All-American Meal


During the entire Election 2016, this admitted Political Junkie made every night of both conventions and each of the 3 debates, plus a few other random “big political news” nights, events for a special meal to eat in front of the television.

So, when my husband asked me what gourmet meal I’d be preparing I was surprised to find myself unprepared with a ready-to-answer menu.  Uh Oh!  He suggested meatloaf which I immediately shook off as not fancy enough for a night I anticipated would involve a lot of anticipatory butterflies for the historic, ultimate glass ceiling shattering moment in history I hoped would be happening for women while we’d be eating our dinner on the west coast.

As the day wore on I started to change my mind about the simple, unassuming meatloaf.

meatmashpeasWhat screams Americana more than the steady weeknight fare of everyone’s youth more than meatloaf, mashed potatoes and peas?  Nothing I could come up with.  Throw in an apple pie and the perfect Tuesday Election Night 2016 meal vote was cast! 😉

Simple Weeknight Meatloaf

  • 2 1/2 – 3 Pounds 85% Lean Ground Beef
  • 1 Sleeve Saltine Crackers Crushed
  • 1 Can Fire Roasted Diced Tomatoes
  • 2 Large Eggs
  • 1/3 Cup Ketchup or Jarred Spaghetti/Marinara Sauce

Preheat oven to 350°F.

  1. In bowl of stand mixer (or large mixing bowl if combining ingredients by hand) put (in this order) crackers, eggs, can of tomatoes (undrained), meat, and ketchup.
  2. Using bread hook attachment, turn stand mixer to lowest setting and mix until ingredients start to combine and form a loaf shape.
  3. Remove hook and using a large wooden spoon or rubber spatula, finish combining until no dry crackers show through the meat.
  4. Mound into a loaf pan but don’t pack too firmly.
  5. Put loaf pan into preheated oven and set timer for 1 hour and 20 minutes.  At about 30 minutes use a turkey baster and suction off any fat that has begun to accumulate along the edges of the loaf pan.  Also, use your ketchup or spaghetti/marinara sauce to top the meatloaf.
  6. At 60 minutes again suction the fat from the edges of the pan with a turkey baster.  I do this to avoid spillage into my oven and also to avoid having my meatloaf sit in fat during the entire baking time.
  7. At an hour and a twenty minutes, slide your meatloaf out of the oven and insert a meat thermometer into the middle, making sure not to let the tip of the thermometer touch the bottom of the pan.  Your meatloaf should read 160°F for medium in the center.
  8. If you want your center to be more medium well, put your meatloaf back into the oven for another 5 minutes or so and check the temperature again.  For medium-well it should read 165°F and the rest of your meatloaf will be more well done at or above 170°F.

If you want mashed potatoes to be ready when your meatloaf comes out you can throw some small red potatoes (skin on or off) into a pot of boiling water and cook them for 15 minutes.  Turn them off, drain the water and throw them into the bowl of your stand mixer with some milk, salt & pepper and butter.  Using the paddle attachment mix until well combined but don’t over mix.  Throw some foil over the top of the bowl and they’ll stay hot until you’re ready to eat.

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Sunday Family Dinner

family_dinner_tableWhen I was a kid, we saw my mom’s parents all the time.  They lived just a few miles away so we often saw them during the week when they came to our various games.  On those nights, because Grandma always seemed to be on some new diet, Grandpa was excited to eat whatever junk food was being served at the snack bar, but at least twice a month, my grandparents would come to our house for a proper Sunday dinner.

My Mom didn’t have a big cooking repertoire, so dinner would be one of a four things:

  1. Roast on her counter top Farberware rotisserie;
  2. Flank or Top Sirloin Steak marinated with an envelope of Lawry’s tenderizing marinade for beef then grilled on the BBQ;
  3. Spaghetti.  Her Bolognese was one of the few things she made from scratch and my Grandpa Bob loved it; or
  4. Meatloaf.  Another basic meal that, inexplicably,  my grandparents loved coming over for.

Unless we were having spaghetti, we always had some version of the same side dishes:

  • Green salad tossed in Bob’s Bleu Cheese or Thousand Island Dressing bobsbcdressingbobs1000dressing
  • Some type of boxed potato she could throw in the oven
  • Rice-A-Roni
  • Peas, Broccoli with cheese sauce, or corn

I wasn’t kidding, cooking was not her thing.

If she was making dessert it was one of a very few things:

  • Basking Robbins Ice Cream
  • Frosted Cake
  • Cookies
  • Cherry Surprise

You may be asking yourself, what in the world is Cherry Surprise?  It was Mom’s go-to, minimal effort, no-bake, bring to any occasion dessert:

  • 2 Angel Food Loaf Cakes or 1 Angel Food Round Cake
  • 1 Large Box Instant Vanilla Pudding
  • 1 Cup of Milk
  • 16 oz Sour Cream
  • 2 Cans Comstock Cherry Pie Filling
  • Reddy-Whip Canned Whipped Cream or a Tub of Cool Whip Thawed

Assembly Directions

  1. Tear the angel food cake into small chunks and put the pieces into a 9″ x 12″ Pyrexafcake baking dish
  2. In a medium bowl (or the bowl of your stand mixer) combine the milk, sour cream, and pudding.  Mix on low until combined then switch to high and mix another 2 minutes, scraping bowl occasionally, until pudding is thick and fluffy.
  3. Using a rubber spatula, spread all of the pudding mixture over the cake layerpudding-layer.  Tap the baking dish against the counter to help the pudding settle into pockets between the pieces of cake.
  4. Pour the contents of both cans of cherry pie filling over the top of the pudding layer, spreading to evenly distribute the cherries
  5. Cover loosely and refrigerate for at least 2 hours
  6. Scoop portions onto plate and top with whipped creamcherry-delight

Simple, but always a crowd pleaser.

I try and do Sunday dinner but tonight didn’t even live up to Mom’s limited menus, I ordered pizza.  To be fair, we did eat it together as a family while watching Sunday night football. 😉

I’ll do better tomorrow.

If you are on Facebook and are interested in the things I may not devote an entire blog post to, recipes, food facts, nutritional information, photos and other things that make my mouth water, I have a page on Facebook you can visit too:

Leftovers Last Stand

As much as I love Thanksgiving and all of the comfort foods and carbs that bring on the need for a long nap and the fat pants, after about 3 days I get tired of the leftovers.

So far we’ve re-worked our Thanksgiving Leftovers into:

  • Day After Turkey Sandwiches filled with stuffing, cranberries, potatoes and gravy on decadent white bread
  • Turkey and Creamed Spinach Omelettes
  • Turkey Soup with leftover crudité vegetables, some chopped potato and whatever stock and store bought broth remains
  • White Bean Turkey Chili

greenmeatloafThe last of the Bacon Creamed Spinach, Creamed Corn, Green Bean Casserole and Gingersnap Sweet Potatoes will be serving as very colorful side dishes for tonight’s creation:

Green Meatloaf

In my KitchenAid Stand Mixer, with the dough hook attached, mix all ingredients until well incorporated.



I don’t make a packed loaf, instead scooping and mounding the combined ingredients into a large loaf pan, smoothing the top into a loaf shape and then taking a rubber spatula and creating a little trough of space around the edges for the minimal amount of fat that will collect from the very lean beef.  I squirt about another 1/4 Cup of the Hunt’s Ketchup on top of the loaf and then slide it, uncovered, into a preheated 350 degree oven.

Cook for about an hour and twenty minutes.  I put a meat thermometer into the center of the loaf to make sure that I have passed the medium point and am nearing medium well.  The loaf continues to cook a bit when it comes out.

Let the loaf set for about 5 minutes to retain the juices inside when slicing.  The meatloaf is juicy, surprisingly light (not dense), flavorful and goes well with just about any side dishes you may have left.

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