Build a Meal

I teach middle school. I am spoiled with being able to give instructions like ” go put the glue on the supply table,” and though my kiddos my be a little defiant, they do understand what I am telling them to do. I will never forget the day I went to visit my best friend, Jenny, in her kindergarten class. It was hilarious! During nap time, at least three of the students approached Jenny’s desk with a piece of “trash” from the floor. The funny thing about the “trash” is that it was either a pencil shaving or a piece of paper that measured 1mm in diameter. It absolutely cracked me up. Jenny was so appreciative. “Thank you Ariel. Wow! Great job cleaning Juan.”

After nap time, I began to play blocks with one of her students. I felt like he was finding the smallest block possible and putting it on the bottom and then stacking biggest ones on top. Needless to say, the block towers were repeated failures. No matter how many times I showed or told him how to build a base for block success, he continued to start with the smallest block.
This was the point that I developed a whole new appreciation for elementary, especially Kindergarten teachers, for teaching middle schoolers the basics. I would lose my mind!
Anyway, this meal started off as something plain, but with the ability to stack successfully became quite a knockout meal.
Meatloaf and Scalloped Potato Stack
(serves 8)

3 lbs Russet potatoes, peeled and sliced crosswise in 1/8 inch slices
1/2 stick of butter
1 large onion
2 tbsp flour
2.5 cups half and half
6 oz. shredded Swiss cheese
3 carrots, peeled and chunked
2 garlic cloves, peeled
1/2 cup Marinara sauce
1/2 cup Italian bread crumbs
2 eggs
1 lb ground turkey
1 lb ground beef (not super lean kind)
1 cup fresh basil
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp fresh lemon juice
1. Preheat oven to 375
2. Boil presliced potatoes for 4 minutes in lightly salted water.
3. Drain potatoes and lay out on paper towels to dry.
4. In a large sauce pan, melt butter on medium heat and add 1/4 onion (chopped)
5. Cook onion for three minutes then add flour whisking constantly. Whisk for two minutes until there are no clumps. Add half and half while still whisking constantly and bring to a boil.
6. Once mixture is boiling, whisk one more minutes, then remove from heat and add cheese. Stir until melted. Season with 1 tsp salt and 1/2 tsp of pepper.
7. In a food processor, add remainder (3/4) onion, carrots and garlic and chop. Place in a large bowl. Add any other seasoning you like (paprika, garlic powder, cayenne, onion powder)
8. Add eggs, marinara sauce and bread crumbs and mix well.
9. Crumble in meat and mix until everything is evenly blended and formable.
10. Smush into an oval 9×13 casserole pan or divide into two smaller casserole dishes if you want to share with friends or neighbors.
11. Top meatloaf with potatoes and then coat with cheese sauce.
12. Be sure to add salt and pepper along the way.
13. Bake until outsides are bubbly and top is lightly browned. (about 40 minutes)
14. Cover with foil and bake for 22 more minutes. Allow to sit for 25 minutes and enjoy!
* If you have a favorite meatloaf, use that recipe and simply top with the potatoes and cheese sauce. Follow same directions.
Optional Basil Pesto
Purée basil, olive oil and lemon juice in food processor and serve on side or on top.

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