Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Recipe and some other stuff

There are some funny articles out there.

Steph: Make sure Danny reads this one.
The Newborn Ultimatum gives my new favorite phrase: my baby "has about as much common sense as a bag of Britneys"

Here is my FAVORITE meat loaf recipe. This was our Christmas Eve meal for many years, despite Amy's protests. Alann really likes this recipe too, which makes me happy. We got this recipe I think in the mail or maybe attached to a can of soup when I was young, as in less than 10 years old. This is one of the first recipes that I was allowed to cook by myself, at least that I remember. (Of course, this doesn't count the "soup" that Amy and I used to "cook" in the backyard- made of random bits of vegetables we could steal, leaves, dirt, and the rare find- a duck egg. I don't think our parents appreciated our soup, especially after it had cooked for a couple of weeks with a duck egg in it.) I don't think I have ever been a fan of ketchup on meatloaf, and especially not since I learned that there is another way to make it. I will first present the original recipe, followed by my variations.

"Classic Meat Loaf"
1 can Cream of Mushroom Soup
1 1/2 pounds ground beef (though since I have never been good at reading or following recipes, we usually used 1 pound and it turned out fine.)
1/2 cup dry bread crumbs (used to use the kind you buy at the store. These days I just toast some bread and make crumbs in my mini food processor.)
1 small onion, finely chopped (don't use too much onion, the finer the chop the better the meatloaf holds together later)
1 T worchestershire sauce
1 egg, beaten (I never pre-beat it.)
1/8 tsp pepper (who measures pepper anyway?)
3/4 cup water

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. (This is listed as step two, after mixing the ingredients, which has caught me off guard more times that I care to relate.)
2. Mix 1/2 cup of the soup (I have always used half the can. See, I can't follow recipes), beef, bread crumbs, onion, worchestershire sauce, egg, and pepper. In 13" x 9" pan, firmly shape meat into 8"x 4" loaf. (I use my hands for the mixing through shaping part. They work better than a spoon.)
3. Bake at 350 degrees for 1 1/4 hour (this always throws me. It's an hour and 15 minutes.) Spoon off fat, reserving 1-2 T of the drippings. (Let the meat sit for 5-10 minutes so it can firm up a little. You can also poke it with a meat thermometer and just cook it until it reaches the right temp- 160 for beef I believe.)
4. In 1 qt saucepan over medium heat, combine remaining soup, water, and reserved drippings. Heat to boiling, stirring occasionally. Serve sauce with meat loaf. Makes 6 servings (that is 6 4 oz servings. Alann and I have been known to eat at least half of this, with 4 people easily finishing it off.)

That's the basic recipe. You know me though, I can't ever leave well enough alone.
The recipe is from Campbell's, so they say to use Campbell's cream of mushroom. I use whatever brand is on sale with no problems.

For the meat- We buy 80-20 ground beef, unless there is a good sale on the leaner stuff. I wish we could afford the leaner stuff, but I wouldn't go any leaner than 90-10 or this will probably not stay together. We usually freeze our meat in 1 pound portions, so that is what I usually use. I have made this with half ground turkey and half ground beef, but our favorite variation is 1 pound of ground beef and 1/3 pound of hot (spicy) breakfast type sausage (we buy Jimmy Dean). (Again, these measurements are convenient to us because this is the portion we freeze our meat in. I usually buy a 1 pound log of sausage and cut it into thirds. If you cut off the metal bands before you freeze it, you can just pop the whole thing in the mic to thaw. Why didn't I think of this earlier?)

Sometimes I add 1/2 C or so (I am making that measurement up. I never measure) of frozen chopped spinach. You can thaw it first or not. This makes me feel a little better about the health quotient of the meatloaf, but isn't necessary.

I also like to put in some garlic powder and maybe some chili powder. Not too much, just enough for a little more flavor. With the sausage, fennel seed is also a nice addition.

As far as the baking vessel is concerned- I have made the meatloaf according to the recipe (smaller loaf shaped in bigger pan). All the fat runs out of it, which is good if you are watching your fat intake, but sometimes the meatloaf ends up a little dry. It is also easy to cut and serve portions. I have also cooked it in the crockpot on a bed of sliced onions for 8 hours on low. The onions lend flavor and allow the meat to stay out of the fat. Omit the onions from the recipe if you do this. Usually though, I throw it in the oven in a loaf pan. The fat mostly comes to the top, where you can pour it off for use in the gravy or just to get rid of it. This allows some of the fat to stay in the meat, while still getting rid of most of it.

I very rarely add the drippings into the gravy anymore. I'm getting health conscious in my old age. I'm not sure what they add to the flavor of the gravy, and don't notice a difference between when I use it and when I don't.

If you are feeling really fancy, you can top the meatloaf with more breadcrumbs for a more defined crust. I have also used saltines in place of the breadcrumbs, but that was before I was making my own bread, and bread supplies were at a premium.

So there you go. This is my meatloaf recipe. I know Teene wanted it, and so I figured I would just put it here.

I had a doctor's appointment yesterday. He said "have fun" when I reminded him I am going to Phoenix next week. My sugar is high, but he said it was probably the pasta I had for lunch. If it's high again in two weeks then he is going to make me do the blood sugar test again. Otherwise, all is well. Alann was trying to hear Claire's heartbeat by putting his ear to my belly, which some sources say is possible at this point. She promptly kicked him in the ear. When she is really active, you can watch my belly move around like there is an alien about to pop out or something. It's funny. She has a favorite spot to kick- right above my belly button. I have a perma-bruise there. It is always sore from the constant kicking.

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