A decade of blogging exile
I have missed blogging!
I wonder to myself why I stopped and why I haven’t started again for all of these years. I’m often in the mood to get in the kitchen and dabble with a new recipe. When I do, I daydream about getting back into blogging.
It’s always the same excuses.
The time – planning, shopping, writing, photo editing. Who has time for all of that?
Self-doubt – blogging was fun at the time, but was never going to be successful.
How many ideas or projects in your life never came to fruition because of self-sabotaging doubts?
Honestly, life happens, and our decisions are based on monetary or time investment required to continue certain projects or hobbies.
But, I also believe that we make time for the things that are important in our lives. A labor of love is no chore, but rather the reason we spring out of bed every morning. Finding these things is the key to having happiness in life. It drives us and gives us purpose.
What brings you happiness?
I never fell out of love with cooking and food. I’ll watch a favorite chef or cooking show and feel compelled to “get back in there!” I still cook at home and try new recipes and foods. When I do, I imagine how I would craft a blog post about what I’m preparing.
In fact, most of the last decade I have worked professionally in the food industry because I enjoy working with food and find the business aspect of it interesting as well.
Priorities and Focus!
My wife and I are the kind of people that have too many interests and hobbies. We have decided to make the year of 2020 a year of consolidation. We are de-cluttering our house, and we are de-cluttering our lives!
The Rule of Attention
This seems like an obvious concept, but I’ve realized that the areas in your life grow where you give the most attention. Likewise, other areas wither where there is neglect.
We’re going through the house throwing away (or donating) things that we cling to but really do not use anymore. But, the process of de-cluttering our house begins with de-cluttering our lives. We have to make decisions about what activities, hobbies, or projects are important to us and narrowing our scope.
Pursue Happiness with Diligence
Personally, giving up blogging has been one of my biggest regrets over the past ten years. I daydream about the connections I could have made (and kept) and the success I could be enjoying today. I have decided to surrender certain projects, things that I once thought were important in my life, in order to make time for what I have decided truly is important, cooking and writing.
On with the food!
After all, you’re not here for a philosophical lecture on time management!
Tonight’s post is spontaneous!
What better way to kick off a relaunch than to just decide to start!? I had the urge to cook something fun tonight, and mid-prep I decided to get out the camera. I’ve been toying with the idea of getting back started; tonight I take the leap.
Tonight’s dish is just a simple meatloaf and a side of twice-baked potatoes. Meatloaf is awesome because you can create variations based on what’s available currently in the pantry.
Above, I’m going to use the red onions, mushrooms, and red peppers in the meatloaf, and the scallions for the potatoes. The white and light green part of the scallion will be mixed into the potatoes, while the dark green tips will be used for topping.
Begin the meatloaf with your ground beef in a mixing bowl. I like to add eggs to add a binding richness to the loaf. There are different schools of though over what kind of meat to use. Some may use a beef and pork or lamb mixture. Me, I’m just using a 90/10 ground beef because it’s a little less greasy.
Mushrooms, when diced small, almost dissolve into the loaf during baking. But, they pick up the flavor of the garlic, onions, and seasonings, which add like little flavor morsels dispersed throughout the loaf. I minced the garlic for nice, even distribution.
I actually like my veg chunks a little bigger because it breaks up the meat-loaf density, but the fam insists on smaller diced veg. They want the density. They want the meat-LOAF without a bunch of crapola. I guess I see their point.
Just adding the finishing ingredients – salt, pepper, rosemary, thyme, and a little Dijon mustard.
While I do enjoy rosemary, it gives me heartburn. However, I discovered that if you grind the dried rosemary into a powder I do not get heartburn. Also, there are no dry twigs in your dish. You could also use fresh rosemary, I suppose.
I’ve been buying gloves just for this sort of thing. No better way to mix this up than with your hands.
Keep those gloves on, because the next step is to loaf it up!
The Twice Baked Potatoes Part
Baked potatoes take about an hour in the oven. I think the reason I struggle with scooping these out so much is because they were just a little under-done even though they tested fork-tender.
This is why I’m a noob and not a professional chef.
Twice baked potatoes have an amazing versatility as far as what can go in them. This has a little butter, the scallions, a little red onion I didn’t use in the meatloaf, S&P, and some shredded cheddar cheese.
If you’re new to cooking this is a great medium to test out different flavor combinations.
Distribute the potato guts back into the skins. I think I did fairly well here considering half my skins were mangled. I have some scallions and cooked bacon crumbled up for topping. I’ll add some more cheese after baking as well.
These baked in the oven while the meatloaf was in, and a few minutes after while the meatloaf rested. They turned out pretty good! Even the skins were crispy and delicious.
And there we are plated. I made a little steamed broccoli to round out the meal.
What I learned with this dish:
I think the Dijon was a mistake. It was an overpowering flavor in the meatloaf. In the past I’ve used yellow mustard to round out the flavor, but Dijon was a poor ingredient choice for this. Maybe use less?
My plating needs work. I think I’m stuck in a traditional mode of meat-starch-veg for plate composition. I’ve observed that modern or contemporary meals aren’t necessarily balanced this way. I’ve also observed that the stars of dish are placed on top of a sauce as opposed to covered in sauce. I need to get out of the 80’s family or TV dinner mindset.
Meatloaf and Twice Baked Potatoes
For the Meatloaf
- 1/2 Cup Red Onions diced
- 1/2 Cup Fresh Mushrooms diced
- 1/2 Cup Red Pepper diced
- 1- 1 1/2 lbs Ground Beef
- 1/2 Cup Bread Crumbs panko work too
- 2 eggs
- 1 tsp thyme dried
- 1 tsp rosemary dried
- 3-4 cloves garlic minced
For the Potatoes
- 3-4 Potatoes medium
- 1 tbsp butter
- 1-2 cloves garlic minced
- 3-4 slices Cooked Bacon crumbled
- 1-2 Green Onions chopped
- 1 Cup Shredded Cheddar Cheese
For the Meatloaf
- In large mixing bowl add ground beef, minced garlic, eggs (cracked).
- Add diced red onions, red peppers, mushrooms.
- Add rosemary, thyme, salt and pepper. Begin mixing meatloaf with your hands.
- Slowly add bread crumbs while mixing meatloaf. Stop adding when out of bread crumbs or when meatloaf is desired consistency (not wet but not saturated with breadcrumbs).
- Shape mixture into loaf shape in a 9×13 pan. Baked in oven at 375 for 30 minutes or until internal temperature reaches 160 F. Slice and Serve.
For the Potatoes
- Baked potatoes in 425 preheated oven for about an hour, until fork-tender.
- Slice potatoes in half after they have cooled slightly. Scoop out the meat of each potato half leaving a little bit of potato inside each shell.
- In mixing bowl, add potato scooped out of skins, add butter, salt, scallions (reserve some for topping), cheese. Mix together and spoon back into potato skins.
- Place potato skins in baking dish and place in oven with meatloaf for about 30 minutes to reheat potatoes and get the cheese all melty.
- Top with bacon, and any remaining cheese and scallions.