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

Monday, January 14, 2013

Blue Cake for Breakfast

It's been just over a week since our trip to Costco, and we've consumed or used nearly 3/4 of the 5lbs of berries I bought.  For a family of three (with one who doesn't eat any...ehem...Kevin), that's pretty remarkable!  If you've been following the blog for awhile, you know that we love smoothies around here, and at least twice a week Jett and I share a big berry/spinach smoothie.  We also love to eat berries for breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks in between.  On Saturday morning I made one of my favorite blueberry muffin recipes which took care of nearly 1lb of blueberries.  Jett calls it his "Blue Cake."

Double Blueberry Muffins (Courtesy of Gale Gand's cookbook "Butter, Sugar, Flour, Eggs")

8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, slightly softened
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 1/2 cups fresh or thawed frozen blueberries*
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup milk
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Heat the oven to 375 degrees.  Line 12 muffin cups with liners.

Cream the butter in a mixer fitted with a paddle attachment (or use a hand mixer) until smooth. Add 1 cup of the sugar and mix. Add the eggs, vanilla, baking powder and salt, and mix.

In a shallow bowl, mash 3/4 cup blueberries with the back of a fork. Add to the batter and mix. With the mixer at low speed, add half of the flour and milk. Repeat with remaining flour and milk. Fold in the whole blueberries by hand until well mixed.  In a separate small bowl, mix the remaining 2 tablespoons of sugar with the cinnamon.

Use an ice cream scoop to fill the muffin cups three quarters full.  Sprinkle the cinnamon sugar over the muffins and bake until golden brown and risen, 25-30 minutes.  Let cool, and enjoy!

*I love that there are more blueberries than flour in this recipe! I have also substituted raspberries for blueberries, and it turns out wonderfully.