My boyfriend loves the cajun meatloaf at Uptown Café in Bloomington. I hadn’t been there in years, but we decided to do a quick overnight trip to his parent’s lakehouse near Bloomington last week and we had dinner at Uptown. It’s located on the Square near the Courthouse and I have fond memories of going there with my girlfriends for the occasional Sunday brunch. I remember thinking how fancy we were with our mimosas.
We both went to IU, but I didn’t meet my boyfriend until this past year. It’s funny how life works that way – so many memories of our favorite IU places and now we have the opportunity to experience them all over, but this time together. After tasting Uptown’s Cajun meatloaf and jalapeno grits, I knew I had to re-create the meal. I spent way too long searching for just the right recipe because Uptown’s version was covered in a thick, spicy tomato sauce.
I’d like to think my version is better, but then again I might be biased. We took the meal over to his parents’ house for dinner (with cookies for dessert, of course) and I’d say it was a hit. We added a salad and sautéed Brussel sprouts to round out the meal.
I also lightened this up and used lean ground beef and did not add crumbs (bread, cracker, panko). The recipe that follows is the result of a lot of googling and merging of recipes until I found the right combination. Get creative and add whatever you’d like. Sriracha would be a nice addition and hit it hard with the Tabasco!
Now onto the YMCA! This past weekend I participated in the Indy Bike Hub’s Cycle-A-Thon to help raise money for the Y. I registered two months ago after my friend Lauren asked if I’d be interested. I love cycling and jumped at the chance, but was under the impression that it was in shifts. I assumed I’d jump on a bike for ten minutes or so and then ‘tag team’ out. WRONG. We cycled for the entire 2.5 hours. I was determined to finish and it was some of the best sweating I have experienced in years. It’s never a good sign when you find out the instructor is training for an Iron Man.
It was a fun way to give back while jamming to music by the decades and spinning until your legs felt like JELL-O. We started with music from the 50’s, so I knew I was in trouble. We had trivia facts from each decade in between the rounds and it was a great excuse to listen to Tiffany, Prince, and Vanilla Ice.
If you’re not already a member of the Y, check it out! It was one of the best things I’ve done and I love going to all three downtown locations: CityWay (the fancy new one), the Bike Hub, and the Atheneum at the Rathskeller (old school retro). The first few weeks after the accident, I spent a lot of time walking the upstairs track at the City Way. I could feel my ribs during each step, but I felt like I was doing something. It’s not how great you look during a particular workout, but rather it’s important that you at least showed up!
LIBBY’S TAKE ON UPTOWN CAFÉ’S CAJUN MEATLOAF AND JALEPANO GRITS
- 3-4 stalks of celery, diced
- 1 green pepper, diced
- 1 small white onion, diced
- 1 lb lean ground beef (I used 90/10)
- 1 Tbsp cajun seasoning – See below for a make-at-home mixture
- 2 dashes of Worcestershire sauce
- 1 egg
- 1 small can of tomato sauce
- green pepper and onion diced (this can be the leftovers that were not used for the meatloaf)
- A healthy dash (or two) of Tabasco sauce
- 2 Tbsps dried basil
- Olive oil
- 1 1/2 tsp corn starch
- 1 can diced tomatoes
- 1 small can of tomato sauce
- 3 cloves of garlic, minced
- Mix together the meatloaf ingredients. Shape into a loaf. Place in a baking dish and cover with foil.
- Bake at 350 degrees for 45 mins, remove foil and bake about 10 to 15 mins to brown. Remove and let it rest for about 10 mins.
- While the meatloaf is in the oven, start cooking the sauce.
- In a skillet, sauté the peppers and onion in olive oil until soft.
- Add the corn starch (or flour) and stir until combined – this will thicken the sauce.
- Next, add the tomatoes and tomato sauce.
- Add the remaining ingredients and simmer for 30 minutes
- You can always put the sauce into a blender if you’d like a smoother consistency
CAJUN SPICE = 2.5 tbsps salt + 1 tbsp dried oregano + 1 tbsp paprika + 1 tbsp cayenne pepper + 1 tbsp ground pepper
Recipe via Bobby Flay
- 2 cups grits (I used Bob’s Red Mill)
- 2 1⁄2 cups cheddar cheese
- 1⁄2 cup butter
- 1 tablespoon Tabasco
- 3 eggs (I did not add the eggs – it is not necessary)
- 2 jalapenos, finely diced
- 1⁄4 cup canned green chiles
- garlic salt
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees
- Cook the grits according to the directions on the back of the package (usually between 5-10 minutes), whisking the whole time to avoid lumps.
- Remove from the heat and add the next 6 ingredients (cheddar through chilies).
- Stir well and season with garlic salt, to taste.
- Pour into a buttered 9×9-inch baking dish and bake for 1 hour. (I didn’t bake them – we ate them right out of the pan on the stovetop)
- Let cool slightly before slicing and serving.
Leaving you with words from my talented friend Kim (Kate Spade too). When in doubt, always wear red lipstick. PS – Here’s my favorite red lipstick of the moment. I don’t buy much make-up, so I consider this a legitimate splurge.