Category Archives: Pleasantly Surprised

Meatloaf and Chili Con Carny … I think

Choosing a recipe sometimes seems like so much pressure, so this time I closed my eyes and let my fingers decide what to make.  What I came up with was two separate recipes (I think) that Grandma had written on a notepad.  The top recipe was untitled, and though the mention of tomatoes initially threw me off, I eventually guessed from the rest of the ingredients that it was meatloaf.  The other recipe was a little harder to figure out, partly because of disintegration in the paper quality where the title seemed to be.  My best guess was Chili Con Carny.  Grandma’s handwriting makes it look like the last word is Earni, doesn’t it?  But that’s Grandma for you :).



Ingredients on the actual recipe:

  • 1 lb hamburger
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup bread crumbs
  • 1 onion
  • salt, 1 level T
  • pepper, a little bit
  • some tomatoes if needed

Color isn’t great, but you get the idea.

I bought a couple of crusty rolls – similar to what I imagined Grandma would have had on hand.    I cut the buns into small cubes and put them in a slow oven (about 250°F) for about an hour to dry them out. I then broke the cubes of bread into small crumbs and measured out 1 cup.

Admittedly, the salt and pepper threw me for a loop.  Because of the German-influenced backwards grammar that Grandma used, it looked to me like she meant salt and 1 level Tbsp pepper.  I thought that Grandma must have meant 1 teaspoon pepper – certainly not a whole tablespoon (even a level tsp would be spicy)!  It was only AFTER putting the meatloaf in the oven that I realized Grandma must have meant a Tbsp salt and some pepper.  Being someone who doesn’t like my food too salty, I’m glad I made the mistake I did.

I used canned tomatoes because I figured that would most likely have been what Grandma would have used.  It still seemed strange to me, but I went ahead and put about 3 heaping spoonfuls of diced tomatoes into the meatloaf mixture.  I mixed  all the ingredients together and put it into a foil lined loaf pan.

Although Grandma’s recipe didn’t call for a glaze, I made one for the meatloaf anyway.  I mixed together 3 Tbsp each: ketchup, yellow mustard, and brown sugar.  I put this glaze on the meatloaf when it was nearly done and put the broiler on to caramelize it (about 10 minutes).

For all the concerns I had about the recipe and how it would turn out, I was pleasantly surprised at how good the meatloaf tasted.  In fact, it was gobbled up by my family before I ever had a chance to take any pictures of the finished product.  And though it was a little spicy, it had a great flavor.  Definitely a keeper, and something I’ll make again!


This wasn’t so much a recipe as it was a group of cryptically abbreviated directions.  Here’s the ingredients I used:

    • 1 lb ground beef
    • 1 onion, diced (the recipe doesn’t say anything about onions, but I guessed that onions go without saying when frying ground beef)
    • 1 tin pork and beans
    • 1 tin tomato soup
    • 1 tsp chili powder

I sauteed the onions and browned the ground beef in a large skillet (I drained the ground beef once cooked, even though the recipe doesn’t include this instruction).   I then stirred in the chili powder and added the beans and soup.  It didn’t actually look all that bad.  And once I started eating it, I realized it didn’t taste bad at all either!  I had my serving with a bun, but you could easily serve this over rice or pasta as well.

Again – pleasantly surprised.  Who knew??


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