In walk your new best friend - Meatloaf bites!
I'm sure you've seen meatloaf cupcakes/muffins on the internet somewhere. By shrinking the size and piping mashed potatoes on top, you turn this main course into a cute appetizer. Sometimes I add small pieces of bacon on top as a garnish.
The meatloaf recipe I use is my grandmother's, it's super easy and makes a very traditional meatloaf. You will also need a mini-muffin pan (or two, to speed up the process) and a frosting piping bag with a star tip.
Mini Meatloaf Bitesyield: 36 bites, which equates to one whole meatloaf
1 1/2 lbs. ground beef/turkey/pork
2/3 cup dry bread crumbs (or 3/4 cup oatmeal)
1 cup milk
2 slightly beaten eggs
1/4 cup grated onion
1 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper
1/2 teaspoon sage
1 tablespoon worcestershire sauce
1/2 teaspoon dry mustard
1 package instant mashed potatoes (Yes, instant. If you're going to be piping the potatoes on top, instant is much easier to work with)
Pre-heat your oven to 350.
The first step is always to gather all of your ingredients. That way, you notice before you get halfway through the recipe if you're missing something. At the gathering stage, I realized I didn't actually have an onion, so I substituted a 1/4 teaspoon of onion powder instead.
In a large bowl, soak the breadcrumbs in milk until they have visibly absorbed the milk - ~2 minutes. Bread crumbs should look like this:
Add the meat, eggs, onion, salt, pepper, worcestershire sauce, sage, and dry mustard. Mix well. The best method for mixing is by using your hands.
Spoon out a generous portion into the mini muffin pans. Meat shrinks when you cook it, so fill up each section all the way (and even over the top a bit). I always smooth out the tops so they come out of the oven prettier.
Bake for 15-17 minutes. After 10 minutes of cooking, spoon or squirt about a teaspoon of ketchup onto the top of each bite and then return to the oven. You could alternately use barbecue sauce if you prefer.
This is what the bites should look like when they're done. Let cool for 5-10 minutes before removing from the pan. While they're cooling, make the instant mashed potatoes as directed on the box. Let the mashed potatoes cool for 10-15 minutes. If you're impatient you can start piping right away, but risk burning your hands.
Put the mashed potatoes into the frosting piping bag, and add it to the tops of the bites. I like to do so while they're already in the container I'm planning on transporting them in. To make sure they don't rattle around in transport, pack them into the container really tightly.
I pipe the mashed potatoes kind of high on top of the bites. If you have them on hand, bacon pieces or chopped chives make a nice garnish.
And you're done! These are a very easy and fun appetizer that's sure to please. If you need to re-heat these, just stick the whole container in the microwave for 2 minutes.