Thursday, March 31, 2011

My Favorite Meatloaf

I have posted this recipe but I was inspired by a fellow blogger, From A Writer's Kitchen to post My Favorite Meatloaf again. She posted a very similar recipe recently in that it uses chili sauce which I think makes such a difference in the taste of a meatloaf. Everyone needs a good meatloaf recipe in their repertoire, it is such comfort food but also "man" food. There is something about meatloaf that men seem to love. My "man" loves a good meatloaf sandwich with the leftovers the next day which for him to like leftovers is most unusual.

My Favorite Meatloaf
 Serves 4-6

1 ½ pounds ground round
½ pound ground pork
1 onion, chopped
1 egg, beaten
¾ cup chili sauce, (I use Heinz)
1 cup water
2 teaspoons champagne vinegar
1 cup plain bread crumbs
1 ½ teaspoons kosher salt
¼ teaspoon pepper
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
2 teaspoons brown sugar

Mix beef, pork, onions, egg, half of chili sauce, ¾ cup bread crumbs, salt, and pepper. Form into a loaf and place in a baking dish. Bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for 15 minutes. Combine the rest of the chili sauce, water, vinegar, mustard, and brown sugar. Stir until smooth and pour over the meat in the oven. Continue baking for 1 hour. Baste occasionally.

My Notes: the bread crumbs are an approximate measurement. I don’t like a meatloaf that is too bready if that is a word, a consistency that just does hold it together and allows you to form it into a loaf. I also think that the quality of ingredients used are very important.

I was given this recipe years ago by a friend and she told me that it originally came from her mother-in-law. Over the years I have tweaked it to make it my own. I have also tried many other recipes most of which that were much more elaborate from Martha Stewart's to Ina Garten's but I keep going back to this one and it is my most favorite, simple with few ingredients and you can taste the goodness of the beef and pork.

After baking for 15 minutes you then add the sauce and baste the meatloaf  a couple of times while cooking.

After it comes out of the oven you then let it rest for ten minutes.
Pared with a vegetable or two of your choice, wellllllllllll it just doesn't get any better than that. Real "comfort food".

Today I am joining Michael Lee at Designs by Gollum. To see other participants of Foodie Friday who have shared a wealth of recipes click HERE. Thank you for visiting my blog and please do come again. Have a wonderful weekend.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

How does your garden grow?

So many blogging friends are still experiencing winter like weather so today I thought I would share some of my own garden for Outdoor Wednesday. I am in hopes that by sharing my garden it will lift your spirits and you will know that Spring is just around the corner for you as well. Remember that you can click onto any photo to enlarge for more detail.

Here in North Florida we have been experiencing some mild weather. Some preennials are still emerging but for the most part the grass is beginning to green and signs of Spring are everywhere.

A few weeks ago the Redbud trees were blooming, those trees blooming in the back of my garden in this photo. Now the redbud blooms have faded and we are enjoying our azalea's.

This is the same area of the photo above but three weeks later. This and the successive photos I took this morning. An overcast day but perfect for taking photos.

The plant in the right forefront of this bed is a salvia. It dies back to the ground in the winter but you can see since our last cold snap how much it has grown.

I am focusing most of my attention in the garden for the next few weeks because I am hosting an evening outdoor dinner garden party for my garden circle's end of the year function with spouses. It will be a fun time but I am determined that my garden will be in tip top shape.

My first delphinium to bloom this year. I was so excited.

Some of my old garden roses are beginning to bloom as well.

In this bed I plant most of my herbs and I like to mix them with old garden roses, hydrangeas (the hydrangeas won't bloom for a couple of months but they are putting on their foliage), poppy's, French marigolds, pansy's and nasturtiums for decorating cakes, salad and appetizer trays. Just yesterday I planted some crimson dahlia's. I also just planted my basil since we probably won't get anymore frost. Along the fence I have planted some foxglove but they have not begun to bloom yet.
It's always fun to add a little whimsy to the garden and I have catmint planted in this little kitty planter. Catmint makes a soothing tea.
I have Kentucky Colonel mint planted in my little chicken planter and I don't remember what these little yellow blooms are called but they are just blooming like crazy and went through the winter without dying back. They are a perennial and I will have to find out what they are since I have lots of them planted in this bed.

I can honestly say that I am enjoying our Spring like weather. In our area Spring is short and then we begin to have the intense heat that most people associate with all of Florida but for now I am taking it all in.

It is once again time for Outdoor Wednesday hosted by Susan at A Southern Daydreamer. Click HERE to see other participants of Outdoor Wednesday. And when Spring finally arrives where you live I know you will thoroughly enjoy it as I am now.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Reprise~New Orleans Seafood Gumbo

Chari at Happy To Design is hosting a blogging party, Sunday Favorites. It is a repost of one of your favorite blog posts and this particular recipe is one of our family's favorites. Next week is one of  my son's 38th birthday and for our family celebration I decided to prepare this delicious recipe which is just chocked full of scrumptious Gulf Seafood.

Most all Southerners have a good Seafood Gumbo in their cooking repertoire especially if you have roots in New Orleans as I do. Today I am sharing a favorite recipe that I found many years ago, tweaked from my head as I remember the way my Dad prepared it and also learning a thing or two as a result of being a big fan of Emeril's. Unfortunately,  my Dad never wrote down a recipe. I was, however, fortunate that he had these amazing family recipes in his head  and after watching him many times as a child put together such recipes as Seafood Gumbo, Crab Jambalya using whole crabs in the pot (that was an art in itself), Chicken and Oyster Gumbo, and Shrimp Etoffee, I had a good sense of how to prepare some of these wonderful dishes. I was very fortunate to have a legacy with both of my parents having a love for preparing good food. My Dad who prepared Southern and New Orleans cuisine and my mother who had this passion for preparing French cuisine.

Today I will share our family favorite for Seafood Gumbo.

Seafood Gumbo

1/4 cup oil
6 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 cups onions, chopped
1 cup green bell pepper, chopped
1 cup celery, diced
3 large garlic cloves, minced
4 cups chicken broth
1 tablespoon chicken base
3 cups water
2 bay leaves
1 1/2 teaspoons dried thyme
1 teaspoon dried basil
1/3 cup dried parsley
1 teaspoon lemon pepper
1/2 teaspoon caynne pepper
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 (14 1/2-ounce) can diced tomatoes seasoned with garlic, basil and oregano
4 cups sliced Cajun-style fresh link sausage
4 cups cut okra (fresh or frozen)
2 cups oysters and liquor
1 pound crabmeat
1 1/2 to 2 pounds fresh peeled and deveined shrimp, tails removed
3 cups bay scallops
File' powder (optional)

In a large pot (at least a 6 quart pot) combine oil and flour. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until the roux has browned to a medium chocolate color. Add onion, pepper, celery and garlic. Saute for 2 to 3 minutes, stirring constantly. Slowly add chicken broth and chicken base, stirring as you go. Add water, bay leaves, thyme, basil, parsley, lemon pepper, cayenne pepper, Worcestershire sauce, salt, pepper and tomatoes. Cut sausage into 1/2-inch pieces. Add to pot along with okra. Cover pot and simmer for 1 to 1 1/2 hours, stirring occasionally. Add oysters, crabmeat, shrimp and scallops. Simmer for an additional 15 minutes. Taste for seasonings, S&P. Serve over hot buttered rice. Sprinkle file powder on top of bowl.


The key to any good gumbo is the roux. Here I have shown my roux but this gumbo requires that it be slightly darker.

The vegetables should be sauted until the onions are clear but not burned.

We are so fortunate to be able to enjoy the bounty of the Gulf of Mexico and our area was not affected by the oil spill. Seafood Gumbo is a very easy dish to prepare but it is necessary to stay with it and stir often but soooooooooo worth the effort. It is quite simply delicious.

I personally don't care for gumbo file' but in New Orleans no gumbo is served without gumbo file'. A couple of notes I want to mention, do not add gumbo filet' to the pot because it acts as a thickening agent and is only used as a garnish after it is served. One other tip, if I don't happen to have a good homemade chicken stock in my freezer I always use Kitchen Basics. I have found it to be the BEST.

If you try this traditional New Orleans favorite you won't be disappointed.

Always served over hot buttered rice, I usually pare it with my favorite cornbread, a side salad and a good glass of your favorite red wine, well, it just doesn't get any better than that. Enjoy!

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Bringing the Outdoors In

I haven't posted on my blog for a few weeks, it's been a busy time. I couldn't think of a better way of getting back into the groove of posting than to share some work I did last Friday and joining the blogging party, Outdoor Wednesday hosted by Susan at A Southerner Daydreamer.

On occasion a friend of mine who has a flower business and does flowers for weddings will ask me to help out when she is short of man power. My daughter works with her regularly. This particular day my friend found herself short of some workers that can do large flower arrangements so she called me to come help. Flower arranging is one of my passions and putting together flowers for a wedding is such a JOY. This happened to be for the Rehearsal Dinner but all the flowers were just gorgeous.

The location was our Governor's Club which is a beautiful venue in itself but to add to the beauty were these amazing flower arrangements. My daughter and I were given the task of putting together the flowers for the entry area in the bar.

When one walked up the stairs to the upper floor and bar area this was their first impression so they had to be spectacular.
This was the first one I put together and the prototype for the others.

We used shades of white and I thought so interesting the use of the kale.

It was interesting that the grooms mother chose to begin the Rehearsal Dinner with shades of white and as you moved to the main dining room used hot pinks with the Bride and Grooms table in white.

Even the chandelier was festooned with flowers.

A close up of the individual table arrangements.

There were still lots of people working, the sound man was setting up, the finishing touches were taking place, everything being cleaned and it was a gorgeous setting.

I left with a good feeling and enjoyed one of my passions, working with flowers. I find it to be such an uplifting thing for me.

There are some wonderful participants of Outdoor Wednesday so click here to enjoy them and make the most of your day.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Herbed Quiche With Blue Cheese

So many evenings my husband and I prefer a lighter dinner and we both happen to enjoy a good quiche. This particular quiche we both thought to be exceptional. It has this luchious creamy texture, more so than in most quiches.

The recipe comes from a book I am really enjoying, Farm to Fork by Emeril Lagassee. This is Emeril's newest book and like most recent cookbook authors he encourages everyone to cook with local fresh ingredients.
Herbed Quiche With Blue Cheese

1 pie crust
6 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
2 ounces Maytag blue cheese, at room temperature
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
3 eggs
1 cup heavy cream
1 cup whole milk
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
3 tablespoons chopped fresh mixed herbs, such as parsley, thyme, tarragon, chives, and/or oregano

1. Preheat the oven to 400*F.

2. Place the pie crust in an 8-inch fluted tart pan.

3. Line the pastry shell with parchment paper, and fill it with ceramic pie weights or dried beans. Place the tart pan on a baking sheet, and bake for 9 minutes. Remove the baking sheet from the oven and set the tart pan on a wire rack to cool. Remove the parchment paper and the weights.

4. Reduce the oven temperature to 375*F.

5. In a medium bowl, whisk together the cream cheese, blue cheese, and butter. Whisk in the eggs until well blended. Stir in the cream, milk, salt, pepper, and herbs. Pour the filling into the partially baked pie shell. Return the tart pan to the baking sheet and bake, rotating the quiche halfway through, until it is puffed and golden brown, 25 minutes. The quiche is done when a knife inserted in the center comes out clean.

6. Remove the tart pan from the baking sheet and set it on a wire rack to cool for at least 5 minutes before slicing. Serve hot, warm, or at room temperature

6 to 8 servings

Using fresh herbs is a MUST for this quiche and I do grow many herbs in my garden. However, if you don't grow your own herbs most grocery stores are carrying fresh herbs. I used Italian parsley, thyme and garlic chives. The recipe says you can use oregano and even though I do have it in my herb garden I find that I rarely use it. It is a very strong herb used fresh. I think the use of tarragon would be delicious but mine was knocked back by the cold weather and is just now beginning to come back up. The next time I prepare this I will definitely use the tarragon. I also used a gorgonzola cheese which is what I had on hand and I think most any blue cheese works well in this recipe. The Maytag blue would probably be a more stronger tasting cheese and I will probably use it the next time.

 I simply pared this quiche with sliced heirloom tomatoes with a drizzle of basil infused olive oil and sprinkled with one of my favorite sea salts, a French Herbed Sea Salt.

A nice crisp bottle of Pinot Gris went nicely with it as well and made for a fabulous dinner. My husband said it was the BEST I had ever made and that says a lot to me since he is a very picky eater.  

In April I will be doing a lecture on growing and cooking with herbs for my garden circle. I plan to have lots of tastings and this will be one I will prepare for that lecture.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Another Casual Family Dinner

When there are but just a few of us we enjoy having our dinner at the "Morning Room" table instead of the dining room. It is smaller but more intimate and this room is just off from my kitchen and perfect for a casual family dinner.

This past week my son, his wife and their two daughters joined us for a steak dinner.

The table was set for five of us and we always pull up the high chair that all three of my own children sat in as children and now the grand children sit in it. We always pull it up to the table for the wee ones and we only have one of those at the moment, two year old little Nolyn. Thats big sis, Bryson sitting next to her.
Even though it is just family I always enjoy setting a pretty table and had just bought these hot pink place mats and was anxious to use them.
I thought the bird napkin rings looked very nice with the napkin and I have also used my Hotel silver as well as my Vietri Foglia salad bowls.
I bought this stem ware a long time ago from William Sonoma Home. They are a more casual stemware and I thought they looked similar to the stemware that Ina Garten often uses but so much more affordable, Cristallerie La Rochere and the pattern is Amite (the name of Ina's pattern that is).
These work for me and I do enjoy using them.

As it grew closer to dark, I lit the candles and the grand kidlets thought that was so cool.

I think it is appreciated that I set a beautiful table for a casual family dinner and so I will always continue to do so.

Enjoy your day.

Today is Thursday so I will share this post at Susan's lovely blog, Between Naps on the Porch.