Esta's Kitchen: Beer Cheetos Meatloaf

Esta stocks up on her favorite ingredients.

Don Parkinson - Esta stocks up on her favorite ingredients.

I’ve mentioned my mother, The Jackanator, a lot in this column. In fact, I’ve made it a point to include her on some level in at least every one. Why? Because it makes me laugh. And let’s be clear, that’s the whole point of all of this. But I’ve yet to mention my father, Dr. B.

The secret is that Dr. B. is actually the best cook in my family. My mother is a stellar baker, my sister is the gourmet, and of course we all know how amazeballs I am, but it’s my father that creates art.  What that man can do with a mango…it’s pure genius.

When I was a kid, he would go through these phases of perfecting a recipe. He would make a dish over and over again, perfect it, and then never make it again.

Other than the pink soup phase and the fish pie incident, this method was ridiculously successful. He’s the kind of cook that can look at the ingredients in the fridge and make magic out of it. I’d be jealous of this talent, but let’s be real…I’m the same way. But I’d be lying if I didn’t say I learned it from him.

While Rooms is the 13th most important man in my life, my father is #1 (if you’d like to apply to be #1 and take his place, click HERE).

Dr. B. is an amazing man, he’s an amazing cook, and he makes me laugh.  And to be honest, this recipe was his idea, so he demanded I give him credit.

Cheetos: the 6th food group

I love Cheetos. I love everything about them. I love the crunch. I love the way they smell. I love licking the orange off my fingers. In fact, I love them so much I would lick the orange off your fingers.

So one day, to exhibit my deep love for them, I decided I needed to include them in a recipe. That very day, The Jackanator informed me that Dr. B uses them in meatloaf instead of breadcrumbs. Done and done: Beer Cheetos Meatloaf was born. (And here’s where I give her credit for investing some time in this creation as well.)

One of the things I’ve learned over the years is that sometimes when it comes to cooking, simple is best. My BFF, Ina Garten, is always saying this, so you know it’s legit. My father certainly applied this theory to his meatloaf, though most of the time he would just use Saltine crackers and cheese. It was awesome.

I waxed a tad more complicated than Dr. B. with this recipe, but honestly, meatloaf is one of those things people mistakenly think they can make better by adding a ton of ingredients to it. Just let it go, man. Chances you are trying to like meatloaf by adding more flavor, but you probably just don’t like meatloaf. Which quite frankly is UNAMERICAN, and I’ll be informing the authorities immediately.

I mean, what else do you eat with macaroni and cheese? Friggin’ commie.

The more beer, the better

I used a meatloaf mixture of veal, pork, and beef. But you could use ground beef or turkey as well.  And of course I covered the entire thing in bacon. I mean, who wouldn’t? It’s optional, I suppose, but I sort of feel like whenever something can be covered in bacon, it should be. Next to cream cheese, bacon is the world’s most perfect food.
I added more beer to this recipe than I normally would. I really wanted to recognize the beer flavor in this meatload. And you could. The flavor of the bacon, Cheetos, and the honey lager I used gave it a ton of flavor without even trying. I found the flavor kind of addictive: sweet, yet savory and tangy.

If you don’t want such a strong flavor of beer, you could reduce the amount of beer, and it would be just fine. 'Course, then I’m not sure why you are reading this column...

One more thing before I release this recipe: It’s Thanksgiving. One of my favorite holidays. And I wouldn’t be me if I didn’t say something sappy about what makes me grateful. If you read this column on a regular basis, I think you get an idea of some of the amazing, diverse people I have in my life. Clearly, I have some wonderful friends who think I’m crazy, yet still love me. I get to work with some pretty awesome people who make me laugh. And most of all, I think it’s clear that my family is hilariously unique and supportive. I would not be who I am without them. Mostly, I’m grateful that even though my life isn’t perfect, there are joyful moments that are, and people who make it so.

Happy Thanksgiving to you all! I wish you a wonderful day where the gravy is flowing and the stuffing is moist. And if it's not, I’d offer you some of mine. But I ate it all. Better next luck year.

Beer Cheetos Meatloaf

  • 1 lb of ground beef, meatloaf mixture, or ground turkey
  • 1 T of garlic powder
  • ½ T seasoning salt of some kind, or just salt (if you use sea salt, use a little bit less)
  • 1 T dried minced onion
  • 3 T of Catalina Dressing, ketchup or V8 juice
  • 1 T of Worcestershire Sauce
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 cup crushed Cheetos (3 cups uncrushed, place in Ziploc bag and crush with rolling pin)
  • ½ cup of beer
  • Bacon (optional)



Mix meat, spices, onion, dressing, Worcestershire sauce and egg in medium bowl. Using your hands works best. Add Cheetos. Let the mixture rest in the fridge for at least 30 minutes.

Shape meatloaf in a 13x9 pan. It should be the size of a rectangular-looking football. Cover sides and tops of meatloaf with bacon strips.

Bake uncovered at 375 degrees for 30 minutes. Reduce heat to 350 degrees and cook for another 30 to 40 minutes. Let the meatloaf cool with the bacon for at least 20-30 minutes before cutting. Remove the bacon strips and feed to the family dog before serving.

Next week:  Beer Clam Chowder. Or Beer Cocks & Weenies. Let me know what you would rather eat!


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  • capelady1234

    you crack me up!!