Summer is here. Sort of. I'm still waiting for the heat to hit. We had a frost warning last night. But I know it is inevitable. The heat will come and when it does, I don't want to be using the oven. That's where the crockpot comes in. I own, at last count, five of them in various sizes. If you don't own one, go buy one. It's a great investment. I'd start with a 3 or 4 quart size. It's big enough for most families. My most used ones are the 5 and 6 quart ones, but I'm usually cooking for a huge group of people.
Crockpots are great. You load them up in the morning, plug them in, and forget about them until dinnertime when your house is filled with delicious smells. They cook long and slow. I use them for all sorts of things. (check out the pot roast and bread pudding recipes I posted here)
This is a basic recipe for meatloaf, a staple at my house. The crockpot keeps it moist and flavorful, not dry and crunchy. Just plan on letting it cook for a minimum of 4 hours on high or 7 hours on low. Not only does the crockpot make great food, it saves energy. And your kitchen won't heat up while it's cooking.
1 1/2 lbs ground beef, lean or extra lean works best
2 c. oatmeal, plain instant is better than old fashioned for this recipe
1/2 c. ketchup or catsup
1/2 c. barbecue sauce
1/4 c. mustard (not dry, use the prepared stuff)
1/2 c. onion, finely chopped
1 c. shredded carrot
1/2 c. dried mushrooms, broken up into small bits (totally optional, but really tasty to add. It helps stretch the meat, too)
Mix everything together. Squishing it with your hands works best. Pretend you are Godzilla squashing buildings in Tokyo. Once everything is mashed together until it's evenly distributed, scoop it together into one big ball. Plop it into the crockpot. You want it to be a ball in the middle, mostly. Don't squish it up to the sides. Cover with the lid and cook on low 6 - 7 hours or high 3 - 4 hours, or until it is not pink in the middle. You can dress it up with extra ketchup or BBQ sauce on top for the last hour of cooking.
Serve with instant mashed potatoes or rice, green beans or green salad, and ice cream for dessert. Or you can try the Hot Fudge Sundae Cake in your crockpot. It takes about 2 - 3 hours on high to cook.