BBQ Meatloaf and Grilled Fontina Cornbread Stack

If I’m not going to have pizza on Sunday, then please let me have bbq meatloaf with grilled fontina cornbread.  It’s the ultimate comfort food and the perfect ending to any weekend.  And please, grill the cornbread in your cast iron skillet.  It’s the Southern thing to do.

I prepped the cornbread in advance because you want it to be able to cool before you slice and grill.  The cornbread is FULL of fontina cheese.  This is not a sweet cornbread and I think that a little bit of diced jalapeño would be incredible in this loaf.

For the meatloaf, which by the way is a horrible name for food, we decided to live on the wild side and used a blend of ground veal and ground lamb.  But you could totally use ground beef like the recipe calls for or you could even use ground turkey.  To the meat you add sautéed onions and garlic along with breadcrumbs, worcestershire sauce, tomato sauce, BBQ sauce, S&P plus an egg.  Don’t over mix!  Form the meatloaf into sliders in the size of your choice.  The meatloaf is baked and then topped with a BBQ-tomato sauce mixture and then baked a little more.  I broiled for a minute before removing from the oven.

Slice the cornbread and melt some butter in your cast-iron skillet before grilling the cornbread to perfection.  We tried the cornbread once it was cooled and while it’s delicious there’s nothing quite like cornbread cooked in butter.  Just sayin’.

fontinacornbreadmeatloaf

On the side, simple roasted brussels that are seasoned with salt and pepper plus some chopped pecans for nuttiness and crunch.

I mean, I can’t even deal.  This is not “your mama’s” meatloaf.

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A Farewell to Summer {plus a strawberry pizza with bacon and caramelized onions}

Tomorrow officially marks the first day of fall.  Summer 2017 is one that I’ll never forget.  And while I didn’t check everything off my “Summer Bucket List,” it was a great summer.

Here are some of the highlights of the past few months:

  • Memorial Day Weekend at OIB (AKA my last sips of wine for a long time – little did I know that I was pregnant)
  • Finding out I was pregnant the Tuesday after Memorial Day
  • Pizza Sundays
  • Logan’s wedding weekend at Lake Norman
  • Long 4th of July weekend at OIB
  • Ice Cream Date at the beach
  • Reading SO many books…
    • “Two by Two” by Nicholas Sparks
    • “The Sunshine Sisters” by Jane Green
    • “Secrets in Summer” by Nancy Thayer
    • “I’ve Got Sand in All the Wrong Places” by Lisa Scottoline and Francesca Serritella
    • “On Mystic Lake” by Kristin Hannah
    • “Distant Shores” by Kristin Hannah
    • “Another Piece of My Heart” by Jane Green
    • “Night Road” by Kristin Hannah
    • “True Colors” by Kristin Hannah
  • Telling the “world” our exciting news about Baby Watson
  • A “last” beach weekend, just the two of us
  • An incredible 34th birthday dinner at Crawford and Son in Raleigh
  • Getting the ball rolling on some home renovations (I’m beyond excited about my new “office nook” and a screened in back porch)
  • Our Gender Reveal Party

Honestly the summer flew by and it’s hard to believe we’re almost done with September!  And while the “summer” temperatures will probably stick around for a while, I’m really excited for what the fall and winter have in store.

This past Sunday, Big Guy and I said our “final farewell” to summer with a very summery pizza.  I’ve been wanting to make this pizza ALL summer long and when I saw some pretty red organic strawberries at the grocery store, I knew it was a sign.

strawberrypizza

Even though strawberries aren’t in season here, this was quite possibly my favorite pizza that we made ALL summer.  The pizza is topped with ricotta cheese plus lots of mozzarella and then comes the fun toppings:  fresh strawberries, bacon and caramelized onions (that were caramelized in bacon fat!).  The cooked pizza was finished with a sprinkle of fresh herbs, oregano and basil.  This strawberry pizza TOTALLY hit the spot and I could not get over the flavor.  Sweet and savory.  Super cheesy.  Crunchy bacon.  And rich caramelized onions.

I definitely suggest you keep this pizza recipe for next May when strawberries are ripe and you can buy them local.

Adios, Summer!

Creamy Goat Cheese and Arugula Pasta Salad

Happy Monday, friends.  Can you believe it’s the last week of June?  This past weekend we spent some time at the pool, went on a couple of long walks, enjoyed sushi, and cooked some epic summer dinners.

I honestly can’t remember the last time I made a pasta salad but this goat cheese pasta salad has been on my brain since Memorial Day weekend and I finally made it last night for dinner.  The verdict:  my new favorite pasta salad.

The goat cheese adds so much creaminess and tang to the entire salad and the olive oil + lemon juice “dressing” adds a little zip that I adored.  The salad is studded with sweet, homegrown tomatoes as well as briny olives (perhaps my favorite part).  Peppery arugula adds just the right amount of spice and green to the dish.  This dish is best served warm or at room temperature but you can totally reheat in the microwave.

goatcheesepastasalad

Big Guy and I both adored this summery pasta salad.

Buttered Rosemary Smashed Potatoes with Burrata

Also known as my new favorite way to eat potatoes.

Let’s rewind one more time to the weekend, okay?  On Sunday night Big Guy really wanted steaks.  And instead of grilling steaks, we decided to try reverse seared steaks.  Basically the steak cooks over low heat in the oven before being seared for under a minute on each side on the stovetop.  The end result is a beautifully cooked steak with the best “crust” on the outside from the sear.  We served the steaks with a garlic herb butter that tasted so sinful.

On the side, these perfect smashed potatoes that are topped with creamy burrata.  These potatoes are evvvvverything.  You start by boiling the potatoes until fork tender.  Place the cooked potatoes on a baking pan with some EVOO.  Smash the potatoes ones with a fork so that they flatten out a bit.  Drizzle a little more EVOO over the potatoes and sprinkle with salt, pepper, and garlic powder.  Bake at 450 degrees until the potatoes are browned and crispy, about 25-30 minutes.  Once baked, spoon the rosemary butter over the potatoes (yes!) and then top with torn burrata (more YES!).

burratapotatoes

I cannot even explain the deliciousness of these potato bites.  They’re rich and butter, smooth and creamy, and herbaceous.

Basically the perfect potato.  And then we proceeded to watch a chick-flick on the couch as we were in a potato and steak coma.

 

 

Charred Corn + Bacon Pizza with a Cream Cheese Stuffed “Everything” Crust

I have to be honest – there are a million thoughts swirling in my head right now.

“What should I pack for the weekend?”
“What dress should I buy for Logan’s wedding?”  (this is taking up way too much room in my brain)
“How am I going to decorate for an event that I’m ‘hosting’ on June 1?”
“What are we going to do with Haines next weekend?”
“What are we going to do Memorial Day weekend?”

I feel better now.

(please know that none of these “worries” are serious – I’m just having a hard time concentrating on one task at a time currently.)

But because I need to seriously pack for the weekend I’m going to skip my favorites around the WWW this week and share with you an insane pizza we made a couple of weekends ago.

pizza

INSANE!

We started our pizza like most and made our favorite dough from Jessica’s cookbook.  But we made the crust a little more insane by adding a cream cheese filling to the outside and then sprinkling the crust with an “everything bagel” seasoning that included sesame seeds, garlic flakes, onion flakes, poppy seeds and flaked salt.

The pizza itself was topped with fontina cheese, charred bacon, red onion and even more cheese (fontina and mozz).  After baking, top the pizza with a sprinkle of green onion.

Ya’ll – this pizza was so good.  I think we ate in silence with a few “this is so good” statements thrown in here and there.

MAKE THIS PIZZA.  You don’t have to make your dough from scratch.  But you do have to STUFF the crust.

INSANE.

p.s. Happy Mother’s Day to ALL the fabulous moms out there.  I am incredibly blessed to have my Momma and there’s no one else that deserves more celebrating than her.  But I was also blessed with two amazing mother-in-laws when I married Big Guy.  Sunday will probably be a little sad for Big Guy because we won’t have his Mom to call or wish a Happy Mother’s Day but I am so thankful for her and for the man Big Guy is today.  Big Guy’s step-mom (a word we don’t really like to use because she’s so much more than that) also deserves celebrating and we love her SO much for all she has done for us both.

Mortadella Pizza + Pear, Date and Burrata Pizza with Crispy Sage

On Friday I said that the week had flown by.  And here I am on Monday telling you that the weekend flew by even faster.  Why does that happen?  On Saturday I taught before we headed to get pedicures.  That’s right, Big Guy requested we get pedicures and they were awesome.  We had plans in Raleigh on Saturday evening and we headed that way early afternoon.  Before heading to dinner, we had a little happy hour at Vivace complete with wine and a delicious cheese plate.  We had the best time hanging out.

vivace

We didn’t want to leave but we needed to head back to the hotel to get ready for dinner.  We had reservations at Second Empire, an amazing restaurant that we love but haven’t been in years.  I didn’t snap in pictures at dinner because I really just wanted to enjoy my time with the husband.  It was an incredible dinner and I am so thankful for our date nights.

Sunday ended up being incredibly fun after a last minute decision to invite some friends over for pizza.  The recipe for the dough requires a little time but it ended up being a great crust.  One of the pizza was topped with mortadella, an Italian sausage that is studded with pistachios, as well as mozzarella, parmesan and a pistachio-oil drizzle.  The other pizza was full of flavor with juicy pear slices, sweet dates, creamy burrata and crispy fried sage.

The pizzas were so different but super yummy.  I will never get tired of pizza Sunday.

pizza

And now it’s back to the grind.  This week is a busy one but I’m looking forward to a few dinners at home and a fun weekend that lies ahead.

 

Cider Cheese Soup in Pretzel Bread Bowls

Hey, friends!  I hope everyone had a great weekend.  Ours was wonderful but went by way too fast.  Doesn’t that always happen, though?  Good news:  I have lots of food to share with you this week.  But first, CHEESE.

So no one felt the need to give me a heads up on National Cheese Day last week.  I was bummed that I was unable to celebrate but we made up for it yesterday with lots of cheese.  The soup is similar to beer cheese soup that is popular in pubs but instead of beer, apple cider is used.  We used an Angry Orchard hard apple cider – the alcohol cooks out but you could totally use a non-alcoholic apple cider and it would be equally delicious.  The soup was served in homemade pretzel bread bowls.  Bread bowls have been on our “kitchen bucket list” for a couple of years now and I’m not sure why it took us so long to check it off the list.

cheesesoup

The soup starts with crisping up some bacon and then cooking onions and garlic in the bacon fat until softened and translucent.  Butter and flour are used to thicken the soup and then the cider is added and cooked until slightly thick and the alcohol is cooked out.  Add in the half and half for the ultimately richness and then comes the cheese.  The recipe called for cheddar and colby jack – if I were to make this soup again I might use a monterey jack for a little heat.  I felt like it was missing that.  The crisped bacon is added and then serve in the bread bowls.  We topped our soup with a little bacon, fried sage (!!!) and some chives for freshness.

The ultimate comfort food = cheese + carbs and that’s just what this dinner is all about.