If you haven’t guessed from the name of this blog, I live in the Midwest. Out here in the great corn ocean, we like our meat products, and one of my comfort foods as a kid was meatloaf. My dad would often spoil us by making mini-meatloaves with different toppings (bbq sauce, spaghetti sauce, etc) so we could feel like we had more choice. This is typically a winter meal in my house. We had a cold day last week and took advantage of the temp to make these. I baked two and froze one for a later meal!
My toddler is a pretty good eater most days, but sneaking a few extra vegetables into a meal can’t hurt! He chomped this up, and even at the leftovers the next day (which he never does usually!)
(makes two loaves)
2.5 pounds ground beef
1 c oatmeal
1 medium onion, quartered
3 carrots, peeled and chopped into 2 inch pieces
1 lightly packed cup of kale
4 oz white mushrooms
1 small red pepper, seeded and quartered
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1/2 teaspoon oregano
Optional: 2 tablespoons of butter
1 cup ketchup
1/4 cup brown sugar
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
Preheat oven to 350. Lightly spray oil into two standard loaf pans.
Place onions, carrots, kale, mushrooms, and red pepper into a blender (see pictures) and chop very finely.
(Optional) Saute vegetable mixture in the two tablespoons of butter. I skipped this step this time, and it still tasted lovely.
Mix vegetables with rest of loaf ingredients, using hands to knead.
In a small separate bowl, mix the topping ingredients.
Distribute meatloaf mixture evenly into loaf pans and spread topping.
Bake in the oven until meat is no longer pink, about one hour. A meat thermometer should read 160 when inserted into the center.
If you’re like me, you hate grocery store tomatoes. Anemic. Pale pink. Pathetic. They just don’t taste as good. I don’t even like to used canned tomatoes, if I can avoid them because of the metallic taste that you can’t get rid of. Boxed tomatoes are tasty, but expensive. I’m still slightly intimidated by canning, but I like to preserve my food. So, if you’re cheap, have an extra hour, and have access to a farmer’s market or a tomato plant of your own, freezing tomatoes can be a great option to enjoy that tomato flavor through the winter.
This was my project today, and the little guy even helped (or at least watched with fascination.)
Ripe tomatoes (larger varieties work best; don’t try to do this with cherries or you will drive yourself crazy!)
Several Large Bowls
Quart freezer bags
Kitchen scale (optional)
First, collect ripe tomatoes (though not over ripe or they may be difficult to work with) and wash them gently. Don’t worry if their skins aren’t perfect since soon you’re going to get these tomatoes naked. Scandalous!
Prepare your work area, since you’ll need a lot of bowls for this project. Place a large pot of water to boil and prepare a bowl of ice water near by. Lay out another clean bowl next to that and finally, place your strainer over a final bowl.
Make a tiny “x” on the bottom of each tomato, just deep enough to pierce the skin but not so deep as to cut into the seeds. Working in batches, blanch the tomatoes for two minutes. Place the blanched tomatoes in a bin of ice water. Once iced, the skins should slide easily from the tomatoes.
With your paring knife (or a strawberry huller), remove the stem area from the tomato and seed. Don’t be afraid to squish and squeeze the tomatoes a bit to get the seeds out. Place the seeded and stemmed tomatoes in the mesh strainer to drain into a bowl.
If desired, measure out preset quantities of your tomatoes for easy kitchen work. I always do 1 lb bags for simplicity’s sake. Press out all of the air and freeze flat for easy stacking. The tomatoes should last at least three months, and for most freezers, could last much more than that without any loss of flavor.
Remember that bowl you were straining into? Fresh tomato juice! Feel free to pass it though the strainer one more time for good measure.
I teach, and so the past few weeks have been a mixture of abandonment to the joys of summer and disillusionment at its ending. The family and I have tried to go on lots of walks and hikes, and we’ve been using the ‘taj mahal’ of hiking backpacks, complete with bug net and sun cover.
But along with the fun of the summer, I’ve been starting to look forward to the semester ahead. I know that with my schedule (which stretches into the evening hours), dinner will often not even be on a back burner… I usually turn to the crockpot on days that I work, and so this past week I sent the babe to the sitter’s and cranked out 40 meals in what should have been just four hours, but really took about eight. I can’t vouch for any of them yet, but reviews will follow later once we pop these guys out of our nearly-full freezer.
The one freeze ahead that I prepared just today that I can vouch for is a recipe for butternut squash soup that we’ve been making for years and that we realized freezes quite well. We like it so much, and it makes us feel so gosh-darn healthy, that we’ve nicknamed it “spa soup.” Continue reading Azteca Squash Soup and Freezer Craziness→