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Weekday dinner inspiration: Easy meatloaf recipe and more

Mon | Old-fashioned

A reader who called last week said she didn't have a good meatloaf recipe so I am offering my Alton-Inspired Meatloaf (recipe below) in the hope she'll see it and others will try it. The Food Network celeb recommends sauteeing the aromatics before adding to the mix. Sometimes I do that, sometimes I don't, but it does make a delicious difference. I always serve meatloaf with mashed potatoes and steamed broccoli. Always.

Tues | Veggie delight

Make a Quick Ratatouille by chopping a can of plum tomatoes and stewing them with diced zucchini, green, yellow or red pepper, eggplant, onion and dried Italian herbs. Add sliced kielbasa (optional, or add beans for vegetarian protein) and simmer until veggies are soft. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese and serve with French bread. Leftovers are delicious over rice or pasta.

Wed | Rotisserie chicken

California Barbecue Chicken Salad starts with shredded meat from a barbecued rotisserie chicken. Mix it with corn — canned or thawed frozen — and chopped, ripe avocado and diced red onion. Serve over lettuce with Ranch dressing and crushed tortillas chips.

Thurs | Southern night

Fast Shrimp and Grits starts with 6 slices chopped bacon, fried, drained and set aside. Make cheese grits according to directions on box. While grits cook, saute 1 pound peeled shrimp in the bacon grease with a cup of sliced scallions, the juice of 1 lemon and a handful of chopped parsley; season with salt if you'd like. Add back bacon bits. Pour grits into a shallow serving dish and scoop shrimp over the top. Serve with corn bread.

Fri | Gone fishing

Make Lemon-Herb Fish Packets for the grill using whatever fillets look best to you at the market. Put fish on a layer of slices of lemon and onion and sprinkle on lemon pepper and dried or fresh herbs of your choice, then wrap foil tight and grill for about 15 minutes. Skewer grape tomatoes and zucchini brushed with olive oil and grill those, too. Rice pilaf on the side.

Read Stir Crazy online at www.blogs.tampabay.com/food. Submit your ideas for quick weeknight meals to jkeeler@sptimes.com.

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Alton-Inspired Meatloaf

1 medium onion, finely diced

2 cloves garlic, minced

1/4 cup celery, finely diced

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 pound ground chuck (see note)

1/2 pound ground lamb

1/2 pound ground sirloin

2 eggs

1/4 cup sour cream

1/2 cup dried bread crumbs

1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce

3 tablespoons ketchup

1 teaspoon salt

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Saute onion, garlic and celery in olive oil until soft, 3 to 5 minutes. Let cool.

Mix cooled sauteed vegetables with remaining ingredients. Using your hands, incorporate thoroughly. Form into a loaf shape and place in the middle of a 9- by 13-inch baking dish.

Bake for 20 minutes at 400 degrees, then reduce to 325 degrees for 45 minutes or until meat thermometer registers 160 degrees.

Note: This is a basic meatloaf recipe made using suggestions from Alton Brown, host of Food Network's Good Eats. Cooking it at a high temperature for 20 minutes gives the meat a crispier crust. The lamb provides a bolder flavor, but you can use all beef or a beef-pork combination.

Source: Janet K. Keeler,

Times food editor

Weekday dinner inspiration: Easy meatloaf recipe and more 10/06/09 [Last modified: Tuesday, October 6, 2009 5:30am]

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