Ree Drummond’s Smart (and Flavorful) Trick for Not-Dry Meatloaf — Celebrity Recipe Showdown

Please don’t get upset at me for saying this, but bacon is something I could take or leave. I know it’s beloved by many and I totally get why — it’s salty and delicious, of course — but I don’t really need a whole lot of it in my life. So when I saw that Ree Drummond wraps her meatloaf in bacon, I didn’t automatically cheer as some would. Instead, I sort of scratched my head: Meat-wrapped meat?

The Pioneer Woman’s meatloaf recipe is by far the most different of the four popular meatloaf recipes I tested. Reading through the instructions before I made it, I admittedly worried it would be an over-the-top, heavy mess. But I’ve got to say that Ree really did surprise me with this one. And I may actually like bacon more than I thought I did.

Get the recipe: Ree Drummond’s Meatloaf


The Easiest Way to Improve Any Pasta Dish, According to Ina Garten

I make pasta at least once a week, so I thought I knew all the tricks: Cook until al dente (toothsome, not tender). Salt the water lavishly (I estimate a heaping tablespoon of salt per quart of water). And use a small amount of water for the best pan sauce (looking at you, aglio e olio).

But, then I binge-read Ina Garten’s latest cookbook, Cook Like a Pro, learned a game-changing trick—and it just happened to be easiest of all: Use different pasta shapes in the same dish.

To put it lightly, my pantry has a lot of leftover boxes of pasta. Penne. Rigatoni. Fusilli. Cavatappi. Spaghetti. Why did I never think to combine them? Maybe because no recipe had ever given me permission. But, if Ina’s doing it—I want to be doing it.

She showcases this trick in her Baked Pasta With Tomatoes & Eggplant, which calls for penne rigate and fusilli. So, two short shapes: one tubular, the other twirly.

There are no rules to mixing and matching pasta shapes. Just follow this general idea: Combine short shapes with other short shapes, and long shapes with other long shapes. And who’s to stop you from combining three, or even four, different types? Whatever the original recipe calls for, just add in one or more new shapes.

How easy was that?


What? Fried Chicken with Waffles? Where Did it Come From?

Around for years, chicken and waffles has seen a revival as of late as brunch has become a top trend in American cuisine. The combination of juicy, tender chicken on top of warm, buttery waffles is decadent and has the makings of the perfect flavor combination.

“The obsession with brunch has put a lot of sweet and savory dishes in the spotlight,” said Chef Richard Hales of Bird & Bone at The Confidante Miami Beach located in Miami, Florida.

The buzz surrounding chicken and waffles doesn’t seem to be slowing down—in fact, it seems that restaurants are adding it to their menus for all types of meals and are creating their own signature versions of the dish.

Cuisinart Classic Waffle Maker, $29.95 at Walmart

For classic, diner-style, thin and crispy waffles.

Try It

Where Did Chicken and Waffles Come From?

So, where did the chicken and waffles craze begin?

According to Hales, there are several origins of chicken and waffles in the U.S., dating pretty far back. One, he said, starts with a farm.

“On a farm, cooking chickens for breakfast is common and I’ve heard the Pennsylvania Dutch came up with chicken and waffles,” he said. Their version of the dish is said to have been plain chicken that was braised or simmered and would be placed on top of a plain waffle.

But, he notes, the version of the chicken and waffles that have made its way into mainstream brunch culture today was born of the soul food movement in American cuisine. The meal combined leftover fried chicken from the previous night with the classic breakfast elements of waffles and syrup. However, the exact location of the origin of this dish is unknown—some claim the Harlem section of Los Angeles, California was the first to popularize the staple, while others allege that Baltimore, Maryland was the founding father of chicken and waffles.

Either way, Hales says that no matter where the dish originated from, there is one region that has laid claim to bringing the meal to the point of where it is today.

“It’s an indulgence made popular in Southern cooking,” he says.

Why It’s Popular Now

Hales says that one of the reasons the dish remains so popular is that it is versatile when it comes to both ingredients and time of ingesting.

“Chicken and waffles can be eaten anytime of the day. Breakfast, lunch, and dinner, yes, but also, it’s a great late-night food after too many drinks—it’s perfect then as well as a great hangover cure the next morning. That’s 24 hours of eating chicken and waffles possibilities,” says Hales.

He also says that restaurants love to add the dish to its menu because it’s easy to customize and elevate to a more sophisticated plate.

“I like to flavor the butter and syrup with bourbon and ingredients that are over the top. Changing the flavor of the waffle is a good start, too. We like to serve it alongside our blackberry bourbon iced tea cocktail,” he adds.

Make Your Own

Basic Buttermilk Fried Chicken

best buttermilk fried chicken


Crispy, juicy, tender, and well-seasoned, this fried chicken is the perfect waffle topper. Get our Basic Buttermilk Fried Chicken recipe.

Savory Cheddar Waffles

Savory Cheddar Waffles


Feeling like chicken and waffles with an even more Southern spin? Like cheesy grits, make your chicken and waffles dish a little bit extra by adding cheddar and parmesan to the waffle mix. Your friends will thank you. Get our Savory Cheddar Waffles recipe.

Related Video: Buttermilk Fried Chicken

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Chicken in Garlic and Herb Sauce Is a Super Tasty French-Inspired Dinner — From Jo Cooks


I’m back to cooking with some of my favorite ingredients like garlic, fresh herbs, wine and chicken thighs. Simple ingredients with amazing results. I don’t know if you all cook with chicken thighs but I love them because they’re so economical.

You can usually buy those big packages and from one package you can make 2 or 3 dishes depending on the size of your family. But just because the main ingredient is cheap doesn’t mean the dish has to be lacking in flavor. And this is why I love this chicken dish.


In this recipe, I first pan sear the chicken thighs in a bit of olive oil on both sides, until they’re nice and golden brown, about 5 minutes per side. At this point they will not be cooked completely through, but that’s ok. We’ll continue cooking them later in the sauce.


Lots of garlic and I mean lots of garlic. About 8 cloves of garlic, to be precise. Lots of fresh herbs like fresh oregano and fresh thyme. The garlic with these fresh herbs are amazing together.

I also use some low sodium chicken broth and some sherry wine. Sherry is a fortified wine and can range from sweet to quite dry. Because it’s a fortified wine it’s usually higher in alcohol and longer-lasting. In some countries like Spain, sherry wine is savored like a fine whiskey.

The sherry I used here is a dry red wine, so if you don’t have sherry on hand, a regular dry red wine would work. However, I always keep a bottle of sherry around because it’s perfect for deglazing and making delicious pan sauces.


In this recipe, I first pan sear the chicken thighs in a bit of olive oil on both sides, until they’re nice and golden brown, about 5 minutes per side. At this point they will not be cooked completely through, but that’s ok. We’ll continue cooking them later in the sauce.


In that same pan you cooked the chicken thighs, add the garlic and the fresh herbs. The more fresh herbs and garlic the better. Cook until the garlic becomes aromatic, and trust me your entire house will smell heavenly. Deglaze the pan with the sherry and chicken broth, scraping all those brown bits, that’s where the flavor is, my friends.

You can then add the chicken back to the saucepan and cook for around 20 minutes on low until the chicken becomes really juicy and tender soaking up all the incredible sauce. Alternatively, you can pop the pan, if it’s oven safe, into the oven and continue cooking in the oven for 20 minutes at 375 F degrees.

A Moroccan A Chicken Pie That Will Blow Your Mind

A simplified version of pastilla, the savory Moroccan pastry served on festive occasions, this recipe can be broken up so the process is part of the fun.

This recipe is from New York Times

Though I am by no means an expert in Moroccan cuisine, I have long been an ardent admirer. Even before my first visit, I began dabbling, learning from cookbooks.

Over the years, I have become quite comfortable making a small repertoire of dishes of which I never tire: I love the abundant use of spices in Moroccan food, the frequent presence of lemons and green olives, the smell of steaming buttered couscous.

Some dishes are easily prepared; others, like pastilla (also known as b’stillah or bsteeya), a well-known savory pastry, require a definite commitment. This somewhat-simplified version involves a lot of steps, but it can be broken down so you can enjoy the process.Chicken thighs are braised until tender before being assembled into the pie.CreditDavid Malosh for The New York Times. Food Stylist: Simon Andrews.

I could eat it without cooking further!

The main work is braising the chicken, which is simmered to tenderness with onions and sweet spices, like turmeric, saffron, ginger, allspice and, especially, cinnamon. Torn into shreds, the perfumed chicken mixture must be rather highly seasoned.

You can make the chicken filling up to a day in advance of serving, or assemble the entire pie and refrigerate, unbaked, up to a day ahead. (The actual building of the pie takes relatively little time.)

In Morocco, thin pastry leaves called warqa are used to make the pie’s flaky layers; elsewhere, most cooks use more readily available phyllo, which is definitely recommended for beginners. (To learn more about making warqa, look online for videos of the process — fascinating, but a bit daunting.)

I like to assemble the pie in a 12-inch paella pan, but a large skillet or springform cake pan would work well. The pan is lined with seven layers of well-buttered phyllo sheets, which hang well beyond the pan’s edges. In goes the cooled filling, along with chopped toasted almonds and pistachios. (My version is dotted with lemony ricotta, rather than the more traditional lemony scrambled egg.) Then the overhanging phyllo is folded over the top and tucked in to make a compact pie.

The pie is baked until beautifully golden brown, then inverted onto a platter and served warm. The final step is dusting the pie generously with powdered sugar, like a thin layer of fallen snow. It might sound odd, but this combination of sweet flaky pastry and savory braised chicken is truly beguiling.

For Moroccan weddings and other festive occasions, pastilla is traditionally a first course, followed by many other celebratory dishes. At my house, it’s a fancy rich main course, followed by a guilt-assuaging bright green salad.

Recipe: Palestinian Red Lentil and Squash Soup with Za’atar Croutons — Around the World in 30 Soups

Around the World in 30 Soups: This month we’re collaborating with chefs, cookbook authors, and our own Kitchn crew to share a globetrotting adventure in soups from countries and cuisines around the world. Today’s stop: Palestine.

If there is one flavor that makes me think of the Palestinian kitchen, it is za’atar, a tangy and aromatic spice mix made from wild thyme, sesame, and sumac. Palestinians use za’atar on everything from yogurt dips, to roasted meats, to flatbreads — and here, it is used to make crunchy, tangy croutons to adorn an aromatic soup of roasted butternut squash and spiced lentils. Roasting the squash intensifies its flavor and sweetness, giving the soup a glorious silky texture that perfectly contrasts with the crispy croutons.

Yasmin Khan, author of Zaitoun: Recipes from the Palestinian Kitchen


Skinnytaste Meal Plan (February 18-February 24)

A free 7-day flexible weight loss meal plan including breakfast, lunch and dinner and a shopping list. All recipes include calories and Weight Watchers Freestyle™ SmartPoints®.

If you’re new to my meal plans, I’ve been sharing these free, 7-day flexible healthy meal plans (you can see my previous meal plans here) that are meant as a guide, with plenty of wiggle room for you to add more food, coffee, beverages, fruits, snacks, dessert, wine, etc or swap recipes out for meals you prefer, you can search for recipes by course in the index. You should aim for around 1500 calories* per day.

There’s also a precise, organized grocery list that will make grocery shopping so much easier and much less stressful. Save you money and time. You’ll dine out less often, waste less food and you’ll have everything you need on hand to help keep you on track.

Lastly, if you’re on Facebook join my Skinnytaste Facebook Community where everyone’s sharing photos of recipes they are making, you can join here. I’m loving all the ideas everyone’s sharing!

Also, if you don’t have the Skinnytaste Meal Planner, now would be a great time to get one to get organized for 2019! There was a print error last year, but it’s perfect now! You can order it here!

The details:

Breakfast and lunch Monday-Friday, are designed to serve 1 while dinners and all meals on Saturday and Sunday are designed to serve a family of 4. Some recipes make enough leftovers for two nights or lunch the next day. While we truly believe there is no one size fits all meal plan, we did our best to come up with something that appeals to a wide range of individuals. Everything is Weight Watchers friendly, I included the updated Weight Watcher Freestyle Points for your convenience, feel free to swap out any recipes you wish or just use this for inspiration!

The grocery list is comprehensive and includes everything you need to make all meals on the plan. I’ve even included brand recommendations of products I love and use often. Cross check your cabinets because many condiments you’ll notice I use often, so you may already have a lot of them.

And last, but certainly not least, this meal plan is flexible and realistic. There’s plenty of wiggle room for cocktails, healthy snacks, dessert and dinner out. And if necessary, you can move some things around to make it work with your schedule. Please let me know if you’re using these plans, this will help me decide if I should continue sharing them!

Monday (2/18)

B: PB + J Yogurt (6)
L: Food Cart-Style Chicken Salad with White Sauce* (8)
D: Red Lentil Soup with Spinach* (1) and 1 mini naan (or flatbread) (5)
Totals: Freestyle™ SP 20, Calories 1,008**

Tuesday (2/19)

B: 2 hard-boiled eggs (0) and an orange (0)
L: Food Cart-Style Chicken Salad with White Sauce (8)
D: Instant Pot Chicken Taco Chili (0) with 2 tablespoons reduced fat cheese blend (1), 1 tablespoon light sour
cream (1) and 1 ounce avocado (1)
Totals: Freestyle™ SP 11, Calories 863**

Wednesday (2/20)

B: PB + J Yogurt (6)
L: Food Cart-Style Chicken Salad with White Sauce (8)
D: LEFTOVER Instant Pot Chicken Taco Chili (0) with 2 tablespoons  reduced fat cheese blend (1), 1 tablespoon
light sour cream (1) and 1 ounce avocado (1)
Totals: Freestyle™ SP 17, Calories 915**

Thursday (2/21)

B: 2 hard-boiled eggs (0) and an orange (0)
L: Food Cart-Style Chicken Salad with White Sauce (8)
D: One-Pot Spaghetti and Meat Sauce (8) and 1 ½ cups romaine*** (0) with 2 tablespoons Skinny Caesar Dressing
Totals: Freestyle™ SP 18, Calories 991**

Friday (2/22)

B: 6 ounces plain nonfat Greek yogurt (0) with ½ cup sliced strawberries (0), 1 tablespoon chopped peanuts (2),
and 1 teaspoon honey (1)
L: LEFTOVER One-Pot Spaghetti and Meat Sauce (8) and 1 ½ cups romaine (0) with 2 tablespoons Skinny Caesar
Dressing (2)
D: Honey Garlic Shrimp (2) with Asian Edamame Fried Rice (4)
Totals: Freestyle™ SP 19, Calories 1,018**

Saturday (2/23)

B: Eggs and Tomato Breakfast Melts (3) and 1/2 cup grapes (0)
L: Asian Lettuce Wrap Chicken Chopped Salad (8)
Totals: Freestyle™ SP 11, Calories 544**

Sunday (2/24)

B: 3 Czech Crepes with Berries and Cream (6)
L: Lentil Bowls with Avocado, Eggs and Cholula (2) (Recipe x 2)
D: Slow-Cooker Banh Mi Rice Bowls (10)
Totals: Freestyle™ SP 18, Calories 970**

**Prep Chicken Salad Sunday night for lunch Mon-Thurs. Freeze any leftover soup you/your family won’t eat

**This is just a guide, women should aim for around 1500 calories per day. Here’s a helpful calculator to estimate
your calorie needs. I’ve left plenty of wiggle room for you to add more food such as coffee, beverages, fruits,
snacks, dessert, wine, etc.

***Chop extra 1 ½ cups romaine for lunch Friday

Skinnytaste Meal Plan (February 18-February 24)

Vegan Shawarma with Soy Curls

Grab a napkin, because things are about to get messy! Made with soy curls, loaded with vegetables, and drizzled with sauce, Vegan Shawarma is lunchtime perfection.

Let me start by saying that I’ve never had non-vegan shawarma. I was my 20s the first time I saw that not-very-appetizing shank of meat revolving behind the counter of the Mediterranean food stand in the mall where I had a part-time job at the bookstore. I was vegetarian, and it was the best place in the mall to grab a bite to eat after leaving my day job as a graphic designer, before starting my shift at the store. My two regular dishes were the falafel sandwich and something they called the Greek peasant vegetarian dinner, which was made with spiced roasted vegetables and pita wedges. That revolving meat always gave me the heebie jeebies, but I ate there twice a week.

Vegan Shawarma

Fast forward to last year. Cedar Ridge Café, a local veg-friendly lunch spot took meat off their menu and created an expanded line of vegan and vegetarian items. (Woo-hoo! Let’s home more restaurants follow suite.) I spotted Seitan Shawarma on the menu and wanted to give it a try. It consisted of a flat bread loaded with spiced seitan, peppers, greens, sliced tomatoes, cucumbers, and pickles, and it was smothered in dairy-free thousand island dressing. It was incredible. So good, that I have a difficult time ordering anything else when Dennis and I got there for lunch, so I haven’t tried too many of the other new menu items. The last time I had it, someone walking in the door came over to me and asked what it was, because she wanted it, too.

Last month, we were in the middle of a deep freeze here in New Jersey. I found myself with a hankering for vegan shawarma, but it was just too cold to get bundled up and go out. The fridge was full, so maybe I could recreate it at home. I had most of the ingredients on hand, with the exception of the seitan. What could I replace it with? I had just stocked up on soy curls, that I order in bulk from Amazon, and they have a meaty-texture that’s similar to seitan. Why not give them a try?

Soy Curl Shawarma

I cooked the soy curls with sliced peppers, onions, and some shawarma spices. Traditionally, shawarma spices include cinnamon and cardamom, but I don’t like cinnamon in savory foods, and Dennis doesn’t like cardamom, so I left them out. If you don’t mind them, feel free to add ¼ teaspoon of each to the pan when you add the rest of the spices.
I also crumbled a Not-Chick’n vegan bouillon cube into the pan. Often, I’ll add them, or a Not-Beef bouillon cube, to a soy curl dish to give it a little more flavor. No Chicken Better than Bouillon works really well, too.

I loaded lettuce, tomatoes, cucumbers, and pickles onto flatbread along with the cooked soy curl mixture. I had made tempeh Reubens the day before, so I had half a jar of Thousand Island Dressing in the fridge. Since the café serves their vegan shawarma with thousand island, I decided to go with it. Shawarma is traditional served with a yogurt sauce, but I didn’t have any non-dairy yogurt on hand. The thousand island dressing works really well with this sandwich, but if you want to go with something a little closer to the traditional option, you can top yours with Lemony Tahini Dressing, which makes for an equally delicious wrap.

I almost always have soy curls on hand since I order them in bulk from Amazon, but if you can’t find them, you can use seitan instead.

You can Make Vegan Shawarma Can in Less than Half an Hour!

  • First, you cook the onion and pepper in a large pan over medium high heat.
  • Then, you add the soy curls and spices and cook them until they’ve browned and are slightly crispy.
  • Next, you pile flat breads high with the soy curls, mixed greens, cucumber, tomatoes, and pickles.
  • Finally, you drizzle on the dressing.

The measurements for the vegetables and pickles in this recipe are approximate. Because it’s a sandwich, you won’t mess things up if you use less cucumber and more dressing.

Since my original at-home recreation, vegan shawarma  has become a lunchtime favorite. I’ve made it many times, usually using soy curls, but I’ve used seitan as well. Sometimes I use thousand Island dressing, and other times I’ll use tahini, depending on what I have on hand.

These hearty wraps are best eaten while the soy curls are warm, but they’re delicious when cold, too. They can be packed up and taken to the office for lunch. They’re messy, so make sure you have a napkin or two at the ready!

Vegan Shawarma with Soy Curls

Grab a napkin, because things are about to get messy! Made with soy curls, loaded with vegetables, and drizzled with sauce, Vegan Shawarma is lunchtime perfection.

  • 4 ounces soy curls ((about half a package))
  • 1 teaspoon neutral-flavored oil
  • 1 green bell pepper, sliced
  • ½ onion, sliced (about ½ cup)
  • Pinch of sea salt
  • ½ teaspoon cumin
  • ½ teaspoon turmeric
  • ½ teaspoon paprika
  • ¼ teaspoon ground ginger
  • ¼ teaspoon black pepper
  • ¼ teaspoon coriander
  • Pinch cayenne
  • 1 Not-Chick’n vegan bouillon cube ((or 1 tablespoon No Chicken Better Than Bouillon))
  • 4 whole wheat flat-breads or pitas, warmed
  • 2 cups mixed greens
  • 1 tomato, sliced
  • 1 small cucumber, sliced ( (about ½ cup))
  • ¼ cup sliced pickles
  • ½ cup dairy-free Thousand Island Dressing

Re-constitute the soy curls by placing them in a bowl and pouring 2 cups of hot water over them. Let them sit for about 15 minutes. Once they’ve softened, drain them and squeeze some of the excess water out of them.

Heat the oil in a large pan over medium-high heat. Add the green bell pepper and onion along with the pinch of salt. Cook for 5 to 10 minutes, stirring often, until the onions begin to brown.

Add the soy curls to the pan along with the cumin, turmeric, paprika, ginger, black pepper, coriander, and cayenne. Crumble the not chicken vegan bouillon cube into the pan. (If using no-chicken vegan bouillon, just add it to the pan and stir.) Stir to coat everything in the spices. Cook for about 10 more minutes, or until the soy curls brown and crisp a little, stirring often.

To assemble the wraps, place ½ cup of mixed greens onto each flat bread. Place ¼ of the soy curl mixture on each. Top with the tomato slices, cucumber slices, and pickles. Drizzle each one with 2 tablespoons of the dairy-free Thousand Island Dressing.

Fold over each flat bread, serve, and enjoy!

The post Vegan Shawarma with Soy Curls appeared first on Dianne’s Vegan Kitchen.