Wednesday, November 18, 2015

The Pioneer Woman Cooks: Meatloaf

I have a complicated relationship with Ree Drummond (aka the Pioneer Woman).  Her Food Network show makes me cringe, and I think she plays the "gee golly shucks I'm just a little 'ol country housewife from Oklahoma" when, in fact, her family is worth millions at the very least, a little ham-fisted.

On the other hand, I've never made a recipe of hers that wasn't just aces, and her cinnamon roll recipe would make a grown man cry.  Plus, she's figured out how to market the hell out of herself so now she can hire people to do all the dirty work of running her empire.

Like I said, it's complicated.

When I was working in the library system in North Carolina, when her first cookbook, The Pioneer Woman Cooks: Recipes From an Accidental County Girl, went on sale, there were hundreds of holds put on it, and we couldn't keep it in stock.

This one day, a woman returned the book and it was in tatters.  It had clearly been handled by dozens of people trying to make those cinnamon rolls. I checked the book in, and marked it for deletion.

"You're going to throw that away, right?" the woman asked me, a little manic.

I told her I was.

"Can I just keep it?" she asked.  I don't much like using adverbs in writing, but the only way to describe this is to say she asked eagerly.

"I'd...have to charge you for it," I told her.  This was protocol.  If books were taken out of circulation, we couldn't give them to the last person who had them because then people might start destroying them on purpose.

She thought about it.  "Full Price?" she asked.  I told her yes.

"You may as well just buy it," I told her.  She was disappointed.

After the woman left, I went to toss the book into the "Destroy" box.  My boss was in the back.

"That's been a really popular book," Boss Lady said. I nodded.

"You know," she said, "I know you cook a lot.  We can't use it, but you could probably rubber band it together or something.  The pages look like they're still intact."

"Is that something I can do?" I asked.  She shrugged.

"Why not?  It's just going to get destroyed otherwise."

So that's how I came to be in possession of this sad, deteriorating cookbook.  (Sorry, lady who wanted it!  I hope you got your Pioneer Woman fix somewhere else.)

All that said, this meatloaf is bangin'.  I don't know where meatloaf got such a bad rap, but those people have clearly never tried this meatloaf.  I made a couple of modifications (and even then, Dennis said the sauce was "too sweet for him."  I'd knocked it down from 6 Tbs. brown sugar to 4!  I also got rid of the bacon because, 1, I didn't have bacon, and 2, I don't much like meat covered in other meat.)

If you make it this way, I promise it's delicious and makes a really stellar sandwich the next day.

Serves 8
From the Pioneer Woman Cooks: Recipes From an Accidental Country Girl


1 cup milk
6 bread slices
1 1/2 to 2 lbs. ground beef
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. seasoned salt
1/4 cup flat-leaf parsley, minced
4 eggs, beaten

Tomato Sauce
1 1/2 cups ketchup
2-6 Tbsp. brown sugar (depending on how much you like sweet sauce.  I recommend 3.)
4-6 dashes Tabasco sauce

Preheat the over to 350°F.

Put the bread in a small bowl and pour the milk over the bread.  Let soak for several minutes.

Put the beef, bread and milk mixture, cheese, salt, seasoned salt, parsley, pepper, and beaten eggs in a large mixing bowl, and with clean hands, mix until well-combined.

Form a loaf with the mixture and put on a broiler pan (or in a loaf pan, but if you use a loaf pan, you'll have to worry about skimming grease off the top).

Make the sauce by mixing all sauce ingredients together and stirring until combined.

Pour a third of the sauce over the meatloaf.

Bake for 45 minutes.  Pour the rest of the sauce over the meatloaf and bake for another 20-25 minutes until cooked through.

One Year Ago:  No Post
Two Years Ago:  No Post
Three Years Ago: No Post

Friday, September 11, 2015

Pinterest Friday: Blackberry Frosting (and Some Thoughts on Boxed Cake Mix)

I got really excited about this frosting (not to mention I was distracted by the fact I was Periscoping this whole process), and I didn't take a picture of the ingredients.  I think you can forgive me, though.

One of my co-workers, Sergio, had a birthday on Thursday, and I'm the Official Bringer of Birthday Treats, so that's how these cupcakes came into being.  Sergio and I had had a whole conversation about cake a few days ago, and he'd indicated he has the same love for Funfetti that I do.  As such, I bought a Funfetti cake mix.

Now, I'm usually someone who prefers to make things rather than buy them pre-packaged.  9 times out of 10, when I'm baking, I don't use cake mixes unless it's an ingredient in something (cake mix cookies, for example).

But I've had some reconfigured thoughts on store-bought/pre-packaged stuff, especially after my podcast interview.  If you want to make a cake, and you want to go buy a box of cake mix to make that should 100% go buy that cake mix and make the hell out of that cake.  You don't have to tell anyone it's boxed.  (Conversely, you can tell EVERYONE it's boxed if you want.  Who cares?)

If someone's going to give you a hard time because you made them a cake from a box instead of from scratch, they're not someone you want to bake a cake for anyway.  If you go to the store and buy a rotisserie chicken and heat up some green beans and make boxed mashed potatoes for a hot date you have, and the person you're cooking for scoffs at store-bought chicken...maybe go date someone else.

Some people say about comic books "Well, it doesn't matter what they're reading as long as the kids are reading!" and I never really understood that, but I think I do now.  You mixed up those potato flakes and stirred in the milk and the butter.  You made those mashed potatoes!  You don't have to spend hours and hours peeling, cooking, mashing, seasoning, whatever those mashed potatoes to make someone a meal and let them know you like them.

I'm not 100% sure where that soapbox came from, but I'll get off of it now.

Long story short, I knew Sergio liked the specific Funfetti, so that's what I made.  Since I feel strongly about making my own frosting, though, I dug up one of my Pinterest pins called 55 Frosting Recipes and made this blackberry frosting from the Natasha's Kitchen blog.

Sergio with a birthday cupcake and an insanely decorated desk.  The fox is uninterested in sweets.

It's got sugar.  It's got berries.  It's got cream cheese.  What else do you need?

Blackberry Frosting
Makes 3 cups of frosting
From Greek Yogurt Cupcakes with Blackberry Frosting at Natasha's Kitchen


1 stick unsalted butter, room temperature
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
8 oz. cream cheese, cut into 8 pieces and softened to room temperature
1/2 cup (1 package) blackberries

Puree blackberries in a food processor, then strain them through a fine mesh strainer to get the seeds out.  Push them through the strainer with a spatula until all that's in the strainer is seeds.  Discard the seeds.

In a stand mixer (or in a large bowl with a handheld mixer), mix the butter and the sugar on low speed until combined, scraping as necessary.  Once they're combined, increase speed to medium for 2-3 minutes.

Add the cream cheese a piece at a time and mix until combined and fluffy.

Add the blackberry puree and mix until well-incorporated.

Refrigerate frosting for 10 minutes before icing your cupcakes.

One Year Ago:  No Post
Two Years Ago:  Blog Redesign!

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

The Secret Lives of Baked Goods: Pink Frosted Cookies

Have you guys ever heard of the Periscope app?  I hadn't before like 3 weeks ago, and now I'm fully, 100% addicted.

In the simplest terms, it's a live-streaming video app.  Like live YouTube?  I don't know.

Generally when I broadcast, it's when I'm sitting in traffic and am bored.  (People can see you and whatever you're showing, and you can talk to them, but they can only make comments.  You can opt not to respond.

All that to say, I made these cookies live on Periscope with about a dozen people watching, and it was so much fun.  It sounds kind of dumb when I try to describe it (and I told Dennis it was dumb when he told me about it.  Clearly, I've come around.)

So give the Periscope app a try.  (I don't work for them and they're not paying me.  I just really love the app and connecting with people all over the world.  How else could people in Minnesota watch Dennis film a California sunset live?)  If you try it, you can follow me -- my screen name is GarconMeansBoy.  (If you get this reference, we are immediate friends and you should come over for cookies.)

Speaking of cookies!

Have you ever visited the CakeSpy blog?  I'm obsessed with her artwork (I have one of her prints hanging in my office!) and whenever I send a greeting card, it's one I got from her Etsy shop.

The brains behind CakeSpy, Jessie Oleson Moore, also has a cookbook, and it's this week's book of the week.  The Secret Lives of Baked Goods.  It's an entire cookbook based on classic desserts (Animal Crackers!  Baked Alaska!  Whoopie Pies!) and it gives the story behind the dessert as well as a recipe for the dessert.

These Pink Frosted Cookies are my favorite kind of store-bought cookie, and they're even better when they're homemade.  These are amazing, and when I brought a bunch of them to work to share, they were gone in a matter of minutes.  They're super easy to make, so you can whip up a batch when you want to impress someone (or when you went to do a super fun Periscope broadcast!)

Also, this is a Sarah Cooks the Books rarity: I followed the recipe exactly.  No changes!

Pink Frosted Cookies
Makes 2 dozen cookies
From The Secret Lives of Baked Goods by Jessie Oleson Moore (aka CakeSpy)  


5 cups all-purpose flour
1 Tbsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter
2 cups sugar
4 large eggs
1 cup milk
1 tsp. vanilla extract
Sprinkles for garnish (optional)

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
4-6 cups powdered sugar
2 Tbsp. milk
About 6 drops red food coloring

To make the cookies:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.  Line baking sheets with parchment paper or spray with cooking spray.

Combine the flour, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl.  Set aside.

In a large bowl with a hand mixer (or the bowl of a stand mixer with a paddle attachment), cream the butter and sugar together until fluffy (3 to 5 minutes).  Add the eggs one at a time.  Mix in the vanilla and milk.

Add the flour mixture a little at a time, scraping the sides of the bowl as needed, until everything is well-combined.

Drop the dough by heaping spoonfuls onto the baking sheets, leaving about 2 inches around each cookie to allow for spreading.

Bake for 10-11 minutes.  Remove from the oven and let the cookies set for several minutes before transferring them to a wire cooling rack.  Allow to cool completely before frosting.

Spread the frosting in a thick layer on top of the cookies and sprinkle with sprinkles.

To make the frosting:

In a large bowl with an electric mixer or in a stand mixer with a paddle attachment, best the butter and vanilla until smooth.

On low speed, gradually beat in the sugar one cup at a time.  After two cups, add the milk and combine.  Add more sugar until desired consistency is reached.  You can also add more milk as needed.

Stir in the food coloring drop by drop until you get your desired pink hue.

Frost cookies.

Two Years Ago:  Dr. Who Cupcakes:  Adipose

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

The Type A Artist Podcast: Featuring Me!

No recipe post today, but make sure to check out The Type A Artist podcast -- Lauren and Ingi (the podcast hosts) asked me to join them on episode 2 to discuss finding creativity in food.

The podcast can also be found on iTunes, and make sure to check out their Facebook page!

It's a long-ish podcast, so queue it up before your evening commute!  Also, for what it's worth, there's some NSFW language -- not something that I care about, but I know some people can be startled by a well-timed yet unexpected F-bomb.

It was a great experience being on the podcast, and I hope to be able to do it again soon!

Friday, August 28, 2015

Pinterest Friday: Not Yo' Mama's Banana Pudding

This Pinterest Friday offering is a little different, because it doesn't come from a blogger, but instead, from Food Network.  Paula Deen, specifically.

I know, I know.  Paula Deen.  I'm sorry.

Actually, no.  I was looking for a full-fat, super Southern banana pudding recipe for a work team BBQ I went to, and this delivered.  I regret nothing.

All of my teammates (most of whom are  California natives) loved this pudding, and for good reason.  It's delicious.  One guy said his wife "doesn't eat sweets" as she chowed down on her second helping.

It's really good, is what I'm saying.

This recipe is really good, and really easy, and really crowd-pleasing if you're looking for something to bring to that potluck you forgot about until the night before.

Not Yo' Mama's Banana Pudding
Makes 12-ish servings
From and via This Pin


6-8 bananas, cut into rounds
1 12-oz. container whipped topping
2 bags Pepperidge Farm chessmen cookies
1 14-oz. can sweetened condensed milk
1 8-oz. package cream cheese
2 cups milk
1 5-oz. box instant vanilla pudding

Line the bottom of a 13x9 dish with one bag of the cookies.

Layer the bananas on top of the cookies.

In a large mixing bowl, combine the milk and pudding mix and mix well.  

In another bowl, mix together the cream cheese and sweetened condensed milk until smooth.  Fold in the whipped topping.

Add the cream cheese mixture to the pudding mixture and stir together until well-blended.  Pour this mixture over the bananas and cookies.

Crumble several of the remaining cookies and sprinkle on top of the pudding.

Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Two Years Ago:  No post

Monday, August 24, 2015

Recipes to the Rescue: Italian Tomato and White Bean Soup

I picked up this cookbook at a used bookstore in Raleigh because it looks like a comic book.  That's literally the only reason why.

What I didn't realize until the day I made the first recipe, though, is that it's a book I should have been referencing all along.  My commute is 40+ miles each way, so oftentimes, when I get home at the end of the day, I'm not into cooking.  When I pulled this book out one evening, though, I realized it was all easy recipes and, at least in this case, I already had all the ingredients in my kitchen.  Win/win!

A note I'll make here is that this is a recipe that I modified the crap out of.  Very, very, very rarely will I post a recipe I followed to a T; generally when I do follow it exactly, it's a dessert recipe.  I'm better with winging it on non-dessert, non-baked items.

I wonder occasionally if I should make more of an effort on these posts to note that no, this isn't the exact recipe from the book -- it's got some variations.  Does it matter?  Do you care?

As I mentioned, and as you can see above, I made a lot of changes to this one.  One of the biggest things is that it called for jarred garlic and frozen onions, and I don't generally use either one of those things.  Other changes include adding red pepper flakes, using diced tomatoes instead of crushed tomatoes (and using something like Rotel for half of that), and excluding bacon.


Yes, I said I excluded bacon.  It didn't need it, I didn't have it, and I had the bacon grease to use for cooking the veggies anyway.

What are your thoughts, both on this soup and on changes in recipes posted?

Italian Tomato and White Bean Soup
Makes 3-4 servings
Adapted from Recipes to the Rescue:  Thrilling Kitchen Adventures...Just in the Nick of Time


1 1/2 tsp. bacon grease (or olive oil if you don't have the grease)
1 large onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 14-oz. cans diced tomatoes, one with green chiles, with their juice
1 15-oz. can white beans, drained and rinsed
2 cups chicken broth or stock
1/3 cup basil, torn into pieces (Mine is ugly because it was previously frozen!)
1 tsp. red pepper flaked (optional, for people who like spicy soup)
1/2 cup shredded Pecorino Romano cheese

Add grease/oil to a medium saucepan and heat over medium-high heat.  Cook onions and garlic until soft.

Add the tomatoes (with juice), red pepper flakes, beans, broth, and basil.  Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer uncovered for 7-10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Top each serving with cheese. 


One Year Ago: Beefy Stew
Two Years Ago:  No Post

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

The Bartender's Bible: Brazen Hussy

I've mentioned before about the aspect of the food blog world that bugs me -- the fact that everything always looks perfect and is perfectly styled, and is perfectly delicious.  I know people have weird stuff that happens while they're cooking, and I don't really get why people don't talk about it. 

I've had my share of mishaps (here are two), but what gets me more is the ones that may be OK to other people, but I don't like them.

All that to say, I didn't much like this drink.  The only reason I chose it, truly, was, first and foremost, because of the name, and then also because there weren't any weird ingredients (I already had two of the three at home!)

So here you go; enjoy your Brazen Hussy, if you're into that kind of thing.

(P.S.  The best part of this post is that I actually have, at the bottom, a post from 1 AND 2 years ago!)

Brazen Hussy
Makes one drink


1 oz. vodka
1 oz. Triple Sec
1/2 oz. lemon juice
Ice cubes

Put everything in a cocktail shaker (or two cups if you're like me and got rid of your cocktail shaker for some reason.)  

Shake it.  

Strain into a festive birthday glass.

Enjoy your mediocre cocktail.

One Year Ago:  Gnocchi Dippers