Thursday, August 31, 2017

Halloween Rat Loaf

Halloween is gross food time. If you follow our blog then you know we always go a little crazy at Halloween with spooky, gross, sometimes cute but always Halloweeny dishes. Check out the tab at the top of the blog labelled "Holidays" to see all our creations!
Last year Sue created this monster meatloaf rat to completely freak everyone out. He is stuffed with cheese and french fried onions and tastes super delicious. 
As it is getting close to October again I figured I better share this guy so you can add him to your spooky dinner list for this year. 
Good luck getting anyone to eat him though. He's pretty nasty looking. 
Delicious... but gross. The Halloween conundrum. 

Halloween Rat Loaf

2 lbs lean ground beef
1 small onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 egg
1 cup fine bread crumbs
1 Tbsp brown sugar
1 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp onion powder
salt & pepper 

1 cup shredded, aged cheddar
1/2 cup French's fried onions

2 pickled white onions (eyes)
6 strands of raw spaghetti (whiskers)
2 slices of potato (ears) 
1/2 cup BBQ sauce (for color) 
1/2 cup French's Fried Onions (hair) + 1/2 cup shredded, aged cheddar (hair) 
1 black olive (nose)

Preheat oven to 350. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper, set aside. 
In a large mixing bowl, mix together the meatloaf ingredients until well combined. (I find using your hands works best.) 
Shape half of the meat mixture into a large teardrop shape on the prepared cookie sheet. In another mixing bowl, mix together the cheese and 1/2 cup of French's Fried Onions. Spread the mixture onto the teardrop of meatloaf, leaving at last an inch around the edge. Place remaining meat mixture on top of the filling and again, shape the meat into a large teardrop. Make sure you press the edges together around the filling. 
This will be the body and head of the rat. (See photo below for clarification.)

Gently but firmly press the potato slices into the top of the rat's head for the ears. Press the onions in for eyes, and the spaghetti for whiskers. (See photo below for clarification.)

Brush the body of the rat with the BBQ sauce. Carefully brush the head and nose area with BBQ sauce as well. (See photo below.)

Mix the 1/2 cup French's Fried Onions and 1/2 cup shredded cheese and firmly press onto the rat's body. (See photo below.)

Bake the meatloaf at 350 until meatloaf is completely cooked: approximately one to one and a half hours. (To be sure, use a meat thermometer!) 
Remove from oven and let sit for 5 minutes. Use a knife to cut a small hole at the nose of the rat and press the black olive on. Carefully transfer to a serving platter (we used a cutting board as our platter). (See photo below for clarification.) 

Serve hot! 
For even more Halloween fun we bought a giant rat trap from the local hardware store as a prop for our meatloaf. 

It's hard to tell because of the lighting in this photo but the inside is a little gooey from the cheese. The onions on the outside add a little crunch and even more flavor to this tasty little critter. 
A few notes: The spaghetti becomes quite brittle as it cooks in the meatloaf. Don't worry if any break off. You can use uncooked spaghetti for whiskers if this happens. 
If you find your meatloaf is getting too dark but still not cooked through, tent with tinfoil and continue to cook until done. (Just watch the whiskers!) 
We didn't do a tail on our rat but, if you wanted too, you could make a bread stick tail with bread dough. 

Sunday, August 6, 2017

Lentil And Walnut Lettuce Tacos

This is one of those dishes that you are going to want to write down, or at least pin to a favorite Pinterest board for future reference. It's super tasty, the texture is amazing..... and, trust me, you won't miss your "usual" taco filling at all. 
If you are looking for an inexpensive, healthy meal that only takes about 15 minutes to make then look no further. I put it in a lettuce "shell" but you could put it in a regular taco shell too! 
It is also easy to customize - make it spicier, crunchier, use whatever topping you like! 

Lentil and Walnut Lettuce Tacos 

1 Tbsp oil
1 medium onion, finely diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 (540 ml) cans lentils
3/4 cup walnuts, finely chopped
1 Tbsp soy sauce
1 1/2 Tbsp cumin
2 tsp chili powder
sprinkle cayenne pepper
1/4 tsp black pepper
1/2 cup tomato sauce

Iceberg or Romaine lettuce leaves

Drizzle oil in a large frying pan over medium heat. When it is hot, add onions and cook until translucent. Add in garlic and cook another minute. Add in remaining ingredients except for tomato sauce. Cook and stir gently for about 5 or so minutes, until heated through and dries up a little. 
Stir in the tomato sauce and cook another 2 or 3 minutes. 
Remove from heat and serve.

I love mine as lettuce tacos.(But you could use regular tacos or even on a bun for a "sloppy Joe" type sandwich!) 

Then you just throw on your favorite toppings! I did a little more onion, tomatoes, and cheese. 

So much healthiness and tastiness going on..... it's a beautiful thing.  

Try it on your next Meatless Monday or just for something different. You probably have most of the ingredients in your pantry already!  FYI - This goes quite a long way. This amount of filling probably does a head and a half to 2 heads of lettuce tacos. 

Saturday, August 5, 2017

Swiss Chard Rolls

I'll be the first one to admit I'm not a huge lover of Swiss chard. I can't put my finger on exactly why it's not my favorite BUT, that being said, when you use it instead of cabbage to make cabbage rolls, it is heavenly. I find it sooo much more tender than cabbage. 
I've made it a couple of times not blanching the leaves and a couple of time blanching the leaves and I have to say - it takes a few more minutes but you should definitely blanch the leaves. It makes things even more simple. 
I use lean ground beef but you can also make these with ground turkey or ground pork. 

Swiss Chard Rolls

1 lb lean ground beef
1/2 cup uncooked basmati rice
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/3 cup onion, finely diced
1/2 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp garlic powder
sprinkle cayenne pepper
salt & pepper
1 Tbsp fresh parsley, chopped
2 tsp fresh dill, chopped
20 Swiss chard leaves
1 (15oz) can tomato sauce

Preheat oven to 350. Lightly spray a 10 inch pan with cooking spray. Cover the bottom with 2 or 3 spoonfuls of tomato sauce and set aside.

In a mixing bowl, combine the beef, rice, garlic, onion, and spices. 

Mix well and set aside. 
Bring a pot of water to boil. Quickly blanch each Swiss chard leaf in the boiling water for 30 seconds and then place the leaves briefly in ice water to stop the cooking. Pat dry. 

When all the leaves have been blanched and patted dry, carefully trim the large, middle vein in each leaf. 
To prepare the rolls - Lay a leaf on a flat work surface. Place a generous scoop of the meat mixture (amount will depend on the size of your leaves) at the larger end of the leaf and carefully roll it up, tucking in the sides as you go.

Place the roll, seam side down, in the prepared pan. Repeat until all the leaves and meat have been used up.

I was able to get 15 rolls using medium sized leaves. I had a space left in my pan so I just stuffed some extra Swiss chard leaves in there to fill the space. 
Pour the tomato sauce over the rolls. 

Lastly, place a few more Swiss chard leaves on top of the sauce. This is optional but I find it helps prevent things from drying out.

Cover with tinfoil and bake at 350 for 45 minutes. Uncover and continue to cook for another 15 or so minutes, until everything is bubbling. Remove from heat, remove the top leaves, and let sit for 5 minutes before serving.

Serve hot.

Not only are these very filling, they are also fairly healthy, and are a complete meal on their own.  

How about a close up of all that tastiness?

If you are not serving anything else with these then I would say this makes 3 servings. If you are using these as a side dish then I would say it would be more like 5 servings. 
FYI - These also freeze great after being cooked and can just be reheated in the microwave or oven. 
We're sharing at Carole's Chatter. Be sure to stop by and say hi.

Friday, August 4, 2017

Peanut Butter Cookie and Salted Caramel Ice Cream Sandwiches

We're stepping away from healthy today.
Way...way...waaaaaaay far away from healthy. Like.... *here* is this recipe today and that little tiny speck you see in the distance... way...way in the distance... that's healthy.
Everyone needs to indulge a little every once in a while, is what I say. Peanut butter cookies and salted caramel ice cream are two of my most favorite treats so I decided to combine them in the most magical way I could think of: ice cream sammies. 
Yes. They are sweet, in case you were wondering and, yes, they are very rich. You can make them any size you like depending on how big your sweet tooth is. Ever seen a fossilized tooth of a Spinosaurus? That's what my sweet tooth looks like. True story. 
Anyway, this recipe is a bit of work as it really requires 3 recipes to complete the whole picture. 1. Peanut Butter Cookies, 2. Salted Caramel Sauce, and 3. No Churn Salted Caramel Ice Cream.  It's okay though - it's worth it in the end, I promise. 
First Up: Peanut Butter Cookies with Salted Caramel Chips.

Peanut Butter Cookies With Salted Caramel Chips

1 cup sugar
1 cup packed brown sugar
1 cup butter
1 cup peanut butter
4 Tbsp milk
2 tsp vanilla
2 eggs
2 2/3 cup flour
2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1 bag Salted Caramel Chips (about 1 1/2 cups)

In a mixing bowl, beat together sugar, brown sugar, butter, and peanut butter until smooth. Beat in milk, vanilla, and eggs. In another bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, salt, and salted caramel chips. 

Stir the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients until stiff dough forms. 

Chill dough for at least 2 hours. 
When chilled, preheat oven to 350. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper or Silpat mat. Scoop cookies using a large cookie scoop onto prepared cookies sheet, about 2 inches apart to allow for spreading. 

Bake at 350 until bottoms are golden brown and tops are puffed and appear dry, about 8 minutes. 

Remove from oven and let cool on cookie sheet for about 5 minutes. Remove from cookie sheet to wire rack to cool completely. Cookies will flatten a little as they cool.

Next up: Salted Caramel Sauce

Salted Caramel Sauce

1/4 cup butter
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup whipping cream
1/2 tsp sea salt
1 Tbsp vanilla

In a medium saucepan over medium heat, combine ingredients.

 Bring to a boil, stirring constantly. When boiling, Lower heat to medium low and simmer, stirring constantly, for 7 minutes. Remove from the heat and let cool to room temp. (Store any leftovers in the fridge). 

Lastly: No Churn Salted Caramel Ice Cream

No Churn Salted Caramel Ice Cream

1 can sweetened condensed milk
1/4 cup Salted Caramel Sauce (Recipe Above)
1 tsp vanilla
2 cups whipping cream

2 Tbsp Salted Caramel Sauce (Recipe Above)

In a medium bowl, stir together the sweetened condensed milk, caramel, and vanilla. Set aside. 

In a large mixing bowl, whip the whipping cream until stiff peaks form. Gently fold the condensed milk mixture into the whipping cream. 

Pour the ice cream into a 9 X 13 pan lined with tinfoil. Swirl in the 2 Tbsp of caramel using a knife. 

Cover and freeze until firm, about 6 hours. (NOTE - if you are making the ice cream but NOT making ice cream sandwiches with it, you do not have to line the pan with tinfoil.)

And now.... the fun part.... assembling your ice cream sandwiches. 
All you will need is another bag of salted caramel chips (about 1 1/2 cups).

Take the frozen ice cream out of the freezer and, using the tinfoil for assistance, remove the ice cream to a flat work surface. Using a round cookie cutter the same size as your cookies, cut out circles from the ice cream. Work as quick as you can so the ice cream doesn't start to melt. 

Flip one peanut butter cookie upside down so the bottom is facing up. 

Top with a round of ice cream and then another peanut butter cookie.

Repeat until all the ice cream has been used up. 

I got 7 large sandwiches with some ice cream leftover. I could have probably gotten 8 or 9 sandwiches if I squished the ice cream leftovers together. 
Place back in freezer to firm up for about an hour. 
When the ice cream is firm again, melt the bag of salted caramel chips in the microwave in 20 second intervals, stirring in between, until smooth. 
Take one sandwich from the freezer at a time and dip half the sandwich in the melted caramel chips. It helps to use a knife to evenly spread the caramel. 

Return to freezer and then repeat with remaining sandwiches. You may have to reheat the melted caramel chips if they start to harden up. 

Freeze until firm or serve immediately. Wrap individually in plastic wrap for longer storage. 

Looks pretty darned tasty, right?

So. Much. Tastiness. 

As I  mentioned above, these do require a bit of a commitment to put together. You could cheat and get store bought cookies, sauce, and ice cream but it just wouldn't be the same. At all. Like.... not even close. I recommend you take the time and effort - trust me, the reward is worth it! 
Be sure to pop over to Carole's Chatter for tons of great food links!