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Make individual meatloaves for easy, comforting dinners


Individual meatloaves are little loaves of heaven

Meatloaf is the quintessential comfort food. It may not technically be Southern, but y'all know we love it down here, especially when there's a shortcut involved. 

Instead of baking a family sized meatloaf, I made individual loaves using a divided four-section baking pan customarily used for bread baking. By doing so, you'll ensure that the meatloaves cook more quickly and evenly, and everyone will have his or her individual portion.

These little loaves of heaven are seasoned with Italian seasonings, freshly grated Parmesan cheese, and chopped parsley. And a bonus — if you have any leftovers, they make great sandwiches the next day on toasted Italian rolls.

Let's make the sauce first:

1 (10-ounce) can tomato purée
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon dried Italian seasoning
1 teaspoon beef bouillon
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
2 tablespoons dark brown sugar
1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

In a small saucepan, combine all ingredients over low heat and let simmer while you prepare the meatloaves. Stir occasionally to keep from sticking.

Now for the meatloaves:

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
3 tablespoons finely chopped yellow onion
3 tablespoons finely chopped green bell peppers
1 clove garlic, minced
1 pound ground chuck
1/2 cup Italian bread crumbs, or regular breadcrumbs plus 2 tablespoons dried Italian seasoning
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese, plus more for serving
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley, plus more for serving
1 large egg, lightly beaten
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Heat oven to 375 degrees.

In a small skillet, over medium heat, add olive oil, onions, bell peppers and garlic. Let vegetables soften, 3 to 5 minutes. Remove from the heat.

Place ground chuck in a large bowl and break apart gently with a fork. Add the onion mixture and remaining ingredients and, using your hands, mix. Next, add 1/2 cup of the sauce and, using a spatula, combine all ingredients.

You can either use a regular loaf pan or make them individually as I did. Divide the meatloaf mixture into four equal parts and lightly spoon into the greased pan.

Gently spoon the remaining sauce over the top of the meatloaves and place in oven.

Bake for 35 to 40 minutes and remove from oven. Grate additional Parmesan over the top and place back in the oven for 5 minutes or so. Top with chopped parsley and serve.

While the meatloaves are baking, let these yummy potatoes share the oven space. These are so much better than the boxed variety, with no added preservatives!

Sour Cream and Chive Scalloped Potatoes
Serves: 4 to 6

4 cups water
1 teaspoon salt
4 medium potatoes, sliced very thin
1 cup sour cream
1 cup shredded white cheddar cheese, plus more if desired
2 large eggs, well beaten
2 tablespoons heavy cream
3 tablespoons chopped fresh chives
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Heat oven to 375 degrees. 

In a large saucepan, bring water to a boil over medium-high heat. Add 1/2 teaspoon of the salt. Lower heat to medium and add the potatoes. Cook the potatoes for 4 to 5 minutes and drain well. Arrange the potatoes in a buttered, shallow 1 1/2-quart baking dish, overlapping slightly.

Combine the sour cream with the cheese, beaten eggs, heavy cream, chives, remaining 1/2 teaspon salt, and pepper. Pour over the potatoes in the baking dish. Gently press the potatoes down into the mixture with a spoon to make sure the potatoes are covered. Sprinkle with a little more of the shredded cheese, if desired.

Bake for about 30 minutes or until heated through and lightly browned.

Photo (hero): Jessica and Lon Binder/Flickr (license)

Author image

Laura Tolbert, also known as Fleur de Lolly, has been sharing recipes, table decor ideas and advice for fellow foodies and novices on her blog, fleurdelolly.blogspot.com for more than eight years. You can contact her at fleurdelolly@yahoo.com.