Recipe: Cowboy Meatloaf and Potato Casserole

Cowboy Meatloaf and Potato Casserole creates a new spin on an old family favorite.   The blend of BBQ sauce and cheesy potatoes with bacon bits gives new life to a hum drum meal.
This recipe is both easy and very adaptable to just how much you want to make from scratch and how much you want to use shortcuts... either way.. this makes for an excellent weeknight meal.
I highly recommend you use the leanest of ground beef... I use extremely lean beef and had no fat accumulate in my baking dish.  
If you use less lean meat you will need to drain off any fat that accumulates on top of the meat after it bakes for the first part of the baking time.
Use whatever BBQ sauce you prefer.. keep in mind that this flavor will affect the taste of the dish.. so don't cheap out on it.
I love to use my Sweet & Tangy BBQ Sauce.... click here for the easy to make recipe.
To save time ... I made the meatloaf mixture ahead and stored it in a Zip loc bag... it made making supper really quick and easy.
I used cheesy instant mashed.... I wanted to take a shortcut... you can make them from scratch or use plain or loaded mashed potatoes if you prefer.  If you use loaded mashed potatoes, leave the bacon bits out.
I made my bacon in the oven.. it's really easy and clean up is a snap... no standing over a hot stove to make it either... click here for How to Make Bacon in the Oven. 
You can leave the bacon out ...  or use bacon bits if you prefer.
I chopped the onion and garlic together in my mini chopper.. it works really well.
The first cut out of the pan doesn't always come out perfect... if you're serving this for company...  I'd recommend you either make it ahead  without the topping of French Fried Onions and cheese... and reheat it... then pop it back in the oven with the topping until the cheese melts.  It cuts perfectly after reheating.
This will serve 4-6 depending on if they're big eaters... serve it with a side salad and/or a vegetable and it really is a great meal!

Recipe:  Cowboy Meatloaf and Potato Casserole
All you need:
Meatloaf mixture:
1 1/2 pounds very lean ground beef
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
1 small red pepper, chopped
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 egg, slightly beaten
1 1/2 cups plain bread crumbs
2 tablespoons yellow mustard
1 teaspoon chili powder
 1/4 cup BBQ sauce
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 cup BBQ sauce
1 packet instant Cheesy mashed potatoes, prepared
3 strips of bacon, cooked and crumbled
French's French Fried Onions
About 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
All you need to do:
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
In a medium skillet, heat the olive oil over medium high heat.
Add the chopped onions, garlic and red pepper and cook for about 3-4 minutes or until they're soft.  Do not allow them to brown, turn the heat down if necessary.  Remove them from the heat and allow to cool.
In a large bowl, mix the meatloaf ingredients until well combined.  Gently press the meatloaf mixture into a 9 inch square baking dish.  Bake in the pre-heated oven for 30 minutes or until fully cooked.  Remove from the oven and drain off any accumulated fat if there is any.
Spread 1 cup of BBQ sauce over the meatloaf.  
Add the bacon bits to the mashed potatoes and spread the potatoes over the top of the BBQ sauce.
Sprinkle generously with the French's Fried Onions.  Sprinkle the cheddar cheese over the top.
Return the casserole to the oven and bake until casserole is hot and cheese has melted.


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