I am personal believer that anything in a "mini" size is just cuter: mini desserts, mini furniture, mini people, mini meatloaf. (These are not in any particular order.) I came across this recipe from the Taste of Home website and have been making it regularly for my family. It requires very basic ingredients that I usually have on hand and because they are mini sized, they don't take quite as long to bake as a full-size meatloaf. Plus, if you have leftovers, you can make a simple lunch or freeze them for the future. Cute, but oh so versatile too! Here's a timesaving tip I use: When I buy ground beef, I usually get it at Costco in the family pack. I take out about 2 lbs. and freeze it raw for recipes like this. What I do is lay out a sheet of plastic wrap, put the ground beef on it and then wrap around it, flattening it into a rectangle shape as I go. Then I put the wrapped meat into a freezer bag and put it into the freezer. This way, it saves space and stacks nicely. I've even seen some moms freeze all their foods this way, which makes sense. You can even have a little basket and "file" your bags of meat, soup, what-have-you, in it and flip through it to find what you need. Isn't that so cool? As for the rest of the meat, I brown it all at once and put in 1 lb. batches in containers (or you can use freezer bags) in the freezer.
Back to the recipe. Here it is:
Mini Cheddar Meat Loaves
3/4 cup milk
1 cup (4 oz) shredded cheddar cheese
1/2 cup quick-cooking oats
1/2 cup chopped onion (you can skip this without affecting the dish. By the way, did you know chopped onions are freezable too?)
1/2 tsp. salt
1 lb. ground beef
2/3 cup ketchup
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1-1/2 tsp. mustard
In a large bowl, whisk egg and milk. Stir in the cheese, oats, onion and salt. Crumble beef over mixture and mix well. Shape into eight loaves; place in a greased 13"x9" baking dish. In a small bowl, combine the ketchup, brown sugar and mustard; spoon over loaves. Bake, uncovered, at 350 degrees for 25-30 minutes or until no pink remains and a meat thermometer reads 160 degrees.
Makes 8 loaves.
I like to serve this with rice, but you can substitute any other carb, like bread or potatoes. Add a hot vegetable and you're set! This also makes a great make-ahead dish if you are having company...elegant, personalized entrees are always special.
If you'd like the recipe with kids' cooking ideas: Mini Cheddar Meatloaves