I love to cook. It’s one of my favorite indoor activities. Most of the time when the warmer months come around, we ditch the comfort food for lighter summer fare, but sometimes the comfort food just tastes so good. The month of June is country cooking month, so all month long, I will be posting some of my favorite country cooking recipes. Here is my recipe for Italian Meatball Inspired Meatloaf.

I'm a big fan of meatballs when they're done properly. I've had some that were so bland I wondered why I was wasting the calories eating them. Others I've had have been so spicy, I couldn't eat them. Then there are the ones that are so perfectly light and tender, you can't stop eating them. Those are the ones I like so I made my own recipe -- with a twist, of course!

Most meatballs are beef and that's great, but can sometimes be overwhelming with heavy pasta and sauce plus crusty bread, so I lightened it up a little and the meatballs take the lead. June is Country Cooking Month and all month long I will be sharing some of my favorite country cooking recipes. Here is my recipe for Italian meatball inspired meatloaf. You'll need 20 ounces of lean ground turkey (I like Jennie O), 1/2 cup of tomato basil pasta sauce (I like Wolfgang Puck or Newman's Own), 1/2 cup Italian breadcrumbs (I like Progresso Panko), 1 cup grated Parmesan cheese; divided, 1/2 cup finely chopped red (or green) onion, 1/3 cup chopped flat leaf parsley, 1 teaspoon garlic powder, 1/2 teaspoon basil, 1/2 teaspoon oregano, a dash or two of crushed red pepper flakes (optional), 1/4 teaspoon fresh cracked black pepper, 2 egg whites, cooking spray. Preheat oven to 350. Combine meat, 1/2 cup of pasta sauce, 1/2 cup of cheese and remaining ingredients (except cooking spray) in a glass bowl. Squish it together until well mixed. Shape into a loaf that’s roughly 8″ X 4″. Lightly coat a baking dish with cooking spray and transfer mixture to the baking dish. Pour 1/2 cup of pasta sauce into a bowl and using a pastry brush, brush the outside of the meatloaf with pasta sauce until well coated. Bake for an hour and ten minutes, or until internal temperature registers 170 degrees. Let meatloaf stand for 10 minutes before cutting.

There are a number of ways to serve this. You could do your traditional meatloaf accouterments of green beans or corn and mashed potatoes. With turkey, it's lighter so linguine and marinara with crusty bread and Cesar salad is also delicious.

A way to tip your hat to summer with this recipe is to make the recipe as described above, but instead of making the meatloaf, evenly portion them out into burgers and toss them on the grill. Shortly before they're done, brush them with pasta sauce and a slice of mozzarella cheese and serve with oven baked sweet potato fries (I like Alexia brand) drizzled with olive oil and dusted with rosemary and shaved Parmesan cheese. The easiest way to do that is place the frozen fries in a one gallon ziploc plastic bag, add about a tablespoon of olive oil and rosemary and close the bag. Shake the bag like a Polaroid picture and then empty the fries onto a cooking sheet and bake according to package directions. Sprinkle with shaved Parm and serve.

What are some of your favorite country cooking recipes?