Tuesday, November 30, 2010


Quote of the Day:  Kenny Chesney says it best in this video from YouTube The Boys of FallThey played this song during the slide show at the Football banquet last night.  My big boy was on the team.  His position is Offensive Lineman.  He played during the JV games and one quarter of a varsity game that our team dominated.  Mostly, he stood on the sidelines, suited up and ready, and cheered on his teammates.  Brainerd had a winning season.  They made it to the metrodome for the semi-final game, and lost. 

My boy is a junior this year.  He has one more season to play, but for the seniors it was like the first graduation of their final year of high school.  A couple of the boys gave speeches and broke down.  One boy said, "Hey, you guys know I'm an emotional guy."  He could barely talk as he said good-bye to the team, and called up next year's captains.

When my boy was in 4th grade he was so excited to sign up to play youth football.  "It's real tackle football, Mom," he said with a gleam in his eye.  At that age, everyone gets to play.  They get to try every position and feel the thrill of the game and hear the crack of the shoulder pads.  They're all smiles and excitement.  So, even though I don't love football and grimace every time I hear that crack of pads and helmets and gently touch their bruises, I get it.  I understand that boys love to play rough.  They love the game, the strategy, the camaraderie.  I also understand that by high school varsity, it's about winning and who can make that happen.  And, the guys who come to practice, take the hits for the starters, and stand on the sidelines to cheer, are dressed and ready in case they might get their chance for a play - just one good hit.

I asked my boy what the best memory or moment was for him this season.  They won some big games, practiced at the Minnesota Vikings training facility, and played in the Metrodome.  He said, "The Apollo game because I got to play most of the last quarter."

This post is dedicated to Sue at the dry cleaners.  Last week, I dropped off my boy's dirty dress clothes and told her I'd need them back for the football banquet.  She got all nostalgic, reminiscing about her son's football days, and we had a good mom chat.  She said she wished she was going to the banquet with us.  She still goes to games.  Once a football mom, always a football mom.

Journaling Prompt:  Write about your high school activity experiences.  Were you a player, or tooting your horn in the pep band like I did?  Or, were you in some other place discovering your gifts and talents?

It's Cookie Time...

Yes, it is that time of year.  When food rules and cookies are the gift of the season.  December is the month that my baking goes into overdrive, from the basic sugar cookie, to the best ever chocolate chip cookies and on into the land of no-bakes and bars.  Who doesn't smile a plate full of cookies wrapped with a pretty bow? And don't forget about the big guy who needs delicious treats as he fills those holiday stockings!

I'm declaring December 1st through the 24th official cookie making time here on the blog and I will be sharing old recipes that I love, along with some new ones.  Until then check out the recipes I have shared with you already, and get ready to bake away!

Cookies and Bars

Sunday, November 28, 2010

The Kitchen Table

Quote of the Day:
Perhaps the World Ends Here
by Joy Harjo

The world begins at a kitchen table. No matter what, we must eat to live.

The gifts of earth are brought and prepared, set on the table. So it has been since creation, and it will go on.

We chase chickens or dogs away from it. Babies teethe at the corners. They scrape their knees under it.

It is here that children are given instructions on what it means to be human. We make men at it, we make women.

At this table we gossip, recall enemies and the ghosts of lovers.

Our dreams drink coffee with us as they put their arms around our children. They laugh with us at our poor falling-down selves and as we put ourselves back together once again at the table.

This table has been a house in the rain, an umbrella in the sun.

Wars have begun and ended at this table. It is a place to hide in the shadow of terror. A place to celebrate the terrible victory.

We have given birth on this table, and have prepared our parents for burial here.

At this table we sing with joy, with sorrow. We pray of suffering and remorse. We give thanks.

Perhaps the world will end at the kitchen table, while we are laughing and crying, eating of the last sweet bite.

"Perhaps the World Ends Here" from The Woman Who Fell From the Sky by Joy Harjo.

I found this poem at poetryfoundation.org.  I can't remember if I first read it on someone else's blog or on the Writer's Almanac.  Such great words to think about as we gathered for feasts, conversations, and games.

Grandma's Thanksgiving table, my boys, and lefse!

Many, many games of Scrabble - my mom's favorite game

My parents don't have a computer, thus no internet, and the farm is in one of those black hole voids where you can't get cell service.  We played board games, talked to each other, and watched several Christmas movies. 

My sister and I made lefse.

Try to roll it so thin that you can see the words through the dough.

The main ingredients in lefse are potatoes, flour, and butter or oil.  Sometimes, they turn out like this and you spread more butter on them, sprinkle sugar, and eat.

Sometimes they turn out like a face-melting mess.  This dough was not cooperating!

My mom said that to really get to know someone, you need to eat together.  Much more than butter and recipes are shared at a kitchen table.  We ruminate over the flavors of life.

Journaling Prompt:  What are your favorite family recipes?  Where did they come from?  Write about times you shared them.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Turkey Stuffing Eggrolls

There is one combination that I adore at Thanksgiving, turkey and stuffing all in the same bite. Add in cranberry sauce or gravy and it is perfection! I made these egg rolls a few years ago and they have become a staple turkey leftover meal every year since. I make these the day after thanksgiving and freeze them individually, or use turkey meat from the freezer and make a quick batch for dinner.  Enjoy!

I added this post to Real Food Deals over at Premeditated Leftovers

Turkey Stuffing Egg Rolls
Recipe Source: A Cook's Quest

1 package square egg roll wrappers
leftover turkey
leftover stuffing

Lay an egg roll wrapper on the counter. Place some stuffing and some turkey on top. Wrap up and seal the edge with water. Fry or bake until golden brown and serve with gravy or cranberry sauce for dipping.

Total Cost-$2.99
Egg Roll wrappers-$2.99

Friday, November 26, 2010

Cranberry Snowdrift Bars . . .

Along with producing way too many rolls and whipping up about three times the amount of mashed potatoes actually needed for Thanksgiving dinner, did you also happen to make a hefty surplus of cranberry sauce? You did? Me too. We have a mountain of mashed spuds left. What could I possibly have been thinking as I peeled my millionth potato on Thursday morning? That the Waltons might turn up uninvited on our front porch, with John Boy in the lead?

It's All Gravy . . .

The only thing we never seem to make too much of is gravy, a vital substance. Not unlike human plasma in its importance, it ties the whole feast together. Most folks can't live without it on their turkey, though I've heard that a few can. My two sons, along with a couple of their friends, descended on our kitchen this afternoon after they'd all been out  power-shopping (teenage-boy style power shopping, that is). Clearly ravenous, they attacked the leftover provisions with a vengeance, each plate piled higher than the next. I was grateful that the absence of gravy, which I assume they found startling, didn't dampen their enthusiasm.

About this recipe . . .

In light of the cranberry sauce surplus, I was happy to have an opportunity to try out this surprisingly different recipe that hails from Dede Wilson's book, A Baker's Field Guide to Christmas Cookies. I don't know which appeals to me more, the bars themselves or their cute name. Both are delightful.

These bars start out with a tender-crunchy base, kind of like a shortbread crust. That's baked, and then topped with cranberry sauce, then a meringue is spread over the top of that and it all goes back into the oven. The end result is delicately crisp, sweet, and just tart enough.

I stuck pretty closely to the original formula, just reworded it.

Cranberry Snowdrift Bars
(For a printable version of this recipe, click here!)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Coat an 8" x 8" square pan with vegetable spray. 

Ingredients for Crust:
1 and 1/4 cups All Purpose flour
1 pinch of salt
1/2 cup of unsalted butter, softened
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 tsp. vanilla extract

Ingredients for filling and topping:
1 cup whole berry cranberry sauce (homemade or canned; needs to be thick and not watery)
whites from 2 large eggs (about 2 oz. of egg whites, total; whites at room temperature whip up best)
1/8 tsp. cream of tartar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/4 tsp. vanilla extract

To make the crust:
Whisk together the flour and salt in a bowl. In the large bowl of your mixer, on medium-high speed, beat the butter for a few minutes, until it's creamy. Gradually add in the sugar, beating now on high speed, until the mixture is light and fluffy; this may take several minutes. Add in the vanilla. In thirds, pour in the dry ingredients gradually, beating just until blended.

Pat the crust firmly and evenly into the bottom of the prepared pan. Chill in the fridge for 30 minutes, or in the freezer for about 15 minutes, before baking.

Bake until dry to the touch and light golden brown, with darker golden areas around the edges--about 30 to 40 minutes. Don't turn off the oven when you take the pan out.

Cool the pan on a rack for five minutes, then spread the cranberry sauce over it.

Make the meringue topping:
In a smaller mixer bowl, using the whip attachment, whip the egg whites on high speed until foamy. Add in the cream of tartar and beat until soft peaks form. Then, gradually add in the sugar, beating on high until stiff--but not dry--peaks form. Add in the vanilla.

Spread the meringue evenly over the cranberry filling, using the back of a spoon to push it out to the edges. Make some cute swirls in the top of the meringue.

Put the pan back into the oven, and bake for about 25 minutes, until the meringue is just very lightly browned.

Cool the bars, in their pan, on a cooling rack.
(If you'd like to comment on this post, or to read any existing comments, please just click on the purple COMMENTS below!)

Peanut Butter Struesel Brownies

I have to start with the disclaimer I didn't make these delectable little bites of chocolate peanut butter dellciousness. Br2, my seven year daughter who has inherited my love of making yummy food, made these babies all by herself.  She found the recipe, prepared the recipe, and with hardly any guidance from me she baked these brownies to take to Thanksgiving dinner so that she had her very own dish to bring like, "all the other girls." 

They are rich, delicious, and a great addition to any dessert buffet!  We used a brownie mix because at the last minute I discovered I was all out of cocoa, but this brownie recipe (minus the mint candy) or your favorite recipe would work beautifully with the peanut butter struesel topping.  Enjoy!

Peanut Butter Struesel Brownies
Recipe Source: Modified from Plain Chicken

1 Recipe Brownies, prepared and poured into prepared pan

Combine the following ingrediets until crumbly
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
2 Tbsp. light brown sugar
2 Tbsp. granulated sugar
1/3 cup  peanut butter
2 Tbsp. melted butter
1/8 tsp. salt until blended and crumbly.

Line a 9x9 pan with tin foil allowing to hang over the edge of the pan.  This will allow you to lift the brownies right out of the pan. 

Pour batter into pan and sprinkle peanut butter mixture over batter. Bake according to your recipe at 350 F until a toothpick comes out with moist crumbs.  Br2's brownies took about 57 minutes.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

The Turkey Day Comfort Zone . . . Happy Thanksgiving!

Thanksgiving, aside from being a hopefully-heart-warming family holiday, as well as a dietary cautionary tale, is also a fairly rigorous exercise in domestic decision making, wouldn't you agree? So much to contemplate in preparing for the whole shebang. Almost invariably, it requires a bushy flock of post-it notes sticking out of cookbooks, at least three trips to the market in close succession due to overlooked ingredients, and one protracted search for that huge roasting pan that you know you saw on a shelf in the basement last Easter. Well, anyway, you think you saw it down there. 

Despite the little stresses, we have enduring affection for this holiday all the same. It annually reminds us of how lucky we are, how gratitude uplifts us, and of how much we value everyone we love. It also reminds us of how much satisfaction and joy we get out of baking!

This year, as far as baking went, I opted for tradition. That decision allowed me to linger, one might say, in the wide and expansive Turkey Day comfort zone. Yesterday I bustled around in the kitchen for hours. The end result was a full-flavored pumpkin pie made with heavy cream and enhanced with a tiny bit of dark rum in the filling; a replay of the best apple-cranberry pie recipe I've ever used (and which can be found in loving detail in my blog, right here); and, three-dozen buttery dinner rolls, formed in three 9" cake pans--the kind of rolls that snuggle more closely together as they rise.

Though I don't have a new recipe to share with you today, I just wanted to tell you that I'm so grateful for the friends and acquaintances I've made through my interest in baking--both online and in person. I sincerely hope you have a festive and blessed Thanksgiving!

:)  Warmly,

Wednesday, November 24, 2010


Quote of Day: A blog is a writer's playland. I'll tribute that quote to my best writer-mama-pal, Roxane.  She's the first one to say it to me and the one who got me connected with all you readers and bloggers out there. Thank you!  This is my Blogaversary.  One year ago this Thanksgiving weekend, I launched by blog.

Writer-mama-pals Mary & Roxane at Highlights workshop in PA

You can read my first post here.  Once I released my blog to the universe, I was amazed at how quickly I made connections and felt part of something bigger than my own little world, here in central Minnesota, USA.  I'll list the best of Play off the Page, year one.

My favorite using photos and writing about the Creative Spirit.
The title that attracted the most male readers, I Left my Bra in Omaha, and on the healing power of friendship and self-care.
When I wrote about the book, The Curse of the Good Girl, and teaching girls to live authentic lives, I got a response from the author of that book.  She passed my blog post on to her readers.  It was a shining moment in my blog connection experience.
Likewise, when I wrote about the Hot Shops in Omaha, the artist whose glass piano I featured found me through a series of connections.  Click here for the follow-up post.

As you can see, I really get around.  I added the flag counter this summer and get excited whenever a new flag appears.  Thanks for visiting from your dot on the globe!  Thanks for connecting with me.  And, to continue the connections, I'll list below two humorous blog posts I've read in the past week.

Tara at The Feel of Something New for her tribute to her twins' birthday and a funny video on crazy conversations about multiples.
The Kill Zone for a post on "Tipos."

Another photo from PA.  It made me chuckle.

The journey continues.  The path beckons.  Stories are everywhere.

Go. Create. Inspire!

Journaling Prompt:  Where is the path taking you this year? 

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Two days and counting!

Turkey Day is almost here and I can't hardly wait to smell that delicious roasted turkey roasting in the oven.  I love Thanksgiving food, it is not only delicious but the leftovers are the best!  This year I am not hosting the big family dinner, but I did gather some tips that have helped me over the years during my Turkey Day adventures to share with all of you.  I wish you all a Thanksgiving full of easy cooking and family fun!
  • For crisper skin, unwrap the turkey the day before roasting and leave it uncovered in the refrigerator overnight.
  • Cooking times will differ depending on whether your bird was purchased fresh or frozen. Plan on 20 minutes per pound in a 350 degree F oven for a defrosted turkey and 10 to 15 minutes per pound for fresh.
  • A turkey will cook more evenly if it is not densely stuffed. Consider adding flavor by loosely filling the cavity with aromatic vegetables — carrots, celery, onion or garlic work nicely — or by carefully tucking fresh herbs underneath the breast skin. For the stuffing lovers, cook the dressing in a casserole dish on the side
  • Don't be a peeping tom (no pun intended)! Once you get the turkey in the oven, resist the temptation to open the oven door and admire your handiwork. When the oven temperature fluctuates, you're only increasing the likelihood of a dry bird.
  • Tent the bird with foil and let rest for about 15 minutes before carving. If you need more time to make gravy, heat up side dishes, etc., you can let the turkey set for up to an hour without losing too much heat.
  • If you cut your bird and it is dry, pour some warm broth over it and that will help hide the dryness.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Slip Slidin' Away

Quote of the Day: from the song River

It's coming on Christmas
They're cutting down trees
They're putting up reindeer
And singing songs of joy and peace
Oh I wish I had a river
I could skate away on

This is what it looks like in Minnesota already.  November is a transition month.  The temps aren't cold enough for just snow, so we get freezing rain.  I left for a weekend women's retreat at Mount Carmel, near Alexandria, MN, when the roads were dry and the sunset so beautiful that it was distracting. I slipped home on icy roads and sang in my head, "I wish I didn't have a river of ice to drive home on." 

The theme of the weekend was Advent and Mary, a time of waiting and anticipation.  It's what I needed to get me in the holiday spirit.  I listened to Christmas music there and back.  I like Sarah McLachlan's Wintersong.  She has a recording of River that is filled with longing.

Once again, I had the opportunity to lead the women in making journals and writing.  We used poetry and the art of Mary for inspiration.  A few women created their own art and poetry.

(Nancy is a preschool teacher.  She's flashing me her "preschool" grin!)

Here's the beginning of my own journal entry while at the retreat.  I titled it Longing: 
My creative spirit longs to soar.
It won't allow its voice to be silenced.
Stories play out in my mind.
Characters have conversations with me.
Even as I push the ideas away,
they reappear during long drives, awakenings in the night,
or while stiring spaghetti sauce.
Once, while I was practicing a difficult piece of music, I hit a high G flat, and the idea for a story hit me so strongly, that I stopped playing and began writing.
Creative Spirit, thank you for filling me up and empowering me to spill out all those words and rhythms,
Into the Beautiful...

Click here for my post on Emily Dickenson's poem As Imperceptibly as Grief and the change of seasons, in nature and in life.  It's one of the poems that I shared at the retreat.  The final line to that poem is "Into the Beautiful." That's where we're heading as the seasons change from fall to winter, into the Holidays, Advent and our time of waiting, getting ready to receive all the gifts and promises of Jesus' birth, and hope for our inspiration to grow.

We're watching and waiting.

Journaling Prompt:  What are your traditions as you prepare for winter, the holidays, the next season of life?

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

The Magic of Harry Potter

Quote of the Day:  an exerpt from the chapter "King's Cross," in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by J.K. Rowling

"Tell me one last thing," said Harry.  "Is it real? Or has this been happening inside my head?"

Dumbledore beamed at him, and his voice sounded loud and strong in Harry's ears even though the bright mist was descending again, obscuring his figure.

"Of course it is happening inside your head, Harry, but why on earth should that mean that it is not real?"

Reading is important.  Books are real.  The stories inside them might be made up, but for the time that our minds are engaged in the characters and their world, it feels real.

One of my favorite things to do with my sons is read.  We still read a picture book when I'm in the mood even though they're 10, 10, 12, and 16.  When the Skippy John Jones books came out, my boys gathered on the bed together as the oldest read aloud, and the others clapped along to the interactive part.  Even Miss Matilda (cat) wanted in on the action.  (She's trying to figure out if Curious George is more curious than she is.)

I was the first one in our family to read the Harry Potter books.  I'd heard about them at writer's conferences and the buzz around the bookstore, but what got me curious was seeing 6th grade boys lugging those big, fat books around, shutting out the world, even sitting long in a cold car in the middle of a Minnesota winter to finish a chapter.  Hmm?  What kind of magic is this J.K. Rowling creating?

From the first chapter of the first book, I discovered it.  Rowling created a character that we care about.  We're rooting for him from the start, the boy who lived.  We feel the injustice of him locked in the cupboard under the stairs.  We're annoyed at his so-called family.  We can't wait to ride The Hogwarts Express with him to a new school and a chance to discover who he really is.

In the end, this is a book about friendship, self-discovery, and good triumphing over evil.  And, the magic that Ms. Rowling created is wonderful, clever, and engaging.  Before the first movie was made, kids were dressing up for Halloween as characters from her book!  We were waiting in line at midnight for the next release.  We sat together and read the book.  We've passed our copies from family member to family member until they're tattered and torn.  The first one is under my bed.  The second one lost it's middle and had to be discarded.  Dust jackets are long gone.  But, the stories live on.

Thank you, J.K. Rowling, for your marvelous imagination and the magic you created in readers.

Journaling Prompt:  What books or stories do you pass around the family?  Or, tell your Harry Potter stories.

Turkey Day is Coming!

I don't know about all of you, but I love, love, love Thanksgiving.  I love cooking dinner, I love having everyone around, I love just hanging out after dinner, and most of all I love the leftovers. Because my family are traditionalists when it comes to holiday meals I stick to a pretty basic turkey dinner.  We don't add new dishes very often sticking to the old standbys and favorites that everyone has.
This year we are going to my sister in law Cindy's house.  I am making a turkey to take to her house because she has a small army coming, and I am also making turkey, stuffing, and gravy for my house because I need leftovers.  I have already started planning some great leftover recipes that I plan on sharing with all of you starting next Friday, but if you have a tried and true turkey leftover recipe I would love to get it from you.  So send me your recipes at acooksquest@yahoo.com , tell me what you do with all those delicious leftovers and I will post them on the blog.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Fresh Cranberry & Apple Muffins with Almond Streusel Topping . . .

One weekday morning a few days ago, while in the kitchen assembling my kids' school lunches, my husband sat at the table munching his breakfast of oatmeal with a sprinkling of dried cranberries on top. He tries to be relatively careful about what he eats most of the time, and he picked up the cranberry package to read the nutritional info on the back. After a moment he remarked to me, "Where can we buy dried cranberries that don't include sugar?" To which I replied, "I'm not sure they exist. Plain raw cranberries are incredibly tart and they're pretty much unpalatable. I think they have to add sugar to dried cranberries or nobody would eat them." He muttered something then that sounded like, "Hmmm . . . damn."

Now, having had a little time to ponder, I figure I could be totally wrong about that. Maybe health food stores sell unsweetened dried cranberries? I don't know, but I should investigate further. Dietarily, I understand the hubby's interest in having no-sugar-added cranberries atop his healthy bowl of oatmeal.

As a baker, however, I don't feel the least bit handicapped by a need for fresh versus frozen versus dried cranberries--sweetened or not. Most recipes that call for cranberries are incredibly versatile; have you ever noticed this? Especially when we're talking about something as forgiving as a muffin recipe. You can almost always reliably use fresh, frozen, or dried berries and expect fine results.

These muffins were made with the first bag of fresh cranberries that I happened upon in the grocery store a couple of weeks ago. And, please don't tell this to the Cranberry Police, but I'm planning on hoarding several more bags before the season's through--gonna stick those guys in the freezer for future reference. They're not around for long, you know. But they freeze like champs. Just fling 'em in there, right in the bags they came in. Get 'em while they're around, bakers! Go ahead and hoard those babies. Just do it, and don't look back.

About this recipe . . . 

These muffins are made from a hybrid recipe I concocted after baking about a zillion different muffin recipes in the last few years from who-knows-how-many sources. I hope you like these as much as I do (and I like them a lot). Oh, and feel free to leave the apple out of these altogether if you prefer your cranberry muffins straight-up.

Cranberry & Apple Muffins with Almond Streusel
 (For a printable version of this recipe, click here!)

Ingredients for the muffin batter:
3/4 unsalted butter, at room temperature
2/3 cups granulated sugar
2/3 cups light brown sugar
3 large eggs, at room temperature
1 cup sour cream
1/2 cup buttermilk
1/4 cup orange juice
2 and 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
1/2 tsp. almond extract
3 and 1/2 cups All Purpose flour
1/2 cup almond meal (whole almonds ground finely, but not until they become paste-like!)
1and 1/4 tsp. kosher salt (or 1 tsp. regular salt)
4 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. baking soda
1 pinch each, ground cinnamon and nutmeg
1 and 1/2 cups fresh cranberries, chopped
1/2 cup apple pieces (peeled, cored, chopped small; I used a Jazz apple--sweet and crispy!)

Ingredients for the streusel: 
1/3 cup light brown sugar
1/3 granulated sugar
1/3 cup almond meal
1/4 cup sliced almonds
1/2 cup cold butter, cut into small chunks
1 pinch kosher salt (or regular salt)
1 tiny pinch cinnamon
1 tiny pinch nutmeg

To make the streusel (make it before doing the batter): 
In a medium size bowl, mix together all the streusel's dry ingredients. Then, using your fingers or a fork, lightly squish the butter into the dry ingredients; the streusel should be kind of lumpy looking. Set it aside.

Prepare your pan and preheat the oven:

Prepare 24 regular size muffin cups, or 12 - 14 jumbo muffin cups. If using paper liners, lightly spray them with vegetable spray; spray even the top area of the muffin pan between the cups. If not using liners, then spray the metal cups, along with the top of the pan, generously with vegetable spray.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

To make the muffin batter:

In the large bowl of your mixer, using the paddle attachment, beat the butter and sugars until fluffy. Blend in the room-temperature eggs, then blend in the sour cream, buttermilk, orange juice, and the extracts.

In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, almond meal, salt, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Add this into the liquid ingredients, beating on low speed just until combined.

Add in the cranberries and apple pieces (if you're using them), blending on low speed just until combined.


Using a portion (ice cream) scoop, equally divide the batter among the muffin cups. Top them evenly with all of the streusel.

Put the muffin pan(s) on top of a baking sheet to help prevent the bottoms from burning (I always do this with muffins--it's a lifesaver!). Bake the muffins until the tops are golden, they spring back when lightly pressed on top, and when a toothpick inserted deeply into the center comes out clean. Anywhere from 20 to 35 minutes depending on the size of your muffin cups. If they seem to be browning long before they're really done, be sure to cover them lightly with a sheet of foil.

Let the muffins cool for a few minutes while in the pan on a rack, then remove them to finish cooling on the rack.

(If you'd like to comment on this post, or to read any existing comments, please click on the purple COMMENTS below!)

Monday, November 15, 2010

Reader Recipe! #92 Bacon Wrapped Meatloaf

This meatloaf recipe was sent to me by my friend Randy.  I was told it is the best meatloaf ever!  I love a good meatloaf and the fact that this is basically encased with bacon and baked with a glorious glaze made it a winner before I had even tasted it!  I had to make a few adjustments simply because I didn't plan accordingly but the results were still wonderful.  I'm sure if you follow the recipe as Randy provided it, your results will be even better than mine!

If you have a recipe that you love, or that you think I would love please send it me.  I would love to give it a try and feature a delicious dish!
P.S. I apologize for the photos.  It gets dark so early now and it is hard to get nice photos with indoor lighting.

Bacon-Wrapped Meat Loaf
Recipe Source: Reader Recipe from my friend Randy

printable version

**Cook's Note-Randy tells me this recipe is good with all beef.  I increased the amount of meat using half ground pork(1 1/2 pounds) and half beef (1 1/2 pounds) in order to make a freezer meal.  I am sure any combination of proteins will work fine. To cut costs, I used half a package of bacon which was plenty for both my meat loafs.  I also had to use 1 cup of fresh bread crumbs because I forgot to buy saltines at the store.  Just increase your salt a little bit.  And last but not least I was out of parsley so that was omitted**

1/2 cup ketchup or chili sauce
4 tablespoons brown sugar
4 teaspoons cider or white vinegar

Meat Loaf:
2 teaspoons oil
1 medium onion -- chopped medium
2 garlic cloves -- minced
2 large eggs
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme leaves
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
1/4 teaspoon hot red pepper sauce
1/2 cup whole milk or plain yogurt
2 pounds Meat Loaf Mix Of Pork, Veal, Beef
1 cup Saltine Crackers -- Crushed
1/3 cup Minced Fresh Parsley Leaves
10 slices Bacon


For the glaze: Mix all ingredients in small saucepan; set aside.

For the meat loaf. Heat oven to 350 degrees F. Heat oil in medium skillet. Add onion and garlic; saute until softened, about 5 minutes. Set aside to cool while preparing remaining ingredients. Mix eggs with thyme, salt, pepper, mustard, Worcestershire sauce, pepper sauce, and milk or yogurt. Add egg mixture to meat in large bowl along with crackers, parsley, and cooked onion and garlic; mix with fork until evenly blended and meat mixture does not stick to bowl. (If mixture sticks, add additional milk or yogurt, a couple tablespoons at a time until mix no longer sticks.) Turn meat mixture onto work surface. With wet hands, pat mixture into approximately 9-by- 5-inch loaf shape. Place on foil-lined (for easy cleanup) shallow baking pan, or wrap tightly and place in the freezer, with sauce and bacon packaged on the side.
Brush with half the glaze, then arrange bacon slices, crosswise, over loaf, overlapping slightly and tucking only bacon tip ends under.

Bake loaf until bacon is crisp and loaf registers 160F degrees, about 1 hour. Cool at least 20 minutes. Simmer remaining glaze over medium heat until thickened slightly. Slice meat loaf and serve with extra glaze passed separately.

**The cook was able to get two large meatloaves from this recipe.  We served it with baked potatoes, and canned green beans, both of which have been on sale frequently lately.

Total Cost-$6.20 for two meatloaves (one went into the freezer)
Pork-$1.25 (manager markdown)
Beef-$2.98 ($1.99 per pound)
Salt and Pepper-$.01
Bread Crumbs-Free