Meatloaf Conquered

(Congratulations to Annette, who won “The Organized Kitchen” book! Thanks for everyone who entered!)

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It began as a roast.

Well, it began as an idea to make a roast in the crockpot for  New Year’s Day. I removed a large chunk of meat from the freezer and began  thawing it on the counter.

It wasn’t until it was well into thawing that I looked  inside. This was free-range, grass fed organic ground round, not the roast I  thought I had grabbed.

Two pounds of ground round meant for a meatloaf. I scrambled  to find a packet of the Lipton dry onion soup mix I had always used to make my meatloaf.

Well, not always.  My first meatloaf was an attempt from scratch,  so dry and tasteless that Dale and I still shudder at the thought of it now  more than 25 years later.

From that point on, I trusted only the Lipton dry onion soup  mix. It was now a familiar taste.

When I couldn’t find a packet of the mix (after all, I had  not planned on making a meatloaf this week), I panicked.

What in the world was I going to do with this huge chunk of ground round!?

I regrouped. “You can  do this,” I told myself. “You can  make a meatloaf from scratch.”

In addition to not having a lot of cooking experience as a  22-year-old newlywed, I also didn’t have access to the Internet then.

I searched online, found a basic ingredient list for  meatloaf: Eggs, crushed crackers and finely chopped onion. I added a couple of fresh ingredients (fresh pressed garlic, fresh salsa) and Dale offered a suggestion  of a green pepper, just because we had an unused one sitting in the fridge.

The results?

Definitely the best meatloaf I had ever cooked. Dale enjoyed  it so much, he wants another one for his birthday dinner, instead of the  traditional chicken fried steak.

It just goes to show that our preconceived notions about  what we can or can’t do, based on an old experience, may no longer be valid.

I’ve been getting us off of processed foods, making more and  more of our meals from scratch, learning about new foods, spices and recipes and I’m so glad I can now ditch the soup mix for the meatloaf.

Have you had any  culinary surprises – good or bad – in your kitchen recently?  

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32 Responses

  1. Making a meatloaf from scratch is definitely the way to go. I totally agree with the comments on adding oatmeal, soy sauce and ketchup. I also use Worcestershire sauce. Plus, instead of ground beef we could ground turkey.

    • Kerri says:

      I was watching a cooking show the other night where the cook said oatmeal changes the texture and she doesn’t favor that over creacker crumbs. I think it is all in what we’re used to.

  2. I LOVE meatloaf, but I can’t seem to convince my family of the same. I sometimes make mine in little balls in muffin tins and then top them, once cooked, with mashed potatoes. I call ’em mini meatloaf muffins.

    • Kerri says:

      Actually, those sound wonderful! Im not crazy about meatloaf, it isn’t one of my favorite foods, but my husband likes it and it is a nice comfort food that allows for at least one night of leftovers (and no cooking!) 😉

  3. Some of my best childhood food memories center on meatloaf sandwiches. Hope you had leftovers.

  4. Sheryl says:

    Good for you for finding ways out of processed foods. I’m pretty good at this, but I sometimes find myself getting lazy when it comes to making – of all things – my own breadcrumbs. How silly…the packaged ones are probably filled with things, like salt, that we don’t need!

    • kerri says:

      When I started reading the labels on commerical bread, I was horrified. I don’t make my own breadcrumbs either. But I found some at the health food store that I can at least recognize the ingredients list.

  5. Heather L. says:

    The fresher the ingredients, the better. Congrats on a successful meatloaf. I’ve heard meatloaves are a food trend this year.

    I’ve not had any culinary successes lately as I’m recovering from foot surgery, but hopefully all the Racheal Ray I’ve been watching will come out soon in successful dinners like yours.

    • kerri says:

      Good luck on your recovery, Heather. I have some really good Rachel Ray recipes too! Glad to know we are once again, trendy. 🙂

  6. I’ve been getting requests for meatloaf from my daughters and partner for years, and just don’t know where to begin. I surely would have started with soup mix, had I known to do so! However, such mixes are super high in sodium, so another benefit of your from-scratch recipe is that it’s lower in salt! Congratulations.

    • kerri says:

      Melanie, meatloaf is really easy. Input “easy meatloaf recipes” into google and you will get some good ideas. The good news is after the initial basic ingredients, you can use whatever you like, BBQ sauce, salsa and other spices to make it to your liking!

  7. Great. Now I wish I had meatloaf makings in the house. ;o) Good news? I made red beans and rice yesterday, so we have leftovers.

  8. Jenifer says:

    I just stumbled upon this and thought you might find it of interest… http://www.momadvice.com/food/create_your_own_mixes.aspx

    Just in case…

    Homemade Onion Soup Mix

    Ingredients

    ¾ cup instant minced onion
    4 tsp onion powder
    1/3 cup beef-flavored bouillon powder
    ¼ tsp celery seed, crushed
    ¼ tsp sugar

    Mix all the ingredients and store in an airtight container. To use, add two tablespoons mix to one cup boiling water. Cover and simmer for fifteen minutes.

  9. mat says:

    I’m very proud of you, Kerri! How wonderful does it feel to take nothing and turn it into a real something? I get a little bit of that feeling every time I make dinner for my family (which is pretty often). I’ve had a lot of fresh noodle triumphs lately–that recipe link I shared for New Years. Tuesday night, it was noodles with seared and marinated chicken in a tomato and cream sauce; fresh, from scratch and totally wonderful! Another favorite has been noodles with olive oil, butter, fresh herbs and a little chopped bacon.

    If I may be so bold, I would *highly* recommend sauteing your onions and green peppers before adding them to the mix. Carmelizing those veggies and adding a dash of soy sauce once in the mix gives you some serious depth of flavor and added richness.

    • Kerri says:

      Your noodle dishes do sound awesome, Mat! And yes, I felt very good about this dinner and it was delicious! Thanks for the tips. I will try that next time. Love soy sauce with just about everything.

      • Mat says:

        I can’t believe how much I love these really simple noodle dishes. I’ve gotten to where I can hand-make and cook the noodles faster than I can boil a big pot of water and cook dehydrated pasta. And at that point, why even bother with dry pasta? I think the next try is going to be to make a simple alfredo sauce (or improve my cream sauce) and add some fresh peas, maybe a little diced salami, and ground pepper.

        Also, when it comes to marinades or ground meat, I use soy sauce interchangeably with worstershire (sp?) sauce. More often than not, I just have soy sauce.

  10. Susan says:

    Congrats on your meatloaf success. When we got married I didn’t know how to cook at all…put on a pot of beans without washing them or checking for stones. That was almost 42 yrs ago.
    I cook without as many processed foods as possible, but that can be a challenge when we have gotten so use to using them.
    On another note saw this article on tiny houses and you all were in it… http://realestate.msn.com/10-tiny-houses-youll-love-big-time

    • Kerri says:

      Yes, the whole processed foods thing comes with our busy lives, I think. But I’m finding that with a little pre-planning, cooking from scratch doesn’t take that much longer. I’m sure you’ve realized this as well. Thanks for the link. Someone in our community emailed me, but didn’t include the link.

  11. NoPotCooking says:

    I’m so glad you made your own meatloaf. There’s no reason not to. If you want to make a really good one, try Mrs. Kostyra’s meatloaf at marthastewart.com. It’s my fave. I often make meatloaf with ground turkey as well.

  12. When we moved to our new house, it did not have a microwave and we haven’t bought one. We’ve been living without the microwave for over a year and I realize that we eat far less processed foods as a result. I have never been a big fan of pre-made meals or frozen, packaged entrees, but usually would pick up a few at the grocery store for those nights when I didn’t feel like cooking. But, without a microwave, they aren’t an option and I don’t miss them. It’s amazing how easy it is to make small changes in diet and lifestyle, once you’re forced to. Congratulations on your successful meatloaf, Kerri! Here’s to chemical free cooking in 2012!

    • Kerri says:

      Congratulations on living without the microwave, Kathleen. I’m sure you know I hate those things! 🙂 I still purchase frozen meals sometimes. There are some all natural, organic Mexican meals at our local health food grocer. The name escapes me now, but that have some good spinach and cheese enchiladas. You can warm them in the oven and I cook a little jasmine rice as they’re not quite enough for Dale. I don’t buy frozen veggies anymore anyway as most of them are being imported from China, so it forces me to buy and cook fresh organic ones, typically what’s in season. Here, here to less chemicals in 2012!

  13. Olivia says:

    As I have mentioned previously, I am celiac so am gluten free. DH is lactose intolerant so I know how to cook and bake with those restrictions but my new grandson is egg intolerant (and I have been staying with them to help my daughter) so figuring out how to bake gluten/lactose/egg free has been an interesting challenge but I have done pretty well. Even the panckes turned out well – better even, I would say, than my regular ones with eggs!

    • kerri says:

      Congratulations on that, Olivia! I’ve never had to cook for a restrictive diet, but I can imagine the challenge it would bring.

      • Olivia says:

        Yes *sigh*.

        My daughter asked me the other day if I ever wished I could just go to the store like anyone else and buy whatever I wanted without having to read EVERY label and buy special foods.

        YES, I do.

        Sometimes I even wish I could buy some prepackaged item or microwavable whatever and bring it home and “zap it.”

        Cooking from scratch is fun and creative when it is a choice but when it’s a virtual necessity all the time, it can, occasionally, get a little old.

  14. Alexandra says:

    I liked the way you led us away from processed foods in this post. You could also use organic oatmeal, instead of crushed crackers. I am constantly shuddering in my pantry these days, especially every time I pick up a can of tomatoes, now that I know there’s BPA in cans, and tomatoes are supposed to be among the worst offenders.

    • kerri says:

      Thanks, Alexandra. I did use organic crackers and ketchup. I try to buy as many foods organic, especially processed ones. I know, I hate the tomato BPA thing, too.