Cooking by Number -- Meatloaf

My kids were about 10 years old before I cooked meatloaf for them. I am not sure what took me so long – maybe memories of overcooked school cafeteria fare scared me off. One of my sons loved the meatloaf so much that he wanted to tell his friends about the gourmet dish his mom made!
There’s a lot to like about meatloaf. It’s easy to make. You can use almost any combo of ground meat or poultry. Grated or pureed veggies are a tasty addition for moisture and nutrition. And a slice of leftover meatloaf is the perfect size for a sandwich.

Here’s what you need to make Cooking by Number meatloaf to serve four:

1 pound ground meat
1 egg
1 tablespoon seasoning
1/2 cup crumbs
1/2 cup vegetables
3/4 cup sauce
Freshly ground black pepper to taste

Here are some ingredient ideas to get you started. Mix and match to create your own combos.
Ground meat – Lean beef, lean pork, lean veal, turkey, turkey breast, chicken, duck breast, salmon
Crumbs – Bread crumbs, matzo meal, oats, crushed cornflakes
Sauce – Ketchup (regular or low sodium), BBQ sauce, tomato sauce, pasta sauce, cream of mushroom soup,
Vegetables – Grated onion, carrot, zucchini; pureed squash; mashed potato; diced tomato
Seasoning – Italian, basil + oregano, curry powder, herbes de Provence, garlic (chopped or powder), onion powder

Now that you’ve picked out ingredients, here’s what you do with them:
1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Spray a 9- x 5-inch loaf pan with cooking spray. A loaf pan with a perforated insert allows extra liquid to drain off.
2. Set aside 1/4 cup sauce. Mix together the remaining sauce and all other ingredients in a large bowl.
3. Spoon the meat mixture into the loaf pan and smooth out the top of the loaf. Top with the remaining sauce.
4. Bake for about one hour, until the center of the loaf reaches 160° F on an instant-read thermometer.
5. Allow to cool for 10 minutes before carefully removing from the pan and slicing.

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