Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Totes Easy Recipes: Stovetop Meatloaf

This recipe is so easy and so forgiving, the ingredient amounts are pretty much just guidelines. It's like cooking for pirates! Also, we pretty much always have all of this stuff around at all times especially because we buy or ground beef in bulk and freeze it, so it's pretty much our go-to "Holy crap it's dinner time?" dinner. We usually put it with risotto or sweet potato fries as a side but it really would go with most anything in my opinion. I would say this quantity would serve three hungry adults with a side dish. Two adults if you just wanted to have Stovetop Meatloaf with a side of Stovetop Meatloaf.
It started off life somewhat predictably as a Rachael Ray recipe which I highly recommend trying including the pasta side dish, but doing it this way was easier and incorporated more ingredients that I generally have on hand. And in case you're noticing a pattern, yes Garlic and Cumin is to me as Butter and Mayonnaise is to Paula Deen.

Anyway, without further ado:

Stovetop Meatloaf

1.5 pounds lean ground beef
4 cloves minced garlic
1 cup dried cranberries
2 teaspoons cumin
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
6 slices provolone cheese

1. In a skillet on medium-high heat, add the ground beef, Worcestershire sauce, salt, cumin, garlic, and cranberries. Cook until the beef is browned.

2. Stir in parmesan cheese.

3. Lay the provolone slices across the top of the ground beef mixture and cover, allowing the cheese to melt. After the cheese has melted, fold the rest of the ingredients over until everything is all mixed together.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

The Joys of Mastitis

Oh my god you guys I was so sick. I apparently allowed some mastitis to go unnoticed and get kinda severe and I really really thought I might die because I had never experienced chills like this and had no idea what was going on. It is in the 90s here right now and I was wrapped up in my winter bath robe under all the blankets plus my winter quilt and was still freezing and shaking uncontrollably for hours until I finally woke my husband up and he set about getting me drinks and tylenol and club crackers (all the shaking made me throw up eventually) and demanding to know why I hadn't woken him up sooner.

The answer to that is that it kind of snuck up on me. I always get sort of cold at night so at first I thought that's all it was. And my breast was kind of hurting which was keeping me awake but my son had been night waking and nursing lately and did not (thank your preferred thankee) wake up Friday night so I thought I was just engorged and I didn't connect the two until around 9 in the morning when I was no longer shaking but was still definitely sick and called my Mommy to wax pitiful and she said that it sounded like mastitis and then I felt pretty dumb and went to the doctor who couldn't believe last night was the first I noticed it. And the thing is, I had been kinda feverish and tired for the last few days, but I haven't been sleeping and it's freakin' hot so it was easy to brush off.

I've gotten some wicked strong antibiotics and am coming along quite nicely, though I still kind of feel like I have a weak flu. The whole thing did result in some overwhelming cuteness Saturday morning when my son finally woke up. He's 15 months now so I don't think he really understood what was going on, but instead of insisting on running around and playing like he normally does in the morning (he is definitely a morning person) he sat quietly on the bed next to me for over an hour rubbing my belly and feeding me (and him) club crackers in between snuggling. So even though the circumstances sucked, that's a hallmark memory right there.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

On Drugs

I'm feeling bloggy this evening and my son is actually sleeping so I'm gonna roll with it.

I've been wanting to write about this issue and others like it because someday my son may need advice from me as I am now rather than when I'm the mom of a teenager. One of the issues I dread having to confront as we go forward is the possibility of drug use. Right now, I genuinely feel that it is best to be honest with children (in age appropriate ways of course) no matter what the issue (except fictional characters, I'm all for prolonging that) from sex to financial issues. From my own experience, I think most kids can handle it as long as the communication remains open and they are constantly encouraged to ask questions about things they don't understand and I really think kids appreciate the respect that honesty implies.

I grew up around the criminal justice system in what at the time was a relatively rural area. Rural means a great many things but for those of you who don't know, due to the large expanses of land, rural often means lots of drugs.

I live in a much more urban area now but the addictions I've seen swallow people whole still make me terrified for my own children because I know exactly how easy it is to go down that path, and I know how long someone can hide an addiction even from those who know them best. I have known all of that for as long as I can remember and in spite of that, I experimented with drugs. A couple of different ones. Not a lot and not for many years, but I tried it partly because I was curious, partly because I was tired of feeling like "the good one", and partly because sometimes it does feel good to do something stupid.

I know that part of the reason I tried it was that it is my nature to try new things and I don't want my son or any future children I have to walk through their lives afraid of new experiences, but I'm hoping I can be honest with them about my experiences so that they can benefit from first-hand knowledge that in fact there is no point whatsoever in even dabbling in drug use. Yes, you can get addicted the first time. Yes, you could be arrested. And yes, there are various health risks involved with regular and even one time use of a narcotic. But the main reason I would encourage everyone to steer clear is that it's not nearly as much fun as regular drug users make it out to be.

For example, let's look at marijuana. Marijuana is a mild drug. For most people, including me, it's relaxing. It can help tremendously with feelings of social awkwardness or stress which is I believe where addiction comes in if you are someone dealing with a lot of either of those things. In fact, I think the first time I did it I called my BFF while I was still high and said, "I totally get drug addiction now. X,Y, and Z are still going on, but I don't give a damn." And when you're in the right environment with the right people it can be a whole lot of fun. But what I've learned is that it's not actually more fun than going to the movies with the right people, or playing board games, or going to the beach, or the park, or doing any number of other fun things that are just as fun that do not carry any of the risks drug use does.

That's what I'm really hoping I can impress upon my kids. Too much to lose, not enough to gain. Hopefully, that can carry them through.

Totes Easy Recipes

Okay I give up some food is just too good to photograph and apparently I will never remember to take pictures of my food before I eat it. This should not be surprising to me as evenings are the most hectic time of day around here. It pretty much is a non-stop flurry of OMG FINISHDINNERBEFOREMELTDOWNGETABATHGOTOBEDSORTOF!

So anyway, this is a family favorite and it is the easiest thing I have ever made except maybe toast. The amount of ingredients here is just a suggestion, basically just put in as much chicken as you think you want and then enough salsa to cover that chicken.

Crockpot Chicken Tacos

16 ounces medium salsa
1 pound boneless skinless chicken breasts
Flour tortillas
Your choice of toppings

Place salsa and chicken in crockpot, cook on high for 4 to 6 hours or low for 6 to 8 hours. When chicken is done it should shred easily with a fork. I like to shred all the chicken up and then let it sit a little while so that all the little bits soak up some salsa before serving. We eat these all the time. We like to put shredded "fiesta cheese" or "mexican blend" as it is sometimes called and Gallo Pinto (which is a rice and beans recipe I'm including as well) on the tortilla along with the chicken and wrap it up like a burrito. I don't remember where I found the original recipe for this, but it included adding an onion and a packet of taco seasoning to the crockpot ingredients which I used to do until I didn't have those on hand and I couldn't tell the difference.

Gallo Pinto is a Costa Rican dish that I picked up when I lived there for a very short time. In fact, I just learned from Wikipedia that it's the national dish. There are as many ways to make it as there are fish in the sea so pretty much as long as you include rice and beans you've done it right. I've experimented a lot to get it as close to what I remember tasting in my area at the time and think I've finally gotten the taste (if not the exact ingredients) correct.

Gallo Pinto

1 cup uncooked basmati (or whatever) rice
1 can black beans, drained
1 tablespoon butter
4 cloves minced garlic
1/2 teaspoon cumin
salt to taste

1. Cook rice to package instructions.
2. Melt the butter in the rice. This will help keep it from getting clumpy.
3. Add drained beans and spices, and stir it up nice.

It's totally easy and delicious and the measuring of ingredients is not that necessary as it's also very forgiving.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Quick Meal Plan

Because dadgumit I am going to do one this week.

Monday: Chicken Tacos (still no photos, gonna post the recipe anyway)
Tuesday: Pork Chops w/Mushrooms and Risotto
Wednesday: Beef Stroganoff
Thursday: Lasagna
Friday: Rachael Ray's Sloppy Chipotle Joes w/ sweet potato fries

I have been trying new vegetable recipes but I don't think that is going to happen this week as I have let my house get way out of hand and I have to reign it in before the weekend because my mother-in-law is coming and also because I have a kid and everything.

As always feel free to join in the meal plannin' fun atMindful Menus