Welcome Home Meatloaf

Sometimes all you need is meat and potatoes...
Chris has been traveling for most of July, but returned home on Friday night and I wanted to make him something he loved. He'd told me about his mother's meatloaf, and how he loved it as a kid, so I asked Judy for the recipe so I could make it for him once he returned. In my view, the first thing you want to do after a hard-core trip is indulge in a little comfort food that reminds you of home.

Judy's Meatloaf 
Served with roasted potatoes, although mashed might be a better option to mix in with the meat.

  • 1.5 lbs. 85% lean ground beef
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 c. ketchup
  • 1/2 c. Italian flavored bread crumbs
  • 1/4 c. Worchestershire sauce
  • 1/4 c. A1 sauce
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Place beef in a bowl and add all the ingredients. Mix all together (I use my hands!) and form an oval. Don't pack it too tightly.
  3. Place on a baking dish and place uncovered in a 350 degree oven. Cook for 45 minutes, or until well done (using a meat thermometer). Turn the oven to broil and cook for an additional 5-10 minutes until the top of the loaf gets a nice, blackened crust.
  4. A little grease will form in the dish, so be careful getting it out.


Making the Most of Leftovers

So tonight I was cooking just for myself and didn't really feel up to exploring new recipes, so I turned to what was left in the fridge: a frozen chicken breast, some lemon basil ricotta, a fennel bulb, and a tomato. Doesn't sound like much does it?

Or does it?
Looks pretty tasty doesn't it? It was. And it was a Teresa original! Although I took a few notes from the stuffed chicken recipe I did a few weeks ago, the salad is a complete first--and turned out fantastic! I'd make both again.

The Ricotta Stuffing is originally from a Health Magazine. I made it again last week as a quick dinner, but had extra ricotta that worked perfectly as a quick stuffing for chicken as well. Did I mention everything tonight came from leftovers in the fridge?!

Stuffed Chicken with Lemon Ricotta 
  • 2 Chicken Breasts, butterflied to create a pocket
  • 1/4 c. Chicken Stock
  • 1/2 c. Ricotta Cheese
  • 1/2 t. lemon zest
  • 1/2 T. lemon juice
  • 2 T. Basil leaves, thinly chopped
  • pinch of salt and pepper
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Mix the stuffing together, and add a heaping spoonful into the butterflied chicken breasts. Secure with toothpicks.
  3. Heat an oven-safe skillet (cast iron if you have it) with a little oil and add the chicken breasts when it's reached a medium-high heat. Brown both sides of the breasts (3-4 minutes), remove from heat, and add chicken stock. Let the steam die down, then cover and place in an oven for 15 minutes.

Fennel Salad with Tomatoes and Parsley
The Salad could have been just a bunch of ingredients thrown together, but I decided to saute the fennel for a few minutes first. Not only did it loosen up some of the stronger liquorice notes, it also helped the fennel grab on to some of the other flavors in the salad.
  • 1 fennel bulb, diced
  • 1 medium tomato, diced
  • 1 T. lemon juice
  • 1/2 c. garbanzo beans, drained and rinse
  • 1/2 bunch flat-leaf parsley, chopped
  • 1 T. Parmesan cheese
  • Dash of salt/pepper
  1. Heat a splash of olive oil in a skillet to medium heat, and add in fennel. Saute for a few minutes until slightly tender. Remove from heat and add in garbanzo beans. Cool to room temperature.
  2. Combined remaining ingredients with fennel in a bowl, add a little more lemon juice as needed, and serve!


I Challenge You To Make It Better: Sugar Snap Salad

For last week's dinner, I choose to make this Sugar Snap Salad recipe I found in July's Bon Appetit.  Unfortunately for us, it did not turn out the best. I feel there was too much dressing, and not enough of something. But I'm not one to give up on a recipe that has potential, and I do feel like the following salad could be made great, with a few minor tweaks.

So I'm challenging you, the reader, to make it better and share with the rest of us! Give the following recipe a try this week and share your tweaks in the comment section. Maybe it's need additional ingredients? Maybe a few less? Experiment, and report back:

Snap Pea and Radish Salad in the back
Sugar Snap Salad
  • 1.5 lbs Sugar Snap peas, trimmed, stringed, and cut in half on diagonal
  • Kosher Salt
  • 3 T. extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 T. fresh lemon juice
  • 1 t. white wine vinegar
  • 1/2 t. sumac, plus more for garnish
  • 1 bunch radishes, trimmed, thinly sliced
  • 4 oz. ricotta salata or feta, crumbled
  • black paper
  • 2 T. coarsely chopped fresh mint
  1. Fill a large bowl with ice water, set aside. Cook peas in a pot of boiling, salted water until crisp-tender, about 2 minutes. Drain, transfer to bowl with ice water to cool. Drain and transfer to a kitchen towel to dry.
  2. Whisk oil, lemon juice, vinegar, and sumac in a small bowl. Toss peas, radishes, and cheese in a large bowl. Add dressing, season with salt/pepper/and more lemon juice. Garnish with mint and sprinkle with sumac.


Grill Much?

HOT coals!
So it's week two of eating healthy and this week, I had a boy to please as well. Also, without really realizing it, I selected three delicious recipes that all use a grill. Too bad it's a heat wave, but we just waited until a little later in the night to start, and everything was peachy.

All of these recipes are great as alternatives to the usual hamburgers and brats—it was healthier, delicious, and definitely a change of pace from the traditional chicken breast recipe I've made in the past. Below you will find recipes for Teriyaki Chicken (my mother's recipe), a Grilled Pork Tenderloin (with cherry salsa), and a Yogurt Marinated, Indian Spiced Chicken Beast.

But I'd have to give my 'best of the week' recommendation in a tie to two SIDE dishes I made: the Walnut Basil Pesto on Squash and the Parmesan Peppers. Both used the grill, and were new and exciting flavors I hadn't tried before. Make both of those immediately.

Grill Night # 1:
Basic, Can't-Fail Chicken Breast

Teriyaki Chicken (courtesy my mother)
*2 hour minimum marinating time required*
  • 6-10 Chicken Thighs (we used breasts)
  • 1 c. soy sauce
  • 1 c. sake (or crisp white wine as a substitute, I used a Viognier)
  • 1/3 c. brown sugar
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed
  • 1 t. red pepper flakes
  • 1 T. powdered ginger (I used fresh, grated---I would highly recommend the upgrade)
  1. Combine all the marinade ingredients in a sauce pan, and cook until sugar melts. Pour on top of chicken and marinate overnight, or at least 2-3 hours.
  2. Broil in oven, or over the grill. Turn chicken once, after around 10 minutes. Cook until done (20-25 minutes). 

served with
Grilled Squash with Walnut Parsley Pesto (Everyday Food)

  • 1 cup tightly packed, fresh parsley leaves
  • 1/3 cup chopped toasted walnuts
  • 1 small garlic clove, smashed and peeled
  • 1/4 c. Parmesan cheese, finely grated
  • 1/4 t. finely grated lemon zest
  • 1 T. fresh lemon juice
  • 1/4 c. extra virgin olive oil
  • salt/pepper
  • 2 yellow squash, quartered lengthwise and seasoned with salt and pepper
  1. Preheat Grill.
  2. Using a food processor, pulse pesto ingredients (everything except squash and olive oil) for 10 seconds. Then, with the machine running, slowly add the olive oil in a slow, steady stream until a paste forms.  Season with salt/pepper and transfer to a small bowl.
  3. Grill Squash, turning occasionally, until lightly charred and tender. (About 10 minutes)

Grill Night #2:
Pork, The Other Grill Meat
Parmesan Peppers in the back stole the show
Grilled Pork Tenderloin with Cherry Salsa
(Bon Appetit June)

*15 minute marinating time, although overnight is preferred*
  • 1 c. coarsly chopped cilantro, divided
  • 1/2 c. minced shallots, divided
  • 6 T. fresh lime juice, divided
  • 1/4 c. vegetable oil
  • 2 pork tenderloins, about 2.5 lbs (one could feed 3-4 people)
  • 1/2 lb. fresh cherries, stemmed, pitted, halved
  • 1 fresh Fresno chilie, red jalepeno, or Holland--thinly sliced crosswise. (I used a green jalapeno)
  • 1 T. extra virgin olive oil
  •  Salt/Pepper
  1. Prepare grill to medium-high heat.
  2. Combine half the cilantro, half the shallots, 4 T. lime juice, and vegetable oil in a resealable plastic bag. Add pork, and seal. Turn to coat, and marinate at room temperature for 15 minutes, turning occasionally.
  3. Combine the rest of the shallots, cilantro, lime juice, cherries, chile, and olive oil in a bowl and set aside.
  4. Remove tenderloin from marinade and season generously with salt/pepper. Grill, turning frequently, until meat registers 145 degrees (about 15 minutes). Let rest for 10 minutes. Cut into slices and serve with salsa.
I had made a similar recipe before, but while the cherry salsa stands out, the pork wasn't anything special. This time around, grilled, the pork held its own. Plus—we used the second tenderloin the next night for Taco Meat. THAT was another tasty meal that allowed me to indulge in dairy without also worrying about greasy meat. Just shred and reheat the meat.

served with
Parmesan Peppers
(Bon Appetit June)
  • 4 bell peppers
  • 1 clove, thinly sliced garlic
  • 8 thyme sprigs
  • 1 T. extra virgin olive oil
  • salt/pepper
  • 1/4 c. grated Parmesan
  • 1/2 lemon, juiced (optional)
  1. Stem, corn, and quarter the peppers and toss with all remaining ingredients except cheese. Place on baking sheet and roast at 425 degrees until softened (or use the grill). Top with cheese, and broil until cheese melts and peppers are slightly charred. Juice lemon over peppers, if desired.

    Grill Night # 3: Exotic Chicken
    I say exotic because the kitchen smelled like Indian food all night, but this recipe was just as easy to make as the Teriyaki Chicken on night one--make whichever one sounds fantastic for the moment! This one was slightly jucier, and had those fantastic ginger/garam marsala spice notes to it.

    Yogurt Marinated Grilled Chicken (Bon Appetit)
    • 8 skinless, boneless chicken breasts
    • 2 cups plain whole-milk yogurt (I used Greek)
    • 1 cup coarsley chopped cilantro, leaves and stems
    • 1/2 large onion, coarsley chopped
    • 1/3 c. olive oil, plus more for brushing
    • 6 garlic cloves, coarsely chopped
    • 1 T. fresh lime juice
    • 1 T. garam marsala
    • 2 t. salt
    • 1 t. pepper
    • 1 2" piece of fresh ginger, peeled and chopped
    1. Pound each breast of chicken between two sheets of waxed paper until they are an even 1/2" thick. Transfer to resealable plastic bag.
    2. Combine the remaining ingredients in a food processor and blend until smooth. Pour yogurt mixture over chicken and marinate at least 3 hours, or overnight.
    3. Build a medium fire, brush grill with oil (this meat stuck to an un-oiled grill, so I'd recommend). Scrape excess marinate off chicken and season with salt. Grill chicken, turning once, until browned and cooked through. (The recipe says 3-4 minutes, but ours needed at least 8-10 per side).


    Healthy Meals by Land and Sea

    I added another rule to my diet: One Bad Thing a Day. I really can't go without things like cheese or Dr. Pepper forever—but if I can try to keep it under control. Monday and Tuesday, I had a soda, and today I indulged in pizza (thin crust). So far it's working out pretty well.

    I also made these tasty dried tomatoes my sister told me about with some cherry tomatoes I picked up at the farmers market.  They were a great snack, and I used the rest of them in the couscous I served with tonight's chicken.

    But on to the recipes--here's a check in with two fantastic dinners I made myself. One fish, one chicken, but both really easy to make and great for someone looking to feed one or two. Both had a side dish too!

    Eggplant and Chickpea Salad
    Eggplant & Chickpea Salad
    Two major changes from the original recipe: I cut the feta cheese to 1/4 cup (that's plenty), and I only cooked the eggplant for 10 minutes, until it was just starting to get tender. This recipe was also even better the next day for lunch, when the flavors had really meld together.

    Panko & Mustard Crusted Salmon
    Panko & Mustard Crusted Salmon
    Took no time at all---the mustard and salmon worked really well together. A .8 pound filet gave me two nice servings, too.

    Stuffed Chicken with Couscous
    Stuffed Chicken with Feta, Spinach & Pine Nuts
    Cooking Light
    • 5 ounces fresh spinach, chopped
    • 1/2 cup (2 ounces) crumbled feta cheese
    • 2 tablespoons pine nuts, toasted
    • 1 teaspoon fresh thyme, minced
    • 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
    • 2 garlic cloves, minced
    • 4 (6-ounce) skinless, boneless chicken breast halves
    • 1/4 teaspoon salt
    • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
    • 1 tablespoon olive oil
    • 1/2 cup fat-free, lower-sodium chicken broth
    1. Preheat oven to 350°.
    2. Heat a large nonstick ovenproof skillet over medium-high heat. Add spinach to pan; cook 1 minute or until spinach wilts, tossing constantly. Place spinach in a colander; press until barely moist. Wipe pan clean.
    3. Combine spinach, cheese, nuts, thyme, juice, and garlic. Cut a horizontal slit through the thickest portion of each chicken breast half to form a pocket. Stuff 3 tablespoons filling into each pocket. Seal with wooden picks. Sprinkle chicken with salt and pepper.
    4. Heat oil in pan over medium-high heat. Add chicken; cook 3 minutes on each side or until brown. Add broth, and cover pan. Place pan in oven. Bake at 350° for 15 minutes or until done


    Keeping A Healthy Eating Schedule: The Plan

    In an effort to eat healthier, I've decided to start planning out my weekly meals on Sunday in order to prevent those last minute "I Can't Think of Anything" Fast Food breaks. I've created a separate Google Calender for my work out schedule, listing a work out for EVERY day of the week (including Rest Days), and will add on my menu to the same calender to they can coincide with each other.

    While I'm not dieting, or holding to any hard and fast rules, I've come up with a few goals for myself:
    • Less Bread. And when I must, multi-grain if I can
    • No Soda. Water, water, everywhere. I'm so getting to 8 glasses a day
    • More SIDES and SMART SNACKING! More vegetables, fruits, and snacks that aren't a complete waste. 
    • Vary it up a bit. I'm trying to mix my proteins. Fish/Vegetarian/Chicken, all at least once a week.
    My goal is to keep it up for at least three weeks and see where we go from there. Hopefully I'll come up with a lot of quick, healthy recipes that can be used over and over again. Plus I now have over a year of Blog recipes to make use of!

    Let's see how this goes, shall we? Here's the plan for the week:

    Lunch: Tuna Fish Sandwich with Greek Yogurt/Hard Boiled Egg
    Dinner: Mustard Salmon with Eggplant/Chickpea Salad

    Lunch: Eggplant/Chickpea Salad leftovers with Hummus
    Dinner: Evening Out! Looking for something that includes veggies. Maybe Sweetgreen or a Chioptle Salad

    Lunch: Tuna Fish Sandwich with Greek Yogurt/Hard Boiled Egg
    Dinner: Stuffed Chicken with Spinach, Feta, and Pine Nuts and Currant Couscous

    Lunch: Leftover Stuffed Chicken
    Dinner: Chicken Breast and Grilled Squash w/Walnut Parsley Pesto, Spinach Salad

    Lunch: Leftovers/Eating Out--depending what's left
    Dinner: CHRIS COMES HOME! We're so celebrating with a fun evening out. Will try my best to order the healthy option that comes with less cheese and more veggies.

    Marinate Tonight: Lemon Garlic Chicken

    The charred, eatable lemon is great mixed into the mashed potatoes
    This can be a fast recipe, ready after a quick 30 minute marinate, but we prepped it the day before and let it sit for 24 hours and the lemon REALLY stood out in a way that makes it a great, refreshing summer meal. 

    A Few Notes:
    • Watch the time cooking---we let it go for 30 minutes, and the chicken was way too dry. 20 minutes to start should be plenty, and then maybe another 5 to brown if you think it needs it.
    • The recipe calls for Garlic Oil, which you can make ahead the day before (if you marinate), or just forgo it completely it you're looking for something quick. While it sounds cool, the lemon overpowers the oil in a way that makes its assembly almost worthless.

    Chicken Marinated in Garlic Oil
    Everyday Food, July/August

    1/4 c. Garlic Oil (or regular Olive Oil, plus 4-6 garlic cloves smashed and peeled)
    1 lemons, cut into rounds
    1/4 c. chopped fresh parsley
    4 chicken pieces (we used breasts, with or without skin)
    salt/pepper to taste
    1. To Make Garlic Oil: Smash and peel 1 head of garlic and heat over a medium-low heat with 1 cup Olive Oil until it starts to bubble. Reduce heat to low, and cook for 10 minutes (don't let the garlic brown). Remove from heat and let cool at room temp, at least 45 minutes. Store in the fridge for up to a week.
    2. In a zip-top bag, combined all ingredients and shake to coat. Let sit 30 minutes, or refrigerate overnight.
    3. Preheat the oven 45 degrees. Transfer to baking sheet, season with salt and pepper, and roast until skin is golden, 20-25 minutes. Turn in the final 5 minutes to brown other side, if desired.


    Hummus: Back to the Basics

    This is another recipe I got from my Arab Table Cookbook, which not only has fantastic, authentic (from what I can tell) middle eastern recipes, but amazing pictures as well.

    I use to be quite the hummus connoisseur, going through most of the national brands before I finally got fed up with it. Too much of a good thing, especially if you have it everyday for lunch. 

    But this recipe, which I first tried back in February, has drawn me back into the dish. It's a simple recipe, without any bells and whistles, and I kind of like that. My vegan friend Jim has also given it his seal of approval, saying it was one of the best he's tried (which I take as a huge compliment!)

    Some Notes:
    • It's heavy on the tahini, which makes it thicker than most, but feel free to cut it in half if you don't like that nutty flavor. 
    • I've found while the first day is fine, you might need to add some olive oil in as the week goes by to keep its 'sour cream' like consistency.  
    • A Food Processor makes this recipe SO MUCH EASIER. I wouldn't recommend making it without it (although I did get it to work once with my emulsion blender)
    • For those who like bells and whistles, consider adding roasted garlic, roasted red peppers, or pine nuts to the mixture.

    2 15 oz. cans garbanzo beans
    2-4 cloves garlic, mashed
    1/2 t. salt, plus more to taste
    1/2 c. tahini (or less)
    1/2 c. fresh lemon juice
    Extra virgin Olive Oil (for drizzling on top)
    1/2 t. smoked paprika
    1. Drain all the water out of the garbanzo beans and rinse in cold water THREE times. Place them in water, covered by 1 inch of water, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 2 minutes. Reserve 1 cup of liquid, then drain and set aside.
    2. Place garlic and salt in the food process and pulse three times. Add chickpeas, tahini, lemon juice, and pulse until the mixture is thick and creamy. Scrape down the sides of the bowl, then process for 5 minutes, or until it has the consistency of sour cream. Add the cooking liquid in tablespoon quantities as needed (2-6 T.).  Season with paprika/salt/lemon juice as needed.
    3. When you serve the hummus, create a bowl with a center indentation where you can add olive oil, garlic, pine nuts, or other garnishes.