Monday, November 21, 2011


I have seriously been craving meatloaf recently.  I know, weird craving.  Is this the 1930’s?  How old am I?? (peanut gallery please refrain from answering that question)  If you have ever tried this meatloaf recipe, you would totally understand the craving – it’s awesome.  I found it a few years ago from one of my old trusty cookbooks – Cooks Illustrated.  Why search the internet looking for a recipe that sounds good and probably ends up being only ok, when they’ve done all the testing for you and can definitively give you something you’ll want to make again and again? 

I love the Cook’s Illustrated method – they tell you about their testing process and why certain things work and others don’t.  They try different types of meat, different binding ingredients, different glazes, until they finally come up with the “perfect” dish.  Obviously any dish comes down to personal preference, but my track record with Cooks Illustrated/America’s Test Kitchen recipes leans heavily in their favor.

Their recipe uses all beef, which I appreciate as I am not a veal fan and most meatloaf mixes you find at the store combine beef, pork and veal.  But I didn’t use beef.  I opted for ground turkey this time.  Very very rarely would I do that as ground turkey is virtually flavorless.  I like it in chili, and until now, that’s been it.  Had I not just consumed a huge vat of homemade spaghetti sauce with ground beef, I definitely would have used that, but I felt like I needed a leaner meat, especially as we head into the holidays and overeating is sure to occur (thank goodness for all the running I’ll be doing in races for the next few weeks…hmmm, strategically planned??).  At any rate, it turned out pretty well.  I think I prefer the traditional beef, but I’m definitely glad I tried this as the craving has finally been satisfied. **Quick tasting note – when eating this, if you want extra sauce, go for plain ketchup rather than extra glaze.  The glaze tastes amazing with the beef version, but for some reason it’s a little too much with the turkey.**

For those of you not interested in the nitty gritty, ignore the insanely long list of ingredients below….but not until you check out this classic pic of the last time I made this:

From Cook’s Illustrated January/February 2006

3 ounces Monterey Jack cheese , grated on small holes of box grater (about 1 cup)
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 medium onion , chopped fine (about 1 cup)
1 medium rib celery , chopped fine (about 1/2 cup)
1 medium clove garlic , minced or pressed through a garlic press (about 1 teaspoon)
2 teaspoons minced fresh thyme leaves
1 teaspoon paprika
1/4 cup tomato juice
1/2 cup low sodium chicken broth
2 large eggs
1/2 teaspoon unflavored gelatin (powdered)
1 tablespoons soy sauce
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
2/3 cup crushed saltine crackers
2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley leaves
3/4 teaspoons table salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 pound ground sirloin (I substituted with 1lb 94% lean ground turkey and 1lb 99% lean ground turkey)
1 pound ground beef chuck

1/2 cup ketchup
1 teaspoon hot pepper sauce (or a little extra vinegar and some ground cayenne pepper)
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
1/4 cup cider vinegar
3 tablespoons packed light brown sugar


1. Adjust oven rack to middle position; heat oven to 375 degrees. Spread cheese on plate and place in freezer until ready to use. Prepare baking sheet (see illustration below).

2. Heat butter in 10-inch skillet over medium-high heat until foaming; add onion and celery and cook, stirring occasionally, until beginning to brown, 6 to 8 minutes. Add garlic, thyme, and paprika and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 1 minute. Reduce heat to low and add tomato juice. Cook, stirring to scrape up browned bits from pan, until thickened, about 1 minute. Transfer mixture to small bowl and set aside to cool.

3. Whisk broth and eggs in large bowl until combined. Sprinkle gelatin over liquid and let stand 5 minutes. Stir in soy sauce, mustard, saltines, parsley, salt, pepper, and onion mixture. Crumble frozen cheese into coarse powder and sprinkle over mixture. Add ground beef; mix gently with hands until thoroughly combined, about 1 minute. Transfer meat to foil rectangle and shape into 10 by 6-inch oval about 2 inches high. Smooth top and edges of meatloaf with moistened spatula. Bake until an instant-read thermometer inserted into center of loaf reads 135 to 140 degrees, 55 to 65 minutes. Remove meatloaf from oven and turn on broiler.

4. While meatloaf cooks, combine ingredients for glaze in small saucepan; bring to simmer over medium heat and cook, stirring, until thick and syrupy, about 5 minutes. Spread half of glaze evenly over cooked meatloaf with rubber spatula; place under broiler and cook until glaze bubbles and begins to brown at edges, about 5 minutes. Remove meatloaf from oven and spread evenly with remaining glaze; place back under broiler and cook until glaze is again bubbling and beginning to brown, about 5 minutes more. Let meatloaf cool about 20 minutes before slicing.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Baking GALS Round 5 - Double Chocolate Peanut Butter Cookies

You’d think it would be easy to come up with some new exciting thing to bake for my monthly shipment to the troops, but for some reason every month I have a mental baking roadblock.  Unfortunately, my creativity wasn’t piqued when the request from the recipient of this shipment was chocolate chip cookies and skittles.  Chocolate chip?  Not something more exciting?  Besides, I had just made a big batch.  I trust that someone else will handle that one.  So then I turned to the skittles...hmmm.  I had brainstorming sessions with a few different people – what could I do?  Put them in sugar cookies?  Melt them down and use them in some other fashion – is that even possible?  Too much to think about, so I opted to take the easy route out on those, I bought three different flavors and am tossing them in the box with the cookies.

Since I refused to couldn’t do plain chocolate chip, I went with the next best chip…peanut butter.  I knew exactly what cookie recipe to use, one from the trusted bakers at America’s Test Kitchen.  They have an AMAZING chocolate cookie recipe – in fact, they’re pretty much brownies in cookie form and what could possibly be wrong with that?  And that’s coming from someone who 9 times out of 10 would choose something fruity over chocolatey.

Take my advice – make these for the chocolate lover in your life, you’ll score some major points.  And nobody will miss plain old chocolate chip!

Recipe adapted from The Complete America’s Test Kitchen TV Show Cookbook

2 cups AP Flour
½ cup Dutch-processed cocoa powder (I use regular and have never had a complaint!)
2 tsp baking powder
½ tsp table salt
16 oz. semi-sweet chocolate (chopped or chips)
4 large eggs
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 tsp instant coffee or espresso powder
10 Tbsp unsalted butter, softened
½ cup granulated sugar
2 cups peanut butter chips (my addition)

Mix the flour, cocoa, baking powder, salt and peanut butter chips in medium bowl and set aside.  Mix the eggs, vanilla and coffee powder in medium bowl and set aside.  Melt chocolate in double-boiler over just simmering water.  Set aside to cool slightly.

In a large bowl, cream the butter and sugars together.  The consistency will be grainy.  Gradually add the egg mixture and mix until incorporated.  Add the melted chocolate in a steady stream and mix well.  Gradually add the dry ingredients until just combined.

Cover dough with plastic wrap and let sit for 30 minutes to develop fudge-like texture.

Adjust oven racks to upper middle and lower middle positions and pre-heat the oven to 350ยบ.  Scoop about 1 ½ - 2 Tbsp of dough, roll into a ball and place on parchment covered baking sheets about 1 ½ inches apart.  Bake two sheets at a time, rotating halfway through baking until edges have begun to set but centers are still very soft – about 8-10 minutes.  Cool on baking sheets for 10 minutes then transfer cookies to cooling racks to cool completely.