Cook's Tips: To make soft bread crumbs, place torn bread in food processor or blender container. Cover; process, pulsing on and off, to form fine crumbs. One and one-half slices make about 1 cup crumbs. To save time and for a different presentation, beef mixture may be divided evenly and shaped into three 1-1/2-inch thick loaves. Place on rack in broiler pan; spread topping evenly over loaves. Bake in 350°F oven 40 to 45 minutes to medium (160°F) doneness, until not pink in center and juices show no pink color.
Note: Due to the natural nitrate content of certain ingredients often used in meatloaf, such as onions, celery and bell peppers, meatloaf may remain pink even when a 160°F internal temperature has been reached. Always check the internal temperature using a meat thermometer or instant-read thermometer to be certain it reaches 160°F. Four-Pepper Meatloaf Variation: Prepare meatloaf as above, adding 1/3 cup finely chopped green bell pepper, 1/4 teaspoon ground red pepper and 1/4 teaspoon ground white pepper to ground beef mixture. Nutritional information per serving: 297 calories; 23 g protein; 12 g carbohydrate; 17 g fat; 3.0 mg iron; 506 mg sodium; 112 mg cholesterol. Picadillo-Style Meatloaf Variation: Prepare meatloaf as above, omitting thyme and adding 1/3 cup finely chopped green bell pepper, 1/4 cup raisins, 1 teaspoon ground cumin and 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano leaves, crushed, to ground beef mixture. Nutritional information per serving: 316 calories; 23 g protein; 17 g carbohydrate; 17 g fat; 3.0 mg iron; 508 mg sodium; 112 mg cholesterol.