I will be the first to admit I am not a morning person. It's all I can do to turn off the alarm clock and get out of bed. To be honest, I'm one of the world's greatest "just a few more minutes" procrastinators when it comes to my feet hitting the floor at 6 a.m. As a result, I'm always running behind schedule getting out of the house and to work.
By the time I have taken a shower, gotten dressed, given the dog food and fresh water, walked her, and gathered something for my lunch, I have neither the time or energy to make coffee for the road.
"It's not that hard," a friend has told me for years. "Get it all ready the night before and put it on automatic start. It'll be ready when you are."
Uh-huh. That is, if I remember to put it in a commuter cup and bring it out to the car -- and then remember to bring the cup home with me when I leave work for home. And, of course, that means remembering to buy the ground coffee and creamer or half-and-half every week at the market.
And let's not even talk about the expense of constantly having to buy a new commuter cup because I've left it on the roof of the car and driven off ...
For years, I've gotten my coffee at convenience stores on the way to work. When I worked at the Transcript newsroom on American Legion Drive, before being transferred to The Berkshire Eagle newsroom in Pittsfield, my coffee-to-go palace was the Xtra-Mart on Ashland Street. The coffee gods and goddesses there, Kathy, Libby, Joe and Mike, served up pleasant conversation with the coffee, plus the coffee -- and the price-- was good (and still is).
I ran into Mike at a T-ball game last spring and we chit-chatted about my food column for awhile. He told me about a great recipe for Meatloaf Muffins, which had been in a promo magazine for a local supermarket. "You'll love them," he said and promised me a copy of the recipe.
He gave it to me a few weeks later -- and he was right! After baking, if there are any left, they can be frozen individually and reheated as needed. I've also tried using sharp white cheddar cheese in place of the mozzarella cheese.
Makes 9 (1-muffin) servings.
1 1/2 cups pizza sauce, divided
3 4 cup Italian bread crumbs
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 packet onion soup mix
1 1/2 lb. 85 percent lean ground beef
No stick cooking spray
1 cup mozzarella cheese, shredded
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
In a large bowl, combine eggs, 1 cup pizza sauce, bread crumbs, oregano and soup mix. Crumble raw beef over mixture and mix well.
Coat 9 regular-size muffin cups with cooking spray.
Divide beef mixture evenly between the muffin cups, making sure to press onto the bottom and up the sides. Using the tip of a spoon, make an indentation in the middle of each and fill with cheese; smooth the indentation closed, covering the cheese. Bake for 15 to 18 minutes or until meat is no longer pink. Brush with remaining pizza sauce and return to oven for an additional 5 minutes.
St. Patrick's Day is just around the corner. My ancestors knew more about sauerbraten and spaetzle than corned beef and cabbage (unless it was in the form of sauerkraut). However, my mom perfected a recipe for Irish Soda Bread, which she made frequently.
It calls for buttermilk and, if you're not a cooking show diva, it's just not a staple in the refrigerator. A simple substitution can be made by placing a tablespoon of white vinegar or lemon juice in a liquid measuring cup and adding enough milk to bring the liquid up to the one-cup line. Let the mixture stand for 5 minutes. Then, use as much as your recipe calls for. (For this recipe, you will need to double the amount of milk and vinegar or lemon juice).
Irish Soda Bread
1 1/2 cups buttermilk
2 tablespoons butter, melted
1 egg, slightly beaten
1 1/2 cups seedless raisins
3 cups flour
3 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon caraway seeds (optional)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9-inch by 5-inch loaf pan. In a medium bowl, combine buttermilk, butter, egg and raisins. In a large bowl, combine the dry ingredients. Blend well and add the buttermilk mixture and mix until combined.
Spoon into the prepared pan. Bake 50 to 55 minutes. Leave in the pan 1 minute. Remove to wire rack to cool.
Margaret Button is the city editor of the North Adams Transcript. Send recipes for inclusion in future columns to the North Adams Transcript, 85 Main St., Suite 2, North Adams, Mass. 01247 or email them to firstname.lastname@example.org.