Monday, October 1, 2012

Baked Potato Soup- Cook This Not That

Its been quite a while since I last committed to making a recipe.  Not that I haven't been cooking... quite the opposite, as a matter of fact.  We're close to welcoming baby number 2 and in an effort to save money we've been eating in as much as possible.  With that, my energy levels are pretty low and I typically favor things from our usual reperatiore.  I've also been focusing on cooking in bulk to allow me to freeze meals.  I currently have chili, mac and cheese, soup, burritos, meatballs; all types of things stocked up and waiting for me to be able to heat and serve when I'm home with the baby.  2 more weeks to go!  The coolest thing thats happened in the past few weeks is that I've miraculously gotten my sense of smell back!   This happened when I was pregnant with John, too, and it didn't last long after he was born so I'm trying to relish it while its here.  The timing is odd because while I don't physically feel like cooking it is just SO exciting to smell what I'm making!  Its been almost 10 years since my sense of smell started diminishing and about 2 years of almost no sense of smell at all.  You learn to get used to it and I have learned to use memory, knowledge, and taste when cooking.  But when you can suddenly smell again... cooking takes on a whole new meaning.  Garlic.  Onion.  Apples.  Chocolate.  All of these amazing scents coming together in my kitchen.  I made chili last night and almost cried as I added the cumin, paprika, and chili powder because I could smell the difference instead of waiting until I could taste it.  Its like seeing art with glasses after gazing at the picture from far away for a long time. 

I had to write about all of this.

About a week ago I decided to make some potato soup since I had most of the ingredients to work with.  We've been trying to cut down on fat and sodium and I found this soup recipe in my Cook This Not That book.  If you've not seen this cookbook, its pretty cool.  They reference restaurant meals and offer lightened up variations keeping the portioned calories at under 350 calories.  This particular recipe offers an alternative to Applebees Baked Potato Soup (not that I've ever ordered this at Applebees) reducing the calories from 420 per serving to 220.  I feel the need to share that I can't stand Applebees, but I do like potato soup and liked the method so I went for it. 

Money Saving Tip!!- When you need bacon for a recipe, go to the meat counter at your local supermarket and order slices of the bulk bacon instead of buying a full package in the deli section.  You get good quality, thick cut bacon and its cheap because you're only buying what you need.  I bought 3 slices for $0.67. 

Another tip?  Read your recipe from beginning to end before you cook!  Thankfully, I did this about an hour before dinner and noted that I had to have baked potatoes- not raw.  This allowed me enough time to bake up the 2 potatoes needed before it was time to make dinner.  Once it was time to go, I sliced up the bacon and sauteed it in my soup pan until it got crispy.  Bacon is truly one of the greatest smelling ingredients on the planet.  Once it was ready, I put the pieces on a paper towel and drained out all but a film of the bacon grease.  I chopped up 4 scallions, keeping the white pieces and setting the green aside for later.  I sauteed the white parts with 2 cloves of minced garlic for a few minutes and added a tablespoon of flour, stirring around to toast it for a moment.  I added 8 cups of chicken broth, slowly, while stirring quickly to mix it all together and left the heat on medium high.  Next, I removed the skin from one of the potatoes, chopped it up, and added it to the broth.  Using a potato masher, I smashed it up a bit to incorporate the potato into the broth.  I diced up the other potato and added it to the soup, along with 1/2 cup of heavy cream and a touch of salt and pepper.  Turned it all on low, and let it sit while I made up a salad and toasted up some whole grain bread. 

To serve, they suggest serving the soup topped with bacon, scallions, cheddar cheese, and a touch of hot sauce.  The broth was very light and didn't thicken up as much as I'd hoped.  The flavor was great, though.  The scallions were prominent and the bacon added a nice dimention.  The toppings all settled to the bottom, which was partly due to the thinness of the broth.  We ended up with a lot of broth left over after dinner was finished.  I got a little creative and heated up some broccoli (not so nice smelling, by the way) and added the chopped broccoli and some frozen corn to the broth.  Now I have a nice little cream of vegetable soup to add to the freezer!  Woo hoo!

Overall, the flavor, calories, ease, and cost of this meal make it definitely worth trying again.  I think that I'll reduce the broth to 5 or 6 cups and keep everything else the same.  I'll also keep my fingers crossed that I can still smell my way through the meal. 

Baked Potato Soup- Cook This Not That

3 strips bacon, sliced
4 scallions, whites and greens separated, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 Tbsp flour
8 cups low sodium chicken broth (or a mix of stock and water)
2 medium russet potatoes, baked (leftover baked potatoes work great)
1/2 cup half and half
salt & pepper
Shredded Cheddar
Tabasco sauce to taste

Heat a large soup pot to medium heat.  Add bacon and cook for about 5 minutes, until crispy.  Remove with a slotted spoon and reserve.
Discard all but a thin layer of bacon fat.  Add the scallion whites and garlic to the pot and cook for a minute or 2, until fragrant and the scallions are translucent.  Add flour, and stir to coat the ingredients.  Pour in the stock, whisking to help prevent any lumps from forming. 
Remove the peel fromj one of the potatoes, chop, and add to the pot.  Use a potato masher to smash the potato into the broth  Cube the other potato, leaving the peel on, and add it to the soup, along with the half and half.  Season with salt and pepper and simmer on low for 5-10 minutes. 
When ready to serve, ladle into bowls, and garnish with bacon, scallions, cheese, and tabasco.

Serves 4

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Blueberry Buttermilk Pancakes-

I had some buttermilk and some eggs that I wanted to get through and decided that blueberry pancakes would be a fun way to use some of it up.  John's daycare is closed today and I knew we'd be home together and thought it'd be a fun way to start our day off.  I googled blueberry buttermilk pancakes and the first 2 recipes that popped up both featured identical recipes and 5 stars each.  Sold!  That was easier than normal...

Last night I set out the unsalted butter to bring to room temperature and measured out the dry ingredients.  It called for 2 cups of flour, 2 1/4 tsp baking powder, 1/2 tsp each of salt & baking powder, and 1/4 cup of sugar.  I hate when pancakes are too sweet, so I was glad that it didn't call for more than that.  I have a great mixing bowl with a lid, which is always perfect for storing things like this overnight.

Bright and early this morning, John woke me up and was excited for us to make pancakes!  I'd like to say that we worked together magically today, but I was pretty tired and he... well, he's 4.  And he asks questions.  Lots and lots of questions, without waiting for answers or even breathing in between.  Things like "why is this syrup".  Huh?  Because its syrup?  It can be a little much when you're trying to cook and waiting for coffee to kick in.  He adorably redeemed himself at one point by telling me how much he loves making pancakes with me and kissing me on the cheek.  Then I stubbed my toe on his step stool and we were halfway back to square one. 

As far as execution goes, things went pretty smoothly.  I placed half the stick of softened butter in the microwave for 30 seconds and then let the melted butter cool.  We poured 2 cups of buttermilk and 2 eggs into a bowl and whisked it up.  Then John continued stirring while I added in the melted butter.  Once it was all combined we slowly folded it in with the dry ingredients.  You want your batter to be mixed just enough.  Lumps are ok- they go away but if you stir too much your pancakes will be tough.  I put the finished batter aside and got the skillet ready to go.

I turned both burners on the skillet to medium high and let them heat up.  I showed John how you can test the heat by splashing a drop of water in the pan.  You want the drop to dance before evaporating.  If it goes away immediately, its too hot.  If it stays a while, its not hot enough.  Once it was ready I added a touch of the unsalted butter to the pan and spread it around to coat.  Using the 1/4 measuring scoop, I poured a few heaping scoops on the pan.  We topped each pancake with berries and let them cook until the bubbles popped; 2-3 minutes total.  I flipped them and cooked for another 2 minutes and we were ready to go!  The first batch cooked enough for us to eat then and I decided to wait until we were finished to cook the remaining pancakes. 

They were perfect!  The pancakes were light, fluffy, and about a 1/3 inch thick.  The blueberries were sweet and tart and the texture was just right.  Fantastic!  The recipe made about a dozen pancakes.  I let the remaining pancakes cool while spaced out on a plate and them froze them with a piece of wax paper between each pancake.  This way, I can toast them up for John in the mornings next week! 

I'll keep this recipe on hand, for sure.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Fresh Sweet Corn Cakes-

There are a few farm stands on the way to and from my dad's house in South Jersey and I try to plan around stopping at one of them whenever I visit during the spring through fall months.  I was driving home with John last weekend and made a big deal about going to get fruits and vegetables.  I've found thats the best way to get him on board in doing what I want to do and Mommy loves farm stands!  I wish we had year round versions in our area.  I grew up in New York state in the Catskill area; apple country.  Local produce was easy to find.  We went to Robin's year round and bought our produce and fruit.  They had cool types of candy and fruit leathers and the store smelled like coffee beans and fruit.  The Wilklows had a stand (shack) which was also about a mile from my house and across the street from the high school.  You can imagine how hard it was to concentrate during Social Studies when you had miles of apple orchards leading up a mountain as the view from your window.  They were only open in season, but was it where we did our apple and strawberry picking and they would always give me an apple for the walk home from school, when I asked.  They've since grown into a pretty nice establishment with a huge business in the fall, but when I recall the place I remember them from back then. 

The stand that John and I ended up at is called Joe's.  They're across from Rosie's on 322, which has signs lined up before and after the place.  Rosie's is just fine, but Joe's is on my side of the road when going home so its my usual choice.  We walked (John skipped, or bounced) to the stand and he immediately started asking for fruit.  My boy loves fruit and from the way I've been craving it since becoming pregnant, so does his sister.  I've never been a huge fan, but with both babies I just can't get enough.  Here's hoping that sticks!  Here's a pic of John with some gorgeous peaches and sporting his own peach fuzz

We bought a few of these, some strawberries, and a bunch of fresh vegetables.  They were very friendly and gave John an ice pop on the way home, which thrilled him.  Its the little things in life sometimes. 

The first thing I made with my produce was a corn salad.  Not the feature here, of course, but worth mentioning.  Fresh corn, bright red tomatoes, cucumbers, cilantro, and lime juice with a touch of salt & pepper.  Simply amazing.  I have to say that the tomatoes were easily the best that I've had this year so far. I cruised through them pretty fast via caprese salads, BLTs, and guacamole.  They were so red and juicy...that I very well may have to drive back there tomorrow...

Now on to the recipe du jour!
I finally realized last year that its worth cooking corn in bulk and saving the kernels for future recipes.  I don't know why it took me so long to realize that this was a good idea, but its now commonplace for me.  I had leftover corn from the salad and was debating what to do with it.  Sometimes I can get really scatterbrained when thinking about what to make.  I flittered between a creamless corn chowder, various types of corn cakes, creamed corn, fritters, enchiladas, etc.  The worst part of when I get indecisive in this manner is that I start flaking out at the market and buy only half of what I need to make 3 different recipes.  So annoying.  Shawn deemed corn cakes as the most interesting to him at the moment and I found a recipe that sounded completely unhealthy, but delicious.  It features bacon (BACON!), cheese, corn, peppers, and onions in a crab cake type form.  Sold! 

The other night I started prepping the meal and was planning to serve it with some steaks that we had in the freezer.  They were from a company similar to Omaha, and the last of our batch.  I had taken them out the previous night and they looked a little funny to me.  I have a terrible sense of smell, so I asked Shawn to check them out.  He was unsure of their quality and we decided to throw them out rather than risk it.  Recipe postponed for an evening and Chinese take out ordered instead. 

On the way home yesterday I picked up some pork medallions to serve with my corn cakes along with some fresh green beans (man, I love the summer).  I took a cup of the corn and mixed it with a cup of chopped sweet onion and a half cup of green bell pepper.  The recipe calls for jalepeno, but neither of us were feeling the heat.  Next I diced up 4 slices of bacon and sauteed them in a cast iron skillet until crisped up.  Drained the bacon grease, leaving about a tablespoon worth and sauteed the peppers, onion, and corn for about 10 minutes.  The recipe called for 2 tablespoons, but I wanted to cut back a tad.  I mixed up some cornmeal, baking soda and powder, salt, and cayenne; added in a combination of buttermilk and egg, and mixed it together.  Next, I folded in the sauteed veggies, a 1/2 cup of shredded cheese, and the bacon and was ready to roll! 

Using the cast iron skillet, I used a thin layer of oil and heated it well.  Some comments in the recipe stated that you really needed the oil to be hot and I believed them.  I added 3 small mounds of batter to the pan, turning them after 2 minutes and finishing off for another 2 minutes.  A few thoughts on this process: first, the oil was too hot and they got crispy but were borderline burnt.  Second, beware of popping corn!!  I jumped about 4 or 5 times while cooking these from stray pieces of corn loudly popping out of the pan.  Thankfully, I never got burned but I was definitely on edge the entire time. 

The nice thing about pork medallions and green beans is that they were able to cook in the small amount of time needed to sautee 2 batches of corn cakes.  In case you're curious, I sauteed the pork with a light spice rub and used my Lekue steamer for the beans, using homemade stock and garlic powder.  Both were delicious and simple. 

The corn cakes were cooked through, crisp but not burnt, and held together well.  I served them with a little sour cream, but think that an avocado salsa or something more substantial would have been a better accompaniment.  I have to say that for all the crazy not-so-healthy ingredients that were used in this recipe, these were pretty boring.  Nothing really stood out.  I would actually say that the corn meal was the most prominent flavor/ texture.  They weren't necessarily bad but they definitely needed something.  I'll make a version again, but probably try out something a little lighter and maybe incorporate some fresh herbs.  I'll definitely go with a flour based recipe to let the corn shine through a little better. 

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Smoked Turkey Nachos

The original intention for my dinner tonight was to make a variation of BBQ Chicken Pizza.  We have a good amount of smoked turkey leftover from Sunday night's dinner and I thought it could be a fun cheap way to use it.  Plus, Shawn loves BBQ Chicken Pizza, so me attempting it was guaranteed to please him.  I found a recipe on that looked good and featured most of my ingredients so I went with it.  I started by finely dicing up about a cup of smoked turkey and thinly sliced 1/2 cup each of red bell pepper and onion.  I preheated the oven to 475 degrees and placed the baking sheet in to heat up.  This helps give the pizza a nice crisp crust (or is supposed to, anyway).  The method called for me to use parchment paper as the base of the pizza to allow me to easily transfer it to the pan when its ready to go in the oven. 

Here's where it got tricky... I had taken a ball of dough out of the freezer last night to thaw and let it sit out at room temperature for about an hour before dinner.  I don't know if it was the humidity, the quality of dough, or plain old user error, but I could NOT get this dough to work with me.  I got hole after hole in my mishapen dough then rolled it up to try again, which of course made it even tougher.  Finally, in a moment of weakness that was fully witnessed by my husband, I tossed the dough ball into the trash.  Shawn always knows the right thing to say in moments like this: "Sometimes you have to know when to call an audible".   

After looking through the ingredients that were left on my countertop, I pulled out some tortilla chips, and decided on nachos.  Starting with a thin layer of chips on the baking sheet, I topped them with a light layer of mozzarella cheese, then drizzled Sweet Baby Rays BBQ sauce lightly over the pile.  I sprinkled it with the turkey, onion, and peppers, another drizzle of BBQ sauce, and topped the whole thing with sharp cheddar cheese.  After turning the oven down to 450, I cooked the nachos for about 8 minutes and they were perfect. 

We served them on paper plates with sour cream; just as all nachos should be served.  Sweet Baby Rays is our favorite store bought sauce and it was perfect in this dish.  Sweet and tangy- yum!  The cheese was cooked just right and the toppings were cut small enough to stay on their respective chips.  It was a tasty, unhealthy, meal. 

I'm so glad that I opted to change up my plans.  I was so frustrated with the dough and can't imagine that I would have enjoyed the meal as much after all that annoyance.  It's like Shawn said... sometimes in cooking, just as in sports and in life, you just need to call an audible. 

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

White Rice in my Lékué Steamer

Back in December I bought a really cool gadget.  Its a silicone steamer for your microwave, also known as a Microwave Pot Ogya from Lékué.  You can use it to steam meat, vegetables, rice, or even fish using broth or water to create a healthy meal from your microwave.  I've used it a few times since I purchased it, mostly for steaming vegetables.  I like it- its quick and easy and once you get the timing down its unbelievably simple.  I've always been intrigued by the rice option.  Have I mentioned before that I make the worst rice in the world?  I rarely attempt it anymore and even if its instant rice from a box its 50/50 on whether it turns out good.  I recently was given a rice cooker, but haven't used it yet due to our lack of counter space combined with our lack of a dishwasher.  So I had it in the back of my mind that the next time that I wanted to attempt some rice, I would give the Ogya a try. 

It was Friday night and I had taken out a london broil the night before for dinner.  I marinated it with some teriyaki sauce and planned to pair it with some white rice and sauteed haricot verts.  After searching for the recipe guide that came with the steamer I remembered that like all other things in the universe, a copy of them was probably on their website.  Jackpot! 

Because its rice, its the simplest recipe ever.  This is the bane of my existence because as simple as rice can be; I struggle with it!!  I could follow every instruction to the T and its too watery, or too crunchy, or not done, or too done or it takes three times as long until its done.  It can be completely frustrating.  This time around, I measured one cup of white rice and poured it into the steamer.  Added a touch of olive oil and some salt and swished it all around.  Covered it all up and microwaved on HIGH for 1 minute.  Then I added 2 cups of water, covered it again, and microwaved on HIGH for another 15 minutes and let it sit for a few before opening.  I opened this lid and....

Perfection.  I could tell, immediately, from the light holes along the surface of the rice.  The texture may be a touch sticky for some palates but I enjoy my rice when it clumps up a touch and this was a perfect blend of sticky and firm.  The olive oil gave it a nice, almost nutty, flavor.  I really, really enjoyed it and went back for seconds.  I'll use this again, for sure!  I want to play around for lunches, too- maybe add vegetables and chicken stock for a risotto type dish.  I can't wait to see what else this thing can do!

Not only are Lekue steamers available online, but you can check them out in person at my friend, Dave's, store: Pro Kitchen Gear in Greenville, DE. 

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Mrs. Farfsing's "One Dressing Fits All"- Downhome Cooking Pure Wesson

Its been a while since I've made a recipe and I'm aware that the fact that I've chosen salad dressing is kind of a lame cop out.  Life has been going by quick these days!  I'm halfway through my pregnancy and most of my cooking these days has consisted of quick meals and old favorites.  I'm really glad that I haven't (yet) experienced the same aversion to raw meats that I had with John.  I couldn't even think about raw chicken and barely cooked when I was pregnant with him.  This one hasn't been like that.  I'm just tired and lazy and looking for the quickest option of anything that I can find!  With that, I'm really excited that summer is almost here and farmers market season is in effect.  I can now grab fresh veggies to make quick easy meals.  Fresh and delicious vegetables really do make decisions easier.  I grabbed a cheap head of green leaf lettuce last week, chopped it all up, cleaned it, and kept it in a huge bowl in the fridge with a paper towel to keep the moisture regulated.  A week later and its still tasting great!  So much better in quality and price that the bagged stuff I usually buy.  Another thing that I absolutely love about this time of year is that the grill and smoker come out and my menu responsibility becomes a lot easier.  BBQ and veggie season is upon us at last!

Its Memorial weekend this weekend, which is one of our favorites.  Its a great 3 day weekend and the full crazy hot summer hasn't yet smacked us in the face.  We also were married on the Sunday of Memorial weekend, 7 years ago, so it brings back a lot of fun memories for us.  We chose to steer away from major plans this year and kept our scheduling on the front end of the weekend to allow us some relaxation time.  Today was our chosen day to get our BBQ on.  Shawn put a pork shoulder in the smoker around 5am and let it go all day.  I decided to partner it with some baked beans (one of John's favorites), fresh corn, and an orzo pasta salad.  I debated using a recipe, but wanted to make my own decisions about the veggies which is how I ended up looking for a dressing recipe. 

I've had this book for many years.  I believe it came from a clearance rack somewhere and I can't say that I've made much from it, but the recipes all look really good and simple so I've held onto it for years.  I looked up a few recipes and this one sold me.  It looked really good, featured items that I had, and could be used for vegetable marinades in the future.  I started by mixing a cup of oil and 2/3 cup of red wine vinegar.  I added a teaspoon each of crushed fresh garlic, Worcestershire sauce (love this stuff), sugar, salt, dry mustard, paprika, and 1/2 teaspoon of ground pepper.  Mixed it together, added some to my salad, and put the rest in the fridge for future use.  My salad had orzo, cucumber, red pepper, zucchini, carrot, and peas in it.  I let it all chill out for a few hours in the fridge until dinner was ready and then took it out about 20 minutes before dinner. 

We ate outside on our back porch and everything was great!  Shawn's pork was (as always) awesome and his vinegar based BBQ sauce was perfect for dipping.  I always love to make vinegar based pasta salads to go the meal simply because it complements without taking over.  This salad dressing was perfect for that!  I can't say that any one flavor stood out from the other and I mean that in the best possible way.  The flavors meshed well with the inevitable sauces and spices that end up on the plate toward the end of the meal, too.  This was just one of those picture perfect meals.  I cut the kernels from the remaining piece of corn and added them to the salad for tomorrows leftovers.  I plan to dress some lettuce with the extra dressing, top with the orzo, and have me a nice little lunch. 

I have to say that making my own dressing was really easy and cost effective.  I'm not saying I won't continue buying my own, but its a nice switch up on occasion. 

Mrs Farfsings "One Dressing Fits All"- Down Home Cooking from Wesson
1 cup vegetable oil
2/3 cup red wine vinegar
1tsp crushed fresh garlic
1tsp Worcestershire sauce
1tsp sugar
1tsp salt
1tsp dry mustard
1tsp paprika
1/2 tsp ground pepper

Prepare dressing early in the day.  Pour all ingredients in a resealable glass jar or airtight plastic container; Close tightly.  Shake dressing vigorously until salt and sugar have dissolved and all ingredients have been well blended.  Refrigerate until ready to serve; shake again vigorously just before serving. 

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Prove to Mom You're Not Going to Starve Meatloaf- 100 Recipes Every Woman Should Know

I decided to make meatloaf last weekend for 2 reasons.  The first was that I've had a craving for some meatloaf.  The second was my excuse to actually make it- my father in law was in town and meatloaf is one of his favorite foods.  I hadn't used any recipes lately and meatloaf is always a dish that I like to test out new recipes with.  Its such a varied dish that can taste so differently depending on the preparation and its also one that I usually like in any way, shape or form.  Meatloaf was one of the first dishes that I learned to make by using a recipe in my Betty Crocker Junior Cookbook.  There was a basic recipe for Frosted Meatloaf that used ground beef, BBQ sauce, oats, and eggs for the loaf.  You bake it and top with mashed potatoes and a few slices of American cheese and put it back in the oven to finish off.  I used to love this and made it all the time!  For some reason the idea of this repulses Shawn, so its not my go-to recipe by any standards.  I do, however, always make it a goal to have leftovers and top those with mashed potatoes and cheese the next day.  Forget turkey/ stuffing/ cranberry combos.  This is the #1 leftover combo in my book!

For this particular recipe I wanted something simple and with "normal" ingredients because I had been attending food events all weekend and eating a plethora of exotic foods.  Finding new, untried, recipes is getting tougher and tougher.  A lot of the ones that I wanted to try, I've already tried!  I went back to a newer book that I've been frequenting with the fun titles and found this one.  I love that it includes some veggies and has a ketchup based sauce. 

I preheated the oven to 375 and lined a baking dish with parchment paper, coating it with cooking spray.  One of the reasons that I like to try new recipes is to gain new cooking methods. Sometimes I like them better, sometimes they're not as good as ones I've already tried. I really like my own method of cooking on a rack lined with foil that has holes cut in it to allow the fat to drain.  It's already proven to be a winner but I don't know everything so I always like to go with the recommended method when making a "recipe" dish.  After the pan was ready, I got started with the prepping.  The instructions calls for sauteeing the veggies before adding them to the meatloaf.  This is something that I've started doing for a while.  I really like it.  It softens the veggies and helps them blend well into the other ingredients.  I sauteed the onion, garlic, and a bay leaf for about 5 minutes while I chopped up some red bell pepper and parsley.  I didn't have fresh thyme, as requested, but substituted dried.  If you've not done this before, it's usually about a third of the required fresh herb.  I added this all to the onion mixture and sauteed for another few minutes.  Discarded the bay leaf, scraped into a bowl to cool, and set aside. 

In a large bowl, I combined the meat (one part beef/pork/veal, one part lean ground beef) with lightly scrambled egg, fresh breadcrumbs, ketchup, Worcestershire, salt, pepper, and the onion mixture. 

Confession: About a year ago I "accidentally" took a box of disposable gloves from the kitchen at work.  They are absolutely awesome for things like this. 

Once the meat was mixed well, I shaped it on the parchment.  I had doubled the recipe, to ensure leftovers, and made 2 loaves for baking.  We all love the ends of the meatloaf, so this ensures more ends for people to enjoy!  I baked the meatloaf for about an hour and tested it.  Still a little shy of 165, so I glazed it with a touch of ketchup and put it back in for another 15 minutes.   Took it out and let it sit for about 10 minutes while I got the rest of the meal together.  The "rest of the meal" was the Boston Market side dishes that I had run out to get during the final stages of meatloaf cooking because I didn't feel like cooking anything.  Lazy mama at her best! 

It sliced up well and tasted great!!  The red peppers added a nice sweetness to the dish and the meatloaf was really moist.  I'm glad that I made 2 loaves, because we ended up saving the second for leftovers.  I had my leftover special (mmmmmm) and we had dinner another night by making meatloaf sandwiches with cheddar bread from a local bakery and some barbecue sauce. 

I'll still keep browsing around with recipes- not to find the perfect one but just because I like trying different meatloafs.  I mean, who doesn't love meatloaf?