Meatloaf with Ketchup-Vinegar Glaze

I grew up eating really bad meatloaf — it was dry and covered with ketchup. Yet I still loved the stuff. I love it even more now that I’m an adult because, as with many of the foods from my childhood, I’ve discovered and refined recipes that suit my more adventurous tastes. But I admit it: I still frequently use a variation on the traditional ketchup glaze.

Traditional meatloaves are made with a bread-and-milk panade. Unless you’re doing a lot of gluten-free baking, chances are you don’t have much GF bread to spare. Another option is gluten-free breadcrumbs, or…you can do as I do and use meaty, tasty mushrooms to your meatloaf. In addition to adding incredible flavor, mushrooms help keep your meatloaf moist and increases flavor.

This recipe includes basic seasonings. Use them as suggestions. Fresh herbs and different spices can change up the flavor in great ways. Like heat? Add some cayenne or fresh jalapeno. I sometimes add about a 1/2 cup of shredded Parmesan cheese to my meatloaf mixture. There is no one way to make a meatloaf.

One thing: while you can make your meatloaf in a loaf pan, I like this freeform style because it keeps the loaf from stewing in its juices.

[box type=”note” style=”rounded” border=”full”]Instead the ketchup glaze, serve with mushroom gravy.[/box]

Everything Gumbo

For the gluten-free eater, gumbo is one of those foods we will likely never enjoy in a restaurant. At the heart of this dish is the classic New Orleans-style roux — a mix of flour and oil cooked until it is a rich, deep brown. Roux is synonymous with gumbo.

But I love gumbo, and knew I could make an excellent dish using gluten-free flour, specifically, in my case, Bob’s Red Mill All-Purpose GF flour. I also borrowed a trick from Alton Brown, using my oven to build my roux. This allowed me to do all my prep work while the roux turned a gorgeous shade of chocolate brown.

You can make chicken gumbo, shrimp gumbo, vegetarian gumbo, gumbo with okra, without okra. It’s your gumbo. This recipe has everything but the okra (which I prefer served on the side, lightly fried rather than in the stew itself). As a bonus, gumbo served over steamed rice makes an impressive they’ll-never-guess-it’s-GF party dish!

Chicken with Vinegar Sauce

I love chicken. I love vinegar. I love chicken and vinegar together. I love it so much that when I cleaned out my recipe clippings a few weeks ago, I had, in addition to my own recipe, three others from various publications. Clearly I’m not alone in my love of this flavor combination.

This meal packs a lot of flavor and adds a note of elegance to a weeknight or weekend meal. Make sure you plan for leftovers!

As with all my recipes, adjust the proportions to suit your needs, but you probably won’t need to increase the amount of vinegar — one cup is the maximum you’ll need for most meals. And the chicken stock and heavy cream are about right as well…unless you are feeding a small crowd.

If you love garlic (and who doesn’t?), the cloves come out of the pot soft and a bit pickled, so don’t be afraid to add some extra.

Chicken with Dijon-Cream Sauce

Chicken — tasty, versatile, convenient — chicken is my fallback for many a weeknight dinner. It’s fast and easy, and there are so many ways to prepare chicken that I feel guilty when I fall back on traditional baked chicken breast with rice and veggies (don’t get me wrong: I love this combo, but it can get a bit monotonous).

I feel less guilty once grilling season rolls around because everything tastes better hot off the grill.

On the other hand, I’ve fallen in love with pan sauces. They are a terrific, easy way to pep up ordinary chicken. The mustardy, creamy sauce here brightens up any cut of chicken. Added bonus is it brings loads of flavor to accompanying rice or potatoes (or even GF bread or biscuits).

I’ve made this with a variety of cuts of chicken, but (typically!) prefer bone-in skin-on thighs for their flavor. You can substitute for what you prefer, adjusting cooking times accordingly. Also, regular smooth Dijon mustard works quite well here.

Basic Turkey or Chicken Gravy

One thing gluten-free eaters need to be wary of is gravy. So often it’s made with wheat flour, meaning we often eat our mashed potatoes, turkey, and other dishes dry. Yet making gluten-free gravy is so easy, it doesn’t need to be saved for holiday meals. This gravy tastes so good, you’ll be the only one who knows it’s gluten-free.

This recipe assumes you’re using a whole roasted bird, complete with giblets. If this isn’t the case for you, skip the steps involved with making a broth and just use a flavorful stock. Having made this for several Thanksgivings, the one thing I can say with certainty is that while it’s a lot of work in the beginning, it comes together quickly while the turkey is resting!

Basic Bolognese Sauce

This is, for me, the ultimate Italian sauce. It’s perfect for noodles, for lasagna, for parties. Yes, it takes a long time to make this sauce from scratch, but you can freeze it so it’s ready for quick meals at any time. I love to make this sauce on a Sunday afternoon. The scent permeates house, making everyone hungry, and, truth be told, I’m getting hungry just writing about it!

Modify this recipe to suit your own personal taste, but don’t omit the vegetables. They give depth and body to this sauce.