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I’ve never been the type to be squeamish about handling raw meat. I’ve always enjoyed getting truly hands on when cooking meat because it’s the best way of determining the quality of the cuts and if things are progressing properly. When I’m cooking steaks I use my (clean) finger to check doneness and when I’m mixing meatloaf I absolutely insist upon using my hands to mix it all up. How else can you feel if you’ve gotten all of the ground beef worked into the rest of the ingredients? How else can you tell if you need to add more crackers or bread crumbs? When you use a spoon you lose touch with a mixture that is rarely exactly the same as the last batch you made. It’s an organic recipe; depending upon fat contents, moisture levels, and humidity. And if you get those things right, magic happens. Your reward is a plate of hot, hearty, comforting goodness that can make the coldest night cozy or the worst day seem just a little brighter around the edges. What’s that? Your meatloaf isn’t that good? Then you’re using the wrong recipe! Allow me to share my rock-your-socks-off meatloaf recipe 🙂

Here we have your fairly standard meatloaf ingredients with the addition of carrots and bacon:

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“What on Earth is in the blue bowl??” you ask? Well… my kids still don’t care for pieces of onion in their food, so I grate the onion I need on the fine holes of my box grater. That’s what’s in the blue bowl. Now is the time to get a skillet out and and put some olive oil into it- about a tablespoon or two, just enough to cover the bottom of the pan. Set the heat to medium and once the oil shimmers, add in the carrots and onions.

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Cook for 2-3 minutes, stirring frequently, until the onions are fragrant and beginning to go translucent. Add in the garlic and cook for another minute. Take the pan off the heat and set it aside.

I have never used this particular bread before (from the bakery of a grocery store I shop at), so I didn’t know how it would react to the milk. Turns out, I had to double the milk and rip it into pieces to get it properly soaked. But that’s ok; you can just add some crackers later.

You could try to assemble the meatloaf and have it ready to go in the oven before you send it to chill, but it would likely just turn into an exercise in frustration. It’s best to let the mixture firm up in the fridge for a few hours (up to 8 hours) and then assemble the actual loaf. **Note: I don’t usually put the whole amount of salt in that’s called for in the recipe (1 t) because I almost always add crackers, which add to the salt already found in the soy and Worcestershire sauces as well as the salt that the bacon adds to the finished product.**

Make sure both the baking pan and the plate you’re working with are either sprayed with cooking spray or brushed with oil very well; that’s the only way you’re going to get the meatloaf to slide out of and then back into the pan and not have it stick to the plate either.

Use thick cut bacon bacon that’s long enough to line your pan. I use Farmland thick cut bacon and it’s a perfect fit. I tried Oscar Meyer bacon once because it was on sale and it was WAY too short- and I got the regular bacon, not the center cut. I couldn’t use it at all for this meatloaf.

When lining the pan, stretch each piece of bacon gently to lengthen it just a little so that when it shrinks while it’s cooking (which is inevitable) it continues to surround the meat mixture. Also, place the bacon strips so that you have the wide and narrow ends alternating; you’ll get better coverage that way.

Once you have the pan lined with the bacon, you’ll have to get the meatloaf mixture in. You can do that one of two ways: 1) press the mixture into the pan in handfuls or 2) shape the mixture in your hand and put it in all at once. I normally choose the latter, and it isn’t as hard as it sounds…

And it’s done! The mixture holds together very well because of the bread and eggs that bind it. You’re almost ready to put it in the oven. Fold the edges of the bacon,

Put your platter or plate over the top of the pan,

Flip the whole thing over and set it back down,

and wait for gravity to do it’s thing…

Here’s the “hard” part. It’s not technically difficult, you just have to be careful (but quick) and confident. You can’t stop in the middle or lose your nerve at the last second. Gently ease both hands under the meatloaf, supporting the length on both sides. Pick the whole thing up and carefully set it down in the same pan you used to wrap the meatloaf to begin with.

This is going to take awhile to bake, so don’t try to make this on a busy weeknight when you only have a little bit of time to cook. It makes amazing leftovers, though, so you could certainly bake this meatloaf on the weekend and reheat it during the week. I usually bake this recipe for over an hour. The bacon will be thoroughly cooked and a thermometer stuck into the center will read 165F-170F. Once the pan comes out of the oven, tent it with foil and let the meatloaf rest for 15-20 minutes- and please don’t skip this step! The mixture is very tender and needs some time out of the oven to set properly.

After the resting time has passed, carefully slide a spatula under each end and lift both up at once. The first couple of times you make this meatloaf you just might tear the hell out of it. I did. Don’t worry; it will still taste fantastic, it just won’t be as pretty as a picture:

Cut slices with a serrated knife and serve with whatever you fancy. After your main meal you can refrigerate the leftovers (if there are any), slice them whatever width you like, and makes sandwiches on some nice, soft bread. Mmmmm…. meatloaf sandwiches….

  • Difficulty: intermediate
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The Recipe:

1/2 Medium Onion, diced or grated

2 Carrots, grated fine

4-6 Cloves Garlic, minced

2 T Butter or Oil

1 LB Ground Beef

1/2 t Dried Thyme

1 T Brown Sugar

2 T Worcestershire Sauce

2 T Soy Sauce

1 t Salt (or to taste)

1/4 t Pepper

Pinch Nutmeg

4 Slices Stale Bread

1/3 C Milk

2 Eggs

8-12 Crushed Crackers (Optional)

6-10 Slices of Bacon

The Method:

*In a frying pan, melt the fat over medium heat.

*Add the onions and carrots and cook until the onions are soft, stirring frequently.

*Add the garlic and cook another minute then put the pan aside to cool for at least 5 minutes.

*In the meantime, put the slices of bread into a bowl large enough to hold all the ingredients (except the bacon, of course), sprinkle the brown sugar over it, and pour the milk over it all. Let it sit until the milk is absorbed.

*Add the ground beef, veggies, eggs, herbs, spices, sauces, and crackers (if using), and mix thoroughly. Your hands work best for this!

*Cover the mixture and let it rest in the fridge for at least an hour, but not more than 8 hours.

*Preheat the oven to 375F. (350F for a nonstick or dark loaf pan)

*Spray a 9 inch bread pan (I prefer glass) with cooking spray or brush with oil.

*Line the pan with bacon, leaving the tips hanging over both sides.

*Put the meatloaf mixture into the pan and fold the bacon over the top.

*Spray or oil a platter and put it over the loaf pan. Flip them both over and set on the counter to let the meatloaf fall onto the platter.

*Remove the loaf pan and carefully put the meatloaf back in, bacon tips down.

*Bake 1 hour or until a thermometer inserted into the center reads 165F-170F.

*REST  THE MEATLOAF FOR AT LEAST 15 MINUTES!

*Gently slide a spatula under each end of the loaf, remove it from the pan, and place on a serving platter to slice.

 

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Good grief, it’s been almost a year. A year!! SO MUCH has happened in that year, and I wasn’t sure if I would ever get to come back. I’ve wanted to, but it just hasn’t been in the cards until now. I wasn’t sure if anyone would even care at this point if I came back. But I’ve heard from a few loyal readers (I have loyal readers! I had no idea!) and they’re asking for more. That is so incredibly gratifying, you guys. Seriously. It almost made me cry. I’ve always said that if my blog helps one person enjoy food a little more, I’ll keep going. So here I am, in the kitchen again, with recipes to share. I have some truly amazing food to show you, starting next week 🙂

So after being informed by my BFF that the print feature I added awhile back actually prints the entire blog post instead of only the recipe like I wanted it to, I have (with a little help from a more experienced blogger) figured out how to make only the recipe in each post printable. Yay! So from now on you will be able to print only the best part of each post: the recipe! And when I get time here and there I will go back and add the feature to all of my other posts (which number 72 as of today, so it may take me a little while to get it done). Thank you all for sticking with me thus far! ❤

We are preparing to delve into the world of homeschooling this year. We’ve felt the need to homeschool for years but were never in a position to be able to until now. So we won’t have the hustle and bustle of trying to get out the door in time to meet the bus this year. However, that doesn’t mean there won’t be mornings that we need to get in the car and go somewhere earlier and in more of a rush than I’d like- especially since it’s a 40 minute drive from our little village to get anywhere. On those mornings it’s SO nice to have a breakfast that I can put into containers or baggies so we can eat it in the car. And it’s even nicer to know that this “fast food” is homemade instead of processed and super unhealthy. Try to get that out of the little packages of muffins from the store!

Since I like to make these as easy to eat as possible, I tend to make these into mini muffins. They’re easily popable that way and the crumbs are kept to a minimum. They are just as tasty as regular muffins, so use whatever kind of pan strikes your fancy. And speaking of fancy, these make great baby bundt cakes! You can ice them with a simple glaze and presto- you’ve got a pretty little dessert!

One of the great things about these muffins is that they use everyday items that are probably in your pantry and fridge as we speak…

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The second great thing about these tasty little gems is how simple they are. All you have to do is mix your dry ingredients…

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Then mix your wet ingredients well…

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Then all you have to do is mix them together…

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Ta da! Done! Now you just fill the liners and put the pan in the oven…

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It doesn’t get much easier than that! From start to finish these muffins take about 20 minutes (depending on what size you make them). And if you don’t want chocolate chips in them, no problem; use whatever you like. Peanut butter chips (or half chocolate chips, half peanut butter chips), toffee chips, mint chocolate chips, dried fruit, your imagination is the only limit! Oh- and if you really want to make these a little decadent, whip up some cream cheese frosting and smear a bit on top of the muffins. That will brighten the dreariest day 🙂 And you can even make a big batch of these and freeze them for later. Then you can just thaw some on the counter overnight and have a quick breakfast in the morning. Or you can put a frozen muffin in your lunch bag and have a tasty treat at midday.

Autumn is fast approaching (thank goodness!!) and with it comes busier schedules. I hope this simple recipe brings a smile to your hustle & bustle the way it does to mine 🙂

The Recipe: 

1 1/2 C Flour

1/2 C Sugar

2 t Baking Powder

1/2 t Salt

1 Egg

1/4 C Sour Cream (or yogurt; vanilla yogurt adds a nice, subtle flavor)

1/2 C Milk

1/4 C Oil

1/2 C Chocolate Chips (I use mini chocolate chips- especially if I’m making mini muffins)

 

The Method:

*Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

*Prepare your muffin pan by either greasing and flouring each well or lining them with paper cups.

*In a medium bowl, mix all of the dry ingredients. Make a well in the center into which you can pour the wet ingredients.

*In a small bowl, whisk together all of the wet ingredients.

*Add the wet ingredients to the dry ones and stir until well combined. Don’t worry if there are a few lumps in the batter.

*Scoop the batter into the prepared pan. A small ice cream/cookie scoop works well for mini muffins.

*Bake 15-20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center of a muffin comes out clean.

*Keep in an airtight container for up to 3 days. Or you can freeze in a zip top bag or well wrapped in plastic wrap and then foil for up to 2 months.

 

I’ve had some requests for a “print recipe” feature, so I looked around and found one of those! You can now find a new button on each post. It’s labeled “print and PDF” and it can be found at the very bottom of each post along with the sharing buttons. You’re welcome and thanks for your continued support! ❤

Ok, so it’s definitely not new. It’s older than I am by at least 10 years. And it’s a run down kitchen in a run down place. But it’s only until next summer, and it’s not in my in-law’s house! Yes, we’ve finally moved! Thanks to my husband’s awesome job with the rail road, we were able to get our own place! We had to relocate to do it, but sometimes that’s the way of things. We moved from Loveland, in Northern Colorado, to Watertown, South Dakota. We really like it here, but with the way things worked out we had to take a place that’s not in good shape. We will move next summer, hopefully into our own house that we buy. But for now I’ll make this kitchen work. I’ll be posting a new recipe soon; next week, actually. An easy chicken recipe that kids and adults alike will love and doesn’t involve the oven. At least, that’s the plan. I also have something up my sleeve for a little later; a special recipe that will make going back to school feel not quite so hard (for those kids who hate to see summer end. My kids can’t wait to get back to school, but they love the recipe I’ll be sharing too 🙂 )

I’m very happy to be getting back to blogging after such a long absence. I have several posts in mind for this fall and winter that I’m really looking forward to sharing with you- we just have to get through the dreaded summer first. Thankfully, the cooler weather comes to South Dakota faster than it does to Colorado and I’ll be enjoying fall and winter soon. Thank you for sticking with me and making this whole crazy blog thing work. 🙂

To my dear Readers and those who may be stopping by for the first time,

It’s been ages since I’ve posted. It’s not that I haven’t wanted to. Well, that’s not entirely true. I haven’t wanted to. But not because I don’t like blogging. See, I have a problem- a major hinderance to blogging… The kitchen I’m using is not mine. The kitchen isn’t mine, the utensils aren’t mine, the pots & pans aren’t mine, the dishes aren’t even mine. For, well, way too long now, we’ve been living with my in-laws thanks to the crappy economy. All of my wonderful, beautiful, well-made, easy to use kitchen things are in boxes in the basement and I am stuck using my in-law’s things that are old (almost everything is WAY older than my 33 years), dangerously shoddy, and poorly cared for. They couldn’t care less about food or cooking so they don’t care about their kitchen things. This being the case, cooking in their kitchen is infinitely frustrating and, in all actuality, rather dangerous. But I really do love to blog and so I gave it a try. It didn’t work too well. Blogging became yet another thing I had to suffer through in this awful kitchen so I eventually just stopped blogging. But there is a faint glow of the rising sun on the horizon: my husband has a good job now that is promising to be very long term and we might get out of here soon! So now that I have this wonderful possibility to lift me up I have once again been bitten by the blogging bug. I’m going to give it another go, hoping to be out of here soon and in my own kitchen with quality equipment. And I will be giving it a go during my least favorite season: Summer (during which, incidentally, I said I would not blog during because of the heat). So please bear with me as I continue this journey 🙂 Thank you for your understand and support!

With Love,

The Humble Food Snob

Five Rules for Cooking

As I was sitting next to my husband, Ron, this evening during dinner and discussing my blog he asked me a question to which I had no immediate answer. He asked “What are your 5 rules for cooking?” (I know- it sounds like one of those questions that I just made up & pretended that he asked it so that I could have a good excuse to tell you my rules. Well it’s not. He really did ask me.) I had no idea where this question came from so I asked him why he asked it. He told me that it seemed to him that such a thing would be a good topic for a post before I really got into posting recipes & such. I had to think about the answers for a bit. I don’t often explain the methods to my madness in the kitchen- even to myself. I just do- my actions are more instinct than thought out processes. So I grabbed a pen & paper and Ron and I discussed 5 things that are “rules” in cooking. Well… My cooking anyway. So for here goes…
Rule 1: NEVER, ever use margarine. There is only one reason margarine will ever find it’s way into my house and that will be because someone has gotten their head stuck in a railing of some sort and the margarine is for greasing said head so it will slip out of said railing. I know butter is expensive. I get that. So to make up for that fact I make just about everything from scratch. (This makes up for the expense of a large number of thing- not just butter.) I don’t buy frozen dinners, packages of cookies, and a list of other things that could fill a whole other blog post- and might yet in the future. In this way I can afford things like butter. And no- margarine is NOT interchangeablewith butter in baking recipes unless you buy one that is clearly marked “good for baking” and has the proper oil ratio. The baked goods will be different in taste, texture, and quality. It’s easier- and better for you- to just buy butter. And so ends my rant on margarine. I shall let the offensive fat die in peace.
Rule 2: Always taste frequently. This should be obvious but not everyone does it. Go into the kitchen of any fine restaurant and you will find a container of small spoons next to each chef’s station. Those are tasting spoons- and the head chef expects to see a pile of them. It’s the only way to ensure consistent quality. No, I don’t have a pile of spoons next to my stove each time I cook. I’m also the one who does the dishes! I have one spoon that I taste with. The main stirring spoontransfers (with no actual contact) a small amount onto the tasting spoon. Voila! Consistent quality!
Rule 3: Never cook while your mind is elsewhere. I’m guilty of this from time to time (aha! A flaw! Told you I had those!). I will be angry, anxious, stressed, or excited and ruin at least one component of whatever it is I’m making. So just don’t do it! Take a minute to calm yourself or eat leftovers. Or maybe the pizza fairy would like to pay your house a visit. Sometimes there’s just no calming down and Lord knows you don’t need the stitches that always seem to happen when sharp objects mix with inattentiveness.
Rule 4: Always think ahead. Read your recipes all the way through and gather and measure out all ingredients before you start. Take time to put the parts of a new idea together. Figure out what’s for dinner well before dinnertime. Your life in the kitchen will be infinitely happier! (And you will avoid the painful stitches mentioned in Rule 3 that you would end up with because you’re stressed.)
Rule 5: “Semi- home made” is not cooking (or baking). It’s putting stuff together. I’m not saying that I don’t use the occasional cake mix, boxed, or canned item that I could make perfectly well from scratch because I’m low on ingredients or just too darn tired to do it right. I’m saying that when I do I don’t call it cooking. “Cooking” and “baking” to me are synonymous with “creating”. However, you will more than likely see some such boxed or canned item in a recipe on this blog. If such a thing should happen they will be an ingredient because to me those things are just the jumping off point. Just another piece to the puzzle. So no Sandra Lee nonsense on this blog.
So there are my 5 rules. Question answered. I hope I have been informative without boring you to tears; I want you to come back & visit me! Especially since my next post will be an AWESOME recipe for Italian food. Incredibly simple & better than anything I’ve ever had in a restaurant!