Today marks the first family originated recipe to be featured on Tasty Tuesdays.  Growing up my mom would make meatloaf with mashed potatoes and green beans about every other week or so.  My grandmother, Memaw, would also make it most times we headed up to Pampa for a visit.  Because Memaw and Mom were the only two people I ever saw make this recipe I, along with several of my other cousins, attributed the recipe to Memaw and referred to it as “Memaw’s Meatloaf”. 

It wasn’t until a few months ago when my Aunt Dee and Uncle Steve came to visit Robert and I in Dallas that I was informed that the recipe did not originate with Memaw at all.  It was a recipe that Aunt Dee and Mom got at a 4H club meeting and brought home to share.  I still like to call it Memaw’s Meatloaf.  To me, who first brought the recipe into the Holman family is less important than who I remember first making it for me.  That and it’s probably the only meal outside of stew or chili that I remember Memaw making and I feel like I honor her memory every time I make it.

I’ve made some changes to the recipe, mainly switching ground turkey for ground beef, to make it a bit healthier.  I hope you enjoy this family favorite as much as we do.  Also of note, this recipe makes 5-6 mini loaves instead of one large loaf.  Outside of the fact that this is the only way my mom and Memaw ever made it, I like that the mini loaves make it easy for packing a lunch out of leftovers the next way.  If you’re weirded out by the mini loaf idea then go ahead and make into one large loaf, it won’t affect the taste at all.  Also, if you have a family member that doesn’t do onions, then substitute 2 Tbsp dried minced onions from the spice section of the grocery store for the 1/2 cup fresh minced onion.  It leaves the flavor without being overbearing or the texture.  My dad hates onions and he doesn’t mind the dried minced onions in this meatloaf.

Ingredients:
For loaf:
1lb ground turkey
1/2 cup minced yellow onion
1 cup cracker crumbs
1 large egg
1 8 oz. can of tomato sauce
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
For sauce:
1 8 oz. can of tomato sauce
2 Tbsp brown sugar
1 tsp Worcheshire Sauce

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Combine in a large bowl all ingredients for the meat loaf.  

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Using hands mix the ingredients together until well blended.  Form into 6 mini loaves about the size of your fist and place onto a greased cookie sheet.  

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Place in oven and bake for 25 minutes.  In the meantime, combine tomato sauce, brown sugar and Worcheshire sauce in a small bowl and stir until well blended.  Remove mini loaves from oven and pour sauce over each loaf, leaving a little left over in case anyone wants extra while eating.  

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Replace mini loaves to oven and bake for 10 more minutes.  Remove from oven and serve with mashed potatoes and green beans.

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This weeks recipe is based on the Italian Baked Chicken and Pastina by Giada De Laurentis at the Food Network.  While I’ve kept the same ingredients as Giada, I’ve changed the quantities to help provide a heaftier meal.  Giada’s version was intended as a snack for kids and therefore produces a somewhat smaller meal.  What I love about this dish is that it reminds me of some of the cassoroles my mom used to make growing up, without all the fat and calories found in the cream of chicken and cream of mushroom soups.  This recipe has quickly become a favorite in our house.

Ingredients:
1 1/2 cups small elbow pasta
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 pkg boneless skinless chicken breast tenders cubed (approx. 1 1/2 cups)
1/2 yellow onion diced
1 clove garlic minced
1 large can diced tomatoes with juice
1 cup shredded mozzarella (about 1 small ball of fresh mozz)
1/2 cup chopped fresh flat leaf parsley
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/4 cup bread crumbs
1/4 cup grated parmesan
1 Tbsp butter

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

Bring a medium pot of water to boil over high heat.  Add the pasta and cook until just tender, stirring occasionaly for about 5 minutes.  Drain pasta into a large mixing bowl.

While waiting for the water to boil, cut the chicken into small cubes and dice up the onion. Heat up olive oil in a medium saute pan and cook chicken for about 3 minutes then add garlic and onions and cook until chicken is cooked through and onions are soft.  Add mixture to the pasta in the mixing bowl along with the mozzarella cheese, parsley, salt, pepper, and canned  tomatoes.  Stir to combine.

Spray an 8×8 baking dish with PAM and pour pasta mixture into dish.  In a separate bowl combine bread crumbs and parmesan cheese.  Sprinkle bread crumb mixture over pasta and dot with pieces of butter.  Bake in oven until top is golden brown, about 30 minutes.  When you’re done it should look like this.

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Can you tell this is one of Robert's favorite dishes??

Can you tell this is one of Robert's favorite dishes??

Bon Appetit!

Loving My Community

June 5, 2009

LMC Sm Color Logo - jpg

About eight months ago I became the project lead in my office for the creation and implementation for a new City program entitled “Loving My Community Neighborhood Improvement Grant”.  My coworker Pamè La and I have taken what was once a very general concept for a program handed to us from the City Manager’s Office and turned it into a viable and, dare I say it, impressive grant program.  We’ve been through highs and lows the past 8 months facing potential cuts to our funding and complaints from various critics all the while diligently fine tuning the details of the program.

On Monday, May 11 I presented our program to the Dallas City Council Quality of Life Committee meeting as our first official “roll out” of the details of the program.  Council then voted to authorize the LMC Grant as a program on May 27, and as of this week we have launched our website and are no longer “in progress”. To check it out and get an idea as to what I’ve been working go to www.dallascityhall.com/scs/community.html.  I’ve even been interviewed by the local press http://blogs.dallasobserver.com/unfairpark/2009/06/how_much_do_you_love_your_comm.php to get my comment on the project.

A brief summary of the LMC program.  Loving My Community is designed to award financial assistance to neighborhood groups that present a vision, passion and a commitment to conduct a community operated project or program to address specific needs within their neighborhoods and help improve their quality of life.  We hope that this program will spark neighborhood creativity and involvement and ownership of local communities City-wide.  The LMC Grant will award selected projects up to $10,000 to implement their project idea.

I’m pretty excited about this program.  In my job I see tons of neighborhoods who have a need and desire to better their communities but either don’t know how to go about doing it, or don’t have the money to implement their idea.  I think this program has a chance to really make a difference in the City of Dallas.  And while we don’t know how long we can continue this program into the future with a tight and currently in the red City budget this year, we’re doing our best to do what we can with what we have now.  Hopefully we can get some outside sponsors for the program in the upcoming year to help keep it going.

Staci Tries Sushi

June 4, 2009

Those of you who have known me a long time know that I am not a big seafood fan.  In fact, many of you may have heard me say at one point in the past that “I don’t eat seafood.”  While I have become more adventurous in eating fish and fried shrimp, it’s still not quite on my favorite things to eat yet.  And I definately, until Tuesday night, did not eat sushi.

My best friend Jalah started trying to get me to go get sushi with her a few months ago.  She had recently become a sushi convert and was convinced that she could order some rolls for me to try that I would eventually enjoy.  I’ll admit, I was pretty doubtful that she would be able to succeed in her quest.  After all, I had tried sushi before, gave it the good ol college try and did not enjoy it.  But I love Jalah, and I love hanging out with Jalah, so I decided to let her try.  We agreed to meet at Pirhana Killer Sushi in North Arlington this past Tuesday night for dinner and I promised to try some sushi before ordering anything “safe”. 

During my drive to Arlington, I was so convinced that I wasn’t going to like the rolls served to me that I was getting excited about eating the crispy chicken and wonton vegetables I had eaten at the Fort Worth location of the same restaurant the year before.  Knowing that my friends and family would not believe that I ate, and liked, sushi, I thought I needed to get photographic proof of the experience.  Jalah was more than happy to oblige.

Are those orange things fish eggs?

Are those orange things fish eggs?

Prepping the roll before eating

Prepping the roll before eating

Here we go...

Here we go...

Hey that's pretty good

Hey that's pretty good

So I’ve completed the first hurdle in the road to becoming a sushi lover.  True both rolls we ate were shrimp tempura and not true raw fish suhsi, but I think it still counts!  Who wants to go eat sushi with me next?

joy-of-cooking

For my birthday a few years ago, Robert gave me a copy of The Joy of Cooking.  If you are new to cooking or are beginning to build your cooking library or just have never heard of this book you need to buy it.  It is the Bible for all things cooking related.  And like the Bible it is huge, but don’t let the size of the book scare you away.  It is chocked full of great information and recipes.  It goes into details about how to use the techniques described in each recipe and also provides tips about selecting ingredients and more.  I love it.

The recipe I use the most from this blessed cookbook is Mediterranean Chicken.  I love this recipe for several reasons.  One, it’s super easy to make and is done in about 35 minutes including prep and cooking time.  Two, as Robert and I have tried to eat healthier we tend to eat a lot of chicken and this recipe provides enough distinct flavor that it helps avoid monotony.  Three, it just tastes good.  I’ve changed some of the quantities of the ingredients some to match our tastes and preferences, feel free to do the same.

Ingredients:
4 chicken breasts
12 sun dried tomatoes (packed in oil in a jar), thinly sliced
5 kalamata olives, finely chopped
2 Tbsp fresh basil, thinly sliced
3 Tbsp of Olive Oil
Kosher salt
Black Pepper
Aluminum Foil

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.  Slice the tomatoes and basil into thin slivers and place in a small bowl.  Finely chop the olives and add to the bowl along with 3 Tbsp of olive oil.  Stir to blend.  When finished, your relish mixture should look like this:

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Tear aluminum foil into four 10-12 inch rectangular pieces (large enough to encompass one chicken breast into a foil packet) and spray one side of each foil piece with PAM or brush with olive oil.  Trim your chicken breasts as desired and salt and pepper both sides.  Place chicken breast in the middle on one of the foil sections.  Spoon about a quarter of the relish onto the top of the chicken breast.

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Then, take sides of foil piece and fold into a foil packet firmly sealing the edges of the packet but not suctioning in the chicken breast.  (Keep it a bit loose)  Repeat the process with all three remaining chicken breasts and place on a baking sheet.

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Place sheet into oven and bake for 20 minutes. (At this point foil packets should be “puffed” up)  Remove from oven and let sit, unopened for about 5 minutes to prevent being burned by steam when opening foil packets.  Remove chicken breasts from packets and serve with relish remaining on top.  I like to serve this with fresh green vegetables, usually asparagus or green beans, and either cous cous or wild rice.  I hope you enjoy this dish as much as we do!

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