As a cook, the appeal of meatloaf -- I’ll dare to say -- is creating a composed, contrived terrine of food that requires no glamorous expectations. It’s hands-on, messy, then cooks by itself in a single loaf pan. Call it rustic? Simple? Common? Whatever. Meatloaf fans make up the majority of our population, I assure you. Sure enough, the “Chicken Mushroom Meatloaf,” from All Recipes, was moist and kid-friendly.

And why make another meatloaf? This recipe called me in with its intriguing inclusion of cereal (I swapped in corn flakes), buttermilk (too often, I have leftover buttermilk in my fridge), and both chicken breasts and thighs. Notice, too, the mushrooms, the ketchup, the eggs, the breadcrumbs; it’s a good-looking formula. I added 1/2 tsp. kosher salt and 1/4 tsp. black pepper to the sauteed mushroom mix. I minced my chicken meats, easily, in the food processor. After combining the whole messy mass, I added another 1 1/2 tsp. kosher salt and another 1/4 tsp. black pepper (I’ll always worry about an under-seasoned meatloaf). I was so pleased at how the meatloaf mixture was the perfect amount to fit into the loaf pan.

I love the reliability of using an instant-read thermometer in the oven. There’s no guesswork for doneness. My meatloaf reached its necessary 160 degrees after 1 hour 33 minutes of baking. And the flavor? Well, I thought it needed even more salt. And a sauce would have been nice. But my young child liked it, so we were good.

As an easy-to-prep side dish, I made the “Kale & Goat Cheese Mashed Sweet Potatoes,” from Veggie Belly. This was an unapologetically creamy, cheesy mash. Quite wonderful, really. It’s easy to boil sweet potatoes, wilt kale, then crush it all with a big spoon. The glories of Spanish goat cheese elicit soft cooing sounds of approval. I promise.

Onion (1) = .62¢
Mushrooms (8 oz.) = $1.76
Skinless, Boneless Chicken Breasts (1.47 lbs.) = $7.92
Skinless, Boneless Chicken Thighs (1.15 lbs.) = $4.06
Sweet Potatoes (1.95 lbs.) = $2.30
Kale (4 cups) = $2.48
Spanish Caprichio Goat Cheese (.30 lb.) = $2.11

RECIPES: please a crowd, again, with a meatloaf and a mash
more than two hours of prep and cooking for the meatloaf; the mashed potatoes can be enjoyed after less than an hour of attention
moist chicken is embraced by mushrooms; sweet potatoes and kale are swirled with magical goat cheese

Next time, I will cook the “Sausage & Fennel Orzotto,” from Cuisine at Home, where I get to resort to the comforts of white wine and orzo, once more. Come back to my site soon, to see what happens.