Mini Meatloaf Just for Kids!


Meatloaves are kind of like hamburgers but more fun for kids to make.

By Kathy Oberman

 

Individual little meatloaves can be made to order to suit kids' tastes. Once they learn how, they'll happily make supper.

Mini Meatloaf: It's a Classic
Soft and gooey ground meat is mixed with other simple ingredients to make free-form mini meatloaves. They are not quite hamburgers, but they're close, which makes them familiar for kids.

A combination of ground beef, eggs, bread crumbs or rolled oats, and ketchup results in a delicious mixture just right for classic meatloaf. Add other, more flavorful ingredients to jazz up the meatloaf. It's up to the kids.

Mix It Up
Combinations of herbs, chopped veggies, shredded cheese, condiments, and coarsely ground nuts all mix into ground beef to flavor the kind of meatloaf your kids are hankering for.

For instance, let them make Italian meatloaf with ground beef, eggs, Italian bread crumbs, shredded mozzarella cheese, Parmesan cheese, and tomato paste.

An all-American barbecue meatloaf is made by mixing equal parts of ground beef and half ground pork, barbecue sauce, and sautéed onions.

Mexican meatloaf includes salsa, chili powder, Monterey Jack cheese, and , for the kid who likes spicy food, a tiny chopped jalapeno. Use ground beef and pork, all beef, or even ground turkey breast.

Try a Southwestern meatloaf by mixing chopped bell peppers, raisins, pine nuts, chili powder, cumin, and cinnamon into a mixture of ground beef and pork.

Your kids will gobble up their vegetables if they add shredded carrots, potatoes, sweet potatoes, or bell peppers to a classic meatloaf mixture made with beef or ground turkey breast. This loaf is a wellspring of vitamins and minerals.

Meatloaf Technique
The proper technique for mixing the meatloaf ingredients is to use your hands. What could be more fun? It's almost like playing with the food. (Be sure the kids don't lick their fingers. They are working with raw meat.)

This makes them perfect for kids. They're so easy to make and yet expand a child's repertoire beyond cookies and brownies. They can make dinner!

Grownups should chop the veggies, preheat the oven, and supervise the cooking. Be sure to use oven mitts!

Once the meat is mixed, give it a taste test. Pull off a small hunk and fry it in a skillet, like a hamburger. Taste and adjust the seasoning, if you like. Just be sure the kids never, never eat raw, uncooked meat!

Cook It Up
Bake mini meatloaves in a 350°F. oven, which you preheat at least 20 minutes before it's time to cook.

Let the kids form the meat into a rectangular loaf shape, a rounded mound, or ball. Set these in a shallow baking pan, leaving space between them if you're making more than one.

Alternately, if you own mini bread pans, stuff the meatloaf mixture into them. Cupcake pans are fun for little meatloaves. Be sure to give any pan you choose a light spray of cooking oil or line it with a sheet of aluminum foil to prevent sticking.

Bake the meatloaves until the meat is firm and juicy. Depending on the size of the loaf, this can take from 25 to 35 minutes.

Serve the meatloaves for a wholesome supper. Just add salad or another vegetable, mashed potatoes, or rice. The kids will be so proud of their culinary accomplishment they'll clean their plates.