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Well, it has taken me much longer to get this recipe posted than I anticipated.

You see, I was in the land of Packers, cheese curd, and beer. Yes, fabulous Wisconsin.

Neenah, to be exact.

And, as you can imagine, it was as magical as one might imagine.

While Neenah leaves quite a bit to be desired in terms of dining and entertainment, it was great to see and spend time with all of my co-workers. I really work with some pretty fun and amazing people.

So, I find myself feeling rather grateful this blessedly warm Friday morning.

I thought we should discuss meat today.

Meatloaf, to be exact.

Mom, if you are reading this, please don’t be offended. But, growing up I hated meatloaf. My mom’s version included cooked green peppers. Bleck! I would try to drown the loaf in ketchup to choke it down.

It wasn’t until much, much later in life that I felt brave enough to try the loaf o’ meat again.

And there is one recipe that I find myself going back to again and again. This is based on a Rachael Ray recipe from a show year’s ago.

On a side note: Rachael Ray is pretty darn annoying. However, I owe her a lot of credit in sparking my adult interest to get excited by cooking. So, thanks Rach! EVOO! YUM-O!

So, this meatloaf is actually a recipe for individual meatloaves that are cooked in a skillet instead of baked in the oven.

Here is what you’ll need for the meatloaf:

1 lb. of ground beef (I use 85/15 or fattier- that ratio means, 85% lean meat/15% fat and you don’t want to go much more lean than that

1 egg

1 handful of bread crumbs (Italian or plain) or a piece of white bread cut up into small cubes

About 2 T. of Grill Seasoning

1/2 t. allspice

1/4 c. milk

1-2 T. of tomato paste

1/2 of a large onion, all chopped up

Start by putting your meat in a bowl. Easy enough, right?

Crack yo egg.

Into the bowl.

You should probably whisk it first.

Unless you are a rebel like me.

Toss in your bread or breadcrumbs.

And then add your grill seasoning.

I am sincerely sorry that I’m not great at providing exact measurements.

Pop in your allspice.

Contrary to popular belief, allspice is not some combo of spices all ground up and combined for you.

Nope, it is an Indian spice from a tree that produces allspice berries.

Fun fact of the day!

Now, your milk.

I use about 1/4 cup.

However, more milk may be needed. We’ll get to that in a bit.

Add in your dollop of tomato paste.

Then, throw in your chopped onion.

Now, take off your rings.

Roll up your sleeves.

Use your clean hands to gently mix this all together.

You want to mix until everything is just combined. If you go nuts mixing, you can do something called over-mixing. The result of over-mixing is some seriously tough meat.

This is the point where you want to check the consistency. You want the meat to be able to form a patty, but you want the meat to be somewhat loose.

So, if the mixture seems too dry and difficult to mix add in a little milk.

If the mixture is too wet- like you can’t get it to form a patty and stay that way- add more bread or breadcrumbs.

Now, set your mixture aside for a minute.

We’re going to make a couple of quick and easy side dishes that are super simple to time correctly so that you have a plateful of food hot and steaming and ready to eat at the same time.

So, take the other half of your onion. Chop part of it into a small dice.

Chop the other 1/4 of the onion into slices.

Set aside.

The diced onion will be for our sauce for the meatloaf.

I used the sliced onion for some easy-peasy sauteed spinach.

I decided that along with spinach and meatloaf, we definitely needed a starch.

So, roasted potatoes it shall be.

Since both the meatloaf and spinach have a softer texture, I wanted something with a little crunch.

Preheat the oven to 400.

Then, chop up red potatoes to bite-sized pieces.

Give them a generous sprinkle of olive oil, salt and pepper, and 2 finely diced cloves of garlic.

Mix em up, and pop them into the oven.

Now, back to that meatloaf.

Get out a non-stick skillet, and put it on a burner over medium-high heat.

Add in 1-2 T. of olive oil.

Form individual patties (similar size to hamburgers) of meatloaf and set them into your heated pan.

Once in the pan, give them a sprinkle of salt and pepper.

Cover the pan loosely with foil.

This cooking process will give you a crusty outside to the meatloaf, and the foil will help to cook the meatloaf all the way through.

After about 4 minutes, pull the foil off, and give the loaves a flip.

Cover them back up.

Cook for another 4 minutes.

Put the meatloaf on a plate.

And use your foil to tightly cover the meat to keep it warm while we make a little special sauce for the meatloaf.

Look at this girl.

She got a big old chunk of raw beef because of my sloppy patty making skills.

And she promptly laid down and kept her eye on me, the meat, and the floor.

Sadly, she did not get a second helping.

Now would be a good time to take a peek at your potatoes.

You may want to give them a turn in the pan to make sure they get beautifully browned on all sides.

Lets make our meatloaf sauce.

Here is what you’ll need:

Flour

Butter

Your reserved chopped 1/4 onion

Chicken or Beef Stock

Ketchup

Mustard

Steak or Barbecue Sauce

And if you are feeling crazy, some buffalo or hot sauce

Use your meatloaf skillet to make your sauce.

Plop in 2 T. of butter, and let it melt.

Then, toss in 1/4 of your chopped onions and start to let them brown up.

Mmmmmmmm….

Now, add in 2 T. of flour.

Whisk that together.

If you are using a non-stick pan, I highly recommend using a silicone whisk so that you don’t damage your pan.

Now add in a cup of stock.

Beef stock is recommended, but chicken stock is what I had.

Start whisking.

After no time at all, this little sauce will start to thicken up.

That picture above was starting to get a little too thick for me, so I added another 1/2 cup of stock of so.

I like my gravy a little runnier.

Now, put in 1 T of Ketchup, 1 T of Mustard (I used a dijon), and 1 T. of BBQ or steak sauce.

And whisk it together.

Give it a taste. It may need a little salt or pepper. Or perhaps you’ll fancy a stronger mustard or BBQ flavor so you can add a bit more of either of those. I decided I wanted a little heat, so I added about 2 T. of Buffalo Sauce.

Once, you have the taste perfected grab your meatloaves and let them soak up some of that delicious sauce.

Turn the heat to low, and those babies are ready for you when you are ready for them.

Now, if you wanted to make some spinach… I would start and finish that at this point in the meal. The potatoes are cozy in the oven, the meat and sauce is cozy on the stove, so you will have 5 focused minutes to give to the spinach prep.

Here is the recipe.

When you are done with the spinach, pull your taters out of the oven.

Now heap some of those onto your plate with some spinach and meatloaf.

Comfort food in 30 minutes or less… that is Rachael’s promise after all.

This meatloaf is the opposite of my childhood cooked green pepper yuck memories.

It is flavorful and delicious.

Enjoy my friends!!

Have the happiest of weekends.

XO,

Leah

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Newsflash: We are preparing for Winter Storm #256, and I’m sick of the snow.

I read a lot of blogs. I love them. I have made new blogger friends all over the country just through my little site here.

So, in the evening I was browsing through my blogger friends’ posts, and checked out Leah’s Thoughts where she had recent pictures of her daughter enjoying the sunny San Diego weather in her bathing suit!!

After seeing that, I need you to remind me again…

Why the heck do I live in Ohio?

In my humble opinion, there is ONE (count them… one) good thing about cold weather and snow storms.

Snow makes cooking comfort food more fun. There is something about a big steaming bowl of soup, or a tender pot roast, or a big bowl of pasta that warms you from the inside while you watch the snow fall… it somehow makes the snow delightful again.

So, for this snow storm, I give you the recipe for homemade ravioli.

Ravioli is a great, great dish. Want to know why? Because once you know the basics of how to make ravioli, you can stuff those guys with any little thing you want.

This time around I made a wild mushroom ravioli; however, if mushrooms aren’t your thing, you can use spinach, ground beef or sausage, just cheese, or any combo of vegetables.

Or, in the words of the imprisoned T.I (did you happen to see the story where he got in trouble for getting a little “frisky” with his wife while she was visiting him jail? yikes!), “you can have whatever you like”.

Keep in mind, this recipe is not a quick fix, make-it-in-5-minutes-after-work type of meal. It is designed for a snow day or a lazy Sunday.

Let us begin with the filling. Keep in mind… this is just a suggestion. You could really throw just about anything you like in these buddies. This version is adapted from a Giada DeLaurentiis recipe.

Here is what you’ll need for mushroom ravioli:

Olive Oil

10 oz. Frozen Spinach

Onion, chopped

Garlic, finely diced

Button Mushrooms

Shitake Mushrooms

Crimini Mushrooms

Mascarpone Cheese (1/3 c.)

Parmigiano Reggiano (1/3 c. shredded)

Start by defrosting your spinach in the microwave.

While that is melting away, put about a tablespoon of olive oil into a non-stick skillet over medium heat.

Add in your onions- I used one whole white onion, chopped.

Let those soften for 2-3 minutes. We are not looking to brown the onions, so if they start to caramelize just turn down your heat a bit.

Add in your garlic. 2-3 large cloves ought to do ya right.

Now, finely chop (either with a knife or a food processor) your button mushrooms. It should be about a cup of mushroom.

Throw that into your pan.

Then, move on to your shitakes.

I love shitake mushrooms.

The are the shit-ake.

Chop up a cup of those or so.

Toss ’em into your pan.

Now, criminis.

Chop them and drop them.

Stir those around.

Mushrooms are very porous. So, they soak up olive oil quickly. However, they need the oil to cook the way we want them to.

So, once all of the mushrooms are in the pan, look them over. If they are looking parched, add in some more olive oil.

It is likely that you will need another tablespoon of olive oil at this point. Add it in.

Grab your defrosted spinach and wring out the extra water. A lot of people will tell you to use a clean kitchen towel for this task. I prefer to use just my hands. Sure, I lose a spinach leaf or two. But I don’t ruin a kitchen towel.

This is what your mushrooms should look like.

Once they look like that… softened, slightly browned, and cooked… add in your spinach.

Really, you just want to warm your spinach through.

Time to season our filling.

A bit of salt (1/2 teaspoon).

And a touch of pepper (1/4 teaspoon).

Now, in a separate bowl, put in your mascarpone cheese.

Mascarpone is an Italian cheese, and I think it is similar to cream cheese. However, it is not that sweet and it is a lighter texture.

Most regular grocery stores carry mascarpone cheese in their cheese section (mine is near the feta and goat cheese). I did have to ask the worker where the heck the mascarpone was.

If you can’t find mascarpone, you could use Ricotta cheese.

Now, add in your shredded parm.

Add in your mushroom and spinach mixture, and give it all a stir.

Your filling is done.

Now, we shall  begin our pasta dough.

There is nothing on the planet like homemade pasta dough.

If you haven’t made it, there is no time like the present to try. Right?

Start with flour- about 3 1/2 cups. Put it in a pile on your counter.

And then make a well in the center.

Crack 4 eggs into the center of the well.

Add just the slightest drizzle (1/2 t.) of olive oil.

And then, because I was feeling crazy, I decided to make this into red wine pasta dough. If you wanted just a regular dough, simply leave out the wine.

If you like just the slightest little hint of wine in your pasta dough, add in 2 T of red wine.

Now, carefully whisk your eggs and wine together.

Gradually encourage some of that flour surrounding your eggs to join the whisk party.

It took me a few times making pasta dough before I could effectively incorporate the flour without breaking through my flour wall. If that happens to you, no worries!!

Just quickly use your hands to knead the whole thing together.

Ideally, you’ll be able to continue incorporating the flour slowly so that you can see a dough begin to form.

Once the mixture is to a thicker consistency, get your clean hands in there.

Pull in just enough flour to make a soft dough.

The amount of flour needed is pretty obvious as you work with the dough.

Don’t try to force in the entire amount of dough left on your counter. You will not use it all.

Knead the dough until you have a dough slightly thicker than a pizza crust dough. It should be soft and workable. Knead the dough another 5-6 minutes. After that time it should be somewhat elastic in consistency and a little sticky.

Wrap it in plastic wrap, set it aside, and let that poor dough rest for about 30 minutes. It just had a pretty solid workout!

I am the lucky and proud owner of the Kitchen Aid mixer pasta dough roller attachment. It makes the next step very easy for me.

There are also hand cranks that can help you flatten out your pasta.

If you don’t have either of those (which I imagine most people don’t), get out your handy dandy rolling pin.

Roll the dough.

Until it is pretty gosh darn thin.

Then lay it out on your clean counter to make your ravioli!

Plop a tablespoon of your filling on your dough spaced about an inch apart.

Now, take either some water or a whisked egg and run it around the edge of each of the stuffing piles.

This will act as your glue.

Take a second sheet of pasta (slightly larger than your first), and lay it gently on top of your piles of filling.

Press the top sheet gently to make a ravioli.

I use kitchen scissors to cut the ravioli out into the circle shape.

This is what they look like.

OK, Step Three.

Are you still with me?

I told you this was a snow day recipe!

We are going to make an easy peasy red sauce to top your ravioli.

Of course, if you are looking for a short cut, you could use a pre-jarred can of pasta sauce.

But truly, this is so easy!

Here is what you’ll need:

Olive Oil

1/2 Onion, chopped

2-3 Garlic Cloves

1 carrot, peeled and chopped

1 stalk of celery, peeled and chopped

28 oz. of tomatoes (I like a 14 oz can of crushed and a 14 oz can of diced tomatoes for more texture in the sauce)

Salt and Pepper

Bay Leaf

1 T. butter

Put a T. of oil in a sauce pan over medium heat.

Add in your onion and garlic.

And then your carrot and celery.

Let that cook for 3-4 minutes to let all of the vegetables soften.

Oh, hey there wine.

Want to join the party?

OK!

I just added a splash (1/4 c).

Let that cook 1-2 minutes.

Add in your maters.

Put in 1 1/2 t. of salt, 1/2 t. pepper, and a bay leaf or two.

Stir it up, and then because it is a cold snow day, plop in some butter.

Mmmmmm.

Let that simmer for 10ish minutes.

Aaaaaaaaand, sauce is done.

Get some water boiling.

Once it boils, add in a teaspoon or salt.

Carefully drop in your raviolis.

Once they rise to the top of the water, they are done. It takes only 3 minutes or so!

I added a little olive oil to the water while those buddies were cooking. It helps the pasta not stick together once it is drained.

Grab your strainer!

Get all of the extra liquid off of those ravioli.

Pile them on a plate and top it with your sauce.

Grate some parm on top and serve with something green.

As I said at the beginning, this isn’t is 10 minute simple meal but it is so good.

You haven’t lived until you have had homemade pasta or ravioli. The difference is unbelievable.

I hope you are surviving the snow and ice if you are in one of the cities getting slammed.

Happy Cold and Snow!

XO,

Leah

It is snowing here in Cincinnati.

Again.

I’m starting to think this whole Global Warming thing is a hoax. Because this winter has been so. so. cold.

I have a few standby defenses against cold weather.

1. A fire in the fireplace

2. A hot beverage- coffee, tea, hot toddy, hot chocolate… I’m not picky, just as long as it’s hot!

3. A big blanket. I have at least one throw blanket in every room of my house (except the kitchen), and I am constantly burrowing myself under them.

4. Slippers or shoes. I never go barefoot as a rule. I grew up in a house with my dad, a podiatrist. After hearing the horror stories of various items getting lodged in the bottom of peoples’ feet (and sometimes even getting to see a slide show of such incidents- lucky me), I learned to protect my piggies. Even in the summer, I prefer shoes. And in the winter… shoes keep my toes nice and insulated and warm. And, of course protected- thanks Dad.

5. Soup. I’m obsessed with soup in the winter. I particularly like a spicy soup for it warms me doubly. So, with the snow falling, I whipped up a batch of Spicy Sausage, Potato, and Kale soup.

I first had a soup similar to this at my friend Heidi’s house a few years ago. A group of girls got together regularly for book club. At some point, those pesky books were getting in the way of our imbibing and socializing. So, we became a wine club. Pretty smart, huh?

Anyhow, during weather similar to what we are having now Heidi whipped up this spicy delight and I have been hooked ever since.

I should mention Heidi moved to Rochester, NY. And that is far too far away.

Here is what you’ll need for the soup (if you want to serve 6-8):

1 lb. of sausage- I bought the links because I wanted hot sausage, and they didn’t have that in the bulk packages. If you aren’t into the spicy foods, go for some mild Italian sausage. If you aren’t into pork sausage, go for a turkey or chicken sausage. Right in the regular grocery store there are a plethora of sausage options.

4-5 pieces of bacon, all chopped up

1 onion- I used yellow, but a white or red onion will do

3 cloves of garlic

6 cups of chicken stock

1 1/2 cups of water (oh, I hope you can find this ingredient- it can be a toughie)

4 small potatoes- NEW DEVELOPMENT: I recently read an article that told me that non-organic potatoes are one of the top 10 worst foods to ingest. So, guess what? I switched exclusively to organic, and in my Kroger store they are the SAME price as non-organic potatoes. You really have no reason not to switch.

1 cup of heavy cream

1 bunch of kale

Salt and pepper and possibly some red pepper flake if you are feeling crazy

Start off by browning your sausage. I like a good non-stick pan for this job. It leads to easy clean up, and easy draining of excess fat.

If you are using chicken or turkey sausage, you may need a tablespoon of olive oil to help brown off the meat.

While that is browning in a skillet, pull out your soup pot and put the heat on to medium-high. Drop in your chopped bacon to get that on its way to crispy deliciousness.

Back to the sausage.

Drain off the excess fat. I drain mine into an empty can (usually found right in my recycle bin).

Put your cooked sausage on a plate lined with paper towels. This should grab even more of the excess fat.

Now, back to the bacon.

It should be looking pretty good and browned. Drain off the excess fat… why do I feel like a broken record?

Again, drain the fat into a container and not your drain. You will thank me when you don’t have to call a plumber to come unclog your sink.

Side note: To avoid calling a plumber, you should also never attempt to shove an entire burned lasagna down your garbage disposal. It will most certainly clog your sink. Only an idiot would do something like that.

Chop your onion.

And drop it into the pan. Stir it up.

Then, add your chopped cloves of garlic.

I seriously love my Pampered Chef garlic press.

Stir it again, and let it soften for 5ish minutes. I turned down the heat a bit at this point to medium. I wanted the onion and garlic to soften, but I didn’t necessarily want them to caramelize.

Once softened, add your chicken stock (or broth).

I prefer stock because it has a bit more depth of flavor than broth.

I also added about 1 1/2 cups of water. If you use broth, give the soup a taste. If it doesn’t taste overly salty, go ahead and skip the water step.

Now, crank up the heat to get all of that liquid boiling.

And dice your potatoes.

Now, just imagine that I remembered to take a picture of the potatoes.

And then toss those taters into the boiling stock.

Toss them carefully!

I diced my potatoes pretty small, so they were done in about 10 minutes. The larger the chunks of potato you have, the longer they will take to cook.

I think the best method of testing doneness is actually scooping out a potato and tasting it.

Now, we shall prepare the kale.

If you have been reading my blog for a while, you know that I have a mad love affair with kale.

It is so so good for you, and it is hearty and delicious.

Kale comes in a variety of shapes, sizes and colors, and any of them would work in this recipe.

Kale is extremely high in fiber (good for keepin’ ya regular-I’m just saying!), high in Vitamin A, and high in calcium. Love it.

Rinse it off.

Then pull most of the leafy part off of the stem.

Grab the stem with one hand, and then pull off the leafy part with the other.

The key is to get the bottom, more woody part of the stem off of the veggie.

Once de-stemmed, give it a rough chop.

Right before adding all of that glorious green kale into your soup pot, turn your heat down to medium.

And add in your sausage.

And then, add in your cream.

I ended up using about 3/4 of a cup (because that is all I had left), and it was just lovely.

Doesn’t that just look purty?

Time to toss in the greens.

Mix it all together to incorporate the greens to the pot.

Soup is done!! I turned the heat down to very low while I prepared a little crusty side dish.

I had a ciabatta roll, some salt (again the red clay kind), pepper, a garlic clove, butter and parmesan.

Split your roll.

Slather it in butter. The more the better.

Cut your garlic clove in half.

And rub the cut side of the garlic all over your bread.

Give them a light sprinkle of salt and pepper.

Add some shreds of parmesan.

Put it on some foil, and pop it into the oven on 400 degrees until the cheese gets melty.

You’ll have to imagine the melty delicious bread because I was pretty drool-y by the time it was done. I was ready to eat!

This soup will warm you right up on a snowy winter day. It is comfort food at its best.

And may I humbly suggest ending the meal with a Light-ish piece of Chocolate Cheesecake accompanied by some raspberry sorbet?

You should make this.

I found the recipe on Bake at 350.

It is making my life these days.

Happy eating friends.

XO,

Leah

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