Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Short on Time!

It was one of those evenings. It was 5:00 PM when I gave my first thought of the dinner menu. When my mother was raising her family, she had to pull the meat out of the freezer before she left for work in the morning, but not I. I can cluelessly go about my day with nary a thought of getting the family fed.

I finally decided that meatloaf was the thing and I pulled out a pound of ground beef and slammed it in the microwave. Even as I beeped the defrost button, I wondered how I was going to get it done before bedtime. And then, a stroke of brilliance. A full loaf would not get done before dark, but many wee, bitty loaves would.

So... instead of a meat loaf....

...meat cupcakes. (Baking time 30 minutes)

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Layered Tex-Mex Dip

For the past several years we've gone to the home of our friends' Brian and Jen to watch the super bowl. This year, I waited and waited for an invitation. I even hinted when we talked: "Are you thinking about the super bowl?"

"Nope," she chirped. "You?"

"I see your 'nope' and raise you a 'not even a little'."

And so we circled one another for the next few weeks until I lost the game of Hostess Chicken and said, "Fine. You can come over and watch the game and so can Sherlin and Janelle, but I'm NOT having a party!"

Come Game Day, we relaxed, kind of watched the game, tried to remember to watch the commercials, and ate lots of junky, game day food, including - my favorite - Layered Tex Mex dip.

The recipe:
1 1/2 c. refried beans, seasoned as you like
1 c. guacamole
3/4 c. sour cream
3/4 c. mayonaise
3 T taco seasoning
shredded cheese
sliced olives
diced onions
diced tomatoes

In a serving dish (I usually use a 9x13 pan for casual gatherings) spread the refried beans over the bottom of the dish. The next layer is the guacamole, spread evenly.

In a seperate bowl, combine the sour cream, mayo and taco seasoning, then spread across the guacamole for the third layer of the dip. Cover with shredded cheese and top with the final ingredients, as thickly as you like. Serve with tortilla chips.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Porcupine Meatballs

Snowlapalooza. Snowmageddon. President Snowbama. Snowtorious B.I.G. Algebraic Snowtation. Justice Snowtomayor. That's what we're dealing with here. To complicate matters for our family, Mike is out of the country and was supposed to fly into Chicago on Wednesday. He's still not home.

But the kids still need to be fed and don't Porcupine Meatballs sound good? I hadn't made these in a while and felt pleased to be selecting from our freezer full of the beef that Grandpa raised and from the pantry full of tomato juice that I canned this past summer.

Named for the porcupine because the rice pokes out from them like quills, it is hearty, warm and tasty on a bitterly cold day.

Porcupine Meatballs
1/2 c. uncooked long grain rice
1/2 c. water
1/3 c. chopped onion
1 t. salt
1/2 t. celery salt
1/8 t. garlic powder
1 lb. ground beef
2 T cooking oil
1 qt. tomato juice
2 T brown sugar
2 t. Worcestershire sauce

In a bowl, combine the beef, rice, water, onion, salts, pepper and garlic powder. Mix well. Shape into 1 - 1/2 inch balls.

In a large skillet, brown meatballs in oil; drain.

Combine tomato juice, brown sugar and Worcestershire sauce. Pour over meatballs. Reduce heat, cover and simmer for 1 hour.

What I notice is that the thin tomato juice, between the sugar mixed in and the starch of the rice cooking within, thickens into a wonderful, flavorful, saucey texture that I love. Remove from heat. Serve immediately.