It's thyme for date night! Sorry, I had to get that out of my system. Being newly married with school loans constantly looming over our heads, Matt and I try to save money by doing date nights in... Actually, I just love cooking, and it just so happens to help out in the financial area, but whatever helps. I will take one for the team. I am always trying to create fancy looking dishes that are inexpensive. I have learned over the past two years through my cooking endeavors that using expensive ingredients is not the most important part of having a delicious meal. It is all about cooking the ingredients well.
For date night in, I dreamed up a recipe I affectionately call, Rustic Thyme Meatloaf. It is beautiful not because of perfectly placed grill marks or the money invested in creating it. It is beautiful due to a little thoughtful planning and its bright colors.
Rustic Thyme Meatloaf
1 lb of ground beef or deer
10 Ritz crackers, crushed into crumbs
3 TBSP of thyme leaves
1/2 14oz can of petite diced tomatoes
4 peeled carrots
2 TBSP of olive oil
1 TBSP of flour
1 garlic clove
Salt and Pepper
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. In a bowl, mix 2 tbsp of thyme leaves, ground meat, egg, tomatoes, and crushed crackers. Form the mixture into individual patties and place on a baking sheet. Drizzle each meatloaf with Worchestershire sauce. Put the patties in the oven and bake for 30 minutes.
While the meatloaf is cooking, take your carrots and slice them in thin, long strips. I used a mandoline to get this effect, but I know not everyone has one of these. Instead, you can use your vegetable peeler to make strips. Heat a skillet over medium high heat with 1 tbsp of olive oil and salt and pepper. Place your carrot ribbons in the pan and saute until they are soft and droopy. For me it took about 10 minutes, but if you used your vegetable peeler, they will cook faster.
While your carrots are softening, it is thyme to whip up a quick sauce. (I couldn't help myself). Thinly slice your garlic clove. Take the other tablespoon of olive oil, heat over medium heat and add the flour and stir. When the oil and flour have come together add the garlic slices. Here is where things get tricky. I didn't measure how much liquid I added, but here are my closest guesses. Add 1/2 a cup of chicken broth and wisk the mixture until the sauce thickens. Add a dash of worchestershire sauce and balsamic vinegar. Let sauce thicken and finally add 1/4 cup of red wine and a pinch of salt and pepper to taste.
Presentation is what changes an ordinary dish from restaurant quality deliciousness. Place one meatloaf on a plate and drizzle with your garlic wine sauce. Top your meatloaf with the beautiful carrot ribbons and sprinkle with some of the remaining thyme leaves. I served my meatloaf with steamed broccoli, but I seriously debated serving it with mashed garlic potatoes. I still think the potatoes would be a fantastic idea, but to cut back on calories, I made the adult decision to have broccoli. The child in me was very sad to miss out on the carbs.
Light a candle, grab your sweetie, and enjoy spending thyme together on your date night in. Okay, enough puns for today. Bon Appetite!