Mariel here. Unlike my mother, who grew up with a strict weekly menu plan, I was fed a colorful, flavorful, and often exotic array of dinnertime dishes. Naturally, all I ever wanted to eat were the fish sticks, Tater Tots, and hot dogs my mom despised as a child. At the time, I didn’t appreciate the effort my mother put into feeding us three ungrateful trolls, but now, as I’m learning to navigate my own tiny kitchen, I understand just how difficult it must have been.
None of us ever liked the same meal, we never wanted to try her fancy grown-up catering food, nor did we want to finish our dinner. Like my mom back in the day, I spent an inordinate amount of time trying to hide vegetables or pass off undesirables to our furry friend, McDuff, who was happy to eat whatever we didn’t.
There were a few recipes, however, that the Rittenhouse brood agreed upon, and like the Ellicott clan, meatloaf was one of them. My mom’s original “Old-Fashioned Meatloaf” will make a believer out of any loaf-hating cynic, it’s just that good. Unfortunately, like many of the tastiest, most comforting foods out there, it’s not particularly good for you.
So, with an eye towards creating a healthier option that packs the same punch to your taste buds, I whipped up this rendition using lighter ingredients like skim milk, egg whites and lean ground turkey. And for those of us who need built-in portion control, I skipped the traditional “loaf” format and opted for a smaller muffin shape. In fact, these delightful little mini-muffins could even be passed around as appetizers – or just pile four on your plate and call it dinner.
Turkey Meatloaf Mini-Muffins
Makes about 16-20 mini-muffins
Note: You’ll need two 12-muffin tins for this recipe.
1 1/4 lb lean ground turkey (I opted for the 93% lean version, the 99% is often too dry) – $4.99
1 large Vidalia (aka sweet) onion, chopped finely – $0.85
1 cup fresh whole wheat bread crumbs (I used a mix of stale multi-grain English Muffins and hard seven grain bread) – $3.89
1 whole egg – stock
1 egg white – stock
1/3 cup skim milk – stock
1 TBS chopped garlic – stock
6 strips of turkey bacon -$2.50
1 TBS Worcestershire sauce – stock
1 TBS A-One sauce (or generic steak sauce) – stock
1/3 cup ketchup – stock
1/4 tsp thyme – stock
1 TBS olive oil – stock
Grand total assuming “well-stocked” pantry: $12.23
Cost per muffin: $0.61
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees
1b. To make breadcrumbs, just pulse bread quickly in a Cuisinart (using a metal blade) or in a blender – if you’re sans electronics, you can also use a cheese grater and some elbow grease. The bread needs to be a bit stale and very dry or it clumps. Freeze extra breadcrumbs in a sealable baggie.
2. In a large skillet, saute the onion, garlic and olive oil over high heat until the onions start to caramelize – about 9 minutes. It’s important to stir constantly to avoid burning. Transfer the onions to a small bowl, add the Worcestershire sauce, thyme, and the ketchup (reserve 2 TBS of ketchup to use later).
3. In a nonstick pan, cook the turkey bacon until it starts to brown on both sides, but don’t cook through. Remove the pan from heat and set aside.
4. Spray a large mixing bowl with Pam, add the ground turkey and season with salt and pepper.
5. In a small bowl, lightly beat the eggs.
6. Combine all ingredients with the ground turkey – except for the bacon and the 2 TBS of ketchup. Mix well using your hands and a light touch.
7. Line the muffin tins (I used foil liners), and scoop the turkey mixture into the liners until almost full. Brush the tops of the muffins with the remaining ketchup and layer each muffin with a small piece of bacon.
8. Bake for 25 minutes or until meat thermometer registers 165-170 degrees when inserted into the center of the muffin.