Comfort Food

I know it is weird but sometimes I read cooking magazines to my kids. Since they love to be read to it is an excellent way to sneak in some reading of my own. To me it is hilarious that they are interested in the latest kitchen gadget or the hot new food trend. Every once in awhile a recipe catches their eye and they ask me to cook it for them.

This is Matthew’s recipe choice – meatloaf, something I usually don’t make, it just seems so old school. Which by definition is the very essence of comfort food: a traditional style of food usually having a nostalgic or sentimental appeal. And sure enough when Matthew chose this I immediately thought of my Mom’s meatloaf. She used to put in an egg “surprise” and serve it with lots of ketchup. Even my sister ate it and she was the picky eater of us two, although she might have something to say about that….

I paired it with carrots because that is what we had in the fridge that day – I figured if I added some butter they just might eat them….

Mini Cheesy Meatloaf & Buttery Carrot Chips

Ingredients:

1/2 cup panko breadcrumbs

1 tsp olive oil

1 onion, diced

2 garlic cloves, finely chopped

1/2 cup ketchup, divided

1/4 cup fresh spinach, chopped

2 Tbsp Parmesan cheese, grated

1-Tbsp horseradish (I replaced with Wasabi ginger sauce, worked just as well)

1-Tbsp Dijon mustard

3/4 teaspoon dried oregano

1/4 tsp salt

1/4 tsp pepper

3 oz white cheddar cheese, diced

1 1/2 lb ground sirloin

1 large egg, lightly beaten

 

1/2 -Tbsp butter
2 large carrots cut into 1/8in rounds
Salt & Pepper to taste

 

Directions:

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Heat a skillet over medium-high heat. Add breadcrumbs, cook 3 minutes until toasted, stirring frequently.

While breadcrumbs cook, heat olive oil in large skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion and garlic, sauté about 3 minutes. Combine onion mixture, breadcrumbs, 1/4 cup ketchup and next 10 ingredients. Using hands is best tool here to combine everything.

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Shape into 10 mini loaves and put on baking sheet. Use remaining ketchup to spoon over the loaves.

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Bake for 25 minutes.

While meatloaf is baking, heat butter in a skillet over medium-high heat. Add carrots and salt and pepper – sauté until caramelized, stirring occasionally, about 10-12 minutes.

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And the VERDICT is:

Sadly, Matthew came down with a stomach virus and couldn’t eat dinner so we froze the meatloaves and just had a mini-tasting…. (it was a fun night!)

Dylan: I love them both – Liam, those are my carrots!

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Liam: I’m gonna eat it all up.

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Mac & Cheese

My kids are always asking me for macaroni  & cheese so the other night I pulled out a cookbook and decided to make a fancy version. It had Gruyere and mascarpone cheese, rigatoni noodles, and lots of butter- YUM. I couldn’t wait to make it and watch them gobble it up. Well, it didn’t exactly turn out as I had hoped… When I served this decadent, delicious dish, much to my surprise, I had an absolute MUTINY on my hands.  “This is not Mac & Cheese!” “The pasta is the wrong shape!” “Why isn’t it orange?” It was pretty brutal. But I wiped away the tears and gave it another shot.

This time I tried to go simple. I stuck to elbow macaroni and cheddar cheese. I was determined to turn this around! How could I serve my kids pasta and cheese and have them rebel? It just didn’t seem possible…. So back to the drawing board…

“The not so fancy version of Mac & Cheese”

Ingredients

1 lb dried ELBOW macaroni

3 tbsp olive oil

3 tbsp all-purpose flour

3 cups whole milk (2% is fine too)

2 1/2 cups grated cheddar cheese

2 tsp Dijon mustard

1 tsp hot sauce

Salt & pepper

1/2 cup seasoned Panko breadcrumbs

2 tbsp butter

Directions

Cook macaroni according to directions. Drain and set aside. This can be done ahead – just be sure to toss some olive oil in with the pasta before it is refrigerated.

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.

Heat oil in saucepan – when hot reduce heat to medium and add flour, stirring constantly. Add the milk a little at a time until it is well combined. Let the sauce come to a simmer and then add 2 cups of cheese and mustard. Whisk until cheese is completely melted. Stir in hot sauce and season with salt and pepper to taste.

In separate pan melt butter and add breadcrumbs. Heat until breadcrumbs are lightly toasted.

Put pasta into baking pan, add sauce and stir until well combined. Sprinkle remaining cheese on top. And then sprinkle breadcrumb mixture on top of that.

Bake until lightly browned and bubbly – about 25-30 minutes.

And the VERDICT is:

Matthew (tough critic): “What are these crumbs on top!? No crumbs!”

Dylan (even tougher critic): “I don’t eat crumbs!”

Liam (the worst critic of the bunch): “I HATE mac & cheese”

I wish I was joking but that was the verdict. The breadcrumbs did me in! Happily once I scraped off the offensive “crumbs” they did eat their dinner. And Dylan even ate 2 servings of broccoli so all in all a SUCCESS!

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