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Saturday, October 23, 2010

Let Your....MEAT.....LOAF!

Hahahah I know, the title was an obvious joke, but I like that sort of thing. Making a week-night meal completely from scratch is not difficult. This may be a revelation for those of you, like me, who work all day and come home very tired. The day I made this meal, I had been awake since four am, worked an eight-hour day, and was tired indeed. This is how you make a meatloaf, mashed potatoes, and honey-lemon carrots ~ without feeling overwhelmed at the end of your day. Preheat your oven to a toasty 400 degrees and begin your prep. First, chop about a half an onion and a half a green bell pepper quite small, like so...

Then, saute the onion and pepper with a minced clove of garlic in some canola or vegetable oil until softened completely...like this...

Then, soak a slice or two of bread, in a couple tablespoons of milk. This step (as well as the sauteed vegetables) keeps your meatloaf moist and light, instead of being a baked meat-brick...

Then, put your ground beef into a mixing bowl and add the pepper and onion, the bread, an egg, salt and pepper, garlic powder, steak sauce, hot sauce and finely chopped fresh flat-leaved parsley. Sidebar note; since this was a weeknight, as I used each ingredient (and they all ended up in the bowl you are about to see), I put the ingredient away, and the dish/bowl/utensil in the dishwasher. I make myself  "clean as I go", because then I will not leave a great whopping mess to clean up on a work night.  On to the newly combined meatloaf mixture...

Now, get right in there, and mix all together well. Do not over-mix, you don't want meat mush, you want meat loaf! Now, here is where a lot of folks mess up the loaf-a-licious-ness. You do NOT, I repeat, not want to bake the meat loaf in an actual loaf pan. Why? Well where is the fat from the meat going to go while it bakes? That's right, you smartie, you...it's going to pool up around the meat instead of draining away from the loaf. Here's what you want to do.  Form the meat loaf by pressing it into a loaf pan that has been sprayed with non-stick spray, or lightly greased.  Like this.....

Then, take the meatloaf and carefully turn it upside down into the actual baking dish you are using to bake it in...and combine the following for a yummy tomato-ey sauce.


One small can of tomato sauce, about two tablespoons of brown sugar, and about a tablespoon of Worcestershire sauce. Add some salt and pepper, pour over your meatloaf, and pop into the oven. Here is mine, ready for baking....

And oh yes, it tastes just as good as it looks, trust me. Now...I know you have been good little pixie-cooks and have been practicing "clean-as-you-go", so while the meatloaf is going for an hour-long journey, you've got plenty of time. Relax, sip your wine, wash and partially peel enough potatoes for mashing...

I leave a little peel on for nutritional and texture reasons...yes, the peel contains more nutrients than the flesh of the potato. But, you knew that, right? Chunk them, throw them into a pot and add enough water to cover, about a teaspoon of salt, cover the pot and bring to a boil. Turn the heat down to a good simmer, and cook until tender. Mash with butter, milk, salt, pepper, whatever your favorite mashed-potato technique is. I like roasting garlic and mashing in those lovely softened cloves, what great flavor! Here are my chunks ready for boiling....

I know you've cleaned up from getting the potatoes ready, but keep that peeler handy ~ and peel and roll-cut enough carrots to feed your bunch.  Roll cutting is simply making a cut, and turning the vegetable a quarter-turn before each cut. This is what it looks like....



Then, place them in a pan, add about a quarter cup of water cover the pan amd cook until tender. Remove the cover and continue to cook until the water is mostly evaporated and add a couple tablespoons of honey, lemon rind, lemon juice, a couple tablespoons chopped flat-leaved parsley and some salt and pepper. Here are mine in the pan after the cooking until tender step....

By now, your meatloaf is done and resting on the counter, your potatoes are mashed and keeping warm, your carrots are bathing in lemon-honey goodness (and keeping warm), and your kitchen is not thrashed. Pour off the tomato gravy into a small saucepan, add a little ketchup, Worcestershire sauce, and cider vinegar, taste for seasoning and you've made the gravy. Service with a smile, and lemon garnish, anyone?

Now, I have fed my family (and I know that is not a huge portion on the plate ~ but remember, pixie-portions!), a meal that is not boxed, pre-packaged, filled with useless chemicals, and most importantly, made with love and care.

What do you take the time to make from scratch, knowing the effort is worth it?

Eat well, my friends, and eat less processed foods. Your body will thank you for it.

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