JEFF TIEDEMAN: Tin-pan galleyDownsize old favorites, entice kids by using trusty utensils.
One of my all-time favorite comfort foods — and maybe just about everyone’s — is meatloaf. Mom used to make meatloaf at least once every week or two when I was growing up, and I could always count on the cooks at school lunch to prepare it occasionally.
Mom’s meatloaf really wasn’t anything fancy. I think all she did was mix up some ground beef with oatmeal, an egg, a splash of Worcestershire sauce and a little diced onion and seasoned it with salt and pepper. I may have left something out, but you get the idea.
The best thing about having meatloaf was the leftovers. It’s hard to beat a cold meatloaf sandwich.
The hot lunch program meatloaf always was cooked with a ketchup-type glaze and served with mashed potatoes. It was one of several meals I most looked forward to after a morning in class. (My Auntie Helen, who was head cook, had a lot to do with that.)
One of the first cooking utensils I picked up after setting up housekeeping was a pan for making meatloaf. It was the standard 8-by-4-by-2-incher that also doubled for bread-making.
I’ve always liked cooking with meatloaf tins, no matter what the size. (We have pans in three sizes.) And until recently, I hadn’t thought about making anything else in the pans but meatloaf and banana or zucchini bread.
But then, a story about making lasagna in a meatloaf pan came across my desk, and my interest was piqued. The article, by Detroit Free Press writer Susan Selasky, talked about how downsizing recipes is not always an easy task, especially for classics such as lasagna.
Usually, you make lasagna in a 9-by-13-by-2-inch baking dish that would serve six or more. But the downsized version made in the meatloaf tin uses only half the ingredients, including no-boil lasagna noodles that fit just right in the standard 8-by-4-inch loaf pan.
Just to clarify a bit, the Lasagna Loaf has all the makings — Italian sausage, ricotta cheese, pasta sauce and even some spinach — they’re just cut in half.
Another story I read took Selasky’s downsizing philosophy a little further by using large muffin tins to cook up individual meatloaves, which are the perfect size for a sandwich.
While looking for meals that are made in meatloaf and muffin tins, I came across a website that those of you who are into downsizing (and trying to get your kids to eat more fruits and vegetables) might find interesting. The blog site is called Muffin Tin Mom (http://michellesjournalcorner.blogspot.com/). A regular feature called Muffin Tin Monday offers up Muffin Tin Meals. As the name implies, the meals are served in muffin tins and are made specifically for kids.
A couple of the most-recent kid-friendly meal suggestions put forth by Michelle Sybert, a married California mother of two, include:
n For lunch, heart-shaped whole wheat sandwiches, cheese circle, orange bell peppers, cucumbers, carrots, ranch dressing.
n For snack time: orange bell peppers, cucumbers, carrots, ranch dressing.
Those sound pretty good to this big kid.
Tiedeman is food editor at the Herald. Reach him at (701) 780-1136 or toll-free at (800) 477-6572, or e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.