Loaf of the Meat

OR as my husband wanted to name this.. Meatloaf Robbie Will Actually Eat!  HAHA  it took me three or four tries to get him to even try it.  But then he was hooked.   Now he asks for it 4-5 times a month.  I dont let him have it that often but that is how often he asks for it.. LOL  Keep them wanting more! 

I found the origins of this recipe in some magazine about 6-7 years ago.  For many years my meatloaf was kind of a big meatball in loaf shape.   So in true Kim form I took a recipe and kicked out what I didnt like and put in what I did.  It has been a very popular recipe among my friends and I am  happy to say is actually pretty low fat.  This recipe makes atleast a 9 x 13 pan (I tripled it and get four bread loaf pans) and it only works out to 5 points on WW for a pretty large serving.  

My mom always looks at me weird when I make this because it is different than the one I was raised on but the added veggies and odd spices make for a flavorful and healthy addition to my menu.  And Robbie will actually eat it.  Nik and Aaron dont eat it, they devour it!!  Sometimes 2-3 helpings.  My favorite way to serve is with my garlic mashed potatoes which i will be posting in a couple days, and with corn!  SOOOOOOO Yummy!

1 9 x 13 pan makes 9 servings  (the pictures are of a tripled recipe)  WW Points~5

1 1/2 lbs ground meat, I do half and half 93% beef and 93% turkey 
1/2 lb (3-4 links)  sweet sausage, optional but it adds depth 
1 1/2 cup bread tore up into small pieces (6-7 slices)
1 egg
1 medium sized onion
3/4 cup carrot** (these are not exact measurements, I just take some carrots)
3/4 cup broccoli ** (again, just enough broccoli to be about 3/4 cup)
1/4 tsp ground mustard
1/8 tsp sage
1/2 tsp ground thyme
1/2 tbsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
1/8 tsp nutmeg (or the equivalent fresh grated)
1 cup ketchup, divided
1 tbsp hot sauce or brown sugar (depends on if you want it hot or sweet)

** I have also used red and green pepper, celery is good too, hell even pea pods would be good, but carrot is always in it.  I cannot eat much celery and Rob doesnt like peppers.

Cast of Characters

With a food processor (or this handy little food grinder thingie I got) grind up the veggies. 

Put your meat and veggies in a large bowl and break up the bread into little bits.

Lightly beat the eggs and add to the bowl.

Mix the spices up and sprinkle evenly over the stuff in the bowl.

MMMMMMMMMM doesnt that look tasty!

Since I always use fresh nutmeg I always do this at the end so I can judge how much to put in.

Then add 1/2 cup of ketchup.

And mix.
Plop (and yes it does plop) it into the pans you are using.  You can use 9X13, loaf pans, even deep dish large muffin pans.

Bake at 350 total for about 45-60 minutes for loaf and 9×13, about 25-35 for muffins.  They will release alot of fluid from the veggies and the fat and that grosses me out to have my food sitting in that so once or twice I will drain off the yucky stuff into the meat container or a can or something so that I can discard it later.

When done cooking you take the other 1/2 cup of ketchup and the hot sauce/brown sugar (or both for a sweet hot mix), combine and put on top of the hot meatloaf and broil on high for 4-5 minutes until it is done to your likings!!

Here it is served with garlic mashed potatoes (which I will post in a couple days) and some of the leftover broccoli.  I didnt have any corn in the house.   😦

Meatloaf has always been one of my faves and while I do still love my moms, this is more healthy for you and tastes damn yummy.  I make large batches like this because it freezes so well.  Simply wrap in a double layer of aluminum foil. You take out the night before and put in the fridge.  About 45-50 minutes before serving put it in the oven still in the foil and bake at 350 for 30-40 minutes.  I do eliminate the glaze/broil part for ones I will be freezing and do that the evening I heat it up!   OR you can just cut off pieces and heat up individually in the microwave.  YUM!

Happy Cooking!!


Recipe Swap! Baked Campanelle with Spinach and Meatballs

This is the second in what I think will be quite a few of these recipe swaps.  On my What Cooking board we have a group of fellow foodies who love cooking and baking and wanted some new recipes! So one of the ladies coordinates these recipe swaps.  She collects the recipes from the participants and then randomly sends them out to their new chef.   This was the one I won!

I did the recipe pretty much as listed except I made my own meatballs, which is back in the blog a couple weeks/month (time is running together) and I used a different pasta.  Here is the original recipe by Jey.

My review….. I liked it, alot.  I will have to tweak it a bit to make it more WW friendly but I loved how creamy it was.  I LOVED the spinach and the basil I added.   The kids loved it.. and ate it up pretty quick!  For them it was like a meatball lasagna!  LOL   Mr Pickypants wasnts as impressed.  He isnt a huge fan of ricotta, so this didnt do much for him.   We will see how well he likes it once I tweak it a bit. 

I didnt put this in WW for point because I was scared too.. so this was a splurge meal for me.  It took about an hour to make including baking time.

1 onion chopped
4-9 cloves of garlic (the recipe called for 4 I used 9 because that is what Rob peeled)
1 14 can diced tomatoes
1 jar of pasta sauce
1 box of pasta cooked aldente.  I used campanelle, they look like trumpets!
1 16 oz bag of spinach
1/4 cup fresh basil
12 oz of ricotta
Pinch of nutmeg or grate fresh
S & P
1/4 cup shredded parmesan
4 oz of fresh mozzarella
25-30 Meatballs

Cast of Characters

Set up your pasta pot and fill w salted water.

Chop the onions

And the garlic

Add them to another dutch oven/ 8 quart pot.  No  need to add oil or anything.

Turn the pot onto medium high, and then drain the tomatoes.

Add the juice to the pot and use that to cook the onions and garlic.  No need to waste the flavor or to add any oil.

Next is to prep your spinach.  In a large bowl tear up the spinach. If using baby spinach then you really dont have to but if you are using regular I tear it up and take out the large center stalk.  I think they are bitter. 

Add the tomatoes once the onions are translucent.

And then the pasta sauce.

And then the meatballs.

Let simmer for 20 minutes while you finish the rest of the dish, stirring often.  I love the smell of sauce cooking.  The warm richness of the tomato and the onion and the spices!  I love alot of basil in my pasta which is why I added basil rather than parsley (like the original recipe used).  One of my favorite things to eat is a caprese salad.  Tomato, basil and fresh mozzarella drizzled with balsamic vinegar!  HEAVEN….  Oh and extra salt!    Okay back to this recipe….. haha   cut up your fresh basil into ribbons.

Add to the bowl with the spinach.  I like the barely cooked/slightly crisp aspect of the spinach and the sharp bite of the basil is a nice contrast to the creamy sweetness of the ricotta.

Grate the nutmeg into the bowl with the spinach/basil.

Then the salt and pepper.  You wont need too much salt since you salted the pasta water.

Check on the pasta frequently, you do not want it too cooked or else it will turn to mush in the oven. 

About this time your meatballs and sauce should be ready.. Just turn it off because you dont want it too thick.   MMMMMMMM I love the smell of sauce and meatballs cooking.  I just want to dig in and eat like 3-4 of these on a piece of garlic bread! 

Add the ricotta to the spinach reserving 3/4 a cup or so for the top, and combine.

Drain the pasta when it is al dente.

Then add quickly to the spinach.

Add the meatballs and most of the sauce leaving some in the bottom….

Then mix to incorporate. 

Dump back into the dutch oven..

Dot with the remaining ricotta, and the parmesan and fresh mozzarella.  Bake for 10-15 minutes  covered in a 350 oven.  Remove the cover and bake until the desired browning melting has occurred..

Then plate up with your favorite veggies.

This was a melty yummy fresh tasting wonderful mix of flavors.  I adore ricotta so this worked for me.  I would cut back to about 1/2 a container next time to make it more palatable for Rob but for the most part, this was a success with the recipe swap..

Happy Cooking and Swapping!

My Meatballs

I call these my meatballs because there is 5,000 different recipes out there to make meatballs.   There are different ingredients, techniques and special secrets.  Everyone has a favorite type, method or way to serve them.   And chances are they are all great.  I just happen to think mine are too, and so does my family. 

Like so many personal recipes, these meatballs are a mosh up of different recipes I have seen over the years and what I like in meatballs, what I like for flavors and what the family enjoys.  They started out as my moms meatballs and worked out to this, after much much trial and error.  Rob especially likes the fact that they are not greasy.   I especially like that I know what is going into them.  That is my biggest problem with most store bought stuff.  If a “recipe” has less than 1% of an ingredient in it, you dont have to list it.  They could put two drops of rat poison but since it is only 0,5% you will never know.  I know that is being dramatic and you can have that with your ingredients as well but I just enjoy making it myself!

yield about 10 dozen 1 oz meatballs
2 1/2 lbs 91or 93% lean ground beef
2 1/2 lbs 93% lean ground turkey
2 lbs ground italian sausage (sweet or hot, I use sweet)
10 slices whole grain bread (white, wheat or in this case oatmeal)
1 onion
6-7+ cloves garlic (I could add three bulbs and Rob would think there was enough)
1/4 cup italian seasoning
1/4 cup garlic romano seasoning (if you cant find this you can omit it, just adds a bit of flavor)
3 eggs
S & P

Cast of Characters

Preheat you oven to 350 and line two sheet pans with aluminum foil.  Spray racks with Pam or spritz with oil.  In a large bowl, put your meats, taking the sausage out of the casings (or you can buy it not in casings but it is like $.20 a pound more so I buy it linked).

While one kid is ripping the bread up into little pieces you can get the garlic and onions minced.  You dont want huge chunks.  I am always reminded of Eddie Murphy talking about homemade burgers in a skit I heard as a child.  So I am pretty good about mincing them up fine. 

While one kid is ripping up bread into little pieces, the other one can be grinding up pepper.  We use a mortar and pestle to grind up larger amounts of pepper.  It takes only a couple minutes but I love the flavor it imparts and it is much faster than trying to use a standard peppermill.   I will be writing a post about how to care for you mortar for another time but for now here is the finished product.

Add your minced garlic, onion, salt and pepper (I use about 1 tablespoon of pepper and 1 1/2 tablespoons of salt, but use to your taste), italian seasoning and garlic romano blend.

Add your bread.

And then the eggs.

And now you can mix.  Nik loves this step for some reason.  Aaron would rather clean the mortar.  LOL 

Once thoroughly mixed it is time to roll the balls.  I measured them out so I could add them to my points tracker for WW (4 meatballs is a whopping 7 points but I will deal, I love em) so they would be equal in size.   If you dont care about points or any of that, then just make them the size you like them. 

And put them on the racks like this…..

Until they look like this….

And bake then at 375 for 25-30 minutes until they look like this…..

Freeze them and use them for anything that requires meatballs.  For this batch part was given as a thank you to a friend who picked me up from my surgery and the rest are currently in the freezer.  I make these large batches and it is enough for three meals for my family.  We use them for spaghetti and meatballs, meatball subs, layer into a lasagna, or just eat them as is.  I dont always need sauce.   Here is what they look like all frozen and in the freezer ready for some night we need a quick dinner!

I hope that you liked this recipe.  I can say for me it has been years in the changing.  I might change it up again to make it a bit more low fat but to be honest, as often as we have them, and the fact that 4 meatballs is alot for me….. I think they will be keeping their place in The Box, as is.

Happy Cooking!!

Taco Seasoning

I have yet to find a taco seasoning that really does it for me in the stores.  Rob, Nik and Aaron love tacos, fajitas, enchiladas (well Rob doesnt like enchiladas but the boys and I do) and taco salad so not having a good seasoning was kind of annoying!  Okay it wasnt that big of a deal but we decided to make our own and took a couple recipes and did what we always do, made it our own.  

Here is what we came up with.  This is easy, you can halve it, double it, do what you want with it but this is what works for us.  We sometimes like it a little spicier so will add a touch more cayenne or chili powder.  I personally love the amount of cumin in this one.  I think that cumin is an under utilized seasoning.  It is smoky and robust and works with almost every meat, as well as with many sides. 

This recipe is called taco seasoning but you can use this for anything “mexican”, like the aforementioned fajitas, salads and enchiladas.  My personal favorite is a taco salad.  Romaine lettuce, a scoop of meat (we add corn to our taco meat), some shredded colby and monteray jack, diced onion and some green and red pepper.  A dollop of salsa on top and you are good to go.  This is making me hungry..

adapted from allrecipes and some magazine, maybe Better Homes and Gardens
1/2 cup dried minced onion
1/2 cup chili powder
2-3 tbsp cayenne pepper (this is if you like it hot)
1/4 cup kosher salt (definitely adjust to your tastes, I have low blood pressure so salt has been okayed by my doc)
3 tbsp corn starch
2 tbsp dried minced garlic
3 tbsp cumin
1 1/2 tbsp boullion granules (I use beef in mine, go with veggie or chicken if you prefer)
2 tbsp dried red pepper flakes
1 tbsp dried basil

Cast of Characters
All the spices and seasonings in a row…. clockwise from the top; cumin, crushed red pepper, beef boullion, dried onion, salt, chili and cayenne pepper, cornstarch, dried garlic and the middle is the basil.

Mix and pour into your favorite jar, in my case, a mason jar.

All ready for taco making…….. 

To make tacos, just shake the jar to evenly distribute, add 1/4 cup of seasoning and 1/3 cup of water to each pound of drained meat.  You will need a bit less if not using ground meat (ie., chicken or beef sliced) since you wont need as much sauce.    Fill a tortilla, taco shell or dollop on top of your salad.  The great thing about making your own taco seasoning is that it is versatile.  You can change this to how you want it… go ahead.. its okay.. I wont mind, I promise.  

Happy Cooking!!

Meaty Twice Baked Potatoes

About 3 years ago Rob and I went on this ridiculously radical diet.  I was eating just turkey burgers and salads.  I lost a ton of weight in a couple weeks but I was miserable.  No dairy, no beef, no sweets, no carbs.  I mean it was absolutely structured.  My life doesnt function with that much structure.   BUT we did get a few recipes out of it.  Anyone that knows us knows that we can find recipes or meal ideas anywhere.   We took this basic idea from the terrible diet, and made it better.  HAHA  We added some diary and alot of garlic.

Well recently I joined Weight Watchers and Rob will too once we get the okay from the oncologist.  I know that they worry about people on chemo losing weight but for Rob the chemo diet didnt work.  He has not lost anything and he is about 100 lbs over weight, as am I.  So this was a great move for me/us. 

Which brings me back to this recipe.  I made it the way I always have and decided to plug it into the Points Plus converter.  I didnt fudge on the ingredients and was pleasantly surprised to find out that it is only 9 points per serving.  Yeah for yummy and not too bad a value.

Ingredients8 large baking potatoes
1/2 lb lean ground beef/ turkey  ( I used 93% lean)
10 cloves of garlic
1/2 large red onion
1/4 cup half and half  ( or milk, i was out and used the half and half to finish it off)
2 tbsp butter
Salt and Pepper

Thoroughly wash and clean up/remove blemishes of your potatoes.

With a piece of aluminum foil, take your unpeeled garlic and a couple drops of water and make a pouch to roast your garlic in.   Throw that and the potatoes into the oven.   Please do not look at how dirty the oven is!!  It needs to be turned on to clean tonight.

Chop your onion fine.  You want the flavors to meld.

Brown your burger.  I used beef (and that is what i used in the WW recipe thingie) but this is soooo very good with turkeyburg too.

When the garlic is soft and the house smells great, take it out of the oven and put aside until the potatoses come out.  Then have your son take the garlic and start the messy job of removing the paper peels.

Put the garlic into a large bowl.

And add the onions to the browned and drained beef.  Stir until the onions have softened up.

Slice the potatoes in half  lengthwise and remove the meat of the potato and put it in the bowl with your garlic.  Put the potato skins on the baking sheet and put in the oven for about 10 minutes to crisp them up.

Add the half and half/milk and the butter along with some salt and pepper.  And mash!!!

Add the browned meat and onion and mix again.

this isnt really pretty looking.  I can be honest, it looks kinda ucky.. but it is good.   Stuff each half with enough to fill it.  You dont want to go to far over the top or you are going to have to get rid of some of the skins. 

And Rob took this “perspective shot”  not sure what it is a perspective of but he likes to take pics and be involved so this one is for you honey!

Top with cheese.

And bake for about 30 minutes..  but dont have the kids be the ones in charge of the timer.. or they will be a bit dark like this.  HAHA

I served this with some corn for the kids and a small salad for myself.   I mean a small salad!  I was too full.  I think in the future I might just start off with one.   Which is half a serving.   

As with all my recipes, they are open to playing around with.  YOu can change the flavor by adding spices, different cheeses and or trying different potatoes.  I have made these with Yukon Gold potatoes and they were very good.  The fun thing about cooking is the mixing it up!!

Happy Cooking!