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Ricotta Meatloaf and Peas with Pancetta

This recipe is a long time coming, but has not been forgotten.  I made this earlier in the spring and with all of our family activity it hadn’t been posted.  Lydia is a new favorite of ours. I will definitely try this again and make the peas more often.

Ingredients 

1 cup milk
3 cups day old bread cubes, from a loaf of country bread
3 pounds ground beef (freshly ground preferred)
3 large eggs, beaten with a pinch of salt
1 pound drained fresh ricotta (about 2 cups) plus more for the sauce if you like
1 bunch scallions, finely chopped (about 1 cup)
1/2 cup grated Grana Padano
1/4 cup chopped fresh Italian Parsley
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1 tablespoon Kosher Salt
freshly ground black pepper to taste
1/2 pound fresh mozzarella, cut in 1/2-inch cubes (about 2 cups)
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
4 to 5 cups tomato sauce

Pour the milk over the bread cubes in a bowl, and let soak for a few minutes, until the bread is saturated. Squeeze the soft bread a handful at a time, pressing out as much milk as you can (discard the milk). Tear the bread into small shreds and toss back into the empty bowl. Crumble the ground beef into the bowl, and add the eggs, ricotta, scallions, grated cheese, parsley, nutmeg, salt, and pepper. Fold and toss everything together, and squeeze the mixture a few times between your fingers to distribute all the ingredients evenly. Scatter the mozzarella cubes on top, and fold and mush them throughout the loaf mix.

Brush the roasting pan with 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Gather the meat mixture in the bowl, turn it into the pan, and shape it into a fat oval loaf. Drizzle with the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil. Cover the pan with foil—tent it so it doesn’t touch the meat—and bake 45 minutes. Remove the foil, and continue to bake until the meatloaf is browned all over and completely cooked through, another 1 hour and 30 minutes or so. (If you check the loaf with a meat thermometer, it should reach a temperature of 160 degrees.) Remove the roast from the oven, and let it rest for about 10 minutes.

Heat the tomato sauce to a simmer in a saucepan as the meat rests. Turn off the heat, and, if you like, stir 1/2 cup or so fresh ricotta into the sauce. Cut the loaf crosswise in the pan or on a cutting board, in slices as thick as you like.

Serve on warm dinner plates, topped with a spoonful or two of sauce, and pass more sauce at the table (or, for family-style serving, arrange the slices on a warm platter, topped with some of the sauce).

Peas and Pancetta 
3 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
3 ounces Pancetta, finely chopped
1 small onion, finely chopped
1 (1 pound) bag frozen peas, thawed
1/4 cup Pine Nuts, toasted
Directions
 In a large skillet over medium heat, add olive oil, pancetta and onion. Cook until pancetta is rendered, about 5 to 7 minutes.

 Add the peas. Cook, stirring occasionally, until onion and peas are tender and flavored with the pancetta. Stir in pine nuts. Cook and toss for a minute, then serve.

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Home is where….

Love my girl!
Home is where Mom is… As my daughter posted this weekend on social media.  She came home for fall break and we had a packed weekend from tailgating with our peeps to a birthday dinner for my husband’s mother.  And while she was home we dropped her off to see her best friend from high school best for the night at our old Alma Mater, that came with a return trip to pick her up18 hours later.  Felt a bit nostalgic driving around the campus.  
And while we all know home is where mom is, in our house home is also where Dad asks “what do you want special for dinner?  The reply was “that shrimp dish with the arugula and pasta”.  No problem!  This dish has been a Lenten favorite as the kids call it, so we haven’t made it in awhile.  It has all of the kids favorites in one dish – pasta and shrimp, and from our favorite Italian chef Giada.
Dad and his little Girl
 
 
Our local college team versus the Nations #1 Team
We served this with Roasted Brussels Sprouts that were tossed with some diced red onion and diced pancetta.  The roasting in pretty easy with this dish and makes a great aside dish.   Trim the sprouts and place them on a foil lined cookie sheet.  Toss with some olive oil,  1/4 cup chopped red onion and 2 oz. of diced pancetta.  Sprinkle with sea salt and roast in a 400 degree oven for 30 minutes. 
 
 
 

Linguine with Shrimp and Lemon Oil

Ingredients

For the lemon oil:
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 lemon, zested
 
For the pasta:
1 pound linguine pasta
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 shallots, diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
16 ounces frozen shrimp
1/4 cup lemon juice (about 2 lemons)
1 lemon, zested
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
3 ounces arugula (about 3 packed cups)
1/4 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

Directions

For the lemon oil: Combine the olive oil and the lemon zest in a small bowl and reserve.
 
For the pasta:  Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the pasta and cook until tender but still firm to the bite, stirring occasionally, about 8 to 10 minutes. Drain pasta, reserving 1 cup of the cooking liquid.
 
Meanwhile, in a large, heavy skillet warm the olive oil over medium heat. Add the shallots and garlic and cook for 2 minutes. Add the shrimp and cook until pink, about 5 minutes. Add the cooked linguine, lemon juice, lemon zest, salt, and pepper. Toss to combine. Turn off the heat and add the arugula. Using a mesh sieve, strain the lemon zest out of the reserved lemon olive oil and add the oil to the pasta. The zest can be discarded. Add some of the cooking water to desired consistency. Add the chopped parsley to the pasta and toss to combine. Serve immediately.
 
Brussels Sprouts with red onion and pancetta
 
Dinner, Meatloaf

Favorite Comfort Food Alert – Turkey Meatloaf

Did you ever remake a favorite comfort food and find that you love it as much, if not more, than the original?  I found a recipe a few years back that I modified a bit and now make it as often as the old standby.  Who can resist Turkey Meatloaf with Sun Dried Tomatoes, wrapped in Pancetta? 

This was a Giada recipe for Turkey Meatloaf Sandwiches.  I would rather have it as a meatloaf dinner with a  baked potato and salad along as sides so I removed the mayo recipe that followed it.  The pancetta makes the meal when it gets crispy during baking.  And the baking method is pretty cool.  No meatloaf pan to clean, just unwrap and throw away the parchment paper.

This was also a  great meal for when we have our foodie friends, “Giada” across the street and husband and our backyard peeps down for wine tasting. We paired this up with a great spicy mac and cheese and a couple of great bottles of wine and we had a party!

Turkey Meatloaf

Ingredients

1/2 cup plain dried bread crumbs
1/4 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
2 tablespoons whole milk
1/2 cup grated Romano
1/4 cup chopped sun-dried tomatoes
3/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 pound ground turkey, preferably dark meat
10 ounces sliced pancetta, about 10 slices

Directions

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

In a large bowl, stir together the bread crumbs, parsley, eggs, milk, cheese, sun-dried tomatoes, salt, and pepper. Add the turkey and gently stir to combine, being careful not to overwork the meat.

On a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, lay out the pancetta, overlapping the slices, into a large rectangle shape. In the middle of the rectangle, place the turkey mixture, shaping into a loaf.

 Using the parchment paper, wrap the pancetta up and around the turkey loaf to cover completely. Squeeze the parchment-covered loaf with your hands to secure the pancetta and solidify the shape of the loaf. While still covered in parchment, bake the loaf until the internal temperature reaches 165 degrees F on an instant-read thermometer, about 45 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool.

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Just what the Doctor ordered

Well, you know how much someone loves you when you give them your cold and they don’t get angry with you.  That’s right, my hubby and I are sharing germs, having dueling coughing fits and commiserating together on a lazy, cold but sunny Sunday.  The kids are trying to stay clear of us, however I really think these germs came from our son because he started to come down with a cold right before we left for NYC last weekend.  Our daughter, so far, has not shown any signs of it, but as I said, she has been avoiding us.  She wouldn’t shake our hands during the sign of peace or hold hands today at church, she reminds us to use our elbow when we start coughing and she is glad she can now drive the car so she can escape.  (2 trips to the frozen yogurt store, 1 trip to the drug store and back and forth to work.)  She is also very bored because we stayed home the whole weekend.  No mall, no visiting grandma, just a trip to church, the store and the bank.

So with the constant coughing, sneezing and hacking, plus lack of sleep, I have been getting up early and coming down stairs to lie on the couch.  This morning hubby came down about a half hour after I did and we ending up watching a Barefoot Contessa from yesterday morning where she made a Winter Minestrone Soup with Garlic Brushetta that looked so good.  And with colds that just won’t let up this looked so good we decided to stop by the store after church to pick up what we needed to give this a try. We worked together to make this and boy, was this just what the doctor ordered!  Delicious, filling and enough for at least two more dinners. 

Winter Minestrone Soup with Garlic Brushetta

Good olive oil
4 ounces pancetta, ½-inch-diced
1½ cups chopped yellow onions
2 cups (½-inch) diced carrots (3 carrots)
2 cups (½-inch) diced celery (3 stalks)
2½ cups (½-inch) diced peeled butternut squash
1½ tablespoons minced garlic (4 cloves)
2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme leaves
26 ounces canned or boxed chopped tomatoes, such as Pomi
6 to 8 cups chicken stock
1 bay leaf
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 (15-ounce) can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
2 cups cooked small pasta, such as tubetti (see note)
8 to 10 ounces fresh baby spinach leaves
½ cup good dry white wine
2 tablespoons store-bought pesto
Garlic Bruschetta (recipe follows)
Freshly grated Parmesan cheese, for serving

Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil over medium heat in a large, heavy pot or Dutch oven. Add the pancetta and cook over medium-low heat for 6 to 8 minutes, stirring occasionally, until lightly browned. Add the onions, carrots, celery, squash, garlic, and thyme and cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, for 8 to 10 minutes, until the vegetables begin to soften.

  Hubby prepped all of the vegetables for the soup. 

Add the tomatoes, 6 cups of the chicken stock, the bay leaf, 1 tablespoon salt, and 1 ½ teaspoons pepper to the pot. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer uncovered for 30 minutes, until the vegetables are tender.

Discard the bay leaf. Add the beans and cooked pasta and heat through. The soup should be quite thick but if it’s too thick, add more chicken stock. Just before serving, reheat the soup, add the spinach, and toss with 2 big spoons (like tossing a salad). Cook just until the leaves are wilted. Stir in the white wine and pesto. Depending on the saltiness of the chicken stock, add another teaspoon or two of salt to taste.

Serve large shallow bowls of soup with a bruschetta on top. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese, drizzle with olive oil, and serve hot.

NOTE: To cook the pasta, put 1 cup of pasta into a large pot of boiling salted water. Cook according to the directions on the package, drain, and set aside. You can make this soup ahead and reheat it before serving. It will need to be re-seasoned.

Garlic Bruschetta
1 baguette
Good olive oil
1 garlic clove, cut in half lengthwise
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.
Slice the baguette at a 45-degree angle in inch-thick slices. Brush both sides of the bread with olive oil and bake for 6 minutes, until lightly toasted. Take the slices out of the oven and rub the surface of each one with the cut clove of garlic.

From Barefoot Contessa: Foolproof Recipes You Can Trust, by Ina Garten.

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Inspiration!

We were just hanging out this past Sunday after an early morning basketball game, followed by a big breakfast at an area diner, catching up on some Barefoot Contessa shows we had dvr’d. Her show from the last few weeks has been from Napa Valley, one of our favorite places to visit. During Barefoot in Napa she had stopped by some stores we have visited, cooked with chefs we admire and savored the wine we love. (Can you tell I really want to get back there?) On this particular show we were watching she prepared a Spanish Pea Soup for her husband Jeffrey to heat up while she was off in San Francisco visiting a fish market and some food trucks. (Ah, San Francisco is one of my favorite cities!)

The soup looked so good and relatively easy, and since it was just a day for hanging out and recouping from a wonderful dinner the night before, my hubby set out to prepare this for our dinner. And it was easy! Very few ingredients, no ham bone needed and done in a snap.

Spanish Pea Soup with Crispy Ham

Ingredients

Good olive oil
1/2 cup chopped shallots (2 large shallots)
1 tablespoon minced garlic (3 cloves)
4 cups chicken stock, preferably homemade
2 pounds frozen peas, such as Bird’s Eye Sweet Garden
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
6 thin slices Spanish Serrano ham or Italian prosciutto

Directions

In a deep (8 x 5-inch) heavy-bottomed saucepan, heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil over medium heat. Add the shallots and saute for 3 to 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until tender and lightly browned. Add the garlic and cook for 1 more minute. Add the chicken stock, frozen peas, 2 teaspoons salt, and 1 teaspoon pepper and bring to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer for 5 minutes.

Puree with an immersion blender until coarsely pureed and season to taste. Depending on the saltiness of the stock, it is suggested that you may add up to another teaspoon of salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper to give the soup a very bright flavor.

Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Place the ham in a single layer on a sheet pan and roast for 5 to 8 minutes, until crisp.

Reheat the soup and serve in shallow bowls with a slice of crispy ham on top. Drizzle with a little olive oil and serve hot.