down home

what's for dinner- cooking for the fam

Categories: Meat, Veggies and Sides, Supper, Posted on October 22, 2011 by Sandy Bergsten

Maybe it’s my upcoming jaunt to Georgia’s barrier islands or that sweater weather has finally descended on Ohio but something has the home fires burning. What could be cozier than some true comfort fare? 

While no one would ever confuse me for a southern gal (my Nordic roots a definite northern indicator) that doesn’t mean I don’t occasionally have a hankering for some down home cooking. I’m certainly more comfortable sautéing than deep frying and my greens are most often al dente than smothered. But that doesn’t mean I can’t throw on a pullover and lean out of my culinary comfort zone. Paula Deen is the queen of every kitchen below the Mason Dixon. Time to turn to the food network and see what she’s been cooking.

Meatloaf is one of those elusive mainstreams, seemingly everywhere but rarely done right. Whose face did I spy next to Paula’s on the Food Network’s website- my tried and true personal fav- Ina. Personally I have really good luck with her recipes. Have you ever noticed that cookbook authors are a lot like blue jean designers? (Once you find one that’s a good fit you should probably stop shopping around.)


Here is my version of Ina Garten’s individual meatloaf. Combine two thirds ground beef to one third ground pork, add dried bread crumbs, sautéed onion, seasoning and a broken egg.


Lightly fold together with a fork. Form 8-10 ounce individual loaves.


Top with ketchup. And bake for 45 minutes.

Feeling a bit like a turncoat I made sure I picked two of Paula’s vegetable recipes. Baked acorn squash and honey balsamic green beans.

acorn squash

Once I spilt the acorn squash and scooped out the center I remembered that my mom used to make these all the time when we were little in Minnesota so I gave her a quick call. Her treatment of the gourd was markedly different than Paula’s. Let’s face it, when faced with a new vegetable who are you going to trust.

acorn squash

On a buttered foil lined rimmed baking sheet, bake the squash face down for 30 minutes. When tender. Flip the squash over, season with salt and pepper, brush with a concoction of softened butter, brown sugar and maple sugar (this part is all Paula). Bake for another 15-20 minutes

maple butter

Once I embarked on Deen’s green bean recipe I knew I was in trouble. I wasn’t going to follow the recipe. There was no way I was going to boil a fresh green bean for ten to fifteen minutes in salted water. So I veered from her path and steamed them for two and half minutes then shocked them in an ice bath before reheating (i.e. sautéing) them in the honey and balsamic vinegar. I cringed as added the teaspoon of powdered onion but trying to be a trooper I did it anyway.

green beans

Here’s the scoop. If you’re going to lean outside of what you are comfortable with and try something new you should lean all the way. I confess I did not follow Paula’s recipe that mind you had 23 rave reviews from readers who most likely did exactly what she told them to do. I admit that my green beans were tough and tasted bitter. Maybe if I had a mint julep in my left hand I could have boiled the b-jeezus out those beans with my right.

Next time I’ll stick to my tribe. Super happy I now have a tried true meatloaf recipe. Its encore performance will be accompanied by sautéed green beans almandine (steamed/shocked/and sautéed in a little brown butter) and garlic mashed red skin potatoes.

Paula thanks for the inspiration. Your southern trail led this northern girl straight back home.

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