Meatloaf CAN Be Paradise…if not By The Dashboard Lights

tyler florence meatloaf recipe tomato relish


I suffered many cruelties at the hands of my parents in my childhood. Many. Most of the evil came in the form of deprivations they imposed upon me.

le sport sac blue bag meatloaf recipe

The Naughty Girl Accessory

I was not allowed to wear a non-competitive swim suit when all the other girls were starting to sport OP instead of Speedo.

I was not allowed to have a LeSportSac bag in highschool. Not allowed. Why? Because the naughty girls carried such satchels. I mean look how naughty it is!

paradise by the dashboard lights meatloaf recipe

Evil Album

And…in Junior High School when Meatloaf’s Bat Out of Hell album was taking teenagers by storm…I was not allowed to own it. Even though I could purchase the album with my own hard-earned money…I wasn’t allowed.

I wasn’t allowed because of the hit song “Paradise by the Dashboard Lights”. The song includes a  sportscast of a baseball play where the batter is trying to round the bases. I don’t know – Maybe it meant something else?!? But I just liked the song and wanted to own the album. I think that my father was also opposed to the whole ‘Bat Out Of Hell’ title. You know, because of Satan.

Later on, I learned that many people don’t like Meatloaf….the man AND the meal. But, Tyler Florence’s ‘Dad’s Meatloaf with Tomato Relish’ might just change all that.

Mmmmmmmeatloaf ala Tyler Florence (Serves 4-6)

Tiny apartment tips:

  • Recipe calls for whole milk…but, you can use any combination of 1%, 2% and cream – whatever you have in your apt
  • Recipe calls for 3 slices of white bread…but, what will you do with the rest of the loaf? So, I bought a demi loaf of french bread and used the inside of that instead
  • Recipe calls for a combination of Beef and Pork, 1.5lbs and 1lb respectively. BUT, ground beef comes in 1lb and 2lb packages…which means you would have extra and then what? And, I like veal in my meatloaf…so I buy 2.5lbs of Meatloaf mix instead. It’s ok if you have slightly more or slightly less. But I did find 1.25lb packages of the stuff and just bought 2.


  • 2 TBSP Olive Oil
  • 1 Onion finely diced
  • 2 Garlic Cloves minced
  • 2 Bay Leaves – dried, jarred bay leaves are AOK
  • 2 Red Bell Peppers, cored, seeded and finely diced
  • 3 smallish tomatoes on the vine diced and seeded – or 2 large ones
  • 1/4 Cup fresh Flat-Leaf Parsley chopped
  • 12 oz Tomato Ketchup – the Heinz bottles are 14oz…so just use most of it
  • 1 TBSP Worcestershire Sauce
  • 3 Slices of white bread OR 1 demi loaf of french bread – no crusts and torn by hand.
  • 1/4 Cup whole milk….OR a mix of 2% and heavy cream
  • 2 1/2 lbs of ground meats…I use Meatloaf Mix which includes beef, pork and veal
  • 2 Eggs
  • Leaves from 2 Fresh Thyme sprigs – I have frozen sprigs in the freezer at all times
  • 4 Slices of Bacon
  • Salt an Pepper

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

1. In a large skillet, heat 2 TBSP of olive oil over medium heat

2. Add the bay leaves, onion and garlic and saute until fragrant and beginning to soften – about :04 minutes

meatloaf recipe food dinner tyler florence

Saute Onions, Garlic and Bay Leaves

3. Add in the red peppers and saute stirring for about :03 minutes

meatloaf recipe dinner paradise by the dashboard lights

Add the diced red peppers

4. Add the tomatoes, parsley, ketchup and Worcestershire and stir to combine

meatloaf recipe dinner tyler florence bat out of hell

Sauteing the Sauce

5. Add salt and pepper to taste – I just grind some pepper over the mix and throw some sea salt in…like a teaspoon or so.

6. Bring the mixture to a simmer and simmer for :05 minutes to combine all flavors

meatloaf recipe dinner food beef tyler florence

It loosens up as it simmers

7. Remove from the heat…And this is V IMPORTANT: Let cool….

Seriously….let it stand for at least :10mins. Remove the bay leaves at this point.

8. While that’s going on…Tear the bread into pieces and drop into a small bowl – cover with 1/2 cup of milk/cream combo

meatloaf recipe tyler florence paradise by the dashboard lights

Bread soaking in the milk…mmmmm

9. Crack the eggs into a small bowl or glass and gently beat them

10. In a large mixing bowl, combine the meatloaf mix with 1 1/2 cups of the cooled tomato relish, the eggs and thyme leaves

meatloaf recipe food dinner meatloaf mix

Because 3 Meats are Better than 2

meatloaf recipe tyler florence dinner

Add the COOLED relish, eggs and thyme

11. Squeeze the excess milk/cream from the bread pieces and add the bread to the meatloaf mix

12. Using your hands, mix the meatloaf

dinner recipe meatloaf tyler florence

Don’t over mix…just combine well

13. Line a rimmed cookie sheet with Reynold’s Wrap Pan lining paper

pan lining paper spinach balls recipe

Shiny on the bottom, parchment on the top

14. Form the meat mixture into a loaf – about 9 inches x 4 inches

dinner meatloaf recipe tyler florence

Free-Form Meatloaf

15. Coat the top of the top of the meatloaf with about 1/2 cup of the relish

dinner meatloaf recipe tyler florence

Relish Coating: The Magic of Moist Meatloaf

16. Cover the relish coated loaf with 4 strips of bacon

dinner meatloaf tyler florence bat out of hell

Because Bacon seals in the moisture and makes everything better

17. Bake for 1 1/2 hours – the bacon will be crispy and the meatloaf will be firm

18. Take the meatloaf out of the oven and let it stand for about :10 minutes before slicing

tyler florence meatloaf recipe tomato relish


OK…so Tyler Florence might not change anyone’s opinion of the singer, Meatloaf. And, I may never be able to convince anyone that Paradise by the Dashboard Lights is really a love story – although Meatloaf does promise to love the girl in the song ‘until the end of time’ and all. But, don’t deprive yourself of the magic of meatloaf. Because Tyler Florence’s meatloaf IS paradise and may just change your meatloaf hating mind.


Good Friends, a Beautiful Garden and Veal Milanese

True friendships are rare treasures that withstand the test of time and distance. This past weekend, eight of my friends met for a girls’ weekend in New York.

The arrivals began as early as Thursday afternoon and the departures started at 6am Sunday morning.

Over several great meals, we caught up on now and reminisced on then. Mostly, there was a lot of laughing, a lot of drinking, a lot of eating and a little singing. Only two of us live in New York. The rest traveled from Los Angeles, Vermont, Boston. and Connecticut.

The restaurants ranged from uber chic to dirty diner. From downtown to the upper west side. And while not the trendiest, I was most happy to share with my friends my favorite neighborhood Italian restaurant, Bello Giardino. The place isn’t much to look at from the street – a small store front just east of Columbus Avenue on 71st Street. The Tuscan themed dining room is just down a few stairs. It’s clean and well-lit and unlike so many restaurants, the tables aren’t crammed together. The owner, Nick, is always there to greet his guests at the door.

None of that separates it from the 1,000 or so small Italian places in New York. But, when you pass through the restaurant, by the kitchen and the restrooms, there is a beautiful garden underneath a canopy of grapevines. It was about 1,000 degrees and muggy Saturday night, but the nine if us sat centerstage at a table in the secret back garden.

I always order the same thing….Veal Milanese. It comes with a side of Bow Tie pasta and instead of the traditional marinara sauce, I ask for the vodka sauce – best in town.

I’ve tried to mimic this at home…here’s what I do….

Veal Milanese

–     4 thinly pounded veal cutlets

·      Panko bread  crumbs – about 1 1/2 cups – 2 cups

·      1 tsp Italian Seasoning – or any combination of dried oregano, dried thyme, dried rosemary, dried sage
·      1 tablespoon Dijon Mustard
·      2 Eggs
·      1 cup all purpose flour
·      Extra Virgin Olive Oil
·      2 tablespoons Butter
·      Two Roma or small tomatoes diced
·      Arugula – two handfuls
·      Lemon
·      Salt and Pepper
1.   Heat a large skillet over Medium-High heat with a 3-count of good olive oil and 2-3 tablespoons of butter
2.   In three bowls, prepare your breading:
      a.   Bowl one – 1 cup of all purpose flour
      b.   Bowl two – mix together 2 eggs beaten + 1 tablespoon of Dijon mustard
      c.   Bowl three – mix together 2 cups of Panko breadcrumbs + 1 teaspoon Italian Seasoning
3.   Pat the veal cutlets dry and season both sides with salt and pepper
4.   Dredge each cutlet first in the flour, then in the egg/mustard mix, then in the panko/italian seasoning mix
5.   Once the Olive Oil is shimmering in your skillet, add the breaded veal cutlets and cook about 4 minutes on each side.
6.   While the cutlets are frying, chop the arugula and combine with the diced tomatoes and the juice of ½ lemon. Set aside
7.   Remove the fried cutlets from the skillet and plate with a generous serving of the arugula / tomato mixture served on top
Note:         If you like spicy foods….you can add a dash of hot sauce to the egg/mustard mixture or use a spicy mustard
         You can also add sliced red onion to the arugula/tomato mixture

Ultimately, it didn’t matter where or what my friends and I ate. Through a quiet restaurant, down a narrow hallway, there’s a door that leads to a beautiful, Tuscan garden. I have known these amazing women for 30+ years. Our friendships endure because each of us sees in the others her own Bello Giardino. Maybe Stephen King said it best, “I never had any friends later on like the ones I had when I was twelve. Jesus, does anyone?”