Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Mini Cheddar Meat Loaves

As much as I write about my mom's recipes being my tried and true favorites, you'd think that would apply to her meatloaf recipe as well. You'd be thinking wrong. I'm not even sure what her meatloaf recipe was, because I didn't care for it so I never requested it! Lest you think I'm a horrible daughter, please know that she didn't make meatloaf very often, so this really isn't a big deal. Maybe she knew her recipe lacked something. Maybe she didn't like meatloaf. Maybe I should ask her the next time I visit her?

I guess when push comes to shove and apples not falling far from trees, I should admit that meatloaf was not always one of my favorites either. (ohh, the way we bloggers bare our souls!) However, years ago I came across this recipe for mini meatloaves, and I decided to give it another go. I'm not sure if it's the sauce that has me loving this recipe or the fact that I instantly adore all things that are mini, but this has been hubby and kids' favorite for at least the last ten years.
Individual loaves by design have more surface area for sauce. And I make little indentations on the top to serve as added sauce pockets (can you tell I'm all about sauce?)

What I think might be unique about this recipe (and please correct me if I'm wrong,) is that it uses oatmeal instead of bread crumbs or crackers as a binder. Also, the shredded cheese adds a nice, rich moisture to this meatloaf.

Little Cheddar Meat Loaves

1 TBSP olive oil
1 small onion, diced
2 cups of fresh spinach, chopped
2 cloves of garlic, minced
pinch of crushed red pepper flakes (optional)
salt and pepper
2 lbs. lean ground beef (I use Laura's Lean)
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 cup milk
3/4 cup quick-cooking oats
1 3/4 cup shredded cheddar cheese (I use 2%)

Sauce:

1 cup ketchup
1/4 cup Splenda brown sugar (or 1/2 cup regular brown sugar)
1 Tbsp mustard

In a saute pan, heat olive oil. Add onions and season with salt and pepper. Saute for 5-6 minutes, until onions are translucent. Add spinach and red pepper flakes, if using. Season again with salt and pepper and saute until spinach is wilted. Add garlic and saute for another minute or two.

In large bowl, whisk eggs and milk together. Add oats and cheddar cheese. Stir to combine. Crumble ground beef over mixture and mix together with your hands.

Spray a 9X13 baking dish with cooking spray. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a small bowl, mix together the sauce ingredients.

Divide meat mixture into 6-8 even pieces, depending on how large you want your mini-loaves. Form into oval loaves and place into prepared pan. Make a small indentation in the middle of each loaf to serve as a sauce receptacle. Divide sauce evenly over loaves and spread it around a bit.

Place pan in oven and bake for 45-50 minutes or until meat thermometer reads 160 degrees.

I usually take the loaves out of the oven, remove from pan, and drain the grease. Then I put the loaves back in the pan and stick it under the broiler for a few minutes to brown the tops of the loaves a little bit more.


18 comments:

HoneyB said...

Ok, well we love meatloaf here and with me it too is all about the sauce! I am bookmarking this one to try out! Oh, it doesn't hurt that I am infatuated with mini food myself. ;-)

Jen @ My Kitchen Addiction said...

These look super tasty. My hubby is a huge meatloaf fan... OK, he pretty much likes anything that is meat. Anyway, this definitely sounds like a recipe that's worth a try!

June said...

See..one more thing we've got in common. I'm all about the sauce too (and condiments). We'd have a heck of a lot more room in the fridge, if it weren't for those. Love the look of your meatloaf and making minnies is a great idea. Gotta' try'em soon. BTW, I make stuffed peppers that use oatmeal as well and they're fab- hey, what about some poblanoes stuffed with meatloaf...mmmm?

Il Duche said...

Ooooh the sauce. The ever-loving sauce. Delcious goodness, I tell ya. Butter, my four year old, will love making this with me. He thinks mushing food around with his hands is one of life's greatest pleasures.

Moogie said...

I love mini food also. It's like the cook made something special for everyone at the table. And everyone likes to feel special.

megstermeter said...

these look SO GOOD. Meatloaf is my ultimate meal...oh so tasty!

Mags said...

HoneyB: What is it about little food that is so attractive? It's crazy, isn't it.

Jen: I hope your hubby enjoys this. It's my hubby's favorite meatloaf.

June: Sauce and condiments...the reason I have a second fridge. I like the meatloaf-stuffed poblano idea! I've got another round about ready to come off the garden too.

Duche: Ohhh...your little guy will have fun with this one!

Moogie: Maybe that's why I like little individual foods... I just want to feel special!

Megster: Thanks for stopping by and commenting!

Anonymous said...

The meat loaves look great! I never thought about putting a dent in the top to hold more sauce. Going to have to try that! As far as the oatmeal, while I think it may be kinda unique, my mom (boy June hates when I say that) did her meat loaf that way too. Bread crumbs or crackers are okay just not rice! First time I saw a meat loaf with rice in it I thought maggots had invaded it.
Gman

Mags said...

Gman: Your secret's safe with me. June will never know that you secretly pine for your mama's meatloaf...lol. Thanks for commenting.

June said...

Excuse me...she knows now and she's NOT amused! Ha.

Mags said...

(Hee!)

Memória said...

What a healhtier version of meatloaf! It could be even healthier with skim or lowfat milk. Thanks!

Anonymous said...

I tried your recipe yesterday (man-O-man did it ever smell good as it cooked)and found it a clever and tasty take on meatloaf earning family endorsement with a "yes, make it again" response. Thanks for the new easy dinner idea.
Thought you'd like to know :)

Mags said...

Memoria: Yup, I use skim milk all the time.

Anon: Thank you for reporting back! I just love hearing from people who've tried my recipes.

Mom2Be said...

these look and sound delicious! : )

Anonymous said...

I came across your site looking for roasted poblano corn chowder and now I can't leave! Each recipe looks better than the next and love how you write about it.

re. the meatloaf and all things that use great sauce, I like to say that they are nothing but vehicles by which to carry the sauce. It IS all about the sauce!

Barbara said...

Hello there, I had this recipe saved since you posted it on TasteSpotting way back in the summer, and finally got around to trying it out. It was a huge success! I wasn't sure about the sauce at first so I made some with your sauce, and some with hubby's favorite bbq sauce. Both were quite good. I also love the fact that the little loaves have spinach and oats in them, it makes them almost guilt-free? Thanks for the inspiration!

Mags said...

Barbara: I'm so glad you enjoyed this recipe. Thanks for commenting!