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Who put meat in my cupcakes?

Looking for something unique yet quick and easy for your next get-together or family dinner? Here’s an idea for a delicious dinner, tasty snack, or surprising treat that everyone will love; individual meatloaves AKA Meatloaf Muffins! And the best part, they’re easy to prepare and ready from pantry to table in less than 45 minutes.

When your schedule is hectic and you know you’re going to be tempted to stop at McJunior King or call the pizza guy – STOP! This mini-meatloaf recipe goes together super fast making it perfect for busy week nights. Kids of all ages will love these individual meatloaves cooked in muffin tins to speed up the baking time. The secret is using packaged stuffing mix to ensure each mini-meatloaf is perfectly seasoned and very moist.

To make them more fun, decorate them like cupcakes by piping whipped potatoes like frosting and adding a cherry tomato to look like the cherry on top. Fun fare for birthday parties!

Super Quick and Easy Meatloaf Muffins

Serves 4-6 – approximately 12 mini loaves depending on the size of your muffin tin cups

1 cup water

2 eggs

1 cup ketchup – divided (or a mix of ketchup, BBQ sauce or chili sauce)

1 package stuffing mix (6 oz) with the seasoning packet (any flavor, store brand or Stove-Top)

1 ½ pounds lean ground beef

Optional but encouraged

6 oz block of cheese (cut into 1 inch cubes – mozzarella, cheddar, jack, Swiss, anything goes.)

6 cups of hot, whipped potatoes

12 cherry tomatoes

12 foil muffin tin liners

Here’s how:

Preheat the oven to 350°F. In a large mixing bowl thoroughly combine the water, eggs and ½ cup ketchup and stuffing seasoning packet if your stuffing has a separate packet. To your wet ingredients, add the dry stuffing and mix well. Let the mixture sit for a few minutes until the stuffing is completely moistened. While waiting, spray non-stick cooking spray or line muffin tin with foil liners. Add the ground beef to the moistened stuffing mix and blend together until completely combined. Really get your hands in there and go to town. Place about ½ cup meat mixture in each muffin well. For a hidden surprise, place a 1 inch cube of cheese in the center of each muffin for some melty, gooey goodness! Finish by brushing the tops with the remaining ½ cup ketchup.

Place the muffin tin on a baking sheet and bake at 350°F for 25-30 minutes. Test the temperature to ensure the meatloaves reach 155°F. Let them sit for 5 minutes before serving or decorating with hot whipped potatoes and tomatoes.

You can make a double batch and store the cooked meatloaves in the freezer. I keep mine in a big zip top bag. They reheat quickly in the microwave for a speedy meal in minutes and also make a great grab-and-go lunch or after school snack. Frugal and fabulous!

To add quick perfectly baked potatoes – Baked potatoes take too long to cook for this speedy dinner unless you use this shortcut. Take medium-sized baking potatoes, prick them with a fork a few times and microwave them for 10 minutes while you mix the meat loaf. Don’t wrap them or add any oil or seasonings now, just naked potatoes. Finish baking the potatoes in the oven at 350°F together with the individual meatloaves. If you wish you can add a bit of cooking spray and salt to the potatoes before they go in the oven. Test for doneness by inserting a sharp knife into the baked potato. You should feel very little resistance if the potato is cooked through.

For everything you’ve ever wanted to know about meatloaf (and then some), please check out ‘The Meatloaf Manifesto” on my website – www.divasonadime.com . You’ll find it in Food- Cheap Eats –Meatloaf Manifesto. Enjoy!

Frugal Foodstuff contributed by Patti Diamond from Divas On A Dime – Where Frugal Meets Fabulous! www.divasonadime.com Join us on facebook at divasonadimedotcom.

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