Maaaa the Meatloaf….

Meatloaf

I can’t believe I’m blogging about meatloaf. For the last 20 years I have continuously made disgusted faces and gagging noises when someone mentioned the word meatloaf. For some reason, at a very young age, I had concluded that I hated the dish. Now fast forward to this past November when my mom was staying with us for the first 3 weeks of Charlotte’s life (thank goodness). She had been a huge help for us in the beginning, and every night she prepared us a nice home cooked meal. As you can imagine, 3 weeks is a lot of menu planning, so she was racking her brain with creativity by the end. After countless attempts of suggesting her meatloaf, I finally caved one night and had her give it a go! And just like that, I was hooked. How could something be that easy to make and taste SO delicious. So good, I even decided it should be on our menu for NYE dinner (that means I REALLY liked it).

This recipe is a healthier take on meatloaf, which makes me feel less guilty about eating an entire 1lb loaf to myself on NYE! This time we finally tried swapping out breadcrumbs for oatmeal, and honestly I didn’t even notice!  We used ground turkey instead of beef and/or chuck. Both meat variations taste great! Additionally, I try to skip the ketchup, and just use a little BBQ sauce. Recently I read all of these negative things about ketchup, so I’m trying to be more conscious of my intake. I know BBQ sauce is practically the same ingredients, but figured I can’t cut both out!

For our side, we kept it simple with roasted cauliflower, dressed in olive oil, red pepper flakes, salt & pepper. You can throw this in the oven once there is about 40 mins left on the meatloaf to cook. Nick has a dinner out tomorrow, and I’m already thinking about how good these leftovers will taste for dinner again!!

Ingredients: serves 2

  • 1 lb of ground meat (We used lean turkey but you can use any kind. My mom mixes half ground chuck and half ground beef)
  • 1/2 red onion
  • 1/2 red pepper
  • 1/2 green pepper
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup of oatmeal (or bread crumbs)
  • 1/4 cup of worcestershire sauce
  •  1/3 cup of bbq sauce
  • 1 table spoon of basil
  • 2 table spoon of oregano
  • 1 table spoon of cumin
  • 1 table spoon of red chili flakes
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 2 table spoons of salt & pepper
  • 1 bunch of green onions, chopped

Instructions:

  1. Pre heat oven to 375F.
  2. Finely chop red onion, garlic cloves, red & green pepper
  3. Saute the items above in olive oil until tender
  4. In a large mixing bowl add sauteed items and all other ingredients (egg, oatmeal, bbq sauce, worcestershire sauce, green onions, ground meat, various spices). Make sure when combining the ingredients you are not over working the meat. I usually throw on gloves and just massage it softly together.
  5. Transfer mixture into a baking pan, shaping it into a loaf (or use a meatloaf pan if you have one)
  6. Cook for 1 hour. If you want to add bbq sauce on top for the last 5 minutes to give it a nice glaze you can!

As for my lil miss Char update, we had a great Easter in Toronto this past weekend. Below are a few photos from the trip. Charlotte survived yet another flight, her first international in fact! She got to finally meet her adorable cousin Janine, who is a few months older than her. It’s so funny how at this age babies could care less about other babies. I can’t wait to fast forward 4 years from now, to see how much mischief they get into during the holidays. We put her in a jolly jumper for the first time and it was a huge success. Charlotte also brought back some gorgeous sweaters hand knitted by Halmoni (this is the Korean word for grandma).  I can’t believe she turns 5 months in a few days. Holy smokes time is flying!

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Shepherd’s Pie mini cakes…St Patrick’s day recap

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Since it was St Patrick’s day this week, we tried to get festive and make some good ole Irish food. Shepherd’s pie was one of my favorite meals growing up. I mean who wouldn’t love a big pile of meat and mashers. This year my husband wanted to make personal pie cakes. We took a risk, considering we were having friends over for dinner, but they turned out AMAZING. We even had enough left over to make one entire large pie. So whether you want to make one large pie, or do the mini cakes like we tried, this recipe below will serve at least 6 (with most likely room for left overs).

Little Ms. Char was very cooperative with company, and went down right as our friends arrived 🙂 That’s always a win! Unfortunately, I didn’t get her a St Patties outfit, mama was slacking! I promise to be more prepared for Easter. We are still waiting for her to roll over again! Lots of side rolls and kicks in the meantime! In anticipation of the first day of spring starting tomorrow (my birthday-yay!), we invested in a jogging stroller. We took her for a spin in her new whip yesterday and she loved it! Pics to come on that!

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Shepherd’s Pie mini cakes:
Ingredients: serves 6

For the filling:

– 2lbs 85% lean ground beef
– 2 large carrots (diced… you want all the veggies around the same side as the corn and peas)
– 3 stalks of celery (diced)
– 1 large sweet onion (diced)
– 1 cup frozen peas
– 1 cup fresh or canned corn
– 3 cloves garlic (diced)
– 3 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
– 1 small can tomato paste
– 1.5 tbsp fresh thyme
– 1.5 tbxp fresh rosemary (chopped)
– 1 large pinch each nutmeg, cumin, and dill
– 1 cup beef broth
– 1.5 tbsp flour or corn starch
*you could if you wanted to save time, buy a large bag of frozen mixed vegetables instead of buying the fresh vegetables
For the topping:
– 3 yukon gold potatoes (peeled and quartered)
– 2 tbsp butter (or more… more tastes better, but is less healthy!)
– 1/2 cup milk
– 1/2 cup light sour cream
– 1 bunch chives (chopped finely)
– 1/2 tsp nutmeg
– salt & pepper
For the crust:
– we just buy two pre-made pie crusts and fit them to the molds. obviously you can make your own, but I find it tastes exactly the same and requires 100x more effort.
Instructions for potatoes:
1) Start potatoes first, b/c they take a while. Boil the potatoes in lightly salted water for 20 mins, or until soft enough to easily pierce with a fork. Drain, add butter, milk, sour cream, nutmeg, salt & pepper. Mash over low heat until smooth. I generally don’t like to use a blender b/c I think it makes the potatoes gummy, but it’s not the end of the world if you want to. If it’s too lumpy, just add a little more milk and/or sour cream, and keep mashing. Also generously add salt & pepper. Add chives and allow to cool.
2) To make those funny little crowns and swirls, we put the potatoes into a large ziploc and cut off the corner, squeezing it out like icing. This was the first time we tried this technique, and I would say there’s potential for improvement…haha.
Instructions for filling:
1) Pre-heat oven to 350.
2) While potatoes are boiling, salt and pepper the ground beef generously, brown in a large frying pan. Beef should be thoroughly cooked; we like it to almost have a little crust on bits of it, to add texture. It should be seasoned well enough to taste good on its own. Remove to a bowl.
3) Add onions and garlic to the same pan, sautee over medium heat w/ a little olive oil until onions are just starting to get soft. Add the rest of the veggies and herbs/spices, continue to sautee over medium heat until carrots and celery just start to soften, 5-7 mins.
4) Return meat to pan w/ veggies, adding the beef broth and flour (sprinkle flower over whole mixture to not create lumps). Stir it all together and let simmer over medium heat until most of the broth is evaporated (approx. 10 mins), stirring occasionally. Remove from heat and allow to cool somewhat (doesn’t need to be cold or anything.)
5) Once somewhat cooled, add the mixture to cold pie crusts, topping with the mashed potatoes.
6) Put in the oven for 30-40 mins (30 for the personal size pies, 40 for the larger pies), or until crust is golden.
*If you wanted to add cheese at the end, you could shred sharp cheddar cheese and sprinkle over!
P.S. do you think we made enough?

big pie

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Happy St Patrick’s Day!!!!
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I turned my head for one second, and this poor gal gashed up her nose! #Mommyfail #Scarsaddcharacter….not! PS Thanks for the outfit Auntie Kendall 🙂

Spicy Cacio e Pepe with Parsley

 

Cacio e Pepe

I know I mentioned before, I’m not much of a fan for pasta. I blame my mother (in a good way), because she seriously is the best when it comes to cooking pasta since she makes everything from scratch. So for my whole life that has been my excuse to never order it at a restaurant, because it won’t compare in taste. However, Nick LOVES pasta, and his favorite dish is your classic spaghetti. So obviously as his wife I just can’t deprive him of his favorite dish! He has definitely mastered the classic red sauce spaghetti and meatball dish (my mom might have some close competition there), but lately he’s been getting more creative with his noodles. Below’s dish is one he made for us the other night that came with quite the kick! I even found myself going back for 3rds 🙂 If you wanted to add a sausage or another type of meat to this dish it would definitely be yummy, but honestly, you don’t need it!

Spicy Cacio e Pepe with Parsley:

Ingredients: serves 2-3

  • -1 pack of thick spaghetti
  • – 1-2 cups fresh, finely grated Parmesan cheese (you can use the granulated, pre-grated kind… it will still taste good, but the texture of the dish won’t be quite as nice. Also, use 1/3 less if you use non-fresh)
  • – 1 bunch parsley (chopped)
  • – 6-8 cloves garlic (thinly sliced… the more the merrier, really)
  • – 1 Tbsp dried chili flakes (or more, depending on how much kick you want)
  • – salt & pepper
  • – extra virgin olive oil
Instructions:
  1. Boil spaghetti in generously salted water until al dente. Strain into the bowl you’re going to serve the pasta in and toss w/ a little olive oil (to stop it from sticking together.)
  2. In the now empty pot, add 1/4 cup of olive oil, garlic, and chili flakes. Heat over low heat, cooking until garlic flakes are just starting to get golden, 3-4 mins, stirring regularly. This should make a nice garlic/chili oil.
  3. Return the pasta to the pot, quickly tossing with the garlic/chili oil. Cook, continually tossing, for another 1-2 mins, then remove from heat.
  4. This step you can choose to do or not, depending on how cheesy you like your pasta (I like to skip this part to keep the pasta healthier… and to be honest, even Nick said it doesn’t detract from the flavor too much). But if you insist… Add 1 cup of Parmesan to the hot pasta, tossing actively. This should allow the parm to melt a little, but not to mac & cheese-like consistency.
  5. Add to the serving bowl, tossing with fresh parsley, salt, and pepper. You should use a generous amount of parsley… parsley offsets the richness/spiciness of the rest of the ingredients.) Make sure to add the parm before salt, b/c parm is salty in and of itself. Same with black pepper, as the chili pepper already adds spiciness… we like a lot of pepper anyways, though.
  6. Regardless of whether or not you added parm in step 4, definitely sprinkle fresh grated parm on top. Et voila! You’re done!
I realized I haven’t updated on Char that much this week! She’s been a little active one this week. Now that the weather is nice, I’m utilizing the stroller and taking her out non stop! She did have her ‘first roll’ ….and I am ashamed to admit this, but we both missed it. Go figure! I put her down for tummy time (which she hates), and went to the kitchen for 2 seconds to help Nick. When I came back, she was off her mat, laying there silently on her back! We are hoping she attempts it again, since she’s been squirming around like crazy on her mat, but we shall see!
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Spice rubbed pork feast…

After a whirlwind eating and drinking fest in Florida last week, we were itching for some home cooked goodness. On Thursday my best friend from college and her husband came to town, so we had them over for dinner. We knew we would be eating out a lot during the weekend, so thought some lean meat and veggies would be a good start before our fried food and pasta filled weekend.

This pork tenderloin dish is one of our easier recipes for big groups,  with very minimal prep work. The rub itself we kind of make up along the way each time, but it’s really about making sure you cook the tenderloin just right. We actually added a sweet potato and butternut squash puree under the pork, but unfortunately we forgot to take a picture. As far as the roasted veggies, our latest style is just roasting them for 40 minutes, adding olive oil and assorted spiced. For the carrots we like to make them sweeter, with nutmeg or cinnamon, and then the broccoli we tend to add chili flakes or cumin.

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Lately when we roast meats, we’ve been placing them on this wire tray that sits right above the veggie pan. This way the meat juice falls off into the veggies.

 

Ingredients: serves 2

For the pork:

  • 1 lb of pork tenderloin
  • salt & pepper
  • equal parts of the following spices: about 1 table spoon each
    • cumin
    • garlic powder
    • ginger
    • paprika
    • oregano
    • chili flakes
    • brown sugar
    • white sugar
    • fennel seeds
    • nutmeg (only a tea spoon)

For the puree:

  • 2 sweet potatoes
  • 1 package of pre-sliced/peeled butternut squash (you could buy a whole squash as well, but this is much quicker)
  • 1 teaspoon of cinnamon, nutmeg, and cumin
  • 1 tablespoon of butter
  • 1/2 cup of milk (we used 2%)
  • 1 table spoon of olive oil
  • 1 yellow onion

Instructions: If you are planning to do the puree, I would start this first, since it takes awhile to roast the vegetables.

Pork:

  1. Preheat over 425F
  2. In a mixing bowl combine all spices for the pork rub.
  3. Salt & pepper the pork tenderloin generously, then add the mixed spice rub all over.
  4. Place on baking tray in oven for 35 minutes, or until the temperature reaches 150F.
  5. Let pork rest for 5-10 minutes before slicing.

Puree:

  1. Peel sweet potatoes and cut into chunks.
  2. In a bowl mix sweet potatoes and butternut squash together with cinnamon, nutmeg, cumin, and olive oil
  3. Roast veggies at 425F for 45 minutes or until slightly tender.
  4. While veggies are roasting, dice onion and sautee in a pot with butter until soft.
  5. Once roasted, add veggies to the pot and add water until they are covered. Let boil for 15 minutes.
  6. Drain pot and blend using a hand held blender (or food processor). Add salt & pepper to taste.
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Doesn’t someone look thrilled to be celebrating her 4 month birthday!

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FL bound & stuffed peppers…

Little Miss Char and I decided to be brave and fly solo this past week to visit my parents in FL. We survived the flight, although it was  a tad different than her first flight at 10 weeks old, when she slept literally the entire time. She was definitely active for 95% of the flight and my arms were TIRED to say the least… but all in we made it to the sunshine state. The even better news is Nick will be flying back with us, so it will be so much easier with extra hands. He has a conference down here in a few days for work, which was the original reason we planned this trip!

While home we certainly get spoiled by my mother’s Italian cooking. She makes her pasta from scratch, and can whip up homemade raviolis with a meat sauce in literally 20 minutes. She decided to switch up the cuisine on us and made Picadillo Stuffed Peppers, a recipe inspired by a dish she saw while watching the food network. The fun thing about this recipe is each colored pepper has a different taste. We prefer the red pepper the best, it has a tendency to be sweeter 🙂  Also most stuffed pepper recipes, you cut the top off and hollow it out. These we sliced vertically in half, leaving the stem on. We found the peppers hold their shape a lot better this way, plus the stem acts as a great decorative piece when plating.

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Finished product!!!

Ingredients: serving size 6 (3 peppers total)

Bell Peppers:

  • 1 red pepper, 1 green pepper, 1 yellow pepper (halved lengthwise and seeded)
  • salt & pepper
  • cilantro
  • 3/4 cup panko bread crumbs
  • 1/2 cup of shredded cheese (we used mozzarella)

Picadillo:

  • 2 tble spoons of olive oil
  • 12 ounces of ground meat (we used ground chuck, but ground turkey would be just as good)
  • 1 cup of green olives w/ pimientos chopped
  • 1/2 of diced carrots
  • 1/2 cup of raisins
  • 1/2 diced onions
  • 1 14 once can of crushed tomatoes

Directions:

Picadillo:

  1. Preheat the over to 400F
  2. Heat oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add ground beef; cook until brown about 8-10 minutes.
  3. Add onions, raisins, carrots, olives, and spices
  4. Add crushed tomatoes and bring skillet to a boil. Overall should simmer for 10 minutes or so.

You can technically make this picadillo ahead of time and let it sit for the day until you are ready to cook.

Peppers:

  1. Slice bell peppers vertically, removing the excess white membrane
  2. Place on a baking sheet
  3. Fill each pepper half with the picadillo mixture.
  4. Bake for about 20 minutes, or until the peppers are tender.
  5. In a small bowl stir together mozzarella, panko, and cilantro. Save for the end to top the peppers.
  6. Remove from the oven and turn broiler to high.
  7. Sprinkle peppers with w/ the cheese and panko  mix.
  8. Put back in the oven for about 5 minutes, or until golden brown.

 

PS, I think Char looks more and more like my nephew Grey (My sisters baby boy who is now 4, this pic is from forever ago). I can’t wait for these little stinkers to meet this spring.

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