Category Archives: Food

The Vodka Diaries

That one grabbed your attention, huh?

Good.

I like vodka.

It’s my spirit of choice, really – always has been, probably always will be. Tequila and I don’t really get along, and rum, well…. rum and I don’t always make the best choices. Whiskey makes me gag, and while I like gin with cranberry, I’m not sure I can handle it straight. Vodka, on the other hand….vodka and I are friends.

In my twenties, when I was poor, I thought Svedka and Skyy were top of the line vodkas. Grey Goose wasn’t even on my radar, because, psh, who could afford a $40 bottle of vodka? And then I got old, got my finances in order, and started budgeting for vodka…and low and behold, I realized I was buying mediocre vodka at best.

Truthfully, I’d not really had Grey Goose in any significant amount until we went to Mexico last year, where it was free (ish – I mean, we’d paid for the trip). I still haven’t actually tried Ketel One or Ciroc – both are on my list – and while I realize that life is too short to drink shit vodka, I’m also wise enough to realize that I drink too much of it to really make Grey Goose a habit.

Go ahead, judge me.

Enter….the Vodka Diaries.

Not too long ago, thanks to a trip to Total Wine, we might have had, oh, seven different kinds of vodka in the house. Sounds like a tasting party to me.

Vodka taste test

The contenders: (all prices are from the Total Wine website)

Summum: Our standby, which is a little bit of a hassle since we can’t buy it in Tennessee. It’s from the same region as Grey Goose. A wheat vodka, from France. $27.99/1.75l

Russian Standard: If we can’t get Summum, we’ll buy Russian Standard. A wheat vodka, from Russia. $17.99/750ml

Vixen: Founded by women. A corn vodka, from Georgia. $19.99/750ml

Ivanabitch: I picked this up based soley on the bottle. A wheat vodka, from Russia. $10.99/750ml

Jonathan Drake: Well regarded vodka. A wheat vodka, from the US. $12.99/750ml

Veil: A wheat vodka, from the US. $10.99/750ml

Veil Coconut: This probably shouldn’t have been in there, since it’s flavored. Oh well. A wheat vodka, from the US. $11.99/750ml

Of course, we needed a scale to rate them on.

vodka scale

So what did we think?

vodka rankings

Sigh. This is what happens when you’re too lazy to run spell check on your hastily thrown together Word chart.

And the winner? Definitely Summum, with Vixen a close runner up. Though to be honest, the more of them I drink, the more I prefer Vixen. What can I say…I’m a sucker for good marketing.

In case you’re wondering, yes, this was a fun night.

Pizza Night Recipes

Time for a pizza recipe!!!

It’s been a while since we had one. (Well, ok, it’s been a while since we had any sort of recipe, or any sort of anything. But who’s keeping track?) I think the last one was the Garden Veggie Pizza, which still makes me drool every.single.time. I look at the picture or even think about it.

It’s been a while since we made pizza, too. Probably since that last post, or close to it at least. I’m not sure why – we’ve had dough in the freezer – other than we’re perhaps slightly lazy.

I shouldn’t say that.

That makes you think pizza-making is hard work. It is most definitely not. (I mean, yeah, it’s harder than ordering a pizza. But way more satisfying and way less expensive.) I’ve said it before…making homemade pizza is FUN. It’s an experience, and while it takes a little while, it’s a great way to spend time with someone and be creative and have a delicious meal at the end of it. Pizza night is sort of a date in and of itself. Don’t believe me? Try it. Then talk to me.

Anyway, I’ve got not one, not two, but THREE pizza recipes for you. And yeah, I know. If I were a smart blogger I’d make this three posts. I’m not. This is more convenient for all of us.

Without further ado…..

Pizza Dough Recipe

We adapted this from Annie’s Eats, who adapted it from a cookbook. So, we’re just going to call it my recipe. Hope that works for everyone. You need:

  • 4 cups of bread flour (22ish ounces – weigh it, that’s easier)
  • 1 package of active dry yeast (or instant yeast, if you like that term better)
  • ½ cup warm water
  • 1 ½ tsp salt
  • 1 ½ cup room temperature water
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tbsp maple syrup

Wait, what? Maple syrup in pizza dough?? I haven’t lost my mind. Mellow Mushroom uses molasses in their dough, and that’s what gives it the sweet taste. I will never use molasses for anything besides pizza dough, and therefore do not see the point of buying it. Besides, we all know I’m somewhat lazy, and maple syrup is something 95% of you have in your kitchens. I’m already asking you to buy the expensive bread flour, I’m not going to ask you to buy molasses too. Sheesh.

  • Pour the ½ cup warm water into a measuring cup or bowl, and sprinkle the yeast on top. Let it sit for a few minutes while you weigh the flour.
  • Combine the bread flour and salt and mix briefly.
  • Pour the 1½ cup room temperature water on top of the water/yeast mixture. Add the oil and maple syrup and stir.
  • Pour the water mixture into the flour mixture and mix until wet.
  • Then knead the dough (I do this by hand but you could use a stand mixer) until it’s smooth and elastic. Tip: It helps to use copious amounts of flour on your hands if you do this. It’s also lots of fun. You’ll know when it’s done – it stops being hard to manipulate and starts looking like pizza dough.
  • Place dough in a lightly oiled bowl.  Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let the dough rise on the counter until doubled in size, about 2 hours.
  • After 2 hours, divide the dough into two equal pieces. If you’re planning to freeze it, wrap each piece in plastic wrap, then place inside a freezer bag. (It’ll need a day in the fridge to thaw once you want to use it.) Otherwise, let the dough relax for at least 10 minutes, until it can easily be rolled into a pizza shape.

Now…..Put your pizza stone in the oven and turn it on to 500 degrees F. Yes, that’s hot. It’ll be fine.

Roll out your dough into a pizza shape. Brush the edge of the crust with an olive oil/garlic/Parmesan mixture. Then put it on your transfer surface. We usually use a cookie sheet with parchment paper on it (though we used plates this time, which didn’t work as well). You’ve got to be able to transfer the pizza to the stone and then off the stone again once it’s done cooking. We cut the paper to just a little bit bigger than the pizza so we have something to grab onto.

Ok, now for the rest of it. It’s pretty simple…brush on sauce, then cheese, then toppings, then more cheese (if you want). Then transfer to the hot pizza stone and cook it until it’s done – anywhere from 5 to 15 minutes depending on how thick your dough is and how browned you want it. Just keep an eye on it – this isn’t the kind of thing you necessarily want to set a timer and forget about.

I’ll be honest and admit that we didn’t make the sauces from scratch. They still turned out fine. I need to dedicate some time to working on a red sauce. I’ll try to do that soonish. (Yeah I know, I said that last year.) Also, I’m showing you the uncooked pizzas so you can see the ingredients more clearly. We made three: White Veggie, Buffalo Chicken, and Pepperoni Mushroom. I’m not giving you measurements because pizza is a personal thing…however big your pizza is, and however much stuff on it you want, GO FOR IT. This is your pizza. I’m just here for inspiration.

White Veggie Pizza

White Veggie Pizza

  • Bertolli White Pizza Sauce (I actually would not recommend this sauce, but it’s what we had)
  • Fresh mozzarella slices
  • Summer squash
  • Mushrooms
  • Shredded mozzarella

Buffalo Chicken PizzaBuffalo Chicken Pizza

  • Steak n Shake Buffalo Sauce
  • Cooked chicken breast tossed in buffalo sauce
  • Bleu cheese crumbles
  • Shredded mozzarella

Pepperoni Mushroom PizzaPepperoni Mushroom Pizza 

  • Pizza Sauce (ours was Kroger)
  • Shredded mozzarella
  • Mushrooms
  • Sliced pepperoni

And the end result? Heaven.

Enjoy!!!

Book Review: Salad Love

Salad Love

Salads take the spotlight in this visually arresting cookbook that showcases a year’s worth of weekday recipes so exciting you’ll want to eat salads every day.

At the request of his co-workers who were constantly admiring his lunches, David Bez started the photo-driven blog Salad Pride, embarking on a year-long challenge to create one new salad every day. The blog instantly gained popularity for its creative salads that require no special cooking skills. The cookbook Salad Love pairs his vibrant photographs with accompanying recipes arranged around seasonal produce.

Recipes include Egg, Asparagus, Croutons, and Pecorino for Spring; Crabmeat, Avocado, Nori, and Cucumber for Summer; Kale, Raspberries, and Blackberries for Fall; and Manchego, Dried Apricots, Fennel, and Radicchio for Winter. Many salads in the book require only a cutting board and a knife, so lunches can be made fresh at your desk. With an emphasis on fresh, whole foods, and innovative flavor combinations, these salads truly excite and inspire.

Review

I’ve had this book for a while now, and am just now getting around to reviewing it. Oh, I’ve looked at it – about 15 times, to be exact. Truth is, I’m a little overwhelmed at all the amazing salad goodness in its pages.

I like salads well enough, but I’m not the sort of person who can eat a salad as a meal and not be A) ravenously hungry 20 minutes later, B) super grumpy, or C) both. And I sort of get in salad ruts….I mean, there’s only so many days you can eat a chicken-cucumber-mushroom-romaine salad before you’re ready to pull your hair out.

Enter Salad Love, a gorgeous book full of 260ish DIFFERENT salad recipes. Holy Batman that’s a lot of salads.

I’ve got to say, this book is gorgeous. I mean, beautiful. Each salad is photographed in a plain white bowl, on a plain white backdrop, and it’s just insane how much more appetizing the food looks. If it weren’t a book, you could almost cut out the pages and frame them in your kitchen they’re that pretty. I appreciate that, because let’s be honest….does anyone really get excited about recipes unless there’s a picture? (That’s why Pinterest is taking over the world, friends.)

The salads (I don’t really think calling them recipes is right) are grouped by season – Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter. Each salad within a section uses seasonal ingredients, so the Fall and Winter salads have a lot more of your root vegetables and hardy greens, and Spring and Summer have a lot of berries and fruits. There are options for vegan, vegetarian, and raw dieters. Each salad is fairly simple, and most have fewer than 5 or 6 ingredients. Bez offers suggestions for serving sizes, but really makes the point that it’s up to you how much you eat. His goal was to give you variety, not put you on a diet.

Another thing to mention is that not all of these salads have lettuce. There are pasta salads, couscous salads, quinoa salads, zucchini ribbon salads, and yes, plenty of “greens” salads.

I have to admit that I haven’t actually made an entire salad from the book. That said, I’ve used a lot of the various ingredients and sort of mixed and matched. For instance, I never considered putting cottage cheese on my salad before, but it’s actually really really good. Same with roasted sweet potatoes.

Even though I haven’t made one of Bez’s conceptions, I’m really enjoying this book. It’s making me think of salad in a whole new way, and helping me get out of the dreaded salad drudgery. This one is quickly becoming a staple in my kitchen!

You can pick up a copy on Amazon for about $17. Definitely worth it!

I received this book free from Blogging for Books in exchange for my honest review. 

Blueberry Oatmeal Yogurt Muffins

More Montana pictures are coming. Swear. But while you’re waiting, I’ve got some yumminess to share. That way we can all eat muffins together while we drool over the next set of Montana pictures.

Tiffany from Domesticated Academic posted this pretty awesome recipe for Blueberry Power Muffins way back in 2012. I came across it on Pinterest (where else?) and pinned it to one of my ever-growing boards. Then this week, I realized I had a huge Costco-sized carton of blueberries about to spoil in my fridge. Sure, I could freeze them, but since I’d also been madly craving donuts, I figured muffins might be a good compromise. After digging through my pins, I eventually found Tiffany’s recipe and decided to give it a shot. Luckily I had some willing helpers.

Baking MuffinsI’ve been experimenting a little more lately in the kitchen, trying substitutions and generally working on incorporating healthier ingredients. Especially when it comes to baked goods. (I’m currently trying to tweak a vegan chocolate chip cookie recipe I found that’s just.not.quite.right. More on that soonish.) So, while Tiffany’s recipe looked great, I knew I wanted to adjust it a little bit and make it my own.

Let me tell you – this recipe is awesome. I take none of the credit, since all I really did was copy someone else’s genius. Also, her pictures are better. I just don’t have the patience to take killer photos for my blog. Actually, no, that’s not true. Taking the pictures would be fine. But my camera – while awesome – is a few years old and means I have to take the memory card out, upload it to my computer, and then edit it. Or, I can just take a photo on my phone and upload it to WordPress. Guess which one wins.

Where was I?

Oh yeah, killer muffins.

Muffin Closeup

Yes. Those are Christmas cupcake liners. Don’t judge.

 Blueberry Oatmeal Yogurt Muffins

Adapted from Domestic Academic

Makes 12 enormous muffins

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups flour
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 cup oats
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup applesauce
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cups Greek yogurt
  • 4 tbsp butter
  • blueberries

Pre-heat your oven to 350 degrees. Line your muffin tin with muffin liners. Or cupcake liners, if you prefer.

Mix together the dry ingredients (flour, sugar, oats, baking powder, baking soda, and salt). In a separate bowl, mix together wet ingredients (applesauce, yogurt, butter). Then fold your wet ingredients into your dry ones and mix until well blended. Your batter will be pretty thick. Have faith.

And in case you’re thinking like I did, that you can be lazy and just use one bowl….probably. It didn’t occur to me until after I’d already dumped the yogurt in bowl #2.

Eventually, GENTLY stir in your blueberries. Use as many as you want. I did a handful. Tiffany did a cup. There’s no such thing as a wrong amount of blueberries. And remember. GENTLY. You don’t want to smush them.

Once you’ve got your berries distributed to your liking, spoon the batter into your muffin tin. You’ll probably fill each cup – that’s ok. Or make smaller muffins and have more of them. This is your muffin story. Write it.

Bake them for 25ish minutes, or until the tops are just starting to turn golden. Let them cool, then enjoy the deliciousness.

Blueberry Oatmeal Yogurt MuffinsI used margarine (Country Crock Light to be exact) because I was low on coconut oil and didn’t want to use all of what I had left. Please don’t preach at me about margarine. Everyone has an opinion about it, and that’s fine. Use whatever you want to use.

As for the yogurt, I used plain. Feel free to use a flavor. Also feel free to use whole wheat flour instead of regular. As for the oats, mine were regular, but I’m not sure it’d make a difference if yours were the quick-cook kind.

I don’t know what the original nutrition facts were, but I’m fairly pleased with how mine turned out. I ate two for breakfast this morning and wasn’t hungry for about 6 hours, so I’d definitely consider that a power muffin. Give them a try, and let me know what you think!

Blueberry Oatmeal Yogurt Muffin Nutrition

December in Montana: Great Falls

Hello friends! It’s been a minute.

We’ve been hit with an ice storm, so our little world is essentially shut down. Last night we lost power for about 6 hours, so we hauled out the board games, candles, and heavy blankets. It was fun, almost an adventure – though I’m thankful to the power company for getting us back online quickly. If you’re dealing with winter weather, hope you stay safe, warm, and cheerful!

I know, I know. I promised Montana pictures. They’re coming!

Back in December I had the amazing good fortune of traveling to Montana for a week for work. We were terrified, because in the weeks before we left, the weather was hovering around -10 degrees. Wouldn’t you know, the week we were there, it was actually warmer in Montana than in Tennessee? It was absolutely gorgeous weather, with no snow in sight. Sad, but ultimately nice for driving. Which we did a lot of.

We flew into Bozeman, then drove 3 hours to Great Falls. We spent 2 days in Great Falls, then drove to Fort Benton. Then we drove all the way back to Bozeman. Lots of driving.

Montana is one of those places that I think I could move to. I loved Utah, and Montana has Utah beat by a long shot. It’s so amazingly beautiful and peaceful. The food is to die for, the beer is excellent, and the people are genuinely nice. (Not nice like Southerners, who typically have an ulterior motive, but genuinely actually nice.) And because it’s so massive, there aren’t a ton of people on top of you. I think the lack of traffic is one of the things I miss most, honestly.

Three places + three sets of pictures = three posts. Let’s do Great Falls first.

from the Great Falls website

from the Great Falls website; click the picture to go there!

Great Falls is in the north-central part of the state, about an hour and a half north of Helena. It’s one of the larger cities in the state, but that’s relative. It’s got about 60 thousand people. If you’re ever in the city, the streets are laid out in a grid. All the “streets” run one direction and the “avenues” another. I want to say streets are north to south, and avenues east to west, but don’t quote me on that. We didn’t find this out until our last day there, and I wish we’d known sooner. Basically, there’s 10th Avenue, and that is the main road you need to know in order to find anything.

We stayed at both the Holiday Inn and the Best Western. They were both nice, and I’d stay in each of them again, no issue. One perk to the Best Western was the breakfast – it was included, and was delicious.

Best Western Great Falls breakfastI actually didn’t take any pictures of Great Falls that weren’t food. Go figure. To be honest, though, we didn’t have a whole lot of time since we were working. I’ll be back in May and will try to remedy that. There’s a little river walk park area that was pretty, and looked like it would be good for kayaking in the summer. The MacKenzie River Pizza Company sits right along the river. This is a place you absolutely MUST go while in Montana. It originated in Bozeman, but they’re all over. I’m really really REALLY excited about going back there.

Mackenzi River Pizza Co - Great FallsI had a salad with weird crouton things…it looked like really fine granola. It was a bit too crunchy for me, so I’d skip that if you go. But the pizza….oh man the pizza. And just to be clear, while I like pizza, I’m not generally an “OMG I LOVE PIZZA” person. But this pizza? Yeah, I loved it.

YUM

YUM

I got the MacKenzie River Pizza, which has an olive oil and garlic base and is topped with spinach, roasted zucchini, mushrooms, tomatoes, and mozzarella, and is dusted with feta. Heaven. Absolute Heaven.

When you’re done drooling over that one…..I also recommend the Celtic Cowboy. Not going to lie, we picked this place mainly because of the name. It’s “Downtown” and has a great little atmosphere. I had the Bangers and Mash.

Celtic Cowboy Great Falls

Bangers and Mash at Celtic CowboyThe last restaurant we tried was Umami, which got rave reviews as the best sushi in Great Falls. I’m not a huge sushi fan, but I was craving something light, so I got the caterpillar roll. I loved the fact that it looked like a caterpillar. Honestly, though, it wasn’t great. I’ve had better. Our guess was that of all the sushi in Great Falls, it probably WAS the best…but Great Falls is probably not a place to get sushi. Make sense?

Umami - Great Falls - Caterpiller RollI swear we did more than eat in Great Falls.

I mean, come on. We drank.

Montana has something like 30-odd craft breweries. Three are in Great Falls, so we hit two of them. Mighty Mo was first.

Mighty Mo - Great FallsMighty Mo was a cute little brewery. They served our beer flight (which was $6!!!) in a fish tray, which was cool.

Flight at Mighty MoI wasn’t super impressed with their beer, sadly. The Lip Ripper IPA was my favorite, though I wouldn’t go back for it. The Rising Trout Pale was ok, the Dam Fog Hefe was disappointing, and the Smoke Jumper Scottish just wasn’t my style. I did really like their decor though:

Mighty Mo InsideAfter Mighty Mo we headed to The Front, where we were kind of struck dumb by the selection.

The Front Beer List - Great FallsWe did flights here, and I tried every IPA. They were all good, but nothing even came close to the River Water IPA. It’s unfiltered, and one of the few they can. Delicious. They also had a really fun Christmas Tree.

The Front - Great FallsSo lots of eating and drinking in Great Falls. I’m sure there’s more to do there, and maybe in May I’ll get a chance to find some of it. We spent a very quick two days, then headed up to Fort Benton, about 40 miles away……..to be continued!

 

Product Review: Kiss Me Organics' Ceremonial Matcha Powder

Kiss Me Organics recently sent me a sample of their Organic Matcha Ceremonial Grade Green Tea Powder to try. I’m not a huge tea drinker, but I’m trying to be. I know it’s good for me, both mentally and physically. I’ve found a couple of black teas that I like, so I was interested in seeing how I liked green tea.

For those new to green tea like me, Matcha is a type of green tea grown in Japan. To simplify quite a bit, Matcha leaves are ground before being fermented. The end result is more antioxidants, a greener color, and a milder flavor. Matcha comes in Ceremonial grade and Culinary grade. You can drink both. Ceremonial grade is more expensive, and is higher quality, but really the difference is just which leaves looked the best (I’m only slightly exaggerating).

I’m not the best person to be writing this review, so I’ll go ahead and admit that up front. If you love tea, and if you love green tea in particular, I have no doubt you’ll love this. I did not. Oh, the color is gorgeous. It’s this bright shamrock green color that doesn’t even look real (I should have taken a picture – I didn’t, I’m sorry).

I followed the suggested “dosage” for my first cup, and made the mistake of taking a sniff before tasting the tea. The first drink was ok. The second was bad, and by the third I knew I just couldn’t do it.

Again, I’m not the best person to be reviewing this, so I apologize to Kiss Me Organics. They were wonderful to work with and I feel like I’ve done them a disservice! I’ve tried it a couple of times with adding honey or using less powder, and it’s just too strong for me. I have no doubt it’s a high quality product that green tea lovers will enjoy.

Corn Chowder with Summer Squash

It started off simply enough. I’d been craving corn chowder for weeks. Weeks. Except, I didn’t have any milk, and I kept refusing to buy it until it was on sale, which took forever and a day. So I had to wait. Not-so-patiently.

Then I finally had all the ingredients, and I was feeling extra lazy, so it still didn’t happen. Until one day, Jimmie told me I’d never make my soup. So of course, I had to prove him wrong.

Corn Chowder IngredientsI’d originally planned to put potatoes in this instead of squash, but then I came across a recipe on Pinterest that used squash and looked delicious. She also used cheese, and heavy cream, and real bacon. I have no doubt her soup tastes amazing. I was going for something slightly healthier (not to mention that I think I’ve bought heavy cream exactly once, and it spoiled in my fridge).

Since I had a bunch of frozen squash in my freezer, I hauled out a bag and went to town. I also found some green onions in there, so they went in at the last minute. As did the bacon bits, just for a little extra something-something. Yes, I’m that person who actually enjoys imitation bacon bits. Sue me.

If I were really adventurous, I’d have taken some of the corn out and thrown it in the blender to make the soup a little thicker. I didn’t, because (as you all know by now) I’m lazy. So my soup is a little runny, but the flavor is delicious, and I’m happy with it. It’s even decently healthy.

corn chowder nutrition facts

And it’s easy. You literally dump everything in the pot, stir it a time or two, and let it simmer for 30 minutes or so. Deliciousness is served. It’s comfort food with a taste of summer and it’s filling and warm and oh-so-yummy.

Corn Chowder

Ingredients

  • 2 cups chicken stock or broth (I used bouillon because I didn’t have any stock on hand)
  • 2 cups water
  • 2 cups milk (I used 2%)
  • 2 packages frozen corn
  • 1 cup summer squash diced
  • ½ cup onion diced
  • ½ cup green onion diced
  • 3 tbsp butter
  • 3 tbsp bacon bits
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Enjoy!!

Comfort Food Classic: Amazingly Easy Meatloaf

Meatloaf is one of those things that everyone is picky about. You like your mom’s, your grandmother’s, your father’s, your whoever’s recipe. And that’s it. Right? Nothing else even comes close, and hot damn, you’re not trying anyone else’s because it just won’t be the same.

Welllllllll…..I’m going to prove you wrong. Because mine is that good. THAT GOOD.

I’ve had countless discussions with friends about what makes the best meatloaf. It’s always a debate. Doubtless many of their meatloaves are delicious. But they’re not mine, and they’re not easy, and that’s just two strikes against them.

My mom taught me how to make meatloaf over the phone one night. It was after college – I’d watched her do it a thousand times, but all I knew was that she used oats and ketchup. Seriously, the only reason we even had oats was for meatloaf….we sure as hell didn’t eat them. (To this day, I’m still all about the instant, which, as Jimmie tells me, is a misnomer, because the quick cook oats take the same length of time. Whatever.)

So anyway, I had my heart set on meatloaf, and Mom wasn’t around, and I had all this ground beef and some oats and ketchup and no clue what to do next. I called her up, got the “recipe,” and set to work. And on my first try, it was delicious. FIRST TRY PEOPLE.

Over the years, I’ve modified it only slightly. I made a few adjustments to our tastes, but the tried and true recipe stays the same. Every time I make it, Jimmie tells me I need to make it more often. And even more impressive, he prefers my meatloaf to his mother’s. (SHOCKING, RIGHT???)

For the folks who are new here, let me let you in on a little Casey secret. I’m incredibly lazy. I routinely take shortcuts in my cooking, and any recipe with more than 5 ingredients makes my head hurt. So for the most part, the recipes you’ll see on this blog are the “make it, stick it in the oven, and forgettaboutit” variety. This meatloaf is no different.

Before we go forward, I suppose I should back up (like that?) and explain. Yes, I know. You’ve never heard of using oats in meatloaf. Doesn’t everyone know that you’re supposed to use bread crumbs? What’s wrong with you? I can hear you now.

I tried it with bread crumbs once. Barf.

For all of you who swear you hate meatloaf, I guarantee it’s because the only meatloaf you’ve ever eaten was made with bread crumbs. I apologize to all I’m about to offend. Bread crumbs = soggy mushy meatloaf that tastes like….well, bread crumbs. I don’t care if you use store bought crumbs or rip up little pieces of bread, bread in meatloaf just isn’t right.

Using oats gives meatloaf texture for one thing – it’s not soggy. The oats bulk up the meatloaf, so you end up using less and getting a firmer loaf, and it has more of a meat consistency – and less of a spam consistency. It also doesn’t hide the flavor of the meat to use oats. And since oats are good for you, you get a little nutritional boost too (maybe). Have I convinced you yet?

I won’t lie and say it’s super healthy, but it’s meatloaf. I used 80/20 ground round, because that’s what I had….turkey would be lighter, though probably wouldn’t be as yummy (and you’d probably want to adjust the cook time).

I said this meatloaf was simple. I also said that I hated recipes with more than 5 ingredients…and here I am giving you 6. You can skip the pepper if you’d like – I don’t usually use it, but thought I’d try it tonight. (Good choice.)

Meatloaf IngredientsAmazingly Easy Meatloaf

Prep Time: 5 minutes

Cook Time: 1 hour

8 Servings

Ingredients

  • 2 pounds ground beef
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup whole grain oats
  • 1/2 cup ketchup
  • 3 tbsps Worcestershire Sauce
  • Pepper
  • Mustard powder
  • 2 tbsps ketchup

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Combine beef, eggs, oats, 1/2 cup ketchup, and Worcestershire in large bowl. Mix until well blended.

Shape into loaf and place in glass baking dish. Brush remaining ketchup on top and sides. Sprinkle top with pepper and mustard.

Meatloaf Pre-Baked 2

Hint: If you have a baking rack, use it. I threw mine away and haven’t gotten a new one, which means my meatloaf ends up sitting in grease. Which means it looks disgusting and tastes amazing. Your call.

Cover with aluminum foil and bake 45 minutes. Remove foil and bake uncovered additional 15-20 minutes.

Serve with your favorite green vegetables and a side of mashed potatoes (or cauliflower, like we did). Comfort food at its finest!

Meatloaf

Meatloaf Nutrition Facts

MMHH: New Reese's Peanut Butter Spread

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http://www.hersheys.com/reeses/spreads

It’s available TODAY. Heaven help me.

I’m seriously asking for this for Christmas. Assuming I can wait that long. I’m going to try not to run out today and buy it, because I will absolutely eat it all and get fat and probably die of a sugar overdose. At least I will die happy….

Product Review: Tazo Chai

I wore boots today…and it was wonderful. First time this season, and they felt so good going on. Never thought I’d say that.

I’ve recently started drinking tea. It’s such a cozy beverage…and I’ll admit, yeah, I started because of that whole “give me a book and a teacup” image I have in my head. You know, this one.

Join our mailiing list today for news about some great titles!  http://visitor.r20.constantcontact.com/d.jsp?llr=7578jbeab&p=oi&m=1103850501084&sit=96mfmcqfb&f=049fe419-d86c-4a20-aabf-3b6878ce877aBut, I’m pretty much a tea-hater. I’ve found though that milk makes tea much more enjoyable….So when I got the chance to try Tazo’s new Chai lineup (courtesy of Smiley360), I jumped. I’m also really excited that I get to share a coupon with you – click here for $2 off a package of Tazo Chai! This makes it like $1.50 a box!

Fun fact – Chai actually means “tea” in Hindi. So stop ordering Chai Tea lattes, folks. It’s typically made from black tea, milk, various spices, and sometimes sugar or some other sweetener.

This was my first “mission” with Smiley360, so I wasn’t sure what to expect. They sent me an awesome kit – three chais to try, plus lots of coupons and a tasting guide to all their varieties. It took me a little while to try them all!

Smiley360 Tazo Mission

Classic

A rich blend of black tea, cinnamon, ginger, cardamom and vanilla. Black tea takes a Saturday drive in a milk-and-honey mobile through an exotic marketplace. The essences of sweet cinnamon, spicy ginger and fragrant cardamom float in through the open windows while black pepper flirtatiously grabs the steering wheel – just to heat things up a bit.

Flirtatious, huh? I like that sound of that. When I opened the package, I immediately knew I was going to like this one. It’s so much more fragrant than the other two. I waited anxiously for it to steep, then took a sip of heaven. It’s spicy. It’s comforting. It makes me want to snuggle up under a down comforter and not come out for days. Mmmm.

Chocolate

Rich cocoa decadence swirled with black tea and classic chai spices. Feeling especially decadent, cocoa went in search of a new winter coat made of velvety steamed milk. Cinnamon sticks sewed a gingery satin lining and cardamom buttons from collar to hem – for sweet spice with every step.

I tried this one second….it was the description that got me (though they spelled decadence wrong on their website!). It smells like hot chocolate. It tastes like the fake chocolate lip gloss my mother buys me every Christmas without fail. That’s about all I have to say about it.

Vanilla Caramel

A rich blend of creamy vanilla and caramel notes with black tea and classic chai spices. Cinnamon sticks gather on a lush black-tea lawn for a leisurely afternoon of croquet and conversation. Ginger offers to keep score from the sidelines while handing out elegantly wrapped vanilla caramels and crystal goblets of milk.

I actually tried this one first, which meant that everything had to live up to it! It smells like Christmas. I’m not sure how else to describe it, but it tastes like Christmas too. I suppose that’s the cinnamon, but I can’t pick out the flavors enough to tell. It’s delicious and subtle and oh-so-feel-good. And doesn’t taste like tea at all, which makes me happy…since I don’t especially like tea by itself. I’ll definitely buy this again.

The Vanilla Caramel was my favorite, though the Classic was a close second. And what’dya think of my hand warmers? You’ll be seeing them again soon! *wink*

Tazo ChaiThere’s a pumpkin spice chai for all you pumpkin lovers. I think my next one will be cocoa mint, or maybe the baked cinnamon apple (though neither of those are chai). There’s even a decaf chai. And don’t forget the coupon!!!