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Let's Dish With Linda Lou

Taste The Love

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. This is my Meatloaf With Sun-Dried Tomatoes.

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Meatloaf With Sundried Tomatoes (1)

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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. Let’s get started.

Meatloaf Gravy

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Flat Leaf Italian Parsley

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Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour
Total Time: 1 hour 30 minutes
Yields: 6 to 8 Servings
Equipment: 12-inch sautépan, 1  rimmed baking sheet pan

Ingredients:
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

2-pounds of ground chicken (substitute ground turkey)

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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Italian Wedding Soup-Two Ways

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The name, Italian Wedding Soup, stemmed from the combining of meat with pasta. Growing up, in my home, pasta was served separately from the meat dish.

This post will show you everything you need to know about how I make this soup. My secret ingredient, for the most flavorful meatballs, is fresh basil pesto. Surprised!, don’t be, when you break down the ingredients in basil pesto, you’ll find that most of those ingredients are in my meatballs anyway.

I have done variations of my Italian Wedding Soup like, instead of small pasta, I’ve used mini cheese ravioli. It’s a really delicious way to give an extra surprise to the dish.

I think whenever you’re making a recipe that calls for meatballs, it’s important that they are tender and full of flavor.

My basic recipe for meatballs is always the same, whether using ground beef, pork, turkey, or chicken. The exceptions are when I make a Greek or Asian dish that calls for meatballs. That’s a story for another time.

I’m going to show you two versions. One made with a short cut pasta called Ditalini, the other  I’m using mini cheese ravioli.

What’s great about making extra is, you can freeze the soup for another time. First label and date the bags. Whenever I freeze a completed soup, I let the soup come to room temperature, transfer the soup into gallon zip lock bags. Release as much of the air as possible, then close the bag. Lay the bag out onto a sheet pan in the freezer. Once frozen, remove the sheet pan and you can stack the bags of soup to utilize freezer space.

I’m also making a double batch of meatballs to show both versions of my Italian Wedding Soup-Two Ways.

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Olive Oil

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Flat Leaf Italian Parsley

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Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 50 to 60 minutes (per pot)
Total Time: 1 hour 30 minutes (per pot)
Yields: 30 meatballs (15 meatballs per pot)
Yields:  4 to 6 servings per pot
Equipment: 2 (6-quart) heavy-bottom saucepots,  large mixing bowl, cookie-dough scoop, 2 rimmed baking sheet pans, parchment paper, chef’s knife

Note: For one pot, use half the meatballs. After the meatballs are cooked allow half of them (15 meatballs) to come to room temperature. Place into a resealable zip-lock bag and transfer to the freezer.

Ingredients For Chicken Meatballs:
3 pounds of ground chicken
1/2 cup ricotta cheese
1 (7-ounce) container of store-bought fresh basil pesto (use 1/4 cup for this recipe)
1/4 cup heavy cream
3 large eggs
3 cloves of freshly grated garlic
2 tablespoons of Ketchup
5 dashes of Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon of fennel seeds
1/4 cup of Parmigiano- Reggiano, freshly grated (reserve the rind)
2 cups of Italian bread crumbs
2 tablespoons of dried oregano
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1 1/2 tablespoons Kosher salt
1 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
1/2 cup of Italian flat-leaf parsley, roughly chopped

Note: Cut the recipe in half for one pot of soup, with the exception of the pasta. Choose which pasta you want to use. Use only 1 1/2 pounds of ground chicken for 15 meatballs.

Ingredients For Soup:
4 tablespoons olive oil (2 per pot)
2 cups of onions, diced and divided
2 cups of leafy-top carrots, diced and divided
2 cups of celery, diced (include leafy tops) and divided
4 cloves of garlic, minced and divided
2 tablespoons Kosher salt, divided
2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper, divided
4 quarts plus 4 cups of chicken stock, unsalted and divided
2 1/2 cups of Ditalini pasta (short cut tube-shaped pasta in one pot)
1 (24-ounce) package of mini cheese ravioli ( in the other pot)
2 (10-ounce) packages of frozen spinach, thawed and divided

Directions:
Preheat oven to 375-degrees F.
Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Spray the parchment paper, of each pan, with a light coating of non-stick cooking spray.

In a large mixing bowl and add all the ingredients (except the ground chicken) for the meatballs. Once everything is in the bowl mix to combine. You want the flavorings to have the consistency of wet sand. Next, add the ground meat to the bowl. Using a fork, evenly distribute the flavorings throughout the ground chicken. It may take a few minutes but it’s so worth it for your meatballs to be light and tender.

Using a cookie-dough scoop ensures the meatballs will be the same size. Scoop the meat mixture into your hands forming a ball. Continue until all the meatball mixture is finished.

Arrange the meatballs onto two baking sheet pans with space between each one. Lightly spray the tops of the meatballs with non-stick cooking spray to ensure they will brown evenly. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes.

In the meantime prep the *Mirepoix for the soup. Dice the carrots, celery, and onions. Finish by mincing the garlic. Evenly divided, transfer them to two separate plates. This should take about 15 to 20 minutes to complete. Set aside.

Preheat both stockpots over medium heat. To each stockpot add olive oil and crushed red pepper flakes, carrots, celery, garlic, onions, Kosher salt, and fresh ground black pepper. Stir to combine. Stirring occasionally, cook for 7 to 10 minutes or until vegetables begin to soften.

Next, add the chicken stock to each pot. If you have the cheese rind, leftover from grating the cheese, go ahead and throw that into your pot(s). Bring the soup up to a boil then reduce the heat to a simmer. for 10 minutes.

At this point, the meatballs will be ready to come out of the oven. Add the meatballs to the pot(s) very carefully. Simmer over medium-low heat for another 15 minutes.

Now it’s time to add the (Ditalini, and the mini cheese ravioli) pasta. Carefully give the pasta a big stir. Cook for another 8 to 10 minutes. Once the pasta floats to the top, it’s time to add the thawed spinach. Again, carefully give the spinach a good stir to incorporate it throughout the soup. Turn the heat off and cover until you’re ready to serve. Italian Wedding Soup-Two Ways.

Tip: If you’re only going to use half of the meatballs, let them come to room temperature. Next, place them in the frig for 30 minutes to chill. Label and date the ziplock freezer bag before transferring them to the bag. Release as much of the air as possible, close it up, and place it into the freezer.

*Mirepoix: The standard base for most soups consisting of celery, carrots, and onions.

Nominated “Best Italian Wedding Soup Recipes”

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Spinach And Feta Pie With Sweet Italian Sausage

 

Spinach Pie With Sweet Italian Sausage

Spinach And Feta Pie With Sweet Italian Sausage

This savory Greek-style pie is traditional, #spinachandfeta. Getting Steve to eat any dish that’s filled with only spinach and cheese wouldn’t pique his interest so I thought I’d add sweet Italian sausage to this recipe. This is my Spinach And Feta Pie With Sweet Italian Sausage.

This recipe can totally be vegetarian by just leaving out the meat. You could even substitute mushrooms, that would be delicious too.

Dealing with phyllo dough may have you saying, that’s too much work. Yes, it can seem a bit overwhelming, trust me, it’s not hard at all.

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The next step is to prepare the savory filling for this pie.

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Feta

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Score the Phyllo dough before baking.

Spinach And Feta Pie With Sweet Italian Sausage

Spinach Pie With Sweet Italian Sausage

 

 

 

Prep Time: 30 minutes for the filling
Prep Time: 30 minutes, assembling the dish
Inactive Prep Time: 24 hours
Cooking Time: 45 to 50 minutes
Total Cook Time: 1 hour 50 minutes
Total Time: 25 hours 50 minutes
Yields: 12 Servings
Equipment: 9″ x 11″ baking dish, paring knife, 2 large mixing bowls, mesh sieve, 12-inch sauté pan, small bowl, microwave-safe bowl, pastry brush, Microplane

Note: if you’re making this dish meat-free, substitute another 5 (10-ounce) boxes of frozen leafy spinach for a total of 8.

Ingredients:
2 pounds of sweet Italian sausage, casing removed
3 (10-ounce) boxes of frozen leafy spinach (thawed and all excess water removed)
1 diced onion
3 cloves of garlic, minced
1 teaspoon of nutmeg, freshly grated
3 sprigs (2 teaspoons) of fresh marjoram or oregano, finely chopped
3 sprigs (2 teaspoons) of fresh thyme, finely chopped
1 lemon, zested and juiced
4 fronds of fresh dill, finely chopped
1 teaspoon of red pepper flakes
1 tablespoon of Kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
3 large eggs, beaten
4 ounces of Goat cheese, crumbled
7 ounces of Feta cheese, cubed
1/3 cup of Parmesan cheese, freshly grated
1 box of Phyllo dough sheets (yields 2 rolls approx. 20 sheets of Phyllo total)
1 1/2 sticks of butter, unsalted and melted
1/4 cup of seasoned Italian bread crumbs

Directions:
Preheat oven 350-degrees F.
Spray the bottom and sides of a 9 x 11 baking dish with non-stick cooking spray.

Defrost and drain the frozen spinach overnight. The picture above shows the frozen spinach sitting in a mesh sieve over a large mixing bowl. Since the spinach is frozen solid it’s best to leave it out on the counter overnight. The next day, remove the bowl discarding the liquid. Using your hands, wring out any remaining water from the spinach.

If you were going to do this on the same day, defrost the spinach in the microwave, then let it cool down to where you could handle it, and squeeze the water out by hand. You could even place all the spinach in a clean kitchen towel and wring it out that way. Most importantly, get as much of the water out of the spinach as possible. Transfer the spinach to a large mixing bowl. Set aside.

In a large dry sauté pan over medium-high heat, add sweet Italian sausage. Start breaking the sausage up with the back of a wooden spoon. Once the sausage is browned, about 10 to 15 minutes, add the diced onion, minced garlic, red pepper flakes, freshly grated nutmeg, Kosher salt, and black pepper. Continue cooking until the onions soften, another 5 to 7 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, leave as much of the grease behind in the pan, transferring the sausage mixture into the bowl containing the spinach. Let the sausage mixture cool completely before adding the cheese and eggs.

In another large mixing bowl, beat the eggs, Kosher salt, and freshly ground black pepper together. Add the beaten eggs to the sausage and spinach mixture. Add the Goat cheese, grated Parmesan, and cubed Feta to the sausage and spinach mixture. Gently stir to combine not to break up the cheese too much. The filling is done. Set aside.

Next, the Phyllo dough.

In a microwave-safe bowl, melt the butter. In a small bowl add the bread crumbs. Set the two bowls in hands-reach when layering the phyllo dough.

Note: When working with Phyllo dough you need to move fairly quickly. to prevent the dough from drying out causing it to break or crack.

Remove the dough from the refrigerator. Lay the Phyllo dough sheets out onto a flat surface covered with a damp towel.

Start by laying one sheet of Phyllo dough in the bottom of the baking dish. Liberally brush the sheet of Phyllo dough with melted butter and sprinkle with breadcrumbs. Continue this process until the first roll of Phyllo dough is complete, about 10 sheets.

Next, spoon the filling spreading evenly over the top of the Phyllo. Repeat the dough process with the remaining roll of Phyllo sheets for the top.

Finish the top layer with a final brushing of melted butter and breadcrumbs. Using a paring knife score the dough down the middle lengthwise, then twice in the opposite direction. Finally, score each square diagonally (refer to the picture above) forming triangles.

Bake for 45 to 50 minutes, or until the dough, is flaky and golden brown. Allow the dish to rest 15 to 20 minutes giving the filling a chance to set before slicing.

There you have it, my Spinach And Feta Pie With Sweet Italian Sausage.

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