Thursday, May 19, 2011

Lets Make Meatloaf!!

Today we are baking our entree~Homemade Meatloaf! There are probably a thousand different meatloaf renditions at there. This one is pretty basic and very deliciously moist. Here's the recipe:

1.5 pounds Ground Beef
1/2 cup Crushed Saltines
1 Egg
1 teaspoon Garlic Powder
Salt & Pepper
The first thing you need to do is chop your onion. The correct way to chop
an onion is to first cut off both ends. Peel the skin off. Then cut 
the onion in half thru both axis.
Put the onion on its side, cut side down, so the rounded 
half is on top. Cut slices starting at the front.
Take a small stack of slices, and begin cutting down 
the slices. This is going in the direction of the onion
and makes the cutting easier. Now the onion should be in small 
chopped pieces. You will probably have to cut a few pieces that
didn't cut the first time. 
Place the ground beef, the chopped onion, the egg,
garlic powder, and salt & pepper (just a sprinkle of each),
in a bowl.
Place about 1/2 of a sleeve of the saltines into a plastic zip lock.
Let the air out, and zip the bag.
Roll a rolling pin over the bag of saltines until they are 
crushed into fine crumbs. 
Add the saltines into the bowl.
Mix Well.
 Spray with a loaf pan, and place meatloaf mix into it.
Squirt ketchup like above. Bake in oven at 350 degrees
for about 30 minutes.
It will look like this when it is done
When the meatloaf is done, let it set and "rest" for about 10 minutes. 
To rest the meat means to give the meat 10 minutes to
let the juices in the meat redistribute itself, so they do 
not all flow out when the meat is cut. If the juices are 
not kept in the meat, the meat will be dry with no flavor.
Enjoy your meatloaf. Doesn't that look good?

There are many variations of meatloaf. You could add mushrooms,
or green or red peppers just to name a few. You could even add jalapenos!
Or, how about cheese!!

Thanks for joining me today!
See you tomorrow. We will be making fresh green bean almondine.

I hope you are following me, having fun, and learning something!!

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Mashed Potatoes & Gravy!

Today, instead of making a salad, or cooking soup, I thought we would make some mashed potatoes. Pretty much the ultimate comfort food. You can make potatoes with the skin on or the skin off. I made these with the skin off. Mashed potatoes are one of my husbands favorite dishes, and he likes potatoes with the skin off. 
Here's what we need to make mashed potatoes:
Boiling Water
Beef Base
Cold water
Boiling Water (again)
I don't know why I put the sour cream in the pic(!!???!!)

There are many different varieties of potatoes to choose from. I chose a russet potato grown right here in Nevada. I like the texture. I thought about buying the Yukon Golds. I have used them in several restaurants in the past. The skins are thin and delicious and they have a natural buttery flavor. But I decided on the russet because it is grown locally, and russets have a high starch content, which help them bake well and yields a light and fluffy mashed.
Wash and then dry your potatoes.
Peel your potatoes.
Chop them into bite size pieces. The smaller the pieces,
the quicker they cook!
Boil your potatoes for about 12-15 minutes. Check to see if
they are done by poking a couple pieces with a fork. If the fork
goes thru the piece, your potatoes are done.
Drain your potatoes.
Heat about 1/2 cup of milk to 150 degrees.
Pour some of the milk onto the potatoes, and begin to mash
with a potato masher. Add more milk if needed.

They should look like this. (I wish this was a clearer picture!)
 Maybe a little better.?!

Now lets make the gravy. Here is what you need:

Beef Base
I followed the directions to make the pint of gravy.
I used:
2 1/2 teaspoons Beef Base
1/4 cup Flour
1/4 cup Cold Water
1 1/2 cup Boiling Water
Put the base and the flour into the pan, and mix together.
Boil water.
While you are waiting for the water to boil
add your cold water.Your base and flour should look like this
after the cold water is mixed in.
Add the boiling water, and stir until smooth.
Bring gravy to a low boil.
Add seasoning. I only added pepper. The base is really
salty already.
Enjoy the mashed potatoes & gravy!

I hope you liked the mashed potatoes and gravy today. We could have done a few things differently if we were so inclined! We could have baked the potatoes instead of boiling them. Baking them, before mashing them, results in a totally different flavor. We could have boiled the potatoes in milk instead of water. The potatoes would have been much richer as a result. If we didn't want to make the gravy, we could have added
garlic or grated cheese to the potatoes.

I usually like to make my gravy to include drippings from the meat instead of using the beef base, but with a dish like meatloaf, there are no drippings that are usable. The juice from the ground beef is too greasy to turn into gravy, and therefore the beef base makes a really good substitute. I used the Tone's brand that I purchased at Sam's Club. It is less than $4.00 for the 1 pound container,and a little goes a long way. I have used beef base in kitchens for years, and it is amazing how many times you will reach for it once you get used to having it around.

Tomorrow we will make our entree~Meatloaf!!!
Join us!!

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Deep Fried Mac & Cheese Balls!!

Our appetizer today is quickly becoming a restaurant favorite. It is a new twist on an old classic, and I thought it might go great with our traditional meatloaf meal. Here is what you need:

1/2 pound Elbow Macaroni
8 oz Four Cheese Shredded Cheese
1 cup Milk
1 Egg
 Italian Style Bread Crumbs
2 tablespoons Butter
Salt & Pepper
Boil water and cook your macaroni.
 Drain Macaroni & set aside
Melt your butter
Add a tablespoon of flour to your butter & mix 
it together. You are making a roux. This is
 the thickener for your cheese sauce.
It should look like this as you are mixing.
Put your milk in a saucepan, heat it on medium low, and add the roux.

Add your cheese & mix until smooth.
It should look like this. If your cheese sauce is stringy,
add a squeeze of lemon juice, or some other acidic food
like orange juice. Just a small squeeze.
Add the cheese sauce to your macaroni. Mix well.
It should look like this. Let it cool down.
 I used this mini muffin pan to size my mac & cheese balls.
Fill them like above, or about this size. After your
cheese balls are formed place the pan in the refridgerater
While your cheese balls are chilling, heat up the oil in a 
saucepan until it reaches a temperature of 325 degrees.
That is the probe from my thermometer in the pan.
This is the other end of the thermometer. This thermometer is the one
I posted about this past Saturday. It is such a great item to have.
Pour some of the breadcrumbs in a bowl.
Put one egg in a bowl and add a little water. You are 
making an egg wash. Beat the egg mix.
Take the cheese balls out of the fridge, and form into balls.
Dip the balls into the egg wash, (sorry, no pics) and then roll the balls 
into the breadcrumbs.
When your oil is to temperature, drop your cheese balls
in to the oil, and begin to cook. Make sure to move 
them around in the oil, so they cook evenly. When they 
are brown, they are done.
Drain the cheese balls on paper towels.
Serve with ketchup.

There are several different ways to make these cheese balls. You could add onion, or chopped bacon to the macaroni when you add the cheese. You could use a different type of cheese such as cheddar, or even a spicy
pepperjack. That would be good! You could also use a different dip. I used ketchup, but ranch, or salsa, or even marinara would taste great.

Thank you for joining me today. Tomorrow we will make the mashed potatoes & gravy for our
meatloaf meal.

See you tomorrow!
What would you like to make?

Monday, May 16, 2011

This Weeks Menu & Grocery List

This weeks menu is more of a traditional "meat & potatoes" meal. It is one of my husbands favorites. I am more of a chicken eater myself, but I can tell you that I used to sell sooooo many of these entrees. I used this entree recipe in three different restaurants, and it was always a hit!  I hope you like this menu. Next week I think we will go for something a bit lighter, and with a southwestern flavor!!

Here's our menu:

Appetizer~Fried Mac & Cheese Balls
Soup/Salad~No soup/salad but, Mashed Potatoes with Gravy
Entree~Homemade Meatloaf
Side Dish~Green Bean Almondine
Dessert~Chocolate Pots De Creme

Here's your shopping list:

Fried Macaroni & Cheese Balls
elbow macaroni
cheddar cheese
Italian Style Bread Crumbs

Mashed Potatoes & Gravy
beef base

Grandmas Meatloaf
1.5 pounds ground beef
salt & pepper
garlic powder

Green Bean Almondine
Fresh Green Beans
Slivered Almonds

Chocolate Pots De Creme
semisweet chocolate (you can use chips or a baking bar)
half & half
rum (optional)

This is gonna be good!
See you tomorrow for fried mac & cheese!

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Do I Really Need That?

Today's gadget in question is the thermometer. Do you need a thermometer when you are cooking? Of course you do. You need them to bake meats, cook syrups, fudge, and lots of candies. But what kind of thermometer do you need? Here is the thermometer I have.

I love this thing!!
I can use it for temping meat in the oven, & cooking 
candies on the stove.The two best features of the
thermometer are the timer and the beeper for the temperature. 
When I make brittle, for example, the syrup has to boil to a 
certain degree and it takes about 20 minutes. I simply set
the timer and the beeper for the temp,
and I know that if I get distracted, like I often do,
the beeper will keep me on my toes. 

This thermometer is also digital. 
This is a must for the perfectionist in me.  I have been know 
to agonize over the little red marks on my old thermometer,
trying to gauge the exact temp,matched up with the exact line, 
to get the perfect temperature I am seeking.

So, I am concluding that although all thermometers will help you
in recognizing the correct temperature for your food, this thermometer
will help you be a better cook.

Thanks for listening. I will see you tomorrow to
discuss next weeks menu and the grocery list.