Treasure Meatloaf by Kitty Bell was one of the first recipes I ever collected. I was 16 and as part of our church youth group (aka Luther League) we had monthly dinners with our church youth coordinator, Kitty Bell. She made us a meatloaf dinner which we ate before going to see ‘Jesus Christ Superstar’. I thought the meatloaf was almost as amazing as Jesus in the movie. I had a crush on
Jesus Ted Neeley for years.
I asked Kitty for the recipe and carried it with me in my little metal recipe box. I don’t remember how young I was when I finally made it for the first time, but it became my go-to recipe for a lot of years. I even made a version in a bundt pan with a mountain of mashed potatoes in the middle one year for Valentine’s Day. I remember that because the kids were super impressed with my creativity.
The recipe doesn’t have any unique or unusual ingredients. I do change the green peppers to a sweet bell pepper but otherwise they are all ingredients I usually have on hand. I do prefer to use quick oats in my meatloaf now instead of crushed saltines. But for old times’ sake, I used saltines in this homage to my old church group and Kitty Bell.
In a large bowl I measured all of the ingredients for the meatloaf and mixed them together with my hands. It’s just faster and easier to get it all blended. We don’t want it pressed too densely together however, we want it fairly loosely combined so that it cooks evenly. And do remember to add the crushed saltines! I totally forgot them and my meatloaf kind of didn’t want to stay together in slices. Oh well, it happens.
Then I divide the meat mixture in half and form it into a loaf before I press it gently into a loaf pan. It isn’t necessary to grease or spray the pan.
I make a short ridge up the side of the pan before I lay the slices of cheese on top of the meat in the loaf pan. It prevents and cheese from melting and oozing down the sides of the pan. As for the cheese, I know it seems lame to use American cheese when there are so many other cheeses we could use. But this was the 70s and American cheese ruled our Midwestern culture. I’m sticking with the old traditions here, people.
The second half of meat is formed into a loaf and pressed on top of the cheese layer. Again, not much pressing, please. We don’t want a dense brick that isn’t cooked in the middle. Into the preheated oven goes the pan of meatloaf, then it’s time to make the sauce.
The sauce isn’t complicated, but it’s unique in being a cooked sauce. The sauce wouldn’t need to be heated except for the bay leaf. That won’t flavor the sauce unless it’s been heated and simmered for a while. My original recipe just said “make the sauce” and didn’t give specific directions. But I knew that she cooked it and then removed the bay leaf so I added my own directions for making the sauce.
I’ve always been annoyed that the sauce recipe makes a double batch and I’m directed to save half of the sauce “for another time”. I’ve tried to cut it in half so I don’t have leftovers but it’s fairly small amounts of ingredients to begin with so it ends up ridiculously complicated. Better to just make it, cool the unused half, refrigerate it until it goes bad, then toss it in the garbage. Ha. Of course you could freeze it.
After 40 minutes I remove the meatloaf from the oven. If there’s a lot of fat or liquid I drain it off carefully using a spatula to hold it in place.
I pour the sauce over the meatloaf and return it to the oven for another 20 minutes. The sauce thickens as it bakes and has a good texture.
I let the meatloaf sit for 10 minutes after removing from the oven then slice and serve. You can see in the picture above I forgot to move the bay leaf!
The meatloaf is great leftover either warm or cold on sandwiches. It also freezes well. Cut it into slices before freezing for easy thawing.
A meatloaf with cheese and a sauce that is all comfort food.
- 2 lbs ground beef
- 1 egg
- 1/2 cup saltines; crumbs
- 1/4 cup onion; finely chopped
- 1/2 cup green pepper; finely chopped
- 1/2 cup ketchup
- 1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
- 1 dash cayenne
- 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/4 teaspoon coarse pepper (I add more)
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 6 slices american cheese
Mix together all ingredients except cheese in large bowl. Shape half of mixture and press into loaf pan.
Press a 1/2″ ridge of meat up the side of the pan. Place layer of cheese in trough.
Shape and press the rest of the meat mixture over cheese layer.
Bake meatloaf for 40 min. Make sauce while waiting for meatloaf (see below for recipe).
Remove meatloaf from oven and drain excess fat and liquid from pan if necessary.
Pour half of sauce over top of meatloaf and bake 20 min longer.
Let stand for 10 minutes before slicing and serving.
- 1/2 cup chili sauce
- 1/4 cup brown sugar; packed
- 15 oz can diced tomatoes
- 1 can mushrooms; drained
- 1 small can tomato paste
- 1 1/2 teaspoon mustard; prepared
- 1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
- 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/4 teaspoon onion powder
- 1/4 teaspoon basil
- 1/4 teaspoon oregano
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 dash tabasco sauce
To make sauce:
While meatloaf is baking, add sauce ingredients to a saucepan. Bring to a boil then reduce heat to medium low and simmer for 20 minutes.
When the meatloaf has baked 40 minutes, remove bay leaf from sauce and pour half over the meatloaf. Bake 20 minutes longer.
Refrigerate or freeze rest of sauce for another time.