Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Mini Meat Loaves with Roasted Vegetables

Meatloaf with Veggies

My mom was not a short order cook. She made that very clear pretty much from day one.

She was a stay-at-home mom for most of my childhood and cooked a family dinner every night. If you didn't like what was served there was always cereal. I'm pretty sure she meant it, but neither my sister nor I tested her.

Most of the time she made whatever she thought the majority of us would eat. I was always eating around the broccoli in the veggie stir fries and my sister was always picking out any mushrooms. We got used to dealing with the bits and pieces we didn't like.

There was one exception — red meat.

My sister just wasn't a fan. In fact, I'm pretty sure chicken was the only meat she would eat when she was a kid. When she was five years old, she was asked to share about her favorite food in class. Most of the kids said things like pizza, chicken nuggets or macaroni and cheese. My sister said hers was chicken and rice with gravy (my grandma's go-to casserole).

It was just easier for my mom to avoid arguments with my sister, so obviously, I didn't eat a whole lot of red meat when I was little.

I can probably count the number of times she made meat loaf on one hand. Maybe that's why I loved it so much -- it seemed slightly forbidden and definitely special.

Now that I no longer have to cater to my family's tastes, I guess I still don't eat a lot of red meat. Mostly for health reasons. But I still love meat loaf.

Last night I made a healthier version that takes only about 30 minutes to cook — Mini Meat Loaves. Definitely an improvement over a traditional meat loaf that takes about an hour. The key? To make them individual-sized so they cook in half the time. These are similar to the meat loaf muffins, only slightly more traditional.

On the side, I roasted a mixture of green beans, mushrooms and grape tomatoes. I tossed them in olive oil and a little salt and pepper, threw them in to the oven beside the meat loaf, stirring them half way through the meat loaf's cooking time and adding a little salt-free garlic and herb seasoning.

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