Cheese and French Onion Meatloaf

I’ve never really considered myself a meatloaf fan (pause to wait for my father in law to make a joke about how he really enjoyed Bat out of Hell…), and can count on two hands the number of times I’ve cooked one, with fingers to spare. Apart from my turkey and apple meatloaf (which I really should include here, as it’s pretty divine), I generally find meatloaves stodgy and a whole lot of effort for not a whole lot of reward. Nobody’s ever complained about the lack of meatloaf in our lives, so I’ve never really thought about it.

However, the other night, the hubby and I were curled up watching something or other, and the characters were eating meatloaf. After 10 years of marriage, I didn’t even need to glance over to know that he was giving me “the look”. No, not that one. The “why are they eating something delicious, and I’m not?” look.

So, I went hunting for a meatloaf recipe. I’m a good wife like that. But not just any old loaf. It had to be Something Different. Not just a big dry meatball with some barbecue sauce concoction glazed over it. Something I would be excited to make, and, knowing that meatloaf is generally a more calorically dense kind of meal, something that would be what I considered worth it. 2 slices of this bad boy is 390 calories, but the slices are generous, and there’s absolutely no reason (except for how good it tastes) that you couldn’t have 1 slice and fill up on veggies. In fact, that’s exactly what I did. Bonus to this – more leftovers! Like most of its ilk, this is possibly even  better the next day.

It didn’t take too long. I had to sift through a gazillion recipes, because everybody has their own spin on this classic, but once I saw this on Taste (yes, again! I have so many wonderful cookbooks, but I do love this website for midweek meals!), I knew this was The One. Promises of sweet, jammy onions, a cheesy crust, and mustardy meat suckered me right in. I adore the sum of its parts, and the whole is even better. It just… works. And, the house smells amazing while it’s cooking away. For such a easily cooked meal, the results are spectacular!

Serves 6, generously

Ingredients

3/4 cup dried breadcrumbs

2tbs milk                                                                                                                                                                                              4 brown onions                                                                                                                                                                                          1kg beef mince (resist the urge to go lean for this, it just falls apart!)

35g sachet salt-reduced French onion soup mix

2 garlic cloves, crushed

1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 egg, lightly beaten
1/4 cup finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves
1 tsp olive oil
1 tablespoon brown sugar
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
50g gruyere cheese, grated
Gravy, to serve (optional)
Method
  1. Preheat oven to 180C. Line base and sides of a large loaf tin with baking paper, allowing for some overhang.
  2. Grate one of the onions (or stick it in the food processor). Combine it with mince, breadcrumbs, milk, soup mix, garlic, mustard, egg and parsley in a large bowl. Season with pepper (you really don’t need more salt). Mix well to combine.
  3. Press mixture into the prepared pan, using a spatula to make sure it is compact and level. Bake for 1 hour, until meatloaf is firm and juices run clear.
  4. When the meatloaf has been in the oven for 40 minutes, thinly slice remaining onions. Heat oil in a frying pan over medium heat. Add onion, and cook, stirring occasionally, for 10 minutes or until softened. Add sugar and balsamic vinegar. Cook, stirring, for 5 minutes or until onion is caramelised.
  5. Remove meatloaf from oven. Carefully drain excess pan juices, and lift the meatloaf out of the tin using the baking paper, transferring onto a baking tray. Trim paper so it doesn’t stick up – you want the edges to brown a little more in the last cooking. If the baking paper won’t support the weight of this step,  just carefully turn meatloaf, top-side up, onto a baking paper-lined baking tray.
  6. Top meatloaf with cheese and caramelised onion. Bake for a further 15 minutes or until cheese has melted. Stand for 5 minutes. Cut into slices. Serve with gravy, mashed potato and vegetables.
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Mustardy Chicken with Roast Vegetable Salad

I love salad. Perhaps even more than soup. Maybe. Perhaps it’s equal. Either way, it’s a lot.

Salads generally gets me through the hot, disgusting Sydney summers, and then when it turns bitterly cold, I invariably feel a sense of loss. And then I realised the glory that is a warm salad!

Like most of it’s ilk, this recipe is extremely versatile and forgiving – it’s really just roasted veggies and some chicken. But tossed together with the right dressing, it is so much more. It’s complex, and warming, and filling, and makes you feel a little smug because look how healthy it is!

It’s barely adapted from Taste, but the addition of cauliflower was due to having less broccoli than I thought, and was a more than welcome addition to the mix. I also use a lot less oil than the original, because I don’t enjoy the taste of food that is drowning in oil – even the healthy, high quality oils.

Ingredients

500g chicken tenderloin, breast or thigh (I used a bit of breast and thigh)

2tbsp olive oil

1tsp mince garlic

1tsp dried basil

500g sweet potato, cubed

200g  broccoli, cut into large florets

200g califlower, cut into large florets

200g mushrooms, sliced

1 quarter red cabbage

1tbs red wine vinegar

1tsp brown sugar

1tbs wholegrain mustard

 

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 200C.
  2. Slice chicken into tenderloin-sized strips, if using breast or thigh. Combine 1/2tbs oil, garlic and basil and rub over chicken. Cover and set for 15 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, combine broccoli, caulifower and sweet potato with 1tbs oil. Arrange on a baking tray in a single layer, and roast for 25 minutes on the bottom level of oven.
  4. Heat frypan over medium high heat, and cook chicken for 10 minutes, turning every few minutes. Remove from pan and cover with aluminium foil to rest.
  5. In the same pan, add cabbage and mushrooms. Combine well and cook over medium heat for 4 minutes, until mushrooms have softened.
  6. In a small jug, combine remaining oil, vinegar, sugar and mustard.
  7. Combine chicken and vegetables in a salad bowl. Pour over dressing and toss to combine.

 

 

 

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Risoni Meatball Soup

So, I mentioned in the last post that there are some days where I just can’t be bothered. Well, I’m having a week of it. Everything seems a chore, and I’m just exhausted. More mentally than physically, but it definitely has an impact on how much I want to do when I get home from work.

In the olden days – when I was 46 kilos heavier and infinitely more depressed – it’d mean a week of takeout and excuses. I’m not above the odd takeout these days, but I’m certainly more judicious about it, in terms of both quality and frequency, so having an arsenal of Can’t Be eFfed meals is important.

Which is where this rockstar of a soup shines. It’s so easy, so quick, so tasty, and so filling. At 381 calories (for a smaller serving, but it’s more than enough), it’s pretty low-cal, too. All boxes for a good dinner ticked! And call me crazy, but there’s something cathartic about rolling meatballs with music blaring the stresses of the day away.

You know what, also? As great as this is at the end of a long, crappy day, it’s also a fantastic way to celebrate a good day or lift a neutral day into good day territory.

Adapted from the Taste website, as so many of my day-to-day recipes are.

 

Serves 4-6

Ingredients

500g lean mince

1/4 cup dried breadcrumbs

1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese

1tsp minced garlic

700ml passata

4 cups good quality chicken stock

1/2 cup risoni pasta

1tbs olive oil

1 large zucchini, diced

1tsp parsley

1tsp basil

parmesan cheese, extra, to serve

Method

  1. Combine mince, breadcrumbs, cheese, garlic and egg. Roll teaspoons of the mixture into tight meatballs, cover and rest in the fridge for 20 minutes.
  2. Bring stock and passata to the boil in a large saucepan, then reduce heat slightly. Add herbs and risoni, and stir frequently to prevent pasta from sticking to the bottom of the pan.
  3. Meanwhile, heat oil in a frypan. When hot, add meatballs, turning frequently to cook evenly.
  4. When cooked through, gently add meatballs and zucchini to soup. Cook, still stirring, for two minutes.
  5. Ladle into bowls and serve with extra parmesan.

 

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