Meatloaf, Cornbread, and Mashed Potatoes

The comfort food trifecta. Yum! I had originally planned on having this on Wednesday night, but E begged me to make it tonight. I had my parents over as well, so I made a huge amount of food!

Cast Iron Cornbread: I made the cornbread first. Preheat oven at 425. Heat your 9 or 12 in. pan. Add about 1/3 stick of butter to melt. Combine the following: 2 cups of cornmeal, 1 egg, 1 cup sugar, 1 3/4 cups buttermilk, and a pinch of salt. Combine in the heated pan and melted butter. You should hear a sizzle. Then put in the oven and bake for 20-25 minutes. 003

Meatloaf: I let 1 pound of ground beef and 1 pound of ground Italian sausage come to room temperature in a bowl. I sautéed 1 small onion and 2 cloves of garlic in a pan, about 8 minutes. I do this to avoid raw onion chunks in my meatloaf. Take off the heat and cool for a few minutes.

To my meat, I added 1 egg and the onion and garlic. The rest of the ingredients I eyeball a little at a time until the right consistency; Worcestershire sauce (2 tablespoons), about a glass of red wine, a couple of tablespoons of tomato sauce, a squish of tomato paste. I use the tube, so that is why I say squish, but if you use the can, about 1 tablespoon, and about a cup of Italian seasoned breadcrumbs. I get in there and mix it up with my hands. Mix just enough to combine the ingredients. I do not use ketchup at all. The tomato sauce, tomato paste, red wine, and Worcestershire combo is better and gives the meatloaf so much more depth of flavor than ketchup ever could. I take my mixture, form in a long loaf shape, and put it on some aluminum foil in a long baking dish.Top with more tomato sauce. 350 for 45 minutes. We had only 1 chunk leftover….perfect for a couple of meatloaf sandwiches! Always make extra for this!

Mashed potatoes: Ok, so I learned this really cool trick from someone on TV, in a cookbook, or one of my food magazines. I honestly can’t remember where I heard this, but boil your potatoes in milk, cream, and butter instead of water! Add some salt and a touch of pepper. The potatoes cook with these flavors! GENIUS! When they are fork tender, strain them out but keep your liquid. Then add your cooking liquid a bit at a time to your desired consistency. Plus, I added a bit more butter… Oh, and we had peas. Gotta add the veggie!


Pork Chops and Mashed Potatoes

So tonight is the first night in over 2 1/2 months that all 5 family members have sat down at the kitchen table for a family dinner. I asked E what she wanted for dinner. Pork chops. Yes, sounds delish…how about I add a side of mashed potatoes? She asked for gravy. Yes, I can def. make that happen for you…I can make anything happen for you!

My little E has Cancer. For the last 4 years, she has undergone every scan, test, chemo, and other medicines one would never wish on their worst enemy. She has taken it all with stride; she has been brave; she deserves all that she wants in life, just like any other kiddo out there who has gone through such a terrible fate. Well, her last scans were clear! Awesome news; but then she came down with a nasty lung infection, and we were not sure she would make it out of the hospital. Well, E was not going to let a little lung fungus get in her way of living life, so she beat it and is now home!

Of course I will make her and let her eat pretty much everything she likes. She has asked for 5 Guys, cheese ravioli, Sloppy Joe’s, and shells and cheese. Ok, I can make all that happen. Tonight it is pork chops and mashed potatoes and gravy.

I took some pork chops, that just happen to be on sale at Publix, put them in some olive oil and salt and pepper. Then I warmed up 2 cast iron skillets and placed the chops in them. Do not crowd your pans. You need to have plenty of room for them to brown and get a nice crust; about 10 minutes on the first side and 8 minutes on the second side. 013

Mashed potatoes are easy. Boil your potatoes until fork tender, about 12 minutes or so. Drain and put them in your mixer. I add about 1 stick of butter, a couple splashes of heavy cream, and a couple splashes of milk. Mix until your desired consistency. 017

Gravy? Take out the pork chops as soon as the time is up and let them rest for about 5-10 minutes. They will cook a little more and retain their juices. Do not cut into them yet. Put all the pork chop juices in one of your pans. Heat it up and add 2 tablespoons of butter and flour. Whisk together until you have a bit of a “wet sand” look. I add a little chicken stock at a time until the back of your spoon is coated without being to runny. You could add milk, for milk gravy. That is yummy, too. 016018