Let's Dish With Linda Lou

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Meatloaf With Sundried Tomatoes

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Meatloaf is a favorite in my house. I’m always trying to reintroduce new flavors into my meatloaf. Whether I’m trying different types of ground meat or adding different ingredients, meatloaf is comfort food.

I want to talk about my gravy for this dish. Sometimes I like to make a gravy that’s more in the style of an Au Jus. What I mean is, it’s more on the brothier side than a thicker style gravy. I’ll get into more detail later.

I’m making this meatloaf with ground chicken. It’s leaner and I can play around with some new flavors. This is my Meatloaf With Sun-Dried Tomatoes.

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Meatloaf Gravy

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Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour
Total Time: 1 hour 30 minutes
Yields: 6 to 8 Servings
Equipment: 1 (12-inc) sauté pan, 1  rimmed baking sheet pan

Ingredients:
2 pounds of ground chicken (substitute ground turkey)
2 tablespoons good olive oil
1 sweet onion, diced
1 red and yellow bell pepper, diced
1 Poblano pepper diced, (substitute green bell pepper)
1/2 cup chopped sun-dried tomatoes
2 cloves grated garlic
1 tablespoon dried oregano
2 large eggs
1/4 cup Ricotta cheese
1/2 cup half and half
5 dashes Worcestershire sauce
2 tablespoons Ketchup
2 tablespoons Kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
3 tablespoons Italian flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped
1 3/4 cups seasoned Italian breadcrumbs

Gravy:
2 cups chicken stock, unsalted
2 cups beef stock, unsalted
5 sprigs of fresh thyme
Salt and pepper to taste (Kosher salt)

Side Dish: 2 (15-ounce) bags frozen petite Green Peas

Directions:
Preheat the oven to 350-degrees F.
Heat the olive oil in a large sauté pan over medium heat. Add the onions and diced peppers, cook for 5 to 7 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are soft but not browned. Set aside to cool.

Place all the ingredients, from the list above, into a large mixing bowl adding the breadcrumbs last. Mix together until you get the consistency of wet sand. To that add the cooled sautéed onions and peppers and the chopped sun-dried tomatoes. Mix to combine.

Finally, add the meat. With clean hands, gently toss the mixture together, making sure it’s combined but not compacted.

Place a piece of parchment paper on a rimmed baking sheet pan. Transfer the meat mixture over to the lined sheet pan. Pat the meat into a flat rectangle and then press the sides in until the meat forms a cylinder down the middle of the pan. This will ensure there will be no air pockets. Bake for 40 to 50 minutes, until the internal temperature, in the middle, reads 155-160-degrees F.

Remove from the oven and allow to rest for 10 minutes before slicing. There you have it my Meatloaf With Sundried Tomatoes.

Directions For the Gravy:
To a 3-quart saucepot add 2 cups chicken stock, 2 cups of beef stock, and 5 sprigs of fresh thyme. Over medium heat, bring the liquid up to a simmer. Salt and pepper to taste.

In a small bowl, add 4 tablespoons of cornstarch to 4 tablespoons of cold water. Whisk together until smooth paste forms. Whisk the *slurry (cornstarch/water mixture) into the saucepot with the broth (chicken/beef) until the liquid comes back up to a bubble, 2-3 minutes. Fish out the thyme sprigs.

*Slurry:  Mix 1 tablespoon of cornstarch with 1 tablespoon of cold water. Whisk until smooth paste forms. Add the slurry into the hot, simmering liquid you want to thicken. 2 tablespoons per cup will give you a thicker, more gravy-like consistency.

Homestyle Baked Mac & Cheese

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Homestyle Baked Mac & Cheese

Homemade Mac & Cheese

Can you think of anything better than a Homestyle Baked Mac & Cheese? I’ll bet your answer is no, and I agree.

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Mascarpone Cheese

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Homestyle Mac & Cheese

Homemade Mac & Cheese

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Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 30 to 35 minutes
Total Time: 50 minutes
Yields: 6 to 8 servings
Equipment: 1 (9 x 13) baking dish, 2 (6-quart) saucepots, whisk

Ingredients:
1 box or pound of Cavatappi (or elbow macaroni)
3 1/2 cups whole milk
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 stick (8 tablespoons) of butter plus 6 tablespoons, unsalted
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
12-ounces (4 cups) Gruyère cheese, freshly grated
8 ounces (2 cups) white cheddar, freshly grated
4 ounces Mascarpone, room temperature
1/2 cup of Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, freshly grated
1/2 cup of Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, shredded for garnish on top
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg, freshly grated
1 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon Kosher salt
1 1/2 cups Panko breadcrumbs
1 tablespoon sweet Paprika (substitute smoked paprika)
1/2 cup of Italian flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped (reserve 1/4 cup for breadcrumbs)

Directions:
Preheat oven to 375-degrees F.
Butter a 9 x 13 baking dish.
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil, add the macaroni, and cook according to the instructions of the box, 6 to 8 minutes, drain really well.

At the same time, heat the milk and heavy cream in a small saucepan, but do not boil. Melt 8 tablespoons (1-stick) in a large (6-quart) pot and add the flour. Cook over low heat for 2 minutes while whisking, until it’s light blond in color. Whisk in the hot milk and cook for another 1 to 2 minutes. Add the Kosher salt, fresh ground black pepper, and grated nutmeg, continue whisking until sauce thickens and becomes smooth.

Off the heat, switch to a wooden spoon, add the Mascarpone first, stir to combine. Next, add the grated Gruyére, white Cheddar, and Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, again stir to combine. Add the cooked macaroni, 1/4 cup of Italian flat-leaf parsley, mix to combine. Pour into a 9 x 13 buttered baking dish.

Topping:
Melt 2 tablespoons of butter in a large sauté pan. Add the Panko breadcrumbs, Paprika, remaining Italian flat-leaf parsley, toss to coat. Sprinkle the breadcrumbs all over the top of the casserole. *Dot the top with the remaining butter. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, or until sauce is bubbly and macaroni is browned on top. Optional, sprinkle finely shredded Parmesan cheese and Italian flat-leaf parsley over the top while hot.

Serve hot.

*Dot: To scatter bits of butter over food.

Meatloaf With Sundried Tomatoes

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Pesto Potato Salad

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This Pesto Potato Salad requires no mayonnaise so it travels well. As a side dish with chicken, pork, or beef it’s perfect. The fresh basil pesto in this Pesto Potato Salad adds so much flavor. The sweet multi-colored bell peppers add a burst of color. A few really good ingredients make this potato salad a winner.

I’m never shy about taking help from the grocery store. You can now find fresh basil pesto in the refrigerated section of your grocery store, where they display the fresh pasta and marinara sauce. This pre-made fresh basil pesto is a huge time saver. Add basil pesto to warm potatoes and they’ll soak up all those delicious flavors.

Mini Sweet Bell Peppers

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Red Potatoes

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Red Onion

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Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 10 to 12 minutes (depending on potatoes and size, time may vary slightly)
Total Cook Time: 25 to 27 minutes
Yields: 6 to 8 servings
Equipment: cutting board, chef’s knife, 6-quart stockpot, strainer, large mixing bowl. spatula or a long-handled spoon, plastic wrap.

Ingredients:
2 pounds of red bliss potatoes, quartered (waxy potatoes work best)
1/2 cup finely diced red onion
1 cup of multi-colored mini sweet bell peppers, finely diced (red, yellow, and orange)
1 (7-ounce) container, store-bought fresh basil pesto (found in the refrigerated section)
1 teaspoon Kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Basil for garnish

Directions:
Wash and scrub the potatoes from any grit. Cut them into large, bite-sized chunks. transfer the potatoes to a large stockpot. Add enough cold water to cover the potatoes by 1-inch.

Bring the water to a simmer over medium-high heat. Adjust the heat to keep the water at a gentle simmer. Add a good sprinkling of Kosher salt. Cook until the potatoes are tender all the way through when pierced with a fork, 10-12 minutes. Exact cooking time depends on the size of your potato chunks and the type of potatoes.

Drain the potatoes, then return them to the same pot they were cooked in. Do not set the pot back on the heat. Let any water that may be on them evaporate from the hot pot, about 1to 2 minutes.

In a large mixing bowl add the diced red onion, diced sweet bell peppers. Next, add the cooked, still very warm, potatoes, Kosher salt, and fresh ground black pepper. Start with half the prepared pesto, using a rubber spatula, toss gently to combine. If more pesto is needed, add an extra tablespoon or two, toss to combine. Garnish with fresh basil.

You can serve my Pesto Potato Salad warm or at room temperature.

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