Monday, August 27, 2012

Grandpa's Cheese Stuffed Meatloaf

     Why does meatloaf get a bad wrap? Is it because of the countless disappointing school lunch meatloaves  made of "mystery meat," or is it just the few bad home cooks that served tasteless hunks of ground meat to their families that bred the common air of discontent? Perhaps it's the name . . . a loaf made up of meat doesn't sound particularly appetising; but when done the right way, it is.  Do you see the cheesy goodness above? Just give this one a shot, and then you be the judge - "good eats" or not.
    While my mother in-law was visiting us this summer, my amazing husband asked her to make her meatloaf. He has fond memories of eating it as a child, and he wanted to share that experience with his wife and kids. So, Grandma made her meatloaf, but she made it Grandpa's way. That is to say that she stuffed the middle with cheese. My mother-in-law said that she probably prefers the meatloaf without, but this is the way that my husband likes it - so this is what he got.
   It's a pretty traditional recipe. I took pictures of her making it, and approximated the measurements (she cooks by feel like me . . . I think all seasoned cooks do). If nothing else, you should try this recipe as a twist to an old favorite. I think I still prefer my meatloaf, but this is nice for a change. - It's also nice to bring up happy childhood memories for my hubby when I can. ;)

Here's how it starts:

She put about 3 pounds of ground beef into a large mixing bowl with one medium onion, diced. (She said she thought it was about 3 pounds. She scooped it out of the big Costco sized package we bought.)

Next comes the bell peppers. I try to always have some already diced and ready to go in the freezer. No need to thaw, as they will do so quickly in the mix. This was 1/2 cup (I actually measured this one.)

Next comes 1 egg and 2 Tbsp of Ketchup.  (How do you spell Ketchup? Catsup, or Ketchup? Silly that some people use both spellings. Decide America! lol OK I'm done.)

A few dashes of Worcestershire sauce go in.

Then the bread crumbs. Does this look like about 2/3 cup? That's what I'm going with. She just poured from the container - wanting to get enough bread crumbs to bind the loaf together.

She also added about 1/2 cup of rolled oats.

Salt and pepper come next. Perhaps 1 tsp of salt and 1/2 tsp of pepper?  This is, as always, to taste.

Then she just started mixing by hand. There really is no other way if you want it really combined well.

While she mixed, I chopped up some cheddar cheese into cubes. I measured this as well - 2/3 cup.

When the meat mixture is thoroughly combined, she dumped it out into a large loaf pan, evened it out and the scooped out the middle.

The cheese gets put into the ditch,

and the meat put back on top.

The whole loaf pan gets put on top of a cookie sheet (in case any grease tries to spill out while baking), and it goes into a 350F oven for 45 minutes.

After 45 minutes, ketchup gets spread on top (or in this case, drizzled on top) and it goes back into the oven for another 15 minutes.  Grandma was trying to make it pretty for my Princess. She likes things drizzled and decorated. She won't eat a hot dog unless it has the ketchup and mustard drizzled back and forth in a zig-zag pattern, just like on TV.

When the meatloaf is done, drain off any grease that has rendered out of the loaf . . .

and serve it up.  (It would probably be best to let it rest for 10-15 minutes, to help it all hold together after cutting, but we were hungry.

This is my piece. A nice cheesy one from the middle.

It's funny. I don't care much for cheeseburgers - but this is basically just a cheese burger baked in a loaf shape. . . Hmm . . . quizzical.  Oh well. No need to hurt my brain trying to figure that one out. All you need to know is that it's yummy. We had ours with baked potatoes and peas, but serve it as you wish.
Here's the recipe:

Grandpa's Meatloaf

3 pounds ground beef
1 medium onion, diced
1/2 cup diced green bell pepper
1 egg
2 Tbsp ketchup
a few dashed of Worcestershire sauce (maybe 10?)
about 2/3 cup bread crumbs
1/2 cup rolled oats
1 tsp salt (to taste)
1/2 tsp black pepper (to taste)
2/3 cup cubed cheddar cheese
ketchup for top

Preheat oven to 350F. Combine all ingredients, except the cheese, in a large mixing bowl. Mix by hand until thoroughly combined. Put unto a large loaf pan and even it out. Scoop out a ditch down the middle and add the cheese in the middle. Replace the meat you scooped out and even it out again. Place on a cookie sheet and bake for 45 minutes. Take out of the oven and top with ketchup. Bake another 15 minutes. Drain off any grease. Let rest 10 minutes and serve hot.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Zucchini Bread (With Chocolate Chips and Without)

In an effort to use up all the zucchini from my garden, I went down a probably obvious path . . . Zucchini Bread! I used one recipe, that made two loaves, and put chocolate chips in the second loaf. I don't know about y'all, but chocolate chips make almost anything better. ;)
  This is a recipe that I concocted by combining a few recipes from my church cook book. It's really simple - and low fat too. But the most important part is that it is very moist and delicious!

Here are the main ingredients:
Zucchini (of course), flour, sugar, salt, eggs, vanilla, cinnamon, nutmeg, applesauce, baking powder, and walnuts (or any nut you choose)
In a large mixing bowl, combine the apple sauce and the eggs.

In goes some vanilla . . .

and then the sugar.

The shredded zucchini comes next. The more zucchini you add, the more moist the bread will be. However, if you add too much, the bread will be too wet - not "good eats."

Next I added the walnuts, but you can wait to add theses at the end if you wish. I wasn't too concerned about them breaking up in the batter.

Just give them a rough chop, and toss them in.

Next comes the baking powder, (You should really sift this, but I am really bad about doing that.)

the salt,

the flour and the cinnamon (sift these too if you like).

Next comes Nutmeg, (I always grind it fresh myself, using my microplane - I love this thing!)

baking soda 

Just stir it all to combine and you're done! Of course, if you would like to add some chocolaty goodness, then by all means do what I did and add chocolate chips! (I just grabbed a small handful from my large Costco sized bag - it looks to be about 1/3 cup.) I poured half of the batter into a prepared loaf pan, and then added the chocolate chips to the remaining half.

(I just sprayed my non-stick loaf pans with a little no-stick spray, just to make sure they would come out.)
Just so that everyone would know which loaf had the chocolate in it, I sprinkled some more chocolate chips on top.

After baking in the oven for about hour, they come out golden brown and beautiful like this.

They need to cool completely in the pans, before you take them out. They are quite delicate - they might break if you take them out when they aren't ready. (My wonderful hubby got up extra early with the kids, and cut into the bread before I could take any pictures. Thankfully, when they started on the second loaf, he was thoughtful enough to snap a shot first. What a guy!)
Here's the recipe:

Zucchini Bread *With Chocolate Chips and Without

3 eggs
1 cup applesauce
2 cups sugar
1 Tbsp vanilla extract
2-3 cups shredded zucchini (Use what you have, but I wouldn't use more than 3 cups)
1/2 to 1 cup chopped walnuts, to taste (any nut would do)
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp freshly ground nutmeg
3 cups flour
about 1/2 cup chocolate chips (optional), divided (for 1 loaf) -this is to taste

Preheat oven to 350F. Whisk together the eggs and applesauce. Add the sugar, vanilla and zucchini, and nuts. Sift together the dry ingredients: salt, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, and flour. Whisk into the zucchini mixture and grate in the nutmeg. Grease 2 regular size loaf pans. Pour half the batter unto one pan. Add 1/3 chocolate chips to the remaining batter in the bowl. Pour into the second loaf pan, and sprinkle the top with the remaining chocolate chips. Bake both loafs @ 350F for about an hour, or until a toothpick or cake tester inserted into the middle comes out clean. Cool completely before removing from the pans.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Fudgy Brownie Cookies (Or Cookie Brownies as we call them)

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In my last post I let you in on my not so secret addiction to cookies. Namely my Chewy Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies with Toasted Walnuts. So, since I'm starting another round of Fat Club this weekend . . . (I'm going to get this weight off again, and keep it off this time!) . . . I thought I would share a couple more cookie recipes while I'm at it.
   This recipe is one that has found a lot of fame on Pinterest. It's a cookie that is make with brownie mix. Since I love brownies out of a box (don't judge!), I thought I would love this cookie. The outcome. A cookie that is fudgy and chocolaty - but not so amazing that I would make them over the traditional brownies. It is nice, though to have little pieces of something to give away. (Cookies pack up and travel better than cut brownies do.)  Most people seem to love this recipe. I really liked it, and it did satiate my chocolate craving - if only for a little while. :)
   I tried this recipe out while visiting my in-laws in Montana. (Remember my super secret trick to decoding my pictures? Blue/White plates = Montana. The pictures always seems little prettier too, because my mother-in-law has great light coming in through the windows in her kitchen. I just put a little plate on the windowsill and it's perfect lighting every time . . . well, as long as the sun is out.) The in-laws all seemed to enjoy these brownie cookies as well.
   Taking a little tangent on the name - The recipe calls them "brownie cookies" but in our family we already have brownie cookies. They are cookies shaped like brownies. (One of these days I will get around to posting that recipe for you. It's one of my favorites.) Our brownie cookies came to be one day when my Handsome Man wanted a sweet treat. I asked him if he wanted brownies or cookies. He said that he wanted brownie cookies. I asked if that meant he wanted a brownie shaped like a cookie, or a cookie shaped like a brownie. He said the latter. I came up with a recipe, he loved it and it went into the family cook book (a very exclusive recipe book/scrapbook). So, this recipe might be called "brownie cookies" to everyone else, but in our family we call them "cookie brownies." Just to clarify. :)

Now, on to the recipe.

Here's all you need:

1 boxed brownie mix, butter, flour, eggs, brown sugar and chocolate chips
Empty the box of brownie mix into a medium to large mixing bowl. The low fat kind isn't necessary, but it makes me feel a little better about eating most of the cookies myself.

Add in the flour, and brown sugar.

Put 1 stick (1/2 cup) of salted butter into a dish to melt. (I like to use a Pyrex measuring cup and melt the butter in the microwave.)

Whisk the dry ingredients together.

Beat up 2 eggs.

Add the eggs to the dry ingredients.

The butter should be melted now. Set it aside to cool for a second.

Add  2 Tbsp of water. (I just used the dish I had the eggs in, and swished the liquid around in the bowl a little before dumping it into the mixing bowl.)

Start stirring, and add the melted butter.

Keep stirring. It doesn't look like it will come together, but keep working it and it will.

When all the ingredients are incorporated, add in the chocolate chips.

Make sure that the chocolate is mixed in well,

and then start scooping.  The original recipe says to chill the batter for 2 hours first, but who are we kidding? I'm not that patient. I used a spoon and scooped a little out.

Then I rolled it into a ball,

and put in on a cookie sheet.

The recipe says to flatten the cookies slightly like this: But I found this unnecessary. All of my cookies (the ones I flattened and the ones I didn't) still came out about the same.

The ones I flattened down spread out more when they cooked.

Let the cookies cool on the baking sheet for a minute before transferring to a wire rack.

My favorite part is the gooey chocolate chips in the middle. Mmmm.

There you have it. Wasn't that easy? And sooo yummy!
Here's the recipe:

 Fudgy Brownie Cookies 

1 package (18 To 21 Oz. Box) Fudge Brownie Mix
1-¼ cup All-purpose Flour 
¼ cups Packed Brown Sugar 
2 whole Eggs 
½ cups Butter, Melted And Cooled 
2 Tablespoons Water, Or More As Needed 
1 cup Chocolate Chunks/Chips

Whisk together brownie mix, flour, and sugar.  Using a heavy spoon, stir in the eggs one at a time, followed by butter and 2 tablespoons water. If the batter appears like there is too much flour, add 1 more tablespoon of water. Batter will be very thick. Fold in chocolate chunks/chips. Cover and refrigerate for 2 hours. (I skipped this step. If you chill the batter the cookies will be thicker.) Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a cookie sheet. Drop heaping tablespoons of dough on the cookie sheet. You want pretty thick cookies here to get the brownie feel, about 3 inches apart. Press down slightly. Don’t flatten completely. Bake for 8-10 minutes. Remove from oven, allow to cool 2 minutes on cookie sheet. Transfer to a cooling rack to cool completely.