I almost forgot…

 Garlic Spinach 

…to make spinach.

 
I already have a head of chard in the crisper that has seen better days and I almost forgot to cook my spinach too. A few days ago, I made some lovely New York steaks. I was going to have baked potatoes with sour cream with minced green onions and my favorite recipe of garlic spinach. I bought a large head of spinach and somewhere between fighting with the charcoal and baking the potatoes for what felt like hours, I had a sudden case of amnesia which resulted in my grabbing a bag of frozen peas after the steaks were done. Don’t get me wrong. I love frozen green peas, I’ll eat them with anything and my choice of an Asian inspired spinach dish might seem odd with steak and potatoes but oh… the garlic… oh… the residual sake…oh…the rich tamari. It would have been so very right.

I did a save today while scouring the fridge for a potluck lunch. My honey was going to have some leftover soba with slices of the leftover steak. I was going to have some leftover meatloaf. To round out this potluck lunch, I still needed to eat up the focaccia from last week before it goes the way of the melting chard in the crisper. So, yes, it was an even a stranger assortment of food than what I intended but the spinach, as always, (was not enough spinach but it) was the star.

Note: I am going to give the recipe for one head of spinach which will make two small servings of cooked spinach. So just enough for two people to fight over. If you need to feed more people or you think you will go out of control and want more of something so incredible, use two heads of spinach and your largest skillet.

On another side note: There is nothing worse than getting sand in a bite of food. I used a salad spinner with a removable colander as a bowl to wash the spinach. I fill up the bowl with cool water. Swish the spinach around and then remove the colander. At this point, inspect the water left in the bowl. There will be sand. Pour out the water, rinse the bowl and repeat the previous steps. I usually do this process about three times before I am satisfied that the sand is gone. For this recipe, do not spin dry the spinach, you want the spinach to have residual moisture.

Garlic spinach

  

1 large head of spinach, leaves removed from stems, washed well but not dried

½ cup sake

3-5 cloves garlic

2 tbsp tamari or soy sauce

1 tbsp brown rice vinegar

1 ½ tsp toasted sesame oil

Optional: Tatami Nogarishi or cayenne to taste

Special equipment: garlic press, large skillet or wok

Heat the skillet on medium high. Add spinach and cook until it begins to wilt a little. Press the garlic cloves directly into the spinach. Give it a stir. Add sake. Cook another minute or two, stirring, until spinach starts to shrink and the sake begins to evaporate. Add tamari, brown rice vinegar and sesame oil. If you want a little kick add tatami nogarishi or cayenne to taste. Continue to cook until the spinach is tender and the sauce thickens a little. Be careful not to overcook. The spinach should still look green, overcooked spinach looks brownish. Serve immediately.

It hit the spot

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

 

Cooking spray

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.