Lots of people have bad memories of meatloaf, but it’s always remained one of my favorite foods.

Growing-up, my mom always prepared the recipe from the back of the Quaker Oats box. She always spread a mixture of brown sugar and ketchup on the top of the loaf before baking and adorned it with strips of bacon. The next day, my favorite treat was enjoying cold meatloaf sandwiches. I think I looked forward to them more so than the meatloaf itself.

Food television really opened my eyes to different foods and watching people prepare familiar dishes in different ways than I’d seen at home. While my mom prepared meatloaf in a loaf pan, I’ve adopted the more freeform method of forming a mound on a pan that I first saw on Barefoot Contessa. My fondness of meatloaf led me to order it at different restaurants. Now, I don’t order it often anymore because I can usually make it better (or just as good) at home.

I’ll always remember the time I was hanging out at a grade-school friend’s house around dinner time. On our to grab our shoes at the front door, we wandered through the kitchen as her dad was making meatloaf. He was holding a big bottle of mustard and maniacally laughed as he squirted it to the meatloaf mix. My folks never added mustard to their meatloaf mix and so I made a mental note to try it someday when I had my own kitchen. Now I always add mustard to mine.

The real reason I turned my last batch of ground meat into meatloaf balls was because it was fun. That’s really all there is to it.

Meatloaf Meatballs With Mom Glaze
Serves two. 

Meatballs Pan

1 lb ground meat (recommend pork and beef)
1 slice of bread soaked in milk
1 handful of parsley, finely chopped
1/4 onion, minced
1 clove garlic, grated
BBQ Sauce

Brown sugar, honey or maple syrup
Chili powder


  1. Tear one slice of bread into tiny pieces and soak in milk. The bread will be easier to break down into a paste as it softens.
  2. In a bowl, mix together the ground meat, bread and milk mixture, parsley, minced onion, garlic, at least one good squirt each of mustard and your favorite BBQ sauce, and pinches of salt and pepper.
  3. If you’d like to taste-test the mixture for seasoning, cook a tiny bit of the meat in a frying pan.
  4. Form meat mixture into balls and bake at about 375ºF (or 350ºF in a convection oven) until mostly cooked through. You can flip them partway through cooking, too. *Our new place is equipped with a convection oven which cooks foods must faster than our old ones. 
  5. While the meatballs bake, mix together the sauce by combining ketchup, brown sugar, and chili powder.
  6. Glaze the tops and sides of the meatballs with sauce. Return to the oven until the meatballs are cooked and the sauce glazes. Add more sauce, if desired, and return to the oven for a few minutes.