Moroccan Meatloaf

My word for 2017 is “redesign.” Though this is hardly a new activity for me.  You may remember I wrote a “Reflection” devoted to how I’ve redesigned myself through several careers, picking up fantastic skills with each job, that my next employer has always benefited from.  I started changing careers back in the mid-90s before it was professionally acceptable. Consequently, through my years of interviewing, I’ve gotten a LOT of questions and criticism about switching jobs, and have even been labeled by a family member as “never satisfied.”  Sometimes my insecurities get the better of me, and I buy-in to those judgments. But on my best days, I don’t look at myself or my decisions through their lens. I prefer to think of myself as ever-evolving. Narrowing-in on what it is that makes my heart sing. My friend Cassie calls me “adventurous.” And I really like that version of my story! Curious. Willing. Open to trying something new, to see if it fits.

Earlier this year, I mentioned that I’m redesigning myself into a freelance grant writer.  I’ve fallen so in love with telling my stories here on BatchBitch.com, that I’m trying to make a “go” of telling more stories. Grant writing is all about story-telling … conveying the stories of nonprofit organizations to funders, to see if the missions of the nonprofits match the priorities of the funders. Grant writers are matchmakers, of sorts. Thus far, I like that aspect.  Trying to write a compelling story of why the funder ought to find the nonprofit attractive. And researching evidence to make the story even more intriguing.

It’s not without its struggles, though. Writing, and the creative process, has very high highs, and very low lows and the voices of my insecurities have been a bit louder these past few months than I’ve experienced in awhile. And nonprofit organizations don’t always have sustainable programs, which means that no matter how compelling the story, they aren’t always going to get funding.  Resulting in rejection, which can be a tough pill to swallow and has led me to question myself and my redesign.

And then along comes my friend Lynne, to encourage me to not to feel like I have to make a permanent decision. To approach grant writing and other professional endeavors with a sense of exploration, to see what they’re like and to see if I enjoy them.   Come to think of it, she, too, uses the word “adventure.”  And so does my friend Stacey, and my friends Rachel, Gloria and Erika.

I was reflecting on all of this as I cooked for our little family this week. Redesigning. Adventure. Exploring and trying something to see if it will work. And I’m pleased to report the results below with my recipe for Moroccan Meatloaf. I’m MORE pleased to be able to publicly thank my friends for their support. And validation. Bless the validation and encouragement of friends!  (To bring you a giggle, read this article about friends and validation.)

But back to cooking and recipes … If you haven’t tried it yet, wait no longer and make a batch of Smitten Kitchen‘s Carrot Salad with Harissa, Feta and Mint. It is DELICIOUS and you will want to eat the entire batch:

I made it for our Veggie Snacks one week, and Mr. Batch and I liked it so much, that I redesigned it a bit, and incorporated it into this recipe:

Moroccan Meatloaf — a redesign of Smitten Kitchen‘s Carrot Salad with Harissa, Feta and Mint

Serves 5

  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika
  • 3/4 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 1/2 teaspoon mustard seeds

Heat olive oil in a large saute pan over medium heat and add garlic and spices. Stir frequently and cook for about 3 minutes, until you begin to smell the seeds and spice toasting. Give thanks for your nose and sense of smell. 🙂

  • 3/4 teaspoon harissa (I bought mine at Trader Joe’s)
  • 3 tablespoons lemon juice

Add harissa and lemon juice to pan, and stir to combine. Cook for about 1 minute more on low heat, stirring frequently.

  • 1/2 pound carrots, peeled and grated on a box grater (or in a food processor)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

Add to saute pan, stir to combine, and cook on low for about 5 minutes, stirring periodically. You want the carrots to expel their natural water content, so as not to make the meatloaf “water-y” as it cooks.

Allow cooked carrot-mixture to cool.

  • 2 tablespoons parsley, finely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons fresh mint, finely chopped
  • 3 green onions, sliced
  • One 6-oz. container of crumbled feta
  • 1 pound of ground beef (or ground lamb, or a combination of the two)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • several grind of freshly cracked pepper

Combine these ingredients in a large bowl, and add cooked carrot-mixture. Shape into a meatloaf and bake at 350-F for 20 minutes. After 20 minutes, cut into meatloaf to make sure it is cooked throughout.

I ate this with boiled potatoes, roasted baby zucchini, roasted onions and steamed broccolini.  I kept 2 portions of the meatloaf refrigerated, and then froze the other 3 portions to thaw as I was ready for them:

 

To keep the dish vegetarian, you don’t need to cook the carrots, but you certainly could. I cooked 1/2 cup of dry quinoa and 3/4 cup brown rice, separately. Then combined the cooked grains, and added the rest of the ingredients above (minus the meat, of course) and got five very generous 1-cup portions for Mr. Batch’s lunches this week:

 

If you leave the feta out of each version, they become #dairy-free, and the meatloaf becomes #paleo.

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Southeast Asian Meatballs; Lentils with Roasted Eggplant, Pine Nuts & a Lemon-Tahini Sauce; Comforting Chicken Soup; Apple Pecan Cake

It’s officially Fall here in Western New York, which means time for roasted hard squashes; simmering soups; apples, nuts and pomegranates; and zesty warming foods with spices and ginger.  To that effect, this week’s cooking included batches of:

I started by using some of my freshly picked Hurd Orchards apples (pix below) to bake an ApplePecan Cake for Mr. Batch’s group meeting:

While that baked, I worked on a Poached Chicken, using most of the bag from the freezer of veggie ends-n-nubs I collect each week when cooking (ends-n-nubs of carrots, onion, celery, fennel, tomato, ginger, and parsley and thyme stems) and a chicken that I had bought locally from McDonald Farm:

(not pictured) Once the Poached Chicken was finished, I removed the chicken from the broth and let it cool in the refrigerator; and then strained the broth and discarded the vegetables.  Once the chicken was cool enough to handle, I removed the meat and saved the bones in the freezer for a future batch of Bone Broth. I stored 2 portions of the picked chicken in the refrigerator, and stored the rest of the portions of chicken in the freezer. I used most of the broth for the Comforting Chicken Soup (below), and froze the rest.

Then I prepped the next round of items that would go into the oven once the cake was out: this week’s “Frittata” with 1/3 of a pound of cooked breakfast sausage, leftover roasted butternut squash from the freezer, and some of the farm stand broccoli that I had blanched (cooked just briefly & then cooled) and then frozen earlier this Summer:

And prepped an acorn squash from my friend Hiram’s garden, to be roasted simultaneously while baking the “Frittata”:

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Acorn squash from my friend Hiram’s garden, to be roasted

And prepped a batch of Southeast Asian Meatballs, to be baked at the same time as the items above. I used ground lamb and ground beef that I bought from the fabulous McDonald Farm:

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Autumnal Salad with Wild Rice, Brown Rice & Quinoa; Greek Salad with Lamb & Veggies; Oven-Roasted Eggplant; Roasted Chicken over Vegetables; Vinaigrette with Fresh Herbs

This week’s cooking included batches of:

I started with salting eggplants and then roasting them, following the directions here for Oven-Roasted Eggplant:

While those roasted, I worked on a batch of plum compote and cooked some green beans. For the plum compote, I pitted and quartered 2 quarts of prune plums, and simmered them in 1 cup of orange juice and 1/2 cup of sugar, until they were translucent (approximately 20-30 minutes).

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Prune plums simmering in orange juice on the left; green beans simmering on the right

(not pictured, I boiled some potatoes, and cooked the wild rice, brown rice & quinoa for the recipe for the Autumnal Salad recipe that is below)

Once the eggplant was out of the oven, I put in this week’s “Frittata” — made with breakfast sausage and spinach:

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“Frittata” of breakfast sausage and spinach, ready to be baked

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Baked Salmon, Herbed Quinoa & Beans, Rosemary-Lemon Chicken, Crispy Baked Tofu, Lemony-Ginger Vinaigrette

This week’s batch cooking included:

 

I started on Saturday by marinating a batch of Rosemary-Lemon Chicken:

 

And then put a batch of sliced tofu into the freezer to make Crispy Baked Tofu:

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Prepping the tofu, to make Crispy Baked Tofu

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Vacation Edition: Lamb Biryani Meatballs, Lisa’s Pasta Salad Using Raviolis, Boiled Eggs, Guacamole

Mr. Batch and I recently rented a vacation house for a week at Seneca Lake, one of the Finger Lakes in Western NY.  I was out of town for three days prior to our departure. Here is how I prepped our food, in advance of my first trip, for fairly-healthy, very tasty eats throughout the week — keeping in mind that both of us suspended our usual food plans and indulged … since it was vacation dontchaknow.

The nearest grocery store to our rented lake house was at least 1/2 an hour away, thus I decided to bring as much food as we could with us.  We had a 1-1/2 hour drive from our home to the lake, so we needed to be able to keep the food as cold as possible over that journey. Since it was vacation, I didn’t want to do too much work, hence I decided to prep a couple of proteins & desserts, in advance, that could be frozen — which would double as “chillers” in the coolers.  This is what I bought/prepared:

For dinners those first couple of nights, I served Lamb Biryani Meatballs. I made these prior to departing for my first trip, and stored them in the freezer. Though stored all together in a big container, they easily pulled apart, to thaw one at the time.

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Lamb Biryani Meatballs

Also, in advance of my first trip, I roasted several whole sweet potatoes (still in their jackets and just pierced their skin with a knife and roasted until they were soft), which can last in the fridge for at least a week. I ate the Lamb Biryani Meatballs with a half of a roasted sweet potato and a salad. For Mr. Batch, I got fancy and made him a wrap sandwich using “Angelic Bakehouse” brand Sprouted Mash 7-Grain wraps that we bought at Costco, with lightly-dressed salad greens, sliced red onion, crumbled feta, and several Tablespoons of hummus:

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Lamb Biryani Meatballs in a wrap (photo has been enhanced, which is atypical for this blog, so I thought it worth mention)

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Beef Pot Roast (Slow Cooker); Juiciest Baked Chicken Breasts; Tomato & Garlic Cauliflower Rice with Lemon; Fruit Pie Bars

Please forgive my delay in posting — I’m several days late from my usual Sunday posts, so this should have been posted on July 3. I’ve been doing a lot of traveling recently, which I love — it means I have gotten to see people who I adore. Thanks for waiting!  I hope you enjoyed last week’s Reflection titled “Acupuncturing.”

This week’s cooking included a batch of:

 

I began this week’s batch cooking, by baking a “Frittata.” This week’s had Boursin cheese (Soft cheese that has garlic and herbs.  If you’ve never tried it, rundo not walk … to the store and check it out); left-over sweet potatoes; and a bag of wilted & chopped  Trader Joe’s “Power Greens.”

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“Frittata” ingredients of eggs, Boursin cheese, left-over sweet potatoes, and a bag of wilted & chopped Trader Joe’s “Power Greens”

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Beef Brisket, Green Lentils, Baked Chicken Thighs, Double Chocolate Banana Bread

For this week’s cooking, I made:

 

I started by pre-heating my oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit and then simultaneously roasted some carrots, fennel, beets & chicken thighs and braised some leeks.

 

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Carrots, fennel and beets roasting alongside Baked Chicken Thighs.

 

First, I added 2 Tablespoons of olive oil to the bottom of a 9×13″ baking pan and distributed it evenly along the bottom of the pan. I added 1 pound of peeled, large-chopped carrots and 2 bulbs of chopped fennel. I sprinkled 1 teaspoon of salt over the carrots and 1 teaspoon of salt over the fennel all  & several grinds of freshly ground black pepper over each, and shook the pan bake and forth (gently), to distribute the oil & seasonings. I put those in the oven on the top shelf and roasted them, uncovered.

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Carrots & fennel, ready to roast

 

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Bone Broth, Butternut Squash Soup, Baked Chicken, Lentil-Quinoa Loaf, Rosemary-Orange Pork

 

This week’s cooking was divided among Saturday and Sunday to make:

 

I started on Saturday with a batch of Bone Broth, created in my slow cooker.

Beef broth using marrow bones
Bone broth using beef marrow bones

While that cooked, I roasted some butternut squash with curry powder, as the beginnings of a batch of Curried Butternut Squash Soup.

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Roasted Curried Butternut Squash

While the squash roasted, I made a batch of brine from Well-Fed’s “Best Chicken You Will Ever Eat” and brined some chicken breasts overnight in the fridge.

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Prepping the brine from Well-Fed’s “Best Chicken You Will Ever Eat”

 

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Brining chicken breasts using the brine recipe from Well-Fed’s “Best Chicken You Will Ever Eat”

Last, I found a pretty bottle in which to infuse some apple cider vinegar with herbs that needed to be used up: rosemary, thyme & basil, a few peppercorns, and a garlic clove or two.

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Herb- & garlic-infused apple cider vinegar

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