Let’s have meatloaf

Published 8:00 am Friday, March 10, 2023

March comes in like a lion. It doesn’t quite feel like winter but it’s not yet spring. The sun comes out, the temperatures warm up and we’re ready to plant flowers. But then a cold, blustery day reminds us that it could still snow. A day like that calls for a hearty meal. So how about meatloaf?


Linda: I know meatloaf sounds boring. We think meatloaf is meatloaf. Actually, there are many different recipes for this simple comfort food. It can become a favorite midweek offering or a tempting Sunday dinner. Many restaurants now offer meatloaf on their menu. Plus stores like Fresh Market make their own meatloaf and sell it in an aluminum loaf pan for baking. It’s easy to add some tomato sauce or a can of Rotel tomatoes before baking for extra flavor.

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Lucy: Several years ago, Abigail Van Buren ran a meatloaf recipe in her Dear Abby column. I still have a copy that I cut from the newspaper. Over the years, readers would write in requesting that she rerun the recipe. She finally wrote a cookbook and advised her readers to order her booklet. I think our readers would enjoy this recipe.


Linda: My husband lived in Texas for many years. His friend, Pat, had a spicy recipe for Texas Meatloaf. I’ve made this version several times for company that enjoy a bit of spice in their food. Meatloaf doesn’t need to be boring.


Lucy: When traveling, stopping at Cracker Barrel along the highway was always a good place to enjoy a home-style meal before continuing on our journey. My husband’s favorite was their meatloaf. Looking on the internet, I found a recipe called Copycat Cracker Barrel Meatloaf. Whenever I served this dish, it always brought back memories of our travels.


Linda: My mother-in-law had a unique addition to her meatloaf. Personally, I didn’t care for it. However, I’ll pass it along to our readers in case they’re interested in another version of this favorite.

She would place half the meat in the loaf pan. Then, using two whole hard-boiled eggs, she would lay them in the middle, covering them with the remaining meat. Once baked and sliced, a slice of egg would appear in the middle of the slice.


Lucy: We might also mention that ground turkey can be substituted for ground beef. It’s a milder flavor but still delicious. It’s a perfect way to serve this dish if someone in the family is shying away from meat. Now let’s get cooking. The temperatures are dropping this week and rain is in the forecast.


Dear Abby Meatloaf Recipe

This meatloaf recipe was published in “Dear Abby’s Favorite Recipes” copyright 1987, by Abigail Van Buren.


2 lbs. ground beef (I usually use a 50/50 mix of ground round and chuck)

1 c. seasoned Italian bread crumbs

½ c. onion, finely chopped

⅓ c. ketchup

⅓ c. water

1 tsp. garlic powder

2 eggs, slightly beaten

Salt & pepper to taste 

4 strips bacon (optional)



Heat oven to 350 degrees.

In large bowl, combine all ingredients and mix (with your hands, ideally) until combined.

Shape into 2 loaves and place next to each other on a large, rimmed baking sheet. If using, arrange bacon strips across the top.

Slather each loaf with “Meatloaf Sauce” 

Bake for about 1 hour.


Meatloaf Sauce:

½  cup ketchup

3 Tb. brown sugar

1 Tb. prepared mustard

¼  cup water

Dash of salt

Mix together and slather all over meatloaf before putting into oven.


Pat’s Texas Meatloaf




1 ½ lb ground beef

½ lb Jimmy Dean Hot sausage

1 egg

1 green pepper, chopped

1 onion, chopped

1 clove garlic, crushed

1 can Rotel tomatoes

1 tbsp Worchester Sauce

Salt and pepper to taste



Mix all together. Divide into two loaf pans. Cover with another can of Rotel tomatoes. Bake at 350 for about 1 ¼ hours.


Copycat Cracker Barrel Meatloaf Recipe


2 pounds lean ground beef

1 small finely diced onion

½  cup finely diced bell pepper (optional)

48 crushed Ritz crackers. 

4 oz. shredded sharp cheddar or Colby cheese

3 eggs

½  cup milk

1 tsp. salt

¼  tsp. black pepper

For the topping:

½  to ¾  cup ketchup

2 tbsp. brown sugar

1 tsp. mustard



Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

In a small bowl, combine the ketchup, brown sugar, and mustard. Place to the side. This will be used later as the topping.

In a large bowl, combine the eggs, crushed Ritz crackers, cheese, milk, onion, bell pepper, salt and black pepper. Mix well. Add in the ground beef. Mix well just to combine. Do not over-mix.

Form into a loaf and place inside a baking pan or baking sheet lined with foil or parchment paper.

Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes. Remove from the oven and spread the topping over the meatloaf.

Bake for an additional 30 to 40 minutes or until the center is 160 degrees. Let it cool for 15 minutes before serving.