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: 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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Roasted Italian Sausage And Grapes

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A classic Italian combination is a slice of meat paired with fruit like prosciutto with melon or even figs. Roasted Italian Sausage And Grapes (seedless green, red, or both) is a roller coaster for your taste buds combining flavors and textures.

Seedless green or red grapes, when in season, are bursting with sweetness.

This dish is usually served with a loaf of crusty bread for dipping. I’m changing up the traditional Roasted Italian Sausage And Grapes. I’m going to be adding potatoes, a perfect accompaniment to this dish, a complete one-pot meal. Potatoes were a huge part of my mom’s recipes. I suppose this is where my English influence comes into play.  I’m not stopping there, for some added color and flavor, roasted sweet bell peppers, YUM!

There are a couple of different ways you can make this dish, you can choose to use half hot and half sweet Italian pork sausage, that’s traditional. You could even substitute Italian style turkey sausage or Italian style chicken sausage. I’m going to use a leaner and less fatty option, mild Italian chicken sausage for this recipe.

If you’ve never tried roasting grapes, well… you don’t know what you’re missing. They add amazing sweetness to this dish. The perfect harmony of savory and sweet flavors. Let’s get started.

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You can see above how much leaner the Italian chicken sausage is from the traditional Italian pork sausage.

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Onions and Peppers

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Rosemary

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Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 40 minutes
Yields: 4 to 6 servings
Equipment: large 11 x 13 x 2 baking dish

Ingredients:
2 packages (10 links) Italian chicken sausage (substitute 1/2 hot and 1/2 sweet, Italian pork sausage, or Italian style turkey sausage)
1/2 cup olive oil
1 2-pound bag petite red potatoes, cut in half
1 red bell pepper, julienned
1 yellow bell pepper, julienned
6 cups of seedless green grapes, halved
1 sweet onion, sliced thin
4 cloves garlic, minced
4 tablespoon dry Chianti (red wine)
1 quart plus a 1/4 cup chicken stock, unsalted
2 tablespoons Kosher salt
2 teaspoons of freshly ground black pepper
3 sprigs of fresh rosemary, plus 4 to 6 sprigs for individual servings, to garnish

Balsamic Glaze:
1/4 cup good balsamic vinegar
1/2 cup pan juices

Directions:
Note: Cooking Times may vary slightly. If any or a few of the potatoes are larger than most, cut the larger ones into quarters. The potatoes need to be similar in size.
First, slice the potatoes in half.
Add the halved potatoes into a large pot, cover the potatoes with cold water. On medium-high heat. Bring the potatoes up to a boil. Continue boiling the potatoes for 12 to 15 minutes, or until just fork-tender. They’ll finish cooking in the oven.

Note: Cooking times may vary slightly.
Using a fork prick each of the sausage links 3 times on each side. Pour 1 quart of unsalted chicken broth into a large saucepot, similar to the one in the picture above. Place the 10 sausage links into the pot (make sure the liquid covers the sausage links, add water if needed), turn the heat to medium, and cover. Parboil the sausages until grey throughout, about 12 to 15 minutes.

The parboiled sausages and potatoes should be done around the same time.

Preheat oven to 500-degrees F.
While the potatoes and sausages are on the stove being parboiled, prep the grapes, peppers, onion, and garlic placing them into a large mixing bowl. Add  1 tablespoon of Kosher salt, 1 teaspoon of black pepper, and 1/4 cup of olive oil, tossing to coat with oil and seasoning.

Next, using tongs, transfer the sausage links to a plate lined with a paper towel. Drain the potatoes and transfer them back into the same pot. This will allow (because the pot is still very hot) any excess water to evaporate from the potatoes. Set the pot aside for a minute. Once the potatoes are free of any excess water, move onto the next step.

Place the potatoes into the baking dish first. Add 1 tablespoon of Kosher salt, 1 teaspoon of black pepper, and 1/4 cup of olive oil, toss to coat all the potatoes. Add the grapes, peppers, onions, and garlic mixture to the baking dish. Using a pair of tongs, place the Italian chicken sausage links on top. Pour the chicken stock and red wine all over the top. Finally, place the 3 sprigs of rosemary on top.

Roast in the oven for 25 to 30 minutes. Turning the sausage links halfway through the cooking process. This allows for both sides to brown really well.

Remove the baking dish from the oven. Remove the rosemary sprigs. Using a ladle remove 1/2 cup of the cooking liquid from the bottom of the baking dish. Cover the baking dish to keep everything warm.

Directions For Balsamic Glaze:
Using a ladle, remove the cooking liquid from the bottom of the baking dish to a measuring cup. In a small saucepot, pour in the cooking liquid. Next, add the balsamic vinegar. Turn heat to medium-high, whisking occasionally, cook allowing the vinegar and juices to reduce and become thick and syrupy around 5 minutes.

Pour the Balsamic Glaze over the sausages and grapes. Garnish with fresh rosemary sprigs.

To serve:
Bring the baking dish right to the table Set on a using a trivet. Serve hot and family-style.

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Farro Breakfast Bowl

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Farro is an ancient grain from Rome. Its delicious nutty flavor and slightly chewy texture remind me of a lot of barley. Up until recently, you couldn’t get your hands on it anywhere! Now, it’s readily available in your local grocery store.

I’m showing two pictures of my Farro Breakfast Bowls, one topped with an egg, and one without. Steve and I have a difference of opinion about eggs. I’m not even sure if “opinion” is even the right word. I’m no fan of the fried egg, to be fair, eggs are a big part of any breakfast and Steve loves them, that’s the reason for the two pictures.

Anyway, this is my Farro Breakfast Bowl, it’s easy to make while combining great flavor, color, and texture. Here’s how this dish comes together.

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Shoepeg Corn

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Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 35 minutes
Total Time: 50 minutes
Yields: 4 servings
Equipment: 1 (12-inch) sautèpan, 1 (4-quart) saucepot with a tight-fitting lid.

Ingredients:
1 cup of uncooked Farro
3 cups of chicken stock, unsalted
1 pound of Italian chicken sausage, casings removed (substitute pork or turkey Italian sausage)
1 heaping cup of frozen white shoepeg corn, thawed
1 cup of diced red bell pepper, 1-inch dice
1 cup of diced yellow bell pepper, 1-inch dice
1 cup of diced onion, 1-inch diced
1/2 cup of carrots, 1-inch dice
1 tablespoon (3 cloves) of garlic, minced
1 tablespoon Kosher salt
1 teaspoon of freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup Pistachios, roughly chopped (optional)
7 ounces of Feta cheese, cubed
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese,  freshly grated
2 tablespoons of fresh basil, chopped
2 tablespoons of fresh chives, minced
2 tablespoons of fresh mint, chopped
1 fried egg (optional), cooked to the temperature of your choosing)

Directions For Farro:
Cooking Time: 25 minutes
Feel free to use either water or unsalted chicken stock for cooking the Farro. In place of the butter, I substitute olive oil.

Tip: Cook the sausage and Farro at the same time.

Directions:
Start by rinsing and draining the Farro using a mesh sieve. In a 4-quart saucepot bring the chicken stock and 1 teaspoon of Kosher salt up to a rolling boil. Add the Farro, stir to combine. Simmer the Farro as if you are cooking pasta. Once the Farro is al dente, 15 to 20 minutes, drain any remaining liquid through a mesh sieve.

Next, in a large sautè pan on medium heat, add 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Using a wooden spoon start by breaking up the sausage. Turn and toss the sausage allowing it to brown on all sides or until the sausage is complete brown with no pink spots, around 10 minutes.

Add the onion, garlic, diced peppers and carrots to the pan. Season with Kosher salt and black pepper. Stir and continue cooking until vegetables become tender another 7 to 10 minutes.

Don’t worry about the sausage bits sticking to the bottom of the pan because once the vegetables are added, they’ll release their water allowing those bits to be released.

Using the back of a wooden spoon, scrape as much of those brown bits off the bottom of the pan, that’s all flavor!

Transfer the cooked Farro and shoepeg corn to a large mixing bowl. Using a slotted spoon, add the cooked sausage and vegetable mixture to the bowl. Next, add the pistachios (optional), Parmesan cheese, cubed feta, and fresh herbs, then toss together.

Ladle the Farro mixture into a serving bowl and top with a fried egg (optional).

Serve hot!

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