Not My Mother’s Meatloaf

When I was a little girl nothing disgusted me more than meatloaf.   There was nothing about my mom’s meatloaf that appealed to me.   Seriously, who puts ketchup and raw onion in their ground beef?   I hated onions as a kid and putting ketchup on anything grossed me out – just ask my cousin how her dad tortured me with that one.  As meatloaf was a favorite of my father, it was in mom’s weekly rotation.   Gosh how I remember feigning sickness every time it came around on the menu.

When we were first married, my husband mentioned to me that he liked meatloaf.   I thought I had escaped this meal, but it was rearing it’s ugly head again.  I said I’d look around at some recipes and see what I could find.   I hoped he’d forget all about it, but he brought it up again a few weeks later.   I knew that I loved meatballs, so there had to be a way I could like meatloaf.  I vowed to have an open mind and give this meal another try.

We don’t eat meatloaf often around here, maybe once or twice a year.  After a lot experimenting I found a recipe we both can agree on.  Thankfully, it doesn’t require ketchup or raw onions, though that likely wouldn’t bother me as much anymore.   This recipe is very simple to make and we have had many different variations of it.   Depending on your tastes and side dishes you can change the filling to whatever you’d like.  Be creative and have fun with it.

My version of meatloaf is more or a stuffed meat log.   We’ve used chopped turkey or beef, but both prefer beef.   When we are in the mood for roasted potatoes, I fill the log with feta cheese and spinach.   When, like today we want a little sauce I fill the log with mozzarella cheese and spinach. Either way you make it, there’s likely not going to be much left.

This recipe as written was enough for two, with a care package for my dad.   Even though it’s not my mother’s meatloaf, dad still really enjoys it.

Ingredients

  • 1 lb grass fed ground beef
  • 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
  • 1 cup flavored bread crumbs
  • 1 medium egg
  • 1/2 cup crushed tomatoes
  • 1/2 lb mozzarella cheese chopped
  • Fresh organic baby spinach

Directions

  1. Pour a glass of Malbec and turn on Alexa for dancing in the kitchen. 38B1C00C-2345-4189-9151-2AE4F8E082AE
  2. Mix ground beef, egg, Parmesan cheese, breadcrumbs and crushed tomatoes in Kitchen Aid mixer with paddle attachment.
  3. Spread mixture onto baking sheet lined with parchment paper.  B82B5BD3-BF30-4D98-9274-6F4A5490E813
  4. Put layer of chopped mozzarella and baby spinach on top of beef, spreading evenly.  Leave about 1/2 in border clear.  85D6CDAF-953B-4CCF-8664-90E812C620D9
  5. Lifting parchment paper, begin rolling beef into a log. End with seam down.  E4F405A6-549F-4622-BD21-349725389C57
  6. Place on greased, lined baking sheet. Be sure the tray has a lip to prevent grease from dripping in oven.
  7. Bake at 350 for 45-60 minutes, or until cooked through.
  8. Serve immediately with or without sauce.082BBFE8-6021-492E-803A-B79ACDF915F4

We ate ours tonight with homemade potato gnocchi and a touch of Sunday sauce. Delicious!

Recipe for homemade gnocchi can be found here – Pete’s Lemon Basil Chicken with Gnocchi

Recipe for Sunday sauce can be found here – Sunday Sauce

Let me know if you try any of these recipes.  If you have a favorite recipe you’d like to share, send me a note below.

 

Diana’s Veal & Peppers

Losing a parent is one of the hardest things a person goes through in their life.  Losing two parents and an only sister within three years is unimaginable to me.  When one suffers such a loss, memories are often where they find solace.  Photographs, songs, letters, scents and recipes keep us connected to those we miss the most.  An old friend of mine, Joan often cooks childhood dishes to reconnect to happier times with her family. Living in Buffalo now, Joan’s food photographs pop up on my Facebook feed, often when she can’t sleep.  On those days, I feel like I can smell her cooking right through the computer and wish she still lived nearby.

I met Joan back when our boys were little.  Our boys attended elementary school together and were two peas in a pod, especially when it came to leaving their books at school.  My son Robert used to inform me that Gary’s mother would go and make photocopies of missing homework pages at the nearest drug store.  I told my son that was way too complicated for me with three young children, besides he needed to learn responsibility, right?

Joan was one of the first ladies I met when our children started Kindergarten.  She was hysterically funny and a realist when it came to raising her children.  We shared many laughs and cocktails together as our children grew up.  When Joan’s children went off to college in Buffalo, she and her husband decided to pack up and move up there.

A few years back, Joan lost her mom and dad within one year of each other.  When her mom was dying of cancer, Joan and her sister Barbara moved back into the family home in Brooklyn to care for her.  Joan’s posts were often like Seinfeld episodes, in which she described going back to the old neighborhood.  Throughout this most difficult time, Joan kept her sense of humor and helped her mom Diana keep her dignity.  Anyone who has gone through this knows that is not an easy thing to do.  Not long after Joan’s mom died, her only sister Barbara passed away unexpectedly.  This came as quite a shock to all as Barbara was a healthy woman and left Joan understandably devastated.

Joanandmom
Joan, Diana, Barbara

Yesterday, Joan commented on my sausage and peppers post.   She shared how she too, cooks foods from her past to feel closer to those lost.  She said she tries to make her mother’s recipes to hang on to her childhood memories.  Her mother’s veal and peppers recipe was her favorite as a child.  Every year for her birthday, her mom would let her request a special dinner and this is the one Joan picked.  As she celebrates her birthday this weekend, Joan made her mom’s treasured recipe and kindly shared it with us.

Like most women of her time, Diana never wrote anything down.  Joan said she often has the urge to pick up the phone when cooking to ask her mom how to make certain foods.  I’m sure many of you know that feeling all too well.  Here is Diana’s recipe as Joan makes it today.

Diana’s Veal & PeppersJoansmom

Ingredients:

  • 4-5 red peppers sliced
  • 1 large onion sliced
  • 3 cloves of garlic chopped
  • Red pepper flakes
  • Olive oil
  • 1 1/2 lbs veal cubes for stew
  • Flour
  • 2 small cans of DelMonte Tomato Sauce
  • Red wine

Directions:

I usually make the peppers in advance just to make life easier.

  1. Slice up 4-5 red peppers and 1 onion. Place in pan with olive oil, salt, red pepper flakes. Mix it coating the peppers with oil. Cover with foil and cook at 400 hundred oven till almost soft. (15-20 minutes)
  2. Mix flour, salt and black pepper in dish. Coat veal cubes in flour.
  3. Brown veal in large frying pan with olive oil and minced garlic.
  4. When brown add splash of red wine to deglaze the pot.
  5. Then add 2 small cans of Del Monte tomato sauce and a little bit of water. Bring to boil. Cover and simmer about 1 to 1 1/2 hours till veal is fork tender.
  6. Add peppers and onions and heat all together for 5 minutes or until hot. That’s it.
  7. Serve on rice
  8. Leftovers, if any, are great on Italian hero’s the next dayE974E165-6B44-4A51-AF72-1C9663CD0B1D

If you try this recipe, please leave a comment in the section below.  We’d love to hear how you liked it.

If you’d like to share a special recipe from your family, please leave me a comment and I’d be happy to feature it here on the blog.

 

Memory Lane

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Maria & Ludwig

My grandmother Maria was one tough lady.   She had very strong opinions and made them known.   She came to this country with my grandfather Ludwig.  They raised their twins, my mother Else and her brother Walter, in Ridgewood, NY.  My mother and her brother were staying with Maria in Germany at the start of WWII.  Thankfully, they got out in time and returned to life in America.   At that time in New York, Germans were not always made to feel welcome in this country and my mother told stories of being treated unkindly at school.

One piece of Maria’s culture that was passed on to my cousins and I was the art of traditional German cooking.   All of us learned, from watching and helping, how to cook these treasured family recipes.  All of us still produce the holiday meals of our past, though not together anymore sadly.

This past week has found me stuck inside the house, but there are no complaints here. Whenever I’m home, I love to stay in my pajamas all day, read and cook – and maybe have a glass or two of wine.   Nothing soothes the soul like the foods from our childhood.  Food stirs up so many memories of my past through smell, taste and the process of creating these meals feels like being wrapped in love.  Today, I’m making goulash using my updated version of Maria’s recipe.   You see, like most of her generation, Maria never wrote down any recipes.  Else, my mother, tried to replicate the recipes and added her touch to them.  My Aunt Agnes added her input to the recipes along the way. Now, my cousins and I have taken over and added our own tweaks.

 

 

 

 

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The cousins 2017

Here’s the most recent version of Maria’s Goulash. If you make it, let me know how you liked it.

Ingredients:
  • 3 – 4 slices of bacon chopped
  • 1 medium yellow onion chopped fine
  • 1 celery stalk chopped fine
  • 2 tbsp sweet paprika
  • Szeged Sweet Paprika Seasoning Spice

  • 2 teaspoons whole caraway seeds
  • 2 pounds grass-fed bottom round beef, cubed
  • 1 1/2 cup bone broth (I use chicken as I prefer the taste)
  • 1 bottle beer (nice German lager)
  • 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
  • 1-2 cups chopped carrots
  • 2 tbsp unsalted butter
Directions:
  1. Pour a glass of wine for the chef, turn on Alexa for dancing in the kitchen3696CC4B-0446-4256-ABF1-53FED1C597C4
  2. Heat the oven to 275 F.
  3. Brown the bacon in a Dutch oven on the stove over medium heat. Once brown remove with slotted spoon and set aside.  399E90FA-26F5-479F-B365-35D9E2755D60
  4. Put meat in storage bag with 1 cup of flour.  Shake to coat the meat evenly.  Place the meat in the cast iron pan with bacon drippings over medium heat.  Stir to brown the meat evenly.  If you need to, add a bit of olive oil to prevent the meat from sticking, but don’t worry it just makes the gravy taste  better.  Once brown, remove the meat and set aside.61B5DF50-0541-4D23-8F67-61E55583C4AE
  5. Put 2 tbs unsalted butter in the same pan (no need to clean in between steps) and  toss in the chopped onion and celery.  Simmer for about 4 minutes.   Turn down the heat to medium-low and continue cooking the onion, stirring from time to time, until the onion browns and begins to caramelize at its edges – about 20 minutes further.FF1126B2-D402-4FED-B78E-63F7918DCE2A
  6. Stir the paprika and caraway seeds into the onion, and then stir in the bottle of beer to deglaze the pot.  Use your wooden spoon to remove any drippings and release back into the sauce. Reduce heat.
  7. Add the cubed beef, broth and vinegar to the pot and continue to stir. Add salt and pepper to taste.  If you want some spice add a dash of red pepper flakes.E3A8A963-D571-427A-BE51-39E1ACA9FEA7
  8. Cover the pot and place in the oven.
  9. Cook 2 1/2 hours, then add the carrots and stir.  Cook another hour, or until meat is tender.  The longer the better!  Add additional broth as needed if it thickens too much, but remember it is not soup.
Spaetzle:
Ingredients:
1 1/2 cup of flour
2 eggs
1/4 cup of milk
1 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp salt – optional
Consistency if dough is softer than pasta dough.  It should be pliable.
Though I have an old metal spaetzle press, I rarely use it anymore.  It was hard to press and clean.  This very inexpensive machine has been a lifesaver.  Super easy to use and clean.  Highly recommended.  Click on the picture to see the details.  Fits perfectly on top of my stock pot.

Directions:
  1. Mix flour, salt and nutmeg in a bowl.
  2. Beat the two eggs and add to the flour mix.
  3. Using a fork mix together until thoroughly mixed, and fine bubbles begin to appear.
  4. Heat a stock pot full of water to a boil.  Transfer the spaetzle batter into the spaetzle press over the pot.
  5. Press the batter through into the boiling water.
  6. Remover the spaetzle with a large slotted spoor, or drain in colander when it begins to float.  Only takes a few minutes.

Plate the spaetzle in a large pasta bowl.  Top with goulash.  Enjoy this meal with an ice cold German beer, or a nice glass of red wine.

What recipes do you make that are family treasures?  Please leave a message below and I’ll give the a try.

Celebrate You

Christmas is next weekend and for many it can be a time of great emotional pain.  There are empty chairs at tables around the table and loved ones left to deal with this loss.  One way I deal with it is to always keep my loved ones near.  I have something of these loved ones included on my tables when I set them.  It may be a simple thing like the salt shakers, or the china we eat on, or my memories of them sitting and laughing at my table.  It can be a very trying time, but we must celebrate life and continue our journey as that is what they would want for us.

When I think back on Christmas past, I often take out old photographs and am always surprised by how absent I am in large chunks of time.  I remember avoiding the camera at all costs but I never thought about the future and how I’d be noticeably missing from our past.  What will my children and grandchildren have to remember me by?  I wrote about this in a previous column and I think it’s worthy of a reread.  The unintended consequence of my action is that I removed myself from my children’s past memories.  Don’t let this happen to you.  Get in those photographs this year regardless of how you think you look.  I guarantee when you look back on them they will bring you joy and you truly won’t even notice!

Take a moment to read this column and leave me a note below.  Enjoy the holiday week with your loved ones and be sure to capture each moment.

Unintended Consequences