Growing up, I hated meatloaf.
Now, my mum was a great cook, but my dad liked things a bit bland, and well… meatloaf was not her forte. I can remember cringing as that dull, lifeless brick would come out of the oven. It was dry, it lacked flavor of any sort, and well, it was basically a big lump of cooked ground beef that she sliced down. It just wasn’t pretty, and all the ketchup in the world just couldn’t change my mind.
It wasn’t until many years later that I even attempted to try meatloaf. I was living on my own, and as luck would have it, I had met a guy that LOVED meatloaf. Well, shoot. While I had flashbacks of that poor, dry bland slab of beef hovering in my mind, I knew there had to be a better meatloaf out there somewhere. So, I googled recipes and learned some basics. My first ever meatloaf was Billy Joel’s wife’s recipe- Katie Joel’s “Man Loaf”. Cosmo was raving about it that year, and I figured I’d try it out on my man… at least he’d enjoy the meatloaf even if I didn’t care for it. But you know what? It was delicious! Moist and flavorful- all of the things I felt a meatloaf should be. From then on, my world of meatloaf was reborn!
Several years later, I feel that I’ve found my own perfect meatloaf- Satisfying, yet healthy.
A blend of flavors, moist, and colorful…with a nostalgia for days gone by. My Farm Stand Meatloaf is a crowd pleaser for sure, and with a few quick tricks, it’s on the table in under 30.
1/2 lb ground sweet italian sausage
1/2 lb ground hot italian sausage
1 lb lean ground turkey
1 medium zucchini, grated
1 cup grated carrot
1/2 cup chopped green onions
1/4 cup grated Romano/ Parmesan cheese
1/2 cup breadcrumbs
Combine all ingredients in a large bowl and smoosh together with hands. Really, your hands are your best tools in the kitchen, and for meatloaf, there’s simply no better way to go. Just remember to take your rings off!! Once smooshed together, I press the mix into the cups of a muffin tin. It usually makes 12 perfect “muffins”. I also have a great scone pan that I like- it’s similar to my muffin tin, but is squared off instead of round. Somehow it makes it seem more “meatloaf-like”. At any rate, you might be wondering:
WHY THE MUFFIN TIN?
I bother with the meatloaf tin for the simple fact of reliability. I know that in a muffin tin, my tiny loaves will cook up in 25 minutes, every time. It makes it quick, and takes out the guess work that I frequently have when making a large loaf. “Is this sucker done? Is the middle fully cooked? Why are the edges burning?” No guessing here- 25 minutes = perfection.
Once smooshed and prepped, I top each with a spoonful of barbeque sauce. I happen to like the flavor of bbq sauce with meatloaf more than I enjoy ketchup, but if ketchup is your thing, by all means- ketchup those puppies up!
Into a 350 degree oven they go for 25 minutes!
Another perk to the muffin tin? Easy portion control. Each muffin is about 2 to 2 and 1/2 ounces, so 2 muffins is an appropriate portion. Lastly- it makes packing leftovers SO easy. There’s nothing more annoying to me than slicing down a meatloaf, only to have it fall apart halfway through the slice. Come on, you know what I’m talking about! With these guys, there’s no slicing, and no falling apart. WIN.
Give them a whirl- the hidden veggies lock in moisture, while the meat trio gives a robust flavor. Your family won’t even notice that they are good for them!
On occasion, for little ones or for a party, I’ll top these meatloaf muffins with some mashed potatoes and bacon bits as a cute cupcake. Easy, portable, and super fun- these ones were for my buddy’s baby shower!
Try them out!
Until next time,
PS: If you are feeling adventurous, be sure to check out the next post’s “Meatloaf Matrix” which offers variations on the standard meatloaf dish!