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Meatloaf plated

Captain Cavedweller isn’t a meatloaf fan and I’m allergic to processed tomatoes, so we’ve avoided meatloaf at our house.

The other day I got inspired to see if I could either find or create a recipe that didn’t use ketchup or any kind of canned tomatoes. Boy, did that turn out to be a tasty decision. Finding a few recipes online, I combined elements of what I liked and came up with a meatloaf recipe that is nothing like the one Granny used to make, but delicious all the same!

Ingredients

Ingredients

Start by slicing and dicing your celery into small, thin pieces.

Start by slicing and dicing your celery into small, thin pieces.

Heat olive oil in a skillet on medium heat and add celery and onion flakes. If you want to use fresh onion and add garlic, you can certainly do that, too. Cook until celery is soft then let cool.

Heat olive oil in a skillet on medium heat and add celery and onion flakes. If you want to use fresh onion and add garlic, you can certainly do that, too. Cook until celery is soft then let cool.

Add celery mixture to remaining ingredients and mix thoroughly.

Add celery mixture to remaining ingredients and mix thoroughly.

 

Form mixture into a loaf on a rimmed baking sheet. I lined mine with foil because I'm lazy and don't like scraping goo off the pan. The loaf should be about twelve inches long, four to five inches wide and at least an inch and a half to two inches deep.

Form mixture into a loaf on a rimmed baking sheet. I lined mine with foil because I’m lazy and don’t like scraping goo off the pan. The loaf should be about twelve inches long, four to five inches wide and at least an inch and a half to two inches deep.

 

While the meatloaf is baking, pour two cups of chicken broth into a pan with butter. You can add a spoon of crushed garlic if you want, which we didn't. This is going to cook for about twenty minutes, until it starts to thicken (although it will still be thin, not like gravy).

While the meatloaf is baking, pour two cups of chicken broth into a pan with butter. You can add a spoon of crushed garlic if you want, which we didn’t. This is going to cook for about twenty minutes, until it starts to thicken (although it will still be thin, not like gravy).

 

Bake the meatloaf until nice and brown - about an hour.

Bake the meatloaf until nice and brown – about an hour.

 

Slice and serve with the "gravy" drizzled over the top.

Slice and serve with the “gravy” drizzled over the top.

 

Not Your Granny’s Meatloaf

2 pounds of ground beef

3 eggs

2/3 cup milk

1 tbsp. parsley

1 1/2 cups Panko crumbs

1 tsp. seasoning

dash of salt

1 tbsp. olive oil

1/3 cup of thinly sliced and diced celery

1 tsp. onion flakes (or you can add fresh onion)

2 cups chicken broth

3 tbsp. butter

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Thinly slice and dice celery. Heat olive oil in a small skillet on medium heat and add celery and onion (you can also add a little garlic if you want). Cook until celery is softened. Remove from heat and let cool.

Mix celery with remaining ingredients until thoroughly blended.

Line a rimmed baking pan with foil (if you’re lazy like me) and give it a shot of non-stick spray. Form a loaf in the pan that is about 12 inches long by 4-5 inches wide by 1 1/2-2 inches deep.

Bake for an hour, until outside is a nice, deep brown.

About twenty-five minutes before the meatloaf is finished baking, pour 2 cups of chicken broth into a heavy skillet with the butter. You can add a spoon of crushed garlic if you want or a spoon of seasoning.

Bring to a boil then simmer for about twenty minutes, until it starts to thicken. It will not get thick like gravy, but will be thicker than broth.

When the meatloaf is finished, slice and drizzle with the gravy and enjoy the delicious, yummy treat!

She Who Will Be Making This Again

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kim in magazine

This is my brother.

(The mechanically inclined one, not the cowboy one.)

I was born his senior year of high school, so talk about crashing the party…

He has always had a love of cars and began restoring vintage cars way back  before I was old enough to beg him to let me drive his Mustang (which he still has not).

Anyway, he got into dressing the part to go along with the cars he was showing.

Last fall, he competed in a contest for best Era Image and took third place. I thought his costume looked pretty snazzy and we were all excited to see this picture in print.

Although he never let me drive any of his cars, he did let me go with him a time or two.

Kim and I with old carOf course, costumes were required.

The reason I look so particularly happy in this photo is because:

1. It was mid-July and boiling hot.

2. We skipped lunch.

3. I had a hot date that night with Captain Cavedweller and we were running late.

My brother completely restored the gorgeous Model A car behind us. I think the etched glass (and the color) are my two favorite things about it.

Big, hearty congratulations, Kim, for placing in the contest and thanks for all the times over the years you let me tag along.

She Who Still Wants to Drive the Mustang

 

 

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duct tape

Back when Captain Cavedweller and I were first together, he would bring me gifts wrapped in things like paper bags or a plastic sack from the grocery store.

Once duct tape was even involved.

After that, I keep a supply of easy gift-wrapping supplies on hand and he knows where to find them.

Getting the gifts is awesome, but it boosts the excitement level up a notch when they come in pretty packaging.

Someone once said to me that she thought people could either get the gift or the wrapping and a card, but not both.

I think people should be able to do both without breaking the bank. Today, I’m going to share some tips on how to wrap gifts inexpensively.

In fact, here are five gift-wrapping ideas that you can do in five minutes and only spend five dollars (for all five!).

You can find this little video on You Tube.

So, for the gift-wrapping challenged – you can do this. Go out there and make your sweetheart’s Valentine present look fantastic!

She Who Loves to Wrap Gifts

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50 Dates cover

I have a new book out that I’m so excited to share with you!

Fifty Dates with Captain Cavedweller is the actual, honest-to-goodness details from the fifty dates I went on with my beloved in 2013.

If you’ve been married, or even in a relationship for a while, there comes a day when you wake up and realize somewhere along the way you’ve lost the zing.

I had one such moment at the end of December  2012.

Deciding it was not okay to continue the direction our relationship was headed, I made a plan of attack and informed Captain Cavedweller he was coming along for the ride.

We could count on one hand the number of times we’d gone out on a date in 2012 and that was just wrong.

I fell in love with Captain Cavedweller the first time we met. People used to refer to us as the perpetual honeymooners. Then we just settled into the monotony of everyday and the flames burned down to sparks and from there it was a short trip to old and boring.

What we needed was to carve out time each week to spend together doing something different or fun, something out of the ordinary.

Of course, I decided right away to take notes of each date for later use.

Those notes and photographs turned into Fifty Dates with Captain Cavedweller. The book offers my honest thoughts and feelings about each date. Some are humorous, some are frustrated, but it’s all there. And I will make note this book is squeaky clean so you could let your teen read it without any worries.

Just before Valentine’s Day seemed like a perfect time to share this little labor of love.

For now, the book is offered in e-book format on Kindle only, with paperbacks set to be available in a variety of outlets beginning next week. Oh, and the e-books are only 99 cents.

Check it out and let me know what you think of our Fifty Date project.

And, as promised, I’m doing a giveaway this week. So in the comments section below, share your favorite thing about Valentine’s Day (is it the candy? Flowers? Cupid? Exchanging Valentine greetings?) and you’ll be entered in the contest for an opportunity to win an autographed copy of the book! The contest is open now through Friday at noon (Pacific Time).

I’m also doing contests all this week on my writing blog at shannahatfield.com. Pop on over and check it out for the chance to win more prizes!

Without further ado…

Fifty Dates with Captain Cavedweller – Waking up one day to discover they’d gone from perpetual honeymooners to a boring, predictable couple, author Shanna Hatfield and her beloved husband, Captain Cavedweller, set out on a yearlong adventure to add a little zing to their relationship.

This G-rated journey through fifty of their dates provides an insightful, humorous look at the effort they made to infuse their marriage with laughter, love, and gratitude while reconnecting on a new, heartfelt level.

Here’s a little excerpt:

***

Date Eight

 Blown Away

There are a few things that Captain Cavedweller gets really, really excited about.

One of them is football.

From magazines talking about football to watching games on television to attending local high school games, he can’t get enough. He’s even been known to sit and watch reruns of football games if he happens to find one airing in the summer months.

Because of his football obsession, for his birthday I purchased season tickets to the arena football games that take place an hour away.

Today’s big date, hosted by CC, was to drive to the city to pick up the tickets, visit a couple of car dealerships since we are hunting for a new vehicle, and then take me out to eat.

Picking up the tickets was fun. The team members were so gracious and friendly and let those attending know they truly appreciate the support of the game.

Car shopping also went pretty well considering we never saw a single car salesman. Generally, we can barely get out of the car before one swoops in, trying to talk us into vehicles you would never see me ride in dead or alive.

Apparently, the forty-mile-an-hour winds coupled with frigid temperatures kept them inside the showroom where it was warm and toasty, and their hair wouldn’t turn into a wild snarled mess, resembling something created by Medusa’s own hairdresser.

Once I started crying and begging for mercy from the wind (okay, I wasn’t crying, but the wind did make my eyes water. A lot.), CC offered to take me to the mall. I was not in a shopping mood at this point, much more interested in sitting down somewhere warm.

Since it was late afternoon and we still hadn’t eaten lunch, we went to a barbecue restaurant. That would be my first pick once in a blue moon. However, the moon was not blue that day…

***

You can find the book on –

Kindle

Amazon

CreateSpace

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Cherry Bars plated

If your sweetheart is a cherry fan (or dessert lover in general) these bars are easy to make and taste so good, especially warm with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.

Make your sweetie smile and make up a batch for Valentine’s Day.

Cast of cherry bar characters

Cast of cherry bar characters

Cream butter and sugar then add eggs, extracts and mix. Blend in dry ingredients.

Cream butter and sugar then add eggs, extracts and mix. Blend in dry ingredients.

Grease pan and spoon half the dough into the bottom.

Grease pan and spoon half the dough into the bottom.

Spoon in cherries.

Spoon in cherries.

Spread them out to every corner.

Spread them out to every corner.

Top with remaining dough by dropping on top. Don't try to spread. You want blobs and globs.

Top with remaining dough by dropping on top. Don’t try to spread. You want blobs and globs.

While the bars are baking, mix your glaze. Add milk, almond and vanilla extract to powdered sugar.

While the bars are baking, mix your glaze. Add milk, almond and vanilla extract to powdered sugar.

cherry bars glaze

Then when the bars and done and still hot, pour glaze over the top.

Then when the bars and done and still hot, pour glaze over the top.

And try not to eat the whole pan before you can share with the one who makes your heart pitter-patter.

And try not to eat the whole pan before you can share with the one who makes your heart pitter-patter.

Cherry Bars

1/2 cup butter

1 cup sugar

2 eggs

1 tsp. vanilla extract

1/4 tsp. almond extract

1 1/2 cups flour

1/2 tsp. slat

1 (21-oz.) can cherry pie filling

Glaze

1 cup powered sugar

1/2 tsp. vanilla extract

1/2 tsp. almond extract

2 tbsp. milk

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Grease an 8 x 8 baking pan. (You can double the recipe and bake in a large 15 x 10 baking pan).

Cream butter and sugar until well blended. Add eggs and mix. Add extracts and blend then stir in dry ingredients.

Spoon half the dough into the baking pan, pressing down lightly. It will be sticky.

Pour pie filling over the dough and spread out.

Drop remaining dough by the spoonful on top of filling.

Bake for 40 minutes, until top is golden brown. Drizzle with the glaze and serve warm. A scoop of vanilla ice cream makes it even better.

To make the glaze – combine sugar with extracts and milk. It should be very thin and pourable and smell deliciously of almond.

She Who Made Her Sweetheart Happy with These Bars

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banana pie plated

Yesterday was National Pie Day.

On Facebook, I asked the question “What’s your favorite pie?” and got so many yummy responses, I had to make a pie.

Captain Cavedweller loves banana cream pie, so I decided to make one for him (and I may have eaten a piece, too).

This recipe has a few steps to it, but it is easy to make.

 

Ingredients

Ingredients

Melt butter and stir in graham cracker crumbs.

Melt butter and stir in graham cracker crumbs.

Press into a pie pan and bake at 375 for about eight minutes.

Press into a pie pan and bake at 375 for about eight minutes. (Be prepared for your family to wander into the kitchen looking for cookies because the crust does create a warm cookie-like aroma as it bakes.)

Whip two cups of heavy cream with a little vanilla and sugar until peaks form. Set aside.

Whip two cups of heavy cream with a little vanilla and sugar until peaks form. Set aside.

Blend pudding mix with one cup of milk and set aside.

Blend pudding mix with one cup of milk and set aside.

Whip cream cheese until fluffy.

Whip cream cheese until fluffy.

Then mix in sweetened condensed milk and pudding.

Then mix in sweetened condensed milk and pudding.

Gently fold in half of the whipped cream.

Gently fold in half of the whipped cream.

 

Spread a thin layer of filling in the cooled pie crust.

Spread a thin layer of filling in the cooled pie crust.

Top with sliced bananas. (If you want more bananas, cut them into chunks and double the amount.)

Top with sliced bananas. (If you want more bananas, cut them into chunks and double the amount.)

Add remaining filling.

Add remaining filling.

Then top with the remaining whipped cream. Chill for at least an hour. Overnight would be even better.

Then top with the remaining whipped cream. Chill for at least an hour. Overnight would be even better.

And enjoy! We may have cut into this one before it was quite ready, but it was really tasty!

And enjoy! We may have cut into this one before it was quite ready, but it was really tasty!

Banana Cream Pie

For the Crust:

1 cup graham cracker crumbs

4 Tbsp. melted butter

2 Tbsp. sugar

1/2 tsp. cinnamon

For the Filling:

2 cups heavy cream, whipped

3 Tbsp. sugar

1 tsp. vanilla extract

1 3.4oz box instant banana cream pudding

1 cup cold milk

8 oz. cream cheese

1 14oz can sweetened condensed milk

2 ripe bananas, sliced

toasted coconut (optional)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Mix the graham crackers with sugar and cinnamon then blend with the melted butter. When the crumbs are moist and you can pinch them together, they are well blended. If they still seem a little dry, add a dash of water. Press into the bottom and up the sides of a pie pan. (I cheated and melted the butter in the pie pan then mixed the crumbs with the butter directly in the pan. One less dish to wash and the pan doesn’t lose any of the butter in transfer.) Bake the crust for approximately 8 minutes then cool completely.

Using a mixer, whip the cream with sugar and vanilla until peaks form. Set aside.

Mix the pudding mix with one cup of milk and set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, beat the cream cheese until fluffy then add the pudding and sweetened condensed milk, scraping the bowl and beating until smooth. Using a spatula or spoon, gently fold in half of the whipped cream.

In the cooled crust, spread a thin layer of the filling. Top with banana slices. If you like more banana, cut into chunks rather than slices and use three or four, instead of two. Spoon in the rest of the filling then top with the remaining whipped cream.

Carefully cover with plastic wrap and chill for at least an hour (overnight is even better).

To serve, decorate the top with toasted coconut and banana chunks (or a drizzle of caramel or chocolate).

She Who Had a Very Happy Husband When He Tasted This Pie

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Cup Of Hot Chocolate With A Double Chocolate Muffin

In the past month, I’ve learned several things.

Some of them I knew and chose to forget or ignore. Others were bits of new wisdom that trickled into my hard head.

In no particular order, here are the highlights:

1. Even though I think things need to be done a certain way, if they are done a different way, they still turn out just fine.

2. Everything does not have to meet my idea of “perfect” to still be absolutely wonderful. Captain Cavedweller and I spent a couple weeks fighting horrible chest colds right around Christmas. There were so many things I normally do in preparation of the holiday that just didn’t happen because I was just too sick to do them. And you know what? CC told me he had a great Christmas and couldn’t remember when we’d had one that was more relaxed and nice.

3. Saving things for “some special day” isn’t a good thing. CC has given me so many lovely things over the years. Many things I tuck away to “save” for something special. I don’t get any enjoyment out of them when they are tucked in the back of a drawer or cupboard. In fact, I’ve forgotten I even have a few things until I go on a cleaning spree and find them, lingering in the dark recesses of ignored space. Not only that, but CC has no idea if I love a particular item when he never sees me using it. This revelation came about from a candle. Years ago, there was a holiday candle fragrance I absolutely loved and the company quit making it. I bought the few remaining jar candles I could find. When I had only half of one candle left, I stuck it in the back of a cupboard and decided to save it for some “special” holiday occasion. While I was digging through my candles one day before Christmas I found it and decided to finally burn it. The thing is, after sitting all that time, the candle had largely lost the scent that I’d loved so much. Ironic, isn’t it? I decided right then and there to stop waiting for a special day to arrive and to instead treat each day like it’s special. Because it is.

4. Just because things don’t work out according to how I had planned, doesn’t mean we still can’t enjoy the experience. If I let go of my preconceived idea of how something should be and live in the moment, I get a lot more fun and enjoyment out of the experience.

5. I really need to work on getting out of my own way (and out of my own head), especially when it comes to my writing.

6. Gas station hot chocolate, when carefully and thoughtfully mixed with flavored creamers and who knows what else by CC, is really, really good.

7. I have the best husband ever. But wait, I already knew that one.

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