Mexican-style Meatloaf

This has become one of my favorite recipes for a comfort-food meal!  This recipe was born of my (& Barry's) love of Mexican food.  It's moist, fragrant and embraces the flavors in Mexican cuisine; what's not to love about that?.  A surprise ingredient is nopales (cactus-a staple in Mexican cuisine) that adds moisture and whose texture reminds me of okra. (I highly doubt anyone will ever guess that this meatloaf contain cactus!)  Best of all, the house will smell like a Mexican restaurant while it bakes, and I love that!  Serves 4


1 teaspoon dried oregano (Mexican preferred)

1/4 teaspoon ground cumin

1/2 teaspoon ground coriander

1/4 teaspoon garlic powder

1/4 teaspoon onion powder

1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika

1/4 teaspoon ground Ancho chili powder

1 teaspoon cocoa powder

1 1/2 teaspoon salt

1 canned Chipotle pepper in adobo sauce, chopped, then smashed with the back of a fork until it becomes a paste

1/3 cup ketchup

1/3 cup salsa

2 eggs, beaten

3/4 cup finely-diced onions

1/2 cup finely-diced Poblano pepper

1 Jalapeno pepper, seeded, membranes removed, finely diced

1/2 cup canned or jarred nopales (cactus-find it in the Mexican section), or 1 cup fresh, spines removed,  finely chopped

1 Tablespoon finely-minced garlic

1 1/2 pound ground chuck

1/2 cup very-finely crushed tortilla chips


1/3 cup each ketchup & salsa

1 T. honey

Preheat oven to 400-degrees.  Line a sheet pan with parchment paper and set aside..

Assemble meatloaf:

Combine the seasonings in a large bowl. Add the eggs, ketchup, salsa, onions, peppers, nopales, garlic and combine well.  Break the beef up into chunks and place in the bowl; sprinkle the crushed tortilla chips over the top.  Using your hands, gently, squeeze, turn, stir, and generally "smoosh" the mixture until it is well combined.

Place the meat mixture on the sheet pan and shape into an even loaf (not too flat, as you want nice-sized pieces to serve). 

Combine the glaze ingredients in a small bowl and mix until well-combined.  Set aside.

Bake in the preheated oven for 20 minutes, then remove and spread the glaze evenly over the top of the meatloaf.  Return to the oven and bake until an instant-read thermometer registers 160-degrees, another 15 minutes or more.  Remove from the oven and allow to rest for 10 minutes before serving.

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Asian Sticky Chicken

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Yummy Asian Sticky Chicken!

This simple recipe is so yummy, and you'll be able to skip the Chinese carry-out once you try this!  Just whisk together a few ingredients for the glaze and simmer while you brown the chicken.  The chicken goes into a baking dish and gets covered with the sauce.  About 30 minutes in the oven and you've got a fabulous dinner.  I also sprinkle with toasted sesame seeds sometimes, but the green onions are a must.  Jasmine rice on the side (or  Herbed Coconut Rice), and a few stir-fried veggies make an awesome feast!

8 chicken thighs (use boneless, skinless, if you prefer)

1/2 cup flour

2 Tablespoons vegetable oil

1/2 cup orange juice

6 Tablespoons honey

6 Tablespoons hoisin sauce

4 teaspoons rice wine vinegar

2 finely minced cloves of garlic

4 teaspoons finely minced ginger

2 teaspoons cornstarch

1 Tablespoon toasted sesame seeds

4 green onions, sliced thinly on the diagonal

Preheat the oven to 375-degrees.

Sprinkle the chicken on both sides liberally with salt, then dredge in the flour to coat on all sides.  Set aside.

In a small saucepan whisk together the orange juice, honey, hoisin sauce, rice vinegar, garlic, ginger, and cornstarch.  Cook over medium heat until it bubbles and thickens (while browning the chicken), then remove from heat and set aside until ready to pour over the chicken.

In a large, heavy skillet, heat the oil over medium-high heat until it starts to smoke a bit.  Add chicken thighs, but do not crowd.  (It may be necessary to brown the thighs in 2 batches.)  Sear on both sides until golden brown, then place in a baking dish that as been sprayed with non-stick spray.  Pour the sauce over the chicken and sprinkle with the sesame seeds, if using. Bake in preheated oven for 25 minutes, or until an instant read thermometer registers 170-degrees.

Sprinkle with the green onions and serve.

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Crab & Avocado Sushi


Crab & Avocado Sushi

I love sushi!  Rolls, sashimi, maki, nigiri, just about any kind.  And while we decided long ago that it was the one dish we would always eat out, I couldn't resist giving it a try at home. While I don't have all of the traditional tools (a bamboo mat), I improvised and the results were outstanding!  This is a very basic recipe; after trying it you may very well decide that you want to do more exploring. This is much simpler than the lengthy recipe implies, so don't hesitate to give it a try!

Rice Ingredients:

1 cup sushi (short-grained) rice, rinsed in a colander until the water runs clear

2 Tablespoons rice vinegar

1 teaspoon sugar

1 teaspoon Sake or Dry Sherry

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 1/4 cups water


1/2 large avocado

Lime juice for drizzling the avocado, about 1 tablespoon

3 pieces of Nori (available in the Asian section of the market), about 8 X 7-inches each

1/2 English cucumber cut lengthwise into 8 X 1/4-inch strips, seeds trimmed off

1/4 pound cooked crab meat, picked over, best quality

Hot Wasabi Paste (available in the Asian section of the market)

Soy sauce, for accompaniment

Pickled Ginger, for accompaniment, if desired

Make the rice:

In a large heavy saucepan combine the rice with 1 1/4 cups water, bring to a boil, reduce heat to a simmer cover tightly with a lid, and cook for 15 minutes, or until the water is absorbed and the rice is tender.  Remove from the heat and let stand, covered tightly for 10 minutes, then transfer it to a baking sheet, spreading it out in an even layer.  Keep it warm and covered.

While the rice cooks, combine the vinegar sugar, sake or sherry, and the salt and simmer until the sugar is dissolved, the let it cool.

Sprinkle as much of the vinegar mixture as necessary to moisten it lightly tossing it carefully, then cover it wiht a dampened towel. (The rice may sit at room temperature for up to 3 hours before shaping the sushi rolls.  Do not chill it!)

Peel and pit the avocado, cut it into 1/4-inch (fine) strips and sprinkle with a little lime juice.

Heat the nori in a preheated 350-degree oven for 10 minutes until it softens a bit, and keep warm.

Shape the rolls:

Working with one sheet of nori at a time, place it on a bamboo mat or Silpat and with the long side facing you, spread about 3/4 cup of the rice in an even layer on each sheet, leaving a 1/2-inch border on the long sides.  Arrange 1/3 of the avocado strips horizontally across the middle of the rice and arrance some of the cucumber strips and crab meat on top of the avocado.  Dab the crab with a bit of the wasabi paste.  Beginin with a long side roll p the nori tightly, using the bamboo mat or Silpat to roll it and firm it.

Using a very sharp knife, cut the roll into 3/4-inch thick slices.  Serve with the soy sauce, wasabi paste, and pickled ginger on the side.

Makes 30 pieces

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Chef Lisa's Favorite Deviled Eggs

I have quite honestly never been a big fan of deviled eggs.  They appear at nearly every potluck and party, and as a serious egg-lover, it is surprising that until now I always passed them by.  Recently, I started thinking about the reasons for my lack of excitement for them, and realized that most deviled eggs I've eaten are pretty sweet, of which I am not a fan.  Having pinpointed the turn-off, I set about to make some I would enjoy.  Now, I've eaten deviled eggs that tasted like mustard and vinegar, too, and did not want to go that direction, either.  The goal was to find a way to prepare a savory egg that hit all the right notes, neither sweet or sour, but with sufficient flavor.  After seeing Chef April Bloomfield's recipe (of the Spotted Pig in NYC, famous for her deviled eggs), and studying the recipes in my cooking school textbooks, I created my own version.  I really like these, and so does my hubby, who was lukewarm to the dish, as well.  So enjoy your favorite style of deviled egg, but definitely give this recipe a try!  Makes one dozen

6 large eggs, boiled and peeled according to the directions in Chef Notes

3 Tablespoons real mayonnaise (not sandwich spread, like Miracle Whip)

1 Tablespoon champagne vinegar

2 teaspoons sour cream

1 teaspoon heavy cream

1 teaspoon Dijon mustard

Kosher or flaky sea salt

1 Tablespoon very-finely sliced chives (use slender, smaller chives, or just the fine ends)

1 Tablespoon very-finely chopped, very crisp bacon

Paprika or Cayenne

Cut the eggs in half length-wise and gently remove the yolk without tearing the white.  Place the yolks in the bowl of a small food chopper or processor.  (Set the whites aside.)  Add the mayonnaise, vinegar, sour cream, heavy cream, and mustard and process until very smooth and light.  Season with a little salt, to your personal taste.

Place the whites on a serving platter.  Fill a small pastry bag fitted with a large, plain pastry tip with the yolk mixture. (Alternately, if you haven't a pastry tip & bag, place the yolk mixture in the lower corner of a quart freezer bag, squeeze out the air, and cut about 1/2" off the corner of the bag.)  Squeeze the yolk mixture into the egg whites neatly.  Sprinkle with the paprika or cayenne (if you like a little heat), then sprinkle half with chives and half with the bacon. (Of course you can do all bacon or all chive eggs!)

Serve immediately, or refrigerate, covered, until ready to serve.  Allow the eggs to warm up a bit, 20-30 minutes, after removing from the refrigerator before serving.

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