Friday, February 29, 2008

I Would do Anything for Love...But I Won't Eat That: Meat Loaf




Following Pixie's suggestion, I'm entering my mother's Meatloaf in Elly Says Opa's Eat to the Beat event.



Not only does my mom's post share the same name as the artist, the song "I would do anything for love, but I won't do that" relates strongly to the way I feel about eating her meatloaf (or anyone else's for that matter).



Do you notice how things change with time - the way we think, the values we hold so dear to us, and foods we eat or will try that once we would have considered totally taboo. I seem to recall Psychgrad and her brother, Actorboy, wincing in utter pain when the response they received when they said "what's for dinner" was met with a cheery M-E-A-T-L-O-A-F. The first response, usually from Psychgrad was "awww mom, you know I'm not going to eat that" and then Actorboy would whine "forget it mom, I hate that stuff". Psychgrad was always the most fussy eater, the one who could only eat vegetables if they were raw. Actorboy was more concerned with the consistency of foods and how they danced - or not - on his pallette.

It never ceases to amaze me at the depth of Psychgrad's current willingness to try new foods and experiment with new recipes. I'd like to think it has something to do with mom not giving in to the rantings of her children, although I think it really has more to do with maturity and wisdom - theirs, not mine.

The other day I made a care package run to Actorboy in an effort to clean out my own freezer. All the things that once would have been met with resistence are now entirely appreciated - even MEATLOAF.



Ingredients:

1 1/2 - 2 lbs lean ground meat (I used ground veal)
1 stalk celery
1 carrot
1 onion
3 cloves garlic
2 eggs
1/4 cup ketchup (secret ingredient)
1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley (optional)
1 tblsp worcestershire sauce (I like it but not entirely necessary)
1 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
1/2 - 3/4 cup fine bread crumbs

Process:

1. Process celery, carrot, onion and garlic
I always did this to mask the appearance of the vegetables and to make sure there were no chunks. I don't think I even need to elaborate on what would have been said with chunks of onion in the meatloaf.
2. Add to ground meat
3. Add all other ingredients and mix (by hand) until blended. It's best not to overmix to avoid a tough meatloaf.



4. Shape to fit a sprayed loaf pan


5. Top with a little ketchup for added flavour and eye appeal



6. Bake at 375 F for approximately an hour (start checking at 50 minutes)
There will likely be some accumulated juices - I just pour them off.
7. Allow meatloaf to sit for about 10 minutes (the longer the better) so that it doesn't fall apart when you cut it.
I try to make meatloaf a day in advance. After it's been in the fridge overnight, it cuts like a charm and simple to warm up.


**NOTE FROM PSYCHGRAD** I still don't like meatloaf. In fact, as I said here, I don't like large chunks of ground beef. So, Giz will probably get the same response from me if she tells me that she made meatloaf for dinner when I visit.

**Note from Giz** Taking Psychgrad out for dinner was always a case of one of three possible choices - usually she would opt for a corned beef sandwich. Here's your virtual corned beef sandwich (compliments of The Pickle Barrel, Toronto). You can have it instead of meatloaf. Who says I'm not accomodating?

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Thursday, February 28, 2008

Beef Stir Fry


I had a dream last night that I went to Martha Stewart's house and didn't bring a dish prepared. I brought the fixings for antipasto (probably a held-over thought from watching Barefoot Contessa yesterday), forgot to bring a platter and made Martha Stewart go through her cupboards to find me the right dish. Funny thing was, she didn't have a good platter selection. I'm thinking I was dreaming about a fake Martha Stewart.

Between another cross-country ski trip and feeling less-than optimal upon my return, I haven't done much cooking this week. This gives me a great opportunity to catch up on some posts.

Last week, R had exams. In a fit of domesticacy (is that a word?), I decided that the difference between an A and a B could be a good meal. So, I searched around for a good looking beef stir fry and found this.

Ginger Beef Stir Fry

Ingredients



1 medium sweet red pepper, julienned
2 medium carrots, thinly sliced
1 small head of brocoli
1 teaspoon cornstarch
1/4 cup cold water
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 pound boneless beef sirloin steak, cut into thin 2-inch strips
3 tablespoons salted peanuts, chopped
1/4 cup plum sauce
2 tablespoons sesame seeds, toasted
rice
1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger
4 green onions, chopped
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 1/2 cups fresh broccoli florets

In a small bowl, whisk cornstarch and cold water until smooth. Stir in the plum sauce, ginger, soy sauce and pepper flakes; set aside.



In a large skillet or wok, stir-fry beef in oil until no longer pink;



remove and keep warm.



In the same pan, stir-fry the red pepper, broccoli, carrots, onion, and garlic until tender.



Return beef to the pan.



Whisk the plum sauce mixture; stir into skillet. Cook and stir until slightly thickened. Stir in peanuts.







Serve over rice if desired. Sprinkle with sesame seeds.





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Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Presto Pasta Night: Orzo Salad




It's week #52 for Presto Pasta Night. and that means Happy Birthday is in order.

I love birthday parties and I'm sure this one is going to be alot of fun. Easy to transport, I'm bringing an Orzo Salad.

Here's a look at some of the "usual suspects" for this salad.



The key for this cold salad is, of course, orzo - looks like rice but it's really pasta.



Orzo is one of those deceiving ingredients. It doesn't look like a whole lot when you're measuring out a cup.



But, once it's cooked, it bulks up to much more volume than you would have imagined. One cup of uncooked orzo makes enough base for your salad for at least 4 healthy portions.



Ingredients:

1 cup uncooked orzo
1 small red pepper diced
1 small green pepper diced
1/2 red onion diced
1 small tomato seeded and diced (I used vine ripened)
1/2 English cucumber skin on and sliced in fourths
1/2 cup marinated artichokes plus a little marinating liquid for dressing
1/2 cup sliced black pitted olives
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley

Process:

1. Cook orzo in good amount of salted water (approx. 1 cup orzo to 4 cups water),for approximately 7-10 minutes. Drain. The orzo shouldn't be mushy.



2. Prepare all diced vegetables, olives and artichokes, add to cooked orzo
3. Mix together and add some of the artichoke marinating liquid as dressing.

Note: I didn't add any salt or pepper, but you could season to your taste.

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Sunday, February 24, 2008

Energy Bars


Today, I'm bringing out the big guns - my personal trainers and constant companions. When I say constant companions, I mean that quite literally. It doesn't seem to matter where I am, they're always there following me from one room to the other. After some discussion, they've shared that their favourite room is the kitchen and their favourite treats are whatever happens to fall on the floor at any time of day or night. They are the constant reminders that I need to get out and exercise even if I don't really want to. And remind me they do. How can you resist these faces? Even worse, it's just not possible to go near a door without finding one or both of them ready at the slightest movement of the leash.



He's the male and really thinks he's the alpha in our pack. We let him come through doors first just to keep his ego in tact. We really know who the alpha is in the family and she's exactly half his size. Although he's been nicknamed "fat boy", we prefer to consider him as being big boned and full of character.



Now she's the serious one. Weighing in at just 11 lbs. she has a great dane complex and will tackle anything or anybody who threatens her pack. Those eyes come and tell me it's time to go get some exercise. And, if the eyes get ignored, the ante will always get bumped up to the barking phase.

Remember this guy - the symbol of something healthy coming - the man with the hat that infiltrates my cupboards.




Ingredients:

2 cups whole wheat flour
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup skim milk powder
1/4 cup wheat germ
1 tsp. baking powder
1 cup raisins
3/4 cup dried apricots or dates, chopped
1/2 cup sunflower seeds, unsalted
2 eggs
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup liquid honey
1/4 cup molasses
2 tbsp. sesame seeds

Process:
1. Combine dry ingredients with fruit and seeds.
2. Beat eggs with oil, honey and molasses.
3. Add the dry ingredients and blend well. (It's a thick and relatively dry mixture that requires a bit of elbow grease to mix)
4. Spread into a 9 inch square pan, lightly buttered (don't press down on batter)
5. Bake at 350 F for 30 minutes. If using pyrex pan, decrease temperature to 325 F.
6. This recipe may be doubled successfully. Freezes well.

I doubled the recipe and found it made 1 - 9x12 and 1 - 9x9






This is a sweet treat packed with good for you ingredients. StumbleUpon

Friday, February 22, 2008

Upside Down Apple Cake


I've never been one to reach into the fruit drawer and grab an apple. If it's peeled and cored, I'll give it a good home. But, an apple on it's own - not my favourite. This, however, didn't stop my mom from putting an apple in my lunch every day during elementary school. We affectionately named him (and his descendents) "Mr. Apple". By the end of the week, Mr. Apple would be bruised to high heaven from being lugged to and from school every day.

Although I still don't like apples, I buy them regularly and look for new recipes in which to use them. Still to this day, I rarely if ever grab a whole apple for a snack.

Luckily, I found a great recipe that worked well with this month's Taste & Create. This event randomly pairs two food bloggers so that they can try a recipe from each other's "repetoire". I was paired with Finger Licking Food and decided to make her Apple Cake Tatin

Upside Down Apple Cake

1 3/4 cups granulated sugar, divided
1/3 cup of water
6 tbsp (3/4 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature, plus extra for greasing the dish
1 1/4 Granny Smith apples, peeled and sliced into 12 pieces (I used 2 apples)
2 extra-large eggs, at room temperature
1/3 cup sour cream
1/2 tsp grated lemon zest
1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
Confectioners' sugar (I didn't use any)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Generously butter a 9-inch glass pie dish and arrange the apples in the dish, cut side down.



Combine 1 cup of the granulated sugar and 1/3 cup water in a small saucepan and cook over high heat. Swirl the pan, but don't stir, until it turns a warm amber color (I wasn't sure how long this would be...but once it got to be thick enough and a bit browny, I turned off the stove).



Pour evenly over the apple slices.



Meanwhile, cream the butter and the remaining 3/4 cup of granulated sugar until light and fluffy. Lower the speed and beat in the eggs 1 at a time. Add the sour cream, zest, and vanilla and mix until combined. Sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt and, with the mixer on low speed, add it to the butter mixture. I also added raisins. Mix only until combined. Pour the cake batter evenly over the apple slices



Bake for 30-40 minutes, until a cake tester or a tooth pick comes out clean.



Cool for 15 minutes, then invert the cake onto a flat plate. If an apple slice sticks, ease it out and replace it in the design on top of the cake. Serve warm or at room temperature, dusted with confectioner's sugar and a scoop of vanilla ice cream (I just ate it on it's own).

I am very pleased with how the cake turned out. It tastes great and looks really good. I was worried about the cake sticking to the cake pan and falling apart when I flipped it, but it didn't.







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Thursday, February 21, 2008

Sweet & Sour Chicken


I must admit, I was a little bit star struck, when I saw that Ruth from Once Upon a Feast had a column written about her by Noreen Gilletz in the Canadian Jewish News. Noreen Gilletz's cookbooks are a staple in any Jewish-Canadian household. Growing up, I always wondered: why doesn't every cookbook have a convenient fold down the middle of the book allowing you to keep the book upright?

When I wrote a comment on Ruth's post and Noreen replied, I quickly sent an e-mail to my mom. So, now I'm a celebrity by association. Ok...maybe not. But, it did inspire me to make a favorite Noreen Gilletz recipe.

This recipe comes from Second Helpings Please:



Sweet & Sour Chicken

4lb chicken, cut in 8ths (I just use 4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts)
seasoned flour (see below)
1/4 cup oil (we don't use this much)
1 onion, diced
15 oz tin pineapple chunks, drained (reserve juice)
1/2 cup ketchup
1 tbsp lemon juice

Seasoned Flour



1 cup flour
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1/4 tsp paprika
1/4 tsp garlic powder, if desired

Instructions

Roll chicken in seasoned flour.



Fry slowly on both sides in hot oil until brown, about 20 minutes.



Combine onion, pineapple juice, ketchup and lemon juice in a saucepan and simmer about 5 minutes.



Place chicken in a casserole. Pour sauce over chicken.



and top with pineapple chunks.



Bake at 375 for 20-25 minutes. Serve with rice.



I should fess up though...we alter the pineapple, ketchup and lemon juice to have double the sauce and pineapples.

Also - kudos to R for making this meal and taking pictures for the blog! I'm just not sure what to think of all of the passive-aggressive crotch shots:

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