Easy Pumpkin Spice Sheet Cake with Mom's Cream Cheese Frosting

Easy Pumpkin Spice Sheet Cake

Happy Halloween, ya’ll!! I made you a cake! Tis the season, isn’t it for everything and anything Pumpkin Spice. Ummmm, Guilty! Sometimes Pumpkin Spice can get a little old, but not this cake. This Easy Pumpkin Spice Sheet Cake has a special blend of warm fall spices with just a bit of a kick from a touch of black pepper.

Easy Pumpkin Spice Sheet Cake

Easy Pumpkin Spice Sheet Cake

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Slow Cooker Zucchini Beef Soup

Slow Cooker Zucchini Beef Soup

Slow Cooker Zucchini Beef Soup has got to be the perfect end of summer soup, especially if you happen to have a garden still spitting out zucchini! Here in the Twin Cities, I’m still seeing a few on my neighbor’s plants. Me, I know better than to ever plant zucchini – the plants never stop and you’ll have zucchini out the ears, lol!

Slow Cooker Zucchini Beef Soup

Slow Cooker Zucchini Beef Soup

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Old Fashioned Three Bean Salad

Old Fashioned Three Bean Salad

I grew up on Old Fashioned Three Bean Salad and if you’re from the Midwest, I bet you did, too! There’s just nothing like fresh garden beans soaking up all the sweet, tangy marinade!

Old Fashioned Three Bean Salad

Old Fashioned Three Bean Salad

It’s a perfect summer salad for a potluck or to have on hand to fill out dinners or lunches. On a hot day, Old Fashioned Three Bean Salad is so cool and refreshing!

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Our Family’s Favorite Tacos

Our family's taco - make with a home-made classic seasoning or with our smokin' chipotle taco seasoning.

Unless you grew up around Mexican food, chances are your first introduction to it was probably the ground beef taco. And maybe you make them for your family – they’re fast, easy & everyone seems to love them from kids to kids at heart. I make a few different kinds of ground beef tacos, but these are our fave.

Our Family’s Favorite Tacos

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The Best Beef Stroganoff

The Best Beef Stroganoff?

Do any of you guys have that one Aunt? The one that always made you feel special and had just a little something extra to her personality? Mine was my Aunt Ginny, my Dad’s sister. She was definitely the fun Aunt, and she was fabulous. And she was a fabulous cook, too. I have a couple of her recipes on my site but my favorite is The Best Beef Stroganoff.

The Best Beef Stroganoff

My Aunt Ginny’s Beef Stroganoff – she brought the recipe back from Russia during the Cold war.

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Aunt Mary’s Angel Food Cake

Images. They can be seared into our consciousness in a heartbeat, so intensely that it seems they can never be forgotten. Riots, shootings, protests. Senseless death. It can all be a bit much. Overwhelming. Positive images can do the same thing, and I think we need more of them.

Angel Food Cake with Strawberries and a Mock Mascarpone Filling

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Grandma's Applesauce Cupcakes with Ermine Buttercream

Grandmas Applesauce Cupcakes

Do you have old family recipes that just take you back to childhood? Maybe it’s a photo, maybe it’s the first whiff of them baking in the oven, or maybe it’s that first bite? This is one of those for me…my Grandma’s Applesauce Cupcakes.

Grandma's Applesauce Cupcakes with Ermine Buttercream

Grandma’s Applesauce Cupcakes with Ermine Buttercream

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My Grandmother’s Pie Crust

This is an easy pie crust - has vinegar AND an egg! So old, it originally calls for lard, but butter or shortening both work fine.

I might have to clarify on this recipe: This is just ONE of my Grandmother’s pie crusts. She was a great baker of pies. People fought over her pies. Seriously. I chose this very old-fashioned crust for my Sour Cream Raisin Pie because I believe both to be from around the same era. It’s delish, a bit like a shortbread and quite a bit different from the recipes I’ve seen or used.

Sour Cream Raisin Pie, showing my Grandma's Pie Crust

Sour Cream Raisin Pie, showing my Grandma’s Pie Crust

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"Old World" Stuffed Bell Peppers

Old World Stuffed Peppers

Bell peppers with ground beef & rice; it's the unusual spicing that makes these special!

When I mentioned I wanted to make Stuffed Peppers for dinner, my Stepmom reached into the cupboard and pulled out her book – she had three or four recipes, but we settled on this one, on a small handwritten card. I called these “Old World” because of the allspice and raisins, a flavor combo familiar to me from passed down recipes on the German side.

"Old World" Stuffed Bell Peppers

“Old World” Stuffed Bell Peppers

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Old Fashioned Date Pinwheel Cookies - Grandma's Recipe

Date Pinwheels, Icebox

Date Pinwheels - they're crispy on the edges with a chewiness that's just incredible.

These Date Pinwheels were my Grandmother Irene’s recipe. My Mom’s Mom, and of all the cookies our family had at Christmas, these were my favorite. When Grandma thought I was old enough, she let me slice the cookie rolls into coins & I remember how hard I’d concentrate to try to get them perfect!

Old Fashioned Date Pinwheel Cookies - Grandma's Recipe

Old Fashioned Date Pinwheel Cookies – Grandma’s Recipe

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Classic American Goulash sometimes called Macaroni Beef or Chili Mac.

Mom’s Classic American Goulash

Goulash - such comfort food! Easy & fast from pantry ingredients.

Goulash is an old American standby dish from pantry ingredients. Wikipedia notes Goulash celebrated its 100th birthday last year, being published in cookbooks as early as 1914. Simple, tasty, cheap and filling, Goulash is familiar to generations of Americans. Talk about comfort food!

Classic American Goulash sometimes called Macaroni Beef or Chili Mac.

Classic American Goulash sometimes called Macaroni Beef or Chili Mac.

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The Best Molasses Spice Cookies - soft, chewy, crispy edges. cooks illustrated

Molasses Spice Cookies

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! 🙂

The Best Molasses Spice Cookies - soft, chewy, crispy edges. cooks illustrated

The Best Molasses Spice Cookies – soft, chewy, crispy edges.

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Wayside Inn Carrot Cake https://frugalhausfrau.com/

Wayside Inn Carrot Cake

Wayside Inn Carrot Cake - a gorgeous carrot cake with a fine, cakelike texture.

I haven’t been posting much on this blog; I stopped in to see my Dad, Chuck and Step Mom, Pat, in early June and basically never left…so for this summer at least, I’ve traded in my city life in the Twin Cities for a small town in South Dakota. Quite a shocker but we’re making do and working things through and having a pretty good time as we do so.

Wayside Inn Carrot Cake

Wayside Inn Carrot Cake

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Cook's Illustrated Meatloaf

Cook’s Illustrated Meatloaf – A favorite!

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.

Cook's Illustrated Meatloaf

Cook’s Illustrated Meatloaf


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.

Cook's Illustrated Meatloaf

Cook’s Illustrated Meatloaf

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.

Cook's Illustrated Meatloaf

Meat Loaf Sandwich, using our adapted Cook’s Illustrated Meat Loaf

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.

Cook's Illustrated Meatloaf

Cook’s Illustrated Meatloaf

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

Ingredients

  • 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)

Instructions

Glaze:

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.

Meatloaf:

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.

Notes

No need to saute the onions: place oil and onions in a small, microwave-safe container and microwave for about 2 minutes, covered.

Cooks Illustrated Meatloaf is always a family favorite at our house! Oh, that glaze! We like it so much I double and freeze one. I usually make it without the bacon topping, but I included their instructions for it. #CooksIllustratedMeatloaf