You Too Can Make Cute Meatloaf!

Recently I watched my oldest son at a Chinese buffet, happily sucking the eyeballs out of a crayfish (I KNOW. *gag*), and reflected on something: my kids may have flaws aplenty, but they aren't picky eaters. Sure, there are a few things they don't like, but considering that one of them eats paper products (he's ... special, that one), I'd say their tastes are pretty varied.

I think this is mostly because I've always tried to expose them to lots of different flavors, textures, and ethnicities where food is concerned. From the time they were babies, I've given them everything from sushi and spaghetti to Russian syrniki, Thai yum woon sen, and Carolina shrimp and grits. I guess you could say it's for kind of a selfish reason: I love chicken nuggets and fries and other beige foods as much as the next girl, but I don't want to live on those things. And I'm not cooking separate meals just because one of my kids doesn't like the dinner option - ain't nobody got time for that. So they had no choice but to learn to like lots of stuff. Eat it or starve, basically.

The bottom line is, you save yourself a lot of mealtime headaches when your kids aren't picky. When it comes to helping your child develop a diverse palate, there's no better time than when they're little. And there's no better resource than an arsenal of healthy, wholesome, kid-friendly - and most importantly, freaking delicious - recipes. And there's no better arsenal of such recipes than this book right here: What a Good Eater!

This cookbook is co-authored by two real, down-to-earth moms, one of whom - Alessandra (Ali) Macaluso - happens to be a friend of mine. She was kind enough to send me a copy of the book to review (as well as a sweet Vidalia Chop Wizard and an Infinity Jar to help with food prep and storage). I told her I'd gladly do it as a favor - but then when I looked it over, I realized that she was actually doing me a favor. Because y'all? These are some seriously kick-ass recipes.

The book is geared predominantly toward families who want to introduce their babies and toddlers to herbs and spices and flavors. (There are sections conveniently broken up into recipes appropriate for 6 months+, 8 months+, 10 months+, 12 months+, and 15 months+ ... plus helpful tips and healthy snacks, too!) But honestly, my kids range from 4-11 and they all raved about what I made: mini basil meatloaves. See my beautiful, artfully arranged ingredients? I mean I'm practically a food blogger now. You can't even tell that my basil was kind of old. Yeah, I feed my family old basil.

The recipe called for red bell pepper but I only had green. DON'T JUDGE ME.

The meatloaves were cute, for one thing: individual-sized servings baked in muffin tins, just perfect for eating with your hands or tucking into a roll and eating as a slider. Kids like eating cute things. But even better, they tasted phenomenal. And they were easy to put together, which is a huuuuge bonus.

I took photos of them in the muffin tins, but reconsidered when I realized just how gross and old my muffin tin actually is. It might be older than at least two of my kids. And that would be like posing for a lingerie shoot in my stretched-out, used-to-be-white-but-currently-gray Target bra. So this photo is from the book, but let's pretend I took it myself, mmkay?

Nom nom nom! Here's how to make them ...


¼ tablespoon unsalted butter
1 egg, preferably organic
1 1/3 pounds ground beef, preferably organic and/or grass-fed beef
1 teaspoon kosher salt
½ teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 tablespoon yellow mustard
½ cup panko bread crumbs
¼ yellow onion, whole
2 cloves garlic, whole
½ red bell pepper, seeds removed, roughly chopped
7 medium-size fresh basil leaves
Approximately ¼ cup of water

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
2.Thoroughly grease the bottom and sides of a muffin pan with butter to prevent sticking. In a medium-size mixing bowl, add the egg and lightly beat it with a fork. Add the beef, salt, pepper, oregano, mustard, and bread crumbs to the mixing bowl. Mix with clean hands to combine the mixture. Set aside.
3. In a blender, add the onion, garlic, bell pepper, basil leaves, and the minimum amount of water needed to puree (preferably not more than ¼ cup). Puree until smooth. Slowly add the puree to the meat. Thoroughly mix all the ingredients with your hands. Fill each of the 12 muffin containers to the top with the meatloaf mixture using an ice cream scoop. Then, use the back of the ice cream scoop to compress and even out the top of each mini meat loaf.
4. Bake for approximately 23–26 minutes or until the center of the mini meat loaves registers 160 degrees with a meat thermometer. Allow them to cool slightly, then gently run a knife along the circumference of each meat loaf to loosen it. Gently remove them from the pan, and serve bite-size pieces appropriate for your baby.
*You can also try serving these as mini meat loaf sliders between two whole wheat buns with ketchup or mustard. If at first your toddler seems hesitant, try melting a little cheese on top, or serve the meat loaf with your child’s favorite dipping sauce, such as ketchup, honey mustard, or barbeque sauce.

If you'd like to see a few more of Ali and Amy's wonderful recipes from What a Good Eater!, click on over to their website here. And/or, just do yourself - and your fam - a favor by clicking the link below to buy the cookbook from Amazon (it's an affiliate link, just so's ya know). It's a beautiful book, seriously. Visually appealing and full of good stuff that everybody will love. (Pssst ... it also makes a fabulous gift for holidays, baby showers, or for that friend who's constantly struggling with dinner.)

You can also join in a few more fellow bloggers and check out their thoughts on the cookbook with the What a Good Eater! "Virtual Dinner Party"...

Sammiches & Psych Meds
Stay-at-Home Panda
The Filled Lantern
Family Footnote

Happy making-your-kids-not-picky!


  1. Rita, what a beautiful post! I am laughing out loud while reading it, and my 1.5 year old son is staring at me in awe wondering what I'm doing! Thank you for sharing. And that's for being funny!

  2. Finally! I have been looking everywhere for a funny blogger this morning and I found you and your adorable meatloaves! I too am fighting the fight against the grumpiness that seems forced upon you after that first kid pops out. Please visit me at my brand new blog for some laughs....make sure you do your kegals first like every mother knows ;)


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