Category Archives: Main Dishes

Mom’s Meatloaf

BY VALERIE BELDEN WILDER
Columbia County, New York  I  Thursday, 28 May 2020

MOM’S MEATLOAF
ground beef, 1 pound
ground turkey, 1 pound
egg, 1 large
ketchup, several squirts
grape jelly, several spoonfuls
Dijon mustard, several squirts
bread crumbs, 1/2 cup
Lipton onion soup mix, 1 packet, dry

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a large mixing bowl, whisk the egg, ketchup, grape jelly, and mustard. Stir in some bread crumbs and the packet of onion soup mix.

Add ground beef and ground turkey, mixing well to incorporate everything into the meat. Pack the mixture down into a loaf pan.

Make a glaze of equal parts ketchup and grape jelly mixed together, and spread HALF of it over the meatloaf.

Bake about 45 minutes, then take out of oven and carefully pour off fat. Glaze with remaining ketchup and grape jelly mixture, and return to oven for 15 minutes.

Baking time total is about 1 hour, until internal temperature of meatloaf is 160 degrees.

After baking, pour off fat again. Rest 10 minutes and cut into thick slices. Enjoy!

Helpful Hints
For this recipe, I like to buy my meat in 1-pound chubs. If you can’t find them in the frozen meat section of your grocery store, try checking the refrigerated meat section, as well.

Of course, you can use meat packaged in Styrofoam trays. I just find the chubs more convenient. Any combination of ground beef, ground turkey, or even ground sausage will work.

I like to save a clean, empty can to pour fat into. Once it’s solidified, I just throw the can away. Do not pour fat down your kitchen sink!

Recipe Source
This is not my mom’s recipe. I’m the mom here. Ha! This recipe is a combination of bits and pieces I’ve picked up along the way, throwing together a bunch of ideas from different sources.

Notes
You might notice I’ve left some of the potato peels on my mashed potatoes, about half of them. They’re more nutritious this way.

Pictured are some canned cut green beans. Try them with a little Lawry’s Lemon Pepper sprinkled on top. I think you’ll like it! Lawry’s Lemon Pepper also tastes great on chicken, fish, baked potatoes, and lots of things!

I also like Redmond Real Salt. It has a slightly sweet taste, and is the only pink sea salt mined in America.

 

We Love Chicken Elbows!

BY VALERIE BELDEN WILDER
Columbia County, New York  I  Friday, 27 March 2020

This is a really simple recipe which Thing 2 and I enjoy all the time. We never seem to get tired of it!

It’s also really inexpensive, and easy to have the two ingredients on hand in your pantry. Where I shop, I get a box of Barilla pasta elbows for $1.60, and a two-pack of canned chicken for $3.50. This is enough ingredients to make the recipe two times, so a single recipe ends up costing only $2.55.

This isn’t going to feed a large family, or a bunch of hearty eaters. But for Thing 2 and me, it’s a perfect dinner, and we eat it often. It’s our comfort food.

I like it when someone asks what I had for dinner and I can say “Chicken Elbows”. It catches people off guard, and gets some weird looks and chuckles. I enjoy that.

CHICKEN ELBOWS
3 cups water
1 can white chicken (10 ounces)
1/2 box pasta elbows (8 ounces)

In a large saucepan, pour three cups of water and one can of chicken, including the broth. Bring to a boil.

Reduce heat to low, and add half a box of pasta elbows. Simmer over low heat, stirring occasionally, until pasta is tender. Most of the liquid will be absorbed, so this doesn’t end up looking like a soup, it’s more like a pasta dish.

Dish up into two or three bowls. Add a pat of butter, stir, then a sprinkle of salt. Enjoy!

P.S. I don’t usually put paprika on top, but I did for the sake of the photo, just to add a bit of color.

 

Tina’s Summer Spaghetti Sauce

BY VALERIE BELDEN WILDER  I  West Valley City, Utah  I  Thursday, 25 August 2016

 

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My friend from church, Tina, she invites us over for Sunday dinner a lot. She’s a single mother too, and my Thing 2 and her son are fast friends and they terrorize her basement, their computer games, and Legos, quite happily and noisily. Which is fine by me, because…

Safely upstairs, and away from all their…energy, I can admire Tina’s pale yellow living room, with its French furniture and interesting collection of paintings and coffee-table books.

Back in February or March, Tina inherited a goldeny-yellow sofa from her grandmother, which is large and well-worn and comfy, with a trim of ornately carved dark-brown wood, the perfect place to sit and chat in her sunny, west-facing front room, yellow roses peeking up through the bay window.

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She also has an antique floor lamp which she got from her mother and I’ve been ogling it. When I was in New York this past summer, my sister Cheri and I found two old stick lamps on the second floor of the big red barn, way in back, and we plan to refurbish them. A new coat of gold paint, slightly distressed, and new cords, with the right shades and light bulbs, and they’ll be a smashing success, I’m sure.

So Tina and I, sometimes we chat, and sometimes we cook, in her blue, eastern-facing kitchen with the view of the mountains. The one with all the Campbell’s soup collectibles and vintage-looking food tins on top of the cabinets.

She has a garden on the south side of her house with lots of tomatoes, and last summer she introduced me to this no-cook spaghetti sauce. I love it!

In the summer, you still need to eat, right? But often our homes are too hot and we’re tempted to eat out in order to avoid heating up the kitchen. So suddenly, all that slowly simmering, hot and heavy meatbally spaghetti sauce doesn’t sound good, because it’s sweltering outside. (And yes, meatbally IS a word. Because I said so!)

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Try this recipe when there’s an abundance of fresh garden tomatoes available. If you don’t have your own garden, you could go to a farmers’ market to get some good ones, right? Or, I’m sure a friend with a garden would be happy to pawn off some tomatoes. (Oh, and zucchini. Make sure to lock the car doors while you’re attending church. Yup, zucchini.)

So, here’s the recipe. We had it again last Sunday night. It was delicious and tasted just right for dinner in August…

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TINA’S SUMMER SPAGHETTI SAUCE

4-6 ripe tomatoes (the size of your typical grocery-store vine-ripened tomato)
2 loose handfuls of kale, arugula, or other greens
1/4 to 1/2 red onion, shaved as thinly as you can get it
1 pound spaghetti or linguine
Extra-virgin olive oil, to taste
Red wine vinegar, to taste
Salt and pepper, to taste
Parmigiano cheese, to taste

Boil salted water and cook pasta to al dente.

While it’s cooking, cut half the tomatoes into large chunks and half into smaller pieces, and put them into the bottom of a large salad bowl. (Make it a pretty one if you can!) Sprinkle with salt and pepper and a add few blurps of olive oil, with a splash of red wine vinegar. On top of the tomatoes, layer the greens and then the onion. Try to keep the onions thinly spread, in one layer, if possible.

Drain the pasta and dump it into the salad bowl, on top of the vegetable layers, and let it sit for five minutes. (Do not stir it yet.) The heat of the pasta will wilt the greens and slightly cook the tomatoes and onions. While you’re waiting, you can sprinkle or shred Parmigiano cheese on top, if desired. (Or you can just put a bowl or shaker of it on the table, so people can help themselves.)

Stir the entire mixture and serve immediately. Put that pretty bowl right on the table!

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[NOTE]
Original source of recipe:
Francis Lam of Salon.com
http://www.salon.com/2010/07/31/summer_tomato_pasta/

 

Pix of Double-Decker Taco Bar

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Here’s a selection of taco toppings in my Tupperware Serving Center. Be mindful of colors as you’re filling the compartments. For example, you wouldn’t want to put the green shredded lettuce right next to the green limes. The red salsa works best in the center bowl, as a beautiful, quintessentially Mexican focal point.

Pretty sure I should have switched positions of the olives and limes, but that’s just my OCD kicking in. Or, a nicer way of saying it is Attention To Detail. Remember that phrase, it will get you a job someplace fat and green. Sigh…

 

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Keep your nacho cheese topping (queso) and refried beans warm over a double boiler on the stove. If you don’t have a traditional double-boiler (and who DOES? not me!) then just use stainless-steel bowls over your pans.

Get the water rapidly boiling, then place the filled bowls on top of pans, making sure the water doesn’t touch the bottom of bowls. At this point, you can turn the heat way down and still maintain the boiling water’s temperature. If you have fondue pots, you could use them, as well.

 

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Tacos are cheap and filling. We had them many times when I was growing up in New York.

 

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I splurged one year and got this gorgeous pitcher at Pier 1. The glasses were also purchased there, many years before, for a Mexican dinner I was making for a date. (Don’t ask!)

This thick Mexican glass really helps to keep drinks super cold, plus it’s sooo pretty to look at. I have a thing for cobalt blue glass, can you tell? Put plenty of sliced lemons and limes in the pitcher and in the glasses, as well.

I got the copper bar spoon at Sur la Table, a kitchen store near my work. I love it sooo much, how did I ever live without it? Look at that twisty, pretty handle. Sigh…

 

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To keep your drinks extra frosty, chill the glasses first, in either the freezer or fridge, before filling with lemonade. You could put some ice cubes in them first, then when guests arrive, you’re red-to-go!

If you’re making the taco bar into a party with friends, make sure right off, when people arrive, to serve them a drink and appetizer, like chips and salsa (think Chili’s To Go.) Nervous people feel better with a drink in hand, and the chips help keep the grumblies away while last-minute preparations are being made in the kitchen.

If you’re serving my Homemade Guacamole as well, make sure you purchase sturdy tortilla chips, like Santitas. Chili’s chips, which are AMAZING and available by the bag to go, are pretty thin and won’t hold up to dipping in the guacamole without breaking. They work well with salsa, though. Pretty sure their chips and salsa helped me make it through college…

 

You should have KNOWN I would fall asleep before posting pix! I worked until 5:30 pm yesterday, Cinco de Mayo, then came home and made the taco bar.

The kids absolutely LOVED it, but it was very late when we got done eating. We listened to Gloria Estefan and Jon Secada sing in English and Spanish (Please! No mariachi music for us!) and chowed down, then all crashed into bed. Hope the pix were worth the wait.

Tomorrow is my day off, I plan to plate more tacos and shoot some pix. Check back tomorrow night!

Double-Decker Taco Bar

You know how whenever you crunch into a hard-shell taco it breaks and sends the filling into your lap? Gah! Double-Decker Tacos are the delicious and easy solution to the problem. I got this idea from Taco Bell, I admit it, and modified it for my own use.
Buy both flour tortillas and yellow corn taco hard shells.

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