Monday, May 11, 2009

The Importance of Being Fresh

I have eaten and made a lot of meatballs and meatloaf and up until recently have used dry bread crumbs almost exclusively. But, America's Test Kitchen recommends fresh bread crumbs for these items. Hey, I thought, let's give it a whirl. Wow! What a difference! Both turned out moist and tender and delicious. They're okay with the dry, but fresh is really better. Here are my favorite recipes for meatballs and meatloaf.


2 slices white sandwich bread
1/3 c. buttermilk
1 lb ground beef (or 3/4 lb beef and 1/4 lb pork)
1/4 c. grated Parmesan cheese
2 Tbsp. minced fresh parsley (2 tsp. dried)
1 large egg yolk
1 garlic clove minced
3/4 tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. pepper

1. Remove and discard crusts from the bread, then tear the bread into small pieces. Mash the bread pieces and buttermilk into a smooth paste in a large bowl with a fork.

2. Add the beef, Parmesan, parsley, egg yolk, garlic, salt and pepper to the mashed bread. Stir the mixture gently until combined a uniform. Gently form the mixture into 1 1/2 inch round meatballs (about 14).

3. You can cook these in a skillet, but they always turn out pyramidal and require a lot of tending. I usually cook them in the oven. Heat the oven to 450 degrees. Spread the meatballs on a rimmed baking sheet and bake until cooked through, about 10 minutes. Enjoy!

I also like these with Montreal Steak seasoning. I leave out the Parmesan, salt, pepper, and garlic and add 1 Tbsp. of the steak seasoning.


1/2 c. ketchup
2 Tbsp. Dijon or spicy mustard (use a kind you like)
1 egg
1/4 c. milk
2/3 c. fresh bread crumbs (Pulse chunks of bread in the food processor or do as for meatballs.)
1 Tbsp Montreal Steak seasoning
(Or for Italian flavor--1 tsp. Italian seasoning, 1tsp. oregano, 1/4 c. Parmesan cheese, 1 minced
garlic clove, onions to taste--1/4 c. finely minced does it for me)
2 tsp. parsley flakes (or 2 Tbsp. fresh)
1 lb. ground beef

1. Mix together the ketchup and mustard. Set aside 2 1/2 Tbsp. of the mix. Add the other ingredients and gently mix well.
2. On a rimmed baking sheet, form into four football shaped loaves. Top each loaf with the reserved ketchup and mustard mix. Bake at 425 degrees for 25 minutes.

I usually make this into as many loaves as we need. Two big ones for Mom and Dad and 3 or 4 smaller ones for the kids. This worked great until Maggie turned into a carnivore and started eating adult sized portions of meat and Katrina started to eat real food. We've had to move up to 1 1/2 lbs to feed everyone, so that makes bigger loaves or more of them. The kids love getting their own meatloaf and it's on the table way faster than traditional meatloaf.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Stuffed Peppers

This one is a bit time consuming but oh-so-good I couldn't resist adding it. Last time I made it I put together the inside in the afternoon during Anna's nap and then just stuffed and baked at dinner time. It's from the wonderful Costco cookbook.

1/4 cup each white, brown and wild rice - I usually buy those box mixes of white and wild rice with the spices, cook it and mix in 1/2 to a cup of that with the brown rice
6 medium bell peppers, any color but the red ones are good because they are so sweet
1 lb sausage
1 small onion, chopped
4 crushed garlic cloves
1/2 lb fresh small mushrooms, sliced
1/3 cup chopped fresh parsley
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp dried basil
2 eggs, beaten
olive oil

Prepare rices and set aside. Preheat oven to 350. Wash and clean bell peppers. Slice off the tops (about 1/2 in) and clean insides thoroughly. If they don't stand up on their own, cut a tiny bit off the bottom for a base. Cook sausage in a large frying pan. Transfer to a bowl and set aside. Pour off most of the grease but leave some in the pan. Saute onion, garlic, mushrooms and parsley in the pan until soft. Add walnuts and saute 2 minutes. Add back sausage to vegetable mixture and add cheese, rices, spices and eggs. Combine well. Rub the exterior of the peppers with olive oil and stuff with the sausage mixture. Place in a baking pan, cover loosely with foil and bake 1-1 1/2 hours.

If your kids aren't into the peppers, you could probably just mix in diced peppers and bake the innards in a pan. I don't think it would take the full hour but don't know how long it would take so let me know if you do it this way.