Perhaps that’s an overstatement at this exact moment you’re reading it, but on any given Tuesday at 5:21pm when your husband has asked you for the fourth time “What’s for dinner?” and you’re trying to stave off your kids’ meltdowns while looking in the fridge at ground turkey or beef that needs to be use RIGHT NOW, those diamonds are saviors.
I’m often asked why it’s easy for me to throw together a meal on the fly and my response is always a resounding “It isn’t!” I’ve just been doing this for a while and feel fairly confident in the kitchen. I’ve walked in most of your shoes as a Mom, Wife and Worker Bee so I not only get it, but am on a mission to alleviate your need for double antiperspirant during dinnertime prep.
I get asked all the time why are my boys such good eaters, now 12 and 13. It’s pretty simple: (1) I get them involved in food prep when time allows, (2) the dinner I’ve planned is the only dinner I’m making and (3) I value their opinion on food. When they were toddlers, I’d have them watch me dice all kinds of foods. Invariably, they wanted to try just about everything and have developed good palates. I think Jackson chewed on a sprig of parsley once and told me it was minty. My biggest tip, however, is to actually ask them what they think. I had a huge epiphany when they were about 7 and 8. I made a casserole and Shane didn’t like it. I asked him “What would make it better?” and he said it needed salt. And, guess what? It did. Shane also doesn’t love fish, but when asked the same question, he says he needs a sauce. I taught him how to make an easy tartar sauce and he now makes it on his own.
Back to Meatloaf Diamonds…this recipe accomplishes so much for my household and sanity, I’m so happy to share it. I usually buy ground turkey or beef as a staple, but when the Best By date is approaching, I kind of freak out. Mini-meatloaves are perfect for getting your kids involved if you have time, letting them “call the shots” on how they want to customize it, and getting a meal on the table quickly. I usually have shredded cheese and quickly crisp up a few bacon strips to have as add-ins. If I have time, then I’ll chop up a red pepper, scallions or shallots and some parsley. And, the diamond part? This is where crafty moms will excel (clearly, it’s not me as mine looks like a trapezoid). You can help the kids make their initial or maybe a shape of something seasonal, it doesn’t have to be a diamond, but they should all be about the same size so they cook evenly. The shape just gets them interested in making something that’s their own and, yes, while I have middle schoolers, they still are into it!
(Your Family’s Last Name)’s Custom Mini Meatloaves
2 c. red sauce (could be marinara, bruschetta topping, a mix of both, drained diced tomatoes with chopped red peppers, a little ketchup added to pasta sauce)
½ c. breadcrumbs, gluten-free or regular
2 lbs. ground turkey or beef (ground turkey breast will be a tad drier)
Possible Add ins: 4-5 strips of crisp bacon, 1 c. shredded cheese, diced onions, scallions or shallots, diced peppers or carrots, chopped parsley or other herb, a spice such as chili powder, cumin, salt-free spice mix
- Heat oven to 375 degrees. Line aluminum foil on a rimmed sheet pan (for easy clean up) and set a cookie cooling rack on top, if you have one. Neither the foil or cookie rack are necessities! Spray the rack or bottom of sheet pan with olive oil cooking spray.
- Arrange each add-in either in its own little bowl, or simply in piles on a cutting board.
- In large bowl, stir together 1 cup of red sauce/mixture, eggs and breadcrumbs. Add in ground meat and fold all ingredient together well with your hand. Give each family member a small bowl and put about 1/3 lb. of meat mix in each bowl. This is like a nice size Mom handful. Now, let your family go at it for the add-ins.
- When everyone is done customizing, have each person shape their mini meatloaf on the rack/pan. Top each, if desired, with the additional 1 c. of reserved red sauce/mixture and/or any leftover add-ins.
- Bake for 20-25 minutes. Your creations should be browned around the edges and internal temperature for turkey should be 160 degrees while beef should be 170 degrees.