For everyday old dinners, I usually make my plain old mashed potatoes, I call them Simple Rustic Mashed Potatoes. They’re super easy, pretty lean and I don’t even peel them. Sometimes I make my Perfect Instant Pot Potatoes, too. They’re a great mashed potato. But when Company comes or a Holiday rolls around, I pull out all the stops and make my best ones: Best Company Mashed Potatoes.
When you do it right, leftovers can be better than the original meal, and these Leftover Steak & Mushroom Pies are a perfect example! They were made with a bit of my Poor Man’s Mock Prime Rib I made the other day. And since I started with most of my ingredients already cooked, I whipped up these Leftover Steak & Mushroom Pies in no time at all.
It’s been a long time since I’ve made a roast. I mean a real roast, in the oven. I did do a 30 Minute Instant Pot Roast, which was fun, but that was way back in January. So when I saw roast on sale this last week I decided it was about time to try another. Now Prime Rib isn’t in my budget, and truthfully, neither is a Standing Rib Roast but here’s my go-to method to take a cheap, grocery store roast and make it taste better, kind of a Poor Man’s Mock Prime Rib.
I don’t know about you, but eating at steakhouses isn’t my wheelhouse. So when I go to one, I read every inch of the menu and agonize over just the right choice of steak and sides to maximize my experience! (And then I hate it if someone else orders something that looks better than what I have, lol!) And while I enjoy the steak, what makes it for me is the au gratin potatoes. My daughter takes after me because she was out for a special dinner with her sweetie, and what Jess raved about the next day wasn’t the steak, it was Ruth’s Chris Potatoes au Gratin.
I haven’t posted a pancake recipe in ages – but the other night I had a craving and made Cook’s Illustrated Buttermilk Pancakes for dinner. Don’t tell! Breakfast for dinner! Why does that freak some people out? I say we need it more often! There should be a movement!
Do you love Deviled Eggs? Me too. See I just love them so much I assume everyone does! So when I realized I’ve been blogging for so long and never posted my Classic Deviled Eggs, well I had to get “cracking.” (I’m so sorry for that!! Couldn’t help myself!)
My Dad’s been asking for Oatmeal Cookies for longer than I care to admit. And we had three, yes, three cartons of Old Fashioned Oats in the cupboard. And so here they are, the best Oatmeal Cookies, ever! And my Dad thinks so, too!! 🙂 It always tickles me pink to get a thumbs up from my Dad!
It’s no secret that I’m not a morning person. And I’m really not that into much breakfast food. So I’m not likely to be standing around the stove flippin’ pancakes at 7:00 a.m. No flippin’ way! But there are some breakfasts I can get behind and this Apple Oven Pancake is one of them.
You know what I love? Smoothies. And probably you do, too? But what I don’t love? Putzing with them. Adding a bit of this or that, trying to get them thick and luscious but still sippable through a straw.
For years I made Boston Cream Pie on Valentine’s Day for my kids. I loved putting little chocolate hearts around the edge of the cake and I loved that it had such a gorgeous old fashioned look with the glaze dripping down and the custard peeping out. It reminded me of those cakes that Yogi Bear stole along with the Pahnicanic baskets.
Talk about good down-home plain cooking, I make black-eyed peas from time to time, and with New Year’s coming up (and a bag of peas I’ve been meaning to use up) now is the time~! Here’s my Traditional Black-Eyed Peas Recipe.
Molasses Spice Cookies. If any single food item can define a season, it has to be this mixture of molasses and spices that heralds in late fall to early winter. Warm, earthy, just a bit soft and chewy, these Molasses Spice Cookies are perfection. If I do say so myself! And I do! 🙂
Awhile back I posted a bit of a cheater’s recipe for the Black Pelican’s Citrus Rosemary Brined Chicken. I saw it on Diner’s Drive Ins and Dives and just had to recreate it. When I made it, I simplified things just a bit; I used a boneless breast and served it with the Vegetable Saute. It was fantastic.
I seem to be getting nostalgic in my “dotage” and have been leafing through my recipe box; hello, old familiar friends! I had to dust off this Cook’s Illustrated Meatloaf, long a family favorite – and the best part of all is the sauce. Oh, that sauce! Double it, triple it, bathe in it, I don’t care, just make the sauce.
About Cook’s Illustrated Meatloaf:
Cook’s Illustrated Meatloaf is my “go to” recipe for meatloaf and I’ve been making it for years. It’s always moist and flavorful and cuts like a dream. My son goes nuts over this every time I make it! After all, what’s better than an old-fashioned Meatloaf, mashed potatoes, and your favorite vegetable?
The original recipe had a lot of thyme. We really didn’t care for the way it hijacked the flavor or for the bacon on this, either. The bacon itself was ok, but the way the flavor seeped into the loaf was bizarre. It’s one of those “sounds better than it is” ideas. The instructions are in my recipe, below, if you want to go for it.
The original recipe calls for meatloaf mix – I actually like this best made with a mixture of ground beef and ground pork instead of the hard to find meatloaf mix (that’s traditionally a third each of ground beef, pork & veal) or all ground beef. The pork adds a lot and keeps it nice and moist.
Optimize your time when making the Cook’s Illustrated Meatloaf:
If you’re looking to speed along dinner, try baking your meatloaf in little free-form oblong football shapes on a foil-lined sheet or use a muffin pan. It cuts the baking time down considerably! I’d go about 30 to 40 minutes for a football shape & 20 to 25 for the meatloaf “muffins”.
If you really want to maximize your time long term, double the recipe for Cook’s Illustrated Meatloaf and freeze one of the meatloaves before baking. Meatloaf freezes very well. Line a loaf pan with plastic wrap (let it hang well over the sides), then pack in the meatloaf. When frozen, remove from the pan, use the overlapping plastic wrap to cover it well, then wrap a second time with the foil. To bake, remove the meatloaf from the freezer and thaw overnight. By dinner it should be thawed enough to remove the wrapping and bake. It will probably need a few more minutes in the oven.
Cost-saving tips for the Cook’s Illustrated Meatloaf:
From a frugal standpoint, try to eke out two meals from this meatloaf. Meatloaf isn’t “cheap” to make and this one ran about eight bucks with sales priced ingredients. (Warning: it’s so good you might have to fight to set aside a bit.)
My fave way to bring meatloaf back to the table a second time is a meatloaf sandwich: A slice of cold meatloaf, yellow ballpark mustard, lettuce, onion and pickle, and a good slathering of the incredible sauce. It makes me happy just thinking about it. 🙂
You’ll want to make this meatloaf with sales priced ground beef, obs, but shave off a few bucks by using the ground beef/ground pork combo. Ground pork can be hard to find and pricey. Pick up pork loin (for a leaner option) or shoulder (for a moister option) up at a low (89 to 99 cents a pound) cube & pulse in your food processor. It’s the freshest and best tasting ground pork, ever.Print
Cook’s Illustrated Meatloaf – A favorite!
Adapted from a Cook’s Illustrated/Pam Anderson recipe, this meatloaf is the pinnacle of Classic Meatloaf!
- Prep Time: 20 minutes
- Cook Time: 1 hour 10 minutes
- Total Time: 1 hour 30 minutes
- Yield: 10 servings
- 2 teaspoons olive oil
- 1 onion, finely chopped
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 2 large eggs
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
- 2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
- 1/2 teaspoon Tabasco sauce or hot sauce
- 1/2 cup milk, buttermilk or low-fat plain yogurt (yogurt preferred)
- 3 pounds ground meat: use meatloaf mix (beef, veal, pork) or 50% beef & pork
- 2/3 cups crushed saltines (about 16) or 2/3rds cup oatmeal or 1 1/2 cups fresh breadcrumbs (oatmeal preferred)
- 1/3 cup minced parsley, optional
- 1 pound bacon, optional (instructions at bottom of recipe)
Glaze has been doubled. Divide into two portions, 1/2 for glazing and 1/2 for serving.
- 1 1/4 cup ketchup or chili sauce (chili sauce is best!)
- 4 tablespoons light or dark brown sugar
- 4 teaspoons cider or white vinegar
Mix all ingredients, set aside. May be warmed briefly in the microwave if your sugar has hardened and doesn’t mix in.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Heat oil in a medium skillet. Add onion and garlic, saute until softened, about 5 minutes; set aside to cool.
Mix eggs with salt, pepper, mustard, Worcestershire, Tabasco or hot sauce, and your choice of milk, buttermilk or yogurt.
Add egg mixture to meat in a large bowl, along with either crackers, oatmeal or bread crumbs, & the cooked onions and garlic; mix lightly with fingertips until evenly blended and meat mixture does not stick to bowl. (If mixture does stick, add additional dairy, a couple of tablespoons at a time, and continue mixing until mixture stops sticking.)
To make in a free-form loaf: Cover a portion of a wire rack with foil a little larger than the formed meatloaf will be (use a sheet of foil the length of the roll, and width of about 8 inches); prick foil in several places with a fork so excess grease can drip down. Place a rack on a shallow roasting pan lined with foil for easy cleanup. Turn meat mixture onto foil-lined rack and pat mixture into a loaf approximately 9 by 5 inches.
To make in a loaf pan: Place meatloaf mixture in loaf pan but pat into shape so it has a rather high dome and is flat for 1/2 inch around the edges. This will allow the glaze to cook nicely on top. When the second coating of glaze is ready to go on, you will probably want to pour off any accumulated fat into a can or container, (refrigerate to harden to make it easy to dispose of) which is a messy proposition but worth doing.
For both baking methods:
Brush loaf with 1/2 of the glaze set aside for glazing then bake for about 30 minutes. Remove carefully (I drain grease if using a loaf pan) then gently add the remainder of the glaze without disturbing the first coat.
Return to oven and bake until the loaf registers 160 degrees, about 30 to 40 minutes longer. (1 hour to an hour and ten minutes total.) Cool for at least 20 minutes – it really does make a better meatloaf. Slice and serve with reserved sauce, if you’ve doubled.
To use bacon:
To use bacon on this recipe: Use the foil on rack method of baking. Form loaf, then brush with 1/2 of the glaze. Top with the bacon (going over the short sides across the loaf) overlapping each slice slightly. Tuck any excess under the loaf.
No need to saute the onions: place oil and onions in a small, microwave-safe container and microwave for about 2 minutes, covered.
I have many recipes that I’ve changed up over the years, but not this one for the Lemon Meringue Pie Cook’s Illustrated version. It is absolute perfection in every way and gets rave reviews. The lemon filling is intense and tart, just a little sweet with a gorgeous texture. The meringue is perfect – it’s like a tasting a fluffy cloud of sweet deliciousness.
Cook’s published this Jojo Spice Blend for their wonderful Jojos. If you’re not familiar, they’re wonderful, battered, deep-fried potato wedges – and unfortunately, they aren’t on this blog. But the Jojo Spice blend is!
Down home cooking at it’s best and perfect for fall, these Cooks Illustrated Smothered Pork Chops in Onion Gravy aren’t your Grandma’s pork chops, or even your Mom’s. That is if your Mom was like mine and used a canned soup or a Lipton’s mix.
We’ve always loved these Big, Beautiful Muffins in the Frugal Household – out of this world fantastic, but still very much a muffin, not a cupcake. They have a beautiful crumb, gorgeous texture and they’re always moist without being heavy.
It’s often said by “experts” in the field of nutrition that there are no “bad” foods, but I do have to wonder about Chicken Fried Steak – it just tastes so darned good! A huge fave of Child Number Two, when his birthday rolls around, I pull out the cast iron and go to town. Or maybe to country?
This little recipe, adapted from Cook’s Illustrated, magically transform the simple carrot into a fantastic dish. To tell you the truth, I never liked cooked carrots until I tried this recipe – I think we forget how wonderful simple vegetables can be when handled and cooked with care – and these carrots are a beautiful thing.
A great balsamic vinaigrette will just blow you away! Not the store bought kind, ever – it has to be home-made to be any good, which is really no problem because it takes about three minutes to make.
I love stew in the winter, whether made in the oven, on the stove or in a crock-pot whether made with potatoes or served over potatoes (or even noodles), whether with wine or without, or even with beer. I can hardly wait for a lazy snowy day to make stew, and when winter is over, I always wish I would have made more.
This Simple Quick Italian Tomato Sauce has saved me more than once when the clock turned to five (or six) and I needed something on the table in a jiff that I knew everyone would want to eat!
Sometimes ya just have to go retro – leafing through my recipe file I came across Catalina Dressing – Catalina reminds me of my childhood when my favorite was “Western,” a thick, sweet, tangy dressing. This, though, is a little thinner, a little more sophisticated, and an absolutely perfect blend of flavors.
Too many of us only know Split Pea Soup from a can. There’s really no comparison to the real deal! Done right, this homey (and kind of homely) Split Pea Soup will win your heart.
Creamy, delicious and comforting, Risotto is undisputedly one of the classic rice dishes of the world. When I heard of Cook’s Illustrated came out with an “easy, partially hands off” method for Asparagus Risotto, I wondered if their scientific approach would improve my risotto.
It’s hard to go wrong with Quiche. It’s the perfect, make-ahead recipe for breakfast, brunch or a light dinner. Maybe in front of a cozy fire in the winter or on the deck with a glass of wine on a balmy summer evening. A little side salad or some fruit and you’re set. While I love just about any Quiche, there is one quiche that is the pinnacle of all Quiche. Or is it Quiches? It’s this Quiche Lorraine Cook’s Illustrated version.