Sunday, March 9, 2014

Meatier Meatloaf

I’m not going to bore you with my rantings and ravings about how wonderful this recipe it. Just trust me and make it. You can thank me later!

Meatier Meatloaf
Serves 6-8

2 tbsp unsalted butter
1 onion, chopped fine
6 oz white mushrooms, trimmed and sliced thin
1 tbsp tomato paste
3 tbsp plus 1/2 cup low-sodium chicken broth
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 large eggs
2 tbsp soy sauce
1 tbsp unflavored gelatin
½ slice hearty white sandwich bread, torn into 1-inch pieces
1/3 cup minced fresh parsley
2 tsp Dijon mustard
¾ tsp pepper
½ tsp dried thyme
1 pound ground pork
1 pound 85 percent lean ground beef (ground chuck is recommended)

½ cup ketchup
¼ cup cider vinegar
3 tbsp packed brown sugar
1 tsp hot sauce
½ tsp ground coriander

Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 350 degrees. Fold heavy-duty aluminum foil to form 9 by 5-inch rectangle. Center foil on wire rack set in rimmed baking sheet. Poke holes in foil with skewer (about ½ inch apart). Spray foil with vegetable oil spray.

Melt butter in 12-inch skillet over medium heat. Add onion and mushrooms; cook, stirring occasionally, until beginning to brown, 10 to 12 minutes. Add tomato paste and cook, stirring constantly, until browned, about 3 minutes. Reduce heat to low; add 3 tablespoons broth and garlic; cook, scraping bottom of pan to loosen any browned bits, until thickened, about 1 minute. Transfer mushroom mixture to large bowl to cool.

Whisk eggs, remaining ½ cup broth, and soy sauce together in bowl. Sprinkle gelatin over egg mixture and let sit until gelatin softens, about 5 minutes.

Pulse bread in food processor until finely ground, 5 to 10 pulses. Add gelatin mixture, cooled mushroom mixture, parsley, mustard, pepper, and thyme to bread crumbs and pulse until mushrooms are finely ground, about 10 pulses, scraping down bowl as needed. Transfer bread-crumb mixture to large bowl. Add pork and beef and mix with hands to thoroughly combine.

Transfer meat mixture to foil rectangle and shape into 9 by 5-inch loaf using wet hands. Bake meatloaf until it registers 155 to 160 degrees, 75 to 90 minutes. Remove from oven and turn on broiler.

While meatloaf cooks, bring all ingredients to simmer in small saucepan over medium heat. Cook, stirring occasionally, until thick and syrupy, about 5 minutes.

Spread half of glaze evenly over cooked meatloaf; place under broiler and cook until glaze bubbles and begins to brown at edges, about 2 minutes. Remove meatloaf from oven and spread evenly with remaining glaze; return to broiler and cook until glaze is again bubbling and beginning to brown, about 2 minutes longer. Let meatloaf cool for 20 minutes before slicing and serving.

We served this over cauliflower puree with roasted asparagus. Healthy never tasted so good!

Meatier Mealoaf

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Broccoli Gratin

* Healthy * Weeknight Winner *

If you have young kids and/or a picky husband, you understand that getting them to eat their vegetables can be an adventure. I consider it a coup if I serve a moderately healthy recipe that they will both eat. I consider it parade worthy if they fight over their vegetables, threatening to stab each other with their forks if the other continues to pilfer their greens.

I would usually urge you to use fresh produce, but this girl only had a bag of frozen broccoli florets on hand. I simmered them until they were a little bit underdone and then proceeded as directed. And you really couldn’t tell any difference. So this time, I’d say go ahead and use frozen.

However, do not (the bold, underlined italics is my imploring voice) use store-bought bread crumbs! They taste like arse. I always store the heel of baguettes, boules, etc. in a Ziploc in the freezer. They take a few minutes to thaw and then you can blitz them in a food processor faster than you can say, “These taste much better than sawdust!”

Follow the link for the Broccoli Gratin recipe, courtesy of Food Network Kitchens!

And behold my beautiful picture! Makes you want to cook it right now, doesn't it?

Broccoli Casserole

Friday, February 21, 2014

Baked Avocado with Bacon and Eggs

Do you love eggs? Avocadoes? Then I have the recipe for you! (Yes, the recipe has bacon in it, but who doesn’t like bacon? If you don’t, please slowly back away from my blog before I notice you.) This is a delicious and healthy meal packed with nutrition.

A few helpful hints – look for larger avocadoes and go ahead and buy small or medium eggs. If you’re using large or extra-large eggs, you’re going to end up with a mess. Trust me on this. Really. Just trust me.

Editor’s Note: Make some bacon ahead of time and keep in the fridge – nuke it in the microwave for a few seconds to re-crisp.

Baked Avocado with Bacon and Eggs
Serves 2

1 avocado
2 pieces cooked bacon, crumbled
2 small or medium-size eggs
Olive oil or cooking spray
Salt and pepper

Preheat your oven to 425˚. Position a rack in the center of the oven.

Slice the avocado in half and remove the pit. Slice a tiny bit of the peel off the bottom so the halves rest on a baking sheet without wobbling. Using a small spoon, scoop out enough of the flesh to fit the egg. Spritz the underside with olive oil or cooking spray and place on a foil-lined baking sheet. Crack one egg into each avocado and top with crumbled bacon. Season with salt and freshly-ground pepper.

Cook for 10-16 minutes, depending on the size of the eggs and how cooked you want them (begin checking at 10 minutes).

Don’t be afraid to create your own variation – you can add some chopped tomatoes, peppers, scallions, feta or parsley to the avocadoes – anything you want. Get cooking!

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Easy Sandwich Bread

So, apparently there is a shortage of snow plows in scenic southern Maryland. We have been snowed in for days after a few inches of the white, fluffy stuff graced our peninsula. The first item we ran out of was sandwich bread. Although my husband and I don’t eat carbohydrates often, my two-year-old son lives on ‘sammiches’ – cheese, tuna, ham, egg or otherwise. And of course this mom didn’t realize we were down to the last piece until my son grabbed it and shoveled it into his mouth while humming the theme song to Mission Impossible. (There are certain things that are better left unquestioned.)

With lunch a mere three hours away, I jumped onto my favorite cooking sites to find salvation. And yes, victory was mine. This sandwich bread proofs and cooks in under two hours. And the bonus? It contains some whole-wheat flour and it tastes great!

Editor’s Note: While I usually link directly to recipes published online, Cook’s Illustrated is a pay-to-use website.

Easy Sandwich Bread
Makes 1 Loaf

To prevent the loaf from deflating as it rises, do not let the batter come in contact with the plastic wrap. This loaf is best eaten the day it is made, but leftovers may be wrapped in plastic wrap and stored for up to two days at room temperature or frozen for up to one month.

2 cups (11 oz) bread flour
6 Tbsp (2 oz) whole-wheat flour
2¼ tsp instant or rapid-rise yeast
1¼ cups plus 2 Tbsp warm water (120˚)
3 Tbsp unsalted butter, melted
1 Tbsp honey
¾ tsp salt
1 large egg, lightly beaten with 1 tsp water and pinch salt

In bowl of stand mixer, whisk bread flour, whole-wheat flour, and yeast together. Add 1¼ cups warm water, 2 tablespoons melted butter, and honey. Fit stand mixer with paddle and mix on low speed for 1 minute. Increase speed to medium and mix for 2 minutes. Scrape down bowl and paddle with greased rubber spatula. Continue to mix 2 minutes longer. Remove bowl and paddle from mixer. Scrape down bowl and paddle, leaving paddle in batter. Cover with plastic wrap and let batter rise in warm place until doubled in size, about 20 minutes.

Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position and heat oven to 375 degrees. Spray 8½ by 4½-inch loaf pan with vegetable oil spray. Dissolve salt in remaining 2 tablespoons warm water. When batter has doubled, attach bowl and paddle to mixer. Add salt-water mixture and mix on low speed until water is mostly incorporated, about 40 seconds. Increase speed to medium and mix until thoroughly combined, about 1 minute, scraping down paddle if necessary. Transfer batter to prepared pan and smooth surface with greased rubber spatula. Cover and leave in warm place until batter reaches ½ inch below edge of pan, 15 to 20 minutes. Uncover and let rise until center of batter is level with edge of pan, 5 to 10 minutes longer.

Gently brush top of risen loaf with egg mixture. Bake until deep golden brown and loaf registers 208˚ to 210˚, 40 to 45 minutes. (If using a 9 by 5-inch pan, check for doneness 5 minutes earlier.) Using dish towels, carefully invert bread onto wire rack. Reinvert loaf and brush top and sides with remaining 1 tablespoon melted butter. Let cool completely before slicing.

The dough, or batter, for our bread is made with more than double the amount of yeast used in a typical sandwich bread, and it has 20 percent more water by weight. We also use the paddle attachment of our stand mixer instead of the dough hook employed for almost all other bread doughs.

Lots of yeast means a faster rise—20 minutes versus up to 2 hours for a standard loaf.

More water in the dough (up to a point) enhances gluten structure without requiring as much kneading; it also results in pourable dough that doesn’t need shaping.

Using a paddle (more typically used to beat heavy cookie dough) instead of a dough hook allows for more aggressive, faster kneading.

One downside of cutting back on rising time is a sacrifice in flavor, since the trademark taste of a classic loaf develops as fermentation occurs during two slow rises. We compensate for this by adding butter and honey to the batter as well as a bit of nutty whole-wheat flour.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Balsamic-Roasted Brussels Sprouts

* THH Thanksgiving Favorite *

Yes, I know … Halloween isn’t yet here and I’m already planning for Thanksgiving. Don’t hate me yet – I’ll be posting Christmas recipes starting next week!

I adore the holidays and I love planning menus for the various celebrations we attend months in advance. That way I have time to test any new recipes, work out cooking timelines, and plan so well that the day of flows flawlessly. All it takes is practice – and anyone can host a delicious, enjoyable and healthy holiday meal!

We vary our vegetable recipes often during Thanksgiving, and this was our absolute favorite from last year. It’s a cinch to throw together and compliments everything from the turkey to the cranberry sauce. The Brussels sprouts get a nice crunch on their outer leaves, the inner leaves get soft and almost buttery – and well, there is the bacon. Bacon makes everything better!

Balsamic-Roasted Brussels Sprouts

Friday, October 11, 2013

Portuguese Orange-Olive Oil Cake

* The Helpful Husband Recipe Favorites *

Every once in a while, you happen upon a recipe that makes you rethink your entire view of the universe. This cake evokes questions such as, “Why am I 41-years old and just discovering this recipe?” “Where has this cake been all my life?” and most importantly, “How can I hide this from the boys so I can eat it all myself?”

Per the recipes suggestion, attempt (I’m laughing as I type this, because after smelling this baking, you will be licking your oven door) to wait 24 hours before cutting into the cake. I could not, and found it irresistible right out of the oven. But on the second and third days the cake, somehow, became even better. It probably would have continued to age beautifully if I hadn’t been busted in the kitchen on day 3, hand halfway to mouth. The boys descended on it like a pack of wolves and that was the end of the tastiest week of my life.

Portuguese Orange-Olive Oil Cake

Monday, October 7, 2013

Cincinnati Chili

* Low Carb * Weekend Winner *

It's that time of the year! The leaves are turning glorious colors and floating down from overhead branches, and there is just the hint of a chill in the evening air. It's chili weather!

The helpful husband has *gasp* put me on a grocery budget, so I've been having fun finding recipes that use what we have at home, and only what we have at home. I did not have the ingredients for our usual chili (, so I poked around and discovered this version. And now it’s going to be a battle to figure out which chili we make from now on – as this one is as good as our favorite!

Cincinnati Chili
Courtesy of Cook’sIlustrated
Serves 6-8 (in my house this served 4)

2 tsp table salt or more to taste
1½ lbs ground beef chuck
2 tbsp vegetable oil
2 medium onions, chopped fine (about 2 cups)
2 medium cloves garlic, minced or pressed through a garlic press (about 2 teaspoons)
2 tbsp chili powder
2 tsp dried oregano
2 tsp cocoa
1½ tsp ground cinnamon
½ tsp cayenne pepper
½ tsp ground allspice
¼ tsp ground black pepper
2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
2 cups water
2 tablespoons cider vinegar
2 teaspoons dark brown sugar
2 cups tomato sauce
Hot pepper sauce

1 pound spaghetti, cooked, drained, and tossed with 2 tablespoons of unsalted butter
12 ounces sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
1 can red kidney beans (15-ounce), drained, rinsed, and warmed
1 medium white onion, chopped fine (about 1 cup)
Sour cream

Editor’s Note: We used the total amount of liquid and the chili took about 3 hours to reduce. If you’re short on time, cut the water added to the sauce down to 1 cup.

Bring 2 quarts of water and 1 teaspoon of the salt to a boil in a large saucepan. Add the ground chuck, stirring vigorously o separate the meat into individual strands. As soon as the foam from
the meat rises to the top (this takes about 30 seconds) and before the water returns to a boil, drain the meat into a strainer and set it aside.

Rinse and dry the empty saucepan. Set the pan over medium heat and add the oil. When the oil is warm, add the onions and cook, stirring frequently, until the onions are soft and browned around the edges, about 8 minutes. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Stir in the chili powder, oregano, cocoa, cinnamon, cayenne, allspice, black pepper, and the remaining 1 teaspoon salt. Cook, stirring constantly, until the spices are fragrant, about 30 seconds. Stir in the broth, water, vinegar, sugar, and tomato sauce, scraping the pan bottom to remove
any browned bits.

Add the blanched ground beef and increase the heat to high. As soon as the liquid boils, reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the chili is deep red and has thickened slightly, about 1 hour. Adjust the seasonings, adding salt and hot pepper sauce to taste. (The chili can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 3 days. Bring to a simmer over medium-low heat before serving.)

Cincinnati Chili