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

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

Fired-Up Mac & Cheese

kraft_macaroni__cheese_2011I grew up on Kraft Macaroni and Cheese.  The blue box with the skinny little noodles that Mom combined with a 1/4 cup of “Oleo” as she called margarine (she NEVER used butter) and 1/4 cup of low-fat milk was a crowd pleaser to my sister, brother and I.  Later she would splurge on the more expensive box of “Kraft Deluxe Macaroni and Cheese” with it’s tiny can of cheese sauce in it, but, to my taste, you still can’t beat the skinny blue box.

Thankfully, as I grew so too did my palate.  I rarely pass up a macaroni and cheese on any menu and have developed a couple of favorite styles:  Lobster macaroni and cheese, if it has large claw chunks (and not just minced remnants), is my favorite, followed by a good white cheddar shells and cheese prepared with a hint of truffle oil and just a few exotic mushrooms.

spicyspiralmacncheeseWhen I’m cooking Macaroni and Cheese, I like it to have enough flavor, that if I served nothing else beside it, except maybe a tossed green salad, it could stand alone as a “Meatless Monday” main dish.  You won’t need a fire extinguisher nearby for this spirited macaroni and cheese, but you certainly won’t fall asleep while you’re eating it either.

Lisa’s Fired-Up Mac & Cheese

  • 1 – 16oz Box Cellentani Pasta (I use Barilla)
  • 8 TBLS Butter / Divided
  • 1/2 Cup Flour
  • 3 1/4 Cups Whole Milk
  • 1 tsp Dry Mustard
  • 3/4 tsp Salt
  • 1/2 tsp White Pepper
  • 3 Tsp Chili Powder
  • 1/4 Cup Hot Pepper Sauce (I prefer Frank’s Red Hot)
  • 1 1/2 Cups + 1/4 Cup (for sprinkling on top) Shredded Pepper Jack Cheese
  • 2 + 1/4 Cup (for sprinkling on top) Cups Shredded Sharp Cheddar Cheese
  • 3/4 Cup Grated Parmesan Cheese
  • 2/3 Cup Panko

Before you start, I have a couple of tips.

  1. If you can’t find shredded Pepper Jack or Sharp Cheddar you can always use the packaged slices and tear them up.  Generally the 8 ounce package should equal about 1 1/2 Cups.  Use your own judgement.  I usually err on the side of too much cheese in that type of situation and gauge it based upon the thickness of my sauce.  You can always thin (God Forbid) a bit with milk if you think it’s too thick.
  2. You can use any macaroni type noodle you prefer (elbow, shell, spiral) but I prefer the Cellentani because it combines the features of a slightly larger elbow with a spiral and then throws in some textured grooves so you get as much of the sauce grabbing to it as possible in each bite.

Directions:

  • Preheat oven to 350°F
  • Prepare 2 – 13 x 9 Pyrex baking dishes (I use the deepest ones I have), or 1 deep dish throw away baking pan, by buttering the sides and bottoms – then set aside while you prepare the ingredients.
  • In a large stock pot, boil your pasta according to package directions. Drain, rinse and pour into largest mixing bowl you have.  Set aside.
  • In a large sauce pan over medium heat melt 4 TBLS butter.  Whisk in the flour and cook about a minute while constantly whisking then begin stirring in the milk about a 1/2 cup at a time until it’s well combined.
  • Stir in the spices and 1/4 Cup of the hot sauce.  Bring to a gentle boil, stirring constantly for 1 minute.
  • Remove from heat and stir in cheeses (not the cheese reserved for the top) until melted and smooth.
  • In a small pan melt the remaining 4 TBLS butter and stir in the bread crumbs.
  • Combine the remaining cheeses together.
  • Pour the sauce over the macaroni and, using a large rubber spatula, stir until all of the pasta is well coated.
  • Divide the pasta between the 2 prepared pans
  • Sprinkle 1/2 of the remaining cheese mixture over the top of each and put the pans, uncovered into the oven.
  • Bake for 30-45 minutes, or until the cheese sauce is bubbling and beginning to brown on top.
  • Slide the baking dishes out of the oven and set the oven temperature to broil
  •  Divide the panko mixture between the two pans and return to the oven
  • Watch the pans carefully and remove from the oven as soon as your crumbs begin browning.

Make sure you’ve got a bottle of hot sauce out for anyone who wants to spice it up even more!  Serve your macaroni and cheese with a salad as a dinner on it’s own, alongside burgers, steaks, or inside a great steak/brisket/tri-tip sandwich!

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:  https://www.facebook.com/ThisGirlLovesHerFood

 

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.

Guy-Fieri-Salsa-Verdeorganicgrbeefhuntspanko

 

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.

Are you on Facebook?  You might be 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. If so, visit my This Girl Loves To Eat community at:  https://www.facebook.com/ThisGirlLovesHerFood