Monthly Archives: June 2015

Mighty, Meaty Morphin’ Meatloaf


  Last night I asked my green-eyed Irish guy what he’d like to have for dinner tonight.  He said, “I don’t know….maybe meatloaf.”  Yay!  I like it when he gives me suggestions.  I don’t like always being the one who decides what’s for dinner.  I really like it when someone tells me they’re hungry for something specific.  Then I heed the words of Capt. Jean-Luc Picard and “make it so”.  The reason I call this a morphin’ meatloaf is because, if you didn’t like meatloaf, once you try this you’ll change your mind.  You’re gonna love it!  It’s adapted from an Ina Garten recipe you’ll find here.  Whenever we have meatloaf we have to have mashed potatoes, gravy, corn and some kind of bread.  Hey, it’s the rules.  You know how KFC sells mashed potato bowls with the fried chicken in it?  Well, I think Boston Market should sell a mashed potato bowl with meatloaf in it.  I’d buy it.  If we had a Boston Market around here.  But we don’t.  So tomorrow for lunch I’ll just make my own. I’ve included a recipe for the mashed potatoes.  Remember it’s the rules.

                                                         Mighty, Meaty Morphin’ Meatloaf

1 Tbs. olive oil

1/2 small onion, diced (about 1/3 cup)

1/2 tsp. fresh thyme

3/4 tsp. kosher salt

1/2 tsp. pepper

1/2 tsp. minced garlic

1 Tbs. tomato paste

1 Tbs. Worcestershire sauce

2 Tbs. beef broth

1 lb. ground beef (I use 90/10)

1 large egg, beaten

1/3 cup Italian bread crumbs

1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese

1/2-3/4 cup ketchup

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.  In a small skillet, heat the oil on medium heat.  Add the onions, thyme, salt and pepper.  Cook and stir for 3-4 minutes until onions are soft and translucent.  Add the garlic.  Cook and stir for a minute.  Add the tomato paste.  Cook and stir for another minute.  Remove from heat and add the Worcestershire sauce and beef broth.  Set aside.  Place the ground beef in a medium-sized mixing bowl.  Fluff it around with a fork.  Add the beaten egg, bread crumbs, onion mixture and cheese.  Stir around with a fork, mixing until well combined.  Don’t over mix it.  It makes for a tough meatloaf.  Pour onto prepared baking sheet.  Gently form into a loaf.  Coat top and sides with ketchup.  Place a small oven safe dish filled with hot water on the bottom rack of the oven.  This will help keep it moist.   Bake at 325 degrees for 40-45 minutes. Allow to stand for 5-10 minutes before cutting and serving.

You’re going to need these to go along with the meatloaf:

 Mashed Potatoes

8 medium-sized potatoes

6-8 Tbs. unsalted butter, cut into cubes at room temperature

1 cup milk, warmed slightly

1 tsp. salt

1 tsp. pepper

Peel the potatoes.  Cut each in half and then each half into 3 or 4 pieces.  Place in a large sauce pan.  Fill the pan with water until it covers the potatoes by about one inch.  Add about 1 to 1 1/2 tsp. salt to the pan.  Bring to a boil on high heat.  Reduce to medium-high and boil for about 20 minutes or until a fork can be easily inserted into the potatoes.  Drain the potatoes.  Return them to the pan and place back on the hot burner for a minute to evaporate any remaining water.  I mash my potatoes by hand with a potato masher, but if you’d prefer use a mixer, ricer or food mill.  Mash until there are no large lumps.  Add the butter and continue mashing.  Pour in the warm milk and whip with the masher until smooth and creamy. Place a pat or two of butter on top to serve.  Room temperature butter and warm milk are the keys to fluffy mashed potatoes.


Wishing you love, laughter and cake,



Easy Peasy Stovetop Mac and Cheesy


  Oh Sunday!  Where have you gone?  It’s mostly been a lazy, watch tv kind of day.  Not that I haven’t done anything.  I’ve made breakfast, run the dishwasher, done laundry and piddled around picking things up but before I knew it , it was 5:30 and no dinner was ready.  I mentioned mac and cheese to my green-eyed Irish guy and he was on board right away.  We don’t like baked mac and cheese.  It turns out kinda dry and hard on the top.  Nobody likes dry and hard mac and cheese. That’s why I make this stovetop kind that always turns out creamy, cheesy and delicious.  And it’s easy!  If you need an entree that takes only 20-30 minutes to make, this is a good one.  You could throw in some onion, canned tuna and peas and have tuna casserole.  You could add a little chili powder which is one of my personal favorite ways to eat it.  Or if you’d like, add a can of chili with beans or a cup of homemade chili to it for chili mac.  Add a small can of tomato sauce, a squirt of ketchup and some Italian seasoning to make a Chef Boyardee-esque mixture.  We’ve all had that canned stuff and know it’s not that great.  Experiment with different kinds of cheeses.  See how versatile it is as well as easy?  Now get your cheese on!                                                                             Easy Peasy Stovetop Mac and Cheesy

8 oz. macaroni pasta (or any shaped you’d like)

1/4 cup unsalted butter

1/2 cup milk

4 oz. Velveeta cheese, cut into cubes

3 slices American cheese, broken into pieces

1 cup shredded cheddar cheese

1 tsp. salt

1 tsp. pepper

Pour the macaroni into salted boiling water.  While stirring return to a boil and then reduce heat to medium high.  Cook for 9-11 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Drain pasta.  Return to the pan and place on the stove on medium heat for a minute to evaporate leftover water.  Add the remaining ingredients.  Cook on medium heat, stirring until all the cheese is melted and creamy.  Enjoy!

Wishing you love, laughter and cake,


Jerk Black Bean and Sweet Potato Burgers


 I have never had a black bean burger before this one.  I don’t know why.  I love black beans and you already know of my intense affection for sweet potatoes.  I corrected that mistake and I wont make it again.  I’ll gladly add these again any time.  In fact, I think I’m going to make them for a family get together in July so my sisters can taste them.  I can’t wait to see them.  It seems like forever.  One sister lives in Ohio and the other in Kentucky.  Everyone has busy lives, so we don’t get a chance to see each other very often.  We’re going to bring the grill and burn some burgers, dogs and these black bean burgers.  Oh and of course cake!

These burgers didn’t make me miss beef at all.  With all the jerk type seasonings in them, they were a flavor explosion in my mouth.  It seems like a lot of ingredients, but most of it is seasonings you probably already have in your spice rack.  The mixture is a little sticky but they hold their shape very well.  Unlike beef burgers, they don’t shrink.  You do have to let them brown completely on the first side before you flip them over.  Otherwise they’ll stick to the pan.  Come on mon.  Give them a try. That was all said with a Jamaican accent in my head.  I was seeing the crab, Sebastian, from Disney’s The Little Mermaid.  Great movie!                                                                      Jerk Black Bean and Sweet Potato Burgers

15 oz. can black beans, rinsed and drained

1 large sweet potato

1/2 egg

1 Tbs. honey

1/4 cup onion, diced

1 small jalapeno, finely diced

1 Tbs. chopped fresh parsley

1 tsp. fresh thyme

1/2 cup panko bread crumbs

1/2 tsp. salt

1/4 tsp. pepper

1/4 tsp. cinnamon

1/4 tsp. cumin

1/4 tsp. smoked paprika

1/4 tsp. allspice

1/4 tsp. crushed red pepper

1/8 tsp. ginger

1/8 tsp. nutmeg

1/8 tsp. cayenne pepper

1/8 tsp. garlic powder

1/8 tsp. onion powder

1 cup shredded cheddar cheese

canola oil, for frying

.  Wash and dry the sweet potato.  Prick the sweet potato all over with a fork.  Place on a paper towel and microwave for 5 minutes.  Turn over and microwave for 5 minutes longer.  Carefully remove from the microwave (IT’S HOT!) and set aside to cool.  Meanwhile, rinse and drain beans.  Pour them into a medium-sized bowl and coarsely mash with a fork.  Add the egg, honey, onion, jalapeno, parsley, thyme, and all the spices.  Mix well with a fork.  Remove the skin from the sweet potato.  It should come off easily.   Place it in the bowl and mash a few times with the fork.  Add the cheddar cheese.  Give it one last big stir to combine all ingredients.  Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate for half an hour.  Form mixture into 6 equal sized patties (about 1/2 cup each) using your hands.  Add enough oil to cover the bottom of a skillet and heat on medium-high until hot.  Cook patties in two batches.  Don’t try to turn the patties until they’re golden brown on the bottom.  They’ll stick to the pan and make a mess. Cook for 4-5 minutes on the first side or until golden brown, turn and then about 3-4 minutes on the other side.  Serve with your favorite condiments such as honey barbecue sauce or pineapple and jalapeno jam.  How do you make pineapple and jalapeno jam?  I’m glad you asked.

Pineapple and Jalapeno Jam

4  1/2 inch slices fresh pineapple, cut into chunks

1 Tbs. brown sugar

1 tsp. butter

1/4 cup pineapple rum

1/2 jalapeno pepper, seeded and membrane removed (unless you like it hot, then leave them in)

1/2 tsp. sriracha

Melt the butter on medium heat in a small saucepan.  Add the pineapple and brown sugar.  Cook for 4-5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until pineapple becomes tender.  Add the pineapple rum, jalapeno pepper and sriracha.   Bring to a boil, reduce heat to medium-low and cook until the mixture begins to thicken 15- 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Remove from heat.  Whirl a few times with a stick blender to break up any big chunks.  Serve warm or cold.

Coconut Shrimp with Sweet Chili Sauce


  What did one shrimp say to the other shrimp?  Who you calling shrimp?!   Sorry I had to.  😛  Seriously, there’s nothing funny about these shrimp (or that joke, for that matter), but they are seriously delicious.  The kids and I LOVE shrimp.  I can’t say as much for my green-eyed Irish guy, so this was a perfect thing to make while he was gone.  This is a high priced restaurant entree that you can make at home for a fraction of the price.  The added bonus is that they are so much better than anything you can buy at a restaurant.  There aren’t a lot of ingredients and the “hardest” part is shelling and de-veining the shrimp.  The smell of the coconut frying is out of this world.  Like the girls and I, you won’t be able to stop eating them.                                                                           Coconut Shrimp with Sweet Chili Sauce

1 lb. medium, raw shrimp in the shells  (41/50 per pound)

2 eggs

1 Tbs. water

1 cup flour

1 cup unsweetened coconut

1/2 panko bread crumbs

1 tsp. salt

1 tsp. pepper

Canola or vegetable oil for frying


1/4 cup sweet orange marmalade

1/4 cup apricot preserves

1 Tbs. chili sauce

1/2 tsp. sriracha sauce or more if you enjoy more spice

Peel and de-vein the shrimp, leaving the tails on if desired.  Combine the eggs and water in a small bowl, whisking well. Combine the flour, coconut, panko, salt and pepper on a plate.  Dredge the shrimp in the flour mixture, then the egg mixture and back into the flour mixture so that it’s well coated, but make sure to tap off the excess egg and flour.  Set on a plate and continue until all the shrimp are coated.  Heat about an inch of oil in a medium-sized pan to medium-high or about 350 degrees.  Add the shrimp in batches making sure not to crowd them.  Cook for a total of about 3 minutes or until browned on both sides.  Remove with a slotted spoon and place on a paper towel lined plate.  Continue cooking batches of shrimp until all are fried.  To make the sauce, combine all the sauce ingredients and mix well.  Serve while hot and crunchy.  Enjoy!

Wishing you love, laughter and cake,


Garlic Cheddar Grit Crusted Quiche


   This quiche!  This is down home Southern comfort food flirting with French quisine.  Oh la la!  C’est ci bon!  It may seem an unusal pairing to you, but let me reassure you that they were meant for each other.  This is deliciousness in a beautiful pie shaped package.  The grits make a very good crust.  Surprising, isn’t it?  You won’t be surprised when you taste it.  Bon appetit, y’all.                                                                               Garlic Cheddar Grit Crusted Quiche


1/2 cup quick grits

2 cups water

1/4 tsp. salt

2 Tbs. unsalted butter

1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese

1/4 tsp. garlic powder


1/2 medium onion, sliced into strips

1 Tbs. olive oil

5 eggs

4 Tbs. (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, melted and cooled

1/4 cup flour

1/2 tsp. baking powder

1/2 tsp. salt

1/2 tsp. pepper

1 cup cottage cheese

1 cup shredded pepper jack cheese

6 slices bacon, fried crispy and crumbled

3 fried green tomato slices (see the recipe here), diced

Prepare grits by bringing water to a boil.  Slowly pour in grits and salt.  Lower heat to medium low, cover and cook for 5-7 minutes.  Remove from heat, add butter, garlic and cheese.  Stir until thoroughly combined.  Refrigerate until cold and firm, preferably overnight.

Heat olive oil in a small skillet on medium heat.  Add onion strips.  Sprinkle with a little salt and pepper.  Cook for 5-7 minutes on medium heat, then turn heat down to medium low and continue to cook for 15-20 minutes, stirring occasionally, until soft and caramel colored.  Set aside to cool.  Melt butter and set aside to cool.   Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Spray glass pie dish with non-stick cooking spray.  Pour the cold, firm grits into the prepared pie dish.  Using your hands, press them into the bottom and up the sides of the dish.  Set aside.  In a medium-sized mixing bowl, beat the eggs for 3-4  minutes until light and frothy.  Add the butter, flour, baking powder, salt, pepper and cottage cheese.  Mix on medium for 2-3 minutes until well combined.  Stir in the pepper jack cheese, onions, bacon and tomatoes with a rubber spatula until well combined.  Pour egg mixture into prepared grit crust.  Bake at 400 degrees for 15 minutes.  Reduce heat to 350 degrees and bake for an additional 20-30 minutes, until a knife inserted into the center comes out clean and the top is lightly golden brown.  Allow to cool for 10-15 minutes before cutting and serving.  Enjoy!

Wishing you love, laughter and cake,


Chicken and Sausage Jambalaya


  My green-eyed Irish guy is in Ohio at school for work this week so I’ve been making dishes that I know he wouldn’t eat, but G and  I would love.  Staying busy in the kitchen this week is a way of trying to keep the loneliness away.  It hasn’t been very successful at that job but I’m trying. 😦  We’ve been inseparable for over 10 years now.  Let’s go in the way back machine.    Remember that from Mr. Peabody and Sherman?

We met on-line way back when Yahoo had chat rooms.  There were good points and bad points about them.  We were both in an Indiana chat room, neither of us joining in on the chatter, just watching everyone else.  This green-eyed Irish guy sent me a private message saying hello.  Little did either of us know then, but we had each other at that hello.  We talked every day but one (the day after we first spoke) for a month before we decided to meet.  We did have a logistical obstacle.  He lived all the way across the top of Indiana on the west side and I lived all the way across the top of Indiana on the east side.  He drove 150 miles for that first date at Applebee’s on February 25, 2005.  And I was late.  I had warned him I might be because I had to pick up one of the girls after work.  Even though I told her I needed her to be on time coming out of work, she was expected to work well past her shift because she was one of their hardest workers.  I called him, apologizing for my tardiness, reassuring him I wasn’t standing him up.  I’ll never forget walking in to Applebee’s, peering around the corner to the bench where he was sitting.  I thought, “Oh my God!  He’s hot!”  In the pictures that I’d seen of him, he’d always worn a ball cap.  Those pictures did not do him justice.  I wore my heavy artillery aka a “booby shirt”.  We sat down, ordered our food and started talking.  And talking.  And talking.  The waitress kept coming around asking if the food was ok because we hadn’t touched it.  Finally after the third time asking, he told her we were on our first date.  The light bulb came on for her and she left us alone. We talked until they closed, food still untouched and packed into to-go containers.  He installed ATMs all over Indiana, Illinois, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Iowa and I think the Dakotas as well, but  he also installed machines in Tennessee, Oklahoma, Texas and Pennsylvania while we were dating.  He would drive to these states, install a machine and drive back sometimes 500 miles to be with me.  Then he had colon surgery which went terribly wrong and resulted in two additional surgeries including a colostomy bag for a couple of months.  I almost lost him twice during that time.  The first surgery left him septic inside so the colostomy was needed.  When they reconnected everything, his large and small intestines had fused together and the surgeon punctured them several times trying to get them apart.  The surgery was supposed to take an hour or an hour and a half at the most but it took three and a half agonizing hours.  Then the surgeon said all we can do is wait and see.  I cried in the bathroom for a while and then called his Mom.  She had always called me his “friend” until this point.  Now she knew how much I really loved him and totally accepted me because she knew she didn’t have to worry about me breaking her son’s heart.  We got married on Oct. 8, 2006 on Hudson Beach in Florida with the two youngest children in attendance.  And that very morning our first grandchild was born.  What a glorious day!  We’ve lived a lot and loved a lot in the past 10 years.  There’s that saying, “I wish I would have found you sooner so I could love you longer”, but I just say thank God we found each other.  I’ll certainly be one happy good witch when he gets back Friday night.  I miss you honey.

   Chicken and Sausage Jambalaya

1 lb. chicken breast, cut into bite sized pieces

14 oz. skinless smoked sausage, sliced into “coins”

5 Tbs. olive oil, divided

1 small onion, diced small

2 stalks celery, diced small

1 red pepper, diced small

1 yellow pepper, diced small

1 tsp. chopped garlic

1 Tbs. tomato paste

1 tsp. salt

1 tsp. pepper

1 tsp. smoked paprika

1/2 tsp. chili powder

1/2 tsp. dried oregano

1/2 tsp. dried thyme

1/4 tsp. garlic powder

1/4 tsp. onion powder

1/8 tsp. cayenne pepper (add more if you like more spice)

pinch red pepper flakes

14.5 oz. can diced tomatoes

32 oz. carton chicken stock or broth

1 3/4 cup rice

a few drops of hot pepper sauce (optional)

Heat 3 Tbs. olive oil on medium heat in a Dutch oven.  Add chicken pieces.  Sprinkle with a little salt and pepper.  Brown on all sides until it’s no longer pink on the outside.  This is not to cook it through, so it will still be raw inside.  It will cook later with the rice.  Remove from pan and set aside.  Add another 1-2 Tbs. olive oil to the Dutch oven.  Brown the sausage for 2-3 minutes.  Now add the vegetables-onion, celery, peppers and garlic.  Saute for 3-4 minutes until they start to soften.  Add the tablespoon of tomato paste.  Stir that around for a minute.  Now add the spices.  Cook for a minute until fragrant.  Add the chicken, tomatoes, chicken stock and rice.  Turn heat up to medium high and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat to medium low and cover. Cook for 15-20 minutes.  Remove from heat and let sit for 5 minutes.  Enjoy!

Wishing you love, laughter and cake,


Bacon,  Lettuce and Fried Green Tomato Sandwiches 


BLFGT?  What the heck is a BLFGT?  It’s a bacon, lettuce and fried green tomato sandwich.  It’s a not so surprisingly great twist to the standard BLT.  Trust me when I say you’re gonna want to sink your teeth into this baby.  The lightly spiced, crunchy exterior of the tomato and the soft sweet, tart inside are a great match with salty bacon, crispy lettuce and tangy mayo.  If you’d like to bump up the spice level, add more cayenne to the mix, put a few drops of hot sauce in the egg wash and/or use sriracha mayo.  The recipe makes 3-4 sandwiches depending upon the size of the tomato you use and how generous you are with the bacon distribution.     Bacon, Lettuce and Fried Green Tomato Sandwiches

1 lb. bacon, fried crispy, grease reserved

1 large green tomato

1/2 cup flour, divided

1/4 cup corn meal

1 tsp. salt

1 tsp. pepper

pinch cayenne pepper

1 egg

1 Tbs. water

6-8 slices your favorite kind of bread, toasted if you’d like

6-8 leaves of your favorite lettuce (I used romaine)

Mayonnaise for schmearing

Fry bacon until crispy.  Set on a paper towel lined plate to drain excess grease.  Reserve the bacon fat.  You will use this to fry the tomatoes.  Wash, dry and cut tomato into 6-8 slices.  Set aside.  Arrange a breading station-one plate for 1/4 cup plain flour, a small bowl for the egg whisked with the water and another plate with the remaining 1/4 cup flour, cornmeal, salt,pepper and cayenne pepper.  First dip the tomato slices in the plain flour, then in the egg wash and finally in the flour/corn meal mixture.  Heat the bacon grease on medium heat until hot.  Add 3 or 4 of the breaded tomato slices and cook until golden brown, about 5 minutes, turn them over and cook the other side until golden brown, about 3-4 minutes.  Place on a paper towel lined plate.  Repeat with the remaining tomato slices.  To assemble the sandwiches, take two pieces of your favorite bread (toasted if desired), schmear on mayonnaise (or sriracha mayo), place 4-5 pieces of bacon on bread, top with two fried tomato slices and two lettuce leaves.  Put the second piece of bread on top, cut in half and enjoy!

Wishing you love, laughter and cake,