I have to admit. I am an addict. I love melted cheese. Just love it. I hate to admit it, but a lot of the weight I packed on over the years was due to melted cheese. The salty, creamy, soft textured beauty of melted cheese. Over the past few weeks, melted cheese has been seriously scarce in my diet. There was the one day I went on a two hour hike and rewarded myself with half a plate of nachos but other than that, the only cheese I have been friends with is light string cheese.
Last week, I must have gotten a whiff of fall in the air. Although coastal California is known for fall days that are hot, the morning and evenings can be tinged with the salty tang of the fog and that is when you feel it. Fall is in the air and it is time to shift away from cold food and barbecued food and start thinking about food that gets baked or roasted in an oven. I was searching several healthy food sites for meatloaf. If you are a longtime D.T. reader, you know that I am beefaphobic. Lately, I have been rediscovering the joys of ground poultry and a poultry meatloaf was what I wanted. I stumbled onto a recipe called Santa Fe Meat Loaf. It had ground turkey, bacon(!) and a layer of melted cheese. How can that be healthy? Well, the bacon is center cut and there is just enough of it for flavor. The cheese is reduced fat. But… although it is reduced fat cheese, the cheese layer in this concoction was what got my attention. It is a Mexican style four-cheese blend and the picture I saw showed a yummy melty ribbon of it. This looked like just the ticket. I figured it would hit that melted cheese spot that had been so neglected for so many weeks.
Well, let me tell you, this meatloaf was a big hit. It is moist and spicy. The cheese, (which tasted like salty rubber when it was cold) became cheesy and melty and goooooood! We are looking so forward to spicy meatloaf sandwiches for lunch tomorrow.
Before the recipe, I have two tips to pass on to you. The recipe calls for dry breadcrumbs. I was going to buy some but I was in a fancy store today and the breadcrumbs they offered cost anywhere from $3 for a handful of them to $5 for a decent amount. Tip: Make your own. You know you have lots of stale bread in your fridge. I know I do! Grind the bread in your food processor, spread the crumbs out on a cookie sheet and bake them for several minutes at 350 degrees F. You can save the leftovers in an airtight container for later. Tip number two do not try to cook sweet potatoes faster by cooking them at a high temperature and if you do, do not use parchment paper to line your cookie sheet. The ensuing near fire catastrophe is not worth it, lol!
Santa Fe Meatloaf
Adapted from Cooking Light Magazine
½ cup chopped onion
1/3 cup finely chopped red bell pepper
1 tsp chili powder
½ tsp ground cumin
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 – 1 ½ tbsp minced, canned chipotle chile in adobo sauce
½ lb dark meat ground turkey
1 lb ground turkey breast
¾ cup homemade whole wheat bread crumbs
2/3 cup medium salsa, divided
1 tsp oregano
6 slices center cut bacon, cooked and crumbled
2 large egg whites
¾ cup reduced fat finely shredded Mexican style four-cheese blend
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Heat a large skillet over medium high heat. Coat the pan with olive oil cooking spray. Add onion, bell pepper, chili powder, cumin and garlic to the pan. Sauté the veggies for 1 ½ minutes or until the onion is tender. (You may need to lower the heat; the spices may tend to burn). Stir in the chipotle chile and sauté for 30 seconds. Cool the mixture. Combine the onion mixture, the two types of turkey meat, the breadcrumbs, 1/3 cup of the salsa, oregano, bacon and egg whites in a large bowl. Make sure the mixture is combined well but not over mix. You are looking for assimilation of the ingredients but you don’t want tough meatloaf.
Place half of the turkey mixture in an 8.5” x 4.5” loaf pan (preferably glass so you can see what you are doing). Make a slight curve in the center of the mixture so that it will hold the cheese. Add the cheese on top of the meat. Top the cheese with the remaining half of the meat mixture. Tuck the meat in so that you can crimp the top and bottom meat layers together over the cheese (you don’t want the cheese to leak out). Spread the remaining 1/3 cup of salsa over the top of the meatloaf. Bake for 1 hour and 25 minutes or until a meat thermometer registers 165 degrees F., Let stand 10 minutes, cut and serve.
Makes 6 servings.