Kitchen Magic

The good old college days: when the boys cooked us breakfast over a campfire. How times have changed! (Actually, Tim does still make me breakfast every so often.)

A madly skilled kitchen fiend whirled through our kitchen yesterday, and here’s what she left behind: THE best meatloaf I have ever tasted, an amazingly simple new kitchen trick that’s cheap and healthy, and a product review.

To wit:

Double Cheese Meat Roll (courtesy of one of my favorite church cookbooks ever ((3rd Presbyterian of Richmond)), the knowledge and possession of which I credit to the amazing Ames family ((Thanks, guys!!)))
1 1/2 lbs ground beef
1 egg
3/4 cup cracker meal, bread crumbs, or wheat bran (I used wheat bran)
1 8 oz can tomato sauce, divided (I used spaghetti sauce)
1 tsp seasoned salt
1 tsp oregano
1/2 tsp pepper
3/4 cup mozzarella cheese
3/4 cup cheddar cheese
Combine ground beef, egg, crumbs, 1/2 tomato sauce, and seasonings.  Mix well and shape into a flat rectangle on a sheet of waxed paper (I didn’t have wax paper, so I flattened mine on a cutting board).  Sprinkle the grated mozzarella and cheddar cheeses over the meat mixture.  Roll up like a jelly roll and press ends of roll to seal.  Bake in a loaf pan for 50 minutes at 350.  Top with remaining tomato sauce, bake 15 minutes more.  Serves 6. 

Seriously, this meat loaf was super uber tasty.  And not that hard!  The cheese made the meat so moist and flavorful.  YUM.  Definitely a new family favorite.  I served it with baked potatoes (more on those in a minute), steamed mixed veggies, and applesauce.

Vegetable Broth
For 25 years (okay, maybe not quite), I have been boiling frozen vegetables and pouring off the excess water…right down the drain.  And for 25 years, I’ve cringed just a bit inside.  I mean, who hasn’t read those articles about how vitamin rich that waste water is?  I’ve known people who drink the extra fluid for health benefits, and believe me, I’ve tried it.  NOT my thing.  Solution: drain that extra vegetable stock into a glass canning jar (or any empty container) and stick it in the fridge!  It will keep for weeks…and you can add it to soups, use it to cook rice or pasta, make gravy with it, and generally substitute it for water in almost any dinner cooking.  Seriously, this is revolutionary.  No more store bought broth!  No more wasted nutrients!  How has it taken me so long to figure out something so simple?!  Excuse me while I go bang my head against a wall.

Schwan’s #851
If you are a Schwan’s person (I am not, but Pop is), may I humbly recommend Schwan’s #851 Roasted Baby Bakers.  It’s a bag of cute little potatoes that have been pre-seasoned and baked.  All you gotta do is heat ’em up.  And they are great.  Especially with Double Cheese Meatloaf (recipe above).  Not too seasoned.  Not too greasy.  Not too messy.  I have no idea how much they cost.  I’m sure making your own roasted baby bakers is much, much cheaper.  But since I don’t usually like pre-prepared food, I thought this one was worth sharing.

There you have it!  Various and sundry magic tricks for the cook.  Have you hit the nail on the head in your kitchen  lately?  Do tell!

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  1. #1 by joannamv on February 16, 2011 - 11:19 am

    My mum has always done the vegetable thing but I haven’t gotten around to it yet. Hubby stole the best jars to put peppers in and then I forgot all about it. I don’t have spare veggie water all that often anyway. Think I will try to make a plan to rehouse the peppers…

  2. #2 by Sally on February 16, 2011 - 11:44 pm

    The nail head that I’ve hit recently in my kitchen is to prepare a lot the night before when the kids are in bed. For cake, put all the dry ingredients together and weigh out the shortening awhile. Grease and flour the pans. Brown the hamburger for the main dish. Or whatever else. I can work 10 times faster when I can concentrate, am not interrupted, and have no one hugging my leg as I walk. (Yeah, you can tell which season of life I’m in! You might need this advice someday, after you have your dozen–but it only took me 3 to get to this stage.)

  3. #3 by Anna C on February 18, 2011 - 9:12 am

    Cooking a whole chicken in the crockpot. So good, so easy, and also makes it easy to make chicken stock afterwards! I love my crockpot!
    I steam frozen veggies in the microwave here (except for collard greens, which we recently discovered at Wal-Mart), but that’s a good thought.

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