December 7, 2010

A Matter of Taste!

The Maine House is making classic comforts tonight!

I don't know whoever blessed this "dish" with the name "meatloaf?" It certainly does not sound good to me....it sounds heavy, chunky and just a like a huge amount of beef! Totally unappetizing! Yet, it can be the ultimate comfort food when you have a really good recipe. And the secret to a good meatloaf...a good, quality combination of beef, pork or turkey, hand-mixing (clean hands please and get in there and "squish") and simple ingredients!

There is no denying that meatloaf is an American classic. There are very few homes across the country that haven't seen meatloaf grace the dinner table. Even your local restaurant will likely carry their own version of meatloaf. (I very rarely try meatloaf in a restaurant, but Cracker Barrel is the exception). It doesn't matter whether you need a quick meal for your family or a hearty dinner, meatloaf is a great option and can be prepared to the taste of any family.There are an overwhelming amount of options for low fat, low carb or straight up healthy recipes available. The old fashioned meat loaf recipe that is based on oatmeal will always be a favorite but there are tasty and healthy options that everyone will enjoy. The taste is amazing and all the ingredients can be found with healthier options.

Keep in mind that there are also many cooking options when it comes to meatloaf. It can be baked in the oven for a quick meal or even in the crockpot for a truly incredible taste. It is true that cooking in a crock pot will take a little longer than the oven but a little extra time goes a long way in terms of taste. In other words, it is well worth the wait.

If you want my personal opinion, there is nothing better than just a simple recipe. I know it is perhaps a little "boring" but it is the way my mother made it and the way I prefer to enjoy it. I have never been able to duplicate her recipe because she never used a recipe....she just mixed together basic ingredients of whatever she had on hand.....truly a sign of an excellent cook!

So don't get hung up on the little this and that about what is right or wrong with a meatloaf recipe. Every family and every person has something they do or don't like. If you like something else, add it. If you don't like something, take it out.
I speak with Miss Melissa everyday, actually several time a day. We often ask each other what we are making for dinner and she has told me about her little mini-meatloaves for some time. Grandbaby Luke loves these and she had actually found the recipe in one of her pregnancy cookbooks. Now, I have come to have total admiration for Melissa's cooking abilities. For someone who never liked to bake or cook, she has become an excellent cook, making homemade, healthy meals for her family. She ensures that Luke eat only the best whole foods! Such a good Mommy!!! Her recipe is not only fun to make, it tastes heavenly!!!

Melissa Margaret's Tomato-layered Mini Meatloaves
1 lb lean ground beef
1 lb ground turkey
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
2 Tbsp ketchup
1 large egg, lightly beaten
3 Tbsp old-fashioned rolled oats
3 Tbsp ground flaxseed (optional)
½ tsp dried oregano
¼ tsp garlic powder
¼ tsp salt
¼ tsp black pepper
½ - 1 cup finely-grated carrot (you cannot taste this, I promise!)
2 medium ripe tomatoes, thinly sliced
Brown sugar

 Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Mix the beef, cheese, ketchup, egg, oats, flaxseed, oregano, dill, garlic powder,& salt & pepper in a large bowl.
 Fill half of each cup of a muffin tin with the beef mixture and place a tomato slice on top. Add remaining beef mixture on top of each tomato slice.
 Meanwhile, mix ketchup and brown sugar to taste (I use approx 2 Tbsp of ketchup and 1 Tbsp of brown sugar).
Brush ketchup-brown sugar glaze on top of each meatloaf. Bake the meatloaves until cooked though, approximately 20-25 minutes. Remove the meatloaves from the tin immediately and serve.
 Wrap any leftovers in foil and refrigerate for 2 days or freeze for 2 weeks. To reheat, put the meatloaves in at 350 oven for about 20 min or in the microwave for 1 minute.
 Uncooked meatloaves can be frozen, wrapped in plastic wrap, for 1 month.

Estelle's Company Meatloaf
Tomato Sauce
Extra-virgin olive oil
1 onion, finely diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 bay leaves
2 red bell peppers, cored, seeded, and finely diced
2 tomatoes, halved, seeded, and finely diced
1/4 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
1 (12-ounce) bottle ketchup
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
 salt and freshly ground black pepper

3 slices white bread, crusts removed, torn into chunks by hand
1/4 cup whole milk
1 1/2 pounds ground beef
1 pound ground pork
2 eggs
Leaves from 2 fresh thyme sprigs
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 to 4 bacon slices

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Coat a skillet with a 2-count of oil and place over medium heat. Saute the onion, garlic, and bay leaves for a few minutes to create a base flavor. Throw in the red peppers and cook them for a couple of minutes to soften. Now add the tomatoes; adding them at this point lets them hold their shape and prevents them from disintegrating. Stir in the parsley, ketchup, and Worcestershire; season with salt and pepper. Simmer the relish for 5 minutes to pull all the flavors together. Remove it from the heat; you should have about 4 cups of relish.
Place the torn white bread in a bowl and add the milk to just barely cover, swish the bread around in the milk and let it sit while you get the rest of the ingredients for the meat loaf together.

 In a large mixing bowl, combine the ground beef and pork with 1 1/2 cups of the tomato relish, the eggs, and thyme; season with salt and pepper. Squeeze the excess milk from the bread and add the soaked bread to the meat mixture.
Lightly rectangle shaped baking dish and transfer your meatloaf into the baking dish, carefully shaping into a 9x4 inch rectangle.  Coat the top of the meatloaf with another 1/2 cup of the tomato relish. Lay the bacon across the top lengthwise.
Bake the meatloaf for 1 to 1 1/2 hours until the bacon is crisp and the meatloaf is firm. Rotate the meat loaf while it's baking every now and then to insure that the bacon browns evenly. Remove the meatloaf from the oven and let it cool a bit before slicing. Serve with the remaining tomato relish on the side.

"There is no spectacle on earth more appealing
than that of a beautiful woman
 in the act of cooking dinner for someone she loves."
THOMAS WOLFE, The Web and the Rock

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