Meatloaf with Tomato-Mustard Glaze

Today I am here to redeem the meatloaf. It has gotten such a bad rap lately! Now, I have had my share of really tough, bland meatloaves, so I understand. After playing with this recipe over the last few months, I think I finally have it down. I’m totally thrilled. I also like that this recipe has veggies built into it, which is great for picky kids that do not like veggies, since if you dice them real fine, they can’t tell they are there (I do think it’s important that you don’t always hide the veggies so kids get used to seeing and eating them). The veggies also work great in that they add flavor and make the loaf more moist. Another trick to moist meatloaf is the buttermilk. You are more than welcome to use regular milk instead, but there is something about the enzymes in the buttermilk that make the meatloaf extra moist.In my opinion though, the glaze is what takes this recipe from ho-hum to awesome. It’s a tangy, sweet mix that plays really well with the meat. Give it a shot.
As a side note, I love sun-dried tomatoes, and they add awesome flavor to the meatloaf, but it would be just fine without it. The meatloaf is enough to feed my family of 4 for two dinners, so half it if you are feeding less. I would also substitute a few tablespoons of regular mustard if you don’t have any mustard powder.
3 Tbsp Oil
1 Medium Onion, finely chopped
1 Yellow Pepper, finely chopped
1 Green Pepper, finely chopped
1 Cup Mushrooms, finely chopped
3 Tbsp Sun-dried Tomatoes, minced (optional)
3 Cloves Garlic, minced
2 Tbsp Fresh Basil, chopped (if using dried, use 1 Tbsp)
2 Tbsp Fresh Parsley, chopped (if using dried, use 1 Tbsp)
1 Cup Dried Breadcrumbs
1 Beef Bouillon cube, crumbled (or 1 tsp powder)
3/4 Cup Buttermilk (or plain Milk)
11/4 tsps Salt
1 Egg
2 Pounds Ground Beef
1/2 Cup Ketchup
1 Tbsp Dry Mustard
2 Tbsp Brown Sugar
1 Tbsp Worcestershire Sauce
1. Preheat oven to 350 Degrees F. In a pan over medium-high heat, saute the onion, peppers, mushrooms and sun-dried tomatoes until the veggies are soft. Add garlic and fry for another minute. Take off heat and cool slightly.
2. Transfer veggies to large bowl. Add the basil, parsley, breadcrumbs, bouillon, salt and buttermilk. Taste the mixture and adjust if necessary.( I usually do the tasting before adding in the egg and meat to make sure the meatloaf is not bland. At this point, you want it to taste overly salty and you want to be able to taste the herbs, otherwise once you add the meat, it will make a bland loaf. Add more bouillon and herbs if needed).
3. Add in the egg and the beef. Mix just until combined. Do not overwork the mixture or it will make the meatloaf tough.
3. Spray a cookie sheet or 9 by 13 inch rectangular pan with cooking spray (or foil the pan like I do. I hate cleaning pans). Put meat mixture in pan and shape into a loaf. Try and compact as much as possible to remove air pockets. It will ensure even cooking, but also keep the loaf from falling apart when slicing.
4. Mix ketchup, mustard, brown sugar and Worcestershire in a small bowl. Spread over the top of the meatloaf. Bake for 1 hour .( I check mine after 50 minutes with a meat thermometer, and it’s done at 160 degrees).
5. I also like to broil it for the last 5 minutes  to brown the top and caramelize the glaze. A few dark spots are fine.  Serve with mashed potatoes and veggies. Enjoy!
Devotion For The Day:
The Great Comforter.
The last two weeks have been emotionally tough. Tomorrow we lay to rest a little boy who is a friend of the family. He was 5. Many questions come to mind, many of which have no good answers. I have struggled as a parent and as a Christian to make sense of the loss the parents, sibling and loved ones face. I have struggled with knowing what to tell the grieving family. Yet at a time like this, when words fail, I can see God holding this family up in a way that only He can. As human beings, we are inadequate to totally be there and understand their pain, but I am so glad that it’s not the case with God. These verses stick out to me today. Isaiah 41:10 Do not be afraid, for I am with you. Don’t be discouraged, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you. I will hold you up with my victorious right hand. Verse 13 says: For I hold you by your right hand- 1, the Lord your God. And I say to you, Don’t be afraid. I am here to help you. I pray that God the great Comforter who sees all our pain and knows our deepest groaning will provide an extra measure of grace and peace to the grieving family and friends. He is able!

Meatballs and Pasta Sauce

Meatballs and Pasta Sauce

I LOVE Italian food. I think in another life, I might have been a little Italian kid. I almost always have meatballs in my freezer, and a jar of pasta sauce. This is especially helpful now that I have my toddler. If dinner is something not so kid friendly, I raid my freezer for some meatballs. I will confess that for the longest, I just bought them from the freezer section, but these are easy enough that I can make a ton of meatballs and freeze, and pull some as I need them. The sauce is also really easy to make and also freezes well in a plastic container. I find that the meatballs are also a good place to hide veggies for the picky kids (or husbands). I have over the years added cooked onions and peppers, mushrooms, spinach and grated carrots. Today I will just be doing the basic meatballs though.
This recipe makes a double batch of meatballs and sauce, so feel free to half it if you are just looking for a one dinner deal. Half the recipe is enough for dinner for the four of us and some left overs. I just figure I can do the work once, eat twice….
I start with the meatballs first, then while they bake, I make the sauce.
As a side note, if you like to cook with wine, substitute that for the broth. Most traditional Italian sauces use wine. I just prefer to use broth.
1 Cup seasoned Breadcrumbs
1 Cup Milk
1 pound Ground Beef
1 pound Ground Pork
4 cloves Garlic, minced
2 large Eggs
1 Cup Parmesan or Romano Cheese
11/2 Tablespoons Fresh Parsley
1 teaspoons Salt
1/2 teaspoon Black Pepper
1. Preheat the oven to broil. Mix the milk and the breadcrumbs together. Let them soak for 5 minutes (if you do not have breadcrumbs, soak bread in the milk).
2. Add the egg, garlic, parsley, salt and pepper to the breadcrumb and milk mixture. Add in the beef and pork, and then the cheese. Do not over mix. It will make the meat balls tough.
3. Place parchment paper on a cookie sheet. Shape meatballs into balls. I used an ice cream scoop since I like big meatballs, but you can make them any size you fancy! I got 24 meatballs.
4.Broil meatballs on high for 5 minutes until they start to brown a little. Lower the heat to 350 degrees, and bake about 20 minutes. Check the inside of one of the meatballs.
I froze half the meatballs, and used 12 for dinner since they were really big. We had plenty of left overs even with just using half of them.
Pasta Sauce:
3 Tbsp Olive Oil
1 Large Onion, diced
6 Cloves Garlic, Minced
2 (14 oz) cans Diced Tomatoes
2 (14 oz) cans Crushed Tomatoes
2 (6 oz) cans Tomato Paste
8 Tbsp fresh Parsley ( 4 Tbsp if Dried)
2 tsp Dried Oregano
2 Tbsp fresh Basil ( 1 Tbsp if Dried)
1 tsp Salt
1/2 tsp Black Pepper
1 cup Chicken broth
2 Tbsp Brown Sugar
1. Heat the olive oil and saute the onion until soft and translucent. Add in the garlic and stir for a minute.
2. Add the 4 tomato cans, tomato paste, parsley, basil, oregano, salt, pepper, broth and brown sugar. The brown sugar cuts some of the acidity from the tomatoes.
3. Simmer on medium heat for at least 30 minutes.
4. I like chunks in my pasta sauce, so I leave mine as is, but feel free to puree for a smooth sauce. Serve with the meatballs and spaghetti.
If you have time, simmer the sauce for a longer time. I find that the longer the flavors have to combine, the better. I usually simmer for the 30 minutes, pull out the sauce to freeze, then add the meatballs for dinner that day and simmer them in the sauce for about an hour. Today I was in a bit of a hurry, and just poured the sauce over the meatballs. Serve with spaghetti or your pasta of choice and garnish with basil or parsley leaves. Enjoy!
Devotion For The Day:
Did you just call me “Mighty Warrior?”
I find myself totally intrigued by the story of Gideon. I was reading from Judges 6 today, where God was calling Gideon to be the new judge to the Israelites. Here’s some background. Israel yet again had turned away from God after they had lived in the prosperity of Canaan a few years. For this reason, God had allowed them to be conquered by the other nations around them. This time, they were under the cruel thumb of the Midianites. They were so merciless that the Israelites were now hiding in caves, mountains and strongholds. Their crop had been destroyed, and they were on the verge of starvation. As they always did when they faced total defeat, they remembered their God and cried out for God to deliver them, and He heard them. God picked Gideon to lead them.
Now it gets interesting. God now has to let Gideon know of his new mission. God sends an angel to deliver the message to him. Judges 6:11-12 details the ordeal. 11 The angel of the Lord came and sat down under the oak in Ophrah that belonged to Joashthe Abiezrite, where his son Gideon was threshing wheat in a winepress to keep it from the Midianites. 12 When the angel of the Lord appeared to Gideon, he said, “The Lord is with you, mighty warrior. ”  I actually caught myself visualizing this encounter. You know Gideon must have been looking around for the mighty warrior behind him. Why? First of all, he was HIDING in the winepress as he was threshing the wheat. I’m sure he was not feeling at all like Rambo right then. Taking on the Midianites was not on his agenda for the day. Gideon is pretty quick to let the angel know his thoughts. Verse 14 &15 14 The Lord turned to him and said, “Go in the strength you have and save Israel out of Midian’s hand. Am I not sending you?”15 “Pardon me, my lord,” Gideon replied, “but how can I save Israel? My clan is the weakest in Manasseh, and I am the least in my family. ” The angel convinces Gideon that he is indeed the chosen one, and Gideon eventually agrees to lead the Israelites (after testing God a few times to make sure God really wasn’t kidding).
This is what  has been impressed on my heart from this story: God sees who I can be, not what I am today. And even better, He calls me THAT! He didn’t call Gideon “future mighty warrior, present chicken!” He sees what we do not see in ourselves,and chooses to work in us and through us regardless. He picks those people who least look deserving of a position and uses them to do great things for the Glory of His name. I am so glad for a God who sees my potential, and CALLS me that!

Egg in the Nest

I struggle to call this a recipe. It’s so simple! I will say though that for those of you with kids, it’s a good way to wow the kids in less than 10 minutes. That alone was enough to convince me to post the idea. My daughter thought I was the coolest mom ever when I made her one of these the other day. She loves eggs and toast, so this was right up her alley. The eggs can be cooked to your personal preference. The one in the picture is still runny, so it’s definitely my sweetie’s. I like mine cooked all the way through. We sometimes sprinkle a little cheese on top when I wake up on the wild side, but this was not one of those days 🙂
1 Egg
1 slice of your favorite bread
1 teaspoon butter or margarine
Salt and pepper to taste
1 Tablespoon grated cheese (optional)
1. Spread butter on both sides of your bread. Heat a non-stick pan (if not non-stick, spray some cooking spray or lightly grease).
2. Use a cookie cutter to make a hole in the center of your bread. (I used a glass since I am yet to invest in a cookie cutting set. I did think that if it was a heart shaped cookie cutter, it would have made for a really cool presentation. Sigh.. Maybe next time).
3. Put bread in the pan and fry lightly. I put the donut hole too. Why waste it! Once you flip the bread over, crack an egg directly into the hole. Season with salt and pepper.
4. Sprinkle a little water on the pan, but not directly on the bread and egg. Cover with a lid and let the steam from the water cook the egg. If you like sunny side eggs, your done! If you are like me and like it cooked a little more, flip the toast over to cook both sides of egg.
5. Sprinkle with cheese if you are so inclined.
I now send thee out to impress thy loved ones with the easiest eggs and toast.
Devotion For The Day:
Choosing life for my children:
My hubby are having an interesting week. We are in the thick of things on instilling some principles in our oldest daughter that are proving to be quite a challenge. We take a parenting class once a week on “Growing Kids God’s Way” and it has come to our attention that there were some things we have not taken the time to teach, or have gotten lazy about. As a result, we are in the planting season, and it is not easy (actually, it’s down right discouraging on some days). That is why I am so grateful for my devotional reading this morning. Through the one year bible, there is some old testament, new testament, a psalm and a proverb every day. This morning my reading from Deuteronomy 30 ties in perfectly with my Psalm.
I have been reading for the past few months about the Israelites and their journey from Egypt to Canaan, and it is so easy to judge them. I mean.. come on…. you have the sea parted, your enemies destroyed, manna falling from heaven, a cloud by day and fire by night to guide you and you still can’t trust God? REALLY????( In my quick judgment, I fail to see that it is me as well. All the times God has come through for me but I forget the next day and go on grumbling at the next problem I encounter). As a result, they wandered in the desert for 40 years, when the trip could have taken them weeks. The reading today in Deuteronomy is Moses instructing then just as they are preparing to enter Canaan. He is giving them the laws and expectations to live by once they enter the promised land. He is so desperate for them to hear his call to them. Not to forget the goodness of God through their journey, as well as the wrath of God. He says in Deut 30:19-20 “Today I have given you the choice between life and death, between blessings and curses. Now I call on heaven and earth to witness the choice you make. Oh, that you would choose life, so that you and your descendants might live! You can make this choice by loving the Lord your God, obeying Him, and committing yourself firmly to Him. This is the key to your life. And if you love and obey the Lord, you will live long in the land the Lord swore to give your ancestors Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob”. Psalms 78 reinforces what Deuteronomy is saying and reminds of the mandate that was given to the Israelites to instruct the next generation on what God had done for them, and of God’s laws. Psalms 78:6-7 “so the next generation might know them-even the children not yet born-and they in turn will teach their own children. So each generation should should set its hope anew on God, not forgetting his glorious miracles and obeying His commands”.
For me, this is a huge today. The knowledge that the way that I live my life is a choice for life or death for my children and the future generations inspires me to live a life focused on Christ. Equally important will be what I continue to teach them day to day, so that even when I am no longer with them, they can pass on these nuggets to their children, and their future generations. This is how  family trees are changed, and I pray that through the work we do today that seems so hard, our future generations will have ABUNDANT LIFE.