Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Meatloaf To Get Excited About

It's been a busy couple of weeks which is why I've been so lax on posting lately. We finally got our stuff from Fort Polk and into storage here in town. I've still got to go through everything to make sure nothing's broken and I've got to find my ice cream maker. Big plans for that this summer. I also get to plant a huge garden this summer. No containers this time. My FIL plowed a big plot and told me to go to it. I had a huge scare with my mom last week. She was hospitalized because her doctor thought she might be having a heart attack but luckily she wasn't and all her tests turned out A-OK. WooHoo!

I haven't really had a lot of time for cooking lately, I've mostly been taking the easy way out and making a lot of frozen stuff but I was in the mood to cook today so I went searching through my mountain of collected recipes today and found a Meatloaf recipe from Alton Brown. I know, who gets excited about Meatloaf but this one sounded really good and I love Alton Brown's recipes. His show Good Eats on the Food Network has done so much to improve my cooking skills. This meatloaf is really good, it's big time spicy but not hot. The glaze is amazing, it really makes the meal pop. It doesn't take long to put together either. What really drew me in to the recipe was the garlic croutons. I love garlic croutons, I eat them like potato chips. Like right now as I type. Somebody please stop me!


For this meatloaf you want to start off by pulseing croutons, black pepper, cayenne pepper, chili powder, and dried thyme until they're a fine powder. 

Transfer the powdered spices to a large bowl.

Next pulse onion, carrot, garlic and red bell pepper until they're finely chopped but don't puree them. Transfer the veggies to the bowl with the spices. 

Add the meat, salt and 2 eggs. The original recipe only calls for ground chuck and sirloin but I added ground buffalo too. Time to get dirty. Start mixing the mixture with your hands until it's nice and combined. Don't overwork the meat (yeah, i'm not really sure when that point comes either) and don't squeeze the meat. Once it's combined pack the meat down into a 10-inch loaf pan that you sprayed with cooking spray. I didn't do this and had to get creative to get the meat out of the loaf pan. 

You're going to turn the loaf out onto a baking sheet that you've lined with parchment paper. Put into a 350°F oven and start the glaze. You've got 10 minutes...GO!


In a small bowl, mix catsup, ground cumin, Worcestershire sauce, hot pepper sauce and honey. Whisk until thoroughly mixed. 

After the meat has been in the oven for 10 minutes, you're going to take it out and coat with the glaze. A silicon brush it perfect for this. Save the leftover glaze for later. 

Put the loaf back in the oven. You're going to cook the meat until it reaches a temperature of 155°F. I can't give you an exact cook time but mine was ready about 45 minutes after I put it back in the oven from glazing it. Easy Peasy! Nuke the leftover glaze for about 30 seconds. The meatloaf goes great with mashed potatoes. Plus it's a sneaky way to hide veggies.

Alton Brown's original recipe can be found here.

Good Eats Meatloaf
6 ounces garlic-flavored croutons
½ teaspoon ground  black pepper
½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon chili powder  
1 teaspoon dried thyme
½ onion, roughly chopped
1 carrot, peeled and broken
3 whole cloves garlic
½ red bell pepper
1 lb. ground chuck
1 lb. ground sirloin
1 lb. ground buffalo
1 ½ teaspoon kosher salt
2 eggs 

For the glaze:
½ cup catsup
1 teaspoon ground cumin
Dash Worcestershire sauce
Dash hot pepper sauce
1 tablespoon honey 

Heat oven to 350°F.
In a food processor bowl, combine croutons, black pepper, cayenne pepper, chili powder, and thyme. Pulse until the mixture is of a fine texture. Place this mixture into a large bowl. Combine the onion, carrot, garlic, and red pepper in the food processor bowl. Pulse until the mixture is finely chopped, but not pureed. Combine the vegetable mixture, ground sirloin, ground chuck and ground buffalo with the bread crumb mixture. Season the meat mixture with the kosher salt. Add the eggs and combine thoroughly, but avoid squeezing the meat.
Pack this mixture into a 10-inch loaf pan to mold the shape of the meatloaf. Onto a parchment paper-lined baking sheet, turn the meatloaf out of the pan onto the center of the tray. Insert a temperature probe at a 45 degree angle into the top of the meatloaf. Avoid touching the bottom of the tray with the probe. Set the probe for 155°F.
Combine the catsup, cumin, Worcestershire sauce, hot pepper sauce and honey. Brush the glaze onto the meatloaf after it has been cooking for about 10 minutes. 

Hope you like it as much as I did. I'm off to find out what you can do with kumquats.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

How Do You HuHot?


When I lived in Kansas one of my favorite place to eat was HuHot Mongolian Grill. I miss it so much and I can't seem to find anything like it where I now live in Louisiana. For those of you who have never been to a HuHot, it's really cool. It's basically a raw food bar and you pile up your bowl with noodles, meat, veggies and sauces and you take it to the grill where it's cooked for you and plated. They have so many different sauces and oils available that it can be really hard to choose sometimes but it's fun to come up with different combinations. My favorite is the Mean Bean Garlic Sauce, Garlic Oil and Ginger Broth. 

I've been craving it like crazy the last week, so I figured how hard can it be to duplicate. Not hard at all. So here's how I Huhot.

Boil a pot of thin spaghetti according to package directions til just done. Drain the water and run cool water over the pasta to stop the cooking process. Set aside.

In a small bowl mix some Sesame Seed Oil, Sweet Mirin, Soy Sauce and a spoonful of Black Bean Garlic Paste and mix it well. Sorry, I can't give exact measurements but I just threw this together. You do need to make sure there's enough to well coat the pasta and veggies so they don't burn while cooking. 

I like salmon in mine but you can use any kind of meat. I cut up 2 slightly frozen salmon fillets up into bite size chunks and set them aside.

For the veggies I like spinach leaves, shredded carrots, broccoli, mushrooms, onions, bell peppers, bean sprouts. Cut the broccoli, mushrooms, onions and bell pepper up into large chunks and put it all in a large bowl and add the salmon. Pour about ¾ of the sauce over the veggies and toss. Heat up a large nonstick skillet on medium high. Throw in the veggies and cook stirring often. 

Throw the pasta into the bowl that held the veggies and toss in the rest of the sauce. Once the veggies are nice and tender add the pasta and let it heat through. Garnish with sunflower seeds.

Check out the menu on the HuHot webpage to see how you HuHot.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Hazelnut Chocolate Chip Cookies


Yes, they are as Yum as they look! I came across this little gem of a recipe watching Giada de Laurentiis' Everyday Italian a few years ago. The recipe she gives is absolutely fab on its own but you can also make lots of changes in ingredients that come out just as good. Giada uses hazelnuts but you can use anything you want. I've also used macadamia nuts, walnuts and pecans. The cookies come out crispy, but if you change the ratio of brown sugar to granulated sugar you get crispy on the outside and chewy on the inside. And to top it off, they have bits of toffee in them. 

You start off by taking ½ cup old fashioned rolled oats and finely chopping them in a food processor. I make these cookies so often that I made "oat flour" out of a whole canister of oatmeal, now all I have to do is measure out what I need.
Next, you chop up and toast whatever nuts you decide to use. I love those already chopped little 1 cup bag of nuts you can get in the baking aisle. If I do use hazelnuts, I don't worry about skinning them.
Mix the dry ingredients together in a bowl and set aside. Giada's recipe doesn't call for cinnamon but I love it so I add ½ teaspoon to the dry ingredients.
Now you add the butter and sugar to a mixer bowl and mix til light and fluffy. When I want crispy/chewy cookies, I use 1½ cups brown sugar and ½ cup granulated sugar. The mix won't really look light and fluffy just make sure it's mixed thoroughly. Add the eggs and vanilla.
Add the flour mixture in and mix just until blended.
Stir in the toffee, chocolate chips and nuts. Drop cookies in a rounded tablespoon about 1-inch apart onto a heavy baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake at 325° for 12 to 15 minutes. I like mine at 12 minutes.
Cool the cookies on the baking sheet for 5 minutes and then transfer to a cooling rack to cool completely. Then pour yourself a glass of moo juice and try not to bogart the whole batch.
The recipe says it makes 4 dozen but mine always comes out to almost 5 dozen. I usually make 2 or 3 dozen and then put the left over dough in a plastic container and store in the fridge until it's time to bake more.

1/2 cup old-fashioned oats
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup (packed) light brown sugar
1 cup sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
4 ounces English toffee candy (recommended: Heath or Skor bar), finely chopped
1 cup hazelnuts, toasted, husked, and chopped
1 (12-ounce) bag semisweet chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 325°F.
Line 2 heavy large baking sheets with parchment paper. Finely chop the oats in a food processor. Transfer the oats to a medium bowl. Mix in the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.
Using an electric mixer, beat the butter and sugars in a large bowl until fluffy. Beat in the eggs and vanilla. Add the flour mixture and stir just until blended. Stir in the toffee, hazelnuts, and chocolate chips.
For each cookie, drop 1 rounded tablespoonful of dough onto sheet, spacing 1-inch apart (do not flatten dough). Bake until the cookies are golden (cookies will flatten slightly), about 15 minutes. Cool the cookies on the baking sheets for 5 minutes. Transfer to a cooling rack and cool completely. (The cookies can be prepared 1 day ahead. Store airtight at room temperature.)