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Roasted Carrots

February 12, 2017

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I have roasted many a carrots over the years and really have never been happy with them.  Burnt, charred, not done, half done, 450, 400, 350 degrees, cut big, cut small, added spices, no spices, oil only, oil and butter….all meh.

These on the other hand are perfect in my eyes.  Cooks Illustrated  hit the nail on the head with this recipe:  steam the carrots first then roast, all in one pan, all at one temperature.  And very little clean up because of the genius use of parchment paper.

I like to use fresh carrots that still have their tops on, so if you can,  seek those out.  But if not possible, poke around the bagged carrots and look for ones that are fairly straight and similar in size.  Not absolutely necessary but it makes cutting up the carrots easier.

Unfortunately I cannot link you to the original recipe.  Cooks Illustrated requires a subscription to get all their recipes.

Roasted Carrots (Cooks Illustrated November 1, 2000)

1-1/2 pounds carrots

2 tablespoons butter melted

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon pepper

Heat oven to 425 degrees.  Prepare rimmed baking sheet by covering the bottom with parchment paper (see picture below).

Peel carrots, cut in half lengthwise, cut in half again lengthwise to get four even strips.  Cut crosswise.  Sometimes the bottom pieces are a bit too thick, so cut them in half (see pictures below).  The purpose for this is to make all the pieces similar in size.  But don’t sweat it, all will be good if some pieces are a bit smaller or bigger.

Place carrots, melted butter, salt and pepper in a large bowl.  Toss together to thoroughly combine.  Spread on prepared baking sheet into a single layer.

Cover baking sheet with aluminum foil (I used heavy duty because it’s bigger and I only need one sheet.  But if all you have is regular aluminum foil, use that, but you may need two sheets to cover pan completely).  Seal edges.

Cook in oven for 15 minutes (the steaming part).

After 15 minutes, remove aluminum foil and continue to cook for 30 to 35 minutes until carrots are cooked through and slightly browned.

Serve immediately.

fresh carrots with their tops on:

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cut off a bit of the bottom and the top and weigh:

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peeled and cut in half lengthwise:

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cut again in half lengthwise:

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cut in half crosswise:

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may need to cut some of the bottom halves again:

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place in large bowl:

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mis en place:

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add melted butter, salt and pepper:

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toss together:

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prepared baking sheet:

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single layer of carrots:

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cover tightly with aluminum foil and place in oven:

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after 15 minutes, remove foil:

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put back in oven and cook for another 30-35 minutes:

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yum!

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Roasted Garlic Beef Stew

February 5, 2017

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I have made this stew about 5 or 6 times since 1997 (whoa that’s a long time ago :/).   A whole beef tenderloin can be pretty big and usually I cut off a portion to use for another time.  This piece was cut from our Christmas beef tenderloin roast, so I froze it with this recipe in mind.

I love the combination of vegetables in this recipe and I even add mushrooms!  But you can use any of the vegetables you like.  A lot of the reviewer only use carrots.  You could also use fresh beans or frozen peas.  Just add them to the vegetable mixture at the appropriate time so they are not overcooked.

Roasted Garlic Beef Stew (from Bon Appeit, Too Busy to Cook? November 1997)

12  large garlic clovers, peeled

1/2 T butter melted

1/2 T olive oil

3 tablespoons butter, divided

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 pound beef tenderloin, cut into 1 inch pieces

2 tablespoon flour

2 large parsnips, peeled and cut into 1/2 inch chunks to measure 2 cups

5 (or more) carrots, peeled and cut into 1/2 inch chunks to measure 2 cups

1 large potato, peeled and cut into 1/2 inch chunks to measure 2 cups (keep covered in water so they don’t brown)

1 rutabaga (may only need 1/2 depending on size), peeled and cut into 1/2 inch chunks to measure 2 cups

8 mushrooms, cleaned and dried and cut into quarters, to measure 2 cups

1-1/2 cups boiling water

4 teaspoons of Better than Bouillon Roast Beef Base

1 cup dry red wine

2 teaspoons thyme

1 teaspoon sage

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Place garlic in glass pie dish, and pour 1/2 T melted butter and 1/2 T oil over top, toss to combine.  Bake in oven for about 20-25 minutes until golden brown.  Cool slightly and then mash garlic with a fork.

While garlic is baking, make beef broth by adding Better than Bouillon to boiling water.

Make sure to cut beef into at least 1 inch pieces or larger.  Make sure they are all the same size.  This is a very tender piece of meat and doesn’t take long to cook.  The bigger and more even the pieces the better.  Place beef on a large sheet of wax paper.  Sprinkle beef with salt, pepper and 1/2 T of flour.  Turn beef pieces over and repeat procedure.

Melt 2 tablespoons butter and 2 tablespoons of olive oil in large pot over medium high heat.  Saute beef for 6 minutes, turning beef half way through.  Do not overcook.  Set aside on a plate.

Add vegetables, broth, wine, herbs and roasted mashed garlic to pot.  Bring to a boil and then reduce heat to medium low.  Cover and simmer vegetables for 25 minutes until tender.

While vegetables are simmering, mix 1 tablespoon of softened butter with 1 tablespoon of flour in a small bowl.

Return beef to pot and add butter/flour mixture, stirring to combine.  Simmer uncovered until sauce thickens, about 2 minutes.  Season with salt and pepper if desired and serve immediately.

mis en place:

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garlic:

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prepping and sauteing beef:

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add vegetables, broth, wine, herbs and garlic to pot:

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bring to a simmer and cover:

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add butter/flour mixture:

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then beef:

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simmer for 2 minutes and serve immediately:

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Red Wine Chocolate Cake with Whipped Mascarpone Cream

January 29, 2017

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This cake and topping is from my daughter, Sarah via Smitten Kitchen, one of our favorite blogs.  She had made this cake back in 2011 when Deb Perlman had just posted it.  Sarah shared how delicious it was.  I made it for a dinner party shortly thereafter and totally agreed with my daughter.

But it has taken me this long to make it again, for yet another dinner party.  Still yummy.

I love the fact that it is a one layer cake with no frosting, that it is not too sweet (something you look for after consuming a few glasses of vino :)) , perfect for a dinner party and the whipped mascarpone and heavy cream topping is the ultimate accompaniment.

The wine and the cocoa powder are important.  Use a wine that you like to drink (maybe drinking it with dinner that night?) and use the best cocoa powder available to you.  These are my favorites:  Valrhona (you can also buy at Whole Foods) and Bennsdorp (King Arthur Flour).  After making many, many Chocolate biscotti (see  Triple Chocolate Biscotti in Recipe Index) and Chocolate Bundt cakes (see Baby Cocoa Sour Cream Chocolate Chip Coffee Cakes in Recipe Index) for Holiday gifts this year, Hershey supermarket cocoa powder just doesn’t cut it.

Red Wine Chocolate Cake with Whipped Mascarpone Cream (from Smitten Kitchen https://smittenkitchen.com/2011/09/red-wine-chocolate-cake/)

cake:

6 tablespoons butter, room temperature

3/4 cup packed dark brown sugar

1/4 cup sugar

1 large egg

1 large egg yolk

3/4 cup good quality red wine

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 cup plus 1 tablespoon flour

1/2 cup chocolate cocoa powder (the best you can obtain)

1/8 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

topping:

1/2 cup mascarpone cheese

1/2 cup whipping cream

2 tablespoon sugar

1/4 teaspoon vanilla

 

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

Cut a circle of parchment or wax paper, using your 9 inch round pan as a guide.

Spray bottom of 9 in round pan with canola oil spray.  Put 9 inch round parchment or wax paper round on bottom of pan.  Spray entire pan inside, bottom and sides with Pam Baking Spray with Flour or something similar.

Sift flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, salt and cinnamon together in a bowl.  Set aside.  Combine egg, yolk and vanilla in a small bowl.  Set aside.

With an electric mixer or stand mixer, beat softened butter and sugars together for about 1 minute.  Add egg mixture and beat until light and fluffy, about 2-3 minutes.

With the mixer on low, mix in 1/2 of the flour/cocoa mixture.  Beat until almost combined. Add half of the wine.  Repeat with the rest of the flour/cocoa mixture and wine, mixing until just combined.

Pour batter into prepared pan and place into preheated oven.

Bake for 25-30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.

Cool for 10 minutes on a baking rack.

Then remove cake from pan, cooling completely.

Dust with sifted confectioners sugar when completely cool, if desired.

To make topping:

Place all ingredients into a medium size bowl.  With an electric mixer, beat together until soft peaks form.  Do not over beat.  This can be refrigerated for up to 4 hours.

Serve a slice of cake with a nice generous dollop of topping.

mis en place:

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prep 9 inch round pan:

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fluffy butter, sugars, eggs:

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batter into prepared pan:

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out of the oven and cooling:

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yum!

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Stuffed Peppers

January 20, 2017

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My Mom would make these when my sisters and I were growing up.  It was a great use of leftover meat which she would chop or grind up,  adding other yummy ingredients to make a delicious filling.  I remember not eating the pepper, just the filling.  Ah well, times have changed and so have my tastes.

This is an excellent recipe and only gets better if all are not eaten and a few are left over for the next couple of days.   My son really enjoys it as a sandwich between a kaiser roll 🙂

I followed the recipe exactly with a few tweaks here and there.  I don’t serve it with anything, like the recipe suggests because I think it’s a meal in itself.

Just a few side notes:  any color pepper can be used.  Sometimes the red ones are not that good.  That just happened and my husband bought the yellow ones instead.  If you can time this recipe using leftover rice from another meal, great.  But more often than not, I have to cook the rice needed.  Chopping up the pepper tops is tedious.   If you have a Cuisinart or a mini Cuisinart, my personal preference is to use it to chop the pepper tops and the onions.  It just makes everything go a little more quickly.

Stuffed Peppers (Bon Appetit February 2002)

6 large (8 ounce) red bell peppers

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 cups finely chopped onions (~ 2 large)

6 tablespoons finely chopped fresh parsley

3 large  garlic cloves, finely chopped

2/3 cup cooked white rice, somewhat cooled

1 tablespoon sweet Hungarian paprika or regular paprika (just make sure it’s fresh, within 6 months)

1-1/4 teaspoons salt

1 teaspoon black pepper

1/4 teaspoon allspice

2-1/2 cups tomato sauce (canned, jarred, homemade.  If I don’t have homemade I like Victoria or  Rao’s Marinara sauce)

1-1/4 pounds ground beef, 85%

1 large egg

Cut off top 1/2 inch of peppers and reserve.  Scoop seeds and the little membrane from the cavities of the pepper, using your hands.  Cut off the good part of the pepper tops and chop finely (or use the Cuisinart).  Heat oil in a large skillet, preferably non-stick, over medium high heat.  Add onions, parsley, garlic and chopped pepper.  Saute mixture until onions are soft, about 8 minutes.  Transfer to a large bowl.

Mix in rice, paprika, salt, pepper and allspice.  Cool for 10 minutes.  Mix in 1/2 cup tomato sauce, beef and egg and stir until completely combined.

Place 1 cup of tomato sauce onto bottom of large pot.  Take 1 pepper and using an ice cream scoop, put about 2 scoops of beef mixture into cavity.  Place into pot.  Repeat with remaining peppers.  If you have beef mixture left over, divide it among the peppers.  Ladle another 1 cup of tomato sauce over peppers.

Bring sauce to a boil over medium high heat.  Reduce heat to low, medium/low and cover.  Cook for about 20-30 minutes.  Uncover and if possible, spoon sauce over each pepper.  Cover again and cook for another 20 – 30 minutes until filling is firm and the pepper is very tender when poked with a sharp fork or knife.

mis en place:

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cut tops off pepper:

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clean out cavity of seeds and membrane and cut off good part of pepper tops:

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if available, chop pepper tops with Cuisinart:

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and the onion:

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add chopped peppers, onions, parsley and garlic to large heated skillet:

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cook for about 8 minutes:

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add mixture to large bowl with rice, paprika, salt, pepper and allspice:

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mix in tomato sauce, beef and egg:

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ladle in 1 cup of tomato sauce onto bottom of large pot:

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scoop beef mixture into peppers and place peppers in pot:

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cover with 1 cup tomato sauce:

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peppers after 40 minutes to 1 hour of cooking:

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yum!

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Spinach and Feta Turkey Burger

August 15, 2016

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Another option to a beef burger and simply delicious.  Easy enough to serve during the week and lots of topping variations to make it interesting.

The recipe suggests serving with **Tzatziki sauce which I find yummy but it’s optional (recipe follows).  I also served it with crisp bacon, pickles, ketchup and cheese. You could also top the burgers with lettuce, onions, tomato or…. your choice!

I do not use frozen chopped spinach.  Its easy to make your own from fresh.  I also halved the recipe which you will see in parenthesis.  4 burgers are just right for the 3 of us with 1 more for tomorrow’s snack :).   I also am using a block of feta these days and crumbling it my self rather than getting the pre-crumbled container. But either is very good.

Notice the veggie side?  This is something new from Mann’s,  Power Blend Super Food which includes brussels sprouts, napa cabbage, kohlrabi, broccoli, carrots and kale and wow is it yummy!  Tossed it with My Mom’s Coleslaw.  Highly recommend.

Spinach and Feta Turkey Burger (from All Recipes)

2 (1) eggs, beaten

2 (1) cloves garlic, minced

4 (2) ounces feta cheese, crumbled

10 (5) ounces fresh spinach

2 (1) pounds of ground turkey

Spray a large non stick fry pan or wok, with canola oil spray and heat pan to medium high.  Add fresh spinach, sauteing and tossing the spinach around until completely wilted. Remove from pan onto a cutting board and allow to cool.  When cool enough to handle, finely chop spinach and then put into a colander or strainer.  Press on the spinach, move it around the colander/strainer and press again doing this several times until most of the liquid is removed.

In a large bowl add  egg, garlic, feta cheese and spinach.  Mix well.  Add turkey and mix again with a large serving fork until completely combined.

Place wax paper on cutting board and spray with canola oil spray.  Divide turkey mixture evenly into 4 balls and place on prepared cutting board (about 6 ounces each burger, a scale helps 🙂 )  Gently press down on each ball to form a burger.  This mixture is very soft so I suggest refrigerating the burgers while you get the rest of the dinner going or while preheating the grill.  It helps a bit.

Heat grill to medium high, ~ 500 degrees.  Lightly oil the grill grate.  Pretty necessary otherwise the burgers will stick.  As I said they are very soft.  You can take a lightly soaked (with olive oil) paper towel and using tongs to hold the paper towel, gently sweep over the grill grate.  Too much oil will cause it to smoke.  I have done all these things:  forgotten to oil the grate, put too much oil on.  But they were still tasty.

Cook turkey burgers for 12 minutes, turning half way through.

Serve on toasted buns (or without, over lettuce or more spinach) with toppings and sides of your choice.

**Tzatziki Sauce (from All Recipes)

I halved the recipe.  Even that makes quite a bit but its great for dipping fresh vegetables.

Use full fat greek yogurt.

I did not use any of the garnishes.

1/2 a lemon juiced is about 1-1/2 tablespoons (half of that would be 2-1/4 teaspoons)

sauteing spinach:

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egg, garlic, feta cheese and spinach:

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add ground turkey:

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forming into burgers:

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cooking on the grill:

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with cheese and bacon:

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with cheese, pickles and ketchup:

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with Tzatziki sauce:

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Pulled Chicken Sandwiches

August 9, 2016

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Easy, scrumptious dinner.  I served them on rolls but I like the idea of serving it over a baked potato, gotta try that!

I followed this recipe exactly and served it with garden fresh beans and corn on the cob.  Coleslaw as a side would be excellent as well.

Pulled Chicken Sandwiches (Cooking Light October 2013)

for the chicken:

2 tablespoon dark brown sugar

1 teaspoon paprika

3/4 teaspoon ground cumin

1/2 teaspoon ground chipotle chili pepper

1/4 teaspoon ground ginger

1/8 teaspoon salt

1-1/2 to 2 pounds skinless, boneless chicken thighs

for the sauce:

2 teaspoons canola oil

1/2 cup finely diced onion

1 tablespoon dark brown sugar

1 teaspoon chili powder

1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

1/2 teaspoon dry mustard

1/4 teaspoon ground allspice

1/8 teaspoon ground red pepper

1 cup ketchup

2 tablespoon cider vinegar

Heat your grill on medium high heat.

While the grill is heating, combine the spices for the chicken:  dark brown sugar through the salt.  Place chicken pieces on a cutting board, sprinkle combined spices onto chicken pieces and rub in.  Turn chicken over and repeat.    Place chicken on a canola oil sprayed disposable aluminum cookie sheet.  Set aside while waiting for the grill to heat.

When the grill has come up to heat, place chicken on grill.  Cover and cook chicken for 15 minutes, turning half way through.  Remove chicken onto a clean cutting board and let cool.

While chicken is cooking, start preparing the sauce.  Heat the 2 teaspoons of canola oil in a medium size sauce pan.  Add onions and saute for about 5 minutes until translucent.  Add spices, dark brown sugar through red pepper and cook, stirring into onions, for 30 seconds.  Add ketchup and vinegar.  Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer very gently for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.   While sauce is simmering, shred chicken with 2 forks.

After 10 minutes of simmering, add the chicken to the sauce.  Stir until chicken is thoroughly coated and cook gently for about 2 minutes.

Serve chicken on toasted rolls.

spices for chicken:

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sprinkling spices over chicken:

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onto a disposable aluminum cookie sheet:

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removed from grill onto a cutting board to cool:

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while chicken is cooking, make sauce:

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sauteed onions then add spices

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then ketchup and vinegar and let simmer:

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shred chicken and add to sauce:

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Chipotle Meatloaf

July 25, 2016

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There are so many different meatloaves out there but this is by far one of my favorites (besides my Mom’s classic meatloaf).  Tons of flavor! My husband and son love it and I have made it numerous times.

I happen to like the mini individual size but you can certainly follow the original recipe for one large meatloaf.  I also have halved the ingredients, which you will see in parenthesis.

This recipe calls for heavy cream but you can substitute half and half.  I even forgot one time to add either and it was still good.   I also have since made the original quantity of ketchup/chipotle chile pepper sauce so that we can have extra to serve with the meatloaves, a definite must 🙂  Also, as you know, I am not a fan of cilantro so I substitute parsley.  And I did not add rosemary either, another herb I am not too fond of.  But please add if you wish.  Amounts are in the original recipe.

Another interesting option I read about while trying desperately to find Applewood Smoked Bacon.  When I made it the first couple of times, I used to be able to find Tommy Moloney’s Applewood Smoked Bacon in Shoprite.  Now I can’t find it anywhere.  When I wanted to make it again I looked up a substitute and lo and behold, I read that there is really not much difference flavor wise between Applewood Smoked and regularly smoked bacon.  So guess what?  I agree.  Just use really good bacon, which in my opinion is Oscar Meyer Naturally Hardwood Smoked.

Just a note about the eggs:  1/2 of 3 eggs is sorta crazy, so that’s why I put 2 eggs as half of 3 eggs.  I did measure and all that to see exactly what a half of an egg would be but realized the little bit of extra egg really doesn’t make that much difference.

Ok, let’s get on with the recipe!

Chipotle Meatloaf (http://www.bonappetit.com/recipe/chipotle-meatloaf#recipe-ingredients)

4 (2) ounces Oscar Meyer Naturally Hardwood Smoked Bacon or apple wood-smoked bacon (if you can find it) 1/4 inch diced

1 (1/2) cup diced onion

1 (1/2) cup heavy cream or half and half

1 (1/2) cup panko

3 (2) large eggs

1/2 (1/4) cup diced celery

3 (1-1/2 teaspoons) tablespoons flat leaf or curly parsley

1 (1-1/2 teaspoons) tablespoon kosher salt

1-1/2 (3/4) teaspoons minced fresh thyme

1-1/4 (1/2 plus 1/8) teaspoons ground ancho chiles

1-1/4 (1/2 plus 1/8) teaspoons smoked paprika

3/4 (1/4 plus 1/8) teaspoon ground black pepper

28 ounces (14) ounces ground beef (85%)

sauce:

1 cup ketchup

2 tablespoon (1 large mashed with a fork) chipotle chili pepper from canned chipotle chile peppers in adobo sauce

 

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Spray a rimmed cookie sheet with canola oil spray OR place a sheet of parchment paper on top of the rimmed cookie sheet.  My really favorite thing to do these days.  No mess at all.

Make the sauce by combining the ketchup and the mashed up chili in a small bowl.

Place the first 12 ingredients, bacon through black pepper in a very large bowl.  Stir together with a large serving fork until all incorporated.  Add ground beef and stir with the serving fork until thoroughly combined (I think mixing with your hands compresses the beef too much, I don’t like the texture after it cooks).

Divide beef mixture evenly into 4 mini meatloaves (~ 7 ounces) and place on prepared rimmed cookie sheet.  Put about 1 tablespoon of sauce over the top of the mini meatloaves carefully smoothing it on to the sides as best as possible.  Place in oven and bake for about 40 minutes.

Serve with extra sauce and be prepared to be happy.

make sauce:

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first 12 ingredients:

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add beef and stir with fork:

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divide mixture evenly into 4 loaves:

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cover with sauce:

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serve:

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yum!

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