Thursday, January 17, 2013

Meatloaf for 'Dummies'!

This recipe is a quick and hassle free version of a tasty meatloaf that's SUPER, especially if you have never made one or for guys and gals who like meatloaf, but don't necessarily like to cook. The finished product is moist and flavorful, plus makes for super comfort food sandwiches later.
This recipe is initially designed for a larger family like mine, but I have offered a scaled down version for smaller families as well. The first recipe is also fantastic for make ahead meals.
 If you want to save on cooking for dinner time in the future, simply prepare the original recipe and divide the meatloaf blend into 2 or 3 disposable loaf pans, baking and freezing the others, cooled wrapped tightly in plastic wrap and placed in a zip type freezer bag! The loaves will keep for at least 3 months, not that you will want to wait that long!
 No worries about onion or garlicky hands, because all the ingredients are prepared mix-ins. Some cooks argue that meatloaves and ground meats are best when manipulated with your hands. I beg to differ and would rather opt for a long tined fork stirring and a sturdy rubber spatula, using a folding fashion for the bulk of the work and saving my hands for shaping at the end.
 Make Ahead/Multiple Meal Recipe:
 3 lbs. meatloaf blend, beef, veal and pork
 5 oz. bag cheese and garlic croutons, crushed, about 1 1/2 c.
1/2 c. good quality medium salsa
1/3 c. ketchup
1 tbsp. fish sauce
1 tbsp. onion powder
6 slices good quality bacon, halved
Preheat oven to 375*F. Combine all ingredients w/ fork and rubber spatula until well blended.*
Shape into oblong loaf and arrange the pieces  of bacon along the length of the loaf. 
Bake until internal temperature reaches 165*F, about 35-40 minutes.
Let rest for 10 minutes or more before serving.
*I like to check my seasonings by frying a thin, tiny disc of the meat mixture before committing it to the shape or the oven, it's the best way to check.  I learned this tip from Emeril Lagasse about 2 decades ago, BAM!
 Small Family/ Single Meal Version:
1 lb. Meatloaf blend
 1/2 c. Garlic and cheese croutons, crushed
1/3 c. Good quality medium salsa
2 tbsp. Ketchup
1 tsp. Onion powder
1 tsp. Fish sauce
2-3 slices Bacon, halved.
See above instructions.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Crescent Moon-Lit Asparagus Bundles

This recipe is fun and great for entertaining or for introducing new and ornate veggies to your family and friends. The ingredients are simple and the results are fantastic. You can use this as a Great side dish to a wonderful roast or chicken. The name arose withe the clever help of my cousin Aaron, a tried and tested taster for 99% of my work and gets the perks of new and different menus for display where he works!  Recipe:
 1 lb. Baby asparagus, blanched 1 minute and shocked,
1 8 oz. Roll buttery crescent rolls,
1 oz. Gruyere, sliced into 16 1/4 inch strips about 1 inch long,
2 heaping tbsp. Whipped cream cheese,
 1 1/2 tsp. Mayonnaise,
1 tsp. Horseradish mustard,
1 drop Sriracha

 Preheat oven to 375*F. Blanche asparagus in salted water for 1 minute and remove and shock in ice bath, drain on paper towels. Remove woody and fibrous part of stems, leaving approximately half of the asparagus. Put in bundles of 4 to 5 asparagus spears forming 16 groupings. Carefully unroll crescent rolls and One By One, divide each in half and center a portion of cheese at the largest end as well as a bundle of spears and roll according to the directions. Place on baking sheet evenly spaced and brush with a little milk. Bake until golden and cheese is melty, about 6 minutes. Meanwhile combine the cream cheese, mayo, mustard and Sriracha until smooth and creamy, place in small serving vessel and arrange bundles as desired.
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Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Tex Mex Fabulous Cornbread

Corn meal and Maize is the source of much sustenance for Americans and other countries, and more so in the Southern lying states in America and New England.  Since the American Indians' introduction of a process called Nixtamalization, which is corn ground into a meal or soaked in a lime or alkaline salt to make hominy, the possibilities for providing with a plethora sustainable menu ideas is virtually endless.  Referred to as "Johnnycakes", journey cakes, shawnee cakes, to name a few, consisting of ground corn or corn meal, moistened with milk that has been scalded or water and salt, these cake variations were commonly fried in some sort of animal fat on a griddle type device or depending on the area, baked in the oven or fires and served savory or with sweeteners such as maple syrup or honey.  References to the johnny cake span from 1739 in New England.
The history of the journey cake is similar to that of the "Hoecake", by way of ingredients, but dissimilar in regard to preparation.  Hoecakes and the name therein has roots dating back to the negro  field hands, who without the means to afford certain cooking vessels, would use their ingenuity and used their hoes used in the cotton fields, as a griddle or baking sheet of sorts, to cook their cornmeal cakes over an open fire.  Hoes used for cotton farming were large and flat with a long, detachable handle, made for a suitable cooking device once greased with animal fat. Some of  the first noted references to hoecakes date back to 1745 by writers like Barlow and Washington Irving.
Ironically enough, here in our "middle-east" South, which I use to refer to here in Southwestern  Virginia, Hoecakes are considered as simply home-made, hand-shaped bread biscuits made from flour.  In lieu of cornbread, we seldom serve it without adding a measure of sugar for sweetness, which for us is the optimal way to serve the sumptuous, buttered corn cake.   At any rate, today's recipe features corn meal, embellished with wonderful Tex-Mex ingredients and baked in an old fashioned, seasoned cast iron skillet, which remains one of the staples in my kitchen.  Preparation is simple and time conscious, using  a packaged corn muffin mix to bring these fabulous items together.  This recipe pairs well with any meal, especially chili beans, pinto beans, or long simmered legumes of your choice or as the starch to serve alongside a fragrant, roasted chicken as I served this recipe to my family.
2 pkgs. corn muffin mix, such as Jiffy
1 tsp. onion powder
1/2 tsp. chili powder
1/2 tsp. cumin
2/3 c. milk
2 eggs, slightly beaten
2 tsp. Agave nectar

1/2 c. Colby Jack cheese cubes
1/2 c. whole kernel corn, drained
olive oil for drizzling
1 chipotle chili, small diced, (optional)
Preheat oven and
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greased cast iron skillet to 400*F.  Mix dry ingredients and in separate vessel, the wet ingredients and combined until just blended.  fold in corn and cheese, and chili if desired and carefully pour into cast iron skillet.  Bake until knife or fork inserted comes out clean, about 20 minutes.  Serve with butter if desired.   Serves 6 to 8.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Meat Free! Mushroom Quiche w/Gruyere and Provolone

This quiche recipe is an extension of an entry past featuring a delightful quiche with sausage.  Normally, when  I venture into a specific dish, I make variations and try several types offering vegetarian or meat free options alongside the versions containing animal proteins.  While on my quiche 'kick', I came up with this recipe that is as equally enjoyable as the next and full of wonderful earthy mushrooms and spectacular Gruyere.
16 oz. button mushrooms, cleaned and sliced
1 small onion, chopped, about 1/3 c.
4 tbsp. salted butter
1 1/2 c. Gruyere, shredded
1/2 c. provolone, diced or shredded
4 large eggs
2 c. 1 1/2% milk
2 9 inch deep dish pie crusts
1/4 tsp. Sriracha
olive oil for drizzling
Preheat oven to 425*F.
In a skillet over medium high heat, melt butter and a drizzle of olive oil. When small bubbles form, add mushrooms. Cook for about 4 minutes, stirring frequently, until signs of browning starts to occur and add onion, cooking for another 2 minutes.  SPST.  Turn off heat.
Beat eggs, milk and sriracha together.  SPST
Divide mushroom mixture and cheese among the two pie crusts. Divide egg mixture among the two.
Bake for 15 minutes, then reduce heat to 300*F, covering loosely with foil if needed to keep from over browning and bake until knife  inserted comes out clean, about 30 minutes.  Serves 6

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Jerk Roasted Fingerlings-Happy New Year!!

 Just a quick recipe I  whipped up a few months ago that compliments the meatloaf and green bean recipes in my past two entries, for a great meal any day of the week.  When serving potatoes, one generally can't go wrong with the crowd, and when serving fingerling potatoes of various colors, special can be thrown into the mix of words describing the affair.  These puppies can get rather expensive, depending on the vendor, so by all means feel free to substitute with red, white or even russet.  The ingredients are minimal and you only have to invest about 30 minutes of  loosely supervised time and depending on what the main course is and the cooking method, this side dish can be prepared during the last stretch of cooking.
2 lb. fingerling potatoes, split lengthwise
1 tbsp. Jerk Seasoning
olive oil for drizzling
Place potatoes in large bowl and toss with seasoning and drizzled olive oil.  Let stand for about 30 minutes for flavors to permeate the potatoes.
Preheat oven to 400*F.  Spread potatoes in one layer on baking sheet,  SPST, and roast until golden, turning once if necessary, about 20 minutes.

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Sunday Meatloaf w/ Tangy Pepper Jelly Glaze

This recipe is full of complimentary flavors and colors, while also being high in vitamins, minerals, and iron.   This is also great for people who don't feel the need to have gravy with their meatloaves at least not all the time anyway.  Meatloaf has been an affordable mainstay to the American family surfacing here in and around the Great Depression, as a great way to stretch your proteins, especially with a larger family. Various grains and cereals such as oats and rice were used in doing so, which were more prevalent.  Meatloaf has  European origins, traditionally in Germany and Belgium, with references made to it as early as the 5th century, in Roman books of cookery.
There is no right or wrong way Per Se to prepare a meatloaf and it can be made as casual or as upscale as you want.  Many meat loaf recipes call for a tri-fecta of meats like beef, veal, and pork, but lamb, venison and organ meats are also included in some cultures.   Because of availability, I generally opt for beef and pork or beef and ground turkey.  Careful though when choosing ground turkey and chicken, as some suppliers grind the skin as well, making a protein as fatty as if not more so than traditional 75/25 ground beef.  The cooking process will undoubtedly render the loaf of much of it's excess fat, but sometimes it's better and neater to be safe than sorry.
Today's recipe is one of many varieties of the meatloaves I make sans brown, tomato or onion gravy!  This is also a meatloaf that I prepare without eggs.  Breadcrumbs serve as the binding agent, so I can shave off about 200 calories and 10  grams of fat, without missing out or skimming on taste. Green and red peppers, spinach, onions and  garlic make up the powerhouse of antioxidant and vitamin rich produce, that serves as flavor builders and part of your "5 a day's" and served alongside your favorite starch and steamed, blanched or baked veggies, makes for a meal good enough for a special Sunday dinner.  This recipe is also good to help utilize the red pepper jelly called for in some of my other blog entries, and cut down on condiment waste.
2 lbs. ground beef, preferably round or chuck
1 lb. ground pork
1 tomato and chicken soft cube
1 beef soft cube
1 c. chopped onion
4 cloves garlic, pressed or finely minced
1/4 tsp. celery seed
1/4 c. mini or regular red peppers, chopped
1/4 c. green pepper, chopped
2 c. chopped fresh spinach
2 tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
1/4. c. good quality ketchup
2 tbsp. medium chunky salsa
1/4 c. Parmigiano Reggiano
1 c. fresh bread crumbs
2 tbsp. good quality ketchup
1 tbsp. hot pepper jelly
1/2 tsp. Tamari
Preheat oven to 375*F.
In a large bowl, add beef and pork. Grate in bouillon, stir and let stand for about 10 minutes for flavors to
Microwave or saute until softened onions, garlic, celery seed and peppers drizzled with olive oil and a scant amount of SPST.  Set aside to cool slightly before mixing with other ingredients.
Add remaining wet and dry ingredients to beef mixture and combine well without overworking the meat.  SPST.
Shape into elongated oval  and put in suitable sized loaf pan or baking dish.  Bake until juices run clear and the internal temperature is 170 degrees, about 40 minutes, carefully pouring off excess fat and discarding.
Combine glaze ingredients and paint onto loaf in two batches during last 5-10 minutes of cooking.
You may microwave the hot pepper jelly briefly to aide in blending process.
Let stand for 10 minutes before slicing.
Serves 8-10.

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Saturday, December 29, 2012

Green Bean Casserole, Revisited

Looking for a fast and wonderful side dish popular around the board and fancied up on taste, then this recipe fits the bill.  Instead of traditional green bean casserole, which has almost lost some of it's seemingly traditional and festive nostalgia, at least in my opinion and is usually either highly revered or religiously abhorred,  try some variations you may enjoy!
  The popularity of this dish is one of circumstance.  In  1955, Campbell Soup Co. wanted to create a dish that was affordable and of on hand pantry ingredients, which included mushroom soup and canned green beans.  After that, this dish has been a go-to especially during Thanksgiving and major holidays like Christmas.
 For myself, using the can variety of cream of mushroom, adds an exorbitant  level of sodium that can be avoided  simply by making the cream of mushroom from scratch, following the basic premise of a bechamel after the mushrooms have been lightly sauteed  and simmered in butter.  Flour and milk soon follow and the thickened sauce is one to rival that of any Michelin starred restaurant or bistro.  Fresh green beans are fabulous, making sure you remove the stringy and fibrous parts before blanching.  These two simple steps will bring your green casserole back to the forefront and high in flavor, not sodium!!  If time is of the essesence, try my version of a green bean saute, mimicking the flavor components and just a tad flashier than the oven baked version!
Green Bean and Mushroom Saute w/ Red Miso and Garlic
1 lb. fresh green beans, stringy fibers removed and trimmed
4 oz. sliced button mushrooms
1 clove garlic, pressed or fnely minced
2 tbsp. butter
1 tsp. Red Miso
Splash Sherry
Splash seasoned rice vinegar
French fried onions for garnish
olive oil for drizzling
In a large saute pan over medium high heat, drizzle with olive oil  and melt butter.
When tiny bubbles form, add mushrooms and saute for about 2 minutes or until fragrant.  Add garlic and green beans and toss.  Saute about 4 more minutes until green beans are tender crisp and stir in Miso.
Add sherry and vinegar to de-glaze pan and toss to coat.
Garnish with french fried onions.
Serves 6 to 8.

The picture shown is of my original recipe Green Bean Saute w/ Red Miso and Garlic featured with another recipe called "Everything Gravy", posted in September.  The revamped recipe is the same with the addition of sauteed mushrooms and french fried onions, creating the green bean casserole effect.

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