Mediterranean Meatloaf & Cheese Stuffed Baked Potatoes

Before I start talking about last night's dinner, I have to thank a co-worker of mine. She brought in this amazing bouquet of flowers for me. They're all from her garden! I about fell over when I saw it. Monday was a pretty rough day for me and so she brought them in on Tuesday to cheer me up. Everyone should have a Marilyn in their office... Thank you, Marilyn! This is one of the kindest things anyone besides my husband & son have done for me in a LONG time. About made me cry.

Now... back to dinner... Last night I used a recipe for an old stand-by favorite (meatloaf) that put what I thought would be a yummy & interesting twist on the same ol' same ol'. I was right. This meatloaf recipe needs a little bit of tweaking but was passable as-is in the flavor department. It was a bit soggy, though and I'm not quite sure why that is. Next time I'll either use a bit more bread crumbs or do what my husband suggested - add some brown rice and let it cook right into the meatloaf. That would be pretty yummy.

The baked potatoes, on the other hand, were an unmitigated disaster. Not because they didn't taste good - the recipe is ok (needs more onion, though and I'd use fresh chives next time) but the potatoes didn't bake through (even after 2 1/2 hours in the oven) and without enough spices they were far too bland. Also - can anyone tell me the trick to removing baked potatoes from the skin without totally destroying the skin? The first one went so-so but the second two I totally ripped those things to shreds. So much for serving the potatoes in their baked skins. Since I have enough recipes to keep me trying something new every day until I die, I probably won't make these again but if you make them and play with them a bit, make them super-yummy, don't hesitate to let me know. I might pull them out as a side with another meatloaf recipe in the future... And yes - the potatoes did have cottage cheese in them. The best fun I had last night was listening to my guys trying to guess what kind of cheese was in there. They still haven't figured it out. Oh - wait - I suppose my husband knows now. Hi, Honey. :)

Oh and in picture #1 the meatloaf is in one pan and then in the last picture it's in another. An almost-MAJOR oops on my part. How do I forget grease cooks out of hamburger?? Seriously. It hasn't been THAT long since I cooked. Enough smoke to set the smoke detector off. Nothing like a bit of adventure in the kitchen. Got the dog going. I wish I'd had the presence of mind to take a video! Y'all would have seriously giggled at me.

The recipes:

Mediterranean Meat Loaf:

One 12 oz. jar roasted red peppers, drained
1 1/2 cups soft whole wheat bread crumbs (about 2 slices) (I'd do 3 or 4 next time)
1/2 cup refrigerated or frozen egg product, thawed or 2 eggs, lightly beaten
1/3 cup purchased tomato sauce
1/2 cup snipped fresh basil
1/4 cup snipped fresh flat-leaf parsley
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. ground black pepper
2 lbs. 95% lean ground beef
Snipped fresh flat-leaf parsley

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Cut 1/4 cup of the roasted red peppers into thin strips, reserve for the garnish. Finely chop the remaining red peppers. In a large bowl, combine the finely chopped roasted red peppers, the bread crumbs, egg product, tomato sauce, basil, the 1/4 cup parsley, salt and black pepper. Add ground beef, mix well.

2. Lightly pat the ground beef mixture into a 9x5x3 inch loaf pan. Bake, uncovered, for 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 hours or until an instant-read thermometer inserted in the center of the meat loaf registers 160 degrees F. Let stand on wire rack for 15 minutes. Drain off any fat from meat loaf, loosen meat loaf from sides of pan. Carefully remove meat loaf from pan.

3. Garnish with red peppers & additional parsley

Cottage Cheese Stuffed Baked Potatoes:

2 baking potatoes
1 cup cottage cheese
1 tblspn. chives
1 tsp. onion powder

Bake potatoes at 425 degrees F for one hour. Cut potatoes in half lengthwise and scoop out insides. Return shell to oven and bake until crisp. Whip potato insides with remaining ingredients and add mixture to potato skins. Return to oven and bake until thoroughly heated.

Tomorrow? Lemon Herb Slow Cooker Chicken. The name alone has my mouth watering. Oh...and I went home for lunch today and I started drooling as soon as I walked in the front door. I'm going to be at a benefit dinner tonight so I'm only going to get a taste of it all but it sure smells good! More tomorrow...

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