My brain and calendar say it's Wednesday, but my heart and stomach are still in weekend-mode. That's what happens when you have too much fun. Shame on me.
We kicked things off with homemade pizza and TV catch-up on Friday. On Sunday, Matt and I went on a lunch date and visited the Heinz History Center. But Saturday was so much fun that I still can't handle it. We spent the day celebrating my sister's birthday, starting with a visit to Soergel's Orchards.
There were oodles of pumpkins, delicious BBQ, warm homemade doughnuts, and so, so many apples. We brought all of them home with us.
Just kidding. We only brought half of all of the apples home.
With nearly 15 pounds (yes, really!) of apples, my brain has gone into overdrive thinking of creative uses for apples in recipes, new and old. Obviously, there will be apple pie. And so many turkey applejack toasties. One might say too many, but not me. Breakfast, lunch, and dinner -- I can't stop eating them!
Unfortunately, one cannot survive on just pie and sandwiches. Matt wholeheartedly disagrees with this.
Thankfully, I found a way to incorporate apples into some of our favorite foods and appeal to Matt's steadfast love of meat-and-potato-style dishes. In fact, I think I created a dish that equally appeals to both of us, which is rarer than us sharing a doughnut.
Fact: We actually shared three doughnuts on Saturday. Three! (Two apple cider and one glazed, FYI.) Prior to that, I don't think a doughnut has ever been shared between the two of us. We are selfish doughnut enthusiasts.
Anyway, this meal that knocked off not only my socks but his too is probably my most favorite original recipe to date. That's huge! ...unlike these perfectly-portioned mini apple bacon meatloaves!
I started with lean ground beef and seasoned it with salt, pepper, and -- my secret ingredient -- a pinch of ground nutmeg. You might think it won't be noticeable, but it really adds this warmth to the entire mix! I then added an egg white and oats to hold everything together. Mixed with a tasty confetti of sweet chopped apples and onions.
That would've been delicious cooked just like that, but I couldn't stop. I did the damn thing and topped each little loaf with a thick slice of bacon. None of this applewood smoked bacon business. Real apples and real bacon, together at last.
The apples lent such a subtle sweetness to the still-savory meatloaf and kept everything nice and juicy (important when using leaner ground meats!). The salty bacon on top pulled everything together and made both of us wonder why we'd never topped meatloaf with bacon in the past. Favorite meatloaf to date? Yes, ma'am!
I rounded out the plate with classic meatloaf sides of mashed potatoes and peas and carrots. If ever there were a meal that screams Americana, this is it. Hearty (and mini!), beefy, and comforting with a unique twist on a classic thanks to the in season apples. You've gotta try this, friends!
Mini Apple Bacon Meatloaves
1 1/4 pound lean ground beef
1 egg white, lightly beaten
1/4 cup oats
1/4 cup finely diced white onion
1/2 apple, finely diced
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
Pinch ground nutmeg
4 slices bacon, each cut into thirds
Preheat oven to 400 and line a rimmed baking sheet with foil; set aside. In a large bowl, mix together beef, egg, oats, onion, apple, and spices, until well combined. Divide into four equal portions. Shape 1/4 of the meatloaf mixture into small loaf on baking sheet. Arrange 3 pieces (1 slice total) of bacon on top of mini loaf. Repeat with remaining 3 portions of meatloaf mixture and bacon pieces. Bake for 25 minutes until bacon has begun to brown and crisp. Remove and let rest for 5 minutes. Serve, devour, and enjoy your very own meatloaf!
Cooked meatloaf can be covered and refrigerated for up to 5 days. Reheat in microwave.