Saturday, February 22, 2020

Mini Meatloaf and Mashed Potato Pies

Meatloaf is the quintessential comfort food. We all come from families where everyone has their favorite recipe and some recipes even passed down from generation to generation. It's a humble dish, easy to prepare, not too fancy of ingredients and a filling meal when paired with a bowl of mashed potatoes. 
Recently I came across some Better Homes and Garden ideas with all  sorts of fun and surprising recipes made in a muffin tin. This one caught my attention. Here's a recipe that elevates your standard meatloaf and mashed potatoes to a whole new level. It's definitely company worthy too!  
 Mini Meatloaf and Mashed Potato Pies a.k.a. Meatloaf Muffins
Cook's Notes: The recipe requires a few extra steps but SO WORTH IT. We loved it for its presentation, flavor and texture. Recipe was adapted from BHG and makes 10 meatloaf muffins.
Cooking Tip: Start with two pieces of bread add another if the meatloaf mixture needs more binding.  
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • ½-3/4 cup seasoned fine dry bread crumbs (I used 3 whole bread slices) 
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • ½ cup shredded carrot (1 medium)
  • ⅓ cup chopped onion (1 small)
  • 1 tablespoon parsley flakes
  • 1 pound lean ground beef
  • 3 tablespoons ketchup
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon-style mustard
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • ½ cup ketchup
  • 1/2 cup whole cranberry sauce, not jellied
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1- 14 ounce package refrigerated sour cream and chive mashed potatoes or creamy mashed potatoes (I found this package below near deli and they were microwavable)

  • ½ cup shredded cheddar or Parmesan cheese (2 ounces)
  • Snipped fresh chives (optional)
  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a food processor place onion, carrots, garlic, and 2 slices of bread. Pulse 2-3 times. In a large bowl stir together beaten eggs, bread crumbs, carrot, onion, garlic, parsley flakes, the 3 tablespoons ketchup, the mustard and Worcestershire sauce. Add ground beef; mix well.
  • Lightly grease bottom of each muffin well. 
  • Form about 1/3 cup of the meat mixture into a ball and place each one into muffin wells. Place muffin pan on a large baking sheet. In a small bowl stir together the 1/2 cup ketchup, the cranberry sauce, and chili powder. Top each meat portion with 1 tablespoon of the ketchup mixture.

  • Bake, uncovered, about 30-35 minutes or until internal temperature registers 160 degrees.  Line a baking sheet with paper towels. Place each meatloaf muffin on baking sheet to drain.
  • Meanwhile, heat potatoes according to package directions. Using a 1/4-cup measuring cup or an ice cream scoop, top each muffin with cooked potatoes. Sprinkle potatoes evenly with cheese. Remove paper toweling and return meatloaf muffins back to oven and bake, uncovered, about 5 minutes more or until cheese melts. Top each muffin with snips of chives. 
Check out 15 Surprising recipes to make in a Muffin Tin from BHG
Some recipes include:
Mini Spaghetti Pies
Chicken-Feta Phyllo Cups

Other Muffin Pan recipe ideas from Ever Ready
Catching up
Friday RAK Idea: For those living in wintry places-shovel or snow blow a neighbor's driveway and sidewalk. For those in warmer climates bring neighbors' trash cans on recycling/garbage days to the curb and back up to the house.
Saturday-Sunday is National Banana Bread Day-Bake a loaf and share with a neighbor!

Thursday, February 20, 2020

Roasted Vegetables and Salmon with a Maple Mustard Sauce

Roasted Vegetables and Salmon with a Maple Mustard Sauce
Cook's Notes: The discovery of sheet pan dinners is a game changer when you’re wondering what to make for dinner. You can literally take any protein, mix it up with a vegetable and some sauce or seasonings, and voila – dinner is in the oven.Having it all cooked at the same time can be challenging. It requires some of the ingredients to go on the tray first as they need to be cooked longer.
Spicy Dijon mustard, maple syrup, and a splash of apple cider vinegar join forces to turn basic salmon fillets into a flavorful dinner. Give vegetables a 10 minutes head start before adding the salmon. Recipe serves 2-3 and was adapted from February 2020

Cooking Tip: Look for wild Pacific salmon. It has more complex flavor and is more nutritious than farm-raised. Wild salmon tends to pack more calcium, iron, zinc, and potassium than farmed salmon.

  • 1/4 cup pure maple syrup
  • 2 tablespoon each olive oil and Dijon mustard
  • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon fresh thyme or 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1 teaspoon dried parsley flakes
  • 2 cups broccoli florets
  • 2 cups cauliflower florets
  • 1-2 cups quartered sweet potato slices 
  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries or cherries
  • 2 salmon fillets each 6 oz.
  • Lemon slices
  • Optional Parmesan cheese
  • Whisk together syrup, olive oil, Dijon mustard, vinegar, parsley flakes and thyme. Set aside.
  • Preheat oven to 425 degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone pad.
  • Toss broccoli, cauliflower and sweet potatoes with one half of the syrup mixture and roast 10 minutes.
  • Add fillets with lemon slices and cranberries. Brush with rest of syrup mixture. Cook fillets until a thermometer registers 125 t0 130 degrees.
  • Grate Parmesan cheese over fillets with a squeeze of lemon juice and roasted vegetables right before serving.
Leave a surprise in your mailbox for your mail carrier. It could be anything from treats to an approved gift certificate to a simple note that says, “thank you."

Wednesday, February 19, 2020


Mardi Gras 2020 falls on Tuesday, February 25. It's also called Fat Tuesday referring to events of the Carnival celebrations beginning on or after the Christian feasts of the Epiphany (Three King's Day) and culminating on the day before Ash Wednesday. Mardi Gras is French for "Fat Tuesday", reflecting the practice of the last night of eating richer, fatty foods before the ritual fasting of the Lenten season.

An Ever Ready pre-Lenten dinner special Jambalaya, is a Louisiana Creole dish of Spanish and French influence. It originated in the Caribbean Islands.
Cook’s notes: You will need to add more chicken broth on the second day to serve the dish, since the rice absorbs some of the broth. Advance prep makes assembly easier. Rotisserie chicken is a good option. Recipe serves eight but can be easily halved using a regular size box of jambalaya mix to serve four. Shrimp can be substituted for chicken.
Pair the meal with your favorite salad. 

  • 1 box Zatarains's New Orleans style Jambalaya Mix (family style)
  • 3 large chicken breasts, about 3 cups diced meat
  • 3 cups diced Andouille sausage
  • 2 TB. olive oil
  • 2 cans low sodium chicken broth (14.5 oz.)
  • 2 cans (14.5 oz.) diced chunky tomatoes (basil, oregano, garlic)
  • 1 tsp.sugar
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 cup each diced sweet onions, combination red and green pepper, celery
  • 2 garlic cloves minced
  • ½ tsp. Cajun seasoning
  • 1 tsp. each dried parsley flakes and basil
  • 1 bay leaf
  • Optional: substitute cooked shrimp for chicken and add in last 15 minutes of cooking time
  • Cook chicken breasts at 350 degrees for 40 minutes and sausage 20 minutes
  • Cool and dice both meats-set aside.
  • In a large skillet sauté onions, celery, green pepper and garlic and seasonings.
  • Add in water, broth, jambalaya rice mixture, canned tomatoes, bay leaf and diced meats
  • Simmer 45 minutes on low heat covered.
  • Remove bay leaf before serving.
A simple Thank You and Have A Good Day to each cashier who rings your purchases can go a long way.

Tuesday, February 18, 2020

Sweet Potato Tacos with Black Beans

Sweet Potato Tacos with Black Beans and all the Trimmings
A tasty vegetarian taco with a great blend of flavors and no one will even miss the meat. Loaded with roasted sweet potatoes, hearty black beans, and finished off with lime and honey-perfection for lunch or dinner.

Cook's Notes:
Note in the photo above I left the toppings off on the right taco to give you a better idea of what the main ingredients will look like on the tortilla shell. I used corn tortillas but flour ones would work too, Another idea is make them smaller using the appetizer size (4 inches). Recipe makes 4 tacos and ingredients can easily be increased for more servings. It was adapted from


  • 2 cups diced 1/2 inch cubes sweet potatoes
  • 2 TB. olive oil, divided
  • 1/2 tsp. each cumin, paprika, ground coriander
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper (optional)
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 3/4 cup chopped yellow onion, diced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 cup black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 cup frozen yellow corn, thawed and drained
  • 3 TB. honey
  • 3 TB. fresh lime juice
  • Optional 2 TB. chopped fresh cilantro
  • Corn or flour tortillas
  • Suggested toppings: sliced avocado, romaine lettuce, cotija or feta cheese, Brussels Sprout Slaw

  • Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone liner.
  • Mix spices in a small bowl. In another bowl place sweet potatoes, drizzle with 1 tablespoon of oil. Sprinkle with spices.
  • Roast for 15 minutes or until fork tender. Set aside.
  • Meanwhile, in a large skillet, heat remaining 1 TB. olive oil over medium-high heat. Once hot, add onion and saute until caramelized (golden brown on edges and tender), about 3-4 minutes, adding in garlic during last 30 seconds of sauteing.
  • Reduce heat to medium-low, add in drained black beans, corn, honey and lime juice. Heat until warmed through. Toss in roasted sweet potatoes and cilantro.
  • Reduce oven heat to 350 degrees.
  • Line a baking sheet with a clean piece of parchment paper and spread out 4 tortillas. Divide sweet potato and bean mixture among them.
  • Bake 5 minutes.
Optional Add On
Brussels Sprout Slaw
Mix the following:
  • 1 cup shredded Brussels sprouts
  • 1 cup purple cabbage
  • 1 green onion sliced
  • Juice of 1 lime 
  • 1/4 tsp. chili powder
  • 1/4 tsp. ground cumin


Bring back the lost art of handwritten notes and send someone a note of gratitude.

Monday, February 17, 2020

Random Acts of Kindness

Join me in February and into March for Pay It Forward Challenge with Random Acts of Kindness for 30 days

Here's how it works...
Each day during the month of February and into March I will post an idea on my blog for a random act of kindness (of course you may have your own ideas) starting February 17th, today to March 17th.
At the bottom of Ever Ready blog is a comment box. Click it on and post your idea or perhaps some unexpected thing that happened along the way to you. I look forward to reading your comments. I will also be commenting on my own random act of kindness journey. Look for this icon each day on my blog.

Perhaps these random acts of kindness may even become some kind of life long habit. Here are some ideas to get you started.
This site Random Acts of Kindness was quite helpful for ideas divided into the following categories:
school, family, cooking, baking, family, environment, sports, crafts, senior citizens, parking, strangers, community, holiday, literacy and many others. Check it out. 

Here's some easy ideas to get you started. 

  • Tweet or send someone a FB message of thanks or compliment.
  • Make a card at home and send it to a friend for no reason.
  • Buy a lottery ticket for a stranger.
  • Put some coins in someone else’s parking meter.
  • Shovel your neighbor's sidewalk or driveway.
  • Walk your friend’s dog.
  • Give a compliment about your waiter / waitress to his / her manager.
  • Send someone a small gift anonymously.
  • Let someone go in front of you at the store or queue at the bank.
  • Pay for the drinks on the next table at a café.
  • Treat a friend to the movies for no reason.
  • Give a generous tip to someone when they least expect it.
  • Hold the door open for someone rushing to get in.
  • Give up your seat for someone, not just an elderly person.
  • Write notes of appreciation at least once a week.
  • Pick up some rubbish in the road or yard which would otherwise be lying around.
  • Compliment a work colleague.
  • Recommend a competitor to a potential client.
  • Give another driver your parking spot.
  • Be more courteous to merging traffic.
  • Help an elderly neighbor put out their garbage cans curbside.
  • Tell a family member how much your appreciate them.
  • Leave a copy of an interesting book on a train / bus/airport.
  • Buy an inspirational book for a friend.
  • Send a thank you note to a person who has helped you in the past.
  • Smile a lot.

Sunday, February 16, 2020

Souperbowl Sunday

Looking for an easy way to entertain? Plan a Potluck Souperbowl Party. Get the party started with a couple pots of  soup (I made Creamy Chicken Wild Rice recipe below and Vegetable Tortellini) 
Set the table with soup bowls, the bread and sides are forthcoming.
Self serve ice cream sundae bar (with a variety of add ons)
with Heart Chocolate Chip Cookies, previously posted recipe and 
Chocolate Valentine Cupcakes made from the batter of a previously posted cake recipe. The batter makes 20 cupcakes.
and Creamy Chicken Wild Rice Soup
More Details to follow 

Friday, February 14, 2020

Happy Valentine's Day

Turn your ordinary basic chocolate chip cookie recipe into more of a starring
role using a heart cookie cutter.
Cook's notes: Two changes I made to basic recipe were using 1-1/2 cups mini chocolate chips and 1-1/2 cups Valentine M&M's. What I wished I had done was skipped putting the M&M's into the batter instead press them on top of batter before being baked so they would be more noticeable. Just a matter of preference.   
  • Basic chocolate chip cookie ingredients (recipe ingredients listed on the back of Nestles Chocolate Chips bag)
  • Heart cookie cutter any size
  • Make chocolate chip batter and spread out evenly in a 13 x 9 non stick coated pan. 
  • Chill pan in freezer 20 minutes.
  • Preheat oven at 350 degrees. Bake for 26 minutes. 
  • Let cool for 30 minutes. Using a 2-1/2 inch heart cookie cutter I was able to get 12  cookies. 
  • Be sure to press down hard into cooked batter to bottom of pan. 
  • Using a small spatula place each cookie heart on a cooling rack. 

Mini Meatloaf and Mashed Potato Pies

Meatloaf is the quintessential comfort food. We all come from families where everyone has their favorite recipe and some recipes even pass...