Food recipe

A foolproof comforting recipe for the less good cook


Your aunt commenting on your weight or your cousin trying to talk politics can ruin a Thanksgiving reunion. But a scorched turkey, soggy green beans, or a dry desert stuffing alone won’t spoil the festivities. Or, at least, I keep remembering my husband and I getting ready for our second attempt at cooking a turkey.

The people you are with make a special meal, more than the food. I accepted this adage recently during phone calls with my mom in Houston.

Before I moved to Iowa City, I lived in Texas. Every holiday I left my parents’ house with several old containers of butter and sour cream filled with the comfort food I ate growing up. When I left Texas, I left that behind. Now, a lot of those conversations with my mom revolve around recipes, as I try, and sometimes fail, to recreate the staples of my youth.

Boo's Meatloaf, Pink Stuff, Chiffon Pie, Wild Rice Pilaf, and Cinnamon Bread are pictured Sunday, November 24, 2019, in Iowa City, Iowa.

My mother assures me that it took her five years to master my favorite childhood dish: kidney beans and rice, a sort of long and labor-intensive Cajun stew. In the sense of reassurance, she says she just threw out a few of the particularly bad first batches.

In the short term, it’s disheartening to hear. I don’t like the idea of ​​eating sad Cajun stews for five years. Still, I understand the biggest point.

The turkey we made last year was, uh, not undercooked. But this year we are older and a little wiser. Maybe next year will be excellent.

The recipe I’m sharing today, my mom’s Lillie Breaux recipe, is an exception. Boo’s meatloaf is always excellent and easy enough to prepare that even I got it right the first time.

I love this dish, in part because the “Boo” that this meatloaf belongs to is my older sister. She is six years older than me and is now a great trade economist. It is unfathomable that she ever was a toddler called “Boo”.

For your needs, reader, I especially like the chewy texture of this meatloaf and my mom’s sneaky addition of cheddar. All meatloaf is good. The cheese is really what sets this one apart.

Boo's Meatloaf is pictured, Sunday, November 24, 2019, in Iowa City, Iowa.

Boo’s Meatloaf


2/3 cup crushed crackers (think savory crackers)

1/2 cup of milk

1 1/2 lb ground beef

1 beaten egg

1/2 onion, chopped small

1 C. salt

1/8 c. pepper

1/2 teaspoon sage

3.5 ounces sharp cheddar cheese, diced

For the sauce:

4 tbsp. brown sugar

1/2 cup of ketchup

1/4 tsp. Nutmeg

1 C. dry mustard


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Soak the crackers in the milk. Add the meat, eggs, onion and seasoning. Mix (but do not mix too much). Make a ditch in the middle of the bread, add the cheese and cover. Coat with the sauce mixture.

Bake at 350 for 1 hour.

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