Cheesy Marsala-Glazed Meatloaf {recipe}

Posted on Nov 26, 2013 | 4 comments

Marsala Glazed Meatloaf v2

When I was a kid, I loved ketchup-and-cheese sandwiches.  I’m not talking about grilled cheesy goodness dunked in ketchup, here; this was two pieces of Home Pride, a single slice of Kraft American, and a heavy-handed squiggle of Heinz 57.  I was obsessed with ketchup.  Ketchup made everything better.  Although both parents deny preparing said ketchup-and-cheese sandwiches for us kids and my sister says the thought of such a sandwich “makes her want to hurk,” there’s no denying that ketchup was the star ingredient in my mom’s meatloaf.  I was, of course, meatloaf’s number one fan.  Just the word “meatloaf” takes me back to those days, standing in the kitchen, watching my mom transform a mound of ground beef into a perfect oval with rapid two-handed pats before she iced the whole thing with ketchup and tossed it into the oven.  It killed me that meatloaf took so long to cook.  An hour?!  Really, Mom?  And then, as we (finally) sat down to eat, I’d silently start hoping for leftovers, because the only thing better than Mom’s meatloaf was a cold, leftover meatloaf-and-ketchup sandwich the next day.

Marsala Glazed Meatloaf

Now that I’m all old and mature, my ketchup-and-cheese sandwich has been upgraded to a crusty baguette with hunks of gooey brie, and a taste for wine has replaced my craving for all things ketchup.  And meatloaf?  Well, I still love it, and this cheesy Marsala-glazed meatloaf recipe puts a classy spin on the nostalgic meal.  It’s still got ketchup (as all good meatloaves do), but this one has hunks of gooey, white cheddar cheese and is dressed with a sweet wine glaze.  It tastes indulgent and traditional all at once, and it’s a dinner both kids and adults will enjoy.

Marsala Glazed Meatloaf - 3 v2

Dry Marsala wine is fantastic in this recipe (I used Colombo Fine Dry Marsala Wine, which has hints of vanilla and raisin).  The meatloaf can be prepared a day ahead and stored covered in the fridge for a hearty, low-stress meal the next day.

Marsala Glazed Meatloaf - 5

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Peanut Butter & Jelly Snack Bars {recipe video}

Posted on Jun 13, 2013 | 2 comments

Remember that super fun video recipe project I’ve been telling  ya’ll about?  Well, one of the four videos we shot was for a recipe I specially developed for Tropical Foods.  To get my creative juices flowing, Tropical Foods hooked me up with a sack full of their bold nut mixes.  After trying them all, the PB&J mix stole my heart.  PB&J triggers feelings of nostalgia for most of us, but the funny thing is, I didn’t eat it much as a kid.  In fact, I went through a rebellious phase during which I vehemently swore I didn’t like the taste of PB&J.  Looking back, I’m pretty sure I was lying through my teeth in hopes of getting something toasty, like a hot grilled cheese or tuna melt, for lunch instead.  Sometime in college, I rediscovered the pure pleasure of the peanut butter and jelly sandwich, and I’ve been making up for lost time ever since.

Hope you enjoy my recipe for Peanut Butter and Jelly Snack bars!  I know my Guinea pig coworkers did!

Peanut Butter & Jelly Snack Bars Recipe PDF

Make sure you enter the Tropical Foods Bold giveaway below!  Three winners will receive one bag of each of the following How Bold Can You Go mixes:

Honey Roasted Buffalo Nuts
Ranch Buffalo Nuts
Blue Cheese Buffalo Nuts
Sweet Heat
Cajun Harvest
PB&J Mix
Mango Tango
Sienna Cream Crunch

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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Behind the scenes of a recipe video shoot + Fall-n-Fire Wontons {recipe video}

Posted on Jun 10, 2013 | 8 comments

When asked if I’d be interested in shooting some recipe videos for Tropical Foods, I said YES without really thinking about how much work goes into preparing, planning, and executing a video project.  I said yes before I had a chance to think about standing in front of a camera and how sweaty that might make me.  I said yes, because, well, for better or for worse I have a hard time saying no to opportunities, and honestly who could say no to the chance to work with a large, well-established Charlotte-based company like Tropical Foods?

WontonsTo prepare for the shoot, I did what any self-respecting accountant would do:  I input all the recipe ingredients into an Excel spreadsheet.  There were columns for the description, quantity, recipe to which it related, and the corresponding grocery store aisle.  Organization was key.  Each recipe was cooked and tested three times prior to the shoot, and each round began with a massive grocery shopping trip.  After I had my initial practice round with the recipes, I used the second and third go-arounds to verbally talk myself through the steps.  “Ok, now we’ll melt the butter.  Mmm buttterrrr.”  “Give it a good stir.”  “It’s ok if it looks like poo, it’ll still taste great!”  I also found myself asking questions.  I know Rachael Ray always de-stems her chard… but why?  What’s the stem taste like anyway?  What’s the difference between black and red grouper?  What if I can’t find wonton wrappers at the grocery store?  I jotted down questions as I went, and spent a lot of time researching ingredients and cooking processes.

The night before the shoot, I measured all of the ingredients into small containers and labeled what was what, then loaded each recipe’s ingredients onto a separate sheet pan.  Even with all this prep, it took us about five hours to shoot all four recipe videos!

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Spaghetti with roasted sprouts and cherry tomatoes {recipe}

Posted on Jun 5, 2013 | 3 comments

I’ve realized lately that the kind of food I enjoy most is food that is uncomplicated.  Sure, it’s awesome to tackle a difficult recipe, but there’s something to be said for the simple satisfaction of grabbing fresh ingredients from the fridge and transforming them into a great tasting meal without consulting a recipe every five seconds.

One night, while wandering up and down grocery store aisles, searching for something that might satiate me, I became increasingly agitated.  It was mega-mart overload.  I set my basket on the ground and considered abandoning the whole thing and ordering a nice hot pizza.  After a short silent debate (during which time I’m sure I got a couple woah-crazy-lady looks), I took one final lap of the produce aisle and grabbed the things that looked best:  cherry tomatoes, Brussels sprouts, a hunk of fresh Parmigiano-Reggiano (which the uptown grocery store conveniently keeps in the middle of the veggies), and a bottle of red wine.  I had no recipe, just a bunch of things I eat often and love.

These days, we are inundated with recipes.  They are everywhere.  And if you’re like me, you’re constantly clipping and pinning and bookmarking things to try.  The recipe pool is big and bottomless, and while these are great qualities for a mimosa, I often find myself completely flummoxed when I try to decide which one to make for dinner.  I call this recipe paralysis.  We’ve all become so reliant on recipes, we’ve forgotten how simple cooking can be.

spaghetti with roasted brussels sprouts and cherry tomatoes

When I got home from the grocery store, I poured a glass of wine and cranked the oven and some tunes (and by tunes, I mean NPR, of course).  I put the halved Brussels sprouts and cherry tomatoes on a sheet pan along with a few cloves of thinly sliced garlic, drizzled on some extra virgin olive oil, and seasoned with salt.  I roasted the veggies in a 425 degree oven for twenty minutes, during which time I cooked some whole wheat spaghetti (or was it linguine?) on the stove top.  Saving a mugful of the starchy cooking liquid, I combined the drained noodles with the hot roasted veggies, a drizzle of evoo, red pepper flakes, some salt, a little of the cooking liquid, and a generous grating of the fresh parmesan.  Dinner was served without the guidance of a recipe (what?!) and it was delicious.

spaghetti with roasted brussels sprouts and cherry tomatoes 2

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Mexicali Grouper plus a nutty giveaway {recipe video}

Posted on May 29, 2013 | 2 comments

Last month, I teamed up with Tropical Foods to create videos for four AWESOME recipes, one of which was created by yours truly!  I posted the video for Buffalo Bleu Tailgate Bars last week, and today’s recipe video features Mexicali Grouper.  Take it from the girl who hates fish – this recipe makes for a delicious crusted fish with big bold flavors courtesy of the Mexicali Fire snack mix used coat the fillets.

Mexicali Grouper Recipe PDF

Speaking of BIG FLAVORS, Tropical Foods just rolled out their How Bold Can You Go site, which features all of their boldest nuts and mixes.  Check it out!  And don’t forget, if you see something you like, you can place orders online at The Nut House.


Now onto the fun part! Tropical Foods has generously offered to give three lucky readers gift baskets, chock full of the bold nuts and snack mixes used in the recipe videos!  There are several ways to enter–check out the rafflecopter below!  The giveaway ends at midnight on June 15, 2013.



a Rafflecopter giveaway

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Buffalo Bleu Tailgate Bars {recipe video}

Posted on May 17, 2013 | 2 comments

Tropical Foods

Tropical Foods is a Charlotte-based food manufacturer and importer and distributor of bulk and packaged snacks and specialty foods.  Phew, that’s a lot of hats!  What this translates to is snack mixes, dried fruits, nuts and seeds, dipping chocolates, salad bar mix-ins, and garden chips, just to name a few of Tropical’s thousands of products.  The Charlotte production plant roasts nuts and seeds daily (in trans-fat-free oil), and goods are shipped from one of their six locations:  Charlotte, Atlanta, Dallas, Memphis, Orlando, and Washington DC.

Back in the Fall, Tropical Foods sponsored a recipe contest at Johnson & Wales University here in Charlotte, and I recently partnered with Tropical on a super fun project to create recipe videos for the top three recipes from the contest (plus, one video for a recipe that I specially developed for Tropical).  The whole video shooting process was new to me, and it was both fun and challenging!  I’ll post more about the videos in the coming weeks including a HUGE TROPICAL FOODS GIVEAWAY, but in the mean time here’s the first of four videos, my official YouTube debut.  Enjoy!

Buffalo Bleu Tailgate Bars

Buffalo Bleu Tailgate Bars Recipe PDF

Looking for Tropical Foods products?  You can buy nuts and snacks direct from their new retail site:  Tropical Foods products are also available in many grocery stores, including Harris Teeter and Healthy Home Market.

 Buffalo Bleu Tailgate Bars -- Tropical Foods Buffalo Nuts

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