Friday, November 21, 2008

MySpace Archives #3: Taco Meatloaf


Meatloaf ingredients:
1.5 lbs ground beef (I used 93% lean ground sirloin)
1 Tbs. olive oil
1/2 medium onion
2 cloves garlic
1/2 small can chopped green chiles
1 packet taco seasoning ( I prefer La Preferida... how ironic)
1/4 cup plain oatmeal
1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese
Ketchup ingredients:
4 Tbs. ketchup
2 canned chipotle peppers in adobo, chopped finely
1 tsp. brown sugar

For ketchup: mix all ingredients well and refrigerate. Add more ketchup or use less chipotle if this is too spicy for you.

For meatloaf: Sautee onions in olive oil until they just start to brown. Add garlic and cook until garlic just starts to take on color. Set aside to cool.

Mix rest of ingredients EXCEPT FOR CHEESE together until well combined. Place into loaf pan. Bake at 350 for one hour. Pull meatloaf out, drain off excess fat and juices (there will be a fair amount of liquid you'll pour off -- this is ok, your meatloaf will still be very moist), sprinkle cheese over top of meatloaf and return to oven for 15 minutes. Remove from oven, slice, and serve witih chipotle ketchup.

I served this with soft polenta and garlic-sauteed green beans. The polenta went great with the flavoring of the meatloaf, almost like the corn taco shell flavor of an actual taco. Just a hint: whenever I make polenta, I always add a little salt, a little sugar, and a knob of butter at the end to bring out the full flavor of the corn.

I'm thinking that leftovers warmed up and wrapped in a flour or corn tortilla with some hot sauce would be pretty darned yummy. Or put a small slab on a corn muffin for a little Mexican sandwich.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Lemon Roasted Baby Reds

Potatoes that is.

This is a side dish that is surprisingly easy, but takes a little planning because it takes an hour to cook. Prep time is literally about 5 minutes, though, so give these a try.


2 lbs baby red potatoes (the smaller the better, about the same size)
Olive oil
Black pepper
Seasonings of choice (garlic powder, onion powder, dried herbs, etc...)
1 lemon, cut into wedges

Take the potatoes, and in each cut several narrow slices about halfway to 2/3 of the way down into the potato without going all the way through. Toss the potatoes in a large bowl with a generous drizzle of olive oil. Sprinkle very liberally with salt, pepper, and your seasonings of choice (honestly, anything goes here... any combo of garlic and onion powders along with various herbs such as dried rosemary, oregano, thyme, etc. will work). You will need to use more seasoning than seems reasonable, because a lot will fall off the potatoes when they cook. Place on a foil-lined baking sheet, and put into a preheated oven at 400 F for about one hour. Yes, this seems like a long time. No, they won't burn. The onion/garlic powder will blacken, but believe it or not they won't be bitter. Take out of the oven, and squeeze about 1/4 to 1/2 of the lemon wedges over the cut tops of the potatoes. Serve along with a roast chicken or any other main dish. The outside of the potatoes gets crispy, while the insides stay nice and creamy. The lemon adds a little punch at the end.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Grownup Oatmeal Cream Pies

Ok, since the word "baking" is in the title of my blog, I figured it was high time I actually included a baking recipe here. I made this recipe up today as a welcome home for hubby, who's been out of town for four days. These should remind you of the old lunchbox favorites, but with a little bit more sophistication from the dried fruit. Nuts would also go great in these.


1 cup butter, softened
1.5 cups brown sugar, packed
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1.5 c flour
3 cups old fashioned rolled oats
1/2 cup dried cherries, 1/2 cup dried blueberries

1 jar (7 oz.) marshmallow fluff
1/3 cup powdered sugar
1/2 cup butter

For filling, blend together all three ingredients with a hand mixer and mix until well blended and light and fluffy. Set aside.

For cookie batter, cream together butter and sugar. Add eggs and vanilla, blend. Sift flour, baking powder, salt, and baking soda together. Add to wet ingredients, blend. Stir in oats and fruit.

Add ImageDrop dough onto cookie sheet in about 1/2 TBS portions. I used a very small cookie scoop which made cookies the perfect size. You really don't want these too large, or else your finished sandwich cookies will be way too big. Bake at 375 for about 8 min or until brown and done. Cool on a rack until completely cool.

Use a piping bag, ziplock bag (with corner cut off), or simply a knife to place a little filling on the underside of one cookie, and top with another cookie to make a sandwich.


I'm thinking a strong cup of coffee would go wonderfully with these, becawsue they are very very sweet. Not that I'm complaining.

You could play with the add-ins on this one very easily. I think dried apricot and walnut would be lovely. Or perhaps orange zest, pecans, and cardamom in the cookie dough? The possibilities are endless.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Beer Update: Coffee Vanilla Porter and Blueberry Ale

I spent a good hour or so yesterday transferring two batches of beer from their primary fermenters to secondary fermenters (this two-stage fermentation allows the beer to clear a bit before bottling/kegging). My initial fermenters are plastic buckets, and the sendary ones are big 5-gallon glass bottles called carboys.

One is a blueberry ale that I'm making with a friend of mine... the base beer, a cream ale, turned out really nice. I'm a little worried how it'll taste after the addition of two cans of blueberry puree -- the smell isn't phenomenal and the color is nothing short of weird. I don't think we're going to get what we wanted from it... but if it's drinkable, I'll be happy. We wanted an intensely blueberry-flavored beer, so our general attitude was "no guts, no glory". If anything, we'll just age the hell out of it until the fruit mellows.

The second beer is a porter (a dark, toasty beer), to which I added freshly brewed coffee and homemade vanilla extract at the time of racking to the secondary. I have to say I am really excited about this beer. The vanilla seems to have gotten lost in such a deep beer (bummer), but the coffee aroma comes through beautifully. Hopefully it still will when I keg it in two weeks. Maybe the vanilla will still show up in the flavor profile. I could always add more, but I really don't want to overdo it. I thought about throwing a few split vanilla beans into the secondary but I don't wanna fish those babies out, seeing as the carboy has a very narrow neck. I imagine it akin to trying to get my pick out of my guitar when it happens to fall through the hole. :)

So, stay tuned. When the beers are done, I'll post some pics and a review of how they taste.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

MySpace Archives #2: Green Chile Fritatta

Ok, folks... here's another recipe from my old MySpace blog. I figure it's timely in times of growing grocery bills. You can throw this together for literally a couple of dollars. It's very easy to play with the ingredients in this, too. You can leave out the chiles if you don't like them and substitute any sauteed veggies (beware of raw vegetables -- they will give off water when they cook and wreck the fritatta), and use any cheese you like. You could also add meat if you are so inclined -- I bet an italian sausage and sharp cheddar fritatta would be pretty darned awesome on a Sunday brunch lineup.

8 large eggs
1/4 cup milk or cream
1 can fire roasted green chiles
1/4 tsp salt
several grinds of black pepper
4 oz. monterey jack cheese, shredded and split into two portions

In large bowl, beat eggs and milk. Stir in rest of ingredients, but reserve 2 oz. of the cheese for the top of the frittata (later in recipe).

Over medium heat, take an OVEN PROOF skillet and heat 2 TBS of olive oil until hot. Add egg mixture. Stir slowly occasionally to break up the part of the egg that's starting to cook, until you have a mass of what look like undercooked scrambled eggs. The top at this point should still look moist, but you don't want big pools of undercooked egg. Distribute into one even layer, add reserved cheese, and put into the oven on the middle rack. Broil for a few minutes until cheese melts and the top of the frittata starts to brown. The frittata may puff up (even getting one or more very large air bubbles) during cooking, but it will settle substantially after if comes out of the oven.

Allow frittata to cool for a minute or so, then cut into wedges and serve. I served mine with a green salad and corn muffins.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Orange-Walnut Israeli Couscous

Despite this having nothing to do with the dishes that my husband and I ate growing up, this recipe has quickly transported itself into the "comfort food" category in our family. It is quick, inexpensive, and filling. The flavor combination was inspired by traditional Moroccan and Indian flavors, and I was lucky in that I nailed what I was going for on the first try. The only ingredient that you'll have to hunt for is the Iraeli couscous -- it's quite a bit larger than regular couscous. The larger grain gives it a wonderful al dente chewiness. We've found it at some natural food stores in the Twin Cities, but you can also find it online here: . Trader Joes also carries it, but their own brand is a smaller bag and you have to adjust the cooking liquid down by about 1/4 cup, otherwise it works great.
1 8.8 oz bag of Iraeli Couscous
2 TBS olive oil
1 TBS butter
1 medium to large onion, diced very small
Zest and juice from one large orange
2 cups of chicken stock (don't use reduced sodium)
1 tsp garam masala (special Indian spice mixture, most grocery stores carry this)
1/4 cup of chopped walnuts, toasted
In large, deep saucepan warm butter and olive oil over medium high heat until just frothy. Add onion and fry until the onion is deep golden brown. If you don't think you've nearly burned the onion, you haven't cooked it long enough. I've made this dish and not let the onion go as far, and the depth of flavor in the finished product just isn't as good. Add the dry couscous and cook until some of the pasta takes on a golden color as well. It should look like this:

Add the garam masala and stir for a minute to "bloom" the spice. Add orange juice, orange zest, and chicken stock. Stir. Cover, turn heat to very low and cook at a simmer for about 10-12 minutes or until the couscous is cooked through and the cooking liquid is absorbed. You may have to add a little extra stock or orange juice if the liquid all disappears before the pasta is done completely. Stir well, remove from heat, and add the toasted walnuts. Serve.

This dish is wonderful on it's own with a crisp green salad or roasted cauliflower, or as a side dish alongside roasted meats. You could also make it vegetarian/vegan by substituting vegetable broth for the chicken broth, if you want. It would also look great with a little chopped parsely or cilantro thrown in, but the garam masala is a very delicate flavor so I opt to leave it as is.