Basic Meatloaf

I really enjoy meatloaf. I have a couple of “fancy” meatloaf recipes (if you can call any type of meatloaf fancy) I’ve tried in the past but I can’t remember the last time I made a simple, traditional meatloaf. Today, I went online to the Food Network website to find Paula Dean’s “Old-Fashioned Meatloaf” recipe and give it a try. I baked it in my Pampered Chef mini-loaf pan so instead of one decent sized meatloaf, I have four small ones! Unfortunately, I didn’t take pictures so you’ll just have to take my word on how easy it is and that it does indeed look like meatloaf. Here’s the recipe, which does include a few of my modifications:

Paula Dean's Old-Fashioned Meatloaf

  • Servings: 4
  • Time: 1hr 10mins
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

Meatloaf:

  • 1 lb ground beef
  • 1 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/3 tsp pepper
  • 1 medium onion, grated
  • 1/2 medium bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 egg
  • 8 oz can diced tomatoes (with 1/2 juice)
  • 1/2 cup Italian bread crumbs

Topping:

  • 1 can tomato soup
  • 1 Tbs yellow mustard
  • seasonings to taste

Directions:

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

Combine all meatloaf ingredients in a bowl. Place in loaf pan or baking dish (shape into loaf if without loaf pan). Mix ingredients for topping and spread on loaf. Bake for 1 hour.

There you go. Simple, no? Enjoy!

Brazilian Cheese Bread (Pão de Queijo)

My friend Megan posted on Facebook about making these delights. I can’t tell you exactly when I first had them but almost every Brazilian restaurant serve them and they are delicious! You have to be careful though – they fill you up a lot quicker than you’d imagine. I made these for a pot luck and they were a HIT! I now know what I’ll take to many pot lucks in the future because they are so easy to make. Next time, I’m going to try adding roasted red peppers or garlic or jalapeños. What other flavors do you think would go well with this recipe?

Ingredients:
1 egg (have at room temp)
1/3 cup olive oil
2/3 cup milk
1 1/2 cup tapioca flour
2/3 to 3/4 cup (packed) shredded cheese – queso fresco is preferred but sharp cheddar works well.
salt to taste (use about 1 tsp the first time)

These will need to bake in a mini-muffin pan. This will make a batch of around 16.

Instructions:
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

In a blender, pulse all ingredients until smooth. Tapioca flour is much like corn starch and not like flour. It will stick to the side of the blender so have a spatula ready to scrape downy he sides as you blend.

If your muffin tin isn’t non-stick, you will want to grease before filling. When you fill the mini-muffin tin, fill each one about 3/4 or so full. They will puff up while baking so don’t worry about filling each one to the brim.

Bake at 400 degrees for 15-20 minutes. When ready, they will be puffy and lightly browned. Remove from oven and let cool before serving.

This recipe originally came from the Simply Recipes website – http://www.simplyrecipes.com/recipes/easy_brazilian_cheese_bread/. What is posted here is the original recipe with my modifications and recommendations.

Krez’s Special Shrimp Wonton Soup

The inspiration

My friend Krez has this Special Shrimp Wonton Soup at a restaurant called Chopstix in McAllen, Tx and posted a picture recently. It looked so good, it inspired me to try to recreate it today. I have NO idea what the inspiration tastes like but I can certainly see what veg and such are included in the soup. I did forget the carrots and onions, though. 😦

So here’s what I included in the soup:

Broth with veg (this makes more broth than one serving) –
1 box low sodium chicken broth
2 or 3 Carrots
Yellow Onion
Broccoli
Napa cabbage
Zucchini
Mushrooms
4 potstickers or 6 wontons, still frozen
1 can (drained & rinsed) of stir fry veggies
Salt & Pepper to taste

In a separate pot:
1 package ramen noodles (do not use flavor packet)
6-10 frozen shrimp or fish or chicken, cut to bite sized pieces
water

Heat the broth to a simmer. Chop veg to desired size and add to broth in order listed above. Add other ingredients and allow the veg to cook down.

In a separate pot, boil water and cook noodles to package instructions. If using chicken, add at the same time as noodles. If using shrimp or fish, add in the last minute of cooking. Strain noodles and protein, add to large soup bowl. Cover with broth, dumplings and veg. Enjoy!

Chicken and Rice Soup – Quick and Easy

After I got back to Huntsville, there was little in my fridge/freezer/pantry to cook but I was hungry and didn’t feel like any more fast food. I had had Schlotzsky’s for lunch on the road and although I enjoyed it, that was enough fast food for me for a while. I found some boneless, skinless chicken thighs, soup veggies and chicken broth so I decided to make soup. I didn’t realize the soup veggies had potato chunks in it so I also decided to make a little rice to make it all a bit more hearty.

I heated the broth to a slow boil, added one piece of chicken, which I had cut into 1 inch pieces and after that was fairly well cooked, added 1/2 the bag of frozen soup veggies. I made the rice in a separate pot according to the instructions on the bag. A little cayenne for zip and tada! It ended up feeding me for three meals.

If you need a quick meal (or three), give this a try. With the exception of the amount of salt it contains between the frozen veggies and broth, it’s fairly healthy, too.
Love you, mean it!
~C

Christmas 2011

For the last 15 years (at least – I think it’s more like 17 or 18 years now), instead of exchanging gifts, we’ve enjoyed a family brunch at a nice hotel or restaurant. Most of those years, we’ve gone to the Four Seasons in Austin. They have a wonderful brunch for Christmas morning and they treat us so well, we go annually without question now.

Round 1, I’m obviously not a food stylist.

Round 2 was sushi and I ate it before I realized I hadn’t photographed it. They had several rolls that were doused in some spicy sauce they could/should have left on the side. It burned our mouths!

Round 3 was from the carving station. OMG, this was SO delicious but I was getting full and needed to save room for dessert that I only ate half of this lamb. The mashed potatoes were PERFECTLY smooth and buttery!! The halibut was good but not quite the flavor I was hoping for, especially paired with the lamb and mashed potatoes.

Round 4 – DESSERTS! Have I mentioned that stressed spelled backwards is desserts? This is why:

There was plenty more to choose from in all categories as well. I just couldn’t fit it all on the plates or in my stomach! I keep saying that I need to take photos of the entire buffet but that just seems too odd. I think I get enough strange looks taking pictures of my plates of food. Maybe next year – we already have our reservation!

We weren’t in Trio this year since we made our reservations too late but we were able to get a table by the window and this was our view. Nice and peaceful!

While we were there, there was some excitement on Lake Austin (I just can’t call it whatever else they’ve named it now) – a party boat caught on fire and its 3 propane tanks exploded. It was all over the news for at least 2 days after so it was HUGE news in Austin. The explosion was so big, it popped open those doors in the last pictures at least 3 inches. After brunch, we walked around outside a bit and the boat was still on fire and adrift:

We were glad to hear that no one was hurt. Property loss sucks (see “The Fire” post) but I couldn’t imagine what it would be like to loose a loved one. I still have no idea how that boat fire got started. I’m sure if they’ve figured it out, it was listed as “old news” so they either didn’t report it or reported it is as an after thought and no one caught it on the news.

The Four Seasons always does such a beautiful job of decorating, too. They always have gingerbread houses and this year, the theme was Texas History or Significant Buildings in Texas or something like that.

Some of the buildings are for sale. Who would have thought I could buy the Capitol Building for less than I bought my house for?

It’s a little blurry but I love how ornate they make their lobby:

Love my parents!

Merry Christmas from the Benfords!!

Winter Greens and Fresh Tomato Soup

Right now, my parents are staying in an apartment while their house is being repaired from the recent fire (more on that in its own post) and cable/internet haven’t been connected yet so we get about 5 different PBS stations and a few other local ones and that’s it. As I was lounging on my air mattress one afternoon, I caught an episode of The Victory Garden and they cooked this soup that sounded really good so I decided to make my own version of it that night.

You can add in sausage or meat or thicken it up and make it more like a chili if you’d like but it’s quite hearty and delicious! I decided to add leeks and white beans.

Basic ingredients:
1 onion
1 clove of garlic
Kale
Collard Greens
Variety of small tomatoes
Stock
Oil

1. Chop garlic and onion and saute in oil:

2. Wash (first run) green veggies. There will be a lot of dirt on it all so you’ll want to wash them a few times.

3. Cut greens and leeks into large pieces and wash again. I filled my salad spinner with cold water and let the veggies just soak after rinsing them through the colander a few times.

4. I carefully removed the colander from the water – there’s LOTS of dirt still in that water, even after rinsing several times. Those greens hold in a lot of dirt!

5. I wilted greens and leeks in the pot with the onions and garlic (oops forgot to take a picture) then added the broth and white beans (drained) and let it all simmer.

6. While that was simmering, I cut a few of the larger tomatoes. Aren’t they beautiful? They’re delicious, too!

7. When everything was nice and warm, I added the tomatoes and gave it a minute or two to heat them up as well.

8. Final product!

It was really good. I didn’t add any spices or seasonings (not even salt or pepper) and it was just perfect! That’s the nice thing about cooking with high quality, fresh products – they all have their own distinct flavors that don’t need a lot of other spices. Enjoy!

Love you, mean it!
~C

Quick salad dressing

I got it from a sampling of a kale salad I tasted at Whole Foods quite a while back. This dressing really made that salad POP! 🙂 This is to taste:

Lemon Juice
Olive Oil
Red Pepper Flakes
Sea Salt

I think I substituted Kosher salt for the sea salt. Or, maybe THAT’S why I have sea salt in my spice cabinet….