Meatloaf and stuff

This meatloaf recipe is one of our staples. Prep time is short and even when we mess up a bit on proportions (as I did) it still comes out tasting great. It probably has something to do with the brown sugar…

Ingredients:
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup ketchup
1.5 lb ground beef
3/4 cup milk
2 eggs
1 chopped onion
3/4 cup bread crumbs
salt & pepper

Pack the brown sugar in the bottom of a loaf pan, and spread the ketchup on top (I rarely measure it, just eye it and make sure to reach the corners too). Then, in a mixing bowl mix the beef, milk, eggs, chopped onion, bread crumbs and season with salt and pepper. Bake for 1 hour at 350ºF (175ºC). The most important requirement for this recipe is a loaf pan. If you use a wider pan, the sugar and ketchup will end up escaping from under the meat and the sauce won’t be as tasty. For the version I made this week, I only had 1lb of meet, so I reduced the rest of the ingredients. However, I forgot to do that for the milk, so the mix ended up being a bit too liquidy. To fix that, I added a bit more of bread crumbs. It’s not great, but as I said before, it ended up tasty great anyway.

Here it is, plated with stewed vegetables, corn and cranberry sauce. The cranberry sauce actually ended up being too much with this because the meatloaf has a sweet taste to it already, so we skipped it for the following meals. Here are the recipes.

Stewed vegetables – Melt 3 tbsp of butter in a pan and add one onion cut in large cubes. Cut up a mix of different squashes (here I used yellow squash and summer squash), one tomato and one green pepper. Add them to the softened onion, season with salt and pepper and add 2 tbsp of brown sugar. Stir and let cook, covered for 15 min followed by 10 minutes uncovered to evaporate some of the liquid.

Cranberry sauce – Add 1 cup of water and 1 cup of sugar to a pan, let it come to a boil and the sugar completely dissolve. Add 4 cups of cranberries and have fun watching them burst (don’t stand too close or you run the risk of having it splash in your face…). When most of the cranberries had popped, I added 1 stick of cinnamon and the juice of one orange. Let it reduce for about 10 min, mixing often.

Corn – Couldn’t be easier: just buy a can of kernel corn, put it in a pot with water and a pinch of salt, and let it warm up a little. Drain and serve.

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Recipes – week 3

I – (Oct 6-12) This week was a bit hectic. We were about to leave to New Orleans for a scientific conference and we both had tons of work to do, plus we wanted to cook all the groceries ahead of time so nothing would go bad… The recipes ended up being somewhat repeats of what we’d done recently (except for the short ribs). Here’s the summary:

Fish – I seasoned it with salt pepper, lemon and rosemary, lightly floured it and pan fried it in some oil.

Swiss chard – I repeated the creamy pasta sauce with bacon recipe from last week. Original recipe here.

The watercress was eaten with some of the leftover salad ingredients from last week too. At some point I added some of the fish and it made for a delicious fish salad. I really like the peppery taste of watercress.

The zucchini, peppers and onions were cooked in butter and brown sugar, just like the squash and onions recipe I did before.

Now, for the short ribs… My oh my, the short ribs. I have no idea what Jeff did to them, but they were amazing… Here are some pictures he can describe later on.

J – I love short ribs falling off the bone, but it can be difficult to make them in a tiny apartment kitchen like ours – unless you have an apartment chef’s best friend, the slow cooker.

First, I cut the ribs into individual pieces, shook them in a bag with flour, salt, and pepper and browned them in a skillet. Into the slow cooker they went:

Then, in a separate skillet, I browned several cloves of garlic and two small (but spicy) onions with about a tablespoon of olive oil – not too much, you’ll be mixing in the drippings from browning the ribs.

Instead of using chili sauce or barbecue sauce, I just made my own: red wine vinegar, tomato sauce, brown sugar, cumin, cinnamon, and allspice whisked together.

I added this and chicken broth to the sauteed onions and garlic and brought it to a simmer.

After about five minutes (just to reduce it a hair and let it simmer off) all of it went in the slow cooker on low for about 6-8 hours, or until the meat is coming off the bone.

Yum! I used the sauce left over in the slow cooker to make a barbecue-like sauce – just thicken with flour and heat up in a pan. You’ll have WAY more than you need but that’s ok – it’s delicious anyway. As always, while anything is in the slow cooker periodically skim the fat that rises to the top and enjoy!

I – Doesn’t that look delicious? Well, it was… I’m hoping there will be some kind of ribs in a soon to be delivered basket so we can do this again, this was sooo good.

Recipes – week 2

I – (Sep 29-Oct 5) I was pretty busy this week so Jeff cooked most of the meals. He will have to share exactly where the recipes came from and what he adjusted, but all I can say is that it was delicious. The only photo we have for that week is of the gorgeous roast chicken.

Before:

And after:

Look at that! It tasted even better than it looks…

We also did a slow pot roast, quick microwave corn (literally put one cob in the microwave for 2 min and it’s done), some salads, and we used the turkey sausage for Sunday breakfast. My two contributions for this week’s meals were to make chicken broth with the chicken bones and gizzards (we used all of it for the pot roast), and a recipe of squash with onions (explained here).

J – The chicken was actually really easy. I rubbed the skin with olive oil, salt, and pepper all over – top, bottom, under the wings/thighs, and the sides – and then mixed softened butter, garlic, chopped thyme, parsley, rosemary, zest of a lemon, and a little salt and pepper together and stuffed it under the skin on top of the breast. The trick is to spread the herb butter evenly under the skin – don’t let it clump or you will have one very buttery bite and mostly unseasoned chicken breast. This way, the herb butter cooks into the skin and breast meet instead of roasting on top of the skin and melting into the pan. Before you spread the butter, use your fingers or a floppy spatula to separate the skin and meat, being careful not to rip the skin. I squeezed the lemon into the cavity and stuffed the chicken with the squeezed lemon and the rosemary and thyme springs (I snipped some off of several plants we have growing in our apartment). Then I just tied the legs together with kitchen twine and roasted it until the internal temp was ~160F – it’s really, really good.

For the pot roast, I browned the beef on both sides after rubbing it with salt, pepper, and just a little olive oil, then I threw it into the slow cooker with chopped onions, carrots, and garlic and seasoned with rosemary, thyme, and a bay leaf. I topped it off with some chicken broth and let it cook on low for about 6 hours – it was delicious and mostly involved me waiting patiently for it to be done.

The corn was incredibly easy. If you’re like me, you remember corn on the cob slathered in butter fondly from your childhood. However, husking corn can be a chore – most people boil the corn and then de-silk each cob. It takes forever. I found out that an easier way is to put the whole ear in the microwave for 4 minutes, take it out, – carefully, using oven mitts (it’s HOT) – cut off the wide end, and shake the ear out. Viola – a clean, cooked ear of corn. Season with some butter and maybe salt and pepper and you’re good to go.

Recipes – week 1

I – (Sep 22-28) The first thing I wanted to cook after getting our groceries was the sword fish. Being from Portugal, I’m a big fan of fish, which is pretty much all we eat in the Summer… So I just drizzled the sword fish steaks with olive oil, lemon juice a bit of salt and pepper and grilled them in our stove top grill. I am not a fan of trying to hide the fish flavor, and good fresh fish will always taste amazing to me.

There were two items on this grocery basket that I had never cooked before: the okra and the beets. So I wanted to do something simple and easy. Of course, Jeff immediately suggested fried okra (he grew up in the South!). I followed the instructions found here and it came out great (except that for the first batch I forgot to add the salt and pepper to the cornmeal and they came out a bit bland…). I will say that the slimy thing was a bit weird at first, but with the crunch from the outside, I quickly got over it. We had plenty of fried okra to eat with our fish and a lot left that we ended up eating almost as a snack.

For the beets, I wanted to make sure I used everything, from the bulb to the leaves. First, the bulbs (I was a bit afraid because beets seem to make everything pink, but I managed to keep the mess to a minimum) – I found this post and I more or less followed all the instructions. I wrapped the bulbs in tin foil and baked them at 400F for about 1hour. They’re so easy to peel after that. After peeled, I just kept them in a ziplock bag to avoid getting plastic boxes tinted.And anytime I wanted to cut the beets, I would put a bit of plastic wrap on the kitchen counter and cut it on that (to avoid the wrap from sliding around, put a bit of water on the kitchen surface and then the plastic wrap – it clings and doesn’t move anymore).

So our first meal consisted of grilled sword fish with fried okra and a salad (lettuce, beets, apple and walnuts with a simple vinaigrette). I felt like I was eating at an expensive restaurant.

The next thing we made was meatballs in pepper’s sauce. Here’s the recipe. Because our peppers were green only, the dish wasn’t going to come out as colorful, so I added some shredded carrots I still had in the fridge. This came out really tasty. I also prefer to keep the meatballs smaller because they cook faster.

To go with the meatballs, Jeff made Paula Dean’s delicious mashed sweet potatoes. The honey and cinnamon flavors were incredible. And with the gravy from the meatballs on top… it was delicious!

Finally, later in the week, I used the beet leaves and stalks to make a creamy pasta sauce, just like this. The only thing I changed was to reduce a bit the amount of butter used in the beginning and add 4 slices of cut bacon to it. Again, yummy! Sorry, no pics of that one, we were too busy eating it…