Sunday, June 26, 2011

“Ritzy” Meatloaf with Sweet Ketchup Glaze

This recipe (slightly modified by me) comes from an issue of Cooks Illustrated Magazine. It makes the very best meatloaf I have ever made and maybe the best I have ever eaten! The onions and garlic are sauteed before adding to the meat (no more crunchy veggies!). The beef and pork take a spin in the food processor to give the finished product a smooth, velvety texture. And by letting the meatloaf cook free form, as opposed to in a loaf pan, the fat and juices are allowed to drain- no more “greasy” meatloaf! Oh, and please do not forget about the glaze- wow! It’s just pure yumminess! Please give this meatloaf a try! Everyone in my family LOVES it!

1 c. ketchup
1/4 c. packed brown sugar
2 1/2 Tbl. cider vinegar
1/2 tsp Tabasco

2 tsp. olive oil
1 onion, chopped fine
2 to 4 garlic cloves, minced
20 Ritz crackers
1/2 c. milk
1 lb. lean ground beef
1 lb. ground pork
2 eggs plus 1 yolk
1 Tbl dijon mustard
2 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
1/2 tsp dried thyme
1/4 c. dried parsely
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. pepper

For the glaze:
Whisk all ingredients in a saucepan until sugar dissolves. Simmer over medium heat till glaze slightly thickens (about 5 minutes). Reserve 1/4 glaze from the rest.

Saute chopped onions in olive oil over medium heat for five minutes. Add garlic and cook for another minute or two. Set cooked onions and garlic aside.

Adjust oven racks to the upper (about four inches away from the broiler) and middle positions. Turn oven on to broil. Line a lipped baking pan with foil and spray with cooking spray.

Place all the Ritz crackers and milk in a food processor. Process until smooth. Add beef & pork to food processor and pulse meat until smooth and combined with crackers & milk (about ten 1-second pulses). Transfer meat mixture to another bowl. Add eggs and yolk, mustard, Worcestershire, thyme, parsley, salt, pepper and cooled onions & garlic. Take off your rings and dig your hands in (this can get pretty darn messy! So, I suggest mixing close to the sink!)...mix until everything is completely combined.

Transfer the meat mixture to the prepared baking pan. Mold the mixture into a 9 X 5 inch loaf shape (you do not have to be exact). Place meatloaf into the oven on upper rack and broil for about 5 minutes. Remove from oven and brush 2 Tbl of the glaze over the top and sides of the meatloaf. Return meatloaf to the upper rack and broil for another 2 minutes.

Take the meatloaf out of the oven. Reduce cooking temperature to 350F. Brush meatloaf with another 2 Tbl glaze and return immediately to oven. Bake for 40 - 45 minutes. Transfer meatloaf to a cutting board and tent it with foil. Let it stand for 20 minutes. Slice meatloaf and serve with the rest of the glaze. Finish this dish with mashed potatoes, green beans & a nice piece of crusty bread. Enjoy!

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Broccoli Salad

This chilled salad is just so yummy! A perfect side dish to serve during the hot summer months! If you are making this for a large crowd, you might want to double the recipe. Please make sure your broccoli is completely dry after rinsing (I put mine in the salad spinner to make sure there is no water left).

1 c. real mayo (do not use “lite”- yuck!)
1/4 c. sugar
2 Tbl red wine vinegar
2 Tbl shallots, finely minced
2 large heads of raw broccoli, stems removed, cut into small bite sized pieces
1 red bell pepper, finely diced
1/2 c. sliced almonds
1/2 c. raisins
4 to 6 slices of bacon, cooked and finely chopped

Saute shallots in a tiny bit of olive oil for about 5 -7 minutes- this will take the pungency/bite out of the raw shallot.

In a large bowl, combine mayo, sugar and vinegar. Whisk together till smooth. Add raw broccoli, bell pepper, sauteed shallots, raisins, almonds and cooked chopped bacon. Toss well. Chill for at least two hours. Give it a good toss one final time before serving. This is really a delicious way to eat your broccoli!

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Sweet & Spicy Snack Mix

These sweet and spicy nuts and seeds are a great mix to serve at a party or simply for snacking! Use three cups of your favorite nuts and seeds. In this recipe I used one cup of raw cashews, one cup of raw almonds, 1/2 cup of pepitas and 1/2 cup of sunflower seeds. Other nuts I think would work well are pecans, pistachios and peanuts. I like to use raw, unsalted nuts because I add a lot of spices and salt- no need to over-do it! Chipotle chili powder gives a great smokey flavor to the mix...if you cannot find this, just use a total of 1 tsp chili powder (but do try to find it! You can discover lots of unique spices in the bulk sections of Central Market and Whole Foods). This recipe gives off the right amount of heat for me...but, if you are like my husband and enjoy things very hot, then feel free to add another 1/2 tsp of the chipotle chili powder to the spice mixture.

1/4 c. sugar
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp chili powder
1/2 tsp chipotle chili powder
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1 large egg white
3 c. of nuts and/or seeds (almonds, cashews, peanuts, pecans, pepitas, sunflower seeds, pistachios- chose your favorite combination!)

Preheat oven to 325F.

Combine the first six ingredients in a little bowl- mix well.

Put egg white in another bowl and whisk until foamy. Add all the nuts and toss well to coat. Sprinkle the spice mixture over the "eggy" nuts and mix well ensuring the nuts and seeds are evenly coated with the spices. Spread nut mixture on a baking sheet coated with cooking spray.

Bake for 15 minutes at 325, stirring half way through. Turn off the oven and stir nuts again. Let sit in the oven for an additional 15 minutes. Remove pan from oven and let nuts cool completely. Store nuts in a sealed container for up to one week. Enjoy!

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Chilled Bell Pepper Soup

This soup is very refreshing and is the perfect soup to serve during the hot summer months! It is also very rich (due to the buttermilk) so I recommend serving as a side dish. There are very few ingredients (which is always good!), yet this healthful soup is full of flavor. Use only red, yellow or orange bell peppers (do not use green!)...I used one of each just for fun! :)

4 Tbl butter
3 bell peppers, red, orange or yellow (NOT green!), chopped
2 leeks, white & pale green parts only, chopped
2 c. vegetable broth
1 1/2 c. chilled buttermilk
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
chives, chopped (optional for garnish)

Melt butter in a large soup pot. Add chopped leeks & bell peppers. Saute veggies for 20 minutes. Add broth. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, cover and simmer for 15 minutes.

Puree veggie broth mixture in a blender (take out the center part of the blender top to let steam escape; cover with a clean kitchen towel). Puree until smooth. Let puree cool for 30 minutes. Add buttermilk, cayenne pepper, salt & pepper.

Chill for at least 3 hours before serving. Garnish with chopped chives.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Doden's Bolognese Sauce

This is my husband's grandmother, Doden's, recipe. And even though Doden herself never made this for me, my mother in law, Mary, has a million times. I finally asked Mary for the recipe so I could make it myself. I have tweaked the original recipe ever so slightly adding an extra can of mushrooms and sugar. This recipe makes a TON of sauce. It's a real crowd pleaser (who doesn't like bolognese!?) and I often make it for friends who have just had a baby or for large family gatherings. I serve it with a good crusty bread and a side salad.

2 Tbl canola oil
1/2 a yellow onion, thinly sliced
4 cloves garlic, minced
2- 1lb cans of crushed tomatoes
1 16oz can of tomato sauce
1 c. water
1 lb ground beef
1/4 cup parsley, finely chopped
2 tsp salt
2 Tbl sugar
2 tsp Italian spice mix
1/2 tsp. dried thyme
2- 3 oz cans of mushrooms
1 16 oz can whole black olives
2 bay leaves

Over medium heat, add oil to a large pot. Add onions and cook for 6 minutes. Add garlic and cook for 2 more minutes. Add both cans of crushed tomatoes, tomato sauce & water to pot.

Adding the raw beef:
Let sauce get quite hot- to the point where it would be too hot to sip off the spoon, but not boiling. It is important to get the tomato sauce hot like this because I add the raw beef to the hot tomato sauce to give the beef that smooth, velvety texture when it cooks. If the sauce is not hot, the beef will not cook as quickly and will therefore be “lumpy”. The thing that makes this sauce so delicious is that the meat seems to disappear in a way- it is smooth and very fine. So, crumble the raw ground beef into the hot tomato sauce- I add about 1/3 of the meat at a time. With a wooden spoon, stir stir stir after each meat addition until you see that the meat is very smooth and there are no lumps. I think I sit in front of the sauce for at least 5 minutes just stirring the lumps out of the raw meat.

Okay, after the meat is smooth, the rest is super easy! Add the parsley, spices, salt & sugar, olives, mushrooms and bay leaves. Simmer, stirring occasionally, for 3 hours.

Serve sauce over your family’s favorite pasta (we like angel hair). We always eat this dish with a big dollop of cottage cheese on the side. My husband’s step dad, John, is Italian. He taught us about this yummy accompaniment- he calls it “poor man’s lasagna”. It’s super good!

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

NY Times Best Chocolate Chip Cookies

A friend recently told me the NY Times published a recipe for the best chocolate chip cookies ever a few years, I googled it, found the recipe, made them and COMPLETELY agree! Oh mercy, these truly are the best cookies! Yes, they are a bit involved (you need cake & bread flours and you have to refrigerate the dough before baking)- but, they are absolutely delicious! Each cookie gets a little sprinkling of sea salt before baking, too. I think the salt really sets them apart! Please know that I have very little patience when it comes to baking and I only waited 3 hours before baking- they were still phenomenal! Also, I didn't have chocolate disks and used regular semi-sweet chocolate chips. Here is the recipe straight from the NY Times website:

NY Times Best Chocolate Chip Cookie Recipe

Time: 45 minutes (for 1 6-cookie batch), plus at least 24 hours’ chilling

2 cups minus 2 tablespoons (8 1/2 ounces) cake flour

1 2/3 cups (8 1/2 ounces) bread flour

1 1/4 teaspoons baking soda

1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1 1/2 teaspoons coarse salt

2 1/2 sticks (1 1/4 cups) unsalted butter

1 1/4 cups (10 ounces) light brown sugar

1 cup plus 2 tablespoons (8 ounces) granulated sugar

2 large eggs

2 teaspoons natural vanilla extract

1 1/4 pounds bittersweet chocolate disks

Sea salt.

1. Sift flours, baking soda, baking powder and salt into a bowl. Set aside.

2. Using a mixer fitted with paddle attachment, cream butter and sugars together until very light, about 5 minutes. Add eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Stir in the vanilla. Reduce speed to low, add dry ingredients and mix until just combined, 5 to 10 seconds. Drop chocolate pieces in and incorporate them without breaking them. Press plastic wrap against dough and refrigerate for 24 to 36 hours. Dough may be used in batches, and can be refrigerated for up to 72 hours.

3. When ready to bake, preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a nonstick baking mat. Set aside.

4. Scoop 6 3 1/2-ounce mounds of dough (the size of generous golf balls) onto baking sheet, making sure to turn horizontally any chocolate pieces that are poking up; it will make for a more attractive cookie. Sprinkle lightly with sea salt and bake until golden brown but still soft, 18 to 20 minutes. Transfer sheet to a wire rack for 10 minutes, then slip cookies onto another rack to cool a bit more. Repeat with remaining dough, or reserve dough, refrigerated, for baking remaining batches the next day. Eat warm, with a big napkin.

Yield: 1 1/2 dozen 5-inch cookies.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Chimichurri Sauce with Pecans

I really like the versatility of this chimichurri sauce. I served it last week with steak, but, it would also taste delicious on chicken, grilled veggies and even pasta! It was a last minute decision to add pecans...I think they really add to the sauce! Enjoy!

6-8 garlic cloves, peeled
1 head of fresh cilantro leaves (minus the little stems)
1/2 c. of fresh parsley leaves
1/2 tsp crushed red chilies
1 tsp pepper
2 Tbl. balsamic vinegar
rind from one small lime, grated on a microplane
juice from above lime
1 Tbl soy sauce
3/4 c. raw pecans
1/3 c. extra virgin olive oil

Get out your blender and throw in everything but the olive oil. Blend well (will be a little thick). Slowly add the olive oil. Blend. Serve with steak, chicken, veggies or pasta!

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Corn Chowder

I know what you’re thinking: What on earth is she doing making a hot corn chowder in the heat of June? Yes well, I’m certain this recipe will be an even bigger hit come the cold months...BUT, we had a BBQ a few days ago and I had three delicious ears of corn on the cob left over- I just couldn’t bear to throw it away! I know there are lots of summer salads that call for corn...but, I decided to go with the chowder...and let me tell you, I’m glad I did! Oh boy is this soup good! I mean really, how can you top corn, potatoes, cheese and bacon all in one dish? How ‘bout adding a nice chunk of crusty sourdough bread to dip into it? Delish!

6 slices of bacon, chopped
2 Tbl. butter
2 Tbl. extra virgin olive oil
1 large yellow onion, diced
1/4 c. flour
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1/2 tsp tumeric
6 cups chicken broth
3 medium baking potatoes, peeled & diced
3 cups corn kernels, fresh or frozen
1 c. half & half
1 c. shredded cheddar cheese
3 green onions, sliced (optional)

Cook the chopped bacon in a large soup pot until crisp. Using a slotted spoon, remove the bacon and set aside (to be used as a garnish). Drain pot of all bacon grease except 1 tsp (basically just enough to coat the bottom of the pot). Add butter & olive oil to pan. Add diced onions. Cook on medium heat, stirring every few minutes, for 10 minutes.

Stir in flour, salt, pepper & tumeric. Whenever adding flour to a dish, you must make sure you cook it a bit or else it will give your soup that “raw” flour taste. Cook flour & spices for three minutes. Slowly add 6 cups of chicken broth to pan, stirring the whole time. Add potatoes and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer. Simmer for 20 minutes uncovered.

Add the corn and heat through. Add the half & half and cheese. Heat gently for five minutes (do not allow the chowder to boil once you have added the half & half and cheese).

Ladle soup into bowl. Top with chopped bacon & green onion slices, if using. Remember to serve this soup with crusty bread...oh so good!