To anyone who's ever read my other blog, the Naked Ledger, it's no news that I suck at budgeting and that the main source of our budget problems stem from our grocery consumption. We eat a lot, most of it ain't cheap and I'm an absolute NOOB at meal planning. Even during the weeks in which I remember to plan out our dinners, I barely ever make it to Wednesday before I'm scrounging for meals and running back to the grocery store. I'm terrible.
That said, I'm on a SERIOUS streak right now. I've made dinner every. single. night. for going on ten days. (You can check out what I've been cooking over at The Mom Street Journal.) I'm not sure yet if our grocery bill is any less, but I'm sure we're eating better. About a week ago, I had some leftover rice and some defrosted ground beef and I threw together a meatloaf.
Which? TOTALLY BLEW MY MIND.
Both my kids - the 20-month-old AND the four-year-old - macked this recipe down like there was no tomorrow. Genoa ate more of it than *I* did. And my kids won't even eat rice! Dave and I literally FOUGHT over who would get to have the leftovers for lunch the next day. It was that good. I was shocked since I'd basically thrown it together in less than ten minutes with ingredients I already had laying around. And it was tasty and easy and moist and awesome. I ended up making it two more times in less than a week and each time it only seemed to get better.
So here's the recipe for my magically disappearing meatloaf. Enjoy.
First off, preheat your oven to 375 degrees, then get out the whoppingly complicated SEVEN ingredients you need to make this meatloaf:
half a cup of SOY VAY ISLAND TERIYAKI sauce (absolutely NO SUBSTITUTIONS!)[If you can't find this ingredient because you live in Australia or something like that, read the bottom of this post for instructions!]
1.5 cups leftover rice pilaf (my recipe to follow, but you can use whatever cooked rice you have on hand)
1.5 pounds of ground beef (I use 93% lean)
Start off by beating together your two eggs.
Then measure out a half cup of well-shaken SOY VAY ISLAND TERIYAKI. This is the KEY to this recipe. If you've never tried Soy Vay, get thee to a Trader Joe's (or most Safeways, Fred Meyer's, etc) and buy some. It's to die for. And I mean it when I say no substitutions! Not even plain old Soy Vay Teriyaki sauce will do. It has to be ISLAND TERIYAKI, the one with the surf board and the chopsticks on it. Trust me.
Combine the teriyaki with the eggs.
Until it's good and mixed.
Then get out your meat tenderizer and a tube of round crackers. Technically, you could probably get away with using bread crumbs here, but I wouldn't. Have you ever actually READ the ingredients in those things? The average can of breadcrumbs could survive a nuclear holocaust. TOO much crud for me, so I've always just used crushed up crackers or made my own bread crumbs. The crackers are much easier to do and have a longer shelf life, so that's always the filler ingredient in my recipes. Also you can use whole wheat just to give your family some fiber.
So, put about 2/3 of the sleeve of crackers into a ziplock bag and start crushing those puppies up.
Make sure you use the flat side of your meat tenderizer or you'll end poking holes in your plastic bag and end up with a big mess. Yet another noob cooking lesson I learned the hard way.
I usually throw a dish towel on top of the bag just to muffle the noise and make sure I don't accidentally poke any holes in the plastic.
Here's the part where I run off to sit on the bathroom floor while Genoa uses the potty for the umpzillionth time and when I come back, I find that Alex has been "helping" me make dinner. This is his FAVORITE PART.
Next grate up some Parmesan.
I use a little over half of an 8 ounce block.
Then combine the cheese with the breadcrumbs. You want the mixture to be about 50% crumbs and 50% cheese.
Then empty most of the bag into the bowl with your egg mixture. Save about a third of a cup to use for the meatloaf topping.
And whisk that in until it's all combined.
Then add a big squirt of ketchup.
Don't forget the ketchup! It definitely adds some tang to the meat.
Next get out your leftover rice pilaf. I keep meaning to take pictures when I cook rice so I can post my recipe, but then I get busy and forget. Dave and I both love long, firm, white basmati rice. We like it fluffy, not sticky.
My recipe is as follows:
1.5 cups white basmati
1 large onion, finely chopped
2 carrots, grated
3T olive oil
2 cups of chicken broth (I usually make my own by boiling a roasted chicken carcass, but you can use any kind you have on hand).
WASH the HECK out of your basmati rice. It's transported in burlap sacks and if you don't wash it THOROUGHLY, you'll have burlap sack-flavored rice, which is NOT delicious. I usually throw my mesh colander into a larger bowl and let it soak over and over again in about 8-10 changes of extremely HOT water. I know it's clean when the water in the bowl is totally clear and the rice is bright white, not translucent.
I throw everything but the chicken broth into my pan and brown everything for about ten minutes. Then I add the chicken stock, stir and cover the pot and leave it alone on low heat for around 15 minutes.
Anyway, you can use any rice you want. I think using a pilaf recipe adds flavor AND vegetables to this dish, though, so that's my recommendation. Measure out a very heaping cup of rice. Maybe it's a cup and a third of rice, I'm not sure since I suck at measuring.
Add that to your egg/cracker/cheese/sauce mixture.
Then get out about a pound and a half of lean ground beef. I always buy my meat in bulk because it's cheaper that way (duh!). When I get home from the store I separate it out into 1.5 pound bags and then flatten them out and freeze them. The flatter the better because the meat will defrost SUPER fast and then you get to stop telling your husband that he needs to stop at McDonald's on his way home from work because you forgot to take something out of the freezer.
Throw that into your mix.
And use your be-latex-gloved hands to mix it all up thoroughly.
Until it looks like this:
Then, spray the bottom of a loaf pan with cooking spray.
And plop your meatloaf mixture right in there.
Flatten it all down pretty.
And then use the remainder of your cheese/cracker crumbs to make a nice crunchy topping for your lovely loaf. I actually had some cheese/cracker/parsley mix leftover from when I made my crab-stuffed mushrooms, so I just used that.
That's it! You're done.
Pop it in the 375 degree oven for about 40 minutes. Hopefully, it will look like this:
The best part is that in the time it has taken you to read this post, you could have made this meatloaf and it could be cooking in your oven RIGHT NOW. I wish I could tell you that I have more pictures of what the slices looked like, but I was too busy shoveling this into my pie hole to remember to take any. Sadly there isn't any left to photograph. The slices barely hold their shape and fall apart as your eating them, but that's just because they're so moist and delicious. Dave took the last of the meatloaf with him to work for lunch today. But that's okay, I'll probably just make it again in a couple of days.
[Again, if you decide to try this recipe and post a review on your blog, let me know so I can link to you right here.]
[If you can't find Soy Vay Island Teriyaki sauce, you MIGHT be able to make your own. It's basically a sweet pineapple soy sauce. I bet if you tried a mix of 50% regular teriyaki sauce and 50% pineapple juice, you might get close. Let me know if you make your own!]