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Milwaukee's Daily Magazine for Sunday, Sept. 21, 2014

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Just in time for fall, shepherd's pie.
Just in time for fall, shepherd's pie.

Reinventing leftovers: Meatloaf and mashed potatoes to Shepherd's pie

October is the third annual Dining Month on OnMilwaukee.com. All month, we're stuffed with restaurant reviews, delicious features, chef profiles, unique articles on everything food, as well as the winners of our "Best of Dining 2009."

 

Okay, for round two, let's try converting meatloaf and mashed potatoes into Shepherd's pie; both of which could likely be classified as classic comfort foods.

 

You can basically take any meatloaf recipe you currently make and deconstruct it into a second day meal of Shepherd's pie. For my meatloaf, I do the following, which is a variation of a recipe I found on allrecipes.com.

The Better Homes and Gardens Cookbook also has a pretty decent meatloaf. I think the key is that you should use a combination of both pork and ground beef instead of just using beef. And if you don't want to use the meatloaf for sandwiches (which you can top with a very simple gravy made with beef stock and flour or cornstarch), Shepherd's pie is a great alternative.

 

Meal 1: Meatloaf and mashed potatoes

 

Meatloaf

1/2 cup packed brown sugar

1/2 cup ketchup

3/4 pound lean ground beef

3/4 pound ground pork (or two Italian sausages with the casings removed)

3/4 cup milk

2 eggs

1/4 tsp. ground black pepper

1 small yellow onion, diced

1/4 tsp. ground ginger

1/2 package of finely crushed saltine cracker crumbs mixed with a handful of grated parmesan cheese

 

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees. In a 5x9, ungreased bread pan (or spread over a 12-muffin tin if you want to make individual servings) press the brown sugar into the bottom of the pan and then layer with ketchup.

 

Put a half pack of saltine crackers and a handful of grated Parmesan into a gallon size Ziploc bag and use a rolling pin to crush the crackers into small crumbs.

 

Lightly beat the eggs in a small bowl. Then, in a large mixing bowl, combine all ingredients and mi…

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Those leftovers aren't looking so bad anymore, are they?
Those leftovers aren't looking so bad anymore, are they?

Reinventing leftovers

October is the third annual Dining Month on OnMilwaukee.com. All month, we're stuffed with restaurant reviews, delicious features, chef profiles, unique articles on everything food, as well as the winners of our "Best of Dining 2009."

In our house, we often struggle with eating leftovers. Point blank, no matter how well-intentioned you are, it's downright difficult to get yourself to eat the same thing day after day until it's gone. (Okay, so maybe some things are easier than others to do this with, but I still think you get my drift.)

So, I thought as part of OnMilwaukee.com's dining month, I would tackle a few leftovers and try to help you (and me) with reinventing them as another meal.

I'm trying out a couple "Sunday meals," if you will, and then recreating them in a quick and easy weekday meal with a few key ingredients, to make the second run of dinner a little easier to bite down, and get rid of those leftovers in one fell swoop. My theory is that reinventing them into a new meal makes them easier to eat.

The first one I attacked was leftover shrimp and rice. I'm always a little skittish about leftover, reheated seafood, because sometimes it just gets so overcooked or slightly fishy smelling that it's nothing I want to put in my mouth.

So, I figured out a few key tips. If you use shell-on shrimp and keep the shell on during preparation, the shrimp seem to maintain its composure a little better and escapes the fishy smell. You'll still want to use the shrimp within 72 hours of your first preparation, but converting the dish into shrimp fried rice makes it a quick and delicious way to do so. I used grilled shrimp, but you could also use sautéed, broiled, baked or boiled.

Meal one:

Shell-on shrimp

Olive oil

Sea salt

Black pepper

Jasmine rice

Asparagus

Skewer the shrimp and drizzle both sides with olive oil and season generously with salt and pepper.

Snap tough ends from a…

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Is it bringing back lunchtime memories from childhood?
Is it bringing back lunchtime memories from childhood?

Cheap meal of the week: Creamed chipped beef

October is the third annual Dining Month on OnMilwaukee.com. All month, we're stuffed with restaurant reviews, delicious features, chef profiles, unique articles on everything food, as well as the winners of our "Best of Dining 2009."

For OnMilwaukee.com's dining month, I thought some quick and inexpensive (stretching out that last week before payday) meals might be a fun little feature.

Many of these are dinners I ate growing up, and my mom ate growing up before me. They literally end up being pennies a serving and are quick and easy to throw together using ingredients that you either usually have on hand, or can be picked up for a buck or two. So, there's nothing gourmet here, but each recipe will cover your major food groups and fill your gullet.

Creamed chipped beef on toast (Just like mom used to make)

Serves 4

8 slices of sandwich bread, toasted
8 oz. of Buddig beef sandwich meat
½ cup canned or fresh sliced mushrooms
2 tbsp. butter
2 tbsp. flour
1 ½ cups milk
1/8 tsp. cayenne pepper
Black pepper and salt to taste

Slice your sandwich meat into medium sized pieces about ¾ of an inch square. If you are using fresh mushrooms, heat them in a small saute pan over medium heat with a little bit of butter.

In a medium sauce pan over medium heat, melt the butter. Whisk in the flour, carefully pulling it in from the edges of the saucepan. When the flour and butter form a paste, slowly stir in the milk, about ¼ cup at a time, and continue stirring. The mixture will begin to thicken. Bring to a rolling boil and stir in the lunch meat and mushrooms. Season the roux with cayenne, salt and pepper to taste.

If you like, you can add fresh or frozen peas into the sauce at the end just long enough to heat them through.

Serve the creamed chipped beef over slices of warm toast.

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Even with bad service, we usually leave ten percent, but last night, we put a zero in the tip line.
Even with bad service, we usually leave ten percent, but last night, we put a zero in the tip line.

We didn't leave a tip

October is the third annual Dining Month on OnMilwaukee.com. All month, we're stuffed with restaurant reviews, delicious features, chef profiles, unique articles on everything food, as well as the winners of our "Best of Dining 2009."

For the first time in as long as I can remember, we didn't leave a tip last night.

We ate at a well-known family run restaurant that is known less for the quality of its food and more for its conviviality. The name of the restaurant? Doesn't matter. The restaurant held up its end of the bargain. The server didn't.

We sat, we waited. She brought our water and asked for our drink orders. She dropped them off and immediately said in a rushed fashion, "Are you ready to order?" OK, so Scott ordered his entrée, asked if there was vinegar and oil for his salad, and she snapped back, "No, Italian." Okay, Italian then.

I ordered a sandwich, for which there was no entrée counterpart. Chicken parmesan. "The sandwich?" she asked. I was confused and looked at the menu again to confirm the only chicken parmesan was a sandwich. "Yes, please."

Snapped her book shut and walked away. No smile.

Now let me say this. I totally understand a bad night. Everyone has a bad night sometimes. And I've even been put off by servers at otherwise excellent restaurants who were having a bad night, and I usually will mention something to the owner or manager out of respect. The thing is, if you deliver bad service to me, I dine out often enough, I kind of understand and will help make excuses for you. I know you might be having a bad night, but I also know that the owner may not realize they mistakenly hired a bad server.

Maybe I blog about service issues too much, but they seem to be more and more pervasive in Milwaukee, and they are ruining our restaurants. 

When I waited tables, I would make the occasional error, too. I was not a technically perfect server, but I genuinely felt a sense of servitude…

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