Cheesy Meatloaf Minis

What is it they say – April showers bring May flowers? In our case, April brought unseasonably warm weather and very little rain, which has been followed up by a super rainy May. Like three straight weeks of rain. Total blah weather. I’m a sunshine person – I don’t really care what the temperature is outside as long as the sun is shining. It’s a complete mood changer for me. So, by the end of the second week of rain, I was feeling as gloomy as the weather outside, and desperately craving comfort food.

I started browsing my archives trying to find a favorite meal we hadn’t made in a while and pretty quickly decided on meatloaf. It is one of my go-to winter comfort foods but sadly I think I only made it once this year. We definitely needed one last meatloaf hurrah!

Cheesy Meatloaf Minis

I was going to make an old favorite, but I couldn’t help doing a quick search for recipe ideas to see what else was out there. That search quickly ended when I found these cheesy meatloaf minis. I’m a sucker for minis (though usually it’s baked goods) and these sounded so good. They incorporate a lot of the standard meatloaf mix-ins (onion, garlic, ketchup, breadcrumbs, egg, etc) but there were a few unique things that caught my eye. The breadcrumbs are toasted – it’s an extra step that only takes about 3 minutes, but it added great flavor. Instead of adding raw onion, it’s softened quickly on the stove top first, which I hoped would make it less noticeable to Shane in the end (not so much as it turned out, but I loved the addition). Best of all, though, little cubes of cheese are incorporated in the mini loaves, and as they bake, it gets all gooey and melty. I’m not sure I’ll ever be able to make meatloaf without cheese going forward :) Because of their size, these minis cook more quickly than most meatloaf recipes I’ve made, which was also a nice added bonus! They were just the kind of comfort food I was seeking, and bound to be a repeat here next winter.

Cheesy Meatloaf Minis
adapted from Cooking Light, January 2011

{Note: I used the ground sirloin called for, but I think the recipe would also be great with ground turkey. Also, I used Monterey Jack cheese because it’s what I had on hand, but any cheese that melts well would work.}

1/2 cup plain breadcrumbs
1 cup diced onion (about 1 medium onion)
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 cup ketchup, divided
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
3/4 teaspoon dried oregano
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
3 oz Monterey Jack cheese, cut into 1/4-inch cubes
1 1/2 lb ground sirloin

Preheat oven to 425 F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil and spray with nonstick cooking spray.

Add the breadcrumbs to a large skillet set over medium-high heat. Cook, stirring often, until the breadcrumbs are toasted. Transfer the breadcrumbs to a large bowl and place the skillet back over the heat. Spray with nonstick cooking spray, then add the onion and garlic, cooking for about 3-4 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the onions soften. Transfer the onion/garlic mixture to the bowl with the breadcrumbs and allow to cool slightly.

Add 1/4 cup of the ketchup, the egg, parsley, Parmesan, Dijon, oregano, salt, pepper and cheese to the breadcrumb mixture. Stir well to combine. Add the ground sirloin and use your hands to gently mix until the ingredients are well combined. Don’t overwork the meat. Divide the mixture into 6 equal portions, and shape each portion into a mini meatloaf on the prepared baking sheet. Each loaf should be about 4×2 inches. With the remaining ketchup, brush about 2 teaspoons over the top of each loaf.

Bake for about 20 minutes, or until an instant read thermometer inserted into the mini loaves registers 160 F.