Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Cleo Coyle's Mini Meat Loaves with Smashed Baby Red Potatoes + Roasted Garlic Gravy

There's nothing like meat and potatoes for a simple, satisfying winter meal, but the star of this meat-and-potatoes dinner is our creamy, white Roasted Garlic Gravy.

Garlic's health benefits are many. Studies have shown it to boost the immune system, lower blood pressure, prevent dementia and heart disease, and ward off the common cold. What my husband and I love most about garlic, however, is the sweet yet pungent flavor, and that's what inspired our recipe.

Cleo Coyle has a partner in 
crime-writing—her husband. 
Learn about their books 
by clicking here and here.

The gravy is delicious over roasted chicken, baked fish, broccoli, cauliflower, string beans, and asparagus. But during the winter months, Marc and I most often drizzle it over our Mini Meat Loaves and Smashed Baby Red Potatoes, which is what we're cooking for you today.

So let's get started!

~ Cleo

For a free, downloadable PDF of these
3 recipes that you can 
print, save, or share, click here.

Click here for the
free Recipe PDF.

Cleo's Mini Meat Loaves

Makes 4 to 5 mini-meat loaves


2 to 2-1/2 pounds ground beef
1/3 cup white onion, finely chopped
1 cup crushed Special K cereal (measure after crushing)
2 eggs, beaten lightly with fork
1/2 cup evaporated milk
1/2  teaspoon dry mustard powder
1/2  teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon ketchup 

Step 1 – Prep oven, pan, and cereal: First preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Line a large baking sheet with aluminum foil and coat the foil lightly with non-stick spray. 
Using clean hands, gently crush the Special K cereal and measure 1 cup, set aside. 

Step 2 – Mix and form loaves: In a large bowl, combine the ground beef, chopped white onions, crushed Special K cereal, beaten eggs, evaporated milk, mustard powder, Worcestershire sauce, and ketchup. Use clean hands to mix the ingredients. Form four or five meat loaves and place them on the foil-covered baking pan, at least two inches apart. 

Step 3 – Bake 30 to 35 minutes in your preheated 350 degrees F. oven. Mini meat loaves are done when exteriors are well-browned and interiors register 165 degrees. Remove from oven and let the loaves sit ten minutes before serving—this sitting time allows the juices to recollect and keeps the meat moist.

Cleo's Smashed Baby Red Potatoes

Makes about 4 servings


2 pounds small red potatoes
3-4 cups chicken, beef, or vegetable broth (or broth and water mix)
2 Tablespoons butter

Directions: Cut the potatoes in half and place them in a deep skillet with their cut sides up. Cover the potatoes completely with the broth. If needed, add water to be sure the potatoes are covered. 

Over medium high heat, bring the liquid to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer the potatoes for 45-50 minutes until the liquid is completely cooked away. 

Now add the butter to the skillet. As it melts, roll the potatoes in the golden melted butter. 

Sizzle the potatoes for about 2 minutes. Gently smash the potatoes using the bottom of a cup, glass, ladle or large serving spoon. 

Serve hot with a splash of Roasted Garlic Gravy.

Cleo's Roasted Garlic Gravy

This three-step gravy tastes delicious the first day and amazing the second because it reheats beautifully with even stronger flavor. It’s an easy recipe to make and master, and it’s versatile.

You can easily tweak this gravy to suit your taste. Use less garlic for a milder cream sauce, more for a stronger garlic impact. The broth can be changed up, too. Chicken or vegetable broth will give you a lighter flavor; beef broth a heartier gravy.

For our taste, I can tell you that we usually use chicken broth (with some pan drippings for added flavor), and about 13 or 14 cloves of garlic suits us fine. As I mentioned, when the gravy is reheated, you’ll find the flavors are stronger. So keep that in mind if you make the gravy in advance, and may you eat with joy...and in good health!

~ Cleo

Makes about 2-½ cups 


12 – 16 cloves peeled garlic

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 tablespoon butter

3 cups chicken, vegetable, or beef broth

– 4 tablespoons pan drippings (optional)

1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons (5 ounce can) evaporated milk

4-½ teaspoons corn starch (or 3 tablespoons Wondra flour)

Salt and pepper to taste


Step 1 – Pan-roast your garlic:
 In a saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter and add the olive oil. When the oil and butter are hot, add the peeled garlic cloves and toss them to coat. Saute for 3 to 5 minutes, stirring often to brown the cloves evenly. Be careful not burn the garlic or it will turn bitter. 

Step 2 – Make the gravy: Add the chicken, veg, or beef broth (your choice) and bring to a boil. Simmer for 10 to 12 minutes, or until the garlic is soft. Mash the garlic cloves with a fork against the side of the pan (or use an immersion blender if you like). Whisk the pot until the crushed garlic is mostly dissolved. If adding pan drippings for extra flavor, pour them in now, and whisk for another minute. Finally, stir in 1/2 cup of the evaporated milk and bring the gravy to a simmer. 

Step 3 – Thicken and finish: For a velvety, lump-free gravy, make a paste out of your corn starch (or Wondra flour). To do this, take out a small bowl and whisk together 2 T. of your evaporated milk with your corn starch (or Wondra flour). 

While the pot of broth is still simmering, slowly whisk in the paste. While continuing to gently whisk or stir, allow the gravy to simmer for 3 to 5 more minutes, until it becomes thick enough to coat the bottom of a spoon. Salt and pepper the gravy to your taste and serve warm. 

This gravy reheats beautifully. Simply store it in the refrigerator in a sealed container. Reheat on the stove or in a microwave. The gravy holds together well, but you may need to whisk it lightly after reheating. 

To download all 3 recipes 
in PDF form, click here.

Eat (and read) with joy!

~ Cleo Coyle

New York Times bestselling author of  
The Coffeehouse Mysteries

Friend me on facebook here. * Follow me on twitter here
Learn about my books here

* * *

Now a Bestselling Hardcover!

Coffee. It can get a girl killed.

Amazon * B&N

A Mystery Guild Selection

A Baker & Taylor Fall "Trends" Pick

Three "Best of Year" Reviewer Lists

Dead to the Last Drop 
is a culinary mystery with 
more than 25 delicious recipes!

See the free illustrated 
Recipe Guide by clicking here.

*  *  *

The Coffeehouse Mysteries are bestselling
works of amateur sleuth fiction set in a landmark
Greenwich Village coffeehouse, and each of the
15 titles includes the added bonus of recipes. 

(with mini plot summaries)

* * * 

Marc and I also write
The Haunted Bookshop Mysteries

Get a free title checklist, 
with mini plot summaries, 

Or learn more about the 
books and meet Jack Shepard, 
our PI ghost by clicking here.

The Coffeehouse Mystery Newsletter

Fun Contests, New Recipes, 
Book News, Videos, and more...

To subscribe, click here.


  1. Mmmmm, boy every bit of that dinner sounds delicious Cleo! thanks for starting the day off right. xo

    1. Looks like you could make this low sodium fairly easily with carefully chosen broth and such.

    2. Thank you, Lucy/Roberta. I admit this is comfort food heaven for Marc and I.

      And you are correct, Libby. A low sodium or salt-free broth works great. Even better, you'll find evaporated milk is a perfect, low-sodium substitute for traditional meat loaf recipes that use canned soup.

      ~ Cleo

  2. It doesn't matter how often I see that cat picture, I can't help but smile.

    This sounds like a great meal. I see from you pictures that you rounded it out with some broccoli. It is a winner.

    I never have Soecial K in the house. Wonder if oatmeal or panko crumbs would do?

    1. Libby, if you met little Durango you'd find him charming--when he isn't a little demon, that is!

      Panko does work. I know because I've tried it. I have not attempted this particular recipe with oatmeal, but that sure is a good way to add fiber to your diet. If you try this with Quakers, let us know how it works out. Thanks again, Libby.

      ~ Cleo

    2. The oats, of course. Not the Friends. :)

  3. Well, I just used the last of the red potatoes to make potato salad, but this would be worth another trip to the grocery store today. I love meat loaf and that gravy looks amazing.

    Just started Dead to the Last Drop. No surprise, it is amazing, too!

    1. Thank you so much for your kind words, Grandma, you made my day. Yes, I can't do without smashed potatoes with my meatloaf, and the reds just seem to work best. Eat with joy (but finish up that potato salad first)! All best,

      ~ Cleo

  4. This sounds like such a lovely weekday meal to me. Am particularly intrigued by the roasted garlic gravy.

    1. I must confess that since we tried the garlic gravy it's hard to go back to anything else! Thank you for dropping in, and always eat--and read--with joy.

      ~ Cleo

  5. Replies
    1. Yes, Daryl/Avery, this recipe was just so hot the graphic started bubbling by itself!

      ~ Cleo

  6. Wow! This looks amazing, Cleo! I look forward to every part of this dinner. XO MJ/Victoria

    1. Thank you, Mary Jane. May you always eat with joy!

      ~ Cleo

  7. Our family just loves the Smashed Potatoes especially when they are extra crispy. I wanted to make a bunch of these recipes but with this latest snow and ice storm today and tonight, I just had to dream about cooking and baking as my aching joints just won't allow the time to stand and prepare, but maybe next week. Thanks for the great recipes, Cleo.
    Cynthia Blain

    1. My husband likes them crispy, too. Me? I just like them, period! Keep warm on this winter's day, Cynthia, and thank you so much for dropping by.

      ~ Cleo

  8. Replies
    1. You took the words right out of my mouth, Elaine!

      ~ Cleo

  9. I have always loved meatloaf, although my mom never made it growing up. When my mother-in-law found out, she would make it for me on special occasions. Now that I've discovered the mini meatloaf idea, we have it regularly because we all like it. Trust me, that's a miracle! Thanks for the new recipes to try!