Monday, January 13, 2014

When the going gets tough…

..the tough get cooking!

So, I woke up late on Sunday. It was still above freezing (thank God) and the house was warm. I got a cup of coffee and watched the Sunday news until 11:00 a.m.

Then I started making minestrone in my slow cooker. I cleaned and cut up one cup of fresh green beans from Westborn. Then I peeled and chopped two carrots. I added one celery stalk (chopped), 1/4 cup of diced onions and one zucchini (chopped).

I put all that in the slow cooker with six-cups of chicken stock, one can (14.5 ounce) diced tomatoes, two tablespoons of tomato paste and the juice of one lemon. Then I added one teaspoon of dried rosemary, a bay leaf, a teaspoon of oregano, salt, pepper and (my secret ingredient) the rind of a Parmigiano-Reggiano. I put that on “High” and set the stove timer for four hours.

I couldn’t decide the best course of action for the dishwasher install, so I decided to ignore it and take the day off. I think I earned it. So, I read or watched TV all day.

After four hours, I added one can (15 ounce) of drained and rinsed cannellini beans and one can of kidney beans. Then I put in two cups of baby spinach and one cup of elbow macaroni. I let that cook until the pasta was done (about 30 minutes) and then taste-tested it. I added a little more pepper and called it good.

I had two bowls. It was pretty good!

I shifted gears and immediately started to make my dinner. It was called “Ham and Cheese Meatloaf” as was loosely based on a Cooks Country recipe. First I made the glaze with 1/2 cup of ketchup, two tablespoons of brown sugar, a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar and a good slug of hot sauce. I put that in a saucepan and heated it up so it would reduce.

Meanwhile, I mixed one pound of ground chuck with a pound of ground pork. To that I added an onion (chopped fine), four garlic gloves (minced) two beaten eggs, a tablespoon of Worcestershire sauce, two tablespoons of dry mustard, some salt and pepper. Finally, I crushed 12 saltine crackers and mixed them in.

Now, anybody who reads this know I don’t make my meatloaf in a loaf pan (sits in its own grease). But I got one out and sprayed it with canola oil. I was using it as a form. I put half the meatloaf mix in it. Then I laid in 3 ounces of thin-sliced ham (leaving about an inch at the edges. I topped that with four ounces of shredded Pepper Jack cheese. The recipe called for Monterey Jack, but I have a LOT of Pepper Jack cheese, LOL!

I put the rest of the meatloaf mixture in and took it out of the loaf pan. I pinched the edges together (so the cheese wouldn’t leak out) and put it on an aluminum foil-covered half sheet pan. I brushed on half the glaze and then stuck it under the broiler on the top rack until it started to turn brown (6-8 minutes).

Then I turned the heat down to 350 degrees F. and moved the meatloaf to the middle rack. I brushed on more glaze. I baked it for another 30 minutes or so (until the internal temp was 160 degree F.) Meanwhile, I peeled a rutabaga and cut half of it into big chucks. I boiled that until it was soft.

I pulled the meatloaf. Damn! The cheese blew out one side! I tented it with more foil and let it rest 30 more minutes.

I ate a very late dinner, but it was worth it. The meatloaf was very tasty and, of course, interesting.

I watched the Golden Globe awards until I fell asleep.

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