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I have a friend named Lori.  She’s smart and tall, is mom to a big hulking chocolate lab, is beautiful and talented, and does things like run a salon and also fly airplanes.  Sometimes in the same day.  Did I mention she’s a runner and that she’s from Boston?  She also “did” my nails for several years in Colorado Springs.  When you spend an hour and a half every three weeks literally face to face with someone for years on end, you either become friends or sleep.  Lori and I chose to become friends. (I miss her.)

So, being women and being friends, and being a foot apart so often, Lori and I talked food. (Also family, men, sports–her, not me, work, whatever)  Lori’s mostly vegetarian, though she eats some chicken, etc.  And Lori makes meatloaf.  Turkey meatloaf.  It’s good, says she, but she’s a bit bored with it.  More than once, she asked if I had another recipe.  Recipes, now that we have the internet, are a dime a dozen, but I hadn’t made turkey meatloaf in years.  I was intrigued and remembered someone saying, “You cannot season turkey meatloaf like beef meatloaf; it’s awful.  You must season it like turkey.”  While that brings sage, onions and celery to mind, for me it also brings hot peppers, feisty cheese, and salsa.  Living in San Antonio for four years and Colorado for 15 would do that.  Taking cooking classes in Santa Fe would definitely do that.

One day, after months of turkey meatloaf ideas perking around in my head from time to time, I decided to try it.  Wow!  Both Dave and I loved it.  This loaf is full of chiles, onions, garlic, and salsa, and I stuffed it with overlapping slices of pepperjack cheese so that when you cut it (make sure and let it sit a while or you’ll have a gooey mess), there are lovely melting bites of sharp cheese right at the center.

I mean, if meatloaf is good, people adore it–right? It’s filling, homey, stretches to feed a bunch, and makes great sandwiches.  Though, really, loving meatloaf isn’t something everyone wants to admit.  It’s not on top of the trendy list, though come to think of it COOKING LIGHT has a meatloaf article in the October Issue.  But trendy or not, if you make it, they will come.  And they’ll want the recipe.  It’s one of those emotional food-pingers like, “My grandma made the best meatloaf!”  Make this even if you have to invite people over to eat it.  ESPECIALLY if you have to invite people over to eat it.

Side: Mashed potatoes is the usual suspect, but I did an all-in-one sauté of sliced new potatoes, onions, garlic, and late summer squashes that comes together just before the meatloaf comes out of the oven and while it rests before serving.  Top it with finely diced fresh tomatoes and sweet green peppers for color and crunch.   That’s not much for directions; let me look in the cooking journal and see if I kept amounts listed when I cooked it.  If I did, I’ll include a recipe.  How’s that for informality in the cooking blog?   Here’s the meatloaf recipe, for which I definitely kept the list of ingredients and, uh–techniques and methods!

Here you are, Lori.  Sorry it took so long.

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Southwestern Turkey Meatloaf Stuffed With Pepperjack Cheese  

Serves 6-8  (or 2 with lots of leftovers for sandwiches or freeze half for later)

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, divided (one for oiling pan, one for the top of the meatloaf)
  • 2 pounds ground turkey
  • 1 ½ cups salsa, divided (1 cup in meatloaf, ½ cup on top for serving)
  • 2 cups whole wheat bread, cubed
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • ¼ teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/3 cup minced onion
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 8 ounces (about 1 ½ cups) chopped button mushrooms
  • 4 ounce can chopped mild or hot green chiles, drained
  • 1/3 pound sliced Pepper Jack cheese
  • Chopped fresh tomatoes and bell peppers for garnish, optional

Note about salt:  I do not include much salt as the salsa contains quite a bit.  If you’d like to check and see whether or not you’d like to add salt, make a small meatball of the mixture and fry it in a bit of oil.  Taste and see (great song, too!) if you’d like any salt

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Oil 9”x5” loaf pan using 1 tablespoon of the olive oil. 
  2. Wash your hands well and take off your rings and watch.  To a large bowl, add the second group of 11 ingredients—turkey through chiles– using only 1 cup of the salsa.  Put your hands down into the meat mixture and mix for about 2 minutes or until combined thoroughly.
  3. Pat half of the meat mixture firmly and evenly down into the oiled loaf pan and place the slices of pepper jack cheese right down the middle of the loaf, overlapping, stopping before the very end. (So that the cheese doesn’t ooze out so much while the meatloaf bakes.)  Pat the other half of the meatloaf mixture on top of the cheese—again, firmly– to create the loaf.  Brush top of meatloaf with the other tablespoon of olive oil.
  4. Place loaf pan on a foil-lined sheet pan and bake for about 1 1/4 hours or until instant-read thermometer registers 160 degrees F.  Remove from oven and let rest 10 minutes; temperature will come up to 165 degrees F.  Invert onto serving platter, first pouring out excess liquid if necessary, and top with the other half-cup of salsa. (Carve in pan if easier.) Garnish with diced tomatoes and green peppers as desired.  Surround the loaf with the Potato-Zucchini Sauté and serve hot.  Store leftovers tightly wrapped in refrigerator for up to four days. (Can wrap tightly and store in freezer up to 3 months.)

{printable recipe} 

Yes, it was in the cooking journal and here it is…

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Potato Zucchini Sauté  serves 6

  • 6-8 small (1-2″) new red potatoes, sliced thinly
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 1/2 teaspoon chili powder (I like Penzey’s; choose your style.)
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 each:  small zucchini and yellow squash, sliced thinly
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  •  Garnish, optional:  1/4 cup each:  diced fresh tomato and green pepper
  1. In a large skillet or sauté pan, heat oil and butter.  Add potatoes.
  2. Cook until potatoes brown on one side.  Stir and turn potatoes.  Add onions and dust with chili powder, salt, pepper, and oregano.  Cook one minute and add squash and garlic.
  3. Cover and cook until potatoes are tender–perhaps a total of 35-40 minutes and squash is al dente or grandma done (your choice)–another 2-3 minutes.
  4. Serve garnished with tomatoes and peppers if desired.

{printable recipe}

Two-Dog Kitchen and Around the ‘Hood

It’s that time of year.  Keeping the cantata on the piano at all times (skipping my own piano lessons), planning holiday travel, getting the last of the outdoor chores accomplished before it snows, changing out the clothes, ordering wool socks, taking as many walks as we can with the doggies, and grabbing yet another bouquet out of the flower garden. This may have been the last rose of summer:

Or maybe this one!


While very dry, the grass is still mostly green.

 Here are the pies I baked for Pops and Pies, one of the monthly concerts at Prospect Park United Methodist:  

Must be October if it’s pumpkin!

Sour Cream Apple (above)

 I did make that beef-vegetable soup I mentioned (with three variations plus some ideas on how to make it a bit cheaper) and if you’d like to see how I did it, you’ll need to visit examiner.com where I write cooking and food articles for St. Paul.
Basic Beef-Vegetable Soup
Pumpkin Custard just for YOU

Also, on my blog for The Solo Cook (Dinner Place), there’s a great pumpkin custard topped with cinnamon-kissed creme fraiche. It’s made for those who cook for one and is done in one minute in the microwave.  Your very own (crustless) pumpkin “pie.”

Warm enough for flip flops yesterday.

 

Stubborn Tucker:  wouldn’t turn around for his picture.

Happy October, my friends.
Sing a new song,
Alyce