Thursday, October 29, 2009

Stuffed Meatloaf

OMG, I am so psyched about this meatloaf. I've been drooling over it since the first time I saw it. Seriously... everything about this shouts that it MUST be amazing. I have to admit, it more than lived up to my expectations. This was amazing (and used up a huge portion of my overgrown window herb garden)! Mr. L didn't not only didn't complain about having leftovers of this meal, he was excited enough about it to offer to come home for lunch so he could have some then!

Roasted Garlic and Ricotta Stuffed Meatloaf (from What We're Eating)


For the Loaf:

1 tbsp canola oil
1 onion, small dice
1 carrot, small dice
1/2 red bell pepper, small dice (I used green instead, since they were on sale)
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/4 lbs ground beef
3/4 lb hot italian sausage, not in casings
1/8 cup flat-leaf parsley, chopped
1/2 cup bread crumbs
1 egg
1 tbsp sambal oelek
2 1/2 tbsp worcestershire saucekosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper

For the filling:
2 bulbs garlic
drizzle olive oil
8 oz ricotta
3 oz goat cheese, softened
1/8 cup flat leaf parsley
1 tbsp fresh sage, minced
1/8 cup fresh basil ribbons (chiffonade)
1 eggkosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper


Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Prepare the garlic bulbs to be roasted: cut the ends off of each bulb and drizzle with olive oil.
Sprinkle with kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper.
Wrap in alluminum foil and roast at 350 degrees for about 1 hour or until just starting to caramelize and completely softened.
Set aside until cool enough to handle.

While the garlic is roasting, saute the veggies for the meatloaf.
Add canola oil to a saute pan over medium heat.
Once the pan and oil are hot, add the diced onions, carrots, and red bell pepper.
Sweat the veggies over medium heat for about 10 to 15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the onions are translucent.
Add the minced garlic to the pan.
Stir and continue to cook for 1 more minute.
Remove from heat and set aside to cool.

Once the

garlic has been removed from the oven, begin preparing the rest of the meatloaf.
To a large mixing bowl add the sauteed veggies, ground beef, italian sausage, parsley, bread crumbs, 1 egg, sambal oelek, worcestershire sauce, and a liberal pinch of kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper.
Using your hands, mix the ingredients together working the meat as little as possible, the more it gets rough around the tougher it will be.
Stop mixing once all the ingredients are just barely combined.

Make the filling-
In a mixing bowl cream together the softened goat cheese and ricotta.
Squeeze the roasted garlic cloves out of the bulbs and into the bowl with the cheese.
Also add the parsley, sage, and mint.
Mix until the garlic has broken up and the ingredients are thoroughly combined.
Taste the mixture and adjust seasoning as necessary with kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper.
After adjusting seasoning, add one egg into the bowl, mix until the egg has been completely incorporated.

Form the meat loaf.
Place a piece of parchment paper onto a sheet pan.
Using about 2/3 of the ground meat mixture form a rectangular "boat" on the parchment paper.
There should be about 1 1/2 inches of meat on all sides and on the bottom with a large valley that will be filled with the cheese.
Next, spoon the ricotta mixture into the bowl of the meatloaf "boat" ;-) .
Not all of the cheese mixture may be necessary.
Carefully take the other 1/3 of the ground meat mixture and press it out into a similar rectangle that will fit over top of the filled meatloaf "boat".
Work the edges of the top piece of meatloaf into the sides of the bottom piece to for a sealed meatloaf.
No filling should be visable.
Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with freshly cracked black pepper and kosher salt.

Place the stuffed meatloaf into a preheated 350 degree oven.
Bake the meatloaf at 350 degrees for 1 hour.
Some of the cheese may ooze out during the cooking process but that's okay.
Remove the meatloaf from the oven and allow it to rest for at least 10 minutes before slicing and serving.
PS: The leftovers go great cut up and tossed with pasta!

I also roasted a couple carrots and a parsnips with olive oil and honey so there'd be a little something on the side.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

baked shrimp

...with pasta and veggies!
I bought a bag of frozen, cooked, shell-on shrimp on a whim a few weeks ago, and only afterward found out that Mr. L doesn't like shrimp cold - only hot (which I think is strange). So, I went on a search for a recipe that used already cooked shrimp. I came across one for baked shrimp on Food Lion's site. I figured I'd throw it on top of some pasta, and add in some veggies to make it a little more healthy (and a little more meal-like). We had a bag steamfresh mixed veggies to use up, and a bag of Wacky Mac corkscrew pasta, so that was that. I tossed some italian dressing

Basically, the shrimp were covered in a mixture of italian dressing, melted butter, lemon juice and salt and pepper and baked. However, the recipe called for doing it at 400 for 20-30 min. I felt that after 20 min, they were already overcooked. Also, the dressing mixture was delicious, so I thought it was wasted on the shrimp shells. Next time, I'd probably shell the shrimp and just saute them long enough to warm up over low heat with the same dressing mixture. (Although I don't know much about cooking shrimp, so that' be an experiment too.)

Amazing Shrimp Glaze


10 1/2 oz Cooked large shrimp

2 1/2 tsp Black pepper, ground

4 1/4 Tbs Classic Italian vinaigrette salad dressing

Juice from 1/2 lemon

4 1/2 Tbs Butter, salted


Melt butter and then combine all ingredients.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Grilled Chicken And Sweet Potatoes With Orange Glaze

Mr. L has been sick (he thinks it's just a cold, I think it's flu), so I almost made chicken soup with this chicken, but he was feeling well enough to sit down to dinner tonight, so my planned menu was saved! This was pretty quick and easy, but I think I'd stick to the grill for it in the future. Cooking it under the broiler made the house quite smoky (even after I moved it down away from the broiler a touch. I liked the glaze, but I got a couple of bites of the sweet potatoes with overpowering glaze. Still, I think that variations of this will become a regular occurrence in our home.

Grilled Chicken And Sweet Potatoes With Orange Glaze (from Food Lion)

4 chicken leg quarters (I just used thighs... that's what was on sale)
3/4 cup orange juice concentrate
1/2 cup maple syrup
2 Tbs fresh rosemary, chopped
2 sweet potatoes, scrubbed and sliced into 1" thick rounds
1 tsp salt, divided
1 tsp pepper, divided

Preheat broiler.
In a small bowl, mix orange juice concentrate, maple syrup, rosemary, 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper.
Place chicken and potatoes on the grill or on a sheetpan under broiler.
Sprinkle with 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper.
Grill or broil chicken and potatoes for 25 minutes, turning all pieces at least once.
Brush chicken and potatoes with one half of orange juice mixture, let cook 30 seconds and turn.
Brush second side, cook one minute and turn all pieces again.
Cook for one more minute.
Remove from heat and serve.

Saturday Breakfast

Mr. L's birthday was Friday, so Saturday we took our time and had a big breakfast. We cooked the two left-over pork chops from Thursday night, cantaloupe (why is it over a dollar cheaper than honeydew?!), eggs scrambled with a little cheddar, and blueberry muffins (totally from a cheap mix... but with about a cup of frozen blueberries added in because I never think mixes taste right without extra frozen fruit added in). I even made OJ (and by "made", I mean from a frozen concentrate, but with a couple of super-juicy tangerines actually squeezed and added in).

After writing this, I feel like this was the semi-homemade version of breakfast. As I photographed it, I couldn't help but think of the old cereal commercial tag-line, "part of a complete breakfast."

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Granola Bars

OK, I have the strangest things lying around in my pantry waiting to be used up. This recipe works on the endless supply of flax seed and oatmeal... and cranberries and raisins and apricots and sliced almonds.

I modified this (ever so slightly) from a smitten kitchen recipe

Granola Bars

Makes 12 to 16 granola bars


2 cups old-fashioned oatmeal
1 cup sliced almonds
1 cup shredded coconut, loosely packed
1/2 cup toasted wheat germ (or flax seed)
2/3 cup honey
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1 1/2 cup dried fruit, or a mix of dried fruit (I used chopped prunes, cranberries and raisins)
1/2 cup chocolate chip


Preheat your oven to 350°F.
Butter an 8×12-inch baking dish and line it with parchment paper
Toss the oatmeal, almonds, and coconut together on a sheet pan and bake for 10 to 12 minutes, stirring occasionally, until lightly browned.
Transfer the mixture to a large mixing bowl and stir in the wheat germ.
Reduce the oven temperature to 300°F.
While the mixture is still warm, stir in the honey, vanilla and salt until the mixture is well coated, then the dried fruit and chocolate chips.
Pour the mixture into your prepared baking dish and press, press, press it in (wet fingers and/or a silicon spatula work great for this) until the mixture is packed as tightly as possible.
Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, until light golden brown.
Cool for 2 to 3 hours before cutting into squares — your best serrated knife is great for this.

Balsamic Pork Chops with Southern Green Beans and Stuffing

Balsamic Pork Chops

4 pork chops (bone-in)
6oz balsamic vinaigrette (recipe below)

Marinate pork chops in balsamic vinaigrette for 2-24 hours.
Grill for 8-10 min (turning once) or cook under broiler.

Simple Balsamic Vinaigrette (from food network)

1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
2 teaspoons dark brown sugar, optional*
1 tablespoon chopped garlic
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
3/4 cup olive oil

Place all ingredients in a sealable jar and shake until combined.
Southern Green Beans (adapted from from

6 slices bacon, chopped
1 tablespoon butter
1 red onion, chopped
2 pounds fresh green beans, trimmed and snapped
3 russet potatoes, diced
1 large clove garlic, minced
1/4 cup chicken broth
1 1/2 teaspoons white balsamic vinegar
salt and pepper to taste

Place the chopped bacon in a skillet, and cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until evenly browned, 8 to 10 minutes.
Drain the bacon pieces on a paper towel-lined plate.
Melt the butter in the skillet wit the bacon grease over medium-low heat, and cook and stir the onion until translucent, about 5 minutes.
Stir in the cooked bacon, green beans, potatoes, garlic, and chicken broth.
Bring to a boil, cover, and simmer over low heat until the green beans are tender, about 10 minutes.
Sprinkle with vinegar, salt, and pepper, and serve.

I also made some stuffing from a box to go along with it. I don't know why, but I have an addiction to the box. I think it has something to do with childhood memories. It was one of the first things I learned to make for myself, and all too often, while I was in college, it worked as a meal all by itself. Yum. This time, I did use chicken broth (I had plenty extra left from the beans) instead of water.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Apple Pie

We went apple picking last weekend, so I had a bunch of fresh apples to use up. I promised Mr. L a pie in exchange of going with us, so yesterday I made apple pie from a food network receipe. I poured the sugary juice from mixing the apples in the pie over the apples, and it came out a little juicy, so next time I might leave the juice out.

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup shortening (recommended: Crisco)
Ice water
Filling, recipe follows
Serving suggestion: warm with vanilla ice-cream

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
In a medium-mixing bowl cut the shortening and salt into the flour by hand or with a pastry blender hands until it's the texture of cornmeal.
Sprinkle 1 tablespoon of ice water over the mixture and mix just until the dough is moistened.
Repeat by adding 6 to 8 tablespoons water (one at a time) until all the dough is just moist.
Take care not to over mix.
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
Divide the dough in half and roll into a ball.
Roll 1 ball into a circle to fit a 9 to 10-inch pie plate.
To transfer the pastry to the pie plate, wrap it around a rolling pin and ease it into the pie plate.
Be careful not to stretch the pastry.
Trim it even with the edges of the pie plate.
Add the apple filling into the pastry lined pie plate. Make sure they are laying flat.
Cut butter into small pieces and put on top of the filling.
Roll the remaining pastry into a 12-inch circle.
Place on top of the filling.
Trim off 1-inch beyond the edge of the pie plate.
Crimp the edges as desired.
Cut slits to allow steam to escape when baking.
Sprinkle a little sugar and cinnamon over the pie.
Cover the edges with foil to prevent over browning.
Bake for 25 minutes.
Remove the foil and bake for another 20 to 25 minutes, or until it is golden brown.
Serve warm with vanilla ice cream.

1/2 cup to 1 cup all-purpose flour
6 to 7 cups apples cut into thin slices (recommended: Green Golden and Jonathans; I used mostly Braeburns... I think)
1 cup white sugar
1 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
2 tablespoons butter
In a medium bowl combine the apples, with the brown and white sugar. Add flour, cinnamon and continue mixing until they are well coated.
Yield: 4 to 6 servings

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Slow Cooker Beef with Veggies


1 onion, chopped
3 potatoes, cut down to 1-2" pieces
2 sweet potatoes, cut down to 1-2" pieces
3 carrots, peeled and chopped
basically, any other veggies you want to throw in
1 (3-pound) chuck roast
Salt and ground black pepper
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 (15-ounce) can tomato sauce
2/3 cup brown sugar
2 teaspoons chili powder
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon mustard powder
1 teaspoon garlic powder

Arrange onion, potatoes, sweet potatoes, carrots, and any other veggies in bottom of slow cooker. Season beef all over with salt and black pepper. Rub flour all over beef. Place roast on top of vegetables in slow cooker.
Whisk together tomato sauce, brown sugar, chili powder, cumin, mustard powder, and garlic powder. Pour mixture over beef. Cover and cook on LOW for 12 hours or on HIGH for 8 hours.
Serve 1/3 of beef and all of the vegetables with this meal. Shred and refrigerate remaining beef until ready to use.


Mr. L is getting a sandwhich with the meat for lunch tomorrow, and the rest will be frozen in two containers - one for him to eat this weekend, while I'm out of town, and the other for us to eat later, on a day I don't feel like cooking. I'll leave out enough for dinner tomorrow. (I also threw in a couple of frozen biscuits to serve with it.)


The wedding was wonderful, and our honeymoon was spectacular! I absolutely loved Napa Valley. It's the perfect place to have a relaxing, romantic get-away. It was beautiful, and all-around perfect. And there was enough amazing wine to make a wine snob out of even me. Seriously... perfect.

After the honeymoon, it was back to the real world. I moved everything up here to H-burg, and Mr. L went back to work. Now, I've basically unpacked everything we need (although there are two walls still covered in boxes with things like china and books and cookbooks), and I've moved on to trying to get his old place (now, our place) to a level of cleanliness that I can live with.

I'm still looking for a job up here. It's slow going in this economy, but I'm thankful that we're able to make ends meet for a while as I look. I'm just hoping that something comes through soon. I like having the time to get the apartment set up (although we'll have to move again shortly into more permanent housing) and do some cooking, but I'm ready to have a job again. I need the excuse to meet people and keep me busy!

I have been using the extra time to cook most of our meals. And I love cooking for two! I cook real meals with multiple dishes most days. On my own, I mostly cooked quick prepared dinners and usually only ate one dish (sometimes, that was just corn or rice - that's healthy, right?). Now, meals are real meals. I LOVE it.

Tonight it was taco night - soft tacos with beef, salsa, onions, sour cream (low-fat), and freshly grated cheese. And brownies and ice cream for dessert. Tomorrow, it's slow-cooker beef with veggies. And biscuits. I swear I'll start taking pictures and posting recipes again!