My friend jokingly told me that I like “old people food”.
I’ll admit it, I like meatloaves and casseroles and cabbage rolls (just to name a few). There’s a reason these types of dishes have been around forever, it’s because they’re delicious!
But really, it’s just a matter of how a person defines comfort food. And unfortunately sometimes our traditional comfort dishes don’t tend to be the healthiest. Ahhh glorious butter, how I love you but have to use you sparingly because you know, I work a desk job now and prefer to fit in my pants!
Back to the point though, most if not all of these dishes can be lightened up and still enjoyed, if not more so than the old versions. Although if you’re fav comfort food is like pork rinds or something (guilty!) you’re basically SOL, instead aim to indulge moderately and sparingly. Side note, I found these Filipino pork rinds, they’re flavored with salt, vinegar and garlic, and they’re delicious. And I avoid the store aisle where they’re at because I’m only human (thankfully there’s only one store around me that sells them or I have to order them from New Jersey…don’t ask why I know that).
Seriously though, it’s all about the balance. And that’s why I love making meatloaves in muffin cups. Perfect portioning built right in, and if you’re using a lean meat as your base it helps to keep it from drying out (otherwise, I’m all for the free form loaf).
In fact, I’ve featured a version of meatloaf muffins I affectionately call my Asian Blue Plate Special on the blog before (Asian turkey meatloaf muffins, sesame mashed potatoes and stir-fried green beans).
These got a decidedly Southwestern take, with onions, peppers, cilantro and salsa and as a fun bonus were studded with cheese. I kept the sides simple and just did a bit of chipotle mashed sweet potatoes and veggies.
- 1.5 lb 95/5 ground beef
- 1 egg, lightly beaten
- 2 oz reduced fat cheese, cut into small ¼ inch dice (I used pepperjack, but you could use cheddar, monteray jack, Colby, queso fresco, etc.)
- 1 small onion, chopped
- 1 red bell pepper, chopped
- 4 cloves of garlic, chopped
- ¼ cup baked tortilla chips, crushed
- ¼ cup salsa (I just went with a regular medium salsa, use your fav, a corn salsa might be fun)
- ¼ cup chopped fresh cilantro
- 1 Tbsp hot sauce, optional
- ½ Tbsp chili powder
- 1 tsp smoked paprika
- ½ tsp each ground cumin, Mexican oregano and kosher salt
- ¼ tsp freshly ground black pepper
- ¼ cup ketchup or American style chili sauce
- Preheat oven to 350.
- In a medium/large bowl, place meat, lightly beaten egg and diced cheese. Set aside.
- Optional: If you like you can sauté the onion, pepper and garlic for a bit until slightly softened if you’re anti-uncooked veggies in meatloaves. Allow to cool slightly and then continue with recipe.
- In a food processor combine onion through black pepper. Pulse until ingredients are mixed and vegetables are well minced. Scrape mixture over beef and gently combine until all ingredients are incorporated.
- Spray a regular sized muffin tin with nonstick spray. Divide mixture evenly among 12 tins. Brush ketchup or American style chili sauce over each muffin. Bake for 25 minutes until thermometer measures 160 F. Let stand for 5 minutes in tin then serve.
Chipotle Mashed Potatoes: Steam, boil or bake 1 lb peeled, diced sweet potatoes. Mash together with 1 Tbsp melted butter, 1 chipotle chile, minced (from can) + 1 tsp adobo sauce, 3 Tbsp nonfat Greek yogurt or light sour cream, 1 Tbsp brown sugar, 1/2 Tbsp lime juice, salt to taste + a dash of cinnamon.