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Monday, March 25, 2013

Meatloaf Sandwich with Chipotle Mayo

My Grandmother Ann (my mom’s mom) made the best meatloaf I've ever had. We lived in Chicago and she lived in Springfield. During the three hour ride to her house, all I could think about was that meatloaf I would have when we got there!! I couldn't wait!!

My Grandma Ann was my favorite person ever and boy could she cook.

Unfortunately I never got her recipe and my mother’s meatloaf…….well let’s just say it was never like my Grandma’s!!

I have tried to make it from memory, but to no avail.

One day I was eating salsa and a light bulb went on. Most of what was in salsa, my Grandmother put in her meatloaf. Onions, peppers, spices…everything but the ketchup on top. So I decided to make a meatloaf with salsa and I added cheddar cheese to the mix and called it my “Mexican Meatloaf”.

My kids loved it and it was almost as good as Grandma’s!! My son Danny picked my meatloaf to be his birthday meal, that’s how much he loved it!! And his birthday was on Thanksgiving several times. So we had Meatloaf instead of turkey!!

My friend Maria knew my meatloaf was really good and she had found a recipe one time for a meatloaf sandwich with chipotle mayonnaise. So I thought I would give it a try. I tested it on my guinea pigs (my co-workers at OCC) and it got two thumbs up; so on the menu it went.

It was a pretty popular sandwich and now I’ll share it with you!!


I discovered a salsa that Dominics makes. (Dominics is a grocery store in the Chicago area) It’s peach pineapple salsa and that’s usually what I use for my meatloaf. I like the little bit of sweet with the savory; it makes for a great combination. You can use your favorite salsa. A black bean and corn salsa might also be good!!

I make the sandwich with a whole grain bread. I think it’s good on a nice hearty bread!! But you can use your favorite.

If you just want to make the meatloaf and not make sandwiches, about 10 minutes before you take it out of the oven you can pour some more salsa on top and cover that with shredded cheddar cheese and put it back in the oven for the rest of the ten minutes.

You could also just cover it with ketchup.

Meatloaf Sandwiches with Chipotle Mayo

1 ½ pounds ground beef (I usually use 80/20)
3 eggs
1 cup bread crumbs (I chopped up the crouton’s from a previous blog)
1 cup salsa
1 cup of shredded cheddar
salt & pepper to taste

Mix the above until all is combined. 

Put in pan and shape into a loaf. 

Bake in a 350° oven until meatloaf reaches 160 degrees. 

This will keep the meatloaf nice and moist. YOU DO NOT WANT TO OVER COOK MEATLOAF!! It will be dried out!!

Take meatloaf out of oven. If you are going to have meatloaf for dinner, now would be when you would put the salsa and cheddar cheese on top and cook for an additional 10 minutes. Take out of oven and serve hot.
If you’re going to make sandwiches, take the meatloaf out of the pan after it reaches 160 and let cool. Wrap meatloaf in plastic and put in refrigerator until cold; at least 4 hours.

In the meantime you can make the chipotle mayonnaise.

Chipotle Mayonnaise

1 cup of Mayonnaise
1 heaping tsp – 1 tablespoon of pureed chipotle peppers in adobe sauce (depending on how spicy you want it)

Chop up the chipotle peppers with the adobe sauce. 

Add the sauce to the mayonnaise and mix.

Assemble the sandwich.

I spread the mayo on both pieces of bread. Then slice the meatloaf about 1/3 of an inch thick and put on bread. Then I put lettuce, the other slice of bread on top and cut in ½.

And then I …….


Monday, March 18, 2013


Tracie came for a visit and we made scones!!!

Tracie was my right arm at the café. I hired her before I even opened my doors and knew when I hired her she would be a big asset!! You see, not only was Tracie my right hand, my adoptive daughter and my friend, she was my pastry chef. And a wonderful one at that!!!

You might wonder why, if I always did such wonderful baking I hired a pastry chef. Well, once I saw Tracie’s portfolio, I knew she would help me take the café to a new level, and that she did!!

We started out making bacon cheddar scones. (I’ll share that recipe one day) Then we decided to make sweet scones. We tried several recipes and this is the one we settled with. The scones are light, moist and packed with flavor!! Our customers loved them!!

For those of you that never tried a scone or have no clue what a scone is, think of a biscuit on steroids!! The combinations of flavors are limitless. Last night we made chocolate chip toffee and cranberry orange. We both decided we should have made our peppermint white chocolate; that was both of ours favorite!!

In addition to selling the scones in the shop, we sold our scones every Saturday in the summer time at the farmers market in Downers Grove and would literally sell out of them!! I let the marketers know we sold them in the café. Not only did it bring them into the café, but it helped them from going through withdrawals of not getting a fix of our scones.

It was so nice baking with Tracie again. My kitchen isn’t the biggest, so fighting over space and running into each other brought back memories of our days in the café. But we had a blast!!! We both decided we will be collaborating again!!! Next time, Sticky buns!!!


Notes:  I’ve written the basic ingredients and then at the end added substitutions for the flavor. We made Cranberry Orange and Chocolate Chip Toffee. You can come up with any flavors you like. I’ve added the ones we made at the café. The possibilities are only limited to your creativity and imagination!


3 ¼ cups of flour
½ cup of sugar
1 tbls + 1 tsp baking powder
¼ tsp. salt
2 cups of heavy cream whipped
1 egg
Sanding sugar
In a large mixing bowl, mix dry ingredients. Add ingredients from the list below based on the flavor scone you are making. In another bowl, whip heavy cream to a stiff peak.
Add whipped cream and any other liquids to dry ingredients until combined. Mix with your hands, do not use a mixer!! Over mixing will ruin your scones!!! Turn dough out onto a floured surface and pat down to circle or square. Cut to desired size.

Place on cookie sheet lined with parchment or silpat. Mix egg with 1 tablespoon of water and brush triangles with egg wash and sprinkle with sanding sugar.
Bake in 350° oven for 22 minutes or until edges are golden. Larger scones may take longer.

Cranberry Orange - add zest of one orange and juice from one orange and 1 cup of cranberries to dry ingredients before adding wet ingrediants
Chocolate Chip toffee - 1 cup semi sweet chocolate chips,  ½ cup chopped walnuts, ½ cup crushed heath bar to dry ingredients before adding wet ingredients
Blueberry lemon - add zest of one lemon and juice from one lemon and 1 cup of blueberries to dry ingredients before adding wet ingrediants
Peppermint White Chocolate - add 1/2 cup crushed peppermint and 1 cup white chocolate chips to dry ingredients before adding wet ingrediants
Strawberry - add 1 cup of diced strawberries to dry ingredients before adding wet ingredients
Cherry almond - add 1 cup of cherries and 1/2 cup sliced almonds and 1 tsp of almond extract to dry ingredients before adding wet ingredients

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Baked Oatmeal

I can remember as a little girl my mother making warm oatmeal on a cold winters morning. I would put butter and brown sugar and just enough milk on it to cool it down so I could eat it right away. We had it most mornings before heading off to school. 

You see I literally had to walk a mile to school every morning. I went to a Catholic school in Buffalo Grove, a northern suburb of Chicago and we didn't have bus service. That is unless you paid for it or lived in the next town. Okay maybe it wasn't a mile, but it was pretty close. And when you're in grade school and it's 20 degrees outside and you feel like you're walking at least a mile to school, that oatmeal gave me the energy and warmth to make it all the way there!! 

In case you didn't know, I love oatmeal!!

We never had enough breakfast business at the cafe to make fresh oatmeal every morning. One of my occasional customers used to tell me "if I only sold Oatmeal she would come in every day". So I was on a mission!! 

I didn't want to make instant oatmeal, that wouldn't meet our standards. One day I got a spice magazine in the mail from Penzeys Spices and guess what recipe they had in the magazine? Yep, baked oatmeal!!! I showed it to Tracie and said "let's make it!!!"

So baked oatmeal went on our menu and we never looked back. 

I hope you enjoy it as much as we did!!

Oh, and that customer that said she would come every day if we made oatmeal, well lets just say we kept our promise but she didn't keep hers. But it's okay, our baked oatmeal still had a following.


Mom, I miss your warm oatmeal, but I miss you most.


You can make this with any fruit, cut up apples, strawberries, peaches, blueberries, etc. You could also add nuts. I've made it with walnuts along with the craisins and it's pretty good!! You could also add almonds or pecans.

Baked Oatmeal

2 ¼  cups of quick oats or 2 ¾  cups old fashioned oats, uncooked (I used quick oats, it's what I had)
2/3 cup brown sugar
3/4 cup dried cranberries
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt
3 1/3 cups skim milk
4 egg whites
1 tsp oil
1 tsp vanilla

Combine all dry ingredients in a medium size bowl.

Combine all wet ingredients in a small bowl. Whisk well.

Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients and pour into an 8 x 8 pan that has been sprayed with vegetable spray. Bake in 350° oven for 55 minutes. 

Cut into 4ths and serve warm.

We served it at the café with warm milk and extra brown sugar. But you really don't need it. It's good to go just the way it is!!

This will keep in the fridge for up to a week. Just nuke it in the microwave for approximately 3 minutes or until desired temp.

1 serving = 293 calories, 5 g of fat, and 54 carbs


Monday, March 4, 2013


When running a restaurant you try to have as little waste as possible. I would tell my employees “this is not food to me, its money”. So with that as my mantra, you need to be very creative with what you do with scraps.

We used to buy our bread from a local bread company in the Chicago area called Labriola Bakery. They had the most wonderful artisan bread!!! We used their 9 grain, whole wheat, white, pretzel bread, assiago rolls and their tomato and their herbed focaccia bread. So any scraps we had of bread (the heel or stale bread) went into the freezer for making croutons!

Croutons really are easy to make and you can literally make them any flavor you need or want. It’s all in the seasoning that you use.

The project I’m working on at work right now has been bringing in lunch for us. Every day it’s something different and local. They don’t use chains, they order from local mom and pops type places which make me really happy!!

Thursday we had pulled pork from a place called McCormick’s. I looked at all the rolls we had left over after lunch and immediately thought of croutons. They had also sent a canister of spices and I decided that would be good for the croutons. I went home that night and immediately went to work! Below is my creation.

So when life gives you heels of bread or stale bread or not enough bread to make a sandwich with, make croutons!!


Notes: Like I said above, you can make any flavor croutons you like, it’s all in the spices. The mix I used had salt, pepper and Italian spices. (oregano, basil, rosemary, garlic powder) You can also buy any of the season mixes already prepared in the baking section.

You don’t have to use both butter and olive oil, you can just use either butter or just olive oil. There are so many wonderfully infused oils out there that you can use.


1 stick of butter (1/2 cup) melted
½  cup of olive oil
2 tablespoons of spices
8 cups of bread

Preheat oven to 400°
Cut up bread into the size cubes you want. Put in bowl. Mix melted butter and olive oil together and pour half over bread; mix well. Add the rest of the oil butter mixture to the bread and mix well. Sprinkle seasoning over bread and mix well.


Spread mixture in a single layer on cookie sheet. Bake in oven for 25 minutes. Take out and let cool before bagging.