Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Freezer-Friendly Mini-Meatloaves

Today I could not be more thankful that I took a little time this past weekend to make up a delicious freezer-friendly quick cooking meal.  Like most people in the U.S. I'm either fighting "the flu" or more likely a virus thing that's wiping me out, but isn't bad enough for meds.  Fun stuff. 

So when it comes to my regular thought around 4pm, of "What am I going to make for dinner?" cooking does not sound like a lot of fun.  But neither does fast food.  So it is the perfect night for the meal I'm about to share with you. 

Meatloaf balls are an idea that I stole from my Aunt Karina who served this at a Sunday lunch once.  Mini-meatloaves are perfectly portioned, cook much faster than traditional meatloaf in a loaf pan, and make ahead beautifully for the freezer.  They are also made for a Use-it-Up recipe!

Meatloaf Balls
Approximately 2 1/2 cups bread, broken up into small pieces
1/2 onion chopped
2/3 cup shredded carrots
2 eggs
1 cup ketchup
3/4 cup mustard
1/4 cup spicy ground mustard or 1 tsp Worcesters sauce
2 lbs ground hamburger

Start by prepping all of your companion ingredients first. (This was a total revelation to me.  Prepping everything else first and putting the meat in the bowl last makes for a much easier clean-up process, and reduces the risk of accidentally touching something after you've touched the meat.)

I like to leave my ingredients fairly chunky as you will see.  Many recipes call for making breadcrumbs by putting bread in the food processor, but I like the texture and think the end result is more moist. 

After the bread, chopped onion and carrots goes some salt and pepper (about 1/2 tsp of each), two eggs, and a generous squirt of ketchup and mustard (approximately 1/2 cup of ketchup and 1/4 cup of mustard.)  I didn't have any Worcester sauce, which I like to use, but I did have spicy ground mustard which works very nicely for a bit of kick.
In a separate bowl I mixed 1/2 cup of ketchup and 1/2 cup of mustard together to make a very traditional sauce for the top. 

Two pounds of ground beef go in next, and then the fun begins... Mix together all the ingredients using your hands.  I portion my balls by taking a generous fist full and packing it tightly together.  I've found that this recipe yields exactly 12 mini-meatloaves.  You can make them bigger if you prefer a little larger portion.

Knowing these would go into the freezer, I put mine directly on to some Glad Press-and-Seal wrap.  I covered each ball with the sauce, and put another piece of wrap over top to seal them up.  To prevent freezer burn, I put each package of six in a ziptop bag. 

When I wanted to make these for tonight's meal, I took out just the number I needed.  I put them into a 400 degree oven for about 45 minutes, but this time would be reduced if you thawed them in the refrigerator prior. Check to make sure the meat is completely cooked before serving.  Enjoy!

What I Used-Up:
The last of a loaf of bread
2 lbs beef
1/2 onion
The last of a bag of baby carrots
2 eggs
The last of a bag of sweet potato fries

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