Tuesday, November 23, 2010

This Ain’t Your Mama’s Meatloaf:
Comfort Food with a Healthy Kick

Asparagus Bread Pudding from 101Cookbooks.com
Guest Blogger, Molly Anderson-Childers

Lately, I’ve been on a comfort food kick. When the weather changes and grey days bring rain and snow, I crave things like bread pudding, spaghetti and meatballs, macaroni and cheese, meatloaf and mashed potatoes. These calorie-rich foods- especially abundant around the holidays- are my nemesis. Comfort food as we know it is designed to wreak havoc on any diet.

How can you update these classics for the twenty-first century? Sometimes it’s as simple as making a smarter choice at the supermarket, and substituting ground turkey for ground beef. Deer, elk, antelope, or bison burger are healthier alternatives with a richer flavor. If you’re not used to the taste of game, you can mix it half-and half- with hamburger. This ain’t your mama’s meatloaf!

Instead of mashed potatoes dripping with butter, try roasting your taters instead. Here’s how:

Preheat the oven to 400. Place a sheet-pan inside to warm. While the oven is heating, scrub and dice several potatoes. Slice a red onion- not too thin. You can also use carrots, beets, and other root vegetables, or add apples and sweet potatoes to the mix. Add a little olive oil, salt and pepper, and fresh herbs like rosemary, sage, and basil to the mix. Remove sheet-pan from oven and spread potatoes evenly on the hot surface. Bake for 35 minutes or until golden brown, turning once halfway through- much healthier than mashers.

Chopping fresh shallots from the garden. Photos via Molly Anderson-Childers at Stealing Plums blog

Baby onions fresh from the garden. Photos via Molly Anderson-Childers at Stealing Plums blog

Here’s an updated version of a true Americana classic- bread pudding- from my kitchen to yours.

Savory Southwestern Bread Pudding
(Serves Four)
Ingredients:
5 slices whole-grain bread
1 ½ C. milk
1 C. grated pepper jack cheese
3 eggs, slightly beaten
Salt and Pepper to taste
¼ C. roasted pine nuts
2-3 roasted green chiles- seeded, peeled, and diced
Fresh or dried herbs- sage, rosemary, basil, thyme- to taste
1 red onion, diced fine

Method:
Preheat oven to 350. Butter a 1- quart casserole. Tear bread into bite-sized chunks and mix with pine nuts, chiles, herbs, and onion in a separate bowl. Scald milk and cool slightly. Then beat in cheese, eggs, and seasonings. Pour into casserole and add the bread mixture. Bake 40-50 minutes, or until firm.

Note: To add some contrasting flavors and textures to this dish, use cornbread, crackers, dinner rolls, hamburger buns, etc- any extra bread you have around the house. Leftover cooked rice or roasted potatoes are also yummy and can be mixed right in with the bread.
T
o make this tasty dish, I modified a classic recipe from The Fannie Farmer Cookbook- using the best of fresh local produce and homegrown herbs to make it my own. For another variation on this recipe, visit www.101cookbooks.com – I loved their recipe for Asparagus Bread Pudding shown at the top of this article.

Molly Childers at Stealing Plums


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