Weeknight Meatloaf

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Meatloaf – it’s not a particularly exciting dish.  It’s one of those meals that has the potential be amazingly delicious or just plain boring.  It’s basically ground meat, mixed with some spices, some liquid, maybe a starch, and then pressed into a pan to be baked for a while.  It is so simple to make, which makes meatloaf a great weeknight meal, for those days when you have a lot on the go.

The key to making an amazing (and not a blah) meatloaf, is the flavouring you put in.  The one that I make is a recipe I grew up eating, with one small change.  You can add any liquid you enjoy (the recipe suggests milk or tomato sauce).  But my “secret ingredient” is salsa.  Most salsas that you buy have lots of spice and flavour.  It saves you time – not chopping up extra vegetables to add into the meatloaf.  And the smell that wafts through the house while it’s baking, well, you’ll just have to make it to see for yourself how awesome that is.

Now, the other somewhat critical tastebud-explosion-inducing part of this meatloaf is that I use a ground beef that has a bit of fat still in it.  You can definitely use extra lean ground beef, but I like the moisture of lean ground beef.  However, I’m sure it would still be beyond boring if you use a less fatty meat.

In our house, we always pair meatloaf with hash brown casserole.  I’ve written an approximate recipe for it below – I never really measure how much I’m putting in, so you’ll have to play around with amounts of ingredients for that one.

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Meatloaf and Hash Brown Casserole

What you need:
(for the hash brown casserole)
a package of frozen hash browns
1 can condensed cheddar cheese soup
1/2 cup milk

(for the meatloaf)
1 1/2 pounds ground beef
1 cup salsa
3/4 cup oats
1 egg
1 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

What to do:
Turn the oven on to 350F.  While it is preheating, take out 2 loaf pans.  Spray with cooking spray.

In the first pan, pour some hash browns.  This part is not exact – just put in a good amount.  Then dump in the cheddar cheese soup and some milk.  Mix it up.  You can add more hash browns and milk until it looks somewhat moist and all the potatoes are coated.  Put this in the oven (even if the oven isn’t finished preheating).

In a large bowl, mix all the meatloaf ingredients together – using your hands usually works best.  Put the mixture into the second loaf pan and press it down.  Once the oven has finished preheating, stick this in the oven.

Bake the meatloaf for 1 hour (the hash brown casserole stays in the oven the whole time).  Near the end of the cooking time, I usually like to steam some vegetables to go with the meal.

To serve, scoop out the casserole and serve beside a slice of meatloaf.

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