Our Favorite Meatloaf

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With the frozen tundra of winter we are experiencing in Chicago, comfort food that warms you from the heart is a must.  Meatloaf not only fits the bill for comfort food, but it is also very budget friendly and this one in particular happens to be healthier for you.  This is of course thanks to the recipe we alter slightly from Ellie Krieger called Mom’s Turkey Meatloaf.  The best part of her loaf is the addition of tomato sauce on top with sliced onions that caramelize while it bakes.  The original recipe calls for all ground turkey, but in an effort to get more iron, we have been mixing ours with 90/10 ground beef ( or better).  We served our meatloaf tonight with a baked potato and steamed broccoli.  This recipe makes a large loaf with 2 pounds of meat, but leftovers are always welcome here.  Making meatloaf sandwiches the next day is so gooood!  So crank up the oven and make this easy, budget friendly, heathy, delicious and favorite recipe of ours:

Adapted from Ellie Krieger, The Food You Crave , Mom’s Turkey Meatloaf

Makes 8 large slices

Ingredients
3/4 cup quick-cooking oats

1/2 cup skim milk

1 medium onion, peeled

1 pound ground turkey breast

1 pound 90/10 Ground Beef, or better

1 red bell pepper, chopped

2 large eggs, beaten

2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce

1/4 cup ketchup

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1 (8-ounce) can tomato sauce

Directions
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

In a large bowl, stir together the oats and milk, let sit while you prepare the remaining ingredients:  Quarter your onion, then thinly slice 1/4 of the onion and set aside. Finely chop the remaining onion.  Add chopped onion, bell pepper, eggs, Worcestershire sauce, ketchup, salt and pepper to the turkey, beef, oat mixture. Mix just until well combined.

Transfer the mixture to a 9 by 13-inch baking dish and shape into a loaf about 5 inches wide and 2 1/2 inches high, with a flat top. Pour the tomato sauce over the meatloaf and sprinkle with the sliced onions. Bake for about 1 hour or until an instant-read thermometer registers 160 degrees F.

Remove from the oven and let rest for 10 to15 minutes before slicing.

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Whole Chicken love

_DSC9533Making a whole chicken is pretty much the best thing to do on a Sunday before a busy week.  It’s super easy, versatile and makes great leftovers PLUS the bones can be made into a beautiful broth for this soup or this one.  It’s the best bang for your buck, so stop buying the pre-cut breasts and spending all that extra money!  Here we used a new technique of smearing butter all over the bird.  It made for a light golden crust, but I don’t really think it added much compared to our usual recipe done without the extra fat  Amazingly, we’ve never shared how we make our whole chicken, and this is crazy because we do it at least 2 times a month, sometimes more!  We use a basic Eating Well recipe for our outline, but it’s so easy to change what you throw in based on what you like and what you have on hand!  This is a nice recipe to make together, usually one of us has the clean hands to sprinkle the seasoning over the bird while the other rotates and rubs it in, clean hands also roughly chops the veggies/ herbs to hand to the bird stuffer.  It’s great team work and makes for a quicker prep time.

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 teaspoon dried herbs, Italian mix, Thyme, Parsley etc.
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 3/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • 1 small onion, peeled and rough chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, sliced thin
  • 1 lemon, quartered
  • small handful parsley or thyme, stems are great too
  • 1 4- to 5-pound whole chicken, giblets removed

PREPARATION

  1. Preheat oven to 375°F. Line bottom of a large roasting pan with foil, place in roasting wire rack and then spray with cooking spray.
  2. Sprinkle herbs, salt and pepper all over the chicken, under the skin and over the breast and thigh meat. ( Slide finger between the skin on the breast to open the “pocket” and make sure to rub herbs, salt and pepper in there as well.)
  3. Stuff the onion, garlic, lemon and parsley in the cavity of the bird, tie the legs together with kitchen string. Place the chicken in the prepared pan, breast-side up on the wire rack.
  4. Roast the chicken for 45 minutes. Rotate the pan 180 degrees and continue roasting until a thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the thigh, without touching the bone, registers 165°F, 45 minutes to 1 hour more. Transfer to a clean cutting board; let rest for 10 minutes before removing the string and carving (see Tips & Notes below).

TIPS & NOTES

  • How To Carve a Turkey or Chicken: After the bird is roasted, let it rest for up to 30 minutes before carving. Then, follow these easy step-by-step instructions. 1. Place the roasted bird on a cutting board. Hold it steady with a carving fork and cut through the skin between the leg and body using a large sharp carving knife. 2. Cut through the hip joint, removing the entire leg from the body. Repeat with the other leg. 3. Place a leg skin-side down and cut through the joint between the drumstick and thigh. Repeat with the other leg. (For turkey, slice the meat away from the bone of the thigh and slice the thigh meat thinly. Hold the drumstick and slice the meat off parallel to the bone.) 4. To remove the breast meat, make a horizontal cut near the base. 5. Then, hold near the breastbone with the carving fork. Use a boning knife to make a cut along one side of the breast down to the horizontal cut you made at the base of the body. Repeat with the second breast half on the other side of the breastbone. 6. Cut the breast meat into slices, if desired. 7. Bend a wing away from the body and use a knife to remove the wing piece. Repeat with the other wing. Cut off the wingtips, if desired. 8. Reserve carcass to make soup!

Oatmeal and Molasses Dinner Rolls

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There’s something special about making bread at home.  The process is really meditative and so simple, even throughout your day, and when these are baking the delicious smell is something you can never forget.  I was drawn to this recipe because they looked exactly like the type of amazing roll my mother-in-law makes ” Grandma Cisco’s Dinner Rolls”for the holidays.  I tried making the family recipe- even after helping and closely watching her make them, to “learn”, but mine ended up terrible, dense, with a hard crust and nothing like her perfect light rolls.  Making these exactly as directed by this recipe resulted in perfect flavorful beautiful rolls, so this must be easier, and they have added healthy ingredients which makes me super happy.  Jason’s even requested that these make regular appearances around here.  The oats on top make a gorgeous presentation and photo, but they made it messy to eat, so you can omit them if you’d like.  

Oatmeal and Molasses Dinner Rolls 

Adapted from Food52.com

 

Serves 8-12

  • 2 teaspoons active dry yeast
  • 1 tablespoon dark brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup lukewarm water
  • 3/4 cups milk
  • 3/4 cups rolled oats
  • 1/2 cup butter cut into cubes
  • 2 tablespoons molasses
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 1/2-3 cups flour (unbleached all-purpose or bread flour)
  • 2-3 tablespoons melted butter for brushing tops of rolls
  1. Dissolve yeast in 1/4 cup lukewarm water with a pinch of sugar. Let stand until bubbly. If it doesn’t get bubbly, throw it out and get some new yeast.
  2. Scald milk then add it to the butter in your mixing bowl. When butter has melted, add brown sugar, rolled oats, molasses, and salt. Blend thoroughly and cool to lukewarm.
  3. Add egg and mix well. Add the yeast and mix to incorporate it. Then mix in 2 ½ cups of the flour. Add what you need to of the remaining ½ cup of flour until the dough loses its sheen. Let rest for 10 minutes.
  4. Scrape the dough out of the mixing bowl and put it in a greased bowl. Turn to coat and cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for a minimum of two hours. It can sit overnight as well. It doesn’t rise a lot.
  5. Turn out the chilled dough on a floured work surface and knead or fold and turn the dough slightly. Cut dough into 12 balls. Press each ball into a flat rectangle with your fingers, then roll up and tuck ends under. Place seam-side down in a well-buttered 9 inch round pan. Brush all over with ½ of melted butter and sprinkle with a little of the rolled oats. Let rise until doubled in size in a warm place, about two hours.
  6. Preheat oven to 350° F. Bake for 35-40 minutes or until rolls are nicely browned and sound hollow when you tap their tops. The internal temperature should be 190 degrees. Remove from the pans and brush generously with remaining melted butter. Let cool on a rack for 5-10 minutes.
  7. Serve warm…with salted butter!

Happy Birthday Cake: Chocolate Cake with Peanut Buttercream Frosting and Chocolate Genache Topping

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Jason is officially in his thirties!  I just had to make my very special husband an extra special cake that would truly make his day extraordinary.  I searched high and low and even considered buying a Portillo’s chocolate cake ( you know because it’s amazing, affordable and I am pregnant) but I really wanted to do something homemade, from the heart.  When I found this recipe, of course it’s Smitten Kitchen that could create something so perfect, so decadent: Chocolate Cake with Peanut Buttercream Frosting and Chocolate Genache, yes you read that correct, I knew it was perfect for my peanut butter loving husband that requested a chocolate cake with chocolate frosting.  And holy cow, it was more than I, we, could ever imagine.  I mean, think about the most amazing flavors, the richest moistest perfect cake, frosted with heavenly peanut butter(cream), and covered in more chocolate….  I can’t explain how amazing this is well enough, you just have to trust me and make this.  Since it was just us for birthday cake this year ( after a night out with friends and family to celebrate of course) I cut the cake recipe in half, which worked perfect, except that it was still an entire cake and there’s just 2.5 of us eating it… we got our fill!  I did make the full frosting recipe and had some left over, because cutting in in half made too little frosting.  This serves 10 people easily, but if you want to serve more people use the original recipe from the link.

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Sour Cream-Chocolate Cake with Peanut Butter Frosting and Chocolate-Peanut Butter Glaze
Adapted from Smitten Kitchen who adapted from, only barely, from Sky High: Irresistable Triple-Layer Cakes

This cake is INTENSE. Serve it with a nice glass of milk!

Makes an 8-inch double-layer cake; serves 10-12

1 cup all-purpose flour
1 1/4 cups sugar
1/2  cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup canola oil
1/2 cup sour cream
3/4 cups water
1 tablespoon distilled white vinegar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 egg

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter the bottoms and sides of two 8-inch round cakepans. Line the bottom of each pan with a round of parchment paper and butter the paper.

2. Sift the flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt into a large bowl. Whisk to combine them well. Add the oil and sour cream and whisk to blend. Gradually beat in the water. Blend in the vinegar and vanilla. Whisk in the eggs and beat until well blended. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and be sure the batter is well mixed. Divide evenly among the 2 prepared cake pans.

3. Bake for 30-35  minutes, or until a cake tester or wooden toothpick inserted in the center comes out almost clean. Let cool in the pans for about 5 minutes, cover the top of pans loosely with plastic wrap and place in freezer for 20 inures, this locks in the moisture and makes it easier to frost.  Remove from freezer and invert onto wire racks, carefully peel off the paper liners.

4. To frost the cake, place one layer, flat side up, on a cake stand or large serving plate. Spread 2/3 cup cup of the Peanut Butter Frosting evenly over the top, place the second layer on top and frost the top and sides of the cake with the remaining frosting. (Deb note 1: Making a crumb coat of frosting–a thin layer that binds the dark crumbs to the cake so they don’t show up in the final outer frosting layer–is a great idea for this cake, or any with a dark cake and lighter-colored frosting. Once you “mask” your cake, let it chill for 15 to 30 minutes until firm, then use the remainder of the frosting to create a smooth final coating. Deb note 2: Once the cake is fully frosted, it helps to chill it again and let it firm up. The cooler and more set the peanut butter frosting is, the better drip effect you’ll get from the Chocolate-Peanut Butter Glaze.)

5. To decorate with the Chocolate–Peanut Butter Glaze, put the cake plate on a large baking sheet to catch any drips. Simply pour the glaze over the top of the cake, and using an offset spatula, spread it evenly over the top just to the edges so that it runs down the sides of the cake in long drips. Refrigerate, uncovered, for at least 30 minutes to allow the glaze and frosting to set completely. Remove about 1 hour before serving. Decorate the top with chopped peanut brittle.

Peanut Butter Frosting
Makes about 5 cups

10 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
1 stick (4 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature
5 cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted
2/3 cup smooth peanut butter, preferably a commercial brand (because oil doesn’t separate out)

1. In a large bowl with an electric mixer, beat the cream cheese and butter until light and fluffy. Gradually add the confectioners’ sugar 1 cup at a time, mixing thoroughly after each addition and scraping down the sides of the bowl often. Continue to beat on medium speed until light and fluffy, 3 to 4 minutes.

2. Add the peanut butter and beat until thoroughly blended.

Chocolate-Peanut Butter Glaze
Makes about 3/4 cups

4 ounces semisweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
1.5 tablespoons smooth peanut butter
1 tablespoon light corn syrup
1/4 cup half-and-half

1. In the top of a double boiler or in a bowl set over simmering water, combine the chocolate, peanut butter, and corn syrup. Cook, whisking often, until the chocolate is melted and the mixture is smooth.

2. Remove from the heat and whisk in the half-and-half, beating until smooth. Use while still warm.