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Cooks' Exchange: Warming dishes for cool spring weather

Cooks' Exchange: Warming dishes for cool spring weather

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If my Irish friends and readers wondered why their favorite recipes weren’t featured as St. Patrick’s Day approached a few weeks ago, it might have something to do with a mischievous little leprechaun who likes to play tricks on people like me. It could also have everything to do with an overwhelming response to a recent request for meatloaf recipes. Though not a single meatloaf recipe arrived with a touch of old Ireland, I’m hoping the potato recipe clipped last year from a Winn Dixie Florida grocery store ad, then saved for this month, will suffice.

Described as a “Reuben-inspired twist on the classic corned beef and cabbage pairing,” the recipe also encourages the reader to pick up corned beef at their deli if you don’t have homemade corned beef on hand at home. In belated fashion, here is a St. Patrick’s Day gluten-free recipe to enjoy any time of the year.

Twice-baked Reuben potatoes

4 large baking potatoes, scrubbed

2 teaspoons vegetable oil

Salt and pepper

½ cup sour cream

6 tablespoons unsalted butter

3 tablespoons chopped chives, plus extra for garnish

8 ounces thinly sliced corned beef, roughly chopped

¾ cup shredded Swiss cheese

¾ cup drained sauerkraut

1/3 cup Russian dressing

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Place potatoes on a foil-lined baking sheet, rub evenly with oil, and season with salt and pepper. Bake until tender, about 1 hour; let cool slightly

Split open the tops of each potato lengthwise with a paring knife. Gently pull potato open while keeping it attached at the bottom. Scoop out potato flesh, leaving a ½-inch shell. Stir together potato flesh, sour cream, butter, chives, 1 teaspoon salt and ½ teaspoon pepper until combined; stuff potato skins with filling. Divide corned beef, cheese, and sauerkraut over stuffed potatoes and bake until cheese is melted and filling is warmed, about 10 minutes. Drizzle with Russian dressing, sprinkle with extra chives, and serve.

Serves 4.

Speaking of meatloaf, the Panama City (Florida) News Herald’s food columnist, Prudence Hilburn, responded to a reader’s request for a “truly gourmet meatloaf” with country music star Miranda Lambert’s all-time favorite that her mother, Bev, made for her birthdays when Lambert was a youngster.

Bev’s famous meatloaf

2 pounds lean ground beef

1 pound ground pork sausage

18 saltine crackers, crushed

½ green bell pepper, diced

½ onion, finely chopped

2 large eggs, lightly beaten

1 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce

1 teaspoon yellow mustard

½ cup firmly packed brown sugar, divided

½ cup ketchup

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine first eight ingredients with ¼ cup brown sugar just until blended. Place in a lightly greased 11x7-inch baking dish. Shape into a 10x5 inch loaf. Bake for 1 hour. Remove from oven and drain. Stir together ketchup and remaining brown sugar. Pour over meatloaf. Bake 15 minutes more, or until a meat thermometer inserted into thickest portion registers 160 degrees. Remove from oven, let set 20 minutes. Remove from dish before slicing.

Favorable comments about recipes serving just two continue to arrive. This one appeared in a March, 2006, Cooking Club of America’s “Cooking Pleasures” magazine. This particular recipe uses classic Mediterranean ingredients and works with ground beef, pork or lamb instead of the turkey.

Mediterranean meatloaf

8 ounces ground turkey

½ cup chopped fresh spinach

¼ cup (1 ounce) finely crumbled feta cheese

1 egg

2 tablespoons minced shallots

2 tablespoons unseasoned dry bread crumbs

¼ teaspoon ground coriander

¼ teaspoon ground cumin

¼ teaspoon salt

¼ teaspoon freshly ground pepper

Heat oven to 350 degrees. In medium bowl, gently stir together all ingredients. Shape mixture in 5x3x2 ½-inch loaf; place in small baking pan. Bake 35 to 45 minutes or until internal temperature reaches 170 degrees. Cover loosely with foil; let stand 10 minutes before slicing.

Serves 2

Moving on with more meatloaf, here is a recipe from “101 Things To Do With Pumpkin” by Eliza Cross. If you happen to have cans of pumpkin on hand at all times like me, your curiosity will get the best of you.

Glazed pumpkin BBQ meatloaf

2 pounds ground beef

½ cup seasoned bread crumbs

1 cup canned or cooked pumpkin puree, divided

1 egg

½ teaspoon garlic powder

1 teaspoon chili powder, divided

¾ teaspoon salt, divided

½ teaspoon pepper, divided

1 cup ketchup

1 garlic clove, peeled and minced

1 tablespoon water

1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar

1 tablespoon dark brown sugar

Preheat oven to 400 degrees and prepare a rimmed baking sheet with nonstick cooking spray.

In a large bowl, combine ground beef, bread crumbs, ½ cup pumpkin, egg, garlic powder, ½ teaspoon chili powder, ½ teaspoon salt, and ¼ teaspoon pepper. Thoroughly mix ingredients together and form in a loaf shape about 9x5 inches. Transfer to the baking sheet and bake for about 1 hour, or until thermometer registers 160 degrees when inserted in the center of the loaf. Cool in pan for 10 minutes before slicing.

Combine ketchup, ½ cup pumpkin, garlic, water, vinegar, brown sugar, and ½ teaspoon chili powder, ¼ teaspoon salt, and ¼ teaspoon pepper in a small saucepan. Cook over medium heat, stirring until sauce is thick. Cut meatloaf in 1-inch slices and drizzle with the sauce. Makes 6 servings.

While the pumpkin book is within reach, here’s a delicious soup recipe I’ve been wanting to share.

Curried pumpkin soup

2 tablespoons butter

½ pound sliced fresh mushrooms

½ cup chopped onions

2 tablespoons flour

1 teaspoon curry powder

3 cups chicken broth

15-ounce can or 1 7/8 cups cooked pumpkin puree

1 ½ cups half-and-half

½ teaspoon salt

¼ teaspoon pepper

Finely chopped fresh chives, optional

In a large saucepan over medium heat, melt butter and saute mushrooms and onions until tender, about 5 minutes. Sprinkle flour and curry powder into the mushrooms and onions and stir until blended. Gradually add broth, stirring constantly to blend. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer, stirring constantly, until thickened 2-3 minutes. Stir in pumpkin, half-and-half, salt and pepper, and cook until heated through. Garnish with chives.

Makes 6 servings.

With soup in mind, a February request from Susan I. for a beer cheese soup made in a slow cooker brought not a single response and I’ve searched through dozens of cookbooks to no avail. However, here is one hoping it will be a “next best” from Southern Living’s “Soups and Stews Cookbook” mentioning the New Orleans Brewing Association.

Beer cheese soup

¼ cup butter

1/3 cup all-purpose flour

3 cups chicken broth

2 cups milk

¼ teaspoon white pepper

1 cup beer

1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce

¼ teaspoon hot sauce

3 ½ cups (14 ounces) shredded sharp Cheddar cheese

Croutons, optional

Melt butter in small Dutch oven over low heat; add flour, stirring until smooth. Cook 1 minute, stirring constantly.

Gradually add broth and milk; cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until thickened and bubbly. Stir in pepper. Add next three ingredients and bring to a boil, stirring frequently. Remove from heat; add cheese, and stir until melted. Ladle soup into individual bowls. Garnish each serving with croutons, if desired.

Serve immediately. Yield: about 2 quarts

Contact the Cooks’ Exchange in care of the Wisconsin State Journal, P.O. Box 8058, Madison, WI, 53708 or by email at


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