Sunday, June 19, 2011

What's Cookin for the Weekend?

After I've created a big meal, I've gotten into the habit of emailing my guests the recipes as they usually ask for them and, unlike many people that love to cook, I love when my guests discover how basic and easy it is to make these meals so that they can enjoy them again and again.

There were some tweaks made to the menu that I discussed in my last entry. Last night's dinner consisted of:

  • cheddar meatloaf
  • veggie mac n cheese crumble
  • fresh corn
  • peanut butter cheesecake with chocolate drizzle
I joked that the menu, which was originally going to be Italian, was more American than apple pie...and then remembered that it's much more American than apple pie.

I hadn't made the versions of any of these recipes before last night; as in, I've made meatloaf, cheesecake, and mac n cheese before but not these recipes. I drew inspiration from the latter two while looking up recipes online but generally, I made them up as I'm wont to do. (I'm a big fan of the go big or go home mentality when it comes to cooking.) With the former, I used my friend Ray's recipe but as I cannot be trusted, I made some moderations- I just can't help myself. As for the corn, Boyfriend made that and he'll guest blog in this further into the entry.

Cheddar Meatloaf

Cheddar Meatloaf, Crumbly Mac n Cheese, and fresh corn 

Ray emailed me this recipe when I asked him for recipes for my newly bought slow cooker about a year ago. I was worried to try out this crazy technology again after using it one time with it ending in utter disaster. But it was worth the wait, even just for the smell. This was beyond yummy.

I made a few tweaks and those will be in parentheses so you'll have some options.

1 1/2 lbs ground beef
2 cups soft bread crumbs (Italian breadcrumbs)
1 cup ketchup
1/2 cup yellow onion, sliced or 1 teaspoon onion powder
2 eggs, beaten
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
(1 tablespoon parsley)
8 slices cheddar or American cheese, each cut into 2 strips
2 tablespoons tomato paste (or half the can instead)
(4 sices of turkey bacon cut in half width-wise)
(extra breadcrumbs)
(about 5 fresh button mushrooms)

(Crisp the turkey bacon.) In a large mixing bowl, combine all ingredients except the cheese, (bacon), and tomato paste.  Shape half the meat mixture into a loaf.  Arrange 4 cheese strips on top of the meat, then 4 half-strips of bacon, and cover the bacon with 4 more cheese strips. Cover the cheese with the remaining meat mixture, pressing the edges together to seal.

Place the filled meatloaf in the crock pot and cover with the tomato paste.  Top the tomato paste with the remaining bacon and then the remaining cheese slices.  Cover and let cook for 3-4 hours on high or 6-8 hours on low.

(Take a moment to admire the glorious melted cheese forming a lake around the perfectly tender piece of meat. Nibble. Swoon.)

(Take out the glass part of the slow cooker, sprinkle breadcrumbs on top, then put under the broiler for 8-10 minutes or until the top is golden brown.)

Veggie Mac N Cheese Crumble

Besides the tomatoes, you can substitute with almost any veggies you like or crave.

Your own recipe for macaroni and cheese (you can even use the blue box if you're so inclined)
2 freshly diced tomatoes OR 1 can (14.5 oz) diced tomatoes, drained
broccoli, as much to your liking
mushrooms, sliced, to your liking
1 cup Italian breadcrumbs
2.5 tablespoons butter, melted
1/4 Italian dressing (sounds weird, right? Trust me. And next time I'm experimenting with a creamy dressing).

Make your mac n cheese, stovetop, the way you would normally. If using a premade package, follow the directions exactly.  Add in all of your veggies except for the tomatoes.

Spray a deep-dish pan and spoon it all in. Level it off.

Mix the tomatoes with the dressing. Spoon it as a layer on top.

Mix melted butter with the breadcrumbs until crumbly. Sprinkle on top. 

Bake for about 15 minutes on 375 degrees.

This was so good that I had it for breakfast before church. Yeah. BREAKFAST.

Fresh Corn

Guest blog written by Boyfriend! Yay!

Yummy yummy yummy. I used white corn, but yellow would work just as fine. Leave them in the husk, rinse well, and crank up the oven to 350. Dunk the corn in water and let them soak a bit. When the oven is done preheating, shake out the excess H2O, tear off any excess leaves and such (as they will scorch), and toss the ears into the oven for half an hour. The steam will cook the corn without drying it out, and when you remove them from the oven be careful because they are gonna be hot. Peel back he husk and clean the corn silk off, then shove em in your face. 

Be sure to make a lot, because everyone's gonna want seconds.

Chocolate Peanut Butter Cheesecake

pie crust (see below)
1 square Bakers semi-sweet chocolate
1/3 cup sugar
1/4 cup peanut butter (I used crunchy but I think it would have been better with creamy)
1 egg
8 oz. cream cheese

Make whatever pie crust you'd like. I was originally going to make an oreo pie crust of just crushed oreos and butter but decided it'd be too much chocolate after such a heavy meal so I went with a more traditional crust. It's your choice.

Using a hand mixer, beat the peanut butter, cream cheese, and sugar until it's well blended. Then add in the egg and blend it in. Spoon mixture into pie crust. Bake for 20 minutes.

Cool the pie. Melt a square of the chocolate in the microwave in 30 second intervals until completely melted. Drizzle over the pie in any pattern you'd like. 

Bon appetit! Our dinner definitely had some extra ambiance thanks to Boyfriend surprising me with these gorgeous flowers. Awww.