Mini Meat Loaf


Meat LoafDigging through old photos on my hard drive yesterday I found a recipe that I forgot to post. I may put this on the shopping list to make again this week. I remember finding this recipe and thinking to myself, I HATE MEAT LOAF! In an effort to try to find something Gavin liked at the time I went ahead and made them anyway. Lets face it, meat loaf just isn’t pretty but everything we make can’t always be photo worthy.

So here is how it went down…

We all sit down at the table and Gavin pushes his veggies around his plate taking a few small bites of corn. He takes a bite of parmesan mashed potatoes and immediately spits them out (which I fully expected). Then the moment of truth. Will he eat it or will dinner be a fight?

Not even one bite! After begging, pleading, bribing, and then finally bed we walked away from dinner defeated. I may have shed a few tears. It is important for me to cook and have sit down meals with my family so why does my son hate what I cook? Well the reality of it is that he doesn’t hate what I cook he is just a little boy (or at least that is what Miles said to make me feel better). Not a mom fail even though at the time it felt like it.

Don’t be discouraged if you want to try these out. Miles and I both loved them and we even got Gavin to eat a bit a few hours later. He thought he was eating corn and bam in the mouth it went. MOM WINS AGAIN!

What you need:

  • 1/2 cup plus 2/3 cup ketchup (apparently we are a Heinz family according to Miles)
  • 1 tablespoon packed brown sugar
  • 2 lbs ground beef (unless we are cooking hamburgers we typically buy the extra lean)
  • 1  1/4 cups italian bread crumbs
  • 1 tablespoon worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tablespoon dry mustard
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper

How it comes to life:

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees. Spray a 12 count muffin tin with non stick cooking spray. Mine made 15 so I had to use a second pan. In a small bowl mix 1/2 cup of ketchup and the brown sugar. Set aside.

In a medium bowl crumble the ground beef. Add the bread crumbs, worcestershire, mustard, eggs, parsley, salt, pepper and the remaining ketchup. Make sure you mix this up well so that the meat is seasoned throughout.


mini-meatloaf-1 mini-meatloaf-2 mini-meatloaf-3



Press the meat into the muffin pans. Fill them level with the top of the pan. Press down the mixture so that there are not any air bubbles.

Spread about 1 teaspoon of the ketchup mixture on the top of each loaf.

Bake for approximately 30 minutes.

A few of them stuck to the side a little so I used a sharp knife and went around them before removing them from the muffin pan.


On the side: Mashed Potatoes – I did not have a recipe to follow so i just peeled, cubed and boiled the potatoes until they were tender. Drain the water. Place in a Kitchenaid mixer and whip until smooth. I added skim milk, a tiny bit of butter, salt, pepper, 1/3 cup sour cream and shredded parmesan. I rarely make mashed potatoes but man do I love them!


I found this recipe in  All You Magazine.

BBQ Chicken Sliders

Pulled Chicken Sliders

Summer is that time of the year for families to get together,  play poolside, and time to put away your soup recipes.

I don’t know about you all but it seems like our friends and family use any excuse to get together during the summer months. We also start using those two lovely words POT LUCK. When it is your turn to host, I found a recipe that will feed the masses and pretty much takes the hassle away from you enjoying the fun along with your guests. One small note before you go out and buy your ingredients. The prep for this meal MUST be done 24 hours ahead of time. 

What you need: 


  • 1  1/2 qt. water (6 cups of water)
  • 1/4 – 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons of salt
  • 1 tablespoon liquid smoke
  • 2 teaspoons minced garlic
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme


How it comes to life: 

You start with the brine ingredients. In a large bowl, mix the water, brown sugar, salt, liquid smoke, garlic, and dried thyme until the sugar is dissolved. Reserve 1 cup of the brine and place it in the refrigerator.

Place the chicken into a large ziploc bag. Add the remaining brine to coat the chicken. Seal the bag and place it in a bowl in the refrigerator for approximately 24 hours. I took the bag out a few times within the course of the 24 hours and shook it up a bit so that all of the chicken was nicely marinated.

Once the 24 hours has passed take the chicken out of the bag and place it in a crock pot. Discard the remaining brine still left in the ziploc. Add the reserved cup of brine and 1/3 cup liquid smoke. Cook on low for 5-6 hours or until the chicken is tender.

Crock Pot Chicken

Remove the chicken and on a place shred with two forks. Discard the remaining juice from the pot. Return the chicken to the pot and add in the BBQ sauce. Feel free to add more if it is too dry.

BBQ Chicken

Serve on a kaiser bun.

In the magazine it suggests topping the meat with what they call “Freezer Slaw”. I tried it and it was delicious but probably not for everyone. If you want to try the slaw here is the recipe they gave. I made this the night before as well.


What you need:

  • 1 head of cabbage shredded OR a bag of shredded cabbage mix
  • 1 teaspoon of salt
  • 1 cup of sugar
  • 1 cup of water
  • 1 cup of cider vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon celery seed
  • 1 teaspoon mustard seed
  • 1 red pepper
  • 1 medium carrot shredded (if you are not using the mixed cabbage)

How it comes to life:

Place cabbage in a bowl and toss with salt. Let stand for an hour. Drain remaining liquid.

In a large saucepan, combine the sugar, water, vinegar, celery seed, and mustard seed. Bring to a boil dissolving the sugar. Cook 1 minute. Remove from hear and cool.

Add peppers and carrots if necessary. Add dressing and toss. Place in a container with a lid and place in the refrigerator.

Adapted from Taste of Home magazine – April 2013 issue

Spicy Mint Beef

mintbeef-©2013MWB(dashoflovely) (6 of 6)

I branched out a bit on this meal. The thought of cooking beef that isn’t ground is a little intimidating. I tend to overcook my meat because I don’t like anything that is even close to rare. I know some of you are rolling your eyes at that statement but meat really can be delicious and well done.

This recipe has a lot of ingredients I love (like fresh mint) but also a lot of things I have never heard of let alone cooked with. The flavor in this beef is so unique and fresh. The mint really cools the dish and makes it the perfect combination for your taste buds.  I was honestly impressed with how it turned out and will move this to the front of the recipe box.

mintbeef-©2013MWB(dashoflovely) (4 of 6)

What you need: 

  • 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 4 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 serrano chili (the original recipe called for more but this was plenty for my family)
  • 1 lb flank steak
  • 1 medium shallot, minced
  • 1 red bell pepper
  • 1/4 cup fish sauce
  • 2 tablespoons sweet soy sauce (I could not find this at the store so I made my own – in a sauce pan simmer for approximately 15 minutes 1 star anise, 1/4 cup soy sauce, 1/8 cup sugar, 1/4 tsp cinnamon)
  • 2 tablespoons low sodium black soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon chili paste
  • 1  1/2 cups fresh basil
  • 1 cup fresh mint leaves
  • White rice

How it comes to life: 

On a cutting board slice the flank steak into thin slices. Make them as thin as you can for ease of cooking.

In a large skillet or WOK, heat the vegetable oil and add the garlic and chilies until the garlic is golden brown. Add the steak and cook, stirring frequently, approximately 4 minutes. Add in the shallots and bell pepper and cook another minute. Add the fish sauce, 2 tablespoons of the sweet soy sauce mixture, black soy sauce, and chili paste. Bring the mixture to a slow simmer and cook, stirring frequently, until the meat is cooked all the way through.

mintbeef-©2013MWB(dashoflovely) (1 of 6)

mintbeef-©2013MWB(dashoflovely) (2 of 6)

mintbeef-©2013MWB(dashoflovely) (3 of 6)

Remove the skillet from the heat and stir in the basil and mint until they wilt.

Serve over white or brown rice. You can either use minute rice or use a rice cooker before you start the beef.

mintbeef-©2013MWB(dashoflovely) (5 of 6)

Recipe adapted from Food Network Magazine (May 2013 issue)

Homemade Pizza

Homemade Pizza

Entertaining with kids and food can be a challenge. You spend hours and hours fixing a meal to impress. Then the kids refuse eating what you make. After thirty minutes of telling them they will eat it or they will be hungry later you finally give in and throw some chicken nuggets on so that you can enjoy your now cold meal.

Instead of the above happening I gave in and decided on a pizza night with friends. I am not against frozen pizza or take out but there is something about homemade pizza that is just irresistible no matter your audience. Having never made dough from scratch I had to do some research online. I adapted this recipe from none other than Emeril Lagasse. Although it is probably safe to say that he does it much better!

What you need:

  • 1 package of active dry yeast
  • 1 cup warm water (110 degrees – warm to touch on the wrist – if the water is too hot it can kill the yeast)
  • 1  1/2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1  1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 2  3/4 cups flour for the dough + approximately 1/4 cup for the surface to knead the dough
  • Toppings

How it comes to life:

  • Combine yeast, water, olive oil, and salt into a large bowl. Stir approximately five minutes. Using a Kitchenaid mixer with a hook slowly add in the flour and mix on low until the flour is incorporated. Increase to medium speed until a ball starts to form. The dough should not be sticky or crumble. If it is sticky add a dash of flour. If it crumbles add a touch of water.
  • Place the dough ball on a lightly floured and begin to knead until the dough is smooth.

Pizza dough

  • Place the dough into a large bowl and lightly coat with oil. turn the dough over to ensure you coat the entire thing. Cover it with a damp towel and set it in a warm place to rise. I let mine rise a little over an hour.
  • While this dough was rising I did the above steps again and made a second batch.
  • Preheat the oven to 500 degrees with a pizza stone inside. My pizza stone is Pampered Chef and I love it!

Pizza Dough

  • Once the dough has risen, divide the dough into two. Roll each into a ball and place them on a lightly oiled cookie sheet and cover one more time with a damp towel. Let it rise for another 15 minutes.
  • You have the option of making two small pizzas or combining the dough and making one large. I chose to make the large.
  • Shape the dough on a lightly floured surface and then transfer to the hot pizza stone.
Now make it fun!
Pizza Toppings
Pizza Topping
Pizza One – our guests are a little more traditional with their ingredients
  • Pepperoni
  • Ground sausage – cooked and crumbled
  • Shredded mozzarella
  • Tomato pizza sauce©2013MWBphoto-8

Pepperoni & Sausage Pizza

Pizza Two – for Miles & I

  • Fresh mozzarella balls
  • Rotisserie chicken
  • Fresh tomatoes
  • Fresh basil
  • Bell peppers
  • Alfredo & pesto sauce

Chicken Pizza

It ended up being a great night. Parents happy. Kids happy. SUCCESS!!

Shrimp Etouffee

shrimp-etoufette©mwb2013-11, shrimp etouffee

Hopefully by now you have seen my post on our trip to Wilmore, Kentucky. I mention in that post that one of the things we share with the Easley’s (Miles sister, brother-in-law, and nieces) is a love for good food. I love to cook, Meg loves to cook, and we all love to eat so when we get together that is what we do.

I mentioned to Meg that while in Natchez, Mississippi I tried Crawfish Etouffee for the very first time at a place called the Magnolia Grill. Miles ordered it and I ended up eating a good portion of his meal. Meg  just so happens to have an incredible shrimp etouffee recipe that she was willing to share. It originally came from her husband’s grandmother, MawMaw and has been passed down the line.

Instead of her cooking it for us, we decided that it would be more fun for her to teach me! I’m typically the queen of my kitchen but sharing the duties with one of my favorite people is loads of fun. It is becoming a bit of a tradition when we are together. With three kids in the house it is our “quiet time”.

Make sure you go check out the Easley Park blog. Hopefully we will see the gang again soon so we can have another guest blog recipe.

The beautiful Meg.

The beautiful Meg.

What you need:

  • 3 lb of shrimp, cleaned (we used 2 lb because that is what we had)
  • 1 cup green bell pepper
  • 1 1/3 cup chopped celery
  • 1 cup chopped green onions
  • 1/2 cup green onion tops
  • 2 small cloves of garlic
  • 1 cup finely chopped parsley
  • 1 stick butter
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 3 teaspoons tomato paste
  • 4-6 cups chicken stock/shrimp stock
  • 1 can cream of celery soup
  • 1 can cream of mushroom soup
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground red pepper
  • A good sprinkling of Tony Chachere’s

How it comes to life:

Shrimp Stock – After shelling the shrimp add shrimp shells to stock pot. Add water to cover shells by one inch. Add vegetables to season. We added diced celery and onion powder.  Heat to near bowling, turn down and let simmer for half an hour.

While the stock is cooking we used this time to dice up all of the vegetables so that when the time came all we had to do was dump them in.

shrimp-etoufette©mwb2013-1, shrimp etouffee

For the rue – Melt the butter in a thick pot and add flour. Cook until the flour mixture is the color of peanut butter.

shrimp-etoufette©mwb2013-6, shrimp etouffee

Add onions, bell pepper, celery, and tomato paste. Cook slowly, stirring constantly until wilted. Add garlic, parsley, and green onion tops and cook a few minutes longer. **We did not set a timer but once the veggies were added it probably cooked at least 10-15 minutes in total.

shrimp-etoufette©mwb2013-7, shrimp etouffee

Add about 2 cups chicken stock and 2 cups shrimp stock.  (Increase if mixture is too thick.) Add cream of celery and cream of mushroom soup. Cook for 5 minutes. Add the shrimp and cook over medium heat for 20-25 minutes or until the shrimp is fully cooked. Do not overcook the shrimp. Add in the salt, red pepper, and Toni’s.  Adjust the seasonings to your taste – may need more salt or Toni’s.

shrimp-etoufette©mwb2013-8, shrimp etouffee

Serve over hot fluffy rice with French bread buttered and warmed.

Black Bean & Quinoa Burger©2013MWBphoto-13

In the past I have been a bit skeptical of eating a burger that does not have meat inside. Once my little boy started eating solids we quickly learned that he was really picky. Every meal I cooked was trial and error and often ended in the faithful go to Morning Star products. As a mom I love cooking for my family and often feel guilt when I reach into the freezer so I decided why not find a Black Bean Burger that I could make myself.

Since I work all day, it just is not practical to come home and cook a meal from scratch unless we want to eat dinner at 8:00. This recipe allowed me to prepare the patties from scratch the night before so that all I had to do the next day was place them on a cookie sheet and bake them. These are truly a black bean recipe the entire family can enjoy. They have a lot of flavor and are something that I will make again in the near future.

What you need:
½ cup quinoa (for those of you that don’t know, quinoa can often be found in the rice aisle at your local retailer)
1 tsp extra virgin olive oil
½ orange bell pepper, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 tsp salt
15 oz can of black beans (I pour these into a strainer and rinse them until the water under the strainer comes out clear)
2 Tbsp tomato paste
1 large egg
2/3 cup frozen corn
1/2 cup cilantro, chopped
1 chipotle in adobo, minced
2 tsp ground cumin
1/2 cup rolled oats
1/4 cup oat flour (If you cannot find oat flour at the store you can use additional rolled oats and place them in a food processor until you have the 1/4 cup of oat flour that you need)

How it Comes to Life

Place the dry quinoa and 1 cup of water into a sauce pan. Once this comes to a boil, reduce your heat to low, place a secure lid on the sauce pan, and let it cook for approximately 15 minutes. Just like rice, once the water is absorbed you should be good to go. Set the cooked quinoa aside (removing it from the heat).©2013MWBphoto-2

After you dice up your garlic and pepper, saute them with the olive oil and 1/4 of the salt until they are no longer crisp (approximately 5 minutes).

Black Bean Quinoa Burger, dashoflovely, Northwest Arkansas BlogNOTE: The original recipe calls for onions instead of peppers but I personally don’t care for onions.

Next I placed the sautéed veggies into my large William Sonoma mixing bowl. Add in your can of black beans and smash with a fork until you have a paste like texture. Mine wasn’t smooth by any means.©2013MWBphoto-3

Stir in the tomato paste, egg, corn, cilantro, chipotles, cumin and remaining salt until well mixed. Then add the quinoa you had set aside, oats, and oat flour until all of the ingredients are evenly mixed.©2013MWBphoto-6

From this point you treat them like a true hamburger patty (without meat of course). Divide the mixture into 6 parts. Roll each into a ball and then flatten and shape.©2013MWBphoto-8

I placed the patties onto a cookie sheet, covered them tightly with saran wrap, and put them in the refrigerator over night. I was a little worried that they would dry out over night but that was not the case.

NOTE: If you do not refrigerate overnight, still place them in the refrigerator to chill for a few hours before baking. 

Once the oven is preheated to 400, place the patties onto a cookie sheet and cook for 10 minutes. Flip them over and cook for an additional 10 minutes. The patties will be a golden color when they are done.

To compliment these bean burgers I served Greek Potatoes with Lemon Vinaigrette adapted from Food Network Magazine©2013MWBphoto-15

Black Bean & Quinoa Burger adapted from The Foodie Physician

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