February 07, 2010

Dinner's Beauty Treatment

I'm a big proponent of doubling or tripling recipes when you cook, and freezing the extras for later meals.

We all have those days when we either run out of time to cook, or just don't have the energy at the end of the day. Storing meals allows you to have a homemade meal with essentially no work, on the day you need it. It is also a money-saver, because you can buy meat and other ingredients in the economy size. You spend a little more up front, but save overall!

Sometimes when you wrap food to put it in the freezer, the aesthetic value is lost. Things don't come out of the freezer looking like they did when you put them in. They get mashed up in the freezer bag and often won't come apart without looking horrid!

I'm sure I am not the first person to think of this, but I have discovered if I flash freeze the items FIRST, then wrap them; they look a lot better the day I want to thaw and cook them!

Here's the idea: Spray some wax paper with non-stick spray, place the wax paper in a dish , and place the food on the wax paper covered dish. Pop them in the freezer, uncovered, for 20-45 minutes depending on whether it is a wet or dry food item. Then remove the dish from the freezer, wrap and date the food, and return to the freezer! Voila! This keeps your food looking like it was made on the day you decide to use it!

It works great for individually portioned meats, garlic-cheese breads, cookies and cupcakes, homemade pizza, and appetizers.

We recently made meatloaf in cooking class. This is a great recipe for flash freezing because it makes 8 individual meatloaves--that's 2 meals for my family. I bake 4 on the day I make them, and flash freeze 4 for later.

As I told the girls, I'm not much of a meatloaf eater, but my husband and kids love it! I came up with this recipe, using half ground turkey (instead of pork or veal) and tons of pureed veggies. It really lightens the meatloaf and suits my taste buds much more than heavy traditional meatloaf. I decided to make individually sized meatloaves, because they cook much faster than a large loaf. I serve this with Mashed Cauliflower as a substitute for mashed potatoes. Nothing against mashed potatoes, but I figure as long as we are lightening thing up... Mashed Cauliflower has only 30% of the carbs mashed potatoes have, AND about half the fat--you just don't seem to need as much butter! You'd be surprised how delightful it tastes! If you didn't know better, you'd think you were eating potatoes! My kids (who happen to have well-trained palettes for 5 and 7) are fooled every time!


Mini Meatloaves and Garlic Mashed Cauliflower

1 ½ cups seasoned bread crumbs
1 ½ tsp. salt
½ tsp. pepper
¼ tsp. cayenne
1 Tb. caraway seeds
1 tsp. dried thyme (1 Tb. fresh)
½ onion, roughly chopped
1 carrot, roughly chopped
1 celery stalk, roughly chopped
½ red bell pepper, roughly chopped
4 cloves garlic
1 lb. ground turkey
1.15 lbs. ground beef chuck
1 egg
¼ cup milk
2 tsp. Worcestershire sauce

½ cup chili sauce
1 Tb. balsamic vinegar
1½ tsp. honey
½ tsp. cumin

Preheat oven to 360*. Place all the veggies and garlic in the food processor and pulse until it’s the consistency of apple sauce.

Place the veggie pulp in the bowl with the bread crumbs, herbs and spices, ground meats, egg, milk and Worcestershire.

Toss together, then mix thoroughly by hand, but don’t squeeze the mixture too much!

Separate the mixture into 8 equal portions--I like to do this by cutting the mixture in the bowl. This insures consistency in size. Shape each portion into a loaf, and place them on a rimmed cookie sheet lined with parchment paper.

Mix all the ingredients for the glaze in a small bowl.

Brush the loaves with glaze, leaving extra on the top. Place in the oven and bake until a meat thermometer reads 160*--approximately 30 minutes.

Tint with foil and let rest 5 minutes out of the oven before serving. *For one large classic meatloaf, shape all the mixture into a loaf measuring 10X5X4 inches. Bake approximately 1 ½ hours to 160*.

Mashed Cauliflower:
2 heads cauliflower, trimmed and roughly chopped
4-6 garlic cloves
2 tsp. fresh thyme
4 Tb. butter
¾ tsp. + salt
½ tsp. pepper
*Parmesan Cheese for garnish

Bring a large pot of water to a boil.

Once boiling, drop the garlic and cauliflower in and cook 6-8 minutes until fork tender.

Drain, then put into the food processor or puree with an immersion blender. Add the butter, thyme, salt and pepper. Puree until smooth.

Top with a little parmesan! Serves 8. This mash recipe can be halved easily.


  1. Meatloaf is my husband, John's, favorite! I'm making this one for him next!

  2. Thank you so much for the pointers on freezing the food! I am totally going to make this meatloaf and mashed cauliflower!

  3. Mashed cauliflower sounds fab!

  4. This looks GREAT, I'm going to add it to our menu for next week. Love your blog!


  5. Sommer, we made this last night for our stay-in Valentines date and it got a "winner winner" status from John. Will be keeping it in the "canon!" Thanks!


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