Meatloaf with Beef-Onion Gravy

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I don’t think it was until I was in high school or college that I realized that my mom’s meatloaf was different that most other people’s. Apparently, it’s more standard to have a tomato-based sauce, brown sugar, or BBQ sauce mixed in or coating the meatloaf. Don’t get me wrong, those are good too – but my mom’s meatloaf is better. It’s an indisputable fact… don’t argue with me! This was the only meatloaf I ever knew, but in looking through the family cookbook, I recently noted two separate recipes: “Mama’s Red Meatloaf” and “Mama’s Brown Meatloaf.” (“Mama” in this context being my grandmother.) So apparently my own mother was the one partial to the “Brown Meatloaf.” She probably made it for us once every few weeks, while I don’t think she ever made the red version. The meatloaf itself is simple. There’s not much more to it than the ground beef. But the gravy… oh the gravy… that’s what makes the dish! It’s so savory, thick, and delicious. There’s plenty to coat your meat, as well as whatever starch and/or vegetables your choose to serve with it. My recipe is slightly adapted from my mother’s, which is slightly adapted from her mother’s. This may not be nostalgic for you as it is for me, but it is homey, comfort food no matter what.

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PS: Can someone teach me how to photograph meatloaf and gravy so it looks appetizing? I promise you, this is delicious, despite it’s blah appearance!

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Meatloaf with Beef-Onion Gravy

Ingredients: 
  • 2 lb ground beef
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 1 cup fine bread crumbs
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 10 turns fresh ground black pepper
  • 2 tbsp + 2 1/2 cups beef stock
  • 3 tbsp butter
  • 3 tbsp flour
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 1 packet of dry onion soup mix
Instructions: 
  1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.
  2. In a large bowl, combine the first 7 ingredients (beef through 2 tbsp beef stock). Mix together with your hands until well-combined.
  3. Form the mixture into a loaf. Place your meatloaf into a glass casserole dish.
  4. Place in the oven on middle rack. Baking times will vary based on the thickness of your loaf (if you make a longer/thinner loaf, aim for the lower end… if you make a thicker/stouter loaf, aim for the longer end…). Plan on an hour & 15 minutes to an hour & 45 minutes. Safe internal temperature per the FDA is 160 degrees for ground beef.
  5. After 45 minutes to an hour, begin to make the gravy. Start by melting butter in a pan over medium heat.
  6. Once butter has melted, whisk in the flour. Whisk continuously until the butter and flour have come together to make a thick roux.
  7. Next, add the 2 1/2 cups of beef stock in by the 1/2 cup. Continue whisking. (You, of course, may add more or less depending upon how you like the thickness of your gravy.)
  8. Lastly, stir in the onion mix and milk. Lower heat and stir occasionally.
  9. With 20-30 minutes left in the cooking time for the meatloaf, remove it from the oven briefly. Pour off any released grease/fat.
  10. Coat the meatloaf with the gravy. Return to the oven for an additional 20-30 minutes.
  11. Serve after confirming that it is fully cooked.
Serves 4-6.

Baked Brie with Caramelized Onion Chutney

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I’m pretty satisfied with myself. Why? Because I made another family recipe, as I’ve been wanting to do, AND I got to inhale some delicious cheese. This recipe comes from my aunt Lori. I’ve made it several times and every time wonder why I don’t make it more often. This is a great appetizer to share with friends; I made it tonight for our girls movie night. It would also be perfect for your upcoming holiday events!

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Baked Brie with Caramelized Onion Chutney

Ingredients: 
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 1 medium onion, sliced
  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries (ie: Craisins)
  • 1 tbsp brown sugar
  • 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 1 round of Brie
  • {crackers for serving}
Instructions: 
  1. Melt butter in pan over medium heat.
  2. Add onions to the pan and toss to coat with the butter.
  3. Sauté onions for 20-30 minutes, stirring frequently. Cook until the onions are beginning to brown and are very fragrant.
  4. Add the cranberries, brown sugar, and balsamic vinegar to the pan. Cook another 5 minutes, continuing to stir occasionally.
  5. Meanwhile, heat your oven to 350 degrees. Spray a cookie sheet with cooking spray.
  6. Place the round of Brie on the cookie sheet. Bake for ~10 minutes, until it is soft and starting to melt.
  7. Slice the top rind off the Brie and spoon chutney over top.
  8. Enjoy spread on crackers!

 

French Onion Chicken Zoodles

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I’ve had this idea of French Onion soup combined with zoodles for awhile. I’d seen similar ideas on other blogs in the past, but have never tried it myself. The ones I drew from the most were this one from Climbing Grier Mountain and this one from Mother Thyme.

True to form, I tried to keep tonight’s new recipe a secret from Selim. And true to form, he guessed it by the ingredients I wanted in the grocery store. The man is ridiculous! I told him that the only ingredients we needed to buy for tonight’s dinner were onions and cheese, that we had everything else I needed at home. From there, he thought about it for a few minutes, made one wrong guess (enchiladas), and then came up with, “French onion soup…?” It’s maddening I tell you. I mean, how many entrees can you think of that involve onions and cheese? I can think of a million! Off the top of my head, I could’ve been making: a cheeseburger, tacos/enchiladas/burritos/etc, spaghetti, meatballs, spaghetti & meatballs, a big ol’ omelette, scalloped potatoes, a loaded baked potato, a loaded hot dog, or maybe a cheesy onion dip! The possibilities are endless, but Mr. Mind-reader/Surprise-ruiner won again.

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French Onion Chicken Zoodles

Ingredients: 
  • 10oz chicken, cubed
  • 2 large onions, sliced
  • 2 large zucchini
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 2 tbsp oil, divided
  • 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 3 turns of black pepper
  • 2 cups beef broth
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/2 tsp thyme
  • 2 cups cheese, shredded (We used Asiago today. Julia Child would suggest Gruyere.)
Instructions: 
  1. Heat 1 tbsp of oil over medium heat in a dutch oven or other stove + oven – safe dish. Add the cubes of chicken and cook for ~5 minutes, until they are no longer translucent. Remove to the side.
  2. Now add the other 1 tbsp of oil and the butter. Wait until the butter has melted.
  3. Add the onions and stir to coat all of the onions. Season with salt and pepper. Cook until caramelized, ~45 minutes. Stir every few minutes. You want them to brown and start to stick to the pan, but not so much so they burn. You’ll be doing this for awhile.
  4. Meanwhile, prepare your zoodles. I use a hand spiralizer. You can also slice the zucchini in ribbons if you don’t have a spiralizer. Set in the sink in a strainer. Toss with a few shakes of salt. This draws the excess water from the zucchini.
  5. After about 40 minutes (earlier if you find them drying up/starting to burn), add the balsamic vinegar to your onions. Continue cooking the onions, stirring frequently. The total onion caramelizing time should be roughly 45 minutes.
  6. Deglaze the pan with the beef broth. Add the bay leaf and thyme to the liquid. Also return the chicken to the pan. Increase heat just a bit so the liquid is simmering. Simmer for 15 minutes.
  7. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees.
  8. Now here you have two options. The result is the same, but the aesthetics are a bit different.
    • Option A – stir the zoodles into your dish so they are well coated and submerged in the liquid. Top with the cheese. Bake just a few minutes until cheese is bubbly and slightly browned.
    • Option B – if you have oven-safe individual-sized dishes (like large ramekins), portion out your zoodles among them. Top with the liquid and then cheese. Bake as in Option A. (In your excitement to dig in to your dinner, don’t forget that the dish is HOT!!)
  9. Enjoy! A nice crusty piece of bread would be a great compliment to this dish too! Gotta soak up all that onion-y deliciousness 🙂
Serves 4.