Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Veggie Packed Meatloaf

I haven't made meatloaf in forever and thought it would be yummy so I decided to make it. This time to be a bit healthier, I decided to add some veggies to my meatloaf. I really enjoyed the results. I have to warn you here that I am trying to watch our sodium a bit, so if you choose to make this, you can adjust the recipe to add more salt. This is a good way to sneak veggies into kids, you could even puree the veggies if you wanted to before adding them to the meat so they can't be identified. I like to leave them like they are though.

Veggie packed Meatloaf

2 tablespoons of butter
1 cup of finely diced onion
1 rib of celery, finely diced
1 carrot, diced finely
3-4 cloves of garlic, minced
½ of an 8oz can of tomato sauce
1 cup of breadcrumbs
2 eggs, large
2 pounds of ground beef

Preheat your over to 350 degrees. In a saute pan over medium heat, melt butter and then add the diced celery, onion and carrot. Saute for 3-5 minutes allowing the veggies to soften. Turn the heat down a bit and then cover and let the veggies continue to soften for 3-5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Turn the heat back up to medium and add the minced garlic, allowing it to cook for a minute or two. You can also add a bit of salt here if you would like. Then add the half can of tomato sauce cooking for another minute. Set aside and let cool. Crack the two eggs into a small bowl and lightly beat them. In a large bowl, add the beaten eggs, ground beef, breadcrumbs, and the cooled veggie/tomato mixture. Mix the meatloaf mixture with your hands until everything is mixed well.

Now you’re ready to form your meatloaf and place it in a pan. I chose to use a sheet pan and free form my loaf. I like this way the best. You could also choose to use cupcake tins, though the cooking time would be quicker. Bake for one hour. Top with desired amount of ketchup (I like a good amount) and bake for about 10-15 minutes more.

Handy Tip #1: I advise you to check any meats you cook with a meat thermometer just to be extra safe. Fully cooked according to this website that I found online here is 160 degrees.

Handy Tip #2: Use parchment paper on your sheet pan for easy clean up.

Handy Tip #3: you could also use ketchup in place of the tomato sauce. I chose to use no salt added tomato sauce because I am trying to watch our sodium intake somewhat. I never really realized how high in sodium ketchup is. Feel free to sub it in place if you’d rather. Also, feel free to add more salt to this recipe as I didn’t really add much.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Cookbook Review: My Perfect Pantry

I recently received My Perfect Pantry by Geoffrey Zakarian with Amy Stevenson and Margaret Zakarian. You may know him from the Food Network if you watch that channel often. I was really intrigued by the books premise of “150 easy recipes from 50 essential ingredients.”

Zakarian starts off the cookbook with foundation items to have on hand. These are various spices and such to have on hand to help your dishes have more flavor. Then he heads right into the meat of the cookbook, the pantry. He gives recipes for such common items as bbq sauce, rice, ketchup, honey, vinegar and more. There are many beautiful pictures of the food in the cookbook. I have to say, that’s a very important feature to me. I like to see what a recipe looks like before I decided to make it. There are exceptions to that, but they are rare.

There are some yummy sounding recipes in the book like Supercharged Chicken Wings, Huevos Rancheros, Veal and Bean Casserole, and even Chocolate-Dipped Candied Oranges. Those oranges look so yummy and you actually use real oranges to make them. They would be a neat thing to add to your Christmas trays. I will do my best to try and make those and post them here soon in case you all want to try them also.

Some of the recipes are a bit out of my family’s tastes, such as the aforementioned Veal and Bean Casserole. However, substitutions can be made in many things like that. I plan to make that recipe and sub out a different meat because the picture of it looked delicious. I definitely would recommend checking out this book and seeing if you might enjoy adding it to your collection. There are many tasty sounding recipes inside!

Want some more information about this cookbook? Go here.

Disclaimer: I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review. However, these opinions are my own.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Cookbook Review: The Kitchn Cookbook

My newest cookbook to review came today. It’s called The Kitchn Cookbook by Sara Kate Gillingham and Faith Durand. It’s a very nice sized hardback book. I wasn’t quite sure what to expect in this cookbook, but it looked very interesting. About half of this book is how to set up your kitchen, tools, stocking your pantry, meal planning and some essential skills. It has tons of information in that first half, and even gives you a peek into other people’s kitchens, which is really neat. I really enjoyed taking a peak into other people’s kitchens!

Included in this first section are a few recipes for homemade cleaning supplies, which are always handy since they are more natural than the chemical based cleaners in the store. There is also a daily cleaning plan for a constantly clean kitchen. The authors also cover basic kitchen sanitation.

The section on essential skills is very interesting and would be great for those learning to cook or want to expand a few more skills. This makes this a great book for newlyweds or those people first starting out. It really gives a great amount of information. There are instructions on how to hold a chef’s knife, how to deglaze a pan, how to thicken a sauce, how to cut up a chicken and so much more!

I have to say, I felt there weren’t as many recipes as I would like to have seen. However, the recipes that are there look delicious and are full of healthy ingredients. There’s a recipe for Smoky Tomato Sauce, Overnight (No Knead) bread, Roasted Tomatillo Salsa, Horseradish ketchup (and this isn’t just adding horseradish to already bought ketchup, you’re making it from scratch using canned diced tomatoes), Slow Cooker Garlic Chicken and more.

This really seems like a great book to add to your collection. Just don’t expect the whole thing to be recipes. It is pretty much half kitchen tips, etc. and half recipes.

Want some more information about this cookbook? Go here.

Disclaimer: I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review. However, these opinions are my own.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Cookbook Review: The Skinnytaste Cookbook

I have been very excited to get my copy of The Skinnytaste Cookbook by Gina Homolka with Heather K. Jones, R.D. First let me say that the book is pretty good size. There’s a little over 300 pages and it’s hardback. The book is filled with beautiful pictures of many of the recipes. The author starts the book with “The Skinny Basics” which gives some great tips on eating healthy. She talks about making a plan, keeping it simple, portion size, and giving your kitchen a skinny makeover.

Most recipes have a picture along with it. Which I always feel is such a plus in a cookbook. We eat with our eyes and it’s difficult to know if we want to make something if we don’t know what the recipe looks like. So I was very happy that Ms. Homolka included so many.

Some recipes that really stood out to me were Make-Ahead Western Omelet Muffins, Too-Good-to-be-true Baked Potato Soup, “Un”Stuffed Cabbage Soup, Chicken Philly Cheesesteaks, Loaded “Nacho” Potato Skins, Turkey Santa Fe Taco Salad with Avocado Crema, Chicken Marsala on the Lighter Side,So-Addicted Chicken Enchiladas, black bean burrito bowls and so much more! So many things look good and they feature ingredients that are easy to find.

I’m hoping to make another recipe very soon from one of the cookbooks I have already reviewed. Hopefully I can soon get to where I am posting the recipe along with the cookbook review. I just need to get better organized. :) This seems like a great cookbook and I will be sure to post a recipe from it soon to update y'all on what I thought.

Want some more information about this cookbook? Go here.

Disclaimer: I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review. However, these opinions are my own.

Monday, September 29, 2014

Cookbook Review: The Homesick Texan's Family Table

I don’t know about you but I love Mexican food and many of the spinoffs of it. Things like enchiladas, Mexican rice, and guacamole are some of my favorite things to eat. So you can imagine how excited I was to receive The Homesick Texan’s Family Table by Lisa Fain. This book is full of so many yummy sounding tex-mex recipes!

What kinds of recipes did I find inside? Instructions for tamales as well as recipes are included. I once made tamales with a couple of friends and it was so fun! There are recipes for fajitas and enchiladas. Then there are kicked up classics like Chipotle Chicken and Dumplings and Jalapeno Fried Chicken. Chapter 7 includes hot sauce and salsa recipes as well as several others. There is a nice section on chile peppers that describes different types and how to use them. There are even directions on making your own chili powder and roasting fresh chiles.

If you enjoy these types of food, I highly recommend you checking out this cookbook. I am glad to have it added to my collection and look forward to making something from it soon. I will make sure and post back here to let you know all about the recipe I make.

Want some more information? Go here.

Disclaimer: I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review. However, these opinions are my own.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Beef Stew from My Irish Table Cookbook

I’m finally getting around to my first recipe from one of the cookbooks I reviewed. I really am sorry it took so long, but life has been pretty hectic lately. My husband and I are both back in school full-time and we have begun homeschooling our oldest. This recipe is from My Irish Table by Cathal Armstrong and David Hagedorn. You can find my review of the cookbook here.

Beef Stew
Serves 6

1.5 pounds of beef stew meat cut into 1-inch cubes
Kosher Salt and freshly ground pepper
2 tablespoons canola oil
1 yellow onion, diced
4 carrots, peeled and diced
4 celery stalks, diced
8 cloves of garlic, roughly chopped
1 tablespoons all-purpose flour
3 cups of veal demi-glace or store bought beef broth
1 serrano chile, coarsely chopped, with seeds
3 large bay leaves
2 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme leaves
1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary leaves

Brown the beef: Pat the beef cubes dry on all sides with paper towels and season well with salt and pepper. In a large slope-sided sauté pan over medium-high heat, heat the oil until it shimmers. Distribute the beef evenly in the bottom of the pan without crowding it and don’t disturb it for several minutes. If you stir the pieces too soon, they will release water and the meat will boil instead of browning. After 3 or 4 minutes, turn the cubes over and brown them on the other side for another 3 or 4 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the meat to a flameproof casserole and return the pan to heat.

Sweat the vegetables: Add the onion, carrots, and celery, stirring them with a flat-edged wooden spatula. As the vegetables cook, water will release and deglaze the pan. Use the spatula to scrape up brown bits from the bottom of the pan. Sweat the vegetables for 4 or 5 minutes, until translucent but still a bit firm. Stir in the garlic and cook for 1 minute.

Cook the stew: Stir in the flour and allow it to brown lightly for about 2 minutes. Add the demi-glace, scraping up any brown bits from the bottom of the pan. Stir in the serrano chile, bay leaves, thyme, and rosemary. Transfer the vegetables to the casserole and bring it to a boil over medium-high heat. Lower the heat to medium, cover the pot, and braise the meat slowly for 2 hours, until it is very tender. Adjust the salt and pepper seasoning to taste. Serve hot. The stew can be made 2 days ahead and reheated gently on the stove or in the oven at 300 degrees for 30 to 40 minutes.

My thoughts:
This stew was wonderful. I served it over mashed potatoes. Yum! The flavors were so good and it really came together pretty quickly. Your biggest thing time wise is the braising time and the chopping of vegetables. I did make a few changes, nothing major because I wanted it to be as close to the original recipe as possible. However, I try to limit our sodium so I chose to use no salt beef stock and add my own salt. I also used jalapeno instead of serrano. I was worried the serrano might be too spicy for us. I used dried herbs instead of fresh because that’s what I had on hand and I cooked it all in the same pot. There’s really no need to dirty up two pots here. I have a 5 quart heavy bottomed pot with a lid that I used.

I also want to note than when I left it on medium for the braising, I came back to stir it after awhile and it had started to stick and lose liquid. I actually had to add water to it at that time. So I wouldn’t leave this on medium for the braising but YMMV depending on how your stove and pot cooks. This does not make a super big pot of stew. It really is about 6 servings, maybe less depending on appetites. So if you want leftovers, you may want to double this.

If this recipe is any indication of the other recipes in this cookbook, you’re in store for some tasty things if you chose to add this beautiful cookbook to your collection.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Cookbook Review: The Chopped Cookbook

How many of you watch Food Network? I'm guessing there are quite a few of you that do! One of my favorite shows to watch is Chopped, so I was excited to get to review The Chopped Cookbook. I do have a recipe planned to make from this book to share with you soon. I am hoping to get caught up on my cookbook review recipes by the end of next week. I have a recipe ready from each book to share with you, just need more time in the day!

One of the neat things about this book is that the recipes all seemed to have easy to find ingredients, so nothing crazy like the show. The book begins with a pantry list of items that are good to have on hand. There is a good variety in the cookbook with chapters on a variety of meals. The chapters that are included in the book are: Pasta Night, Chickens Gone Wild, Eggs after Breakfast, Flash in the Pan (meaty entrees), Completely Fun Ways to Cook Vegetables, All Things Ground: Beyond Beef, Big Salads: Hearty and Fresh, Fishing for Compliments, Great Grains and Short and Sweet: Easy Desserts.

One thing I really enjoyed were these go-to guides included along the book. One entitled Ten Fun Pan Sauces, helps you to create tasty sauces to go along with your dish. Then another is called Vinaigrettes & Salad Dressings, giving some quick recipes for making your own dressings. The third is called Cooking Grains and gives you different styles and ways of cooking grains, as well as recipes for several different types. Another section is called Getting Good Vegetables and lists a variety of vegetables. This guide helps you know what to look for, how to store the veggie and even what nutrients are prominent in the veggie. These sections were a great addition to the cookbook, especially for beginner cooks who might need more information.

If you love Chopped and the Food Network, I think you would enjoy having this cookbook in your collection. Lots of good ideas in here for meals that generally aren't very complicated. If you would like more information go here.

Disclaimer: I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review. However, these opinions are my own.

Friday, July 11, 2014

Cookbook Review: The B.T.C. Old-Fashioned Grocery Cookbook

I recently received The B.T.C. Old-Fashioned Grocery Cookbook by Alexe Van Beuren with recipes by Dixie Grimes to review from Blogging for Books. I'm planning on making a recipe from it to share with you a bit later. I still need to make one from the Irish cookbook I reviewed, but it's summer vacation and school starts back soon so I haven't had a chance to do it yet. I will try to asap though. :)

Anyway, back to the review. This is a very nicely bound book with a very neat cover that has a ridged feel to it. Very unique! The B.T.C. Old Fashioned Grocery is a store and cafe in Water Valley, Mississippi, owned by Alexe Van Beuren and her husband. Dixie Grimes is the chef for the cafe part of the store and cooks up many customer favorites. I have to say, that Mrs. Van Beuren made me fall in love with this little town. I literally read every bit that she wrote throughout this book, falling more and more in love with this town and it's people. I even had my husband do a trip calculator to see how far away it is. Only about six hours, so maybe one of these days I will be able to visit.

The recipes sounded very yummy. There are several that called for alcohol, and I am not big on cooking with it. I don't really ever have it on hand, but I am sure substitutions could be made. The recipes included everything from Chocolate Gravy, Roasted Pumpkin Soup, two versions of homemade pimento cheese to Shrimp and Grits. Many recipes had pictures and the book also featured pictures of various things/people from the town and store.

This really was an enjoyable book. The stories of this wonderful town were so enjoyable that the recipes were just an added bonus. I think it would be a great book for anyone's collection!

You can find the B.T.C. Old Fashioned Grocery on Facebook.

Read the first chapter here.

Disclaimer: I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review. However, these opinions are my own.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Cookbook Review: My Irish Table

I'm very excited to be back at my blog, and begin reviewing books! I recently signed up to be a book reviewer at Blogging for Books and received my first book to review. It is called My Irish Table by Cathal Armstrong and David Hagedorn. Ireland has always interested me so it was a no brainer that I picked this book to review. I hope one day I can visit and explore the beauty of Ireland.

I want to begin with saying that the book itself is very beautiful. It's hardcover with wonderful pictures of just about every recipe in the book. I'm hoping to make a recipe from the book to share with you later this week. So make sure to keep an eye out for that post. There is a very neat introduction that gives Cathal Armstrong's story, and it is very interesting.

You won't find a bunch of processed, canned ingredients in this book. Recipes are from scratch. Armstrong informs you how to even make your own sausage and pork loin bacon. I was also very impressed with his instruction for each recipe. He breaks it into steps that are very easy to follow. Also accompanying each recipe is a short bit about what the recipe means to him or stories about his memories about that particular food. It really helps to invite you in and become a part of his experiences. He also includes step-by-step photos of certain recipes such as how to shuck an oyster or tying up a chicken to roast it.

I have to say that if you are interested in Ireland at all, I do feel that you would enjoy this book. With tidbits about his family (he was born in Dublin) and his experiences with food to the beautiful pictures of the recipes, I just can't recommend this book enough. I'm very glad to now have this book in my cookbook collection.

Want more info about the book? Look here.

Disclaimer: I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review. However, these opinions are my own.