Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Thanksgiving Meatloaf with Turkey Gravy

I never actually cooked a full turkey myself for Thanksgiving since dinner usually means 25-35 people, so is normally hosted by a more experienced generation.  Since I usually have to make a dish for 2 separate Thanksgiving dinners, #1 an early one with my family, and #2 a later one with my husband’s side of the family, I have made all the different sides including different veggies like butternut squash au gratin, green beans, roasted Brussel Sprouts, fresh cranberry sauce (non Ocean Spray from a can), fresh stuffing (non Stove Top), smashed sweet potatoes and pumpkin muffins. 

This year is the first year that I do not have to “cook” for Thanksgiving as dinner with both sides of the family is combined so we will be bringing a Honeybaked Ham to supplement the Gobble Gobble star instead.  It does feel strange to not be cooking for my favorite holiday of the year, where I continue to pledge not to shop on Thanksgiving Day as everyone deserves a holiday to spend with friends and family. 

So instead I decided to make this meatloaf for dinner with the flavors of Thanksgiving running through it.   


For meatloaf

Olive oil

½ cup of breadcrumbs

½ lb of mushrooms (6 oz chopped, 2 oz sliced for gravy)

½ tsp fennel seed

Salt and pepper

½ small onion finely chopped

3 celery ribs finely chopped

1 tsp dried thyme

1 ¼ lb ground turkey breast

½ cup roasted or fully cooked chestnuts chopped

1 egg

For gravy

3 tbsp butter

3 tbsp flour

2 cups of turkey stock


  1. Heat 2 tbsp of olive oil over medium heat and toast the fennel seed until lightly brown
  2. Add chopped mushrooms, onions, celery, and thyme and cook for about 8 min until softened, then remove from heat to cool
  3. Preheat oven to 375 degrees
  4. In a large bowl, add the turkey with a dash of salt and pepper, egg, breadcrumbs, and cooled mushroom mixture and mix to combine
  5. Add meat mixture into meatloaf pan and bake for an hour on center rack in preheated 375 degree oven
  6. About 15 min before meatloaf is done, you can start making the gravy
  7. Melt butter over medium heat in a saucepan
  8. Whisk in the flour and bring to a bubble
  9. Add stock and simmer to thicken stirring occasionally
  10. Add sliced mushrooms into hot gravy and simmer for another 5 min on very low heat

  1. Trader Joe’s have fully cooked pre-packaged chestnuts in their packaged vegetable section only during the holidays.  Get extras to freeze to use other times of the year. 
  2. I still have celery leftover from my minestrone and stoup recipe
  3. Surprisingly my creation came out pretty good
Price:  $10 for 4 servings = $2.50 a serving

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Lamb Shank Over Polenta

The only time I use to make lamb shanks is for my dad’s birthday but ever since we found that his favorite restaurant Shalizaar offers them as a side for $11 (although not as large), it saved me the time and energy of braising them myself.  Last month, I found them on sale and could not resist picking up a pack of two just to make for dinner during the holidays.  Since I had carrots leftover from the bag I bought for the pesto minestrone I made last weekend, I had all the ingredients on hand to revisit the braised lamb shank and for once served it with polenta. 


  1. Lamb in general is very “fatty” so if possible, skim some of the fat before spooning over the polenta or if heating up the leftovers, make sure to remove the layer of white fat.  The red wine in the sauce does help cut it more so than when roasting a lamb leg. 
  2. As mentioned before if your grocery store has bulk nuts and grains that you scoop yourself, it is much cheaper and fresher than buying a whole box as a cup dry expands to ½ a pot of polenta and for less than $1. 
Price:  $14 for 4 servings = $3.50 a serving

UPDATE:  The shanks were so large that we could not even finish one between two of us, so I brought the remaining shank over the next day for my parents to try and my dad kept saying it's even better than Shalizaar...is that a hint that he wants me to resume lamb shank duty for his next birthday?  =)


Thursday, November 20, 2014

Butternut and Vegetable Stoup

It really is so random how I tend to subconsciously make steak dishes multiple days in a row, then Hawaiian influenced and now vegetarian dishes.  After seeing this recipe on last week’s show, I thought it might be another fun way to use butternut squash so I picked it up along with the spaghetti squash at the Farmer’s Market and at just 50 cents a lb, it offset my overpaying for my spaghetti squash.  I had celery leftover from the pesto minestrone I made over the weekend so all I needed was to pick up a couple of apples at 99 cents a lb and I was ready to continue my taste of fall.    


  1. I served it over white rice instead of basmati and it was just as good
  2. I did not have curry powder so I just made my own curry blend with equal parts (2 tsp each) of coriander, cumin, and turmeric. 
  3. Thanksgiving is the perfect time to stock up on spices that you need or are running low on as they are generally on sale.  I picked up 3 yesterday to restock on those I was running low or getting way too old so with a Buy 2 Get 1 free and $2 off coupon for up to 2 spices, I got all 3 for $8.80 vs. $18.80. 
  4. Left out mango chutney, scallions, and parsley since I did not have any on hand and chili since I don’t like spice. 
Price:  $3 for 6 servings = 50 cents per serving (assuming you already accumulated spices over time)

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Spaghetti Squash with Romesco Sauce

Spaghetti squash this year seems to be the new kale as everyone seems to be finding creative ways to cook with it.  I tried it once years ago topped with marinara sauce as one of the ideas presented at the Farmer’s Market.  As you can guess, I was very underwhelmed with the final product and never bought nor made it again.  Fast forward 5 years later and I ran across a Rachael Ray recipe that I printed for the romesco sauce she made to top her spaghetti squash from earlier this year.  When she featured spaghetti squash over a few shows recently, I am reminded of one of my own beliefs of trying something 2-3 times before completely writing it off.  I hate being a hypocrite so I had better practice what I preach and give the spaghetti squash another shot since it is in season and if anyone can make spaghetti squash tasty, it would be Rach as she is the reason why I even enjoy cooking at all.  I am happy to report that it turned out quite good so looks like spaghetti squash will now be added to my autumnal rotation from now on. 

Spaghetti Squash with Romesco Sauce - Rachael Ray Recipe

Roasted Red Pepper Recipe


  1. Preheat oven 400 degrees
  2. Place raw red peppers whole on a foil lined baking sheet
  3. Roast for 20 minutes, turn halfway and roast another 20 minutes
  4. Remove from oven after fully roasted
  5. Place roasted red peppers onto cutting board and place a glass Pyrex bowl over it and let it steam for 15 minutes
  6. Remove bowl, cut peppers in half and remove seeds, stem, and skin from peppers

  1. Warning that it takes about an hour to prepare your own roasted red peppers
  2. I did not have sherry vinegar so I substituted with red wine vinegar for the acidity
  3. I did not have almonds so just double the amount of hazelnuts
  4. I paid $5 for a 3 1/3 lb spaghetti squash from the Farmer’s Market but Trader Joe’s had them for less than $3 each for just a slightly smaller size
  5. I had bought red peppers for 50 cents a piece so I roasted my own
Price:  $7.50 for 3 servings = $2.50 per serving

Monday, November 17, 2014

Baked Potato Mushroom Melt a la Spud Brothers

Steak and potatoes seem synonymous with each other and almost as American as Apple Pie.  So leave it to me to have done steak one night and then potato the next instead of putting them together.  The 10 lb bag of potatoes for two people really is like the bottomless pit as I am still trying to find ways to use them up.  Since I did not have anything defrosted, I made baked potatoes for dinner. 
While I was studying at Cal, they use to have a food cart at the edge of campus called Spud Brothers where they serve up baked potatoes topped with almost anything you can imagine with my favorite being the mushroom melt.  Granted I did not have my hands on potatoes that size, I made myself the miniature version using up the rest of my sautéed crimini mushrooms from steak night. 

Baked Potato Recipe


  1. Preheat oven 400 degrees
  2. Scrub the potatoes clean with a brush
  3. Pierce holes with a fork 4-5 times on top of the potato to let the steam escape
  4. Bake in preheated oven for 45-60 minutes depending on potato size
  5. Potato is done when it is tender enough to pierce a toothpick through the entire potato
  6. Top with mushrooms and shredded cheese (cheddar, mozzarella, or combo of both)
Note:  I also added for pork on top for some protein
Price:  $3 for 4 servings – 75 cents a serving – even less for me since I just used leftover sautéed criminis


Friday, November 14, 2014

Steakhouse Rib Eye with Sauteed Mushrooms and Roasted Brussel Sprouts

During our recent Costco run we found steaks for $7.99/lb which is the lowest we had seen for choice meat in years so my parents and I picked up 2 packs a piece and I could not resist cooking two of the steaks the next day.  After pan searing the one side of the steaks and transferring from the pan into baking sheet, I sautéed a pack of crimini mushrooms in the pan to pick up the flavors of the drippings.  Brussel Sprouts are abundant and in season with Trader Joe’s having a full stalk for just $2.99 so was a great accompaniment to the meal.

Steakhouse Rib Eye – Rachael Ray Recipe


  1. This recipe is great for both Rib Eye and New York Steaks
  2. Try to pick a stalk where Brussel Sprouts are relatively uniform in size for more even roasting
  3. Photo is less than a full serving of beef.  Estimate serving size was about 6-8 oz of beef. 
Price:  $20 for 4 servings = $5 per serving

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Take Your Pick Eggs Benedict – Kalua Pork, Roasted Salmon, or Lobster

I had 4 leftover English Muffins and automatically thought of Eggs Benedict.  Since I had just recently learned how to poach eggs, I may be going a little poach crazy but it saves me $15-$20 for the same dish out.  Since I have leftover kalua pork from yesterday’s potato cake, I redid the Kalua Pork Benedict from my first poach attempt back in July - http://www.cookwithzee.blogspot.com/2014/07/kalua-pork-benedict.html.

In addition, since I did not have smoked salmon on hand for the more traditional benedict, I roasted salmon - http://www.cookwithzee.blogspot.com/2014/06/roasted-salmon.html for my salmon benedicts since this is for dinner.

Finally, I just steamed my remaining frozen lobster tail the way I did for my less than successful soup - http://www.cookwithzee.blogspot.com/2014/08/soup-for-you-or-maybe-not.html and had lobster benedicts. 

Instead of the traditional hollandaise sauce since the multiple eggs were going to be rich enough, I did a healthier twist and mashed avocados to place on top instead. 

Ingredients for poached eggs
1 tsp-tbsp Vinegar depending on how big of a pot you are using

Preparation for poached eggs

  1. Bring a saucepan or skillet with at least 3 inch of water to a boil
  2. After water has boiled, lower it to a simmer and add a splash of vinegar to water
  3. Crack an egg in a separate bowl
  4. Swirl the boiling water with a spoon
  5. Gently slip the egg from the bowl into the swirling water
  6. The vinegar and the swirling water will help keep the egg whites closer to the yolk
  7. Cook to your desired consistency in the simmering water after it has floated
  8. If you want your eggs hard poached, remove from heat and place a cover over it for about 6 minutes.

  1. Instead of topping the eggs with the avocados which tends to slide off the slippery egg, you can put the mashed avocados right on top of the English Muffin or in the case of the lobster, you can even mix it right into the lobster meat.
  2. Since the kalua pork was leftover from the previous day and already in yesterday’s total, it is not calculated into the price below – only salmon, lobster tail, eggs, and avocado is.  If you buy a small tub of kalua pork, it would probably be about $10.
  3. No additional pic of the kalua pork one since I previously posted it already.  But pics below are 1 serving size
Price:  $14 for 4 servings = $3.50 per serving