A meatloaf muffin, shown here with quinoa, dried fruit, and sungold tomatoes (and, of course, ketchup…just in case of a dipping emergency)

When I was a kid, I used to really like getting meatloaf sandwiches in my lunchbox.  Weird, maybe, but true.  Somehow, meatloaf — that much-abused staple of many a family table — has gotten a bad rap, especially as far as lunches are concerned.  But I can’t figure that out, because actually, my kids love the stuff….as long as I present it in a way that appeals to them.

We do all kinds of meatloaf knockoffs in this house.  These muffins are pretty standard, actually, and a near cousin to my mom’s meatloaf recipe, but I’ve jazzed them up for the lunchbox (or for a quick weeknight dinner) with a layer of fresh tomatoes in the middle and a sweet glaze on top.  One of these little guys is a perfect portion for a hungry kid, and they’re so easy to pack and easy to eat that I can’t think of any reason not to include them in the regular rotation.

Meatloaf Muffins

1 1/2 lbs. ground beef (preferably grass-fed), or dark meat turkey or chicken
2 eggs
2 tsp. dried oregano
1 1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. black pepper
12 slices fresh plum tomato (or cut six slices of a larger tomato and then cut the slices in half)
For the glaze:
1 cup cubed mango or peach (feel free to use frozen)
3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon ketchup
1/4 tsp. salt
pinch black pepper

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees.  Lightly grease 12 muffin cups.
In a large bowl, mix together by hand the meat, eggs, salt, pepper, and oregano, just until everything is well incorporated.  Fill each muffin cup about halfway with the meat mixture.  Lay a slice of tomato on top, then cover the tomato with more meat to fill the cups, sealing the tomatoes inside.
Bake the meatloaf muffins at 375 degrees for 20 minutes.  While the muffins are baking, make the glaze.  Combine all the ingredients for the glaze in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat and cook, stirring frequently, until the fruit is very soft, about 10-15 minutes.  Remove from the heat and blend, either in a traditional blender or with an immersion blender, until mostly smooth.
Remove the muffins from the oven and spread about 1-2 teaspoons of glaze over the top of each.  Return them to the oven and bake for another 10 minutes.