Wednesday, July 6, 2011

The Best Meatloaf with Marinara Sauce

I have a very "discerning" (picky) husband and even he really likes this meatloaf recipe so if he likes it, I'm sure that your kids will like it too.  You can also top it with homemade marinara sauce (which I prefer) but he just likes it plain and dips it in ketchup.  Yeah, I know...

2 lbs 80/20 % Hamburger  IMPORTANT: Do Not use lean (anything under 90% lean) because your
meatloaf will come out really dry and this is not good!
1tsp Worchester sauce
1/4 cup Ketchup
1/2 Medium Onion (chopped finely or minced in food processor)
3/4 cup Italian bread crumbs
1/2 tsp Salt
3 twists of fresh Black Pepper
2 tsp dried Parsley
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese (yes, from the sprinkle container in the fridge)
2 eggs

Crack eggs into a bowl first to make sure that no shells are left behind and mix lightly with a fork.
Add all ingredients into a large mixing bowl in any order.  I used to use to just use my hands to mix everything together but now I use my Kitchen Aid mixer to do most of the work for me.  However, if you choose to use this method I learned after my first attempt that there is a thing called Mixing Too Much (like you could make the same mistake with mashed potatoes).  So, only mix on the 2nd speed for about two minutes or until you see that all ingredients are well combined. 

Using your hands, put into a 9"x12" glass baking dish and shape into a loaf.  Bake in a 350 degree oven for about 90 minutes.  The internal temperature should read 170 degrees.


Homemade Marinara Sauce
1 32oz can Crushed Tomatoes (or chopped fresh tomatoes with the skins removed)
2 cloves of Garlic (about 1 tbsp minced garlic)
1 tsp dried or 1 tbsp fresh Basil
1 tsp dried Oregano
1 tbsp dried Parsley
2 tbsp Olive oil
1/2 tsp Salt
1/4 tsp Pepper

Mix everything together in a large mixing bowl and set aside.

In a medium sauce pan, add olive oil and onions.  Stir and cook over medium heat.  Cover and let cook for about five minutes until onions are translucent.  Uncover, stir in garlic and cook for about two more minutes while stirring to make sure to not burn the garlic.  Add all of the ingredients in the mixing bowl.  Reduce heat to medium/low.  Cover and cook for 30 minutes.  When meatloaf is done, take it out of the oven and spoon enough of the Marinara Sauce on it to coat.  Return meatloaf to the oven and broil for about 3 minutes until the top is bubbly.  Remove from the oven.  You can serve the rest of the Marinara Sauce on the side in a gravy bowl.  This also is a great sauce over any pasta, with meat or no meat.
Enjoy :)

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Mini-Penne Creamy Chicken Pasta

This time of year when it's so warm outside, I try to limit how much and how long I bake things in the oven.  This recipe could be baked in the oven but also comes out great by just cooking it on top of the stove in a large skillet and won't create lots of extra heat in your kitchen.  Mini-Penne pasta is also called Penne Mezzanine or Ready-Cut Macaroni, depending on the dried brand that you purchase.

1 lb cooked chicken breast in 1 inch cubes
2 tbsp butter
1tbsp flour
8 oz (half a box) cooked Mini-Penne pasta
1 cup chicken stock
1 cup milk
1/2 minced onion
1 tbsp minced garlic
1 can low fat cream of chicken soup
1tsp chili powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/8 tsp pepper
1/2 tsp dried sage

Cook pasta according to package directions and drain.  Cook a minute more than al Dente since you won't be baking it in the oven. 
In a large skillet, over medium heat, lightly brown cut up chicken and onion 1tbsp of butter; cover and cook for about 10 minutes.  Remove lid and add the garlic about 1 minute before removing from the heat, mix well.  Transfer to a bowl and cover to keep warm with foil on top.

To make the sauce:
In a medium sized mixing bowl whisk together 1 cup of chicken stock, 1 cup of milk and 1 can cream of chicken soup.
In the same skillet, over medium heat, make a rue for your sauce by adding 1tbsp of butter and 1tbsp of flour.  Mix together well with a spatula for about 3 minutes until the flour is bubbly and cooked.
Slowly whisk in sauce mixture until well blended over medium heat and reduce to simmer as it thickens.
Mix in salt, pepper, chili powder, paprika and sage until well blended.  Stir in chicken mixture and pasta.
Cover and cook over medium-low heat for 15 minutes until it is warm and bubbling.  Dinner is ready :)

*Optional: could also top with a few sundried tomatoes and a little parmasean cheese.

Happy 4th of July weekend everyone!