Popable Turkey Meatloaves

A few weeks ago my cousin Rachel posted on her Facebook that she was going on a juice fast. She is eating absolutely NOTHING for 10 days. Instead of eating, she is juicing fresh fruits and vegetables to drink 4 times a day. She was inspired by one Aussie man’s journey to better health in the documentary “Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead”. In just 1 week of her fast she cleansed her body and jump started her weight loss with a whopping 10 pounds.

This got me thinking about how dissatisfied I have been with my recent weight gain. I know a food blogger being overweight, no real surprise there. So my new goals after reading my cousin’s story, and watching the documentary myself are to:

1) Not eat so much of my own cooking. I love to cook and it tastes so damn good. I am not going to deprive myself and be miserable just for vanity, however I am going to work on everything in moderation.

2) Try to make some better choices. I went back to my last blog and while that bacon wrapped pork was just about the most delicious dish I have eaten in a while, I can now just picture it clogging up my arteries. ( Not saying it won’t make its way through my kitchen again, but next time we are may see it in a slightly healthier capacity.)

This recipe is the first of what I hope will be many in healthier choices in my diet overall.

I love meatloaf. LOVE! I mean who doesn’t. Just look at that brick of goodness 🙂

But I have always struggled with making it be as awesome as my mother’s. I have tried 4 different meatloaf recipes, suffered through eating about 7 loaves that ranged from mediocre to down-right disgusting. They have been too greasy, too watery, too dry, not seasoned well enough and completely falling apart. So I found a recipe on another blog for “Cupfakes” where she made meatloaf look like a cupcake.

Now cupcakes are something I am good at, so I decided to give it a whirl. I omitted the mashed potato frosting because I am not a big fan of them period, so I didn’t want to risk ruining my loaf yet again. I combined the loaf-cake idea with a turkey meatloaf recipe from Ina Garten ( my personal hero!). Ina’s recipe would feed an army so I cut mine down significantly. The link will take you to the original where you can see the measurements for a full size loaf.

My last trip to the grocery store ended in only buying ground turkey that is 93% lean. Normally I am shoving ground beef together in with my bread and ketchup which is only 80% lean. After eating these babies, I just felt skinnier already.

Here is what you need and how much you need,

1 pound ground turkey breast

½ chopped yellow onion

½ diced green pepper

1 tblsp olive oil

Salt & pepper

½ tsp dried Herb de Provence

1 1/2 tblsp Worcestershire sauce

¼ cup chicken stock

2 tblsp ketchup plus enough for the tops

1 beaten egg

3/4 cup bread crumbs

Heat  your oven to 350. I followed Ina and preheated to 325, but I felt like the tops of my loaves did not get as brown as I would have liked without leaving them in there for like 45 minutes, which would have dried them out too much. So I think it would be safe to bump it up to 350.

I lightly buttered the bottoms of my muffin tin just to make sure the loaves came out easily. It also gave the bottoms a slight crunch which was perfection.

Here is my spiffy herb collection, aka, Herb De Provence. This is an excellent meatloaf blend because it doesn’t let one herb overpower the other. I love the taste of herbs in meatloaf so I love this combo of basil, marjoram, thyme, sage, savory and rosemary.

Saute  your chopped pepper and onions in olive oil with salt, pepper and herbs until translucent. This usually takes about 10 minutes. Then add the ketchup, Worcestershire sauce and chicken stock. Bring to a boil and simmer for 2-3 minutes to thicken the sauce a little. Remove it from heat and allow to cool to room temperature.

Ground turkey can be a little on the watery side, especially after thawing. So when you remove it from the package just lay it between 4-5 paper towels and soak up the excess liquid.

Now lightly beat your egg and add it to the ground turkey. Gently mix with a fork and then add your onion mix. Gently mix these and finally add the bread crumbs. Some people swear by using homemade crumbs or mushy day old bread. I have tried it all three ways and find that dried bread crumbs work best. They soak up the moisture from the meat without make it to dry.

I always mix each ingredient in by itself first so that I don’t over mix the loaf. After all the ingredients are in with the meat get your hands in there and gently mash it together just until it holds its shape.

I rolled my mixture into about 3 inch balls and placed them in a muffin tin. Bake them for 30 minutes. Then remove and add the ketchup.

 

I was channeling Jackson Pollock in my ketchup designs, feel free to just spread some on with a knife. Return them to the oven for another 5-8 minutes and voila! Cupcake shaped meatloaf! These were by far, hands down, the best meatloaves I have ever made. I sprinkled the top with a little kosher salt to finish and served them along side some oven fried potatoes.

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

Advertisements

Bacon Hugged Pork Tenderloin with Mustard & Rosemary

Someone tell me what’s better than a juicy, spicy, delicious slab of pork. Ok, I know it is almost impossible to imagine anything better, but I will tell you. A juicy, spicy, delicious slab of pork wrapped in salty, mouth-watering, crispy bacon.

This Giadia DeLaurentis recipe is not one to miss. Not only is it a show stopper for presentation, but it tastes and smells even better than it looks.

The pork tenderloin is just one of those meats you can do anything with, but I often find myself reverting back to two basic dishes. One is of course BBQ pulled pork. The other is an apricot-jam pork tenderloin served over yellow rice. Both are amazing and can always satisfy my craving for the piggly wiggly, but this bacon wrapped, mustard smothered pork shakes up the routine and will definitely be made again in my kitchen.

Preheat the oven to 350 so it will be waiting on you.

Start off with a pork tenderloin ( I actually just used half of one because I am only feeding two people).  Some tenderloin is very fatty on the outside so if yours is this way you can carefully trim off some of the fat, but leave a little because it will just hug the pork with juiciness.  (Yes I am getting sentimental over my pork). Place it in a shallow baking dish and sprinkle the outside with salt and pepper.

 

Now get started on the gooey-ooey sauce. I will give a slight disclaimer that I did not follow the recipe to the T because I am cheap and sometimes a little kitchen lazy, but I really don’t feel like my end product suffered.

So in the recipe it calls for ¼ cup Dijon mustard and 2 Tblsp whole grain mustard. Instead I substituted two kinds of mustard I would not use again for about ½ cup of spicy brown mustard.  I later used this to make yummy turkey grilled cheese sandwiches and salad dressing. If you will use whole grain and Dijon by all means buy both.

Now combine the mustard (s) with 2 Tblsp honey, four cloves of minced garlic, and 2 tblsp chopped rosemary. I also did not go out and buy fresh rosemary because it is EXPENSIVE. One day when I have a house I plan on growing my own fresh herbs and reaping the benefits daily, however while I live in my little apartment on my little budget  I will use dried rosemary. I also adjusted this with the dry herb to 1 ½ Tblsp so it wouldn’t be overwhelming.

My mom tried this recipe the same weekend I did and she used sage instead of rosemary because my dad HATES rosemary (crazy right?!). She said it was awesome, so feel free to experiment with your herb combos.

Now the fun part! Place your pork in a baking dish and slather ¾ of the mustardy goodness all over the pork. Feel free to use your hands, however a basting brush works just fine.

Once coated take 12 strips of bacon and lay them over the top diagonally. This way will give you 100% crispy bacon coverage. Secure the bacon with toothpicks.

*Warning* It is very imperative that after baking you remember to remove the toothpicks. They are easy to forget. Trust me.

Now take the remaining mustard and smear it over the bacon.

Place the pork into the preheated oven and bake for 1 hour uncovered.

Cover with aluminum foil and bake for 15-20 more minutes.

Now it is imperative that after you take it out of the oven you let the bacon hugged tenderloin rest for 10 minutes under the foil tent! The juices will redistribute and not end up flowing all over your cutting board.

Carefully place the pork onto a board and slice it however thick you want. It will probably crumble just a little because it is so tender and awesome!

Now whisk the drippings in the pan together scraping up all kinds of dark, rich pork bits and spoon over the pork right before serving.

I have eaten some terribly dry and disgraceful tenderloins before, but this is definitely not one of them.

I unfortunately forgot to take a picture of the finished product. Probably because I was too busy eating it.

(By the way, the leftovers make AMAZING sandwiches on small toasted dinner rolls.)

 

Double Chocolate Almond Cookies

This past Sunday I had a serious itch to be in the kitchen. Part of it was I needed some ammunition for my blog, the other part of it was just the uncontrollable desire to make an unruly mess.

Let me preface by saying that the Middle Tennessee area has been experiencing some record-breaking heat, and so logically I wanted to spend an entire day hovering over a 350-400 degree oven.  It was crazy, and after seeing this past months electric bill I can only say that I will probably regret this day next month.

So on with the cookies. Ina Garten, from The Barefoot Contessa, is my go-to baking queen. I found this recipe on the Food Network website. I then decided I had to try it! I don’t know who Kathleen King is, but thank you for your cookies.

Here is what you need:

  • 2 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup Dutch-processed cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/4 cups (2 1/2 sticks) salted butter, softened to room temperature
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup firmly packed dark or light brown sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 cup white chocolate chips
  • 1 1/2 cups semisweet chocolate chips
  • 1 cup almonds, chopped

The first thing I did, even though the recipe did not specify to, was to preheat my oven to 350 and lay my sliced almonds in an even layer on a sheet pan. Pop them in the oven to toast up for about 4 minutes. As soon as you can smell them, they are done. This will give them that really intense almond flavor and an extra crunch. So now here is a fun little extra.

Put the almonds in a plastic bag. Get a really heavy mallet, skillet, trivet, whatever you have lying around. Commence smashing until the desired size is achieved.

Chopping almonds is for the birds, this is much easier and relieves some stress.

OK, now sift together the flour, cocoa powder, salt and baking soda. In your mixer beat the butter, white sugar and brown sugar together until fluffy and combined. Now beat in the vanilla extract and eggs. (As always do the eggs one at a time to make sure they combine evenly without over mixing.)

Your batter will now look like a mound of chocolate awesome.

Mix in the almonds and two varieties of chocolate chips. After eating these I also think that butterscotch chips would make a delicious alternative to anyone completely turned off by white chocolate (but really who is that!?).

Scoop the batter out with an ice cream scoop and bake at 350 for 14 minutes. The recipe says 15 minutes, but I like to be difficult. I have always thought that cookie recipes always overcooked them, so even though this is a pretty good cooking time, I rebelled.

The recipe also says it yields 52 cookies. I don’t know what kind of teeny-tiny weenie cookies Ina Garten made, but I like a big caloric heart attack with my cookie experience. I ended up with 30.

Here is the finished product. They look so rich and yummy that you will take some to work with you and your office full of women will have devoured them within the hour.

Yum!!! One word of caution. If you like a thin, crunchy cookie, these may not be for you. The consistency is almost brownie-like and they are very soft and chewy. Of course warn your pals with nut allergies! Most of all enjoy!

Spinach Artichoke Rollups with Chicken…mmmmmm

So far the only things I have posted have been sweets, but I do feed my boyfriend things other than cupcakes. Actually, I love to cook almost as much as I love to bake. I am just not quite as good at the savory delights yet.

This recipe is something I am especially proud to share because I made it up on my own and it was actually completely delicious. The idea came to me while reading a recipe for Taco Roll Ups. I thought the idea sounded good, but I am not a huge taco eater and I was looking for something more creative to do with chicken; however the concept of rolling ooey gooey goodness inside a tender, flaky crescent roll made my mind explode with possibilities.

Thus Spinach Artichoke Rollups with Chicken were born.

The best part about this recipe is that it is the perfect and easy weeknight meal, it makes cute and easy-to-eat appetizers or the filling can be served with crackers or toasted bread just like regular spinach dip.

 

Here is the grocery list:

  • 1 pound of chicken breast tenderloins
  • 1 tblsp olive oil
  • 1 tblsp Italian seasoning (feel free to use fresh herbs if you have them, I just despise herb chopping)
  • 1 tblsp garlic powder
  • 1 pound baby spinach (fresh or frozen)
  • 1 small onion
  • ½ jar artichoke hearts
  • 1 pound cream cheese (softened)
  • ½ grated Parmesan cheese
  • 2 cans of Pilsbury Crescent rolls (this should make 16 rollups)

OK, start by preheating your oven to the temperature it says on the crescent roll can (which might be 400 if I remember right).

Then get a skillet with your olive oil heating over medium-high heat.

Take your chicken tenders and clean off any excess fatty deposits (yes it is nasty, but you will be thankful you did when you don’t bite into that chewy awkward piece of chicken later on).  Sprinkle each side of the chicken with salt, pepper, garlic powder and Italian seasoning. Sautee your chicken until its golden brown and cooked all the way through. When your chicken is done, just lay it on a paper towel to cool enough for you to handle.

 

 

 

 

 

While this is happening, get started on the veggies for the filling. Finely chop your onion and artichokes. I hate huge pieces of artichoke, but if you like them that way you can just rough chop the pieces that come in the can.

 

 

 

 

 

At this point I also sliced up 1 zucchini for that night’s side dish, fried zucchini straws (yummy!).

Now, lower the heat in your skillet and if you need to add another tsp of oil that’s fine. I had to because my chicken soaked up all the juicy goodness of the first tsp.

Add your onion and artichokes and let them work a few minutes until they are just softened and getting a little color. The slight caramelizing of the onions will give off a nice sweet flavor that is a happily ever after for this filling.

Now it is time to add the spinach. I used fresh because I really hate wringing out thawed spinach. If you already have frozen just make sure it is completely thawed and that you get all the water out of it before adding it to the mix.

After just a few short minutes your spinach will be nice and wilted. After your spinach wilts down some add a little salt, pepper, garlic powder and Italian seasoning. It will amp up the flavors in the chicken and ensure the whole dish is well seasoned. Also, my fresh spinach did create a little water so I drained that off really well before mixing it into my filling.

While my spinach cooked, I shredded the chicken into thin, bite-sized morsels and threw those into a bowl. Then I added my spinach mix and tossed that together. Now for the really good stuff, add your very soft cream cheese and grated Parmesan and stir until it is all really combined.

Unroll your crescent rolls, which is a pain in my booty and I might consider using puff pastry sheets the next time, and carefully stuff about a tablespoon of filling onto the thickest part of the dough. Roll them up so that all the filling is covered. Mine did not come out looking like Miss America Roll-Ups, but like I said before crescent rolls frustrate me so I gave up fighting with them and just rolled with it.

Now spray your baking sheet, stab each roll with a fork one time to let steam escape and place them in the oven for about 13-15 minutes.

As an extra treat here is what I did while my roll-ups baked.

I busted out my favorite Christmas gift from last year, my baby deep fryer, and heated the oil to 350.Then I coated my zucchini strips in a little flour, and dredged them in this amazing fry coating.

It is actually meant as an onion ring batter, but the thick consistency makes it just about perfect for frying most veggies. Then throw them into the fryer in an even layer for about 3 minutes and voila! You have fried zucchini that would tell Carrabbas $8 appetizer where to shove it.

I brought these babies out to my boyfriend and he immediately decided they had to become part of our regular dinner rotations!Hope they become part of yours too!

 

 

The Perfect Summer Cupcakes

Last year, in my cupcake baking infancy, I jumped out on a limb and tried to make lemon raspberry cupcakes with NO recipe…

Well let’s just say I am glad I don’t have the pictures to prove just how awful these cupcakes turned out. Imagine a dense blob of yellow cake mix and Jello lemon pudding with an artificial tasting purple icing. Seriously, they were that bad.

Anyways, thankfully this year I have learned my lesson about experimenting with something purely scientific. I found a recipe courtesy the Pretty Hungry Girl blog, which I now follow religiously. This recipe is by far the closest I have come to a heavenly experience on Earth.

And here is how they turned out…

Scrumptious right?

The cake is a super simple white cake recipe that is so versatile. I am excited to have this under my belt and start experimenting with different varieties.

Here is what you need…

1 box white cake mix, 1 cup flour, 1 cup sugar, 1/8 cup canola oil (If you don’t have a measuring cup with this obviously you can use half of a 1/4 cup or a little more than a tablespoon), 1 tsp of vanilla and almond extract, 1 1/3 cup water, 3/4 tsp salt, 1 cup sour cream, 1 egg, 3 egg whites ( I’m not 100% sure why you can’t just use 4 egg whites, but this cake is so yummy I don’t question a single ingredient).

Start by preheating your oven to 325.

Then sift your cake mix, flour, salt and sugar together to make sure there are no lumps in your mix. In your mixing bowl mix together your egg, egg whites, oil, water and sour cream just until combined. Then slowly mix in your dry ingredients making sure not to over mix. Finally throw in your extracts like Emeril Lagasse! BAM!!! Amazing!

Now you want to fill your cupcake liners a little less than half full with batter. At this point we add the secret, summery surprise. The raspberry filling. Of course if you would prefer a different berry flavor you can always substitute raspberry with blackberry or strawberry. I used the Smucker’s seedless black raspberry jam and mixed it up really well to make it super easy to plop down over my cake batter.

After you spread a nice layer of jam on the batter, cover that up with another small scoop of batter and you are ready for the oven.

You want to leave these alone for at least 18 minutes. At that point check on their progress and depending on your oven they may be done. Some ovens may need to go to the 20 minute mark.

Now you cool them and start on the most decadent frosting ever!

I absolutely love white chocolate, but it is so rich I often can’t eat much of it because I start getting that heavy feeling after two bites. So the secret weapon to enjoying unlimited amounts of white chocolate is to add lemon.

Start by melting 4 oz of white chocolate. I use baker’s blocks because it’s easier to measure, but if chips is all you have on hand feel free to measure out 4 oz.

Some people are all about the fanciness of a double boiler, but to me all that does is waste time and dirty a dish. I just pop my chocolate in the microwave for 17 second intervals until it is smooth and melted. Then add 1 tsp vanilla extract and let cool. It is important that the chocolate is nice and cool. I made the mistake of adding it too soon to my frosting and had to overcompensate with more powdered sugar. It was still delicious, but wasteful. So to save sugar let it cool down before you add it to the frosting.

Now beat two sticks of ROOM TEMPERATURE butter until creamy. (Yes it is important to have nice soft butter. It makes for nice smooth frosting.) Add your cooled chocolate.

Then gradually, like about a cup at a time, add 5 cups of powdered sugar. Add a splash (aka a tblsp) of heavy cream just because we really didn’t think this was fattening enough to begin with. Finally, add the zest of a lemon into your frosting.

It is amazing to me how much flavor just the oils in the skin of a lemon adds, so if you are a skeptic like I was and are thinking about adding some of the juice to the frosting, STOP! It is not necessary. All that will accomplish is a sour pucker on your face as you eat these. That was one of the mistakes last year when I made my mess of lemon cupcakes.

I added a fresh raspberry on top and you could add some more lemon zest for decoration, or just pipe the frosting on and devour.

Everyone at your summer picnics and BBQ’s will be so glad you came if you come bearing these refreshing gifts.

Award Winning Smore’s Cupcakes

06/20/2011

Here are my 3rd prize winning Smore’s cupcakes from this years Lowe’s bake-off. I was disappointed to only win 3rd place, but the strawberry pie that came in 1st was very deserving.

These cupcakes used my usual chocolate cake recipe with chocolate chips, a homemade marshmallow frosting (recipe below) and a chocolate ganache. I also sprinkled some crushed graham crackers on the top to make them seem more like Smore’s, but they really didn’t add much flavor wise.

Marshmallow Frosting – much easier than you may think

1 cup sugar

3 tblsp water

2 egg whites

1/2 tsp cream of tartar

1/2 tsp salt

I was intimidated by making homemade marshmallow, so much so that I even bought a container of Marshmallow Fluff just in case, but I was pleasantly surprised at how easy it comes together.

You start by bringing your water and sugar to a low boil on the stove top. Stir this constantly as it comes to a boil so you dissolve the sugar and it won’t burn. Once the sugar is completely dissolved, after about 2 minutes of boiling gently, take the mix off the heat and let it hang out. Don’t wait too long about assembling the frosting though because cold syrup will not make a good consistency.

Next step is to take your room temperature egg whites (try to find something to do with the yolks because I always feel bad throwing them out) and beat them in a stand mixer with your cream of tartar and salt on medium speed until you have a very frothy mixture that forms small peaks.

Now slowly pour in the hot sugar syrup and continue beating at medium speed for about 5 minutes. Your frosting is going to be very shiny and soft like clouds. You want to frost your cupcakes or cake as soon as you finish the frosting so it doesn’t melt or deflate. It is surprisingly easy to pipe too!

When I made my frosting I added a tsp of vanilla extract and as an afterthought I wish I hadn’t, thus I left it out of the recipe. It gave my frosting a slightly bitter aftertaste.

I am very excited that I mastered this recipe because I will be using it to make Smore’s and Smore cupcakes from here on out.

Most Delectable Peanut Butter Fudge Cupcakes

05/19/2011

I first really started getting into baking a little over a year ago, and I would test out the product on my very willing coworkers. This recipe was inspired by the lovely Frankie at Lowe’s of Smyrna. I won a dessert baking contest at work and the prize was a gift card for Jim N’ Nicks restaurant. It somehow fell out of my purse one night as I was leaving work, and Frankie was nice enough to pick it up and give it back to me when she saw it lying on the floor. As a thank you gesture I promised her, her favorite kind of cupcakes. She told me she loved anything and everything chocolate and so the Peanut Butter Fudgecake was born. I love Reese’s cups, so it only seemed natural to choose peanut butter when deciding what to pair with the decadent chocolate. Here is the recipe, hope you enjoy.

Cupcake:

1 box of Duncan Hines Devil’s Food cake mix

(Yes, I will admit to taking some assistance from a boxed mix. I don’t consider it cheating because it just makes the process faster and requires me to do a lot less measuring.)

3 large eggs

1 1/3 cup milk

1/4 cup vegetable oil

1/2 cup sour cream

Mix the cake mix, oil and milk until blended. Add the eggs one at a time and always crack the eggs into a separate bowl first. Then mix in the sour cream. Beat for about two minutes until the batter is nice and smooth. Spoon about two tablespoons of batter into each cupcake liner for regular size cupcakes.

Bake at 350 degrees F for 16-17 minutes. This may not sound like enough time for them to cook, but the biggest problem I see with other people’s cupcakes are they are too dry and it is probably the result of cooking them too long. The box recommends 22-24 minutes for cupcakes but the cakes will continue to cook after removing them from the oven, so I always cut a few minutes off the box time.

Frosting:

1 cup creamy peanut butter

1/3 cup heavy cream

1/2 cup butter

4 1/2 cups powdered sugar

Beat the butter and peanut butter until combined then slowly mix in the cream. When this mixture is smooth add the sugar in one cup at a time. Use a gallon freezer bag as a frosting bag. Just cut the tip and swirl the frosting over the top. Put the cupcakes in the fridge for about 30 minutes to let the frosting set up.

Fudge Ganache:

1 bag semi-sweet chocolate chips

1 cup heavy cream

1 tsp vanilla extract

Bring the heavy cream to a slow boil and as soon as it begins to bubble remove it from the heat and pour it over the chips. Stir it until it is a creamy fudge sauce. Add the vanilla at the very end. Dip each cupcake into the chocolate and then return them to the fridge until the chocolate is set. Finally it is time to devour!