Dinner Diva column by Leanne Ely

If only relationships in life could be as easy as a recipe. You take basic ingredients, follow the directions, and in the end, you have something wonderful to enjoy.

In a marriage (for example) it’s supposed to work out that way, too. Basic ingredients mixed together (respect, commitment and love), follow the directions (be responsible, act like a grown up, love one another), and in the end, you have something to celebrate (like a 25-year anniversary or more, even).

But alas, sometimes two imperfect humans living in an imperfect world don’t always make it. To be perfectly honest, recipes don’t always work out or make it, either. Sometimes you miss the beat on an ingredient, or what seemed like a good combo of components turns out to be disastrous when mixed all together.

At times, both food and relationships do well without an articulated plan. Just a spur-of-the-moment trip (an unexpected ingredient) can really “spice” things up, know what I mean? Likewise, throwing a little something different into your usual pot of soup can take it up a notch and become the new family favorite.

I think I can sew this whole stream of consciousness together, but I’d have to do it with a recipe. So how about Meatloaf Burgers on the Barby? That’s a little different, right? It’s summer, and I know there’s no way you’ll be firing up your oven anytime soon … let’s get busy with an outrageously delicious and unexpected meatloaf treat straight from your summertime grill … enjoy!


Meatloaf Burgers on the Barby
Serves 8-12
– 1 tablespoon olive oil
– 1 medium onion, chopped
– 1 medium carrot, grated
– 1/2 small red bell pepper, chopped (derib and deseed first)
– 2 cloves garlic, pressed
– 2 teaspoons cumin
– 1 teaspoon nutmeg
– 1/2 teaspoon white pepper
– 1/2 cup ketchup
– 2 egg whites
– 1/3 cup buttermilk
– 3/4 cup oatmeal
– 2 pounds lean ground beef
– 1/2 cup seasoned breadcrumbs
– salt and pepper to taste

In a skillet, heat the olive oil over medium high heat and sauté up the onion, carrot, pepper and garlic till onion is translucent and the other veggies are soft. Set aside to cool.

In a large mixing bowl, combine the remaining ingredients, mixing well. Add the cooled cooked veggies and mix again. Wet your hands and make your big hamburgery mess into hamburger patties. Pat, pat, pat … play nice and don’t overhandle the beef, or it’ll get goopy.

Fire up the barby. Make sure your grill is clean — no schmootz or leftovers from the grill, please. Launch your patties onto the hot grill and cook about 5 minutes per side or depending on thickness, till cooked through. I know you’re going to want to squish your patties with the spatula while cooking but resist the urge to do so! This just dries them out and all their glorious juices just ignite the heat beneath and cause a fire, making your lovely meatloafy burgers, into charcoal briquettes. Resist the siren’s call to squish your burgers!


For more help putting dinner on your table, check out Leanne’s website,, or her Saving Dinner book series (Ballantine) and her New York Times bestselling book Body Clutter (Fireside). Copyright 2008 Leanne Ely. Used by permission in this publication.

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