Quick and Easy Meatloaf with a Spicy Glaze

I’m back. Sorry it’s been quite a while since I last updated my blog. I’ve been fairly busy, but that hasn’t stopped me from doing baking or cooking. To kick off my return, I wanted to share this quick and easy meatloaf recipe that has a kickin’ glaze made of Sriracha (you know, that bottle with a rooster on it) and ketchup.

INGREDIENTS

3/4 lb-1 1lb ground round beef (or turkey for a healthier version)

1/2 cup of chunky salsa

3 tablespoons quick cook oatmeal

1/4 cup shredded carrots

1/4 cup chopped mushrooms

For GLAZE

1/2 cup ketchup

1/2 cup Sriracha

DIRECTIONS

1. Set oven to 350 degrees

2. Combine all meatloaf ingredients and place into a sprayed loaf pan.

3. Cover with foil and bake for 45 minutes. Combine ingredients for glaze. Spread the glaze onto meatloaf and let it bake for another 15 minutes.

ENJOY!

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Chocolate Chip Cookie with Walnuts

Who can say no to homemade chocolate chip cookies? Certainly not me. I may be known for my baking, but among my friends and family, my chocolate chip cookies are legendary. They’re requested to be made all the time. Even days later these cookies will still be soft and chewy. There’s only one kind of chocolate chips I use and they are the Guittard Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips. I’ve been using their recipe for as long as I can remember and I add one additional ingredient to the recipe. If you don’t like nuts or are allergic, you can omit them from the recipe. But if you’re a nut lover, make sure to add the walnuts. I’d also like to try making these with chopped pecans in the future.

Also, after I take the cookies out of the oven, I leave them on the tray for 2 minutes prior to moving them to the wire rack. Enjoy!

Yield: 7 dozen cookies

INGREDIENTS

2 1/4 cups unsifted all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon salt

1 cup butter, softened

3/4 cup white sugar

3/4 cup brown sugar

2 large eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla

2 cups (12 oz. bag) Guittard Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips

1 cup chopped walnuts (optional)

DIRECTIONS

1. Preheat oven to 375ºF.

2. In a small bowl combine flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt; set aside.

3. In a large bowl cream butter, sugar and brown sugar until light. Beat in eggs and vanilla until smooth. Gradually add flour mixture until combined. Stir in chips and walnuts.

4. Drop by well-rounded teaspoonfuls onto ungreased cookie sheets. Bake 8-10 minutes or until golden brown.

5. Once cookies are out of the oven, leave on baking sheet for 2 minutes, then transfer them to wire rack to cool.

Macaroni & Cheese with Buttery Crumbs

Some days you just want some comfort food and for me, macaroni and cheese is pretty much it. Ever since I started making this recipe, I can’t even stomach the idea of eating Kraft’s Mac n’ Cheese. Food & Wine Magazine sent me this cool little booklet titled “Our 20 Best Recipes Ever” and when I saw this recipe, I was in love. I’ve only made this recipe two times before, so I made it last Thursday and I made the Panko Crusted Chicken Thighs to go with it on Saturday.

The reason why this recipe is so good is that it uses two kinds of cheese: Sharp Cheddar and Colby Jack (the actual recipe call for Colby, but since I couldn’t find any, I used Colby Jack and it works excellently) that are cut into 1/2-inch cubes. One half of the cheese gets melted to make the sauce for the noodles, while the other half gets added to the dish prior to baking, so when you eat it later, you get these chunks of cheese mixed with the macaroni. So so so good.

INGREDIENTS

5 tablespoons unsalted butter

3 tablespoons all-purpose flour

2 1/2 cups half-and-half or whole milk

1 pound sharp cheddar cheese, cut into 1/2-inch cubes

1/2 pound Colby Jack, cut into 1/2-inch cubes

1 tablespoon Dijon mustard

Pinch of freshly grated nutmeg (or use 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg if you don’t have fresh nutmeg)

Pinch of cayenne pepper (I used 1/4 tsp)

Salt and freshly ground pepper (1/4 tsp each)

1 pound elbow macaroni

3/4 cup plain dry bread crumbs (I used Panko instead)

DIRECTIONS

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Generously butter a shallow 2-quart baking dish. Melt 3 tablespoons of the butter in a saucepan. Add the the flour and stir over moderate heat for 2 minutes. Whisk in the half-and-half and cook, whisking, until thickened (about 3 minutes). Add half of the both the cheddar and Colby jack cheese and stir over low heat until melted. Stir in the mustard, nutmeg, cayenne, and season with salt and pepper.

2. Cook the macaroni in a large pot of boiling salted water until al dente. Drain the macaroni very well and return it to the pot. Stir in the cheese sauce and the remaining cubed cheese. Spread the macaroni into the prepared baking dish.

3. In a small bowl, melt the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter in a microwave. Add the breadcrumbs, season with salt and pepper, and stir until evenly moistened. Sprinkle the buttered crumbs over the macaroni and bake for 45 minutes, or until bubbling and golden. Let stand 15 minutes before serving.

Here’s a picture of the Panko Crusted Chicken Thighs with a serving of the Macaroni and Cheese:

Panko Crusted Chicken Thighs

I wanted some fried chicken, but didn’t want all the calories you’d get from eating it, nor bask in the greasiness of it. So I wanted to make a somewhat healthy version of fried chicken using panko crumbs and baking it in the oven. This is the recipe to use if you ever have a fried chicken urge. The chicken crisped nicely and was still tender and juicy inside. Score!

WHAT IS PANKO? For those that don’t know what panko is, it’s a flaky bread crumb used in Japanese cuisine; it’s used as crunchy coating for fried foods. It is made from bread baked by passing an electronic current through the dough, yielding bread without crusts. It has an airier and crispier texture than other bread crumbs found in Western culture.

Panko has become very popular and is being used in both Asian and non-Asian cuisine. You can find these bread crumbs in any grocery store.

INGREDIENTS

1/4 cup olive oil

1 1/2 cups panko bread crumbs

2 eggs

1 tablespoon spicy mustard

3/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon black pepper

1/2 teaspoon oregano

1/4 teaspoon garlic powder

1/4 teaspoon cayenne

1/4 teaspoon paprika

6 boneless chicken thighs (the meatier, the better)

DIRECTIONS

1. Set oven to 400 degrees. Rinse chicken and trim fat. Pat dry. In a bowl, drizzle chicken with olive oil.

2. In a shallow pan, mix eggs with mustard, salt, black pepper, oregano, garlic powder, cayenne, and paprika.

3. In another shallow pan, add panko crumbs. (I added about 1/4 – 1/2 teaspoon of fresh ground black pepper to the crumbs and mixed it)

4. Dip chicken into egg mixture, making sure to coat well on both sides, then roll the chicken into panko crumbs and coat well. Place the chicken on a wire rack placed inside a shallow baking pan lined with foil. This allows the heat to evenly cook the chicken and allow it get crisp as it bakes. Continue process until all chicken is on the wire rack.

5. Place in oven and bake for 25-30 minutes or until chicken juices run clear.

Peanut Butter Blossoms

This year I decided to give baked goods as a gift. On Sunday I spent mostly all day making chocolate chip cookies and peanut butter blossoms – if you love chocolate and peanut butter, this is the cookie for you. This is one of my husband’s favorite cookie. In the past, every Christmas his sweet grandmother (we miss you Granny M) would make him a batch of these cookies. For the past few years I’ve tried making them but something never turns out right with the dough. The cookies get too hard or they don’t have enough of a peanut butter taste.

I finally found the right recipe and they turned out beautifully. The cookies were soft and delicious the next day. Hooray!

Thanks to BrownEyedBaker for sharing this recipe.

Yield: 4 dozen cookies

INGREDIENTS

48 Hershey Kisses

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup shortening

3/4 cup peanut butter (use creamy)

1/3 cup white sugar

1/3 cup brown sugar

1 egg

2 tablespoon milk

1 teaspoon vanilla

sugar

DIRECTIONS

1. Set oven to 375 degrees. Unwrap Hershey’s Kisses.

2. In a medium bowl, combine flour, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.

3. In a large bowl, beat shortening and peanut butter until well blended. Add sugar and brown sugar; beat until fluffy. Add egg, milk, and vanilla. Beat until well blended.

4. Gradually add flour mixture to peanut butter mix. Stir after each addition until well blended.

5. Shape dough into 1-inch balls and roll in sugar in a small bowl. Place on cookie sheet about 2-inches apart.

6. Bake for 8-10 minutes. Once out of the oven, immediately press a kiss into the center of each cookie and remove cookies to a wire rack. Cool completely.

Beignets + Coffee = Breakfast of Champions

Earlier this week (on Monday), my friend and I went to Target and World Market on our lunch break. Can I just say how much I love World Market. I could walk around in there all day and just browse everything. They carry all sorts of items from home furnishings to food and drinks.

As I was in the food section, there was this great display for Cafe du Monde‘s coffee….you can’t miss those orange cans….anyway, along with the coffee, they had beignet mix. Impulsively, I grab a box. At $3.99, why not? (If you don’t have a World Market near you, and you’re in the mood for some beignets but don’t want to bother making your own mix – you can order it online from CDM’s site.) But if you do want to attempt making them from scratch, here’s a great recipe to try.

What is a beignet? Fried delicious dough. Um, yep, that’s a pretty accurate definition, but in all seriousness, the beignet (pronounced Ben-YAY) is French for fritter and and the state doughnut for Louisiana. If you ever visit New Orleans, beignets are served everywhere. They’re traditionally fried dough squares that are sprinkled generously with powdered sugar – best served while they’re hot and with coffee.

So all week long, the beignet mix has been sitting on my kitchen counter. I knew I’d be making them this morning. The directions on the box makes 2 dozen beignets…but I only made half of the recipe (I didn’t need to tempt myself!). All you need to do is add water to the mix and roll the dough (liberally adding flour as you roll) to about 1/8 inch thickness, then cutting them into 2 1/4 inch squares.

I used a frying pan and put about an inch of oil in it. (There’s really no need to have them drown in oil as you fry them.) Once the oil is hot enough, add the dough squares and as soon as they puff up, they will rise to the surface of the oil. Turn them once or twice so they’re evenly golden. It’ll take no more than 2-3 minutes to cook them. Once you take them out, drain them on a paper towel and sprinkle with powdered sugar. Enjoy!