Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Laptop Lunches #131

It's amazing what you don't notice until you look at your camera later, such as a streak of meatloaf glaze smeared over the left side of your box. Oh, well.

Poached pears with a bit of syrup, a poppyseed tea cookie sitting atop a bag of decaf English breakfast tea, glazed spinach meatloaf (recipe below), herbed mashed potatoes, and creamy peas with goat cheese and bacon (America's Test Kitchen Cooking for Two 2009).

I have never been a major fan of peas. Peas were one of the only veggies that had me running away as a child. Legumes and I don't really get along too well. But since they are high in fiber, I've been trying ways to convince myself to eat them. I found this recipe and thought it sounded promising. It is an improvement on peas, that's for sure, and I ate them, but they're still peas, and I was left wondering why I bothered to use an ounce of goat cheese on peas.

I love meatloaf as a user-upper of random things you have around, and adapted a recipe also in the America's Test Kitchen Cooking for Two 2009 book to suit what I had around. Meatloaf is also excellent for packed lunches if you plan ahead--bake them in silicone cups and you can have any shape you want this particular meatloaf was baked in a square silicone cup). Don't be daunted by the longish ingredient list--it's really pretty simple. If you're not in the mood for glazing, don't bother with that part; it's still good and looks pretty nice with the flecks of green for the spinach.

Also, a helpful tip about the tomato paste for the solo cook--next time you have a can, drop it by the teaspoon onto waxed paper on a cookie sheet and freeze, then plop the frozen balls into a freezer bag. Doing this has really been a real money and time saver, since I would often end up with half a can or more of tomato paste just lying around going bad in my fridge, and having it premeasured means I don't have to wash a teaspoon.

Glazed Spinach Meatloaf
Makes about 8 muffin-sized loaves

For the loaf:

1 teaspoon vegetable oil
1 small onion, minced (about 1/2 cup)
Salt
1 cup frozen chopped spinach
2 garlic gloves, minced
1/8 teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon tomato paste
2 tablespoons water
1 slice white sandwich bread, torn into pieces
1/4 pound 80 lean ground beef
1/4 pound ground turkey (you can substitute 1/2 pound extra lean ground beef for the beef + turkey)
1 large egg
1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
1 1/2 teaspoons soy sauce
1 1/2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/8 teaspoon salt

For the glaze:

3 tablespoons ketchup
1 1/2 tablespoons cider vinegar
1 tablespoon light brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon hot sauce

1. Adjust an oven rack to the middle position and preheat oven to 375 degrees.
2. Heat the oil in a nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add onion and cook, stirring, until softened, 5 to 7 minutes. Stir in the spinach and cook until fully heated through. Increase the heat to medium high and add garlic, thyme, and tomato paste, and cook until fragrant (about 30 seconds). Stir in water and cook until nearly evaporated, about another 30 seconds. Set aside to cool.
3. In a large bowl, whisk together egg, parsley, soy sauce, mustard, pepper, and salt. Mix in meat. Set aside.
4. Using either the chopper attachment of a handheld blender unit or a food processor, process bread crumbs with vegetables.
5. Mix meat and veggie mixtures together with your hands, then press into silicone baking cups of your choice. Arrange cups evenly on a baking sheet.
6. Bake until the center of the loaf registers 160 degrees on an instant-read thermometer. Time varies according to the size and shape of your silicone cups, but for me took about 15-20 minutes.
7. Remove meatloaf from oven and preheat broiler.
8. Simmer all glaze ingredients together in a small saucepan over medium heat until thick and syrupy, about 3 minutes. Spread glaze over loaves and broil until bubbly (only a few minutes). Remove and let rest for about 10 minutes before serving.

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