Muffin tin meatloaf

Nope, no Muffin Tin Monday around here, but we did have muffin tin meatloaf for dinner! And it came out so well, that I wanted to share. I was talking to a friend this afternoon and she has recently gone back to work outside the home after being home with the kiddos for several years. She was commenting on how hard it is to make dinner when you aren’t home during the day. Even crock pot meals don’t always work well because many recipes say to cook for 6 hours, or some variable of time that does not match up to how long you are going to be gone from home. As I was scrounging for something for dinner at 5pm, having not wanted to go to the grocery store today with my two kids in tow (Veterans Day holiday), and not wanting to leave the new puppy at home for over an hour (puppy-sadness), I was hoping there was something in the freezer. And, lucky me, there was!

Last month, I made some meatloaf. I really like my meatloaf, as does the hubby and the kids. Well, hubby had bought the meat, and it was really too much meat for dinner for just the four of us. Normally, I’d just make it all, and have leftovers. However, I remembered something from somewhere (can’t recall right now, maybe a forum I post on?) about making mini meatloaves in a muffin tin. So, I decided to do that with the extra meatloaf and freeze it. I mixed up my meatloaf first. Stuffed meat in a six-portion muffin tin, covered with aluminum foil and froze. Then, took the leftover and made my meatloaf as normal.

So, this afternoon when I opened the freezer, there it was, staring at me. That little muffin tin filled with mini meat loaves. I wasn’t sure how to cook them since I had been winging it when I made them in the first place, so I just cooked them on 375 covered for about an hour. Took the aluminum foil off, spread on some bbq sauce on the tops, and cooked uncovered for an additional 10 minutes. Yum! Tasted just like my meatloaf always tastes! But, I didn’t have to make it today, and it took less time to cook! Hooray! I’m going to make an entire batch of these to store in the freezer!

These are perfect for that, “What should I make for dinner” quandary. I pulled them out at 5pm, pretty much ignored them until they were done. Made up some frozen peas and Stove Top stuffing in the microwave in about five minutes, and I had a yummy dinner on the table with extremely minimal prep time. Which is great because I was busy making glass marble magnets with the kiddos.

I’m normally a “recipe” person, but surprisingly, I sort of wing-it with meatloaf. Very odd for me. So, I am going to share my meatloaf recipe, but I’m not going to be able to perfectly tell you how much ingredients to use. You’ll just have to wing-it too.

Tina’s Meatloaf (enough for a good-sized loaf, and a six tin muffin tin for later)

1.25 pounds of ground pork
1.75 pounds of ground hamburger (80-20) ** see meat note
Italian seasoned bread crumbs, maybe a cup or two?
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 small/medium onion, diced rather small
Worcestershire sauce, umm…maybe 1/4 cup? I like Worcestershire sauce.
Dried oregano, umm…2 tsp?
Garlic powder, umm…2 tsp?
Dried basil, umm…1 tsp?
Lawry’s seasoning salt…ummm…2 tsp?

Meat Note: I also like to use a combination of ground hamburger, pork and lamb, but you can’t always find ground lamb where I live. Just keep the same total quantity, and get enough meat based on what you can find. Maybe .75 lamb, .75 pork and 1.5 hamburger.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

1. Saute your diced onion in a little bit of olive oil until softened. (This is way better than crunchy onion in your meatloaf. If I’m in a hurry, I’ll use Tastefully Simple Onion, Onion but sauteed onion is better.)
2. In the bottom of a big bowl, mix up the egg, plus the Worcestershire sauce and all the seasonings.
3. Add in the cooked, softened onion.
4. Take off your rings (ick…meatloaf in your engagement ring)
5. Put in the meat, mix it around a bit with your hands to incorporate the wet ingredients and seasonings.
6. Add in about a cup of bread crumbs and start mixing it up with your hands.
7. You want a nice dry texture, but you don’t want it to be too dry or crumbly.
8. Add in some more bread crumbs until it feels right. No longer wet, just moist, edging towards dry.
9. Fill up your muffin tin (pack meat to the top of each muffin cup, they’ll shrink when they cook), cover with aluminum foil and freeze.
10. Shape the rest into a freeform loaf, and put on a broiling pan.
11. I use my broiling pan, with aluminum foil in the bottom to catch the grease, and I usually spray the top part of the pan. I’m sure there are other ways! I don’t like to use a loaf pan as I like it to have a nice crunchy texture on the entire outside, but that’s personal preference.
12. Time to cook will depend on how big your loaf is. I use a digital thermometer, and just cook it to the right temperature. A big loaf could take up to 2 hours.
13. Cover with aluminum foil and bake until the thermometer reads 145 degrees.
14. Uncover, and spread top with barbeque sauce (I like Bull’s-Eye Original, Cook’s Illustrated taste test winner, on my meatloaf).
15. Continue baking uncovered until 165 degrees, usually another 20 minutes.
16. Let rest for about 10 minutes before slicing and serving.
17. Yummy with veges and mashed potatoes!

I don’t think I’d make a good cookbook writer. I’m a bit too verbose! (AKA, wordy and rambling). In any case, make these muffin tin meat loaves for that next night when you are at a loss as to what to make for dinner! And if you don’t have one, ask Santa for one of those digital thermometers. They are awesome! And a subscription to Cook’s Illustrated too. Also extremely awesome.

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4 Responses

  1. I’ve cooked meatloaf in muffin tins when I wanted them to cook faster. It takes about have the time of normal meatloaf pans, but I never thought to freeze them raw. I will definitely do that. I have a recipe for Tuna Muffins. My kids were never great fans of them, but I love them. I often served them when I had friends over for lunch. Always a big hit. But you got me to thinking…I’m going to make a batch and freeze them. Then, when I want them for lunch, I can pop one in the microwave! Anyway, thought you might want to see the recipe. If you family likes tuna, just might work for you.

    TUNA MUFFINS

    Ingredients:
    MUFFINS
    2 cups cooked rice (plain or Rice-A-Roni)
    1 cup cheddar cheese, shredded
    6 1/2 ounce white tuna in water, drained
    3/4 cups black olives, sliced
    1 T. onion flakes, dried
    1 T. parsley, dried
    1 t. seasoned salt
    2 large eggs, beaten
    2 T. milk
    PAM cooking spray

    TANGY BUTTER SAUCE
    1/4 cup butter
    1 T. lemon juice
    1/2 t. seasoned salt
    1/2 t. parsley, dried

    Directions:
    Pre-heat oven to 375 deg. F.

    Combine rice, cheese, tuna, olives, onion, parsley and seasoned salt. Stir in eggs and milk, mixing thoroughly. Spray muffin tin with PAM. Divide the
    rice mixture evenly among the cups. Bake @ 375 for 15 minutes or until lightly browned.

    Meanwhile, combine the sauce ingredients.

    Loosen muffins with a spatula and serve with sauce.

  2. The boys won’t eat tuna, but I like it! Good idea to make some for yourself. I will have to try it. I wonder what else we can make in a muffin tin….well, except muffins of course.

  3. What a WONDERFUL idea! How did the glass marbles go? I was looking at that exact project wanting to give it a try. Did it work well with the boys? (from Emily Pitman)

  4. Emily, the boys had a lot of fun making them. I helped with the gluing and I did the magnets. The ones I did with photos turned out great too. I’m planning a post about it once I download my pictures.

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