Chicken Parmesan Meatloaf

I wanted to make something healthy for an impromptu, no occasion, mid-week family gathering but didn’t want to spend all day in the kitchen prepping.  I thought about a simple ground sirloin meatloaf and a salad, but meatloaf, even with ground sirloin, screams, “Boring!”.

Having just gone to the grocery store yesterday, I was SO not in the mood to go again today.  Thankfully a dive into the freezer led to a discovery of 2 pounds of frozen ground chicken breast and 3 pounds of handmade gourmet chicken sausage I’d had to freeze due to family drama derailing a dinner a couple of weeks ago!  A quick check of the pantry confirmed that I still had a jar of the amazing Gia Russa Hot Sicilian Marinara I’d come across at World Market, I always have pasta, Parmesan & mozzarella and the makings for a green salad, so dinner is handled!  Whew…

chixparmml3

Spicy Chicken Parmesan Meatloaf

  • 1 TBLS Olive Oil or butter
  • 2 pounds ground chicken breast
  • 3 chicken “Italian” sausages
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 – 14.5 ounce can fire roasted tomatoes, drained (these are a bit spicy, you can use diced tomatoes instead)
  • 3/4 cup seasoned Panko crumbs
  • 4-5 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
  • 1+1/2 cups marinara sauce (I use a spicy sauce)
  • 3/4 cup shredded mozzarella cheese

First Prepare the Sausages:

  1. Preheat oven to 400°F
  2. Place the sausages into a rimmed baking pan.
  3. Cook for 30-45 minutes (depending on how big the sausages are) until casings begin to brown.
  4. Remove sausages from the oven and set aside to cool.
  5. Reduce oven temperature to 350°F
  6. In the bowl of your stand mixer, with the paddle or dough hook attachment, combine the ground chicken, eggs, Panko, tomatoes, garlic, 1/4 Cup of the marinara sauce, and Parmesan cheese.
  7. Using a sharp / serrated knife, slice the sausage links into rounds.
  8. There isn’t much fat in the ground chicken breast, so, using about a tablespoon of le-creuset-heritage-covered-square-cherry-red-baking-disholive oil or butter, grease the bottom and sides of your chosen baking dish. NOTE:  I use a Le Cruset® square 3 QT Covered Baking Dish so I can keep it warm out of the oven and at the table.
  9. Take approximately 1/4 cup of the marinara sauce and spread it along the bottom of the pan then layer 1/2 of your sausage slices on top of the sauce.
  10. Mound 1/2 of your ground chicken mixture into the pan then layer the rest of your chixparmml1slices on top of that. (This is why I use the larger, square shaped pan.
  11. Mound the rest of the ground chicken mixture on top of the second layer of sausage slices then, using your hands (or a pair of rubber spatulas) shape the meat in from the sides to form a loaf mounding up towards the middle.
  12. Top the meatloaf with the rest of the marinara sauce allowing it to spill down the sides.  NOTE:  You can prepare up to this point, cover and store in the refrigerator until you are ready to cook.  If you are going to do that, allow to sit on the counter while you are waiting for the oven to preheat.chixparmml2
  13. Bake for 60-65 minutes or until chicken is cooked (insert instant read thermometer into the center of loaf should read 165°F).
  14. When done remove and add the mozzarella cheese on top.
  15. If you have extra marinara sauce, put into a small saucepan and warm to serve alongside slices if desired.
  16. Return the meatloaf to the oven until the cheese is melted.
  17. Remove from the oven and let the meatloaf rest for 5-10 minutes before serving.
  • Prepare some wide egg noodles, fettuccini, angel hair, spaghetti, or spaghettini.
  • Drain.
  • Toss warm pasta with some butter or olive oil and grated parmesan cheese.
  • Pile some pasta in the center of the plate, then lay a thick slice of the meatloaf atop the pasta.
  • If you have warmed some of the extra sauce, ladle a bit of it on top of the meat and grate a bit more fresh Parmesan (or shake some out of the green can) cheese on top.
  • Toss a crisp green salad and dinner is served. #ThisGirlLovesToEat

The meatloaf came out moist and didn’t end up needing the extra sauce.  When I reheated the extra slices in the microwave the next day I added the sauce.

If you are interested in the things I may not devote an entire blog post to like:  health articles, my favorite recipes, fun drinks, food facts, nutritional information, restaurant reviews, photos and other things that make my mouth water, I have a community page on Facebook you can visit: https://www.facebook.com/ThisGirlLovesHerFood

Cook Your Meat Perfectly With Science

cowchart

I love beef of nearly any cut, but I can’t stand it if it’s overcooked! I saw a headline for a way to cook it to a perfect degree of doneness every time and clicked on it immediately.  I did get struck by the giggles at the name of the not-so-new online cooking tool created by three girls at MIT in 2013: Cook My Meat.

Come on, COOK MY MEAT?  It doesn’t give your inner 12 year old the giggles?

Alright, I’ll revert to my adult self.

  • #CookMyMeat was created by Kate Roe, Laura Breiman, and Marissa Stephens, students at MIT in 2013.
  • You fill in the cut of your meat, the temperature you’ll be cooking it at, then you’re shown an approximation of how your meat will turn out: red, pink or well-done/overcooked

cook-my-meat1

You can even compare two different cooking methods and get a side by side result of how the steaks (or turkey or tuna steak) will turn out: 

  • Flip every 4 minutes
  • Flip every 15 seconds
  • Sear then cook low
  • Sous Vide then Liquid Nitrogen
  • Enter your own parameters

cookmymeat2

On_Food_And_Cooking_UScoverThe girls developed the tool by calculating heat diffusion in the meat at each time step with the Crank-Nicolson method, using On Food and Cooking: The Science and Lore of the Kitchen as a guidepost for protein denaturaization temperatures.

The book, published in 1984, has been described by Alton Brown as “the Rosetta stone of the culinary world.”

I just wanted something simple to tell me how long to cook my steak so it comes out a bit more than medium-rare but not all the way to medium in that almost warm pink state.  This is a bit high tech and too much science, so I’ll be sticking to my instant read thermometer and my trusty steak knife & mag-light in the dark to make sure it’s not overcooked.  #ThisGirlLovesToEat

If you use Facebook and are interested in the things I may not devote an entire blog post to: things like health articles, my favorite recipes, fun drinks, food facts, nutritional information, restaurant reviews, photos and other things that make my mouth water, I have a very active page on Facebook you can visit too: https://www.facebook.com/ThisGirlLovesHerFood

Buffalo Spinach Artichoke Dip

Tasting Table is one of my favorite Twitter follows.  I love browsing their website for restaurant reviews, recipes, new spins on classic drinks, and guides to cities I am planning to travel to.

I was surfing their website today and came across an appetizer that included 4 of my favorite tastes in a single dish: bacon, Buffalo sauce, spinach and artichoke hearts!  Add to that the ability to make ahead, the reviewers rated it 100% make again, and it didn’t call for any hard to get ingredients and this girl who loves to eat was sold!

Note:  I did adapt the recipe from the original:

    1. I prefer a bit more bacon (and I buy mine from the butcher case, never pre-packaged because we don’t have great options in my stores);
    2. I made the blue cheese optional (it’s not a favorite of mine) and offered some substitution options; and
    3. I added a bit more hot sauce to mine.

bcartdip

Buffalo Spinach-Artichoke Dip

  • 3 slices (5 ounces) thick-cut bacon (I use 6 slices)
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • ½ medium yellow onion, finely chopped
  • 9 ounces frozen artichoke hearts, thawed and finely chopped
  • 6 cups baby spinach, roughly chopped
  • 8 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • 4 ounces smoked blue cheese, softened (I don’t care for Blue Cheese, so I substitute Gorgonzola.  You can also use Goat Cheese, Feta, Stilton, or Brie)
  • 1½ cups grated Parmesan cheese, divided
  • ½ cup sour cream
  • 6 tablespoons Franks Red Hot Sauce (I like mine spicy so I add a couple TBLS more)
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • ½ cup Panko bread crumbs
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  1. Preheat the oven to 400°.
  2. In a large skillet, heat the bacon over medium-high heat.  Cook, turning as needed, until the bacon is golden and the fat has rendered, 8 to 10 minutes.
  3. Transfer the bacon to a paper towel-lined plate to drain, then finely chop and set aside.
  4. Add the garlic and onions to the pan and cook, stirring often, until golden, 8 to 10 minutes.
  5. Add the artichoke hearts and spinach and cook until the spinach is lightly wilted, 2 to 3 minutes.
  6. Meanwhile, in a large bowl, stir the cream cheese, blue cheese (or whatever cheese you’ve substituted), 1 cup of the Parmesan, sour cream, and hot sauce until smooth.
  7. Fold in the spinach and artichoke mixture. Season with salt and pepper.
  8. Transfer to a 1½-quart casserole dish and smooth the top with a rubber spatula.
  9. In a small bowl, mix the remaining ½ cup of Parmesan with the chopped bacon, panko crumbs and olive oil.
  10. Sprinkle the panko crumb topping over the dip and place the casserole dish on a sheet pan in case any cheese bubbles over.
  11. Bake until golden brown and bubbling, 25 to 30 minutes, then serve.

tt_logo_image_1The recipe calls for serving with chips.  I like to eat this dip with really thick, freshly made tortilla chips, Triscuits, carrot chips, thick bell pepper slices or celery.

If you use Facebook and are interested in the things I may not devote an entire blog post to: things like health articles, my favorite recipes, fun drinks, food facts, nutritional information, restaurant reviews, photos and other things that make my mouth water, I have a very active page on Facebook you can visit too: https://www.facebook.com/ThisGirlLovesHerFood

Best Thing I’ve Ever Had at Islands!

I ate something great when I met my husband for a rare weekend lunch out at Islands yesterday.

cheddarfriesThey boast, and truly do have, the #ColdestBeerInTown and they’ve got an amazing menu of burgers, chicken sandwiches, salads, tacos, and some truly sinful appetizers.  If you can skip the fries covered in melted cheese and crispy bacon you have far more willpower than I do! #ThisGirlLovesToEat

I sat down at the bar, ordered an ice cold Kona Longboard from the tap,KO_LBL_Pour-with-Bottle_web_204X3771 and glanced at the menu, but was drawn to the bar top menu announcing their limited time specials: Moa Kaneohe Crisp Chicken Sandwich and it’s spicy brother  Moa Mauna Loa Crisp the difference between the two being the Moa Kaneohe has bacon, Swiss and a cream cheese ranch spread, while the Moa Mauna Loa has blue cheese crumbles, and Buffalo sauce on it.

What really appealed to me about these chicken sandwiches was that the chicken breasts weren’t just the usual breaded in flour, dropped in oil, & fried, chicken breasts.  These chicken breasts were battered in a lighter tempura batter and then double fried.  I love tempura!

I like blue cheese dressing occasionally, but not on my burgers, and not even with my Buffalo wings.  But a girl can always ask the waitress for some accommodations to her order, right?

So, I ordered the cheddar cheese fries with bacon #IHaveZeroWillPower and then ordered the Moa Kaneohe Crisp Chicken Sandwich with it’s crisp bacon, lettuce, tomato, chopped red onion, Swiss cheese, cream cheese ranch spread and substituted the spicy chicken breast used in the Moa Mauna Loa: battered in a spicy tempura batter and fried, then added to the sandwich without the blue cheese crumbles, but with an added drizzle of the Buffalo sauce.

islandssandwich

It came out and people around me asked what I was eating…it was pretty darn impressive. Trying to figure out how I was going to get my mouth around it, I cut it in half and found that the breast was incredibly tender and juicy. Not only was it impressive to look at, it was cooked perfectly, and it was the right combination of fresh, creamy & spicy!

The manager was serving tables and stopped to ask if I liked my sandwich.  I told him I was loving it and commented it should always be on the menu.  He said they actually fry the breasts twice, which is why the sandwiches stay on the menu for such a limited time, the cooks complain they have to spend more time on them.  Knowing that, I’m even more impressed that they can keep the breasts from overcooking.

I give #2BigThumbsUp to the Moa Kaneohe Crisp Chicken Sandwich and Moa Mauna Loa Crisp Chicken Sandwich at Islands Restaurant.  I’m not sure how much longer they will be on the menu, but if you get a chance go to Islands and try them!

If you use Facebook and are interested in the things I may not devote an entire blog post to: things like health articles, my favorite recipes, fun drinks, food facts, nutritional information, restaurant reviews, photos and other things that make my mouth water, I have a very active page on Facebook you can visit too: https://www.facebook.com/ThisGirlLovesHerFood

Oatmeal Cookies With A Sweet Surprise

oatmealcookiesI was feeling a little down today so I headed to the kitchen to change my attitude.

What better way to do that than bake some cookies?

Not content to make the usual “off the lid of the oatmeal container” recipe, I decided to tweak it a bit and came out with a cookie that smelled fantastic while it was baking, let me sneak in an ingredient my husband says he doesn’t like but I love (coconut), and went great with an ice cold bottle of Guinness while I settled in to watch USC Basketball play Providence #BeatTheFriars.

Oatmeal Cookies With A Sweet Surprise

  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 1 cup brown sugar, firmly packed
  • ¼ cup granulated sugar
  • 3 tsp Vanilla
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1+1/3 cup flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 4 cups old fashioned oats
  • 1 (12 oz) package milk chocolate chips
  • 1 cup packed shredded coconut
  1. Preheat oven to 350° F.
  2. In the bowl of stand mixer (or a medium bowl if using a hand mixer) cream the butter, sugars, and vanilla. Mix on low speed for about a minute, then on medium for an additional minute until light and creamy.
  3. Add the eggs mixing on low between each addition. Mix on high for about a minute. The mixture should be pale yellow and very fluffy.
  4. In a medium bowl, combine the flour, salt, baking soda, and baking powder.
  5. Add the flour mixture to the wet ingredients, mixing on low until the flour disappears. Add the oats and mix on low again, just until blended.
  6. Add the coconut and chocolate chips mixing on low just until blended.
  7. Use a medium-sized cookie scoop (overflowing the scoop a bit) and place the dough on ungreased non-stick baking sheets about 2″ a part.
  8. Bake in a preheated oven for 12 minutes, or until the tops and edges start to turn a light golden brown.
  9. Remove the cookies sheets from the oven and allow the cookies to cool about 5 minutes on the pan before removing to a plate to finish cooling.
  10. When cookies are completely cool, store any you haven’t eaten in a tightly sealed container on the counter.

If it matters, the cookies even got my labs’ seal of approval.  After I spilled half a bag of coconut on the kitchen floor, which my labs were more than happy to help clean up, they were hounding around when they came out of the oven.  I gave them their own “cookies” but my black lab wasn’t satisfied with that and, even though she was SO BUSTED, I caught her standing up at the IMG_1743counter, as quietly as she could, eating as many cookies as she could (1 big one) before I got to her to get the plate out of her reach!

Before I get #HateMail, I know chocolate is bad for my babies, and she only got 1 cookie before I got her away from the plate, so don’t call the ASPCA on me.  It wasn’t dark chocolate so it was “less” bad, she’s a 90 pound dog so plenty big to handle digesting the minimal bit of theobromine in the maybe 5 chocolate chips in the cookie she managed to eat.  I love my dogs much more than I love cookies.  If you want to make them puppy safe just leave the chocolate chips out of a few.

If you use Facebook and are interested in the things I may not devote an entire blog post to: things like health articles, my favorite recipes, fun drinks, food facts, nutritional information, restaurant reviews, photos and other things that make my mouth water, I have a very active page on Facebook you can visit too: https://www.facebook.com/ThisGirlLovesHerFood

 

20 Natural Disease Fighters

If you use Facebook and are interested in the things I may not devote an entire blog post to: things like health articles, my favorite recipes, fun drinks, food facts, nutritional information, restaurant reviews, photos and other things that make my mouth water, I have a very active page on Facebook you can visit too: https://www.facebook.com/ThisGirlLovesHerFood

Short Rib Mushroom Risotto

stuffedWe have a lot of family celebrations that come in a very short time, which means a lot of heavy big dinners either out at restaurants or at one family gathering or another.  By the time we hit our wedding anniversary in late February (which is the same day as my sister-in-law’s birthday) and, a week later, my husband’s birthday, we are about food-ed out!

Despite that, I make a big to-do and tonight, am making a new recipe I’ve been playing with for a dish I had made for me at my post-Christmas birthday at one of my favorite restaurants, The Winery in Tustin, CA.   I’m good enough in the kitchen to be dangerous so I’ve gathered the ingredients and am giving it a go tonight! If it sucks I can always order pizza, right? #ThisGirlLovesToEat

First a tip:  Start this recipe either the day before, early on the the day, or at least 2 hours before you want to eat.  You’ll want to prepare the short ribs first so that you’ll have the broth left from cooking them to use for the risotto.  Trust me on this. It makes a huge difference.

Short Rib Mushroom Risotto

Making the Ribs

  • 8-10 Strips Thick Cut Bacon – cut (with kitchen shears) into 1/2 – 1″ chunks
  • 3 to 4 Lbs Bone-in Short Ribs
  • 1 – 8oz Pkg Sliced Baby Bella Mushrooms
  • Freshly Ground Black Pepper
  • 1 TBLS Minced Garlic
  • 1 Cup Mushroom Broth (Sprouts carries this) or Low Sodium Beef Broth
  • 1 TBLS Light Brown Sugar
  • 1 tsp Ground Cloves
  • 1 TBLS Dried Herbes De Provence (McCormick)
  1. Set the Pressure Cooker to the brown setting with the lid open.
  2. Cut the bacon and cook it in the pressure cooker (with the lid open) until it just starts to get crisp. Remove and set aside.
  3. Put short ribs into the pressure cooker in the bacon grease, brown on all sides, in batches if needed, until all are browned.
  4. When all ribs are browned, put all back into the pressure cooker fattiest (if any) or bone side down.
  5. Put garlic, brown sugar, and broth into the spaces between the ribs.
  6. Sprinkle ribs with black pepper and lightly with ground cloves and Herbes De Provence.
  7. Add bacon and mushrooms on top of the ribs in the pressure cooker.
  8. Secure lid and set to pressure cook on high for 40 minutes.
  9. Let pressure release naturally for 10 minutes then do quick release.
  10. Remove ribs from the pressure cooker to a covered pot, and as you are moving them remove the bones – they should pull right out.
  11. When all ribs are deboned, use 2 forks and shred the meat while it is still hot.
  12. Add about 1/2 cup of the reserved broth from the pressure cooker to the meat and cover to keep warm and moist.

Making the Risotto

  • 1 TBLS Olive Oil + 1 TBLS Butter
  • 1/4 Cup Butter (1/2 Stick)
  • 1/2 Medium Yellow Onion Chopped
  • 1 – 8oz Pkg Sliced White Mushrooms (chop them)
  • Freshly Ground Black Pepper
  • 1 TBLS Minced Garlic
  • 1 Cup Mushroom (Sprouts carries this) or Low Sodium Beef Broth
  • 2 Cups Arborio Rice
  • 2/3 Cup White Wine (I used Sauvignon Blanc)
  • 4 1/2 – 5 Cups Beef Broth (use the reserved strained drippings/broth from the short ribs and add enough stock/broth to make up the total amount)
  • 2/3 Cup shredded Parmesan Cheese
  1. Using a fat separator, pour the remaining liquid from the pressure cooker through the strainer top and allow to slightly cool.  Once cooled pour off the broth only into a 6 cup measuring cup.  Discard the fat.
  2. Add enough broth (mushroom or low sodium beef) to equal 5 cups. Then put in a pan to simmer.
  3. In heavy gauge saucepan heat olive oil + 1 TBLS butter until melted.
  4. Add rice.  Cook and stir about 3 minutes until lightly browned.  Remove from heat and set aside.
  5. To prepare the mushrooms, clean the mushrooms by brushing them off (do not wash if possible) and roughly chop (stems may be left on).
  6. Sauté onions, garlic and butter in heavy gauge saucepan over medium-high heat until onions are translucent about 5 minutes.  Add mushrooms and saute until mushrooms are soft (about 4 minutes)
  7. Add the browned rice to the vegetables and stir to combine.
  8. Pour in the white wine and allow the liquid to boil and be absorbed into the rice. Then pour in 1/2 cup of stock to the rice, stirring constantly. (If necessary, adjust the heat under the pot – you want a medium simmer.)  Add more stock 1/2 cup at a time – adding more just as most but not all of the liquid is absorbed before adding in more stock.)
  9. Stir the rice and stock together in this manner for approximately 25 minutes or so – until the rice is tender but not mushy. Stir about 1/2 Cup of the shredded short ribs into the risotto with the final addition of broth.
  10. Turn the heat off when there is still some liquid remaining in the rice and stir in the Parmesan cheese.
  11. Remove from heat and cover.  Let stand 5 minutes before serving.

TIP:  Risotto may be reheated by adding in some additional mushroom or low sodium beef stock and stirring to incorporate into the risotto.

To serve:  I toss some fresh spinach in olive oil over medium heat until wilted, lay a small bead in the center of the plate then mound some risotto atop the spinach, pile some shredded short rib on top with a sprinkle of Parmesan cheese and add a slice of french bread with some butter for sopping up the juices.

My husband said it was better than The Winery!  Sorry Chef Yvon Goetz. 😉

If you use Facebook and are interested in the things I may not devote an entire blog post to: things like health articles, my favorite recipes, fun drinks, food facts, nutritional information, restaurant reviews, photos and other things that make my mouth water, I have a very active page on Facebook you can visit too: https://www.facebook.com/ThisGirlLovesHerFood