Italian Meatloaf—Or a Shortcut on My Way to Cool-Mom Points

Having grown up in the home of a stay-at-home mom turned professional caterer, I have lived the life of spoiled food luxury. My mom regularly cranked out gorgeous, complex, fabulous meals that we, her children, regularly took for granted. Indeed, it’s a miracle she did not strangle us when she had the chance. These days, I feel terrible for her, because once she hits town for the holidays, she gets not only my two heathens shoved at her to babysit, but also a full list of all the food she needs to cook for ME!!! Mwa-ha-ha-ha-ha!!! She spoiled me rotten, food-wise…it’s a curse and a blessing at the same time.

Unfortunately, I am not my mom. Once I had Demon-Baby, my husband was lucky to eat at all, let alone eat anything of the caliber that I grew up with. Let’s see you try to brush your teeth with a colicky baby…let alone cook dinner…and let’s not even get into that whole c-section thing…grumble, grumble…

For years, I’ve always had an internal “Mom-voice,” that has told me when my meals have ventured into ridiculous territory. You probably remember my dinner disaster, which resulted in an existential crisis of food-coloring choices. Or maybe my unfortunate tendency to overdo it. Yep, nothing like baking 48 cupcakes for four people to make you realize you probably have a confidence problem.

A few years ago, I finally had to admit to myself that maybe just maybe, I was not my mom. This admission came after many ruined dinners, tears and OCD-ish breakdowns. Frankly, she set the bar so high, it’s a wonder I even try, because even my own husband wants her to make POUND CAKE for him, instead of me. POUND CAKE for goodness sake!!!! More wine please…

After I went back to work, even I had to admit that sometimes any home-cooked dinner, however ridiculous, is better than nothing. As I’ve tried out any and all recipes that are somewhat easy to get on the table, I’ve found quite a few that are pretty dang tasty along the way. The following recipe is just that…a yummy home-cooked dinner with practically zero effort. Though it takes an hour to bake, the five minutes of prep-time are a frakking lifesaver. Need a stupid-easy dinner recipe? I got ya covered.

Italian Meatloaf

1 pound lean ground beef

1 pkg. onion soup/dip mix

¾ cup fresh bread crumbs (for the purposes of this demonstration, I used canned bread crumbs, as I had a fight with my food processor…and it won. However, you really need to use fresh)

1 egg

1 oz water

1 c. pasta sauce of your choice (like Ragu, but I prefer Classico)

½ cup mozzarella cheese

Preheat oven t 350 degrees. Toss the ground beef, onion soup mix, bread crumbs, egg and water into a bowl. Add ½ cup of the pasta sauce and ¼ cup of the mozzarella cheese.

Using your hands, mix all this together until it looks nice and uniform. Transfer beef mixture into a 9×13 baking dish that has been sprayed with non-stick cooking spray. Form the beef mixture into a loaf shape.

Top beef with remaining ½ cup pasta sauce.

Pop into the oven and bake 50 minutes. Meanwhile, you can make whatever else you want to serve, have a restorative cocktail, or hide in the bathroom where the heathens can’t find you. Once the 50 minutes are up, take the meatloaf out of the oven:

And sprinkle it with remaining ¼ cup of cheese:

(ok, so maybe I added a little more cheese than necessary…I live with three guys after all). Pop the meatloaf back into the oven for 10 more minutes, or until the cheese is melty enough for you.

Serve it up and act like you slaved over a hot stove for hours…That way, someone else gets to do the dishes.

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