Lesson #27: Stroganoff Meatloaf

Low Carb Cooking 101

There’s something to be said for seasonal eating. We can take advantage of the various foods that are in season, perhaps saving a little money in the process. In addition, we can “rest our palates,” rotating different dishes in and our of your daily menus on a seasonal basis so that we don’t get tired of any particular dish.

We can also satisfy some of our food-related emotional needs, since we often equate certain comfort foods with specific seasons. For example, it isn’t Thanksgiving for me without turkey, and Easter isn’t complete without lamb. I have to make something with pumpkin between Halloween and Thanksgiving, and cranberries must be consumed between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Eve.

Not all food cravings are tied to a holiday, however. Thick, savory soups are wonderful in the frosty wintertime, but I want lighter soups during the hot summer months. Main dish salads are wonderful during the summer, but I don’t often have them during the winter. And while I eat zucchini, crookneck squash, and spaghetti squash all year ’round, the way I fix them varies with the season.

Well, fall is in the air – finally! – and I want meatloaf again after a long, hot hiatus. Meatloaf isn’t something I ever prepare in the spring or summer. It’s “cold weather,” stick-to-your-ribs food. The Stroganoff Meatloaf on tonight’s menu is a decadent meatloaf with a surprise in the middle. (I always like surprises – unless they involve finding one of my son’s snakes anywhere but in it’s cage.)

And what’s meatloaf – any meatloaf – without mashed potatoes? Well, for a low carber, it’s a meatloaf with Smashed Cauliflower. No, it doesn’t taste exactly like mashed potatoes, but it’s close enough in taste and texture to be a wonderful substitute for them. Even people who don’t like cauliflower like Smashed Cauliflower.

Add a second hot vegetable to the Stroganoff Meatloaf and the Smashed Cauliflower, and you have a sensational cold weather meal!

Here’s this evening’s menu:

  • Stroganoff Meatloaf
  • Smashed Cauliflower
  • Technicolor Green Beans

Here’s the shopping list for the meal: (You may very well already have some of these things on hand.)

  • 1 1/2 pounds ground beef
  • 1 head fresh cauliflower
  • 1/4 red bell pepper
  • 1 onion
  • 3 ounces cream cheese
  • cup sour cream
  • heavy cream
  • 1 egg
  • butter
  • 2 4-ounce cans chopped mushroom stems and pieces
  • 1 8-ounce jar beef gravy
  • 1 14.5-ounce can cut green beans
  • 1 14.5-ounce can wax beans
  • 1/2 cup low carb bake mix (any brand)
  • 1/2 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • salt
  • pepper

Here’s the game plan:

Take the ground beef out of the freezer a day or two ahead of time to let it thaw.

The Stroganoff Meatloaf and the Smashed Cauliflower can be prepared the day ahead of time. If you do this, place the meatloaf (unbaked) and the cauliflower in covered dishes in the refrigerator until an hour and a half before you want to serve the meal.
Bake the meatloaf according to the recipe directions, adding about 10 minutes to the baking time because the meatloaf will be cold. Put the cauliflower in the oven halfway through the meatloaf’s baking time.

If you do not make the meatloaf and cauliflower ahead of time, start fixing dinner about an hour and a half before you plan to eat.

Preheat the oven.

Prepare the meatloaf according to the recipe directions and put it into the oven to begin baking.

Set the table, then clean the cauliflower and cut it up. Hold off rinsing the cauliflower until the meatloaf is 20 minutes from being done. You can microwave the red bell pepper at this point, though. Don’t forget to drain it thoroughly after it’s cooked crisp tender.

Put the green beans, waxed beans, and the cooked red bell in the saucepan, but to do turn on the heat yet.

When the meatloaf is 20 minutes from being done, rinse and microwave the cauliflower. While the cauliflower is cooking, mix the gravy together and begin heating it over low heat. Turn the burner under the beans to low, too.

Drain the cauliflower and complete the Smashed Cauliflower according to the recipe directions. Cover and set aside.

Take the meatloaf from the oven so that it can rest for 5 minutes. Turn the burners under the beans and the gravy to medium or medium high to heat them through.

Pour the gravy into a pretty pitcher to be served at the table. (If it cools off too much before everybody is gathered, just microwave it for a minute or so to reheat it.)

Drain and season the beans. Put the beans and cauliflower on the plates. Slice the meatloaf and put it on the plates.

Take the plates to the table and sit down to a well-deserved, relaxing meal.

And, finally, here’s the recipes:

Stroganoff Meatloaf

  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1/2 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/2 cup low carb bake mix (any brand)
  • 1/3 cup chopped onion
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt, divided
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 1/2 pounds ground beef
  • 2 4-ounce cans chopped mushroom stems and pieces, divided
  • 1 8-ounce jar beef gravy
  • 1 cup sour cream, divided

For the meatloaf:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

In a large bowl, combine the egg, Worcestershire sauce, low carb bake mix, chopped onion, 1 teaspoon of the salt, pepper, and 1/4 cup of the beef gravy. Stir to combine the ingredients thoroughly. Add the ground beef and mix well with your hands. (Yuk! It’s a gunky job, but someone’s got to do it.)

Divide the meat mixture in half, and pat half of it into an 8-inch by 4-inch loaf pan. Make a depression in the center of the meat mixture by pressing down with your fingers or knuckles and forcing some of the meat mixture up the sides and ends of the pan. (The depression should go to within half an inch of the sides and ends of the loaf pan, not all the way to them.)

Set the remaining meat mixture aside.

In a small bowl, combine 6 ounces of the chopped mushrooms (1 1/2 cans), 1/4 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 cup of the sour cream. Stir to combine the ingredients thoroughly.

Spoon the sour cream mixture into the depression in the meat mixture that is already in the loaf pan. Top with the remaining meat mixture. Press down firmly on the sides and ends of the loaf to seal the edges.

Bake the meatloaf in the preheated oven for 1 to 1 1/4 hours, or until done.

Take the meatloaf out of the oven and let it stand for 5 minutes before slicing and serving.

Serves 4 to 6, depending upon appetite.

For the gravy:

Combine the remaining chopped mushrooms, sour cream, and beef gravy in a saucepan. Cook over medium heat until hot but not boiling, stirring occasionally.

Use the gravy over the Smashed Cauliflower and/or the Stroganoff Meatloaf.

Smashed Cauliflower

  • 1 head fresh cauliflower, steamed until tender, drained, and mashed
  • 3 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons heavy cream
  • 1/8 teaspoon black pepper (to taste)
  • salt (to taste)
  • butter (to taste)

To steam the cauliflower, clean it, discarding all the green leaves. Cut the cauliflower up into smallish pieces, including the woody stem.

Place the cauliflower pieces in a colander and rinse them clean. Give them a shake to remove the excess water, them dump them in a large microwaveable bowl or casserole. Do not add any more water!

Cover the bowl or casserole tightly with a lid or plastic wrap and microwave the cauliflower on high for 6 to 10 minutes, or until the cauliflower is just tender – not mushy.

Drain the cauliflower thoroughly. (You’ll be amazed how much water comes out!)

Mash the cauliflower and all the other ingredients together. Use a potato masher if you like lumpy mashed ‘potatoes’ or a hand mixer or food processor if you like lumpless mashed ‘potatoes.’

Serve hot with either butter or gravy. (If the Smashed Cauliflower is ready before you are ready to serve, you can reheat it in the microwave or place it in a casserole in the oven.)

Serves 4 to 5.

Recipe can be doubled, and reheats well.

Technicolor Green Beans

  • 1 14.5-ounce can cut green beans, undrained
  • 1 14.5-ounce can wax beans, undrained
  • 1/4 red bell pepper, cut into thin strips
  • butter (to taste)
  • salt (to taste)
  • pepper (to taste)

Place the red bell pepper strips and the water in a microwave container. Cover and microwave for five minutes on high. Drain.

Place the green beans, wax beans, and red bell pepper strips in a medium saucepan and cook over medium high heat for 4 to 5 minutes, or until they are heated through.

Drain thoroughly and season with butter, salt, and pepper to taste. Serve immediately.

Serves 4 to 5.

***Note: If you’re in a real hurry or don’t have any red bell pepper in the freezer, omit the bell pepper and just serve the beans. It’s colorful either way.

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