Bacon Wrapped Meatloaf

Everybody loves a good slice of meatloaf now and then. If there were ever a time for making meatloaf it would be now. A few days ago we had a blizzard that dumped 6″ of snow on us and we’re expecting another storm tomorrow to bring up to another 10″! Time to bunker down. Coincidentally, lean ground beef and bacon were both on sale at Farm Boy, AND they had ground pork, for once. Fate had this in store for me! I got a little over-excited with it and decided to make one HUGE loaf. In hindsight, with these quantities, I should have made two separate loaves. Things got a little awkward when trying to transfer it onto the baking tray. It tasted great just the same. The flavor reminded me of italian sausage. It has a nice texture too, slightly crumbly and juicy. Here’s the recipe:

Bacon Wrapped MeatloafIMG_20140204_170322

makes 12 – 4.5oz slices. Plenty to freeze for later.

  • 1 onion, finely diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1cup milk
  • 1/2 cup rolled oats
  • 1.5 lbs lean ground beef
  • 1 lb ground pork
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tbsp chopped fresh marjoram (or oregano)
  • 1 tbsp fresh thyme leaves
  • 2 tsp whole fennel seed
  • 2 tsp whole mustard seed
  • 2 tsp paprika
  • 1 pinch chili flakes
  • 2 tsp kosher salt
  • 12 strips bacon (about 1lb)

Preheat your oven to 350F.

In a small frying pan saute the onions and garlic until translucent. Add the milk to the pan in heat it up just until it’s very steamy. Do not boil. Place the oats in a small mixing bowl and pour the hot milk over them. Allow them to soak and cool while you are preparing the rest.

IMG_20140202_215656

Place a large piece of plastic wrap on the counter and lay out the strips of bacon on it so that they are slightly overlapped. The picture shows one large sheet of bacon… make two sheets with 6 strips each for easier handling later on.

IMG_20140202_220831

Place the ground beef and pork in a large mixing bowl with all the remaining ingredients. Once the oat mixture has absorbed all the liquid add it to the bowl with the ground meat and gently mix everything together. Do not over mix or the meatloaf will have an unpleasant texture. Split evenly between the two sheets of bacon and form them into loaves.

IMG_20140202_221846

Use the plastic wrap to lift up the other end of the sheets of bacon and fold them over and around the loaves. Use the plastic wrap to lift the loaves and transfer them onto a parchment lined baking tray.  Place them so that the seam where the bacon overlaps itself is facing down. This way it will stay wrapped properly while cooking. Remove the plastic wrap and discard. Put the tray in the oven on the middle rack and bake for 40 minutes. Slice and serve!

IMG_20140202_232019

I cut this into 12 portions about 4.5 oz each. All together it cost just under $16.50, making it roughly $1.40 per portion.

Related Post: Crushed Red Skin Potatoes

Crushed Red Skin Potatoes

Mashed potatoes get a slight update in this recipe. I paired these with my meatloaf for dinner this week; so satisfying. Great for keeping warm during harsh winter weather. I like them this way for a few reasons. The texture is more interesting; rich and creamy but with chunks of potato and bits of the skins here and there. Keeping the skins on also means a stronger flavor and more nutrients: win, win. It’s super easy and delicious.

Sour Cream & Mustard Crushed PotatoesIMG_20140202_225938

  • 8 medium sized red skin potatoes (about 2 lbs)
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1 tbsp grainy mustard

Cut the potatoes into quarters and place them into a large pot. Cover with cold water and season lightly with salt. Bring to a boil over high heat. Once boiling, reduce heat to medium and simmer for approximately 30 minutes, or until potatoes are tender when tested with a fork. Drain out the water and crush the potatoes lightly with a masher leaving chunks. Add the butter, sour cream, and mustard and season with 2 tsp salt and some a little pepper. Taste test and serve up!

Related Post: Bacon Wrapped Meatloaf

Balsamic Beef Ragu – I died and went to heaven.

This recipe is inspired by the delicious cavatelli with balsamic pork ragu dish I had at this restaurant recently. It was so, so, SO good. I wanted more! I resolved to try and recreate that delicious flavour at home. It would take a few different (easy) steps to prepare something similar but I HAD to have more! I wasn’t in the mood for pasta and the grocery store didn’t have the right cut of pork so my rendition of the dish ended up going in a slightly different direction than the original. Stewing beef was on sale at a decent price ($5.99/lb), so that was an easy choice. Braised beef tends to be super rich so I decided to pair it with a light starch to help create a balance. Enter spaghetti squash – a starchy vegetable that can be substituted for pasta, as the name implies. There you have it! The rest of my recipe closely follows the lines of the original dish. I roasted a couple clusters of grapes, toasted a few walnuts and shredded some radicchio. The end result was one of the most delicious things I’ve ever made at home. It was definitely worth the effort. I absolutely have to share the recipe with you and you absolutely should try it!

IMG_20140127_204313

Balsamic Beef Ragu – with spaghetti squash, radicchio, walnuts and roasted grapes

makes 4 servings

  • 1 lb stewing beef, diced into 1″ cubes
  • 1 small red onion, halved and sliced
  • 1/2  bulb of fennel (or 1 small), cored and sliced
  • 1/4 cup good balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tbsp fresh thyme leaves
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 small spaghetti squash, halved and seeded
  • 2 large clusters red seedless grapes
  • 1/2 cup walnuts, coarsely chopped
  • 1/2 head radicchio, cored and sliced
  • 2 tbsp butter

IMG_20140127_161621

Preheat oven to 325F. Heat a heavy bottomed skillet or cast iron pan on med-high heat. Season the beef with salt and pepper. Add 2 tbsp cooking oil to the pan and then add the beef. Brown it well on all sides and place it into a deep casserole dish.

IMG_20140127_160613IMG_20140127_161157

IMG_20140127_163136

Reduce the heat to medium, add the red onion into the pan and cook until translucent (about 2 minutes). Add the fennel to the pan and cook just until it softens slightly, another 2 minutes. Some of the brown bits of beef that are stuck to the bottom of the pan will lift off and get mixed into the veggies, this is a good thing. Add the veggie mixture to the casserole dish. Pour 2 cups of water into the pan and bring to a simmer while gently scraping up rest of the brown bits with a wooden spoon. This is called deglazing the pan; it helps build flavor. Once simmering, pour the liquid into the casserole dish along with the thyme, bay leaves and balsamic.

Cover with a lid or tightly wrap with tinfoil, place on the middle rack in the oven and allow to braise for 4 hours. When the meat is ready it will be so tender it falls apart.

IMG_20140128_002928

In the mean time you can prepare the other ingredients. Wash the grapes then toss them with a little bit of olive oil, salt, and pepper. Place them in a small oven-safe dish and roast in the oven for 1 hour. Once they are done allow them to cool then pull them off the stems and set aside for later.

While the grapes are roasting you can toss the walnuts in a little olive oil, salt and pepper aswell. Then place them in a small oven-safe dish and roast them in the oven until they are just turning golden brown, about 20-30 minutes. Set aside for later.

IMG_20140128_002223

Next, core and thinly slice the radicchio then store it in a container in the fridge until you’re ready to use it. You can then get the squash ready for the oven.  To prepare it, cut it in half length-wise and scoop out the seeds with a spoon. Brush the flesh lightly with olive oil and season generously with salt and pepper. Place it cut side up on a baking tray. It will take about 1 hour to roast so plan for it to go in an hour before the beef will be ready. Place it either on the lower rack, or, if it will fit, on the same rack as the casserole dish.

Once the remaining hour has passed, take both the squash and beef out of the oven. Using a fork, pull the flesh of the squash away from the skin and fluff it slightly. Using a pair of tongs and that same fork, shred the chunks of beef. The onion and fennel will have cooked down enough to be mixed into the beef unnoticed. Huzzah, secret veggies!

Place 1/4 of the squash in the bottom of a large dinner bowl. Sprinkle with 1/4 of the radicchio , then top with 1/4 of the beef mixture. Place a thin slice of cold butter on top of the beef, about 1/2 tbsp. Butter is recommended but optional; it adds flavor and will help keep the lean beef from having a dry texture. Place 1/4 of the grapes and walnuts on top and you’re ready to enjoy your first serving! I promise it won’t disappoint.

When storing everything in the refrigerator, I recommend keeping each component in it’s own container. When it comes time to reheat, place a serving of the squash, beef, and grapes together in a small dish and reheat covered. Then top with butter, radicchio and walnuts.

This recipe cost me roughly $4 per portion, a little pricey for my budget, but totally worth it. I can’t wait to eat the rest!

The Humble Pork Chop – with sweet and sour apples

Pork chops are a great lean and inexpensive cut of meat. Their flavor is fairly neutral and can be paired with just about any sauce. They take on other flavors very well. Pork and apples go together very well so I decided to go with that – mostly because gala apples were on sale. 🙂 If you can’t find gala any crisp apple will do. Honey crisp, fuji and granny smith are a few other good choices. Mealy apples, like mac and red delicious, don’t hold their shape when you cook them so you’ll want to avoid them. This recipe is pretty easy and takes about and hour in total.

Pork Chops with Sweet & Sour ApplesIMG_20140121_200439

  • 6 pork chops, about 2.5 lbs (6oz each)
  • 1 small white spanish onion, medium dice
  • 3 gala apples, peeled, and diced.
  • 2 tbsp mustard seeds
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1/4 cup cider vinegar

Preheat your oven to 350F. Season your pork chops on both sides with salt and pepper. In a large frying pan heat 2 tbsp cooking oil over medium-high heat. Once the pan is heated through, gently place 3 of the pork chop into the pan. Brown them well on both sides and then place them into a casserole dish. Repeat with the remaining 3 pork chops.

IMG_20140121_185853

 

Add the onion into the pan and reduce the heat to medium. Cook the onion until translucent, about 2 minutes. Add in the apples and mustard seed and cook another 2 minutes. Add in the honey and cider vinegar and simmer for 5 minutes. Pour the apple mixture over top of the pork chops and place in the oven. Bake for 25 minutes and enjoy with your favorite side. (The side dish pictured is wheat berries with sauteed butternut squash and green swiss chard.)

This recipe costs about $2.25 per portion. Give it a try!

 

Chorizo and White Bean Soup

I love a good bowl of brothy soup in the winter. It’s a satisfying way to warm up from the cold. Chorizo and white bean is a super tasty soup you can adapt for any season. In this rendition I chose to use kale, butternut squash and fennel as the vegetables.

Chorizo and White Bean SoupIMG_20140121_143933

  • 1 1/2 cups cannellini beans, soaked 24 hrs
  • 1 small red onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 small butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and diced
  • 1 bulb fennel, diced
  • 2 tbsp fennel fronds, chopped
  • 1 tbsp fresh thyme leaves
  • 1 bunch of kale, stemmed and roughly chopped
  • 1 lb fresh chorizo sausage
  • 1 liter chicken stock
  • salt & pepper to taste

In a large pot, simmer the beans gently in plenty of water over medium heat until they are tender. This will take about an hour and a half to two hours. In the mean time you can prep everything else for the recipe.

In a large saute pan, cook the onions and garlic over medium-high heat until transluscent. Add the squash and fennel and saute another 2 minutes. Remove the casings from the sausage and add the meat to the pan. Using a wooden spoon break the sausage meat apart while it’s cooking. Once the sausage is cooked through, take the pan off the heat and set aside. Once the beans are tender drain off all but about 4 cups of the cooking liquid. Add the chicken stock to the pot with the beans and the remaining cooking liquid. Bring to a simmer over medium high heat. Add the herbs, kale and all the veggie/sausage mixture and simmer 2 minutes just for the flavors to come together. Season with salt and pepper and enjoy your first bowl. The rest can be kept in the fridge for later days.

This recipe makes 6 large bowls of soup at 2.50 each. Enjoy!

 

Related Post : Chicken Stock

Sweet Steel Cut Oatmeal

Every now and then I like to switch up my eggs-for-breakfast routine by making this yummy steel cut oatmeal recipe. Steel cut oats  make better oatmeal than rolled or quick cooking oats. The texture is so much better. Rather than being mushy, it’s creamy while the grains retain a slight chewiness. Another advantage is that you can make it ahead of time and quickly reheat it for a delicious healthy breakfast on workdays. With this tasty oatmeal on hand you’ll be less likely to skip breakfast or buy something unhealthy and more expensive on your commute. I like my oatmeal to be cooked a little more than the package recommends. They recommend 3:1 water to oats while I prefer 5:1. Here’s the recipe!

Sweet Steel Cut OatmealIMG_20140122_100335

  • 7 1/2 cups water
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 1/2 cups steel cut oats
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 cup chopped dates
  • 1/4 cup raisins
  • 1/4 cup honey

In a medium sized pot bring the water to a boil. Add the oats, salt and cinnamon then reduce heat to low and simmer for  15 minutes. Add the raisins, dates and honey and simmer another 10 minutes, stirring occasionally to prevent the oats from sticking to the bottom. Makes 5 – 3/4 cup portions at less than 75 cents each.