Timing is everything, isn’t it? In film and TV, it’s what makes a scene funny, scary or romantic. I guess you can say it also applies to real life, but the timing is rarely perfect. I set out to make this meatloaf on a cloudy Wednesday to get over the hump day blues. But about 15 minutes before the meatloaf was done, the power went out on my block. I was very much annoyed because not only was I borderline hangry (anger caused by hunger), there was a power outage the Sunday before. They’re usually very good about restoring power where I live because I live on a busy street in my town so I figured that I would wait until the power came back on. My resolve lasted about an hour and a half until I gave up and decided to order Papa John’s. It took another 50 minutes for the pizza to arrive and when I brought the pizza in, my cousin said, “Wouldn’t it be really funny if the lights came on right now?” and just like a sitcom, the lights came back on.
Honestly, I was too hangry to find humor in the situation at the time but now that I look back on it, I can see that the timing was spot on. I reheated the meatloaf the next day, and as usual it was delicious. It is one of my favorite weekday meals to put together. Even better because it’s wrapped with bacon, and it is never dry. The original recipe states to use three kinds of meat but I simplify it and use just beef and pork which is just easier since they usually sell meat by the pound. I would say that the only downside to this recipe in comparison to others is that you have to cook the garlic and onion in a separate pan, which disqualifies it as a one-bowl recipe.
Remember to line the sheet pan with aluminum foil to make clean up easier. Also, don’t forget to line the cooling rack with aluminum foil and poke holes in it for the fat to drain, because we don’t like greasy meatloaves, no sir.
Bacon Wrapped Meatloaf with Brown Sugar Ketchup Glaze
For the Brown Sugar Ketchup Glaze
½ c. ketchup
4 tbsp. brown sugar
4 tsp. cider or white vinegar
- In a medium bowl, stir ketchup, brown sugar and vinegar together until the sugar dissolves. Set aside.
For the Meat Loaf
2 tsp. vegetable oil
1 medium onion, chopped fine
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 large eggs
1 tsp. dried thyme
1 tsp. salt
½ tsp. ground black paper
2 tsp. Dijon mustard
2 tsp. Worchestershire sauce
¼ tsp. hot red pepper sauce
½ c. milk, buttermilk or low-fat plain yogurt
1 lb. ground pork
1 lb. ground beef
⅔ c. crushed saltine crackers (about 16) or quick oatmeal or 1⅓ c. fresh bread crumbs
⅓ c. minced parsley
8 oz. thin-sliced bacon
- Line a sheet pan with aluminum foil, shiny side down.
- Line a metal cooling rack with aluminum foil (shiny side down), poking holes with a chopstick where the meatloaf will be, a little larger than a 9 x 5 inch rectangle (to drain the fat).
- Preheat oven to 350˚F.
- In a medium skillet, heat oil on medium heat. Add onion and garlic and cook until onion is softened and translucent.
- In a large bowl, whisk eggs, thyme, salt, pepper, mustard, worchestershire sauce, hot sauce, and milk (or yogurt) together.
- Add in the pork, beef, crackers (or oatmeal or breadcrumbs), parsley and the cooked onion and garlic.
- Using your hands, mix everything together until it just comes together. Do not squish the meat between your fingers, use light hands.
- Shape the meat into a 9 x 5 inch rectangle on top of the cooling rack where the holes are.
- Using a silicone basting brush, brush the loaf liberally with the ketchup glaze.
- Cover the loaf with the strips of bacon, tucking the ends under the loaf and slightly overlapping.
- Bake loaf until the center of the loaf registers 160°F, about an hour. About five minutes before the loaf is done, brush the entire loaf with the remaining ketchup glaze.
- Once out of the oven, let the loaf rest for about 20 minutes before slicing and serving.
Recipe adapted from Cook’s Illustrated.
It’s officially fall. Only it’s too cold for fall. Last night it was 35 degrees outside and this morning there was a chance of snow for a couple of hours. As much as I love having four seasons, I feel like fall in New Jersey only lasts a few weeks. Whenever I’m on Pinterest or on Instagram I see posts of girls in short sweater dresses with ankle boots without tights or thick coats, I ask myself, “Just where do these girls live? And how can I get myself there?”
Although it may not feel so much like fall, we can certainly eat like it is. The color orange seems to be the theme of fall food. Pumpkin, butternut squash, sweet potatoes, acorn squash… all of these have orange flesh that not only taste great but are healthy too. If you’ve never tried Kabocha squash, it also has an orange flesh but is sweeter than a butternut squash. Mix that with the salty bacon and the delicate fruitiness of the Enoki mushroom, you have a winner. I added a dash of Unagi sauce on one of them and it was the perfect touch.
It is incredibly easy to put together and you don’t even have to put in the Kabocha squash or the Unagi sauce. It can be as easy as wrapping the mushroom with the bacon and you’ll still have a crowd-pleasing appetizer that can be made on the fly.
I probably won’t be able to write another post before Thanksgiving. So, I hope you have the happiest of Thanksgivings with your loved ones this Thursday and I’m so thankful for all of you reading this. ❤
Bacon Wrapped Enoki Mushrooms and Kabocha Squash
1 – 4 oz. package of Enoki mushrooms, split into 8 bundles
4 slices of bacon, halved vertically
8 slivers of Kabocha squash, raw
salt and pepper to taste
parsley, minced, for garnish
Unagi (eel) sauce, optional
- Preheat oven to 375˚F and line a baking sheet with aluminum foil, shiny side down.
- Top a bundle of mushrooms with slice of squash and very lightly sprinkle salt on top of the squash.
- Wrap the vegetable bundle with a slice of bacon and secure with toothpick. Repeat for the rest of the bundles.
- Season the bundles with pepper and roast the bundles for 15-20 minutes, until the bacon is browned and crisp.
- Drain bundles on paper towels and if using the unagi sauce, lightly drizzle sauce before serving.
- Garnish with minced parsley.
I have this silly mentality that as long a dish has dark leafy greens, it is somewhat healthy. Peas, carrots, celery… those don’t fool me, but add kale, spinach, or broccoli to the mix and I’ll think that it’s nutritious. So if you follow my train of thought, you can understand why I would proclaim that this pasta is nutritious and healthy.
It’s really not though, I should know. It’s rich without feeling heavy and gloriously creamy without being greasy. In fact, it tastes so decadent that people were surprised I only used 4 tablespoons of butter for an entire pound of pasta.
It starts with a pound of good Italian sausage, and when the sausage is cooked and the delicious brown bits are formed, you add your veggies.
Then you start your béchamel sauce which is the key to having a pasta taste so creamy and finally, you add your freshly grated cheddar. No, not the shredded bagged stuff, the seriously sharp, good stuff you get by the block. The dish comes together relatively quickly and the sauce requires only one pot. Oh, and the flavor? Explosive! 😉
Sausage and Spinach Pasta
1 lb. sweet Italian sausage
1 lb. dried pasta (I used thin spaghetti)
½ lb. baby spinach
5 cloves of garlic, minced
1 large onion, diced
½ tsp. red pepper flakes
4 tbsp. unsalted butter
⅓ c. all-purpose flour
1 ½ c. whole milk
1 ½ c. chicken stock
6 oz. aged white cheddar, grated
salt and pepper to taste
- Bring a large pot of salted water to boil while you prepare the sauce.
- In a large, heavy bottomed pot cook the Italian sausage until cooked through and brown bits have formed on the bottom of the pan.
- Add the onion and cook until softened, then add the spinach, garlic and red pepper flakes until the spinach wilts and releases liquid. Continuously scrape the bottom of the pot to remove the brown bits.
- Add the butter and once it melts, stir in the flour and cook until the mixture becomes pasty and smells slightly nutty.
- Slowly add in the chicken stock while stirring the mixture to avoid any lumps.
- Then, slowly add in the whole milk while stirring the mixture to avoid any lumps.
- Add the grated cheddar in small increments until completely incorporated.
- Simmer sauce while boil the pasta.
- Once the pasta is cooked and drained, add salt and pepper to the sauce to taste.
- Add the pasta to the sauce and stir until sauce is evenly distributed throughout the pasta.