Bacon Wrapped Jalapeño Popper Meatloaf

I’m going to go ahead and dedicate this post to my husband.

If you’ve been following along with my posts, you may have figured out that I don’t like spicy. I also don’t like bacon. Therefore, you can expect that when a recipe on my site calls for jalapeños and bacon, it’s a recipe designed solely for my husband’s pleasure.

Whenever we organize a dinner at our house or go to a friend’s house, I’m usually in charge of the apps. I’m super into cheeseboards and dips and finger foods and whatnot. But, if the hubby is doing things on his own, he usually makes the same appetizer, which is venison, jalapeños and cream cheese wrapped in bacon.

When I was planning this meatloaf recipe, I thought about that recipe and how I could make something that really catered to his taste buds. That’s how this jalapeño popper style came to be.

The first time I made this, it was in a meatloaf pan, but the combination of bacon fat and beef fat that was trapped in the bottom was apparently quite unpleasant. This time around, I put the loaf on a cooling rack stacked on top of a baking sheet. This allowed for more even cooking and no sogginess on the bottom half.

Also, I’ve tried this recipe with my Cowboy Candy and, as long as I pull off the bacon, I find it super tasty! I’m just not into a ton of heat. So, if you’re like me, consider using the sweeter, less spicy version of jalapeños.

For all you heat-loving bacon fiends, this is the recipe for you!!

Bacon Wrapped Jalapeno Popper Meatloaf

1 package of thick cut bacon

2 lbs. ground beef

1 sleeve of buttery crackers, crushed

2 cloves of garlic, minced

1 egg

2 tbsp milk

2 tsp Worcestershire sauce

1 tbsp dried parsley

1 tsp onion powder

Salt and pepper

1/2 brick cream cheese

2 jalapeños, diced

2 cups cheddar cheese, divided

1 1/2 cups of barbecue sauce

Preheat oven 350F.

Place a cooling rack onto a baking sheet. Lay the strips of bacon on the cooling rack length-wise so they just barely overlap.

In a large bowl, combine the ground beef, garlic, eggs, milk, worchestershire sauce, parsley, onion powder, salt and pepper. Mix together well.

Spoon half the meat mixture on to the sheet of bacon. You’ll want it to be a long thin flat log, about 3″ wide and the length of the bacon sheet.

Slice the cream cheese into slices and place them on top of the meat. Top this with the jalapeños and then with 1 cup of cheddar cheese.

Top this with the other half of the meat mixture. Sprinkle the rest of the cheese on top of this.

Take each tail of the slices of bacon and wrap them around the meatloaf securely.

Cook for 45-50 minutes.

Pour the barbecue sauce over the top and return to the oven for 10 more minutes. Remove from oven.

Serve hot.

Advertisements

Coping with Body Dysmorphic Disorder: A Perspective

img_2384

A common misunderstanding about obesity is that the struggle goes only slightly deeper than skin-deep. If you’ve ever had someone preach to you about the simple mathematical equation that is “eat less calories than you expend”, you’ll understand what I mean.

And you have probably realized, it’s not that simple.

There is a psychological component that plagues those who struggle with weight because if it was really THAT easy, we obviously would have done it by now. For me, it’s a combination of failure to break bad habits and the constant internal disappointment that accompanies a condition called Body Dysmorphic Disorder (BDD).

5 years ago, I was 5’7″ and 165lbs. As a muscular, athletic person, this was not a bad look on me. At least, that’s what people told me. I’d gotten down from about 180lbs, and I was getting tons of positive feedback from everyone around me. By BMI standards, I was six pounds away from being considered “normal weight”.

Unfortunately, my mirror told a different story. I saw someone who looked the same at 165 lbs. as she did at 180 lbs., or even 215 lbs. At that time in my life, that had been my heaviest known weight. Despite my mother telling me there was nothing there, I could clearly see a double chin staring back at me that made me self-conscious about taking selfies with friends. My face was always fatter than everyone else’s. My body and shoulders were broader than any of the other girls I knew. My cellulite created a series of craters on my thighs that prevented me from wearing skirts in public. No matter what the scale said, these thoughts haunted me to the point that I could never see a change in the mirror, no matter how much my weight fluctuated.

In high school, there was no one who would have called me “stylish”. Even though I was moderately popular and tried to be friends with everyone, I was awkward and obsessed with being careful not to let my physical appearance become a topic of conversation. I was terrified of ridicule, as any teenager is. I wore baggy clothes and athletic apparel almost every day. I didn’t wear makeup and I didn’t wear my hair in any way other than a messy bun. Not the cute, chic messy buns either, but a ready-for-soccer-practice kind of bun. People called me a tomboy, but looking back, I’m not sure that was the underlying cause for my appearance.  I believe it was undiagnosed BDD.

Even when I was older and smaller and my clothes felt looser, I couldn’t bring myself to buy new clothes. I was convinced the extra room was a figment if my imagination. So, I walked around with pants so loose, they would fall off without a belt. My shirts were baggy to prevent anyone else from seeing the ugly curves of my body. I lived in sweatshirts during the winter months. I hid my body as best I could from the gaze of the public, even when I was still just six pounds from normal.

Today, I’m 100 lbs. heavier than I was at my lightest. You might hypothesize that my Body Dysmorphic Disorder expanded as I did, but it actually didn’t. In truth, I look the same when I look in the mirror. In fact, the only time I see a difference is when I look at photographs. I can see a major difference from 165 lbs. to 265 lbs., most notably in my wedding pictures, but my eyes just can’t see it in person. I still see the same double chin, and the hips that almost look like they were drawn by a caricature artist, and the broad expanse between my shoulders that make me feel masculine and ugly. I see stretch marks and cellulite and spider veins, even when my husband says he doesn’t. I still hate selfies.

I was trialed on an antidepressant at some point in my early to mid 20s to address this. Funny thing about antidepressants: they have a potential side effect of weight gain. 15 lbs. later, I weaned myself off the medication and declined a follow-up with that prescribing specialist. (Disclaimer: this is my own personal story and not a argument for or against SSRIs or antidepressants. Stopping some of these medications abruptly on your own can be dangerous. Talk to your doctor before stopping or changing medications.)

I have tried, and continue to try to employ cognitive behavioral therapy to change my faulty thought patterns, but it’s easier said than done and still something I struggle with. I’ve been to several shrinks who have given me several methods of doing CBT, meditation and thought modification at home, but I don’t always have the mental fortitude to practice this every time I’m presented with the opportunity to admire my flaws in a mirror.

In addition to “eating less calories than I expend”, I accept that this battle will be 80% emotional and 20% physical. As I continue with my weight loss transformation, I will have to include my battles with BDD and anxiety and fears as they will likely become more prevalent as I continue to be successful. So, to me, it’s important to be truthful with you upfront, so you can understand my perspective in future posts.

This is something I’ve never told any of my friends or family before, so plastering this all over the internet is quite a large band-aid to be ripping off a deep, deep wound. It’s encouraging to hit the “publish” button and get this out in the open. As some say, “the first step is admitting there’s a problem”, so here’s me admitting it and owning it. Keep watching as I work to overcome it!

Please feel free to share you’re stories and feelings in the comments. Like my page to keep updated as I post new content!

Corned Beef Breakfast Hash

When I was a kid, my family used to go to our camp out in the woods and spend the night. This was usually on weekends, although I can specifically recall begging my parents several times to let us skip school and go to camp on a weekday. I wasn’t much for liking school.

In the morning, our breakfast was usually pretty grand. Especially when you consider that most days, all I wanted was two slices of peanut butter toast to get my day going.

At camp, there would be eggs, toast, gas station muffins and doughnuts, bacon, sausage links, and corned beef hash. For me, it was pretty much just the eggs and toast because I didn’t eat any of the other stuff. I don’t eat anything made of pork, and corned beef hash out of a can? Uh, no thanks.

I always got creeped out by that can of tiny pieces of beef and tiny pieces of potato. Two things I definitely don’t want to eat out of an aluminum can.

Years later, while learning to make my own corned beef, I decided to try homemade hash…

What a game changer!

There’s nothing “just out of a can” about this. The chunks of potato and beef are large and fried to provide a little texture. That extra crunch is something you just can’t get from the canned version.

Even the color is better. The corned beef has such a beautiful, deep rose color that contrasts so well against the slightly browned potatoes. It’s such an appetizing presentation.

So, if you’re fresh from celebrating St. Patty’s Day and looking to make some leftovers for breakfast, look no further!

Corned Beef Breakfast Hash

2 tbsp butter

1/2 white onion, diced

1 1/2 cups corned beef, diced

1 1/2 cups diced potatoes

Salt & Pepper to taste



In a large skillet, saute onions in butter over medium heat until slightly translucent, about 5-6 minutes.


Add potatoes and fry until the potato pieces are almost fork tender and slightly browned.


Add corned beef and cook an additional 8-10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Season to taste.  Serve at breakfast, ideally with eggs and toast.

Irish Shepherd’s Pie

It’s March.

In my world, that means that all of the stores near me are selling St. Patty’s day goodies, from food to home decor to holiday outfits.  Everything is shamrocks and leprechauns and ‘kiss me, i’m irish’.  

For someone like me, who is part Irish, I like to use this time of the year to focus my attention on my Irish heritage.  This goes for not only food, but celebrating different Irish traditions as well.  At some point in the year, my claddaugh ring comes off and I only remember to put it back on in March.  I decorate my house with lots of green pillows, shamrock crafts and Gaelic quote boards on the wall.  Almost everything I bake is infused with green food coloring. 

If you couldn’t tell, I take things way too far, way too often.

I love celebrating even the smallest things, so Saint Patrick’s Day for me is an all-month event.  So, it would make sense that I spend all month sharing my favorite Irish recipes. Some of these recipes are pretty authentic while some are more inspired by flavors I associate with St. Patrick’s Day.

So, in honor of this wonderful, bright green holiday, I’m devoting this whole month to giving you some Irish-influenced recipes that will get you in the Erin Go Bragh spirit!

This recipe, in particular, is a favorite of mine because it uses up all those goodies for leftovers. Since I love a good shepherd’s pie, I love turning my corned beef dinner into a tiered masterpiece of flavor. And, since most of the food is already cooked, it’s super easy too!

Irish Shepherd’s Pie

2 tbsp butter

1/2 medium white onion, finely diced

1 lb. ground beef

1 lb. of Apricot Glazed Corned Beef, diced

1 cup Slow Cooker Cabbage

3 cups Champ potatoes

1/2 stick butter

In a large skillet, melt butter.

Add onions and cook until soft, about 5-6 minutes. Add the ground beef and cook thoroughly. Remove from heat and drain the liquid from the beef. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Preheat oven 350F.

Add the corned beef to the ground beef and stir.

Grease an 8″x 8″ pan. Spoon the beef mixture into the bottom of the pan. Spread the cabbage over the top of the beef. Top the cabbage with Champ potatoes.

Cut the butter into 6-8 pats and place on top of the potatoes.

Bake for 20-30 minutes or until the top of the potato layer begins to lightly brown.

Serve hot.

Irish Soda Bread

The holiday season has officially ended for me.

My favorite REAL holiday, that is. 

Anyone who knows me knows that the Super Bowl is a holiday to me, and constitutes as my favorite holiday of all time.  But, St. Patrick’s Day, being a faithful Irish girl, is a close second.

There are a few recipes I’ve been wanting to get to that make me think of Irish food, and this is one of them.

I’ve wanted to try Irish Soda bread for a while now.  I love making quick breads because I’m a huge carb-fiend who can’t wait for yeast breads to rise and rise, and then rise some more.

Now, at the risk of sounding completely ridiculous, I have to admit that I didn’t know what exactly the ‘soda’ meant in Irish Soda bread.  To be honest, I thought Ireland had completely different ideas about what soda was, and I fretted over the idea of trying to find Irish Soda.  I know, I’m kind of an airhead sometimes.  Imagine my relief when I found out I had all the ingredients I would need right in my pantry!

This bread is dense and moist and slightly sweet.  For my first foray into Irish Soda bread making, I would say I was very successful!

Irish Soda Bread

4 cups flour

1/4 cup sugar

1 tbsp. baking powder

1 tbsp. baking soda

1 cup milk

1/2 cup melted butter

1 egg

Preheat oven 350F.

Mix all of the ingredients together, starting with the dry and ending with wet ingredients, in a bowl until a dough forms.  You may need a little extra flour to keep the dough from sticking to your hands. 

Form a round with the dough and place on a greased cookie sheet.  Use a knife to score an ‘X’ in the top of the dough.

Bake for 1 hour.

Cut into slices and serve hot.

Champ Potatoes

A couple years ago, I was in a restaurant and I ordered a steak with mashed potatoes. When my order came out, I took a bite of my potatoes and decided that this particular restaurant cooked the best mashed potatoes I had ever eaten.

The problem is, I couldn’t place what it was about the potatoes that I loved so much. They were perfectly seasoned. They were slightly lumpy, which might turn some people off, but I happen to love the texture. I tried to discretely dissect the potatoes, looking for some hint of onion or garlic that was providing the extra flavor, even though it didn’t necessarily have an onion or garlic taste.

I was stumped.

Cut to a few days later and I used my handy internet-sleuthing skills to find a copycat recipe of the mashed potatoes from this very restaurant. Turns out the words I was looking for was: beef stock.

How I failed to discern this on my own, I’ll never know. But, as soon as I read it, I knew that was the secret ingredient that was right on the tip of my tongue, no pun intended.

So, for my Irish dinner, I made champ as my starch. If you’re not familiar, champ is basically mashed potatoes with green onions sprinkled throughout. Since I was serving this with corned beef, I decided to take it up a notch with a little beef flavor.

I’ve seen two ways to do this and I’m not sure which is best. One is to boil the potatoes in beef stock. This seems logical, but maybe hard to control. Is the beef stock too strong? Does it require dilution? Will it provide enough flavor? Will it be too weak?

Someday, I’d be willing to try this, but for now, I went with the alternative method, which is using beef base to flavor the milk used in the recipe. I felt this gave me a little more control in that I could pour a little in at a time to see how it tasted.

And before you remind me that you can get this same beef flavor using gravy on the side, let me just say: I don’t like gravy. I’m sure gravy would be great with this. In fact, I know it would because I made gravy with this and other people really liked it. I like my potatoes “undressed” and this flavor really goes a long way for me.

Keep watching for more Irish recipes coming your way soon!

Champ Potatoes

10 Russet potatoes, peeled and diced

1 bundle of green onion, sliced into 1/8″ pieces

1 cup milk

3 tbsp beef base, cut into pats

1 stick of butter

Salt and pepper to taste

Place potatoes in a large pot of water and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook until the potatoes are fork-tender. Drain.

In a separate small pot, pour milk and add the beef base and green onions. Bring milk to a simmer and allow the beef base to fully mix into the milk. Cook for 5-7 minutes. Remove from heat and add the butter. Stir to melt completely.

Pour the milk mixture into the potatoes and mash until smooth. Season to taste.

Serve hot.

Slow Cooker Cabbage

I’m going to let you in on a little secret. I’m really not a big fan of cabbage.

I like a little coleslaw now and then. But, for the most part, it’s not one of my favorite vegetables.

By far.

That being said, cabbage tends to be one of the mainstays of a good, traditional Irish dinner. That means that if I want to serve my family an Irish dinner, I have to come up with a way to make cabbage more palatable.

Again, I scoured the internet for different recipes that I could use to make this side. Most of the recipes I found just kind of let the cabbage do its own thing with minimal seasoning or addition of flavor. There were some recipes that incorporated onions and carrots to help boost the cabbage and I definitely felt like that was a good idea.

Since we were having so many people over for our Irish dinner, I knew that I needed to make a very large side of cabbage and I also knew that since we were making everything from scratch, I didn’t want to have to spend a lot of time watching the cabbage. That’s where the slow cooker comes in.

I decided to go with a sweet and tangy flavor to go with my sweet and tangy glaze for the corn beef. To do this, I decided to add a little bit of the apricot marmalade for sweetness and some apple cider vinegar for a little acidity. Turns out, when you make cabbage like this, I actually really like it!

When you compare it to all the other food on the plate of a good Irish dinner, it’s hard to make cabbage your favorite. But, I definitely feel like this version is a great side vegetable with a ton of a good flavor as opposed to a bland pile of cooked cabbage!

Slow Cooker Cabbage

1/2 head of green cabbage, sliced into 1/2″ strips

1 1lb. bag of baby carrots

1 medium white onion, diced

1 cup water

1/2 cup apple cider vinegar

1/4 cup apricot marmalade

Salt and pepper to taste

Combine everything in a slow cooker.

Cook on high for 6 hours, stirring occasionally.

Serve hot.