I have a complicated relationship with Ree Drummond (aka the Pioneer Woman). Her Food Network show makes me cringe, and I think she plays the "gee golly shucks I'm just a little 'ol country housewife from Oklahoma" when, in fact, her family is worth millions at the very least, a little ham-fisted.
On the other hand, I've never made a recipe of hers that wasn't just aces, and her cinnamon roll recipe would make a grown man cry. Plus, she's figured out how to market the hell out of herself so now she can hire people to do all the dirty work of running her empire.
Like I said, it's complicated.
When I was working in the library system in North Carolina, when her first cookbook, The Pioneer Woman Cooks: Recipes From an Accidental County Girl, went on sale, there were hundreds of holds put on it, and we couldn't keep it in stock.
This one day, a woman returned the book and it was in tatters. It had clearly been handled by dozens of people trying to make those cinnamon rolls. I checked the book in, and marked it for deletion.
"You're going to throw that away, right?" the woman asked me, a little manic.
I told her I was.
"Can I just keep it?" she asked. I don't much like using adverbs in writing, but the only way to describe this is to say she asked eagerly.
"I'd...have to charge you for it," I told her. This was protocol. If books were taken out of circulation, we couldn't give them to the last person who had them because then people might start destroying them on purpose.
She thought about it. "Full Price?" she asked. I told her yes.
"You may as well just buy it," I told her. She was disappointed.
After the woman left, I went to toss the book into the "Destroy" box. My boss was in the back.
"That's been a really popular book," Boss Lady said. I nodded.
"You know," she said, "I know you cook a lot. We can't use it, but you could probably rubber band it together or something. The pages look like they're still intact."
"Is that something I can do?" I asked. She shrugged.
"Why not? It's just going to get destroyed otherwise."
So that's how I came to be in possession of this sad, deteriorating cookbook. (Sorry, lady who wanted it! I hope you got your Pioneer Woman fix somewhere else.)
All that said, this meatloaf is bangin'. I don't know where meatloaf got such a bad rap, but those people have clearly never tried this meatloaf. I made a couple of modifications (and even then, Dennis said the sauce was "too sweet for him." I'd knocked it down from 6 Tbs. brown sugar to 4! I also got rid of the bacon because, 1, I didn't have bacon, and 2, I don't much like meat covered in other meat.)
If you make it this way, I promise it's delicious and makes a really stellar sandwich the next day.
From the Pioneer Woman Cooks: Recipes From an Accidental Country Girl
1 cup milk
6 bread slices
1 1/2 to 2 lbs. ground beef
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. seasoned salt
1/4 cup flat-leaf parsley, minced
4 eggs, beaten
1 1/2 cups ketchup
2-6 Tbsp. brown sugar (depending on how much you like sweet sauce. I recommend 3.)
4-6 dashes Tabasco sauce
Preheat the over to 350°F.
Put the bread in a small bowl and pour the milk over the bread. Let soak for several minutes.
Put the beef, bread and milk mixture, cheese, salt, seasoned salt, parsley, pepper, and beaten eggs in a large mixing bowl, and with clean hands, mix until well-combined.
Form a loaf with the mixture and put on a broiler pan (or in a loaf pan, but if you use a loaf pan, you'll have to worry about skimming grease off the top).
Make the sauce by mixing all sauce ingredients together and stirring until combined.
Pour a third of the sauce over the meatloaf.
Bake for 45 minutes. Pour the rest of the sauce over the meatloaf and bake for another 20-25 minutes until cooked through.
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