New Pinterest Recipe of the Week: Secret Ingredient Meatloaf

I am a big fan of meatloaf. For me, it’s one of those ultimate comfort foods. It’s a big, meaty, “I love you,” for your stomach. Throw in some mashed potatoes and some bread or rolls and I’m set. Also highly in meatloaf’s favor is that it is so easy to make. A little bit of prep work and getting your hands dirty (I firmly believe true meatloaf should be mixed by hand), some time in the oven, and a wonderful dinner is ready to go.

I stumbled across this recipe a while back using stuffing mix and I gave it a try. I definitely liked the concept, and the first attempt went fairly well, but it wasn’t quite right for me. There just seemed to be something missing, and the loaf itself was a little dry. I solved that problem with my leftovers by putting applesauce over the top, which tasted quite nice, leading me to think, “Aha! Next time I’ll add some applesauce to the meatloaf itself!” I did, and I am very pleased with the result. I guess my version has two secret ingredients.

Ingredients

  • 1 – 1 1/2 lbs. of ground beef
  • 1 egg
  • 1 box of stuffing mix (I used sage because I like the extra herb flavor. The recipe I adapted this from used chicken.)
  • 1 cup of water
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce

Mix everything together and put it in a loaf pan (I used an 8×4). Cook in an oven set at 350°F for 45 minutes to an hour, depending on how much meat you used. Enjoy! (Really, that’s it!)

Adapted from Dancing Thru the Minefield

Secret Ingredient Meatloaf

Tweaks and Overall Review

Aside from using a different flavor of stuffing mix, the main thing I did was add the applesauce to the recipe, and I have to say I really think it makes this dish shine. The meatloaf stays nice and moist, and there is a slight sweetness from the applesauce which I think goes quite well with the herb flavors from the stuffing mix. I really enjoyed it, as did some friends who joined us for dinner. Since the prep time is minimal, probably less than 5 minutes, this is a perfect recipe for a busy night.

In Our Garden: Still Waiting

Ugh! I’ve been wanting to get our garden going the past couple of weekends but the weather here just won’t cooperate! We’ll have a couple of really lovely days, but then get hit by a snow storm which dumps a few inches on us. We’re getting hit today, and then are expected to get another later in the week. April is really starting to irritate me weather-wise. It’s making it rather hard to organize my closet when I have to have my winter clothes and my spring/summer clothes all out at once. Make up your mind, weather! I’m getting the impression that spring out here is really a lie and that all it is, is summer and winter duking it out for a month before winter finally gives up its hold and things are blisteringly hot for the next 5 months. Anyway, I’m hoping that this snow storm coming up later this week is the last hurrah and that we can get going on our garden this weekend. I have everything planned out, I just need the weather to hold up so that Big Bit and I can plant things and not be worried a freeze will come along and kill everything a week later. There seems to be something appropriate about planting our garden over Easter weekend, anyway. Fingers crossed.

However, not having the garden to work on has meant there has been some more time for puttering around in the kitchen. I’ve been playing around with a few new recipes that I’m hoping to have up in the coming days. There are a couple of things I want to tweak, but then they will be ready to go, so keep your eyes out.

New Pinterest Recipe of the Week: Pumpkin Nutella Swirl Muffins

Oh my goodness! The holidays and everything that goes with them are starting to take over life here, thus why this New Pinterest Recipe of the Week is so late in getting up. (Maybe I should just start calling it New Pinterest Recipe of the Every Other Week.) Anyway, I’m hoping to have the time to try some new Christmas recipes to post up here in the next few weeks, but until then enjoy this throwback to November, with Pumpkin Nutella Swirl Muffins!

Like I mentioned earlier in the blog, due to my husband’s schedule we did an early Thanksgiving. However, I am not the type to send him off to work empty-handed, especially on a holiday. Since a dinner was being provided, I needed something that would go with the meal, but wouldn’t be a repeat of something already being served. Obviously pumpkin is one of those quintessential fall flavors (just check Pinterest any time between September and November if you have any doubt), and muffins aren’t likely to already be on a Thanksgiving table. Add to the fact that these include Nutella, and I was sold. I found this recipe over at The Novice Chef.

Ingredients

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 cup canned pumpkin
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar (I used dark, but it probably doesn’t make much of a difference if you use light brown instead.)
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 Tbsp. vegetable oil
  • 2 Tbsp. milk (I used whole milk.)
  • 2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • Nutella for swirling

Preheat your oven to 350°F and prepare your muffin tin(s) by adding liners.

In a medium bowl, combine your dry ingredients (flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt).

In a large bowl, combine the pumpkin with both the granulated and brown sugars. Add the egg, vegetable oil, milk, and vanilla extract, beating until combined. Slowly add your dry ingredient mixture, mixing until there are no lumps. (I divided the dry mixture into thirds for mixing it in.)

Fill muffin tins about 3/4 full with batter and then top with Nutella. Use a toothpick or a knife point to swirl the Nutella.

Bake for about 15 minutes or until a toothpick or tester stick comes out clean.

Pumpkin Nutella Swirl Muffins

Tweaks and Overall Review

So when buying canned pumpkin, that smallest can one can find (or at least I could find) was 15oz. 15 oz. is more than a cup. Fortunately though, it is not much shy of two cups, so to make my life easier, and yours, too, if you don’t want to have a partially used can of pumpkin puree lying around when you try this, I took the standard 15 oz. can, used the whole thing, and just doubled the recipe. Problem solved. Now, partially since I doubled the recipe and partially since I like a bigger looking muffin, I filled my tins a little fuller than 3/4. That increased my baking time to about 20 minutes and also gave me a yield of 22 total muffins for my double batch.

I was pretty pleased with how these turned out. Big and Little Bit both seemed to enjoy them. The only thing I would tweak on a future attempt is that if you got a bite that didn’t have much Nutella swirl in it, the flavor seemed a little bland. To give the pumpkin batter a little of its own kick, I’ll probably add some cinnamon, nutmeg, or pumpkin pie spice to it the next time I make these. I’m leaning toward the cinnamon just because that seems a pretty safe bet for the other flavors I’d be working with. On the whole though, this was a pretty straight-forward, easy recipe, perfectly suited to when you need some pumpkin flavor in your life.

New Pinterest Recipe of the Week: Chicken Alfredo Bubble Up

I’m mixing it up a bit this week. For once, the chosen recipe is savory, not sweet and/or banana based. I figured it was time for something different. Since things are plenty busy around here, quick and easy meals are very much my friends right now. I found a bubble up pizza recipe a while back and have made it a few times. The family seems to enjoy it well enough, but it doesn’t keep as well as I would like, so leftovers aren’t as tasty (the biscuits tend to get a bit hard and crusty). However, the recipe, and the concept in general, makes for a good meal when crunched for time.

Enter the Chicken Alfredo Bubble Up. I was scanning Pinterest and came across this variation of the bubble up concept and immediately I was intrigued. Hubs loves chicken alfredo and since this recipe is alternately known as “White Pizza Bubble Up,” I can still call it “pizza” to the girls. (Sneaky mommy. Lol.) Anyway, this recipe originally comes from Julie’s Eats and Treats. Enjoy!

Ingredients

  • 2 cans of refrigerated biscuits
  • 1 16oz. jar of your chosen alfredo sauce
  • 2 cups of mozzarella cheese
  • 1/2 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp. garlic salt (I omitted this)
  • 1 1/2 tsp. Italian seasoning (I didn’t have “Italian seasoning” on hand so I just used a mixture of dried parsley and oregano. The oregano came from our little patio herb garden.)
  • 1 lb. of cooked chicken, cubed

Preheat your oven to 375°F and spray a 9×13 baking dish with cooking spray.

In a large bowl, cut up your biscuits into 4-6 pieces, depending on size. Toss the biscuit pieces with the alfredo sauce and seasonings.

Add the chicken and 1 cup of the cheese, making sure everything is blended evenly.

Spoon or pour the mixture into your baking dish and top with the remaining cheese. Bake for 25-35 minutes, making sure the biscuits (especially those in the middle) are done.

Chicken Alfredo Bubble Up

Tweaks and Overall Review

Okay, so I’m going to go ahead and admit to tweaking this recipe quite a bit based on what I had on hand in my own kitchen. The original recipe used standard sized Grands biscuits, cutting them up into 6 pieces. I used Grands Jr. biscuits, so I only cut mine up into 4. Also, because I used a garlic parmesan alfredo sauce (and the fact that I didn’t have any on hand), I omitted the 1/2 tsp. of garlic salt. (If you’ve followed this blog a bit, you know I am a firm believer in using what you have on hand, rather than buying an ingredient solely for one recipe unless absolutely necessary.) Also, as noted above, I made my own “Italian seasoning” with some help from our herb garden. Finally, I added about 1/4 cup of milk to the alfredo sauce. I hate that when you pour out the jars you are left with so much clinging to the inside, so I pour in about 1/4 cup of milk, screw the lid back on, give it a good shake (think like mixing a martini) and then pour that out as well. I think it was very helpful in this recipe since it added a little extra liquid to keep things moist.

This was a total hit in my house. My husband said he liked it better than the original pizza bubble up I’d been making (so do I), and apparently when he took some leftovers to work for lunch, some of the crew was jealous. Speaking of leftovers, this kept very well. Much better than the original pizza bubble up recipe. Even a few days later the biscuits were soft and moist after being reheated in the microwave (about 2:30 on 50% power and then another 20 seconds or so on full power, by the way).  The most time consuming portion of this recipe is prepping the chicken, but if you have some pre-cooked from another recipe or just use a rotisserie chicken from the store, you’re back down to maybe 20 minutes of prep work before dinner is in the oven and that’s if you’re moving slowly or being distracted by kids. If you have to start from scratch with the chicken you’ll add another 15-20 minutes to cube and cook it, but I’d still consider that negligible time-wise. Overall, a really good “throw together” meal for busy nights. I’ll definitely make this again (and again) for us here at home, and one of these days I’ll probably send a batch to work with Hubs, since his leftovers seemed to cause food envy.

 

Chocolate/Peanut Butter/Banana Oatmeal Shake

Some days it’s a quick breakfast or no breakfast. On those days I find it easiest to drink my breakfast. Much more portable if need be. This is something I came up with myself for days when I need something fast and filling. Most of these measurements are approximations (I usually just eye everything when I make it) and, of course, everything can be adjusted to your own personal needs and tastes.

Ingredients

  • 1-2 very ripe bananas, depending on size
  • 1/4 cup creamy peanut butter
  • 2 rounded tsps. chocolate powder
  • 1-1 1/2 cups old-fashioned oatmeal (depending on how thick you want it)
  • 1-1 1/2 cups of milk (I use whole milk. Again adjust depending on desired thickness of your shake.)
  • 1 tsp. vanilla

Throw everything in a blender, mix it up, and enjoy! That’s it. I usually start on the “puree” setting and then switch to “liquify” after the blender has been on for about 30 seconds. Then it’s just pour and go. Seriously, it’s that easy, and in these portions, you will definitely be full until lunch. And like I said, feel free to tweak this to your own personal needs. My version is by no means the healthiest version of this that could exist. So go ahead. Give it a try, see what you think, and then tweak away!

Chocolate/Peanut Butter/Banana Oatmeal Shake

New Pinterest Recipe of the Week: Peach Oatmeal Muffins

Something kind of funny happened when I decided to make these. I knew I had all the ingredients on hand, which was delightfully convenient since waddling my pregnant butt around the commissary is getting more tiresome by the day. Funny thing was though, I had exactly the amount I needed for two of my ingredients to make this batch of muffins, no more, no less. I guess it was meant to be.

As a treat to myself, I splurged on some beautiful, organic peaches this past week. When I’m pregnant, I love a good peach, or anything peachy, really. It’s one craving that has been consistent in all my pregnancies (and this is #3). So having such lovely peaches on hand (and they really were), I knew that this week’s New Pinterest Recipe had to be something with peaches in it. I found this recipe over at Damn Delicious and it seemed perfect for my needs: peachy, wouldn’t take too long (because standing in a kitchen when almost 9 months pregnant is tiresome as well), and not completely unhealthy (The peach and the oats totally balance everything else out, right? Right!). So here we go: Peach Oatmeal Muffins.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup rolled oats
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • 2 tsps. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1 large egg, beaten
  • 1 cup chopped peaches (I ended up using closer to 1 1/2-2 cups since one chopped peach didn’t give me quite enough, so I ended up using two, which since they were rather large, was more than enough. But like I said, this pregnant lady loves peaches so having extra was not an issue for me.)
  • Cinnamon-sugar for sprinkling on top

Preheat the oven to 400°F and line a standard 12 cup muffin tin with paper liners.

In a large bowl, combine your flour, oats, sugar, baking powder, and salt (your dry ingredients).

In a smaller bowl, or a large measuring cup, whisk your egg, sour cream, and butter together (the wet ingredients).

Pour the wet ingredients over the dry, and combine until just moist.

Add peaches and gently stir to combine.

Distribute batter evenly in your lined muffin cups and top with a sprinkling of cinnamon-sugar.

Bake for about 16-18 mins. Makes about 10-12 muffins.

Peach Oatmeal Muffins

Tweaks and Overall Review

I ended up with 12 muffins in my finished batch. Considering that I had probably almost doubled the amount of peach in mine, a standard batch would probably turn out 9 or 10. Also, because I filled my muffin tins almost to the brim, my baking time was a little longer. I took them out at 20 mins., since at 18 they were still just a little too underdone and I wanted slightly more color on the tops. Finally, I will take this chance to emphasize: Use liners for this one! It will make your life easier. Even if you usually don’t, use liners this time. Oh, and be sure and use fresh peaches. I know that makes this more of a seasonal recipe, but just don’t bother with frozen on this one. The flavor just won’t be the same.

These turned out so well. I was really pleased. You can definitely taste the oats, but there is plenty of peach to go with it. One of my taste testers described them as being like peaches and cream oatmeal in muffin form. These are definitely something to eat same day as baking, since hopefully you are using nice, juicy peaches, so I wouldn’t recommend letting the muffins sit too long. I don’t imagine that being a problem though. These are definitely getting added to the regular baking rotation. Hopefully I’ll get another good batch of peaches and can make them again soon, because these were just that good.

New Pinterest Recipe of the Week: Strawberry Banana Bread

I know, I know. It seems all I do is bake and that I have some terrible obsession with banana breads. I promise I can do more than bake, and that while I do love a good banana bread, there are other foods that I enjoy preparing (and eating) just as much. That being said, when you have perfectly overripe bananas, you use them, and when you have additional summer produce begging to be used (in this case strawberries), well, you make the Strawberry Banana Bread. This recipe comes from Flying on Jess Fuel (written by a fellow military spouse, hooah!). Enjoy!

Ingredients

  • 4 very ripe bananas (I only had 3, but they were larger, so it evened out)
  • 1/3 cup melted butter (As per usual, mine is unsalted)
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup whole wheat flour (I don’t usually have whole wheat flour so I just used all-purpose in place of the whole wheat)
  • 1 cup fresh strawberries, diced

Preheat oven to 350°F and grease an 8×4 loaf pan.

In a large bowl, mash the bananas, then mix in the melted butter. Add vanilla, sugar, and egg. Sprinkle salt and baking soda over the banana mixture and blend in. Add flour and mix until just combined. Gently fold in strawberries.

Pour or spoon batter into loaf pan, bake for approx. 1 hour. When a tester comes out clean, remove from oven and cool on rack. Remove from loaf pan after about 10 min. and allow to finish cooling on the rack.

Strawberry Banana Bread

Tweaks and Overall Review

Other than what is noted above, the only other tweak I made was to grease and flour my loaf pan. I just find it easier to get my pans to release when I do this. I needed slightly more than an hour of bake time, but no more than 1 hour 10 min. Also, I would advise testing in two locations when checking for doneness. The strawberries keep the pockets around them very moist so it may seem like the bread isn’t done if your stick hits one of them, which may cause you to give the bread additional oven time it doesn’t need. Just test in two locations (relatively close together and still in the center) and hopefully you avoid this possible issue.

How did it turn out? Wonderful. The strawberries were a great addition, but did not overpower the banana flavor. In fact, they married together quite well. The bread itself was moist, but still had a lighter texture than I was expecting. I let Hubs take the remainder of the loaf to work with him and it was a big hit. Apparently it was gone in about 5 minutes and there was moaning (the good kind). I’d say that’s a positive review. I also love this recipe for two other reasons. First, it uses melted butter. No waiting for butter to soften at room temperature. It’s not a big deal, but to me it just makes things seem that much easier. Second, you can mix everything in one bowl and cut down on clean-up. Anything that reduces the amount of dishes I have to wash wins in my book.

To sum up, you must try this! I thought it was amazing, my husband’s crew thought it was amazing, and I hope you’ll think it’s amazing.

New Pinterest Recipe of the Week: Fresh Strawberry Muffins

A friend of ours, Andie, had a longish layover on her way to visit some family back home, so instead of having her languish in the airport for hours, the girls and I went and picked her up so she could spend the time with us. We used to be stationed together, and the whole family has missed her now that we are no longer in the same zip code (or time zone for that matter). Frankly, Andie is the kind of friend every mom should have. She’s an awesome girlfriend to hang out with, but also adores the girls and was almost always able and willing to babysit or take Big Bit out for a while. So yeah, to sum up, Andie is awesome.

What does this have to do with Fresh Strawberry Muffins? Well back when we were in the same zip code, Andie was my partner in crime when it came to baking, so when she was here we did exactly what we used to: Stuck in a Disney movie for white noise and kid entertainment (in this case a double feature of Cinderella and The Little Mermaid) and got to baking. We decided to make these muffins that I found from Real Mom Kitchen since they looked delicious but didn’t make too large a batch or take too long to bake (we did have to get Andie back to the airport in time for her next flight).

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup of butter, softened (I used unsalted)
  • 3/4 cup of sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 2 cups of flour (I used all-purpose)
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla
  • 1 1/2 cups of fresh strawberries, chopped (I had closer to 2 cups, but I wanted to finish off the box I had bought. Anyway, who doesn’t mind some extra strawberries?)
  • 3 tsp. sugar
  • 1/2 tsp. cinnamon

Heat oven to 400°F.

Cream together the butter and sugar. Add the egg and mix well.

In a small bowl, sift together your flour, baking powder, and salt. Add flour mixture to wet ingredients, alternating with the milk. Add vanilla. Gently fold in strawberries, trying to get an even distribution in the batter.

Spoon batter into muffin pan(s). (I recommend lining them with wrappers for easier clean up.)

Sprinkle cinnamon and sugar over the tops of the muffins.

Bake 20-25 mins.

Makes approx. 12 muffins. Best eaten fresh as they tend to get gooey after a day due to the moisture from the strawberries.

Fresh Strawberry Muffins

Tweaks and Overall Review

These turned out beautifully! Our total bake time was 23 mins., so right in line with the recipe called for. We ended up getting 18 muffins from our batch, but that was probably due to adding the extra half cup of strawberries, which is the only real tweak I made to this recipe. The cinnamon-sugar made for a wonderful crunchy top for the muffins while the insides were moist and delicious. They weren’t overly sweet, but had a nice strawberry flavor and also weren’t as dense as I was originally expecting them to be. Now I can’t personally vouch for the whole “they get gooey after a day,” since none of ours lasted that long (They were that good!), but given how juicy our strawberries were, I think this advice is valid.

Overall a very good recipe, especially if you are hosting an event or have enough people in the house to know that these will get eaten on baking day.

New Pinterest Recipe of the Week: Strawberry Cream Cheese Cobbler

We had friends over for dinner and I figured it was the perfect excuse to test out a new dessert recipe. Since we have been getting such lovely strawberries the past month or so, I knew it had to include strawberries in some form or fashion. Off I went to my Pinterest boards to find something to try. I came up with three potential contenders, and ended up settling on Strawberry Cream Cheese Cobbler. (Don’t worry, the other two contenders will be made in due time, probably as their own “New Pinterest Recipe of the Week” over the next month or so.)

Now, since this is a Pinterest recipe, this obviously isn’t something of my own creation. This particular recipe came from Berks County News Reading Eagle Newspaper. You can find the original article and recipe here.

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup butter (1 stick, I used unsalted)
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 1 cup milk (I used whole milk)
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 tsps. baking powder (Make sure it hasn’t expired, since this is what makes the crust rise.)
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 2 qts. strawberries (For me this equalled about 2.5 lbs., but you may use a little more or a little less. The original recipe called for removing the caps of the strawberries, but otherwise leaving them whole. Since I had some rather large strawberries I ended up quartering or halving them, and I think that worked out fine.)
  • 4 oz. cream cheese (I used 4 oz. as a starting point, and sort of eyeballed it, putting teaspoon size dollops at semi-regular intervals over the strawberries.)

Preheat your oven to 350°F. Melt your butter and pour into a 9×13 baking dish. While the butter is melting, mix your egg, milk, flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Pour the batter directly into the baking dish with the melted butter, but do not mix them together.

Add your strawberries, as much as possible keeping them in an even, single layer (but don’t worry about a little overlap). Add chunks/spoonfuls of cream cheese on top of the strawberries.

Place the cobbler in your preheated oven and bake for approx. 45-50 minutes or until the top is golden and the edges are bubbling.

Image

Tweaks and Overall Review:

Aside from what I mentioned above regarding the strawberries and the cream cheese, the only other tweak I had to make from the original recipe was an increase in the baking time. Since I am at a high altitude, I had to add about 15 minutes in order to get the golden crust, bringing my total bake time to about an hour.

In the end, though, the extra 15 minutes was well worth it. This was a delicious dessert for late spring/early summer. The crust is more cake-like, but gives a nice base to the cobbler. The flavor of the strawberries is really given a chance to shine, since the crust is not overly sweet and the cream cheese is a nice compliment, but not overpowering. Also, with such easy prep, this is definitely something I would consider making as a contribution to a potluck or similar event.