Wednesday, 27 March 2013

Easy Saucy Meatloaf

This is the simplest kid-friendly meatloaf I've ever made. I like to cook it divided in two loaf pans to maximize sauce coverage and to cut down on cooking time. Since it uses tomatoes rather than ketchup you can control the level of sweetness. The recipe here comes out quite sweet which is undoubtedly why it is so popular with my littles!

Another reason they like it is because it's a homogeneous brick of loaf. No bits of onion or herb or other non-meaty bits to pick out as my kids tend to do. I like to chop the onion, add it to the canned tomatoes, and then blend it together with a handheld stick blender before adding it into the meat mixture.

Easy Saucy Meatloaf
Inspired by this recipe

  • 1 1/2 to 2 lbs pounds ground beef
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 small onion, chopped *(to hide the onions use a hand blender to puree them into the tomato sauce)
  • 1/2 cup tomato sauce (or pureed canned tomatoes)
  • 1 cup Italian (seasoned) bread crumbs
  • salt and pepper to taste 
  • 1 cup tomato sauce (or pureed canned tomatoes)
  • 2 tablespoons vinegar 
  • 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard 
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C).
  2. In a medium bowl combine the ground meat, egg, onion, 1/2 cup tomato sauce and seasoned bread crumbs. Season with salt and pepper to taste and mix well.
  3. Press mixture into two loaf pans. Make a depression in the center and poke a few holes down the middle to ensure a good sauce coverage.
  4. In a small bowl combine the remaining 1 cup tomato sauce, vinegar, mustard, and brown sugar. Mix together until sugar has dissolved and pour liquid evenly over meatloafs.
  5. Bake in preheated oven for 30-45 minutes until cooked through.

Wednesday, 6 March 2013

Broccoli Soups

Mmmm broccoli soup. We all love it around here. Full of vitamins, easy to cook up, and many different ways to cook it. This winter I've tried three different recipes.

The simplest one I found is by Gordon Ramsay and the instructions are to 1) boil the broccoli, 2) drain and reserve the liquid, 3) puree the broccoli, adding in as much cooking water as needed to reach desired consistency, 4) season with salt and pepper to taste, drizzle with olive oil, 5) enjoy. You can fancy it up by pouring it into a bowl that has some goat cheese and walnuts waiting. Simple, delicious, and light.

The next recipe I tried is a rich Cream of Broccoli and Cheddar Soup. Because there's a roux it ends up having a thicker texture and makes for a hearty soup. This is the only one of the three that wouldn't work on a low-carb diet since there's a good amount of flour in it. I made this soup a few weeks ago and served it with a side of quinoa pancakes. The kids liked this one the best and it had the most mild broccoli flavor of the three. The other bonus is that it calls for cooked broccoli which makes it a great leftovers recipe if you happen to have some in the fridge.

Smooth Broccoli Cheddar Soup is the one I made most recently is my favorite at this point. It's kind of a mid-point between the two previous recipes. It boils up the broccoli along with a few other goodies in a broth, so there are more complex flavors than with the simple broccoli puree, and rather than a roux it's only made creamy by adding cheese and cream so not quite as heavy. I pureed it in my BlendTec on the soup setting which made it incredibly smooth as you can see from the photo.

And for all of these soup recipes, bacon always makes for an excellent garnish. There's really very little that bacon doesn't pair well with!

Cream of Broccoli and Cheddar Soup (with roux)
  • 1/4 cup chopped onion
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 1-1/2 cups 2% milk
  • 3/4 cup chicken broth
  • 1 cup cooked chopped fresh or frozen broccoli
  • 1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese
  1. In a medium pot, saute onions in butter until tender.
  2. Whisk in the flour, salt and pepper until blended.
  3. Gradually whisk in milk and broth.
  4. Bring to a boil while stirring constantly; cook and stir for 2 minutes or until desired thickness.
  5. Add broccoli, stirring until heated through.
  6. Remove from the heat and stir in cheese until melted. (Don't put it back on the stove to boil after the cheese has been added or it will get a grainy texture.)

Smooth Broccoli Cheddar Soup (no flour)
Lightly inspired by Eating Keto
  • 3 cups chicken broth
  • 2 large broccoli bunches, chopped. (I peel the stems and chop them up as well)
  • 1/2 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 cup cheddar cheese, shredded
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • fresh cooked bacon bits (optional)
  • chopped green onions (optional)
  • salt, pepper & garlic powder to taste
  1. Combine chicken broth, broccoli and onion and bring to a boil. 
  2. Turn down heat, cover, and let simmer for 15 min or until the veggies are soft.
  3. Put everything into a blender and puree. Depending on the size of your blender container this might need to be done in a few batches. Try not to fill more than 1/2 full at a time. Alternately, take a handheld stick blender to your pot and blend until smooth.
  4. Return the puree to the pot over low heat. Slowly add in the shredded cheese stirring until melted, and then add in the heavy cream. Heat until steamy; try not to let it boil since that can ruin the cheese. Season to taste with salt, pepper and garlic powder.
  5. Serve topped with more cheddar cheese, bacon bits and/or green onions.