Food Hack: Over the Top Meatloaf Sandwich

I have an obsession. If I love something at a restaurant, I have to try to recreate it or improve it at home. I just can’t help myself. Hence my wonderful Chicken Bryan (√† la Carrabba’s) or Yummy Salmon Pasta (based on a no-longer-offered TGI Friday’s recipe). It’s no surprise, then, that since The Cheesecake Factory cut my FAVORITE sandwich, I have felt a strong calling to recreate it. And recreate it, I did!

Behold:

meatloaf sandwich

Yes, it was good. Pretty near close to perfect, actually. Yes, it was so good that we are going to eat it again for lunch tomorrow. The essential ingredients of the sandwich (in order from bottom to top) are Texas toast, meatloaf, sauteed onions and mushrooms, swiss cheese, a beer, fresh arugula, tomato bacon jam, and garlic aioli. Here are my suggestions for making it perfectly:

  • Meatloaf — Use the recipe on the back of the Lipton’s Onion Soup Mix box, but substitute Stove Top Stuffing for breadcrumbs. Cook a portion without ketchup covering the top, and use that for the sandwiches. It’s best on the day after you had it for dinner (trust me).
  • Sauteed onions and mushrooms — TCF sautees these in Guinness, which we didn’t have on hand but that I would definitely suggest because it does add something extra. I didn’t use mushroom since my husband doesn’t like them, and I added some Worchestershire sauce when carmelizing the onions because of not having a dark beer on hand like Guinness. It helped.
  • Swiss cheese — TCF marinates their swiss in Guinness as well. I just did it in regular beer. I think I’m going to do a beer/Worchestershire sauce mixture next time, even if I have Guinness on hand. I topped the bottom of my sandwiches with these cheese slices that had been soaking in beer and stuck them in the oven for a minute or two under the broiler. Perfection!
  • Arugula — use a heaping fist-full. Seriously, you think it might be weird, but it brings a real balance to the sandwich.
  • Tomato bacon jam — Use this recipe but skip the pepper. It unbalances the whole sandwich if you have the pepper. It really wasn’t bad to prepare as far as jams go and it makes a whole pint, so you will have plenty extra to freeze for later use (it only lasts 3-4 days in the fridge). This is the closest recipe I’ve found to TCF.
  • Garlic aioli — I mixed minced garlic with mayo. I didn’t run it through the food processor like I should have and I used way too much garlic. Good thing we are a garlic-loving family or it would have been too strong!

So there you have it, the ultra-complicated-yet-perfectly-matched-and-delicious sandwich. What are some of the recipes you’d love to copy from a restaurant?

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Summer Bucket List 2013

Last year’s Summer Bucket List post was one of my most popular on TBP, and still gets traffic. I knew I definitely wanted to do it again, not only because of popularity, but because Clark is so interactive right now! So, without further ado, here is our Summer Bucket List for 2013. I’ll periodically post pictures of some of the things we do. These may not apply to you, and some of them are very, very simple, but my goal this year was to take pleasure in the small things in life and to stop and enjoy these moments that we all skim over in taking them for granted. Click on the image for the high-res version. I hope you enjoy our list!

summer bucket list 2013 copy

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Living Room Mood Board

There are a lot of great features in Grandma’s living room – a beautiful fireplace mantel, a huge picture window, and a setup that allows both a small living area and an entry way with a large opening to the dining room (which we’ll use as an office). Some of the features, though, are a bit crazy (outdated fixtures, barnwood on the focal wall – is that a plus or minus? and green shag carpet covering hardwood floors that need to be refinished desperately).

So, to get my creative juices flowing, I made a mood board and compiled things I love and things I own that I’d like to put in the living room. Keep in mind that I’m not yet as awesome as Young House Love and I only did basics (not finishes) so this is a highly flexible and elementary mood board. Nevertheless, it really helped me decide on some pieces when I saw them together (and nix some others!) so, enjoy!

1. This isn’t the actual couch we’ll get, but I love that the lines on this couch go well with the lines of the chair (which is my current fave!). And to be honest, with a toddler and another baby on the way + pets, we’re looking for faux leather for the next several years. Target, $599

2. OMG, this chair! I wish I could link to it, but so far Ikea hasn’t released it since 1951 (although there are rumors that they are going to re-release it! I hope so!). Oogle this beauty in Ikea’s 2013 catalog.

3. I actually already have a beautiful half-round console table from Hobby Lobby (it was damaged and on clearance for $30, but my dad fixed and painted the problem area in about 20 minutes – thanks, Dad!), but this one is similar, albeit a little more modern. Target, on sale for $221

4. I’ve been looking for a playful lamp for the side table since our beautiful Tiffany-esque lamp cracked during the move, and while I’m not sold on this option, I love that it’s so much cheaper than the Pottery Barn version! Ikea, $49.99

5. This mirror! It’s huge, which goes well with the size of the console table and will create a nice focal point across from the front door. And really, for the size the price is decent. I may try to find some fun, similarly colored tiles and DIY this with a cheaper mirror. Target, $199.99

6. This table was a wedding shower gift that I love, love, love and am so glad that I could work it in to this room’s design. But really, I would’ve found a place for it somewhere or changed my design to use it! Target, $62.99

7. I love these Hemnes bookcases to flank both sides of the fireplace/mounted TV, add some trim, and give them a built-in look. This particular image is part of a premade combination, but you can totally design your own set with the doors, drawers and whatever else you want. Ikea, $375

8. Benjamin Moore Paints are super popular, and for a reason. I found this color on Pinterest and I think it’s perfect for the marriage of grey and brown that I want to achieve in the living room. Benjamin Moore, Revere Pewter

9. Doesn’t this throw look so comfy? Target, $34.99

10. I love this pair of decorative pillows, but I feel like I will probably make or find several more to add interest and layers. Target, $25.99

11. We’ll need a great rug for the main area (and possibly for the entry area as well, but I’m not sure what is going to work for that space yet) and I wanted something more traditional that pulled in the colors of the furniture and paint but added other colors as well. This Valby Ruta rug seems to do just that at a very decent price. Ikea, $79.99

To finish out this huge post, I’d like to add a super high-quality post of the layout of the living room.

Summer Bucket List 2012

Don’t look at me funny – it’s that time of the year! There are only two weeks left in the school year for the youngins, so that means that summer is upon us. Now, don’t take me the wrong way, I don’t get out of school until August 23rd, but my classes are in the evenings after Clark’s bedtime so they won’t cut into our summer fun.

It does mean the end of “student teaching” (tear! I will miss the third graders!) so Clark and I will be hanging out full-time until Jason gets home from his classes each day, and I wanted to have a fun list of many activities to do so that when it’s hot and my brain stops functioning (don’t lie — it happens to you, too!) we’ll have some awesome ideas. Most of these, of course, are from Pinterest and have been tailored to work with a two year old.

Call this your official Summer Bucket List challenge – what will you do with your kids this year? Leave a link to your summer bucket list posts here!

Handwritten Letters

There is something so special, even in today’s mega-digital age, about receiving mail. Not the yucky kind like junk mail or bills. But packages. Magazines. Handwritten letters from friends!

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I have one friend who always manages to send amazing little packages and cards, always at exactly the time in my life when I didn’t realize I needed them, but I’m terrible about sending them myself, so today I picked up some stamps at the bank while I was depositing a check. I hope that I will actually send a little ray of sunshine to my friends since I’ve been so swamped with grad school as of late!