Posts tagged ‘cheese’

June 17, 2011

Mom’s Meatloaf

I grew up not liking meatloaf.

ooey gooey meatloaf

I also grew up hearing stories of my father riding his bike to some diner for the best meatloaf ever. This diner was called “Yankee Tower Diner” and they released their meatloaf recipe when they closed. Mom followed their recipe and all of a sudden meatloaf was something that I fell in love with!

Warning: this is not low-calorie and there is nothing you can do to make it low-calorie, so run a few extra laps, go take a hike, hop on a bike – whatever you have to do to make and enjoy this meatloaf!!

Yankee Tower Meatloaf

  • 2 lbs ground beef (or mix of your favorite meatloaf meats)
  • 4 oz cubed swiss cheese
  • 4 oz cubed american (or cheddar) cheese (or use more different kinds of cheeses and just use slightly less of each one!!)
  • 1 medium onion
  • 2 eggs
  • 6 oz milk
  • 6 oz breadcrumbs
  • 1 Tb beef bullion
  • salt/pepper to taste

Combine all ingredients in a bowl. Season & make into a loaf. Bake at 400 degrees for 50-60 minutes (internal temp of 160 degrees). Slice & Enjoy!

This meatloaf is SO good you don’t even need to put anything on your meatloaf (which my parents remind me every time I make/eat it – even though I always have some ketchup on this stuff. Also – be sure to enjoy the burnt fat/cheese that bubble out from this meatloaf (growing up, and still today, I fight over the black charred yummy fat with my parents)! REMEMBER–  I told you that you need to enjoy this and not worry about the health content here on this one!

And I leave you with this…”Red meat is not bad for you. Now blue-green meat, that’s bad for you!” (Tommy Smothers)

May 9, 2011

Manicotti stuffed with spinach & ricotta

I originally made these as stuffed shells but had some manicotti in the house and returned to this filling since it was so tasty!

Stuffed Shells and Manicotti were not an Italian food that I grew up with (or had ever made before this year), probably because they are not as easy as most other pastas. With just a little bit of time (assemble the night before – the way you would lasagna) you can have the awesome flavors you want and crave with the beautiful presentation you deserve!

So next time manicotti OR large shells are on sale, pick up a box and try this filling out for yourself, I promise you’ll be happy you did! (and feel free to use as many or as few containers to prepare this in like I did – you can even make more than one night’s dinner ready to go and just leave in the fridge or freezer)

before the oven - because let's face it.. once cooked they just don't look as pretty!


[adapted from Handle the Heat & Two Peas and their Pod]

  • 1 T olive oil
  • 1 can mushrooms
  • 1/2 onion, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 15 oz ricotta cheese
  • 1 egg
  • 3/4 cup mozzarella cheese, shredded (divided)
  • 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, grated (divided)
  • 1/2 cup frozen chopped spinach, thawed, & drained (or fresh)
  • 1 T fresh basil
  • Dash of crushed red pepper
  • Salt and pepper
  • About 3 cups of marinara sauce
  • 1 box (about 18 jumbo) pasta shells OR 1 box (about 12) manicotti, cooked al dente (read box instructions)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Spray Pyrex 9 by 13 pan with cooking spray and put about 1/2 cup of sauce in the bottom of the pan Heat the olive oil in a large skillet. Once hot, add the onion, cook until soft. Add in garlic, mushrooms. Remove from heat and cool. Meanwhile: in a large bowl combine the ricotta, 1/4 cup of the mozzarella, 1/4 cup of the Parmesan, stir well. Add in the egg, spinach, basil, crushed red pepper, salt and fresh cracked pepper to taste. Mix well until creamy. Then, add the mushroom, onion, red pepper mixture.

Place the cooked manicotti/shells in the pan. Make sure they are spaced out evenly. Stuff each manicotti/shell with cheese/veggie mixture. Pour the remaining sauce over the stuffed shells. Add the leftover mozzarella and parmesan. (refrigerate with saran & foil at this point if making the night before, and add about 10 minutes to baking time – just go ahead and put your cold pan in cold oven and then start the timer once you are preheated and your pan is up to temperature!)

Cover with foil and bake for 30 minutes. Remove the foil and bake for an additional 5 minutes – manicotti/shells should be bumbling and irresistible! Let cool for a few minutes and serve burn – your – face – off warm.

April 16, 2011

April 11 is National Fondue Day

 … like you really need an excuse to eat warm melty cheese!?

I love my Food Holiday Reference and when I saw that this past Monday was National Fondue Day – how could I resist (although we celebrated a belated Fondue Day and waited until Wednesday, but it was the thought that counted & I’m finally getting around to posting this and sharing it with you!)

For earning my Masters this past fall, my Great-Aunt wanted to get me something I could use and enjoy in the kitchen & I had been wanting (but wouldn’t splurge on it myself) an Electric Fondue Pot! After some research I decided she should get me the Cuisinart one. It has some great (easy) recipes in it, so I pulled the traditional recipe from there (which is basically the same one I have used before). Throw in some sliced veggies, cubed bread, & a big fresh salad and you have yourself a Fondue Day Celebration… enjoy (and remember to celebrate the little things in life or celebrate just because!!)


(from Cuisinart fondue pot pamphlet – this “serves 6” – so we cut it in half)

  • 1 pound Gruyere cheese (not processed), grated
  • 3/4 pound Emmenthal [swiss] cheese, grated
  • 6 teaspoons cornstarch
  • [1-1/2 teaspoons dry mustard]
  • 1 clove garlic, peeled, cut in half
  • 2-1/4 cups dry white wine (not chardonnay)
  • 2-1/2 tablespoons Kirschwasser [I use Brandy]

Place the grated cheeses in a large bowl and toss to combine. Add the cornstarch and dry mustard and toss to coat the grated cheese completely. Reserve.
Rub the bottom and lower half of the sides Fondue Pot with the cut sides of the garlic cloves. Add the wine to the Fondue Pot. Turn the temperature to Setting 5 and bring the wine to a strong simmer (bubbling, but not boiling strongly). While stirring constantly with a wooden spoon or non-stick whisk, gradually whisk in the grated cheeses, sprinkling in one handful at a time, and not adding any more cheese until the cheese is completely melted and smooth. The mixture will slowly thicken. When the cheese is completely added, stir in the Kirschwasser and serve. Reduce the temperature setting of the Fondue Pot to Setting 3, the fondue should just simmer, it should never boil.


January 19, 2011

Mexican Stuffed Shells

Recently we were supposed to have a big “Post-Holiday Party” for all of Rich’s far-away friends but everyone ended up not being able to come (and even our local friends couldn’t make it). I had a pan of Ricotta-Spinach Stuffed Shells all ready to go already for our guests though. Since my parents were hanging out with the dogs while we hit the slopes we decided to bring dinner over. The shells were awesome (I used the sauce from my Venison Meatballs) but the pictures were not (guess I will have to make them again!)

After making my awesome Italian shells I had about a half-dozen shells already cooked that I ran out of filling and then another dozen or so shells in the box that didn’t get cooked the first time. I then stumbled across a brilliantly amazing recipe for MEXICAN Stuffed Shells (think Enchiladas but in a pasta shell instead of taco shell)


  • apprx 15 jumbo shells
  • 1 chicken breast (boiled in seasoning [taco] & shredded)
  • 1 stalk green onion, finely chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, grated or finely chopped
  • 1 can refried beans
  • 1/2 bunch cilantro
  • 1 tsp. cumin
  • 2 oz. cream cheese [optional]
  • 1/2 cup salsa
  • 1 can of your favorite enchilada sauce
  • 1 c. shredded cheddar cheese
  • any other Mexican toppings of choice (cilantro, avocado, sour cream)


Boil your chicken breast with cayanne pepper, cumin, & chili powder for approx 15 minutes (just until you can easily shred it). Let it set in the flavored water for a few minutes to soak up the flavors then dump out the liquid and pour in your can of refried beans as well as your green onions (scallions), garlic, and sour cream. Mix all ingredients well, turning the heat back on if needed. Let the mixture cool while your shells are cooking

Pre-heat your oven to 350. Cook jumbo shells in boiling water until al dente (follow box directions). Drain and rinse with cold water. Pour 1/2 of your salsa & enchilada sauce in bottom of a large baking dish. Stuff each shell with your mixture and place in baking dish Cover with the other half of the enchilada sauce & salsa, then with cheddar cheese.

Bake for about 30 minutes, or until hot and bubbly. Let cool a few minutes so your mouth can actually enjoy this and not burn your face off! Place on a plate and top with your favorite Mexican toppings & ENJOY!

Remember what I keep telling you… think outside the box & don’t be afraid to experiment! MEXICAN would not be what comes to my mind first when I think of STUFFED SHELLS – but combining these two different origins really works.

Get in the kitchen & (think) out of the box!

December 10, 2010

French Onion Soup

I have really had a craving for French Onion Soup – and in all honesty, I figured since I have become a better chef over the past few months (years) – why not just create it myself! I was amazed when I found this recipe online which gave a great easy to follow recipe using some of the most pure & simple ingredients!

What better time to make this comforting soup than for the last night of Hanukkah where I would be surrounded by some of my favorite people (and last minute one more – so the bowls are slightly less full than they should have been – guess I will just have to make this again to see if I can get that “overflowing” look to my soup that we all love).

French Onion Soup

French Onion Soup (RECIPE)

(according to “An Edible Mosaic” – this is for 2 larger/4 small servings – I stretched it to 5 servings, but using my mom’s Soup Crocks, which were re-gifted to me when I moved into my house – they were a wedding present that she had used approximately once, THANKS MOM!)

Ingredients (as adapted from “Edible Mosaic”)

  • 2 TB olive oil (enough to coat the bottom of the pot)
  • 4 medium-sized cooking onions, thinly sliced (about 4 c sliced)
  • 2 tsp fresh minced thyme
  • 3 c beef stock
  • [1 bay leaf]
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • baguette (or whatever), trimmed to fit inside the bowls
  • About 4 oz Gruyère or Emmental cheese
  • [2-4] oven-safe individual-sized serving bowls

Thinly slice the onion into rings/half-rings.  In a medium, thick-bottomed pot, heat the oil over medium-high heat, then add the onion, thyme and a pinch of salt. Stir to coat the onion with oil.  Cook for [5 to] 10 minutes until onions start to soften and turn color (stirring occasionally).  Lower heat to medium-low and cook for about [15 to] 20 more minutes (stirring occasionally) until the onions are a rich caramel color.  Add a splash of water at any point if the onions start to stick to the pan too much.

Add beef stock [and bay leaf] – use wooden spoon to scrape up all the brown bits from the bottom.  Let the soup simmer for about 15 minutes.  Taste the soup and season with salt and pepper.

Preheat the broiler.  Broil the bread on both sides until it’s light golden brown.  Ladle the soup into broiler-safe bowls, place the toasted bread on top of the soup, and divide the cheese on top of the bread.  Broil until the cheese is melted, bubbling, and starting to brown.

Happy Hanukkah

* I have some oven issues & in addition to the bowls not being filled enough, my dinner guests were worried with the flames with my broiler & I had to turn off the oven earlier than I would have like… just another reason to try making these [after my oven gets checked].

Happy Hanukkah 2010 – coming soon to a blog/table near you: dinner (and my unsuccessful attempt at oven baked latkes!)

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