Italian Meatloaf with Fresh Basil, Sun Dried Tomatoes and Provolone

This is meatloaf like your mother never made. I really hated meatloaf until I came upon a recipe in Cooking Light from August, 2000. Yes, I’ve adapted and made this recipe for that many years. It’s that good. It also makes the most phenomenal meatloaf sandwiches.

Meatloaf With Fresh Basil, Sun Dried Tomatoes and Provolone
  • 1/2 cup sun dried tomatoes, finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup ketchup
  • 1 cup seasoned bread crumbs
  • 3/4 cup onion, finely chopped
  • 3/4 cup fresh basil, finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup shredded provolone cheese
  • 2 large egg whites
  • 2 large garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 lb. ground beef
  1. Preheat oven to 350°F and spray a broiler pan with cooking spray.

  2. Combine all ingredients in a large bowl. Use your hands to mix and shape into a loaf. Spread a thin layer of ketchup over the entire loaf.

  3. Bake for 1 hour or until an instant thermometer registers 160°F. Let stand 10 minutes before slicing.

During all those years of meatloaf making, I also discovered how to craft them into works of art. No kidding, apparently I can’t help playing with my food. I’ve gotten a little crazy with my meatloaves. What does that mean? Here are some examples:


Maybe there’s an event your participating in and want to show your excitement and support. What better way then with a meatloaf?




Or, perhaps someone came to visit and you had a great adventure touring a historical monument. This is my ode to the Battleship North Carolina.




Then, there was the time a friend gave me a pound of ground meat. I used it to sculpt his portrait. Mashed potato hair! I had to use M&Ms to replicate his blue eyes.






How’s this for the best “get well” card ever? Mashed potatoes, slices of cheese and crumbled bacon made this extra delicious.






When you’re visiting your parents and they live in another state, make them a state-shaped meatloaf for dinner!





To commemorate the Last Supper, use sweet potatoes, russet potatoes, red onions, and sugar snap peas to turn your meatloaf into a complete meal.



Dinner is always exciting at my house. Happy eating!




Did you try this recipe?

Let me know how it turned out for you! Leave a comment below and share a picture on Instagram with the hashtag #wistfullywarped.



Heart In A Cupcake – A Cupcake With A Surprise Inside

Do you love to share your love through baking? Well, this is a special treat. Perfect for Valentine’s Day or any other day to show your love. The outside is cute, but there’s a heart in this cupcake!

These are chocolate cupcakes with a pink vanilla heart inside, topped with raspberry buttercream frosting and decorated with a Royal iced mini-sugar cookie. Okay, I admit this is a bit over the top. This will take two to three days to complete all the steps. (Not two complete days – that would be crazy.) You can always decorate with something than the sugar cookie. Pink or white pearlized nonpareils would be just beautiful.

However, since I made them, I’m going to give you the complete instructions and you can decide which direction to take your treat.

The first step is to make the sugar cookies:

Since Royal icing takes at least a day to dry, make and decorate the cookies the day before. OR, even better, make them days ahead of time and store them in an airtight container in the freezer.

If you’ve never used Royal icing before, check out  Sweetopia. She has great tutorials about using Royal icing and I always follow her guidelines.

Sugar Cookies With Royal Icing
  • 1 cup butter
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, sifte
Royal Icing
  • 1 Tbls. Meringue powder
  • 1 1/2 tsp. Meringue powder
  • 2 cups confectioners' sugar, sifted
  • 3 Tbls. warm water and add more water to desired consistency
  • Pink Gel Color
  1. Cream together the butter and sugar.

  2. Beat in the add and vanilla.

  3. Slowly add the sifted all-purpose flour until well combined.

  4. Chill the dough 3-4 hours.

  5. Preheat the oven to 350°F. On a floured surface, roll out the dough to about 1/4" thickness and cut with cookie cutters.

  6. Bake for 8-10 minutes and cool completely before icing.

Royal Icing
  1. Beat all ingredients on low speed for a few minutes until incorporated. The icing should be thin enough to "flow".

  2. Add small amount of gel color and mix until blended. Continue to add gel color and mix until desired color.

  3. Using a piping bag fitted with a #2 tip, outline the cookie. In a zig-zag manner, fill in the outline with the frosting. Shake the cookie gently so the frosting flows. Tap down any points in the frosting with a toothpick.

Next, make a vanilla cake to cut the hearts out of:

Pink Vanilla Cake
  • 6 Tbls. unsalted butter, softened
  • 3/4 cups sugar
  • 1 1/2 large eggs (crack 3 - mix up, measure 1/2 and save the other 1/2 for another purpose
  • 1 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/8 tsp. salt
  • 1 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup + 2 Tbls. + 2 Tsp. whole milk
  • red food color
  1. Preheat oven to 350°F.

  2. Sift all dry ingredients and set aside.

  3. Cream the butter and sugar in a stand mixer until fluffy.

  4. Add the eggs and vanilla and mix completely.

  5. Add a bit of the dry ingredients at a time, alternating with the milk. Mix until each addition is fully incorporated before adding the next. Scrape down the sides of the bowl periodically during this process.

  6. Mix in the red food coloring 2-3 drops at a time until desired shade of color is reached. The color will lighten while baking, so keep that in mind.

  7. Continue beating the batter on medium-high for another 30 seconds.

  8. Pour about 1 1/2 cups of the batter into a nonstick or lightly greased 9-inch square baking pan. (Yes, there will be batter left over.) Bake for about 20 minutes or until tester comes out with a few crumbs. Allow the cake to cool completely.

After the cake is cooled, loosen the cake from the pan by running a knife around the edges and carefully invert the pan onto a cutting board. Use a 2-inch heart shaped cookie cutter to cut hears from the cake. Set the hearts aside while mixing up the chocolate cake batter.

On to the chocolate cupcake batter and adding the pink vanilla cake hearts: I tried using my favorite chocolate cupcake recipe, but it didn’t work well for this project. The mixture is too liquid and the heart cakes ended up floating, and, well, just don’t use that recipe. I tried this one from Taste of Home and it worked great.

Chocolate Batter And Making A Heart In A Cupcake
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup baking cocoa
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk
  • 1/2 cup strong brewed coffee, cooled
  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Using a non-toxic marker, make a small dot on the edge of 12 paper liners and place in a standard muffin tin with all dots facing the same direction.

  2. Cream the butter and sugar in a mixer until light and fluffy. Beat in egg and vanilla until well incorporated.

  3. Combine and sift the dry ingredients. Gradually add to the creamed mixture alternating with buttermilk and coffee. Beat well after each addition and scrape down the sides of the bowl often.

  4. Spoon in 1 1/2 Tbls. of batter into the prepared tins. Place a heart in each cup - the bottom of the heart pointing down and the front of the heart facing the dot on the cupcake paper. Press the heart gently into the batter. Carefully, cover the heart with another teaspoon (or a little more) with more batter. Make sure the batter covers the heart - but do not overfill as the goal is to crown nicely and not go over the edge of the tin when baked. (You will NOT use all of the cupcake batter.

  5. Bake for about 20 minutes until toothpick inserted (not in the center as that's where the heart is and already baked!) comes out clean. Do not over bake. Cool completely.

Are you still with me because we still have to make frosting!

Finally, we’re going to make Raspberry Buttercream Frosting: I like tons of frosting, so this recipe will generously cover 12 cupcakes with some left over.

Raspberry Buttercream Frosting
  • 3 cups confectioners' sugar, sifted
  • 1 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 2 or more tsp. liquid from frozen raspberries
  1. In an electric mixer, cream the butter on medium-high speed.

  2. Turn the mixer to low and slowly add the sugar until all is incorporated.

  3. Add vanilla and raspberry liquid and beat for another few minutes until light and fluffy. Do not add too much liquid or the frosting will not be stiff enough to pipe.

Finish: Frost the cupcakes using a piping bag fitted with a #6B tip. Add a mini-sugar cookie.

To see the heart inside, look for the dot on the cupcake liner and cut the cupcake in half parallel to the dot.

What to do with the left over batter and frosting? Add some of each into lined muffin tins and bake for 18-20 minutes. Pip on a dollop of frosting and add a mini-sugar cookie. Go with the theme, “Mixed Up Over You.”

Happy baking!



Did you try this recipe?

Let me know how it turned out for you! Leave a comment below and share a picture on Instagram with the hashtag #wistfullywarped.






Jack Daniels and Cackalacky Cupcakes

Have you heard of Cackalacky Sauce? It’s a locally made (Chapel Hill, NC) spicy sweet potato based sauce. The sauce is made with all natural ingredients with no preservatives and is gluten free.

What flavors to use in this decidedly different cupcake? Orange goes great with sweet potato so I decided those would be the base flavors of the cupcake. To kick it up, I also decided it would need some Jack Daniels. There was still something missing from this savory combination. . .bacon! Well, I didn’t add bacon to the cake batter, but I did top the cupcakes with candied bacon.

This is a moist, dense cake almost like a pound cake. To finish off this rich cupcake, they were frosted with Cackalacky cream cheese frosting.

Jack Daniels and Cackalacky Cupcakes with Cackalacky Cream Cheese Frosting
Servings: 10 Cupcakes
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups flour, sifted
  • 1 egg, room temperature
  • 3 egg yolks, room temperature
  • 4 oz. butter, softened
  • 1/4 cup pureed sweet potatoes (can use canned)
  • 1/4 cup Jack Daniels
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/8 tsp. ginger
  • 1/8 tsp. nutmeg
  • 1 tsp. orange juice
  • 1 stick butter, room temperature
  • 4 oz. cream cheese, softened
  • 2 cups powdered sugar, sifted
  • 1 tsp. Cackalacky sauce (or more to your taste)
  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line a muffin tin with 10 liners and set aside.

  2. Puree the sweet potatoes using a food processor and set aside. Mix the dry ingredients together and set aside.

  3. Cream the butter until fluffy. Add the egg and egg yolks one at a time until incorporated.

  4. Add 1/2 the dry ingredients until mixed well. Add the pureed sweet potatoes. Add the second half of dry ingredients, the Jack Daniels and orange juice. Mix until all is incorporated.

  5. Distribute the batter evenly into 10 cupcake liners. Bake for approximately 20 minutes or until a tester comes out with a few crumbs.

  1. In a stand mixer set on high, add the cream cheese and butter and beat until light and fluffy.

  2. Turn the mixer to low and slowly add the powdered sugar until all is incorporated. Add the Cackalacky to desired taste.

Happy baking!


Did you try this recipe?

Let me know how it turned out for you! Leave a comment below and share a picture on Instagram with the hashtag #wistfullywarped.



Jack Daniels Deviled Eggs With Bacon

So, I was going to this gathering and had to bring something. My little brain started churning out ideas. Hard boiled eggs = making deviled eggs. What would take deviled eggs to the warped side? Perhaps barbecue sauce and, um, let’s not forget bacon. Wait, I know! Jack Daniels deviled eggs with bacon!

Hard boil a dozen eggs and chill overnight (so much easier to work with).
TIP: When peeling a hard boiled egg, crack at the base of the egg to break through the membrane. Peeling away the shell and membrane will give you a smooth egg. No one wants an egg that looks like a ferret was teething on it.
Using a sharp knife, slice the hard boiled eggs in half and gently scoop the yolks into a bowl.

Mash up the yolks and add the mayo, dijon mustard and caynne pepper mixing well. If you’re super adventurous – add a splash of Jack Daniels to this mixture.

Put the mixture into a ziplock sandwich bag and cut off the corner of the bag. Pipe into the egg white shells.

Now it’s time to kick up those deviled eggs. Put 1/2 cup of Jack Daniels barbeque sauce into another sandwich bag and cut off a SMALL corner. Drizzle the barbeque sauce over each egg. Add sliced scallions and top off with crumbled bacon bits.

Oh yeah, my mouth is watering just typing up this post!

Good eating!

Jack Daniels and Bacon Deviled Eggs

Kick up deviled eggs by adding Jack Daniels barbeque sauce and bacon. Add a splash of Jack Daniels to the yolk mixture if you're feeling really adventurous.

  • 12 large eggs
  • 4 slices applewood bacon, cooked and crumbled
  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 1 Tbls. Dijon mustard
  • 1 Tbls. cayenne pepper
  • scallions, sliced
  • Jack Daniels barbeque sauce
  1. Place eggs in a single layer in a saucepan and cover with 1" of water and a tight fitting lid. Bring to a boil. Remove from heat and let sit for 8 minutes. Rinse with cold water and allow to chill for several hours - 24 hours is best.

  2. Peel and slice eggs in half. Gently remove yolks and mash with mayonnaise, Dijon mustard and cayenne pepper.

  3. Put mixture into a plastic sandwich bag. Cut off a corner of the bag and pipe the mixture into the egg white shells.

  4. Pour 1/2 cup barbeque sauce into another sandwich bag and cut off a SMALL corner. Pipe the sauce over the eggs.

  5. Garnish with scallions and crumbed bacon.

Did you try this recipe?

Let me know how it turned out for you! Leave a comment below and share a picture on Instagram with the hashtag #wistfullywarped.