Lisa Abraham

I guess, we should be flattered.

All of this fuss being made over us — little old Ohioans.

Yes, I’m talking about the election, a very non-food related matter.

Every four years we are reminded just how fortunate we are to live in a swing state.

It is flattering, in a really, really aggravating sort of way. They want us, they really want us.

In Ohio, every girl has two dates to the prom — one in a red tux, the other wearing blue.

When my husband mentioned that Senator Sherrod Brown had called for me the other day, I felt as popular as Marcia Brady. Of course, no one would have dared to robo-call Marcia. Jan, maybe, Marcia, never.

Just one night, I’d like to sit down on the couch and not have to watch the nightly barrage of “I approve this message” messages.

I realized how bad we had it two weeks ago when my husband and I traveled to Delaware to visit family and catch some R&R. We stopped in Pennsylvania for some sightseeing and leaf-peeping on the way there and the way back.

Now, I don’t know which way Pennsylvania and Delaware are swinging, but I can tell you that neither one of them is still swinging.

As we dressed for dinner one evening with the television on in our hotel room, the difference was remarkable. “There are no political ads on TV here,” I pointed out.

We saw no commercials for the presidential race, only a few for what seems to be a hotly contested Delaware state senate race.

It was so nice.

Thankfully, we’re down to the final week.

No matter who gets elected, I will be celebrating Ohio going back to wallflower status.

And of course, for every celebration, we need some food. (See, all roads lead back to the dinner table, even political ones.)

So here are some recipes that will make for a fine election celebration, no matter which way you happen to be swinging.

The first is for Ann Romney’s Meatloaf Cakes. Mrs. Romney has stated publicly how the mini meatloaves are her husband’s favorite and she makes them for his birthday dinner each year. She has made the meatloaves on Rachael Ray’s show and shared the recipe with the New York Times.

For the past four years, President Obama’s fondness for a cheeseburger or a bowl of chili has been well publicized. So I’ve included a chili recipe from another famous Chicagoan — Chef Rick Bayless, Mexican food expert and operator of Chicago’s famed Frontera Grill and numerous other restaurants.

And because this election has been enough to drive all of us to drink, I’ve included two cocktail recipes as well, perfect for toasting the winner on Tuesday, consoling yourself if your candidate loses or just celebrating the end of the political ads.

I’m Lisa Abraham, and I approve these recipes.


For the meatloaf cakes:

1½ lbs. ground beef

4 slices bread, crumbled into small pieces, or ¾ cup dried bread crumbs

1 large egg

¼ cup chopped onion

¼ cup lemon juice

2 tsp. seasoned salt

For the sauce:

¼ cup ketchup

¼ cup brown sugar

1 tsp. dry mustard

¼ tsp. ground cloves

¼ tsp. ground allspice

For the meatloaf cakes: Heat oven to 350 degrees. In a large mixing bowl, combine the ground beef, crumbled bread or bread crumbs, egg, onion, lemon juice and seasoned salt. Mix lightly but thoroughly and shape into six small loaves. Space evenly on a baking sheet and bake for 15 minutes; meanwhile, prepare the sauce.

For the sauce: In a small bowl, mix together the ketchup, brown sugar, mustard, cloves and allspice. When the meatloaf cakes have baked for 15 minutes, brush each loaf with sauce and return to the oven. Continue to bake until the meatloaf cakes are 165 degrees in the center when tested with an instant-read thermometer, about 20 more minutes. If desired, serve with scalloped potatoes and steamed vegetables. Pass additional sauce separately.

Makes six small meatloaf cakes (three to six servings).



4 large (about 2 oz.) ancho chiles, stemmed, seeded and torn into large pieces; OR 3 tbsp. pure ground ancho, New Mexico or California chile

2 tbsp. bacon drippings, vegetable oil or olive oil

1½ lbs. ground beef, ground pork or a mixture of the two

1 medium onion, cut into ¼-inch pieces

3 garlic cloves, peeled and halved

1 15-oz. can diced tomatoes (preferably fire-roasted)

1 tsp. ground cumin


2 tbsp. masa harina (the flour used to make corn tortillas) or corn meal

1 (15-oz.) can pinto beans

About 1 cup grated cheddar or Monterey Jack cheese, for serving

3 green onions, cut crosswise into ¼-inch pieces, for serving

Heat large deep skillet or a large heavy pot (like a 6- to 9-quart Dutch oven) over medium. When hot, toast chiles one by one: open flat and press down with spatula until chile releases aroma and toasts lightly, 10 to 15 seconds. Flip and toast other side same amount of time. Transfer to a small bowl. When all are done, cover with hot tap water and lay a plate on top to keep the chiles submerged.

Raise heat under pan to medium-high. Add bacon drippings or oil, then add the meat and onion. Break up meat with spoon or spatula as it cooks and browns — total cooking time about 10 minutes. Remove from the heat. If there is lots of rendered fat, tip it off and discard.

Drain chiles, discarding water. Place in food processor fitted with steel blade. Add garlic, tomatoes with their juices and cumin. Secure lid and process until smooth. Set medium-mesh strainer over meat pot. Pour in chile mixture and press through.

Return pan to medium-high heat. Stir 5 minutes to cook chile mixture. Stir in 2 cups water and 1½ teaspoons salt. Reduce heat to medium-low. Simmer 45 minutes.

Sprinkle corn meal or masa harina over chili and stir. Stir in drained beans if using. Simmer 5 minutes. Taste and season with more salt if you think necessary. Ladle chili into bowls. Pass cheese and green onion separately for guests to add as much as they want.

Makes four to six servings.

— Adapted from


1½ parts Maker’s Mark Bourbon

½ part sweet vermouth

1 tsp. maraschino cherry juice

1 maraschino cherry

Shake all together for 30 seconds. Strain into chilled Manhattan glass. Garnish with a maraschino cherry (served up, no ice).

Makes one drink.

— Maker’s Mark Bourbon


1½ parts Maker’s Mark Bourbon

Fresh mint

2 tbsp. simple syrup muddled with mint

Squeeze juice of two lime wedges

Splash of triple sec

Mix all together and top off with a splash of soda. Serve on the rocks in a tall glass rimmed with sugar. Garnish with a lime wedge.

Makes one drink.

— Maker’s Mark Bourbon

Lisa Abraham can be reached at 330-996-3737 or at Find me on Facebook, follow me on Twitter @akronfoodie or visit my blog at