Here is our first Blueprint Recipe: Mini Meatloaves. Mini Meatloaves are a great basic recipe to know because they work great for dinner, fit in a lunchbox nicely, and are perfectly freezable. The same concept of changeability works for regular sized meatloaf; I just prefer the mini version.
Blueprint: Mini Meatloaves
serves 6, 1 hour
1 1/2 lbs. ground beef
1 c. breadcrumbs (or milk soaked bread, or oatmeal, or cracker crumbs, or stuffing mix, etc.)
1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
2. Mix meat, binder (bread, crumbs, etc.), additional ingredients, and seasonings together gently. Do not overwork the mixture. Press evenly into 12 muffin tins.
3. Make a small indention in the middle of each meatloaf muffin. Bake for 30 minutes or until meatloaves are cooked through. Pull from oven, add cheese (see below) to indention and bake 5 minutes more until cheese is melted. Let stand 10 minutes before removing from muffin tin.
TO FREEZE: Remove from muffin tin and let cool completely. Place on cookie sheet and flash freeze until firm. Transfer to a labeled gallon sized freezer bag.
TO SERVE: Defrost overnight, then reheat in oven or microwave until heated through.
That is meatloaf at its MOST basic.
For ALL-AMERICAN Mini Meatloaves: you would need to add 1/2 – 1 cup sauteed onions, 2-4 T. tomato paste in the mixture, and a nice ketchup/brown sugar glaze on top instead of cheese. Chopped, cooked bacon would make this super awesome.
For GREEK Mini Meatloaves: substitute ground lamb for half of the ground beef, add 1 cup spinach (either fresh that has been wilted, or frozen that has been thawed and squeezed), 1 t. – 1 T. each oregano and thyme, and top with 4 oz. feta cheese (which doesn’t actually melt, just so you know). Notice that this flavor makeover does not involve every ingredient discussed on Wednesday (no lemon, for instance), but it definitely evokes a Greek flavor. Also, this recipe cost me $1.06/serving to make, even using an expensive meat like ground lamb!
For PIZZA Mini Meatloaves: substitute bulk Italian sausage for 1/3 of the ground beef, and add 1/2 c. each green peppers, onions, and mushrooms, chopped and sauteed. Also, add 1 T. pizza sauce to the top of each muffin before baking, and top with 1 T. shredded mozzarella cheese. My kids love these in their lunchbox!