Comfort foods for Winter

Last week I had a craving for meatloaf that was unstoppable.  I knew what I wanted and how I wanted it to taste.  I wanted savory meatloaf with a creamy mushroom gravy.  I did my shopping on Wednesday on my way home.  There was stormy wintry weather brewing.  I could see it from the grocery store parking lot.

Gathering foodstuffs for a week at home

Gathering foodstuffs for a week at home

I bought all kinds of goodies to cook.  I had already been to the local meat market and bought fresh ground beef, Oregon grown chicken breasts, and a pork loin roast.  Then I went to the Farmer’s Market and loaded up on fresh produce (as much local and organic as I could) and my herbs and spices.  I bought some seeds for doing sprouts.  This will be a new endeavor for me.  I have to find something to grow them in first.  I am hungry for fresh, and also to see something growing!  I am thinking of growing them in the window sill behind the stove, where I look out to the greenhouse area.  Encouragement and motivation!  This was my last stop before home.  A bottle of wine and some dairy products and I would be on my way!

By the time I got home, unloaded all the groceries, started a fire in the woodstove, hauled numerous loads of wood up the stairs, put the groceries all away and finally felt warm, I was pooped.  No meatloaf tonight.  I pulled out some 4 Bean Burner Chili from the freezer and heated that up!  Perfect food for a cold wintry night.  When I went down to close up the coop, a mere hour after arriving home, there was 1/2″ of snow on the ground.  I was home for the next 6 days.  Cooking was going to be one of my areas of focus.  But not tonight.  I was heading for bed.

I woke up Thursday with another dratted headache and I was down all day.  I was supposed to be house cleaning at the main house, but I couldn’t even get out of bed for the pain in my head and neck and shoulder.  Dratted all!  I scrounged around and heated up a slice of Quiche Lorraine from the freezer.  No meat loaf again!  I want this food so badly, my mouth just literally drools as it imagines the satisfying goodness of the flavors imagined!  The snow flew off and on all day long.  I was only out long enough to provide warm water for the girls, collect their eggs, and lock them up at night.  Each trip down I hauled up a few pieces of firewood.  It is a constant effort to keep the house warm.

This was what I woke up to on Friday morning!  Beautiful

This was what I woke up to on Friday morning! Beautiful

Friday arrives, snow flying still.  It is so pretty out here.  I head to work…carefully picking my way across the frozen icy path to the main house.  I am greeted by the dogs, barking and charging out the door to greet me.  M&E are enjoying a late breakfast at the table as we all discuss the weather, keeping the fires going in the woodstoves, chickens, food…and my desire for meatloaf.  I am determined to have meatloaf for my dinner I tell them.  Savory meatloaf with mushroom gravy! Between lunch break, a break to feed the girls some oatmeal, and problems with the vacummn cleaner, it was 6:30 before I hopped a ride in the handy farm golf cart for a ride up the hill!  I was pooped!

I stoked the fire, poured a glass of wine and sat down for a minute.  The Christmas tree was still standing, fully decorated.  And I had a house full of food to cook.  And I NEEDED to have meatloaf.  I put on some tunes, turned on the Christmas tree lights, and set out to fulfill my taste buds dreams!  The chores would wait.  But I could wait no longer for the object of my desire.

The picture of the finished product does NOT do it justice.  But….the first bite!  EXACTLY what I had been dreaming of.  Now how often does that happen?  A dream come true?  Yes, for me, this combination and way of preparing meatloaf was the epitomy of what I had lusted after for days!

The object of my desires...Savory Meatloaf with Mushroom gravy

The object of my desires…Savory Meatloaf with Mushroom gravy

Here is the recipe as I recall it being put together.  I am calling it Savory Meatloaf with Mushrooom Gravy (Gluten Free)

Heat oven to 350 degrees

Meatloaf:

1 1/2 lbs lean ground beef

1/2 green pepper chopped

1/2 red pepper chopped

1 egg

1/4 c. ground tortilla chips

1/2 c. organic oatmeal

3/4 chopped crimini mushrooms

1 teas. worchestershire sauce

3 Tbspns cooked chopped bacon bits (something I keep on hand.Cook up 1 lb and chop, store in container in fridge for up to a month)

1 teas. sage

1 teas. rosemary

Mix all ingedients well in large bowl.  Set bowl in fridge until gravy is ready.

Gravy:

1 1/2 cups sliced crimini mushrooms

3 cloves garlic chopped

2 tbspns. organic unsalted butter

2 tbspns. oatmeal flour

1 teas. fresh rosemary chopped

1/2 teas. fresh ground pepper or to taste

2 cups beef broth

1/2 teas. worchestershire sauce

1/2 teas. kitchen Bouquet

1/4 c.  cream

Heat butter in cast iron skillet.  When just beginning to brown add mushrooms.  Cook while stirring about 4 minutes on medium, then add garlic and cook additional minute.  Add flour and rosemary and pepper.  Cook for 1-2 minutes until flour browns.  Put worchestershire sauce and ktichen Bouquet in broth.  Add broth 1/2 cup at a time, stirring well to prevent lumps and scraping all the goodies off the bottonm of the pan.  Keep cooking until gravy begins to thicken, about 4 minutes.  Remove from heat and stir in cream.

Pour 1/2 the gravy into the bottom of a 9×9 pan.  Form meatloaf on top of gravy.  Pour the rest of the gravy over the top!  Bake in preheated oven for about 75 minutes.  Check after 60 minutes.  I like mine done!  I drained all the fat off into a aluminum foil bowl after removing it from the oven.  The fat comes off but the yummy gravy tidbits stick!

I couldn’t wait for the roasted veggies I had prepared.  I had to have a bite of that meatloaf.  It smelled like I had dreamt it would.  It looked pretty close to what I had envisioned (I think I would do this in a loaf pan next time).  The taste test….PERFECT!!!  I had done it!  A meatloaf to write about!   A meatloaf to make again.  And again!

BTW…there are a couple packages of this in the freezer now, for days when I can’t cook and have a craving!!!  And this is definately a meatloaf that lovers will crave!

The freezer after a cooking weekend

The freezer after a cooking weekend

A couple packages of meatloaf for a day I have a craving!

A couple packages of meatloaf for a day I have a craving!

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