Friday, September 28, 2007

Eat For A Week, Episode 6: Meat Loaf

I came up with this recipe one night when I just had a craving for meat loaf but didn't know really what went into one other than meat. I went to the store, got some stuff that I thought made sense, and I've been pretty happy with the product. I especially like making this because it doesn't require much attention once it goes into the oven, which means I can easily get other things done while it cooks.

My bill for this one was about $16.50. I had to buy meat, cheese, and eggs,


3 lbs ground beef
4 slices bread
2 eggs
1/4-1/3lbs cheese cut into about 1/2" pieces (I used sharp cheddar)
1/2 tsp garlic salt
1/2 tsp onion salt
1/2 tsp celery salt
1/2 tsp dry ground mustard
2-3 Tbsp parsley flakes
1-2 Tbsp black pepper
1/3 Cup catsup (or ketchup, whatever.)
6-7 pieces of bacon *


large mixing bowl
8x12" baking dish
2 cookie cooling racks (optional)
food processor-type gadget (optional)


First, turn the oven on to 375°. Next grind up the bread into crumbs and place in the bowl. (If you don't have a food processor or the like, just chop it up into about 1/2" or smaller bits.) Add the seasonings and parsley flakes and mix well. Next, add the beef, eggs and catsup and mix until all ingredients are evenly combined. Add the cheese and mix gently until even distributed. Form mixture into a log.

Place the cooling racks into the baking dish. They probably won't fit flat, that's fine. Just let them sit at an angle. Place the meat loaf on the racks, then wrap the loaf with the bacon.

Place on the top rack in the oven. Check after 45 minutes by cutting into the loaf to see if the meat is still red. (I don't mind my beef a little rare, but not for something that'll be in the fridge for a whole week, so I like to be sure this gets cooked thoroughly.) If still pretty rare, stick it back in the oven for about 30 more minutes and check it again. I cooked it an extra 15 minutes, which was probably too much. If I'd just let it rest after the second check it probably would have finished cooking from residual heat just fine. As it was, my meat loaf was a little dry this time.

If your budget allows, some instant mashed potatoes go really nicely with this. Just follow the directions on the packaging. I like to use garlic salt instead of regular salt for some extra flavor.


Of course, you could always heat it back up with some more instant taters. I also like to make meat loaf sandwiches.

Music for this episode was Exploration No. 4 by The Hybiscus Journals.

* Optional. If you choose to do this, you might want to lower the amounts of the various salts a bit.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Eat For A Week, Episode 5: Veggie & Sausage Stoup

I needed to find a way to use up the other half of that 10lb bag of taters. My initial thought was to attempt some sort of potato soup, but I kind of strayed from that. What resulted was more of a veggie & sausage stoup. Yes, I stole the word from Rachael Ray, but it fits. It's somewhere between a stew and a soup, so... stoup!

My bill for this one was just under $19. I had to buy veggies (zucchini, celery, corn, garlic, mushrooms & onions), half-and-half, and bacon. I already had an extra package of sausage in the freezer from the potato salad since it had been on sale when I went shopping for that, but I've gone ahead and figured it into my cost for this dish (about $3). So yeah... I actually only spent something like $16 on this trip to the store.


russet potatoes ~ 5 lbs
1 bunch of celery
4 ears of corn
3 zucchini
6 mushrooms *
2 medium yellow onions
7 cloves of garlic
6 slices thick-cut bacon
1 package sweet Italian sausage **
2 bay leaves
2 Tbsps dry parsley
1 Tbsp dry thyme
2-3 Tbsps worchestershire sauce
3 dashes allspice
1 pint half-and-half
3 Tbsps flour


1 huge pot


Clean all the veggies and chop them (except for the corn) and the bacon into about 1" pieces. Cut the corn off the cob and save the cobs.

Heat large pot over medium heat. When hot, add the bacon. No need for any oil this time. If necessary, adjust heat to avoid burning. When crisp, remove the bacon to a paper towel lined plate to drain. Next, add the sausage and cook until done. (It's not vital to cook the sausage through at this point as they'll have a chance to finish cooking later, so you can cut some time here if you want.) When cooked, remove sausage.

Add potatoes, zucchini, celery, mushrooms and corn (don't forget the cobs!) to the pot, seasoning well with salt and pepper. Add water to cover. Add parsley, thyme, bay leaves, allspice and worchestershire sauce. Return bacon to the pot. When sausage has cooled enough to handle, chop into about 1" pieces and add back to the pot. Turn temperature to high and allow to come to a rolling boil. Once boiling, reduce heat to medium-low and allow to cook stirring occasionally until the potatoes are tender (30-45 minutes).

If necessary, skim fat from top of pot periodically. ***

Once potatoes are tender, remove corn cobs and add the half-&-half. Mix well. Remove into a bowl 2-4 cups of the broth. Whisk in flour until no lumps remain, return to the pot and mix well. Let cook 10-15 minutes to get rid of any raw flour flavour. Taste and adjust salt/pepper if needed.

If your budget allows, a tube of ready-to-bake biscuits will go really nicely with this. Just follow the directions on the tube. (I did this part while waiting for the flour to cook out.)

Download "Learning Curve" by The Hybiscus Journals.

* When cleaning mushrooms, just wipe them gently with a damp paper towel rather than running them under water to keep them from getting soggy.
** Sausage blah blah careful of MSG blah blah blah or use turkey/chicken sausage. You could probably leave the sausage and bacon out and still have a pretty tasty dish, though you'll probably want to put a couple Tbsps of olive oil in the pot before adding the veggies.
*** Don't dump the fat down the drain, as that can cause nasty clogs and whatnot. I keep a jar on the stove for fat collecting purposes. When it gets full, it goes out with the trash.

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Eat For A Week, Episode 4: Hearty Potato Salad

I'm on an insanely tight budget this week, so I thought I'd go with a hearty potato salad. My grocery bill for this one? Just over $8.00. (I bought potatoes, sausages, and onions.)


5 lbs russet potatoes, washed *
4-5 sweet Italian sausages **
2 chicken thighs ***
2 onions, chopped
4 cloves garlic, chopped
salt (about 4 Tbsp)
1-2 Cups Miracle Whip ****
1/2 Cup Yellow Mustard
2 Tbsp Hot Dijon Mustard (optional)


1 huge pot
1 skillet


Place washed potatoes in large pot. (I leave the skins on.) Cover with water, and add a couple hand-fulls of salt. Place over high heat and let come to a boil. You'll know they're done when a sharp knife pierces them easily. Remove from water and set aside to cool until you can handle them.

I do this next part while the potatoes are boiling. Prick sausage casings with a fork, then cook in skillet over medium-low to medium heat until cooked through. There's no need to add any oil, they'll provide their own fat. When sausages are done, remove from the pan and allow to cool. Add onions and garlic (salt and pepper to taste). After the onions and garlic have become translucent, salt and pepper the chicken and add it to the skillet. When chicken is fully cooked, remove it from the skillet and allow to cool.

Once all ingredients have cooled, chop the potatoes and sausages into 1-2" pieces and place in a large bowl. (Don't worry about cutting the taters too small as they'll break down a bit as you mix things up.) Shred the chicken and add it to the bowl as well. If you didn't get distracted and burn the onions and garlic, go ahead and throw them in too. Add mustard(s) and about a cup of the Miracle Whip and mix well. If it looks too dry, add more Miracle Whip until it reaches desired consistency. Taste for seasoning, add salt and pepper if needed.

This recipe tastes fine at room temperature, but it only gets better as it sits in the fridge and the flavours develop.

Music for this episode is the track "Indigo" from The Hybiscus Journals' second record, "Chakra Pop".

* It may be cheaper to buy pre-bagged potatoes. For example, I could have purchased 5 lbs of loose taters for about $4, but was able to get a 10 lb bag for the same price.
** If you're sensitive to MSG, be sure to read the label on the sausage you purchase. Many processed meat products - like sausage - often have MSG added as both a preservative and a flavoring. Also, if you prefer a spicy sausage, that's fine, go wild. Also, also, you could use turkey or chicken sausage if you don't do pork.
*** I usually make this with boneless chicken breasts, but I had the thighs that needed to be cooked, so that's what I used. I also don't typically use sausage, but it was on sale and sounded like a good idea.
**** I use Miracle Whip because I prefer it to mayonaise. If you prefer mayo, feel free to use that.