Thursday, March 3, 2011

Pizza Meat Loaf Cups

Recipe modified by Gretchen Wilson – April 23, 2010
For a commentary-free and printer-friendly version of it, please click here.

Recipe originally published in Taste of Home, Holiday Collection 2008.

Meat loaf is one of my favorite comfort foods.  Pizza is one of my other favorites.  This dish seems to be the perfect marriage of the two… and it is cupcake form!  It was a great dish to have for dinner, but it also was a fantastic lunch – small and easy to reheat.

My finished product:

©You Want Me to Cook?

Picture published with recipe:

© Taste of Home

I made this dish before I got better at taking pictures, so unfortunately I have the far-away-visionary picture of my pizza meat loaf cups.  But take my word for it – they came pretty close to the original.  I didn’t garnish it with basil or drizzle them with the pizza sauce, and even though it doesn’t look like it, I did use mozzarella cheese.

for more details about what my ratings mean, go to Gretchen’s Rating System

MessEH – Going by my Rating System, technically could give this a NADA.  However, this has one messy component – mixing the beef mixture, which is usually done with your hands.  It is just a messy proposition.

Start-to-Finish Time: MUCH LESS THAN AN HOUR – To make the meat mixture, you just have to dump everything into a bowl.  To assemble, you push meat mixture into the muffin cups and fill with cheese.  Then you cook for 15 to 20 minutes.  You should be able to get dinner on the table, probably with some heat-and-serve side dishes, in under an hour.

Prep Work: ALL FINGERS STILL HERE – Nothing to chop or really prepare.  Okay, you have to lightly beat an egg, but that doesn’t really qualify as prep work.  It is more part of the recipe.

Ease of Recipe: COOK IT IN MY SLEEP – I am a HUGE fan of getting your kids involved in cooking.  They tend to eat healthier as adults and try more foods that maybe they wouldn’t have if you placed it on a dish in front of them.  I assert that this dish is easy and fun enough that you can get your little ones involved.  There is nothing to chop, and the kids will have fun pressing the meat into the cups and filling them while you make some vegetables and a salad for a side dish.

OverallYUMMY – These tasted good (it is pizza meat loaf after all) and were super easy to make.  If I am ever responsible for little kids around dinner time, this is going to be a fun activity for us to do.  Bonus is that we get to eat it afterward!

Recipe Information:
Time estimates are from the original publisher of the recipe, not the length of time it took me to create it.  Look for my comments below.  Nutritional Information is based on original recipe.  Any changes I make to reduce the caloric, fat, cholesterol or sodium content are not reflected in the Nutritional Information.

Prep/Total Time: 30 minutes
Servings: 12

Nutritional Information (1 cup)
  • Calories 167
  • Total Fat 10g (Saturated Fat 4g)
  • Cholesterol 63mg
  • Sodium 177mg
  • Total Carbohydrate 3g
  • Fiber 0g
  • Protein 16g

Depending how adept you are at mixing and assembling the cups, I definitely think you can at least get them in the oven in 30 minutes.  When I made it, I had a little extra meat, so I got a couple extra cups out of it, too.

The nutritional information wasn’t a horror show, but there was still room for improvement.  I used ground sirloin which is a leaner cut of meat and has less fat content.  Honestly, for an adult, one meat loaf cup isn’t all that much, but throw a vegetable pouch in the microwave and toss together a salad and you’ve got a meal with only one meat loaf cup.

Changes denoted by red text

1 egg, lightly beaten
½ cup pizza sauce
¼ cup seasoned bread crumbs
½ teaspoon Italian seasoning
1½ pounds ground sirloin
1½ cups (6 ounces) shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese
Additional pizza sauce, optional
Cooking Spray

Ingredient Notes:
Pizza Sauce – as you have probably figured out, much of the sodium content comes from the pizza sauce.  A lot of the canned tomatoes, tomato sauce and tomato paste can now be purchased with no salt added (look for Hunts), so if you want to make your own, here’s a great recipe from the Food Network

Seasoned Bread Crumbs – if you only have regular bread crumbs on hand and you don’t feel like buying the seasoned, you can make your own by adding basil, oregano and parsley.

Italian Seasoning – same as with the bread crumbs, you can create your own Italian seasoning by using ¼ teaspoon basil, ¼ teaspoon oregano and a pinch of parsley.

Ground Sirloin – the different types of ground beef and their fat content depend on the cut.  According to Cook’s Thesaurus ground chuck has the highest fat content while ground round is a leaner cut.  Now, some say the fat helps make the meat loaf juicy and tasty, but when you are trying to reduce the fat in your diet, you have to start somewhere.  That’s why ground sirloin is a good choice.  It’s lean but it’s also one of the more flavorful cuts of meat.  I didn’t miss the fat one bit.

Cooking Spray – the muffin cups need to be lightly greased and I used cooking spray.  Yes, you can use whatever you want to grease the muffin pan, but this is probably the easiest.

Equipment Needed:
Small bowl
Fork (beating eggs)
Large bowl
Spoon - mixing
12 Muffin cup pan

Equipment Notes:
Muffin Cup Pan – this is a regular size muffin pan.  You could use a jumbo pan, but you’ll get less meat loaf cups and you’ll have to adjust the cook time.

(1)  In a large bowl, combine the egg, pizza sauce, bread crumbs and Italian seasoning.

(2)  Crumble beef over mixture and mix well.

The easiest way to do this is with your hands.  Make sure you take off all jewelry (meat bits can easily get smushed into rings) and I’m sure I don’t have to tell you to wash your hands first.

(3)  Divide among 12 greased muffin cups; press onto the bottom and up the sides.

(4)  Fill center with cheese.

(5)  Bake at 375°F for 15-18 minutes or until meat is no longer pink. Serve immediately with additional pizza sauce if desired.

These were a tasty meal with some potatoes and salad, but also made a great lunch and even a snack.  They were very easy to throw together and I usually have everything on hand to quickly toss them together if I need to.  Yeah, pizza sauce isn’t a item I keep on hand, but it is easy to make.

What would I do different?
  • I probably would make them like actual pizzas and fill them with things other than just cheese.  I’d add some mushrooms, maybe some onion and pepperoni because those are my favorite toppings.
  • I would try making them in my jumbo-muffin cup pan.  I’ll know when they’re done by using my meat thermometer and making sure the meat gets to 160°F, as specified by the FDA.  If I try it, I’ll post an update.

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