Maybe it’s because I’m about to hit the old age of 30, but one of my favorite past times these days is hanging out with my married friends who have children. In the past week, I have had three friend dates with college friends that have done responsible things with their lives, such as get married, develop careers, and raise children. Until last summer, when I began a nutritionist practice, I had opted to do precisely zero of these things. The older I get, the more friends I have that marry, settle down, and start popping out some of the cutest kids I have ever seen. And I love them for it. Because of their hard work and intense levels of responsibility, I have become Auntie Brooke – a fun-loving “grown-up” that believes ice cream should always come before dinner, that there can never be enough grenadine in a Shirley Temple, and that is ready to go to the zoo any day of the week. In the past year, I’ve become an auntie three times and will become a Godmother in the year to come… and I’m straight-up giddy about it. 5 years ago, I totally would not recognize myself today. But here I am, super excited about all this grown-up nonsense.
I digress. There are lots of perks to having little kids around: not only are there (finally) human beings around that are slightly more immature than I am, but there are more of my girlfriends around to hang out with during the day. My weekdays spent strolling around Seattle by myself are all but gone. We sit around and gossip about this and that and the other thing, while sharing recipes, talking about vacations, and figuring out future plans. It’s nice to have my girlfriends back. I hope none of them ever go back to work.
You might think that the random ramble above has literally nothing to do with meatloaf muffins. I disagree. Being a responsible auntie requires one to have 3-4 recipes that are easy to make from ingredients you have on-hand, reasonably healthy, and incredibly delicious. This is one of them. I have served this to both children and adults and earned rave reviews from all. Make a meatloaf to make adults happy, but stick to muffins to please the kiddos. Serve alongside a pile of mashed sweet potatoes in the winter, or next to a Greek salad in the summer. Any time of year, any meal of the week. This dish is a home run.
adapted from Nom Nom Paleo
1 lb. frozen, chopped spinach
1 Tbsp. fat of your choice (I used bacon)
1/2 c. yellow onion, chopped
1/2 lb. cremini mushrooms, finely chopped
1/2 c. celery, chopped (2 medium stalks)
1/2 c. fresh Italian parsley
1/4 c. coconut butter (or cream)
1 lb. ground pork sausage
1/4 c. coconut flour
1 tsp. kosher salt
1 1/2 tsp. black pepper
1/4 tsp. grated nutmeg
1 medium garlic clove, minced
2 large eggs
5 bacon slices
1) Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Empty a package of frozen spinach into a microwave-safe bowl and pop it in the microwave for 4-5 minutes. Remove from microwave, drain, and set aside.
2) Heat your fat of choice in a large skillet over medium heat. Saute onions and mushrooms for 5-7 minutes, or until the onions have softened and mushrooms have released all liquid. Set aside to cool. While onions and mushrooms cook, toss the celery, parsley, and coconut butter into a blender and pulse until smooth.
3) In a large bowl, break up the ground pork and add in spinach, coconut flour, salt, pepper, nutmeg and garlic. When the mushroom and onion mixture has cooled a bit, toss it in with the pork and seasonings, along with the celery mixture and eggs. Use your hands to combine all ingredients.
4) Scoop out about 1/4 cup of the meat mixture and place into ungreased muffin tins (I came out with a dozen mini meatloafs). Place two cut-up strips of bacon over each meatloaf muffin. Place muffin rack on a baking tray to catch any grease. Bake for 35-40 minutes. When your timer buzzes, crank up the broiler for 3 minutes so that bacon crisps up nicely. Rest the muffins for 15 minutes before diving in.
* If you’d like to make a meatLOAF instead of meatloaf muffins, place meat mixture in a 9×5 loaf pan and bake for 60-70 minutes.
Prep time: 20-30 minutes
Total time: 60-70 minutes
Serves: 4-6 hungry grown-ups