Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Ronni's Legendary Meatloaf

I've known my friend Ronni since high school; she and her family are amazing and hilarious. This meatloaf recipe comes from her. The beauty of this recipe lies in its simplicity and versatility. Seriously, you can add or substitute whatever you want. However, it's not just the simplicity that makes this recipe special -- it's the stories attached to it. Want to hear them?

One year I decided to throw a Halloween party at my house and asked that everyone who attended to please bring some kind of snack to share. Ronni decided she wanted to try her hand at making an opossum-shaped meatloaf, since, you know, it was Halloween and it would be creepy, right? So the story goes that Ronni spent all day in her kitchen preparing this amazing meatloaf. She specifically told everyone in the house to STAY AWAY from the meatloaf, that she was taking it to my party later that night. She left the kitchen for just a moment or two while the finished product was cooling on the counter, and when she returned, the head was missing. I guess her dad just couldn't resist that delicious opossum-shaped meatloaf! xP So she ended up not bringing it to the party, which was a shame, because I sure would've loved to see it.

I think Ronni should patent an opossum-shaped meatloaf pan. I'm sure it would sell well here in Kentucky and the rest of the South! xD I mean, come on, you could make opossum-shaped cakes, too!

The next story isn't quite so, I guess, gross-sounding. It's more fun and cute. In June of 2010, Ronni and Sara and I studied abroad in Japan, and we all stayed together with the same host family for a few days. On one of our last nights staying with them, Ronni decided to make her meatloaf to give them a taste of authentic American cooking. They loved it! The dad took a bite, seemed to think for a bit, and turned to Ronni and said, "What is in this?" She explained the simple ingredients that made up the meatloaf, and he said happily, "I'll make next time!" The two little boys loved it too; I think they each had a couple of slices. And I mean, these were little kids, ages 2 and 3! Anyway, it was a big hit and a really wonderful memory from our trip.

From left to right on the top: Sara, me, Grandpa, and Ronni.
From left to right on the bottom: Mom, Aunt holding Tomoya, Grandma, and Dad holding Kouya.

Okay, okay, that's enough story-telling... On to the recipe!

Here's what you'll need:

1 lb. ground beef (I use lean)
2 eggs
1 sleeve of saltine crackers (or whatever kind you prefer), crushed

I like to add some other spices, myself, like onion flakes, garlic, and parsley. But the above is the basic meatloaf recipe, and you can adapt it however you like. One of my friends doesn't like ketchup, so I've been trying to think of a version to try making for him sometime.

First off, preheat the oven to 375ᵒF. You can add the ingredients to your large bowl in whatever order you like. This time I happened to crush the crackers within the plastic sleeve before pouring them in (it burst, though, so I used my hands and a fork to crush the rest).

Then I added my spices and mixed it up.

Then add the meat and eggs.

Making sure to wash your hands thoroughly first, use your hands (or a fork or other utensil if you want) to mix all the ingredients together very well. Add some ketchup and continue mixing until you feel like you have a good ratio of ingredients.

Then shape the meat into a loaf in a lightly greased casserole dish.

If you want, you can decorate the meatloaf with some more ketchup, or whatever sauce you like.

Bake at 375ᵒF for about an hour. Ta-dah! Meatloaf: an all-American classic.

I hear that meatloaf is a recipe that developed out of necessity. Adding breadcrumbs or crushed crackers and other ingredients stretches out the meat to make more servings. So it really is a good, solid recipe to fall back on for family dinners or other get-togethers. Plus it's simple to make and yummy. Tonight we served this meatloaf with a delicious baked macaroni and cheese dish that my boyfriend made. I'll have to make a post about that recipe sometime as well. ;)

Your Cupcake,

~Jesia <3

Friday, May 4, 2012

Confetti Cake Cookies

When I saw this recipe for Cake Batter Pudding Cookies, I could hardly wait to try it. Anyone who knows me probably knows how much I love confetti cake, and cookies are sort of my forte. Plus -- wait for it -- there's pudding in the mix! Cake + pudding + sprinkles = cookies? Yes, ma'am! That's everything that is good in the world mixed into one delightful recipe.

Here's what you need.

3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) butter (let it sit on the counter for a bit to soften up)
3/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup sugar
1 (3.4 oz.) package instant vanilla pudding mix
3/4 cup yellow cake mix*
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 1/4 cup flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
Rainbow sprinkles (I didn't measure, but I probably used around 1/4-1/3 cup)

*I personally found it interesting that this recipe uses 3/4 cup of yellow cake mix rather than, say, a certain-ounce box or other package. Since it's kind of difficult to use leftover cake mix for its intended purpose, I got the smallest (and least expensive) package I know of, which is Jiffy® brand. I remember using these mixes all the time as a kid when I moved up from the Easy-Bake® Oven to the big-girl oven. =)

So, let's begin! Preheat the oven to 350ᵒF and prepare a couple of cookie sheets with either baking spray or parchment paper. Cream together the butter, brown sugar, and sugar until combined.

Then add your package of instant vanilla pudding mix and 3/4 cup yellow cake mix. Combine well.

Add eggs and vanilla and continue to mix. Meanwhile, stir together the flour, baking soda, and salt in a separate bowl. Once the eggs and vanilla are thoroughly incorporated into the batter, start adding the flour mixture a few spoonfuls at a time until all of the flour is mixed in. The dough will be pretty thick.

Lastly, add in some rainbow sprinkles! You can just eyeball this and add as much as or as little as you want. I'd guess I used about 1/4-1/3 cup. Mix it thoroughly so that the sprinkles are evenly distributed throughout the dough.

Roll the dough into 1-inch balls with your hands and place about 2 inches apart on the cookie sheet.

Bake at 350ᵒF for 10-12 minutes. My cookies turned a bit golden-brown. Let them cool on the pan for a bit, then move to a rack so that they can cool completely.

Mmm, these cookies are buttery and yummy, not to mention pretty!

I was not disappointed by this recipe. =) It's different, yet familiar at the same time. I only wish that the cake mix ingredient wasn't in such an oddball measure, but oh well. I've found several other cake batter-flavored recipes I'd like to try anyway! ;)

Your Cupcake,

~Jesia <3