Counter Action: Vegetarian meatloaf with apricot barbecue sauce

“What is that?”

“What’s in it?”

“… uh. Okay.” *backs away slowly*

You may be looking at this recipe through narrowed eyes. You may be tempted to skip it altogether. Perhaps you remember an unfortunate encounter with a veggie loaf that jiggled when you poked it.

This veggie loaf is 100% jiggle-free, I promise. Unlike my middle, which appears to have gained 14 pounds in the last year.

I know. What the heck. And I’m not even pregnant. I would make excuses, but … there just aren’t any excuses to be made. I’m just going to have to cut out whole milk and Chick-fil-A and orange rolls and all the other joys in my life.

This veggie loaf will help. It’s full of eggs and walnuts and breadcrumbs and other good things, and the barbecue sauce is tangy and sweet. Perfect for a cold winter evening.

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Vegetarian meatloaf with apricot barbecue sauce

Ingredients:

Loaf:

  • 1-1/4 c. breadcrumbs
  • 3/4 c. chopped walnuts
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped or grated
  • 1-1/2 tsp. sage
  • 3/4 c. grated cheddar cheese
  • 2 garlic cloves, pressed
  • 3 T. dried parsley
  • 4 eggs, slightly beaten

Sauce:

  • 2 T. olive oil
  • 2 T. lemon juice
  • 6 T. apricot jam
  • 4 T. ketchup
  • 1 T. brown sugar
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 tsp. dried oregano

Directions:

  1. Mix breadcrumbs, walnuts, salt, onion, sage, cheese, garlic, parsley, and eggs until combined. Transfer to loaf pan.
  2. Combine oil, lemon juice, apricot jam, ketchup, brown sugar, salt, and oregano. Spread over top of loaf.
  3. Bake at 350°F until knife inserted in middle comes out clean (could be 40+ minutes). Enjoy with potatoes and something green.
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Browned butter banana bread with toasted pecans

Do you remember meeting your significant other’s family for the first time?

Do you remember what you wore? How nervous you were? Whether your significant other gave you hope, or reasons to fear?

(“Aunt Jeannie will be there. She … um. Well. You’ll see.”)

I just met my boyfriend’s parents and brother last month, and now that Christmas is here, I’m slowly meeting everyone else. The aunts. The uncles. The best friends and their girlfriends/fiancées/wives.

It’s been interesting. They’re all fiercely protective of my boyfriend, as well they should be. They’re all lovely, sweet, welcoming people, but I’ve been doing some serious PR work on my own behalf, let me tell you.

Fortunately, part of my strategy is baking, and everyone loves baked goods. For my first visit, I took apple crisp, which swifly disappeared. For this visit, I took banana bread. I accidentally left the eggs out, but you know, the bread still hangs together pretty well.

Just like this relationship will, I hope. Just like my relationships with this family will, going forward.

Here’s hoping.

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Browned butter banana bread with toasted pecans

Ingredients:

7 overripe bananas, mashed

1/2 c. buttermilk

2 tsp. vanilla extract

1 c. butter, browned

4 c. flour

1-1/4 c. sugar

2 tsp. baking soda

1 tsp. salt

1 tsp. cinnamon

1 c. chopped pecans, toasted

Directions:

  1. Dice butter into small saucepan. Cook over low heat until just barely nutty-brown. Remove immediately from heat.
  2. Combine butter, mashed bananas, vanilla, and buttermilk.
  3. Toast pecans over medium heat in medium saucepan, stirring frequently. Remove when toasted, and combine with flour, sugar, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon.
  4. Fold dry ingredients into wet ingredients, and stir to combine. Pour into two loaf pans.
  5. Bake 60 minutes at 350 degrees. Let cool before removing from pan and enjoying.

I’m still here!

Fully two years later, I’m still here — and slightly pained to see how relevant my last post still is. (Really, America? C’mon.) But enough of that. How are you, my lovely 98 followers? How’s life? What’s the last thing you baked? How long has it been since you’ve eaten pie?

If it’s been less than a few hours, it’s OK. This is a safe place. We don’t judge here.

As for me … I’m doing better. I finally admitted to myself that I have depression and anxiety, and got my butt on (four separate) medications. That kicked my brain in the right places and brought on a bunch of good, healthy changes. I found a new job that I really love, and ran a half marathon, and started getting along better with my family, and got a 97% match with a guy on OKCupid who I have now been happily dating for … let’s see … a month and twelve days, officially.

You see the kind of difference these brain pills can make? The commercials aren’t lying. Holy Moses, do I feel better.

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Literally my brain at the moment. Meadow, flowered hat, the whole nine yards.

That whole brain chemistry situation is a major reason I stopped blogging, because, uh, I wasn’t cooking. I know. Gasp, faint. I lost my appetite for over a year. It wasn’t pretty. I could be persuaded to eat a turkey sandwich here or there, or a piece of toast and a mandarin orange for dinner, but making mayonnaise or chicken broth or mozzarella cheese from scratch, as I have been wont to do? Fuhgeddaboutit.

So what does a food blogger do when she doesn’t eat?

Drop off the radar for two years, apparently. Sorry about that. A better person would have found a way to blog through it all — “12 Spins on the Classic Turkey Sandwich That Will Blow Your Mind,” or something. But I am not a better person. I’m me. And you lovely 98 people, for some reason, have chosen to stick with me through the silence.

So thank you for that. I have been cooking again, and I will reward your patience by resurrecting this blog at some point. It might take me awhile. It’s not a great time of year for natural lighting or seasonal produce, and truth be told, I’m still testing the limits of my new and improved appetite.

But I have been eating, and I think that’s a great first step. Onward and upward!

If you want a sneak peek into my fridge, here’s what’s been on the menu this week:

Spicy Chicken Sweet Potato Meal Prep Magic Bowls from Pinch of Yum. Does even this recipe look like too much work? Then don’t dice anything — toss the chicken breasts whole with olive oil and storebought Cajun seasoning. Bake the sweet potatoes whole. Get pre-cut broccoli segments from the store. Make it easy for yourself.

Honey Ginger Tofu & Veggie Stir Fry from Pinch of Yum. I used baby carrots cut up into segments, plus a container of snow peas from the produce section. Easy-peasy.

And coming up next week …

Crockpot Chicken Wild Rice Soup from (yes) Pinch of Yum. With maybe sliiiiiightly less butter, because I’m a spoilsport like that.

Vegetarian Meatballs with Apricot Barbecue Sauce from an old church cookbook I have. The barbecue sauce is ta die fer, as the Pioneer Woman would say. This is one of my favorite comfort foods. I can’t wait.

Until next time!

~ Sonya Sombra

 


Image credits: Meadow from jill111 and yaks from Pixel-mixer on Pixabay.

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Obligatory Baby Yak of Goodwill. D’awww!