Three Meat Loaf Recipes

I've tried several meat loaf recipes over the years but keep coming back to three that always turn out delightful with basic ground beef, though lean at least 80% or ground chuck or ground sirloin is recommended. 

 I've never made the types of  loaves with meat combinations, (veal, pork etc.), just plain ground beef like I remember from growing up or when raising kids.  

It's always a welcomed meal, and considered "comfort food."
Cheese Stuffed Meat Loaf
1 pound ground beef
1/3 of medium onion diced
1 clove minced garlic
3 or 4 Tabs. tomato juice or ketchup
1 tsp. Worcestershire
salt & pepper to taste
3/4 cup dried oatmeal
1 Egg
Cheese of choice: American, Cheddar, Velvetta

Mix all ingredients then pat 1/2 the mixture into loaf pan, making an indentation down the length of the middle about 1 inch deep and 2 inches wide.  Slice cheese into thick slices laying in to fill middle of the meat indention, then spread the other half of meat mixture on top to seal. More cheese can be add on top. Bake at 350 degrees for one hour. 

Cheeseburger Meat Loaf
1 pound ground beef
1/2 cup cooked, crumbled bacon
 8 oz. Cheddar, grated or cheese of choice.
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1/4 cup bread crumbs, I use seasoned crumbs
1/4 cup mayonnaise
1 Tab. Worcestershire
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. black pepper
Optional: dash or two of liquid smoke

2/3 cup ketchup
4 Tabs. mustard
Canned French fried onions, optional
Preheat oven to 350 

Combine beef and remaining ingredients except topping, mixing well. In separate bowl, combine the ketchup and mustard. Stir 1/2 cup ketchup mixture into meat mixture, saving the remaining ketchup mixture to spread over shaped loaf.

Press meat mixture into a loaf pan, or shape into a loaf and place on baking pan or dish. Spread remaining ketchup mixture over loaf.  Bake 55-60 minutes if not using onion topping; otherwise, bake 40 minutes, then top with French fried onions; bake another 10 to 15 minutes, until onions are crispy.

Old Fashioned Meat Loaf
1 pound ground beef
1/2 medium onion, minced
1 medium carrot, minced
1 stalk celery minced
1 large egg
3 slices of bread, crusts off and processed for fresh crumbs, or 1/2 cup of bread crumbs
2 tsps. minced garlic
4 tsps. dry mustard
1/4 cup parsley flakes
1/2 cup ketchup
1 tsp. each salt and pepper
tsp. or two to taste of hot sauce: red pepper, green  Tabasco
1/2 tsp. rosemary
3 or 4 strips of bacon cut in half
Glaze: BBQ sauce, bottled or homemade using mixture of brown sugar, mustard  & ketchup.
Set oven to 400.

Process celery, garlic, onion, carrot in processor to mince. (Veggies, help make a moist loaf)  In a mixing bowl add beef, egg, mustard, parsley, ketchup, crumbs, remaining seasoning, and minced vegetables. Mixing with hands knead to combine all ingredients.

For free-form, shape on into oval or round on rack in baking pan, brush with glaze, layer top with bacon and brush with more glaze. This will be crustier all around than using a loaf pan.  Bake 55-60 minutes, rest 15 minutes and serve. Internal temperature should be 165 degrees.

For loaf-form  pat in pan, brush with glaze, layer top with bacon width-wise tucking ends down sides, brush with glaze.  Bake 55-60 minutes, rest 15 minutes and serve. Internal temperature should be 165 degrees.

Estimated cost $3.60 or less; .90 cents a serving or less

Focaccia Bread

The first time I tasted Focaccia Bread was at an Italian Panini sandwich shop which served a variety of flat bread sandwiches, or offered the bread in strips with flavored dipping oils. 

Determined to make it, I tried several recipes, some quicker and denser than others, and some for a bread machine, but finally discovered this recipe comes closest to the airy, dimpled oily texture sought while making a large batch. 

Most often, a sprinkled mixture of Italian dried seasonings or rosemary and coarse sea salt works well. This bread also freezes well.I make a batch then cut and freeze in different sizes to have on hand for Italian meals, or to make Panini sandwiches.  A BLT or a Club Sandwich on Focaccia is simply delightful.

I use a large cookie sheet with 1/2-inch deep sides to spread the dough which keeps the dough in a nice rectangular shape as it bakes, but the dough can be spread in any flat baking dish or pan - round, rectangular or square. The dough can be divided into two smaller pans as well.
Risen Dough

Focaccia Bread
1 3/4 cups warm water
1 package dry yeast, ( 2 1/4 tsps.)
1 Tab. sugar
5 cups flour

1 Tab. kosher salt, plus coarse sea salt, for sprinkling
3/4 cup olive oil, divided
Optional topping choices: Italian spice mixtures, herbs, cheese, olives, caramelized onions, minced garlic

Dimpled Dough
Combine water, yeast and sugar in a small bowl and let set until bubbling. In mixer bowl with a dough hook, combine flour, kosher salt, 1/2 cup olive oil and yeast mixture on low speed. When dough has come together, continue 5 to 6 minutes on medium speed until it's smooth and soft. Sprinkle with flour if dough is too sticky.

Transfer dough to lightly floured surface, then knead by hand 1 or 2 times. Sprinkle flour if dough is really sticky. Coat bowl lightly with olive oil and return dough to bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and set in warm place to rise doubled in size, at least an hour, but 2 hours is better.
Baked Golden Brown

Coat sheet pan with 1/4 cup olive oil.  Place dough onto pan and press out to fit size of pan. Turn dough over to coat other side with oil. 

Continue stretching to fit pan. Spread fingers and make deep finger holes all the way through the dough. This will give it a dimpled look.

Put in warm place until doubled in size, about 1 hour. While rising a second time, preheat oven to 425.

Sprinkle top with some sea salt and optional topping/s then lightly drizzle oil on top. Bake on bottom rack until the top is golden brown, about 25 to 30 minutes. Remove from oven and cool before cutting and serving. 

Cut into 3 to 4-inch squares for making sandwiches, grilled Panini sandwiches, or serve with Italian dishes and salads. Slices are 3/4 to 1-inch thick, so for sandwiches, I slice horizontally in half with dimpled side used as the top.  This recipe makes approximately 24 square, 1-inch thick slices.  It freezes well.

Estimated cost: $1.50 or less.

Ideas for Focaccia Sandwiches:

Surf and Turf, Lobster and Steak

Surf and TurfThe first time I recall eating lobster was after I was out of college, married, and celebrating a special occasion at a restaurant.

Oh my it was delightful!  I of course have ordered it since over the years, on special occasions, or ordered "surf and turf," as I do love beef.

In the last few years, my local grocery store has held "specials" on 4 - 5 oz. lobster tails for around $5 a piece. They've offered this around Valentine's Day or near Christmas, so I stock up, vacuum seal and freeze them.

Then every month or so, I make an extra special dinner for the two of us, like I did this past New Year's Eve.  Knowing what restaurants charge for such a meal, justifies a food splurge for one meal at home, as it feels economical, but not a real budget buster.  It's the fanciest meal I make with the "wow factor" for presentation!

Uploaded from the Photobucket iPhone AppAt first I had no idea how to cook a lobster tail, but looked up info and settled on this method.

Surf and Turf, Lobster and Beef
4 oz. or larger lobster tail(s)
1/2 tsp. minced garlic
lemon and lemon juice
1/2 cup melted butter
1 tsp. Old Bay seasoning
4 - 5 oz. steak, of choice: New York, Sirloin, 3/4 inch thick
steak rub seasoning
steamer pan

Uploaded from the Photobucket iPhone AppWith kitchen scissors, cut lobster shells up middle of the back to near the end of tail, and with fingers gently spread shell, nudging meat from the inside, and lifting it out and up, leaving end attached, then letting meat rest on top of shell.

Fill sauce pan with 1-2 inches of water, add 2 Tabs. lemon juice, minced garlic, and Old Bay.  Set steamer pan on top, place lobsters in and cover.

Bring water to a boil, turn down and steam for 7 minutes.  Shells will turn bright red, and meat will no longer look translucent. Don't over cook, or lobster meat will become tough. Serve with melted butter mixed with lemon juice for dipping, and a lemon wedge.

Uploaded from the Photobucket iPhone AppUploaded from the Photobucket iPhone AppMeanwhile for the beef, preheat oven to 350. Oil and season steak with salt and pepper or a steak rub, and fry 2 minutes on each side in smoking hot skillet, to sear.  Then put skillet in oven for 6 minutes for medium rare.  Let rest 5 minutes before serving.

I also serve with a Twice Baked Potato and a salad.

Estimated cost with potato and salad: $8 per person.