Grandma Finley’s Meatloaf

This meatloaf isn’t my grandmother’s recipe but I have named it in her honor.  She was an amazing woman and entertainer.  I have some special items of hers, two in my kitchen. First is her recipe box with all of her hand written recipe cards.  The second is a little notebook she kept about dinner parties.  Back in the day, instead of going out to dinner on weekends, couples would entertain each other.  God I wish this would come back into style!

IMG_1969In this little notebook, she kept track of the date of the party, who attended, the menu, a description of the centerpiece and tablescapes as well as what the “prizes” were.  Each guest would go home with a little something from the host and hostess… most common prizes were a deck of cards for the men and a compact for the ladies.  I just love looking through it.  The date of the first entry is August 27, 1936.  My dad was 8 years old then.

Popular menus included Chicken A-la King, Lobster Newburg on Toast, and Grilled Steak. According to the book, cocktails were served upon arrival… most commonly Manhattan’s for the ladies and Highballs for the gentlemen. They really knew how to do it!

I always loved going to Grandmas’s for dinner. The table would always be set when we arrived and it always seemed so elegant!  Usually we would have a dinner in August near the date of my brother’s birthday. She would always make a cake and somewhere in the cake would be a quarter wrapped in wax paper. I always thought the baked the quarter into the cake but realized later on that she inserted it after the cake was baked. We would all wait in anticipation as to who would receive the quarter! Usually it was my brother. After all, more often than not, we would be celebrating his birthday. I remember the time I got the quarter though. It seems to be one of the best days of my life. After that, on occasion, when I make cakes, I’ll slip a quarter wrapped in wax paper into the cake so I can share the story with others.

IMG_1971The other fun item I have is her recipe box.  It’s an elegant (just like her) wooden box with her gorgeous penmanship… each recipe written out on index cards.  =-Maybe I’ll look through it again and update some of her recipes!

In the front “Main Dishes” section, her recipes include Chicken Divan, Spanish Rice, Corned Beef Casserole, Crabmeat Thermidor, Lobster Newburgh, Crab Royal, Chicken Fricasse and her famous Spaghetti.  I’ll have to do a post on that amazing recipe soon!

For Sunday dinner last weekend, Bill requested meatloaf.  It’s one of his most frequent request and while it is May, it’s rainy and a cool 58˚F here.  I decided to mix it up a bit and create this meatloaf version.  I’m excited with the results and I hope you enjoy it too!


Grandma Finley’s Meatloaf
Serves 8

IMG_19571 pound lean ground beef
1-1/2 pounds meatloaf mix (mixture of beef, lamb and pork)
3/4 cup roasted red peppers, diced
1 cup yellow onion, finely diced or grated
1 6oz jar marinated artichoke hearts, drained and roughly chopped
3/4 cup breadcrumbs (I use gluten-free)
1 egg
1 cup tomato sauce, divided
2 garlic cloves, pressed or finely chopped
2 tablespoons Italian Seasoning (I use this one)
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly milled black pepper

  1. Heat the oven to 375˚F.  In a large bowl, combine the ground beef, meatloaf mix, red peppers, yellow onion, artichoke hearts, breadcrumbs, egg, 1/2 cup tomato sauce, garlic cloves, italian seasoning mix, salt and pepper just until combined.
  2. Screen Shot 2018-05-07 at 6.31.47 PMPack the mixture into a loaf pan.  If the pan is packed to the rim, place on a baking sheet to catch any juice that may drip over the edge.
  3. Bake 1 hour.  Remove from the oven and spoon the remaining 1/2 cup tomato sauce over the top.
  4. Return to the oven and bake an additional 10 minutes or until the internal temperature reaches 160˚F.
  5. Remove from the oven and let rest 10 minutes.  Slice into 8 pieces and serve warm.


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scan0215I grew up the youngest of six kids in Birmingham, MI, a suburb of Detroit.  My mom was (and still is) an amazing cook and homemaker.  She always made each meal special and each night the table was set and we had dinner as a family.

On Sundays and other special occasions, we’d have dinner in the dining room or if it was a bigger gathering, we’d be in the family at the really big table.

Candles were always lit at dinner and we used cloth napkins, a tradition Bill and I carry on no matter what night of the week. Mom always had some kind of centerpiece.  How she found the time to do it all still amazes me to this day!

She involved us in the cooking process (only if we wanted to be involved) and I never remember anyone complaining about anything she made.  Well, that’s not 100% true.  One time my sister and I begged her to make Hamburger Helper.  I don’t even want to now think about all of the processed grossness that must be in that box.  Anyway, it must have been the ads on tv with the BIG hand waving and the kids being all happy at dinner time.  Mom gave in and made it one night.  It was HORRIBLE.  I always wondered if it was really that bad or if she doctored it up somehow so she knew we wouldn’t like it and we’d never ask for it again.  I remember thinking to myself, “I wonder if this is what dog food tastes like?”  Needless to say, we never asked and mom never made it again.

But really, she was a genius in the kitchen.  When I said the no one ever complained?  I asked her about that once… how did she do it?  She told me that she knew what everyone enjoyed and one day each week she made something that someone would like.  She figured at least one person would be happy each day because she knew she could never please all of us all the time.  Although I suspect she pretty much did that because her cooking is fantastic.

She was ahead of her time too.  Somehow she got her hands on old tin tv dinner trays. Not the disposable ones, but real metal ones.  It seemed like we had dozens stacked in our basement, although I’m sure it wasn’t that many.  But what she would do was after dinner was over, she would portion the leftovers into the trays and make her own customized tv dinners for us.  They would always be stacked in the freezer in the basement.  When she and my father would be heading out to a dinner party or hockey game, I remember loving that before the babysitter came, we would run down and pick out our dinner.  They were all different and extremely tasty, because of course, they were homemade.

sc0007Every holiday was special and one of my favorite times of the year would be before Christmas when mom would make my grandmother’s sour cream sugar cookies and we’d get to decorate them.

We’d get home from school to the aroma of the freshly baked cookies and after dinner, she’d set us up with frosting in several colors, sprinkles and other decorations to complete the task.

Every holiday meal was an elegant affair and normally included several guests in addition to our 8.  Mom always pulled it together flawlessly and never expressed an ounce of stress. When I was a teenager she put on an Easter brunch each year for around 30 hungry hockey players and their families.  She did that party 16 years in a row and averaged over 100 guests each time.

It’s because of her and my father and their love of entertaining that inspired Bill and I to host several events each year.  One thing I am looking forward to is hosting dinner parties.  We’ve done a handful but I’d like to add more to our lineup.  They are fun, a great way to entertain without the noise and rush of being in a restaurant.  Plus, it’s a lost art that I think needs to come back into fashion.  Stay tuned for my ideas on those!