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My Recipes-of-the-Week are featured here on my Home page. You can find 2000 of my kitchen-tested recipes using the Recipes tab, watch over 125 Kitchen Encounters/WHVL-TV segments using the TV Videos tab, join the discussion about all of my creations using the Facebook tab, or Email your questions and comments directly to me--none go unanswered. "We are all in this food world together." ~Melanie


~ Stewed-Tomato Gravy for Mom's All-Beef Meatloaf ~

IMG_5272Meatloaf is personal.  We all have a favorite recipe.  That said, there's no other way to say this:  I Love My Mom's Old-Fashioned All-Beef Meatloaf.  I know many of you do too, because you've made it and you've told me so. Both my mother and grandmother used beef exclusively to make meatloaf -- never a combination of beef, pork and veal.  My grandmother, who owned a mom and pop grocery store during the Depression era, simply did not like the gelatinous texture that comes from adding mild-flavored veal and did not approve of mixing pork and beef together -- no bacon strips were ever draped over a meatloaf (to muddle up the flavor) in any of my family's kitchens.

Stewed tomatoes w/onions, celery & green peppers, makes for an amazing accompaniment to mom's meatloaf. 

6a0120a8551282970b01b8d27640d2970cMom never glazed her meatloaf with anything.  On nights when mom was serving meatloaf with mashed potatoes, mom would mix the precious-few beefy meat drippings with some seasoned flour and a can of beef broth to whip up some brown gravy to drizzle over the top.  On nights when mom was serving meatloaf with macaroni and cheese, she would mix the precious-few beefy meat drippings with some seasoned flour and a can of stewed tomatoes to drizzle over the top.  

We affectionately referred to it as:  stewed tomato gravy.  

IMG_52521/4  cup beef drippings from mom's meatloaf

1/2  teaspoon onion powder

1/2  teaspoon celery salt

1/2  teaspoon coarse-grind black pepper

2  tablespoons unbleached, all-purpose flour

1  14 1/2-ounce can "original-style" stewed tomatoes w/onions, celery and green peppers, NOT, Italian-style stewed tomatoes with my mom's all-beef meatloaf 

IMG_5256 IMG_5259 IMG_5260 IMG_5261~Step 1.  In a 1 1/2-quart saucepan, place meatloaf drippings.  Stir in seasonings (onion powder, celery salt and black pepper).  Heat over medium until drippings are bubbling.  Add the flour.

IMG_5263 IMG_5263 IMG_5268 IMG_5269~Step 2.  Increase heat to medium-high and stir constantly until a thick, pasty roux forms, about 30 seconds.  Add stewed tomatoes.  Reduce heat to simmer gently and cook, breaking tomatoes into smaller pieces with side of spoon, about 1 minute.  Remove from heat and serve.

Serve gravy w/meatloaf & mac-'n-cheese please:

IMG_5278Stewed-Tomato Gravy for Mom's All-Beef Meatloaf:  Recipe yields 1 1/2 cups tomato gravy.

Special Equipment List:  1 1/2-quart saucepan; spoon

6a0120a8551282970b0240a4a9986d200bCook's Note:  For another meatloaf my mom would occasionally make, just for us kids, check out my ~ Kid's Stuff:  Souper Fix-Quick Bowling-Night Meatloaf ~.  This quick-to-throw-together-recipe uses a package of store-bought meatloaf mix, and, it gets its tomato-y flavor from Campbell's condensed tomato soup.  My brother and I adored it. And yes, you guessed it, this recipe goes great with stewed-tomato gravy drizzled on top too.

"We are all in this food world together." ~ Melanie Preschutti

(Recipe, Commentary and Photos courtesy of Melanie's Kitchen/Copyright 2019)


~ About Pillsbury Hot Roll Mix & My Copycat Recipe ~

IMG_5100This blast-from-my-past box of versatile, dependable baking goodness allowed me, as a young girl, to hone my skills with yeast dough and bread.  While I have many refined recipes for specialty breads and rolls in my repertoire (which, as a young adult I learned hands-on from my grandmother and mother), that was not always the case.  There was a time in my life, as a young pre-teen, ages 9-12 give-or-take, when I expressed a serious interest in experimenting, on my own, with my own creations, to imitate the recipes of my grandmother and mother.

IMG_5111I was a remarkably meticulous child, meaning:  If left alone in my mom's kitchen, I maintained a clean kitchen -- downright spotless.  Yes, even at that young age, I wasn't playing games in the kitchen.  For those reasons, my mom (encouragingly) kept a box or two of hot roll mix in our pantry -- for me and my yeast-bread-baking experiments.  It allowed me, unsupervised, to practice the techniques required for making and baking bread loaves and dinner rolls, and filled sweet rolls like honey buns, frosted cinnamon-raisin rolls, and, "her" poppyseed- and nut-rolls.  

At some point, mom sent away for a copy of the Pillsbury Hot Roll Mix Baking Book too, which, I still have. Besides containing over 100 recipes, it contained a lot of added information, which "upped by game" substantially.  I was on my way. 

IMG_5112Sure, I had failures.  First I put too much filling in a nut roll, the next time not enough, but, because of the easy-to-follow instructions on the box and the tips in their book, the bready end result was always edible. I learned how dry yeast works, and, got to practice the techniques necessary for working with yeast dough after it rises.  I also learned the importance of having a versatile, dependable, basic bread dough recipe. After a while, mom's investment had paid off.  

For novice bakers, this mix is "a catalyst for success".

IMG_5104The box mix = 15 1/2 oz. flour mixture + 1/2 oz. granulated yeast. After adding 1 cup water, 2 tablespoons butter & 1 egg, it yields 28 oz. dough.

IMG_5115For my copycat boxed mix, to be used in place of, and, as per instructions on boxed mix:

15 1/2-16  ounces unbleached, all purpose flour (about 3 cups)

2  ounces granulated sugar (about 1/4 cup)

1  teaspoon sea salt

2  ounces instant nonfat powdered/dry milk (about 1/2 cup)

2  1/4-ounce packets dry yeast granules (do not mix with dry ingredients until ready to bake)

1  cup warm water (to be stirred in when ready to bake)

IMG_5123Note:  When it's time to bake, you'll need to add 1 cup hot water2 tablespoons salted butter and 1 large egg to the dry mix and yeast (as per box's directions/see Cook's Note below). When kneading and/or rolling dough, you'll need about 1/2-3/4 cup additional bench flour too. To make their glazed cinnamon rolls as per the box, you'll need a few other additions as well.  As always, always follow the directions of the recipe you're making. 

In a 1-gallon ziplock bag mix all ingredients, except the yeast.  Seal.  Store in pantry for 3-4 months or in freezer for 6-8 months.

IMG_5129 IMG_5129 IMG_5129 IMG_5129~Step 1.  Place all of the dry  mix in a large bowl.  Add the yeast.  Using a spoon, stir the yeast into the flour mixture and fashion a well in the center of the bowl.  In a 1-cup measuring container, heat 1 cup of water in the microwave.  Add butter to hot water and stir until butter melts.

IMG_5140 IMG_5140 IMG_5140 IMG_5140~Step 2.  Pour water mixture into well of flour.  Using a fork, beat the egg in the measuring container, then add the egg to the well too.  Using the spoon, stir until a soft dough forms.

IMG_5149 IMG_5149 IMG_5149 IMG_5149~Step 3.  Spread some bench flour on a large wooden pastry board.  Turn dough out onto board and knead until a smooth-surfaced ball of dough forms, adding a bit of extra flour, if necessary to reduce stickiness, about 5-6 minutes.  Cover the ball of dough with the bowl and rest, 5-6 minutes.  You will have 28 ounces of really-easy-to-work-with dough.  Amongst other things, this is enough to make 12 dinner rolls, or 12 cinnamon rolls, or 2 nut or poppyseed-type rolls.

Use a kitchen scale to divide dough into 2-12 portions:

IMG_5242Use as directed in recipes from the boxed mix:

6a0120a8551282970b0240a492da54200cOr, use as directed in your own family recipes:

IMG_5224About Pillsbury Hot Roll Mix & My Copycat Recipe:  Recipe yields 20 ounces dry, hot roll mix/28 ounces dough (after the addition of the wet ingredients).

Special Equipment List:  kitchen scale or measuring cups and spoons; ziplock bag; tablespoon; fork; large wooden pastry board

IMG_5120Cook's Note:  Here is a photo of the instructions, from the back of the box, for their dinner rolls.  Their cinnamon roll and pizza crust recipes are on the box too. Because of that, I recommend purchasing and using a box of the hot roll mix, at least once.  First, you will get "a feel" for how this mix works. Second, after clipping the box apart, you get a copy of all of the instructions that appear on the box for future reference.  Have fun! 

"We are all in this food world together." ~ Melanie Preschutti

(Recipe, Commentary and Photos courtesy of Melanie's Kitchen/Copyright 2019)


~Cinnamon-Swirl Turkey, Apple & Apple Butter Panini~

IMG_5050Do you need a fancy-schmancy panini press to make a panini sandwich?  No, you don't.  Simply place your sandwich in a grill pan and place a heavy (cast-iron works great) skillet on top and you'll get the similar results, except, unlike cooking on a panini press, you will have to stop to flip the sandwich over half way through the process.  Don't have a grill pan either?  Worry not.  Use a nonstick skillet with a cast iron skillet on top.  As long as the sandwich is pressed, you can still call it a panini -- even without the grill marks.  Without the pressing, it's an ordinary grilled sandwich.

Panini is the Italian word for a press-grilled sandwich made with the same type of firm, crusty bread (or rolls) used to make bruschetta and crostini.  "One panino, two panini" are the singular and plural forms of the word (which derive from the Italian "pane" and Latin "panis", referring to bread), but the use of panino is uncommon and unused nowadays.  Panini sandwiches, served hot off the grill, were traditionally filled with the same thin-sliced specialty deli-meats and cheese served with or on bruschetta and crostini (ham, mortadella, salami, provolone, etc.), meaning they were associated with Italian fare, but, nowadays a panini can find itself fused with any cuisine.

IMG_2214A panini press is basically a double-sided contact grill that cooks both sides of a sandwich at once. Much like a grill pan, the grids of a panini press give these sandwiches their signature grill marks.  There are several good brands, in all price ranges, on the market.  My Cuisinart Griddler is about 5 years old.  It doesn't take up too much space, controls heat perfectly, and, I love it. This gadget has earned its rightful place on my kitchen counter.

One panino, two panini, go preheat your panini press:

IMG_5017For two panini sandwiches/4 half sandwiches:

no-stick cooking spray, for preparing panini press

4  slices cinnamon-raisin swirl bread

6  slices cheddar or cheddar-Jack cheese

2-3  tablespoons apple butter

1/2 of 1  thin-sliced unpeeled apple, your favorite type

6  strips crisply-fried bacon

1/2 pound super-thinly-sliced deli-turkey breast, your favorite type and brand

20-30  baby arugula leaves

IMG_5018 IMG_5018~Step 1.  To assemble sandwiches, place two slices of cheese on two slices of bread (the bottom half, where remaining ingredients will be layered), and, one slice on the other two slices.  Set the two slices of bread with two slices of cheese aside.

IMG_5024 IMG_5024 IMG_5024 IMG_5024~Step 2.  On the two bottom halves, slather the cheese with 1-1 1/2 tablespoons apple butter. It's tempting, but, don't be inclined to slather the bread slices with the apple butter first or bread will become soggy before you can finish assembling the sandwiches -- this is the right order of things. Place a layer of apple slices atop the apple butter on two slices of bread, 4-5 slices on each.

IMG_5034 IMG_5034 IMG_5034 IMG_5034~Step 3.  Place three bacon strips atop apples on each sandwich, followed by an even distribution of 1/4 pound of turkey breast.  Lastly, place a few baby arugula leaves atop turkey, 15-20 leaves on each sandwich.  Invert and place the remaining two cheese-topped slices of bread on top of the arugula and gently press down on the tops of sandwiches with palms of hands.

IMG_5044~Step 4.  Wrap sandwiches tightly in plastic wrap and allow to sit on the counter for 15-20 minutes, so all ingredients are at the same temperature when grilled -- this will also keep them fresh if you are grilling and serving several at a time.  Just prior to grilling as directed below, vertically slice the sandwich into two halves.  Remove the plastic wrap after slicing.

6a0120a8551282970b022ad397bca8200d 6a0120a8551282970b022ad3b7535b200b 6a0120a8551282970b022ad397bcb4200d 6a0120a8551282970b022ad397bcb4200d IMG_5047~Step 5.  Spray grill grids of panini press, top and bottom with no-stick cooking spray.  Close grill and preheat, according to manufacturer's specifications, to medium-high on grill-panini setting.  When green light turns on, place 2-4 half-sandwiches on hot grill grids.  I'm demonstrating two halves, because it is easier to photograph than four.

6a0120a8551282970b022ad3b753da200b~Step 6.  Place top of press on sandwich halves. Firmly, but gently, using the press's handle, press down for 30-45 seconds.  You're NOT trying to squish the sandwich, but, you are trying to put just enough pressure on it to steam and crisp bread a bit.  Let go.  Grill 3-4 minutes, until cheese is oozing and bread is crispy.  If they don't look perfect, they're perfect.

Transfer from grill, wait 1-1 1/2 minutes, slice on a diagonal...

IMG_5057... & serve, as is & unembellished, as the star of any party:

IMG_5083Cinnamon-Raisin Turkey, Apple & Apple Butter Swirl:  Recipe yields 2-4 servings.

Special Equipment List: cutting board; chef's knife; plastic wrap; serrated bread knife; panini contact-grill; spatula

6a0120a8551282970b022ad3717f8b200cCook's Note: Panini-croissant-crostini.  That's a lot to digest, and if you're of Italian-heritage, simmer down, lighten up, and read my post before criticizing my fun-loving play on these three mouth-watering words. Sandwich-press-grilled panini, full of cured Italian meats and cheese, substituting mini-croissants for the traditional rustic Italian bread (I've affectionately added the word crostini to describe them, because I serve them, crostini-style, as 3-4 bite appetizers), are crowd-pleasing snacks that get gobbled up at a tailgate party faster than beer flows at a fraternity house. ~ Grillmarked:  Italian-Style Panini-Croissant-Crostini ~.

"We are all in this food world together." ~ Melanie Preschutti

(Recipe, Commentary and Photos courtesy of Melanie's Kitchen/Copyright 2019)