday @ the life and times of a 21 century housewife

key words:  homemade salad dressing, parsley, buttermilk, lemon

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

How about a Strawberry Dessert Bar

Today I was assured that spring is coming. The proof was right there at the marketplace. It was in the form of a beautiful display of strawberries. I had no choice, I had to bring some of these wonderful berries home.

When you are in need of proof that the season is ready to turn, I ask you, would this not be the answer? As the market continues to fill with all the wonderful produce that marks the warmer weather, it is also time to remember the simple yet delicious ways to enjoy the seasons bounty.

A perfect way is to set out a strawberry bar at dessert time. This quickly built dessert is also a serve yourself affair, how can you go wrong? Oh and it is beautiful as well.

Set out a large dish of washed berries, a small bowl of sour cream and a second bowl of brown sugar. To enjoy all you do is, dip the berry into the sour cream and then into the brown sugar. Enjoy, repeat as necessary until satisfaction is achieved. See very easy. Maybe too easy, lets recap the instructions to keep it straight.

1. Set out a large bowl of washed berries, 2. a small bowl of sour cream and 3. a second bowl containing brown sugar. To enjoy, dip the berry first into the sour cream and then into the brown sugar. Repeat until satisfied.

See very easy and so easy to enjoy!

And then there is Honey's style, 

Sliced berries, over vanilla ice cream, drizzled with chocolate syrup. It is easy to please everyone, at strawberry time. 

As always thanks for taking a moment to stop and say hello.
I appreciate your time and your comments.

This post will be shared with:
Full Plate Thursday @ Miz Helen's Country Cottage
Simple Lives Thursdays @ GNOWFGLINS 
Fat Camp Friday @ Mangoes and Chutney

key words:  strawberries, easy dessert, sour cream

Monday, March 21, 2011

Manhattan Clam Chowder, from pantry and fridge

Crushed thyme, golden brown bacon and dry white help flavor this delicious chowder. It is full of vegetables, a complete meal. Add some crackers or bread and fresh fruit, dinner is complete.

The weather is changing, but it is still a very cold beginning to Spring! But I am ready for a bowl of something a tad bit lighter in content, yet hot and steaming, this chowder will do the trick. This is also a great recipe because you could make this at any time, the ingredients are readily kept in most well stocked kitchens. This cook also be prepared up to adding the clams, chill, then finish when you get home for a super speedy meal.

Manhattan Clam Chowder

adapted from: What to Cook, when you think there is nothing in the house to eat!
by:  Arthur Schwartz
Serves 3-4
see below for update: a cooks wisdom

2 slices bacon - diced small
1 c diced carrots
1 c diced celery
1 c diced onions
2 c diced potatoes
1 - 28 oz can Italian plum tomatoes, reserve juices, chopped
1 c clam juice, water or chicken broth (not bouillon - too salty) - I used 1/2 c water and 1/2 c dry white wine
1/2 t dried thyme
scant 1/2 t garlic salt
fresh ground pepper
2 - 6 oz cans chopped clams, do not drain

In a medium sized saucepan fry bacon until golden brown, remove to drain, reserve the bacon fat. Add the diced carrots, celery and onion to the saucepan.

Saute over medium heat until tender about 10 minutes.

Add potatoes, mix well and continue to cook for another 2 minutes. Add the tomatoes along with the juice, clam juice or chosen liquid, thyme, garlic salt and a few grinds of pepper.

Bring to a boil, cover and reduce heat. Simmer 15 minutes. Add the clams and the juice along with the reserved bacon, heat until pipping hot. Serve with oyster crackers or biscuits.

a cooks wisdom:  increase clams to 3 cans, increase bacon to 4 pieces, drain 1/2 fat before sauteing vegetables, do not use any water - use 100% of any liquid chosen, increase simmer time to 45 minutes.
Serves 4. Now you have a flavorful dinner!

Here is a preview of the new button, for Cookbook Sundays@Mom's Sunday Cafe. I alas was unable to complete this project without the assistance of my son, a huge thanks goes to him for his help! And I love this button, this is a photo from my collection of cook books.

With this task cone, it looks like we are in "go" mode, for the first Cookbook Sunday on April 3, 2011. I hope to see you there!
As always, thanks for taking a moment to stop and say hello.
I appreciate your time and your comments.

This post is shared with:
hearth n soul @ a moderate life
blue Monday @ smiling sally's

key words:  pantry meals, chowder, easy meals, soup.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Family Lemon Pudding

Lemon is one of my most favorite of flavors! Until today I had never purchased or used Meyer lemons, in anything. I found these beauties while shopping at Costco. Into the cart, they went. I doubt that I will be able to use all of these, in time to prevent spoilage. When I unloaded the little container they were packaged in, unfortunately one was already moldy.

I learned a while ago, that you can freeze lemons for future use. It is easy. Just wash and dry, cut in half and put in a freezer container or bag. When you need "fresh" lemon, let thaw or microwave for about 30 seconds (per half lemon) and you have a fresh lemon to juice. The rind holds up well and the "juicing" force does not break the fruit apart. You can bet, these delicious beauties will go into the freezer, instead of into the compost.

Got (stale) bread? Good. Here is a delicious and different way to use it up, prevent waste and be frugal in the process.

Family Lemon Pudding
from:  Five-Star Favorites, recipes from friends of Mamie and Ike
350 degree oven
see below for update:  a cooks wisdom

2 c fine stale bread crumbs ( I used 3 slices)
1 T butter melted ( I did not melt)

4 c milk
4 eggs, separated
1 1/4 c granulated sugar
grated rind and juice from 1 lemon
1/4 c confectioners/powdered sugar

Beat egg yolks, granulated sugar and butter in a large bowl until thick and creamy. Mix in the lemon juice and the rind. By hand stir in the milk until mixture is smooth, stir in bread crumbs. Pour mixture into a buttered shallow 2 qt baking dish.

I will use a water bath pan , next time I make this. Baking as the recipe instructs is too harsh for a delicate custard.

Bake 40 minutes.

Beat egg whites until stiff, but not dry. Gradually add the confectioners/powdered sugar.

Pile meringue onto the hot baked pudding, return to the oven and bake additional 10 minutes, or until meringue is lightly browned.

Serves 6

a cooks wisdom:  reduce granulated sugar to 1 cup, decrease milk to 3 1/2 cups. Use a water bath for baking prior to the meringue topping.

Recipe rating:  It's Ok. (tasty but not special)

As always, thanks for stopping by.
I appreciate your visits and your comments!

This post will be shared with:

Simple Lives Thursday @ GNOWFGLINS
Key words:  old fashion desserts, baked lemon meringue pudding, frugal, homemade

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Red beans and rice, cook a pot of beans weekly

It is a rainy, windy day here. Just the kind of day that calls out for warming food. Beans and rice come to mind. Fortunately for me, I have a ham bone in the freezer "in reserve" and jars of dry beans on the pantry shelves. And too.......

I had noticed and commented about the Red beans and rice over at Beverly's Back Porch. I am drawn to her recipes. Those recipes speak to my childhood memories. They are perfect to daydream over and plan to make. Or in my case, adapt as my pantry is not as stocked as hers is, on this morning. I prepared these to cook in the crockpot while I am away at work, it will be an easy simmer of the rice and dinner will be done.

Red Beans and Rice, Vancouver style
by the seat of my pants
inspired by:  Beverly's Back Porch.

1 pound of red beans, soaked, drained and rinsed
1 ham bone or 2 hocks
1 large or 2 regular onions diced
4 - 6 T olive oil
4 T flour
1 -2 green peppers, roasted, peeled and diced
1 bay leaf
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 c red wine
1 t Tony Chachere's seasoning (1 t is for flavor, use more for a little "heat")
6 or more c water
salt to taste( I used 2 tsp)

This onion technique is very adaptable for so many recipes, I won't forget this! Don't be afraid of using the larger amounts of the onion and green peppers, those aromatic vegetables add so much to this dish. You cannot over do the vegetables.

Saute the diced onion in olive oil, start with the 3 T, when golden, stir in the flour and the additional oil as needed. Reduce heat to low and saute until the roux is golden and the onions smell like heaven!

Roasted peppers are not pretty, but they are delicious!

When peppers are plentiful, roast, cool and freeze (don't peel, the skin helps protect the pepper in the freezer). In the winter pull out a roasted pepper for delicious flavor at a frugal price. I like to keep both red and green in the freezer for winter use.

These beans were soaked for a longer period of time, 2 days. I came across this information about increasing the soaking time to help with digestion for those troubled by beans.We shall see if this helps.

Place ham bone in bottom of crockpot, add all remaining ingredients, cook on low 8 hours or until beans are done. Remove ham bone and any large pieces of ham, dice (or shred by hand) and return to the beans. Taste broth adding salt to taste. Serve with the Carrot Rice.

Carrot Rice

1 c brown rice
water to cook per rice package (this can vary)
1 large or 2 medium carrots, peeled, coarsely grated
1/2 t salt

Bring all ingredients to a boil, reduce heat, simmer 45 minutes or until rice is done.

 Just about done, time to get the ham off the bone and back into the beans.

For an attractive presentation 
serve from an old fashion ice cream scoop.

Serve with pride, this is good eating!.

Before leaving for work, I wrote "Beans and Rice" on the dry wipe board (one of 3) on the fridge, to let Honey know what was for dinner. After dinner was done, and the clean up completed, he let me know his wishes for some of the leftover beans. Guess what were having for our next dinner?

Recipe rating:
Oh Yes! Will make again.

As always, thanks for stopping by.
I appreciate your visits and your comments.

This post will be shared with:
Full Plate Thursdays @ Miz Helen's Country Cottage
Simple Lives Thursday @ GNOWFGLINS

Feed me, Tweet me, Follow me home Friday @ a moderate life