Monday, November 24, 2008

Meatloaf, Meatloaf, Double Beetloaf!

Whenever I mention meatloaf, JJ recites the youngest brother's line in A Christmas Story, "Meatloaf, Meatloaf, Double Beetloaf", and it makes me laugh every time. You have to admit meatloaf has had a pretty bad rap over the years. There is nothing worse than a dry slab meatloaf! School cafeteria's across America did an injustice to one of our favorite comfort foods.

In case you were wondering the history of meatloaf...which of course everyone does- right? It originated
during the Depression when thrifty chefs would try to stretch the amount of meat they had by adding bread crumbs. The meat usually consisted of turkey, chicken, sausage, veal, lamb, or pork. The addition of bread crumbs lightened the heavy dish as well as helped bind the wet ingredients together. I love knowing the stories behind foods; the why and how they came about.

I enjoy making turkey meatloaf because is heart healthy and delicious.

·2 beaten eggs
·3/4 cup milk
·2/3 cup bread crumbs (I use Italian)
·1/4 cup finely chopped onion
·2 tbsp. snipped fresh parsley
·1 tsp. salt
·1/2 tsp. dried basil or oregano
·1.5 lbs of ground turkey
·1/4 cup ketchup
·2 tbsp. brown sugar
·1 tsp. ground mustard
·1/8 tsp. black pepper

·In a bowl, combine eggs and milk; stir in bread crumbs, onion, parsley, salt, oregano or basil, black pepper. Add meat; mix well. Lightly pat mixture into a loaf pan.
·Bake at 350 degrees for 1 to 1 1/4 hours or until internal temp. registers at 160 degrees. In a bowl, combine ketchup, brown sugar, and ground mustard; spread over meat. Bake for 10 more minutes. Let stand for 10 more minutes before serving.

Your turkey meatloaf should be moist and delicious and debunk everything bad you have ever heard about.
This one's a winner!


Sunday, November 9, 2008

Seasonal Stew: acorn squash, apricots, and pork

I first made this hearty, fall stew last year and absolutely loved it. After buying some nice-looking acorn squash at the market last week, I thought this stew would be best way to use it. While slow cooking for hours, the acorn squash and pork soften up and become very tender; while the dried apricots and raisins plump up with goodness. The sliced onions mixed with a bit of sweetness really add a unique flavor to this stew. This is one of my favorite slow cooker recipes.

(prep: 20 minutes/ cook: 3.5 or 7 hrs.) (makes 4 servings)

·1 1/2 lb. boneless pork shoulder roast
·2 tbsp cooking oil
·1 1/2 lb. winter squash (Hubbard, butternut, or acorn) I love it with acorn squash!
·1 medium onion, sliced
·1/2 cup dried apricots
·2 tbsp raisins
·3 tbsp instant flour
·1 tbsp packed brown sugar
·3/4 tsp pumpkin pie spice
·1/4 tsp salt
·1 14 oz. can chicken broth
1 tbsp steak sauce (I used worcestershire sauce)

·Trim fat from meat. Cut meat into 1 inch pieces. In large skillet, cook meat in hot oil over medium-high heat until brown.
Drain off fat.
·In slow cooker, combine squash, onion, apricots, and raisins. Add meat. Sprinkle with flour, brown sugar, pumpkin pie spice,
and salt. In medium bowl, combine broth and steak sauce; pour over meat.
·Cover and cook on low-heat setting for 7 to 8 hours or on high-heat setting for 3.5 to 4 hours. Stir gently before serving.


Arugula-Endive Salad with Honeyed Pine Nuts

I found this recipe in Food & Wine magazine and thought I would share it with you. This sald reinvents the classic combo of blue cheese and honey and I have yet to make it, but it sounds exquisite!

(takes 25 minutes/ serves 4)
·1/2 cup pine nuts (2.5 oz)
·2 tbsp & 2 tsp of honey (preferably clover)
·1 1/2 tbsp cider vinegar
·2 tsp whole grain mustard
·1/2 tsp dijon mustard
·1/4 cup EVOO
·kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
·4 cups baby arugula
·2 Belgian endives- halved, cored, and thinly sliced lengthwise
·4 oz Maytag blue cheese, crumbled (1 cup)

Line baking sheet with parchment paper and lightly coat the sheet with cooking spray. In a non-stick skillet, combine the pine nuts with 2 tbsp of the honey. Cook over moderately high heat, stirring until the nuts are golden and coated with honey, 4 minutes. Pour the nuts onto the baking sheet. Using a spatula, spread the nuts in an even layer; let cool.

In a bowl, whisk the remaining 2 tsp of honey with the vinegar and the mustards. Gradually whisk the oil; season with salt and pepper. In a bowl, toss the arugula with the endives and blus cheese. Break the honeyed pine nuts into small pieces and add them to the salad. Add the dressing, toss to coat and serve.


BBQ Shrimp Bake

We decided to stay in and cook last night. BBQ Shrimp Bake is one of JJ's favorite dishes that I make. This recipe is just one of many that originated from my mom's kitchen. We were both in the mood for a home cooked meal and lucky for me, this one isn't that much work. You put all of the ingredients in a pan and leave it in the oven to do it's thing. The dish came out quite good even though we cut the size of the recipe to serve only two. It is a great meal to serve when having company over, when paired with a salad. Enjoy.

·1 1/2 cups of margarine, melted
·3 lbs. of raw medium shrimp, in shells
·1/2 cup of Italian salad dressing
·2 tbsp of worcestershire sauce
·1 tbsp of soy sauce
·3 cloves of garlic, minced
·2 bay leaves
·3 tsp. of salt
· 2 1/2 tbsp. coarse ground black pepper
·juice of 3 lemons
·1 tbsp. paprika
·2 tbsp hot pepper sauce

Preheat oven at 350 degrees. Melt margarine in a 13 x 9 inch baking dish. Add shrimp and all other ingredients. (Do not marinate the shrimp. Just combine all of the ingredients at once.) Bake at 350 for 15 to 20 minutes if shrimp is at room temperature or at 30 to 40 minutes if shrimp is very cold. Stir several times while baking to combine all flavors. Shrimp is done when it has curled up. Serve over rice and with French bread for dipping.


Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Calzone Craving

My mom was in town this weekend and along with going out to dinner a few times, I knew I had to get a home cooked meal out of her. I tried to recall meals she used to make when I was growing up that I loved and I thought of her Calzones. I mean, these things could have won awards. I probably haven't had one in over 10 years and I have been craving them for the same amount of time. I thought this would be the perfect time for her to teach me her secret recipe. (not so secret anymore!) I had been talking them up to JJ over the past few years so he was equally excited to give them "a go."

We started off by finding a local pizza shop that would sell us unbaked pizza dough. My mom and I ended up buying
3 small (already rolled out) pizza doughs from Waldo Pizza for only $1.50 each. I think it was totally worth it because it saved us the trouble of having to make the dough ourselves. Once we got the pizza dough home, we took a rolling pin and rolled out the dough. We also rubbed both sides of the dough with a thin layer of flour to prevent sticking to the counter top. We prepared a baking pan by coating the bottom with EVOO and preheated the oven to 350 degrees. In a mixing bowl, we mixed about 24 oz. of ricotta cheese, 12 oz. of mozzarella, 1/2 cup of Parmesan cheese, and salt and pepper to taste. Then we separated the mixture into three parts equally for each calzone and placed each portion in the center of each pizza pie. We then folded over the pocket and used a bit of egg wash and the tip of a fork to seal the edges. There shouldn't be trapped air in the pocket, so do your best to seal the calzone by letting all the air out if you can so the dough doesn't rize too high. Once closed, we made sure to rub down the exterior with EVOO and sprinkled salt and pepper before baking. We baked the calzone at 350 degress for about 20 minutes and then flipped them for 5 minutes. They came out golden brown and crispy. My calzone was so huge that I can honestly say it satisfied my craving for another 10 years. Plan for leftovers. :)

You can get creative with the fillings and make it your own. You could add basil, tomatoes and fresh mozzarella; sausage and peppers; or even a mixed vegetable calzone with Italian cheeses.

Although, I am excited that I learned a new recipe from the Mama Italia kitchen, I am sad because I wish we could cook together more often. I really enjoy learning new things in the kitchen and watching her magic. I know the next time I eat a Calzone, I will think..."this doesn't even come close to my mom's!" and I will be reminded of our wonderful weekend together. Thanks, Mom.

(serving size: three large calzones)
·pizza dough
·ricotta cheese (large container)
·mozzerella cheese
·parmesan cheese
·one egg
·salt and pepper