Wednesday, August 1, 2018

Mom's Meatloaf

"Really Bobbi?  MEATLOAF?  This is what your blog has come to?  Where are the Cajun recipes? Is there something unique about this meatloaf?  Does it at least have like, alligator or ground shrimp and Cajun seasoning in it?"

Nope.  It does not.  But it doesn't need to.  Because there's something special about a recipe that comes from your mom.  
Even if it *technically* doesn't come from your mom, because it's actually from Betty Crocker's "Dinner for Two" cookbook, circa 1960s. 
Because your mom got this as a wedding gift when she got married in 1974.

And because your mom used to make it all the time.  Possibly once a week, even.  These are the flavors of your childhood.
And, because it's one of the first things your mom taught you to cook.  You remember smooshing all those ingredients together with your bare mitts inside a burnt orange Tupperware bowl.

You remember it being served with potatoes au gratin and sweet peas.  And having meatloaf sandwiches with the leftovers for lunch.

And you also remember it because, while you don't make it nearly as often as your mom did, you did make it while your son "helped" you cook.
Because spices make great towers.

And even though there's absolutely nothing sexy or unique about meatloaf, and it's incredibly difficult to take Instagram-worthy photos of a meatwad... there is absolutely something special about sharing recipes and moments with your kids.

*Note: my recipe varies slightly from the original, just because I like more veggies in it.

INGREDIENTS: (makes 4-6 servings)
1 lb Boston Burger (80/20 mix of ground beef & pork)
1/2 cup seasoned bread crumbs
1/2 onion, diced
1/2 bell pepper, diced
1/2 cup milk
1 egg
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper, celery salt, and dry mustard
1 tsp minced garlic
1.5 tsp Worcestershire sauce
1/4-1/2 cup BBQ sauce (we had Fiery Habanero in the fridge, so that's what we used--added a really nice level of heat)

Preheat oven to 350F.
Combine all the ingredients in a large bowl and smoosh 'til combined. Don't overwork--just mix until everything is integrated.  If you mix it too much the meatloaf will get really tough.  Then plop into a loaf pan...
...then top with BBQ sauce...
My attempt at getting an action shot.

Spread evenly across the top and then bake for 1 hour.  Use a kitchen thermometer to monitor for when it hits 160F and you'll ensure that you don't overcook it--nobody likes dry meatloaf.
Serve with potatoes & peas (or rice and watermelon, because that's what you have on-hand).


Monday, July 23, 2018

Stuffed Mirlitons


It's one of those words, much like "maringouin" and "Tchoupitoulas", that if you cannot pronounce correctly, will announce your Yankee-ness to all your southern brethren and sisters (sistren?).

Now, if you live outside The South, you probably know this lil' guy as something entirely different:
Chayote, or, pear squash.  The latter coming from it's both visual and textural similarities to a pear. It's popular in Latin cuisine, where they originate from. In the mid-1700s, when the Spanish took over New Orleans from France after the 7 Years War, trade began to flow between the Caribbean and New Orleans, including the "vegetable pear".  In the late 1700's, there was a massive influx of immigrants to the area from Haiti, where the squash was known as a "mirliton".  And so, the name stuck.

Up until more recent history, they were a common backyard vegetable--the plants climb very well and so homeowners would use their chain-link fences as a trellis.  However, since wooden privacy fences have become more popular for curb appeal, this trend has declined considerably.

So, how are they used?  Well, raw they're crunchy and great in salads.  Cooked, they're very mild and take on the flavor of whatever they're cooked with.  The Creole-Acadians loved to put them in gumbos, or stuff them with a meat/seafood and breadcrumb mixture.  So that's what we went with here.

Now--let's be honest for a moment.  Stuffing a gourd is purely for aesthetics.  You can easily achieve the exact same flavor profile by making a delicious casserole or dressing. But it's just not as attractive.  (I've been food blogging for almost a decade and I can't figure out how to make casseroles photogenic. Please share any tips in the comments section.)

Ingredients: (makes 4 servings)
2 large mirlitons, salt & bay leaf
5 Tbsp unsalted butter or margarine, divided (2 for filling, 3 for topping)
1 4-ounce link Andouille sausage, diced
1/2 yellow onion, finely diced
1 rib celery, finely diced
1 small bell pepper, finely diced
2 tsp Cajun seasoning
2 Tbsp minced garlic (about 6 cloves)
1/2 lb raw shrimp, diced
1.5 cups of bread crumbs, divided (1 cup for filling, 1/2 cup for topping)
2-3 green onions, thinly sliced
salt & pepper to taste
1/8 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese

First, cut the mirlitons in half and remove the seeds.  Bring a pot of water to boil; once boiling, add about 1 Tsp of salt and a bay leaf.  Then add the mirlitons, drop the temp and simmer for about 45 minutes or until tender. Remove from the water and allow to cool. 

(Tip:  Because cooking the mirliton takes a while, if you're wanting a quick after-work meal, cook these the night before, then make the filling the day you're wanting to eat, then bake and BOOM, you're done!)

Once they've cooled, scrape out most of the pulp, leaving about 1/2 inch in the shell.  Dry the pulp and then chop.

Then, pre-heat your oven to 350F.

While the mirlitons are cooling, in a large cast iron pan, heat the 2 Tbsp of butter until melted over medium heat.  Add the onion, celery, bell pepper, and Cajun seasoning, and saute for 5 minutes, then add the diced andouille. Cook for 5 more minutes, then add the mirliton pulp that you scooped out, garlic, shrimp, and green onions, cooking until the shrimp turn pink.  Add 1/2 cup of water (or seafood stock if you have it) and 1 cup of breadcrumbs.  Stir until it all comes together--it should be moist, but somewhat thick and clump when you smoosh it together (so it doesn't get crumbly when you cook it later). Season to taste with additional salt, pepper, or hot sauce (if you like).

Place the 4 shells in a oven-safe pan (depending on the size of your mirlitons, a loaf pan or 8x8 square pan should work best), and then divide the stuffing mixture between them.  Then in a small bowl, combine the other 1/2 cup of breadcrumbs, 3 Tbsp of butter (melted), Parmesan cheese, and salt to taste (if your breadcrumbs are seasoned, you may not need this).  Sprinkle over the top of the shells, and then bake until hot and the topping is golden (I turned my broiler on at the very end just for a couple minutes).

Serve with a vegetable side (I did garlic-sauteed kale, but a salad would also be great) and enjoy!

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

7th Wedding Anniversary: Copper

The Hubs & I just celebrated our seventh wedding anniversary!  Still feels like hardly any time at all.  The grandparents took Lil' Man for the weekend so that we could have a romantic getaway to Missouri's Wine Country, Hermann, MO.   Hermann was colonized in the early 1800's by German settlers, who were drawn to the area because it reminded them of Bavaria and the Rhineland back home (so much so that the next town over is named Rhineland).  Early government encouraged settlers to grow their own grapes by giving landowners money for "grape lots", and thus spawned a massive wine boom in the area.  It's still home to some of the most well known Missouri wineries, like Stone Hill , Hermannof, and Adam Puchta.
We found a super-cute apartment right downtown via AirBNB, took some historic walking tours, did some wine tasting, tried some new beers, and ate some AMAZING food.  We even did a little geocaching!
Filet with Norton wine & rosemary sauce, over spaetzle with goat cheese. YUM.

And on our way home, we decided to stop in Jefferson City and knock something off our bucket list--visiting the now-abandoned Missouri State Penitentiary!   I know...super-romantic, right?  But it was really interesting--it's the oldest prison in the U.S. and was in use until 2004. I'd like to go back and to the night-time ghost tour in the future. 
As you may know, we like to do traditional wedding gifts.  And the traditional gifts for the 7th year are copper or wool.  Since we got married in July, the idea of anything wool right now makes me hot and itchy. But copper...we can run with that!

David gifted me with a copper-plated birch leaf necklace that I love and have worn nearly every day since I got it:
And then while we were in Hermann, The Hubs noticed that the railroad was really active:
Found one.

So he wanted to smash a penny on the tracks.  So we left one on the tracks, went to go try some wines, and then when we came back....ta-da!
Originally I thought about just framing it, but then I saw this photo album that had a frame in the front, so I decided to go with that instead!
I originally wanted to find a copper-themed beer, but didn't have much luck. But then I remembered that we have our very own Copper Run Distillery just a few miles down the road.  So I picked up a bottle of golden rum and a few other necessities for making us some tasty cocktails.
7-Up for Seven years of good luck! :)

To check out the previous years' gifts, use the links below!