Monday, October 29, 2012

Italian-Style Meatloaf

Few things say comfort food like meatloaf, and I made it yesterday for that very reason - I was in need of a little comfort.  I had left work on Friday in a bad mood, and those feelings tried to linger through the whole weekend, despite my best efforts.  I didn't want to take my irritability out on the family so I decided I needed something to kick me out of that funk - cooking was it.  I spent my whole day in the kitchen, starting with some lovely little oatmeal muffins - 3 batches to be precise, meatloaf, garlic butter pasta and oven-roasted brussel sprouts for lunch, and the afternoon was filled with bread and roll making - more from my grandma's recipe.

As the day wound into evening, we had snacked on mini muffins, eaten our nice family dinner and enjoyed rolls, fresh from the oven with butter and honey, and my mood had lifted.  With all of that cooking and baking, I didn't have time to dwell on anything unpleasant.

I must say, I have an amazing meatloaf recipe that involves oatmeal and cheddar cheese.  I found it many years ago in a Taste of Home magazine, and it has been my go-to meatloaf recipe ever since.  Of course, I've tweaked it, because as we've said before, I may or may not have an illness that prevents me from following a recipe precisely.  But, I decided I wanted something different after hearing that my best friend, Michelle, had made a wonderful stuffed Italian meatloaf the prior night.  That began my quest for my own version.  This is what I came up with.

Here's your Cast of Characters.

4 Teaspoons minced garlic
1 Large onion, chopped
3 eggs
1 Teaspoon crushed red pepper
2 Teaspoons Italian seasoning
1 Tablespoon Sicilian seasoning
1 Teaspoon, each, Mrs. Dash Onion & Herb seasoning, McCormick Perfect Pinch Garlic & Herb seasoning and crushed fennel seed (not pictured because it was a last minute add in)
1 Cup grated Parmesan or Pecorino Romano
1 Cup dried breadcrumbs
1 Lb., each, very lean ground beef and Italian sausage
2 Tablespoons, each, Worcestershire sauce and balsamic vinegar
1 1/4 Cups marinara sauce, divided  (You can use a good jarred, or I made my own chunky sauce.)

Yes, I know there's a lot of stuff going in here, but it's what makes it good!

Preheat oven to 400, and grease a medium casserole dish.

In a large mixing bowl, whisk the eggs well.

Add all of your seasonings.

Mix well, and add bread crumbs.  Stir well to combine.

Next, add your garlic, onion, 1/4 cup marinara, balsamic vinegar and Worcestershire sauce.  Use a fork to break up any lumps in the bread crumb mixture, and stir until well combined.

Add the cheese, I used Pecorino Romano, ground beef and Italian sausage.

Here's where you get your hands dirty, literally!  Take off your rings, ditch the spoon and fork and dive right in!  I have learned over the years that the best way to mix up meatloaf and meatballs is by hand.  You just can't get everything really combined otherwise.

Shape into a loaf and put in your prepared pan.

Spread remaining 1 cup of marinara sauce over the top.

Bake, uncovered for 1 - 1 1/2 hours, until a meat thermoter registers 160 degrees F in the middle of the meatloaf.

Let the meatloaf rest for about 10 minutes before cutting it.



On my way home from work tonight, only about a mile and a half from my house, I saw 2 bald eagles.  This isn't completely unheard of, as we seem to be in their migratory path, so we see them a couple of times a year.  Regardless of how many times I've seen them, they still take my breath away.  They are just so regal and beautiful!  Of course, I rushed the last mile home, ran in the house, grabbed my camera quick, and my son, who had to bring his camera, too.  (Like mother, like son.)  We went back to the trees where I had spotted them, but only one remained.  He was a bit camera shy and flew away as soon as I parked the car, but thanks to the zoom, I was still able to get a couple of good shots.  It was a nice way to end my workday, and I thought I'd share them with you, as well.