LUCY BURDETTE: I know I offered you a fancy western meatloaf last month, but this is the recipe I make most often. I like to call it Stepmom's Meatloaf--you'll see why...
One of the things I most enjoy writing in the food critic mysteries are the scenes where Hayley is cooking up something delicious for her family and friends. She uses that time to take care of the people she loves, burn off nervous energy, and sift through clues, of course. In this scene, her mom, Janet Snow, is cooking dinner on the houseboat. She's been in Key West on what seems like a very loooong visit and everyone's relieved that "the case" has been solved. Hayley's friend Connie is newly engaged and looking for cooking tips.
From DEATH IN FOUR COURSES:
Mom was kneading meat loaf in a red pottery bowl in Miss Gloria's galley kitchen. She dumped a sleeve of Ritz crackers into my food processor, whirred them into crumbs, and added them to the mix.
"There's no point in trying to make this dish low-fat or otherwise too healthy," she explained to Connie as she worked the crumbs into the meat. "You serve it once in a while, it makes your man happy, end of story. So skip the ground turkey and the quinoa. You need ground beef, some pork if you want to be fancy, plus chopped onion, carrots, and green pepper, cracker crumbs, a few tablespoons of Lipton's Onion Soup mix, half a jar of Bone Suckin' barbecue sauce. And an egg to bind it all together."
She shaped the red mass into an oval, tucked it into an oblong glass pan, slathered more sauce on top, and shunted it into the oven.
"If you girls could get started on the mashed potatoes, I'll go freshen up."
Connie looked up from the notes she was taking at the kitchen table. "From Janet Snow's Kitchen" was written across the top of the note card.
"This is an old family recipe, right?" Connie asked.
"Hayley discovered this one," my mother said. "I never did much care for my own mother's meat loaf." She winked and left the kitchen.
"Don't you dare tell her," I whispered. "It's my stepmother's recipe. One of the few edible things she can make."
Connie snickered; crossed out Janet and penciled in "Stepmom's Meat Loaf."
Stepmom’s Meat Loaf
1.5 lb ground beef (or beef and pork, organic preferred)
½ sleeve Ritz crackers, ground to crumbs
1 large onion, finely chopped
1 green pepper, finely chopped
3 large carrots, peeled and chopped fine in food processor
½ jar Bone-sucking barbeque sauce, more for glaze
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix meat well with all the other ingredients, reserving some sauce for topping. Shape the mixture into a loaf in a 9 x 13 glass baking pan. Bake for 1 and ¼ to ½ hours until meat is no longer pink. Drain grease halfway through baking; douse loaf with BBQ sauce, return to oven.
Serve meatloaf with mashed potatoes or oven-roasted potatoes and carrots and a green vegetable or salad.
What about you, Mystery Lovers Kitchen readers? Do you have a special meat loaf recipe?
When she is not blogging and cooking, Lucy Burdette writes the Key West food critic mysteries!
Fatal Reservations, the sixth book in the series, will be in bookstores on July 7, but you can certainly order it now!