Since I retired from my day job to write full time, I've also started doing a lot more cooking. Both my husband and I enjoy cooking and hubby is even trying to learn how to bake! Last night, we managed to throw together another delicious dinner of meatloaf, mashed potatoes, green beans, and an apple spice cake. I had hoped for enough leftover meatloaf and mashed potatoes to make a pseudo-Shepard's Pie for dinner tonight, but no such luck so today I have chicken chili in the crock-pot. My meatloaf never really tastes the same way twice because I tend to vary the recipe and for some reason, I hit a home run last night.
Here is what I threw together and a few tips to help you through your hectic food preparation.
1 lb lean ground beef
1 tsp. salt (optional, I often don't put salt into food)
1/3 c. oatmeal
1/2 c. milk
1/2 of a medium onion, chopped fine
1/8 tsp pepper
1 egg (beaten)
1 tsp minced garlic
1 Tbsp. chopped chipotle chili with adobo sauce
Ketchup or chili sauce (to spread on top)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Soak the oatmeal in the milk while you mince the onions. You don't have to, but it is a good idea. Mix everything (with your hands--that really works out best) except the last ingredient.
Spray a loaf pan or grease it to avoid sticking. Spread the meat mixture into the pan and then pour a Tbsp or 2 of the ketchup or chili sauce on top.
Bake at 350 degrees for about an hour to 1 and 1/4 hours.
Time and Food Saver Tip
A lot of recipes, including the one above, call for a Tbsp or so of chipotle chilies and adobo sauce. The problem is, you generally have to open a small can and you only use a small part of it. I have found that I can scrap the rest of the can's contents into a quart-sized freezer bag, smoosh it out so that the contents of the bag are spread out and there is little-to-no air and then freeze it.
The advantage of this is that you can then break of pieces of the chilies and sauce and easily chop it up to add to recipes. I find that it is actually much easier to chop up the chilies into much smaller pieces when they are frozen, so this works well (at least for me).
Apple Spice Cake
The cake we made last night was basically the one from this link: Spice Cake from Allrecipes.com, except that I modified it as follows.
Bisquick Streusel topping:
2/3 c. Bisquick
2/3 c. Brown sugar
4 Tbsp. Butter
1 Tsp. Cinnamon
Using a pastry cutter, cut the butter into the Bisquick, brown sugar and cinnamon until the consistency is grainy with pea-sized bits.
Make the spice cake then layer the apples on top. Layer the streusel topping on top of the apples. The spice cake calls for baking in a 9 x 13" pan, but I put it into a Bundt pan, which meant I had to bake it for 50 minutes instead of the 40 minutes the spice cake recipe called for.
It was delicious. :)
Today, I'm baking our French bread for the week and we have chicken chili for dinner, which gives me time to do some writing. Good eats all around!
What Else Am I Working On?
My editor at Highland Press emailed me about a sweet Regency romance anthology they are putting together and she asked if I could dash off a novella for it. I have a terrible track record with novellas and "dashing things" off, but I did agree so I've been working very hard to get 20,000 words written and edited. I'm now working on the ending, which is always the hardest part for me. The story is tentatively (and not very creatively) called "The Thief" and will once more feature the cursed emerald necklace, the Peckham Necklace, and another member of the Archer family.
It's what I consider a light, fun story and I really hope my editor and my readers like it. My first novel published with Highland Press is called The Necklace and it too features the emerald necklace so I thought the novella would be a nice continuation with the Archer family and their misadventures with their infamous necklace.
Wish me luck and happy reading!