my meatloaf kicks your grandma’s meatloaf’s butt.

When Ryan & I were first married, my mom gave me the cookbook “The Ultimate Southern Living Cookbook” as a gift at my bridal shower. In the front she inscribed, “Dear Erica, Remember what my mother taught me- The way to a man’s heart is through his stomach… Here’s wishing you many years of happy cooking! Love, Mom”   I really took this to heart and so began my quest to try out as many new recipes as possible from this cookbook and others. She forgot to mention that this is also the quickest way to gain 25 pounds in 3 months (yes, you heard me correctly). OOPS!  Ryan put on a few as well, might I add, but nowhere close to my sudden “I’m happy and in love, so will quit working out and start eating” weight gain. Lucky for me, I am married to one of the best men in the world (that’s no lie), and Ryan never said one word about the extra junk in my trunk. Honestly, I think he was just happy to have someone at home cooking for him, and perhaps had newlywed blinders on.. who knows? I ended up taking the weight off, but my AMAZING, TO DIE FOR, BETTER THAN YO’ GRANNY’S meatloaf recipe stuck with me. Seriously, this recipe is the BEST, and one of Ryan and my all-time-favorites. I make it a lot for company, and most always am asked for the recipe and also told that it is better than their momma’s and grandma’s (and am also asked not to tell them that)! I figured instead of having to dig out the cookbook and try to get it to fit on the copier each time I’m asked (which has proven to be a pain), I would blog about our love affair with this recipe and therefore have an online link to send my meatloaf admirers. Without further adieu, here is the BEST MEATLOAF RECIPE EVER!

Prep: 7 minutes
Cook: 55 minutes (sometimes longer; depends on oven)

I *always* double this recipe. You will most likely eat 2 pans the first night, and nothing better than meatloaf left-overs! I have not doubled the below amounts for you, however, in case you are a light-weight. I have included some changes I have made to the recipe below as well.

2 pounds ground chuck (I use lean ground beef when it’s just for us, but keep it full fat for the company!)
3/4 cup uncooked quick-cooking oats
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1/2 cup ketchup
1/4 cup milk
2 large eggs, slightly beaten
1 tsp salt (I usually omit this, as I find that the ketchup makes it salty enough)
1/2 tsp pepper

1/2 cup ketchup
3 Tbsp brown sugar
2 tsp mustard

The topping is delicious, but for those who find it too sweet, plain ol’ ketchup works just as well!

Combine first 8 ingredients in a large bowl (the easiest and most therapeutic way to do this is to squish, smash, and squeeze the death out of it with your own two CLEAN hands); shape into 2 (7.5 x 4-inch) loaves. Place on a lightly greased rack in broiler pan. Bake at 350 for 40 minutes. Combine last three ingredients and spoon over meat loaf. Bake 15 minutes more until meat thermometer registers 160.**

**Please note: This is how the original recipe instructed, but I have never done it this way. I always bake the meatloaf in standard 9 x 5 inch loaf pans, lightly sprayed with Pam. I usually split the meat between 2 pans if I did not double the recipe, and 3 pans when I double it. I believe that the loaf pans are the secret to the moistness of the meatloaf, as shaping them into loaves and putting on rack would allow the juices and *gasp* fat to run out.. no fun at all!! This does, however, increase the cooking time so I recommend using a meat thermometer and taking out at the recommended 160 degrees. I usually cook them for about 45-50 minutes before putting on the topping, and then for about an additional 15 min. or until the thermometer reaches 160. Meatloaf should be VERY moist. If you find yours comes out a bit dry, reduce cooking duration.

Yield: 2 loaves or 8 servings
337 calories, 17.8 g fat, 120 mg cholesterol, and 734 g sodium per serving.

Bon Appétit!

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Win a *FREE* Legendary Wedding with *FREE* coverage by Pure 7 Studios!!!

We are so honored & excited to be a part our favorite magazine’s awesome, all-inclusive, Legendary Wedding Giveaway at Emerald Grande at HarborWalk Village!!!

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You’ve been dreaming of your wedding day forever, or at least as long as you can remember. A day filled with family and joy. A celebration where your fairy-tale vision of yourself in a beautiful wedding gown would come true. A day that would mark the beginning of a new life together as husband and wife. Now imagine the chance to win that wedding—with sugar-white sands, emerald waters, and the glorious Destin Harbor as the backdrop to your special day. Your dream can come true with A Legendary Wedding Giveaway provided by Legendary, Inc. and Emerald Grande.

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sierra & francisco’s awesome saint augustine wedding!!!

sierra contacted us waaaaaay in advance before her wedding. which is awesome, as in addition to the spring/summer months, the fabulous fall months (october/november) often book up a year or more in advance. so this girl was on the ball! i knew from talking to sierra on the phone a lot during those initial conversations that i would love her. she just has a sweetness to her personality that radiates and i could tell even just by meeting on the phone that she is someone special. i also knew that photography was very important to her, as was having a beautiful wedding that all of her friends & family could come together and enjoy. her grandfather is also a wonderful photographer, and she was very concerned that he would not be able to enjoy himself if his role was of “main photographer”. so, she hired us to work in conjunction with her grandfather which was a pleasure! this wedding was also very exciting for us, as it was one of our first “destination weddings” that we were able to travel to shoot. saint augustine is a beautiful place, and we had so much fun making the trip and enjoying this historic town. ryan loved getting to shoot the bride and bridesmaids in the historic streets and up against the aging buildings… a nice change from the many beach weddings here in Destin. our style is more artistic and vintage, so saint augustine lent itself wonderfully to our photography. another cool detail was that one of our good friends from high school lives in jacksonville and is also an awesome photographer (Julie Cate Photography). she was so sweet to come and second shoot with us and it was great getting to see her! we look very forward to shooting in saint augustine again. when we do, we are giving you a call, sierra & franciso, and would love to get together! we wish you a BLESSED new year and a MERRY CHRISTMAS! xoxo erica

preparation venue: The Westcott House
ceremony & reception venue: The White Room
wedding planning & coordination: Premier Planning, Danielle Bridges
gown: Park Avenue Bridal
florals: Park Avenue Florist
guitarist: Goliath Flores
DJ services:  A Unique Entertainment

Beth and Drew wedding

we had the pleasure of shooting beth and drew’s wedding on 11/21/09. this was a special weekend for us as we were also married the saturday before thanksgiving back in 2002. we had a great time re-living all of that wedding excitement through their gorgeous wedding! this was also extra-special as beth is one of our good friends from church. when she became engaged and hired us to be her photographers, we were so excited! the ceremony was in a beautiful chapel in fort walton beach, with the reception at louisiana lagniappe in destin. it was elegant, classy, and just beautiful. the food was delicious, and music fantastic (always is w/ b-boy!), but the best part of all was seeing the utter love and sheer happiness that drew and beth had when looking at each other. the dancing was so fun as well… erica was excited because she FINALLY learned the cupid shuffle the night before and was able to join in with everybody on the dance floor (learn yo’ self here). they didn’t let a little rain dampen their day, and it was truly a blessed occasion. thanks, beth & drew for choosing pure 7 and ya’ll will be in our prayers. stay warm in alaska!!

reception venue: louisiana lagniappe
flowers: florals by the sea
dj; b-boy productions
cake: confections on the coast
hair & makeup: jessica stitt, make me blush

Jennifer & Justin’s wedding

This was a most beautiful ceremony for two reasons. The first being the church itself and the second being the absolutely stunning bride.  Isn’t she breathtaking???  Truly I don’t think she could take a bad picture if she tried!  I mean Justin you’re not too shabby, but Jennifer definitely stole the show.  She made the job of photographer extremely easy and it shows!  This is also the second time shooting with my niece as a bridesmaid and finally it will be her turn at the altar this coming fall.  Thanks Jennifer & Justin, we had a blast photographing your wedding!

reception: emerald grande at harborwalk village
dj: b-boy productions
florals: flowers from the heart
hair & makeup: ulta
cake: publix


kristen & jamie’s halloween wedding… eden gardens state park wedding

these two were married on halloween at the haunted eden state gardens under the tree where a old cemetery was ruined during the civil war. alright, none of that was true except for the getting married on halloween at eden under a big tree. it was such a beautiful day. when we first met this couple at the eventful planner’s office i knew this couple had a intense love for each other. it definitely showed the day of the wedding when kristen first saw jamie. she was full of emotions, these emotions carried throughout the evening. i thoroughly enjoyed shooting this wedding. thanks, kristen & jaime for letting me take part in this special day. ~ryan

coordination & catering: the eventful planner
flowers: florals by the sea
cake: bake my day
hair & makeup: fusion spa & salon
music: charlie roberts
limousine service: black tie limo




jennifer and daniel wedding

we first photographed these two just over a year ago for their engagement session. the moment i met them i could tell that they were genuine people. on a funny note, daniel is a fisherman. if you guys know any fishermen they always wear sunglasses. well, in florida when a person wears sunglasses all day in the sun they get tan lines. lets just say i had to edit tans lines from daniels face on every image. thanks buddy!! the day of the wedding was cold and windy. i believe it was the first real cold day and night of the year. insert cheesy line–{ they were in so much love it didn’t matter if they were married in the snow, their warmth filled the air.}  seriously, the weather did not  affect anything, except that they moved the ceremony from the beach to the reception site. it was a great wedding!! thanks guys and we wish you nothing but the best! ~ryan

venue: hidden creek golf club
DJ: affordable DJ
flowers: kebbie hollingsworth floral designs
hair: cathy long, studio 98
cake: publix bakery

sheri and paul’s wedding

sheri & paul……what fun people! sherri has a twin sister who looks just like her… DUH! sherri & paul were married on the beach with the reception in seagrove beach at a house behind the red bar (atypical cottage). if you guys are familiar with the area it’s the huge house at the end of the street on the left that goes to the beach. yeah, it was pretty sweet. so here we are at the reception and all of a sudden i see sherri’s  sister-in-laws taking one of paul’s shoes off and pouring beer in it and drinking it FROM THE SHOE!!! three or four people partook from this holy grail of shoes, including sherri and paul. i guess it is a northern thing =) but seriously, these guys were sooo much fun and i wish them the best of luck. sherri & paul, if you are ever in town, give us a shout! ~ryan

Venue: Atypical Cottage
Cake: Fatty Patty’s Cakes & Cafe
Flowers: Fishers Flowers
Hair: Fusion Spa & Salon


angel & walt’s carillon wedding

angel & walt were married at the beautiful, pristine carillon beach. the day was perfect. angel looked like, well an angel! the ceremony was moving as it was a coming together of not just angel & walt, but angel, walt & his two sons. his sons were part of the ceremony, taking part in the pouring of the sand & ring bearers. after the ceremony we strolled around carillon and then went to the always awesome destin chops 30a for the reception. congratulations, angel & walt! ~ryan

ceremony: carillon beach
reception: destin chops 30a
florals: nouveau flowers
cake: fatty patty’s
dress: david’s bridal