Sunday, August 25, 2013


When Olivia was a little girl one of her favorite meals at a local restaurant was a pizza burger.  She was heartbroken when they eventually changed their menu and the pizza burger didn't make the cut.  Years later when she went there one day they made one especially for her in honor of her die hard affection for the dish.

As an adult and a very inventive culinary adventurer, Olivia has created her own pizza burger served on a beautiful ciabatta bun.  It is wonderful addition to your dinnertime repertoire.


1)  Mix the following together in a large bowl:

1 pound lean ground beef
1 pound Italian sausage (mild or spicy according to your preference)
1 small onion, chopped
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
2 tablespoons Worchestire sauce
1/4 teaspoon crushed fennel seed (or more to taste)
pinch of salt
pinch of pepper

2)  Divide the mixture into eight equal sized hamburger patties.  I froze four of the hamburger patties in a plastic freezer container with plastic wrap between each burger.  This makes an EASY instant meal in the future!

3)  Heat three tablespoons of olive oil in a large skillet.  Brown each hamburger patty in the pan, flipping halfway through, so both sides of each burger are browned.

4)  Line a baking sheet with foil.  Place a cookie rack on the covered baking sheet.  Remove the cooked hamburger patties to the rack after they are browned.

5)  Top each hamburger with the following:

3 pepperonis
2 tablespoons pizza sauce
1 slice of provolone cheese

6)  Place the topped hamburgers underneath the broiler in the oven just long enough to cook the burgers the rest of the way through, warm the toppings, and make the cheese toasty and bubbly.

7)  Transfer each hamburger to a warmed bun, ciabatta  bun preferably.

8)  Serve the sandwiches with a dish of warm pizza sauce to dip them in.  Enjoy!

Sunday, August 18, 2013


Oven Chicken Fajitas
Before you enjoy this delicious chicken fajita recipe, I want to tell you about the Heirloom Tomato Festival Olivia and I attended this last weekend.  For the second year in a row, Olivia competed in the salsa competition at the festival and she won for the second time in a row!  Her salsa was an original creation made in about twenty minutes and included corn, tomatoes, black beans, pineapple, onion, and other tasty ingredients.  Here is a a look at the colorful creation.
The festival was held at the site of an old train depot, now a restaurant.  Here are a couple of images from the event.

   We had a great time exploring all things tomato!  There were fried green tomatoes, tomato soup, tomato sandwiches, and green tomato pie.  We had fun and I got to eat the salsa Olivia made during the competition.  Don't be afraid to experiment yourself with making homemade salsa.  A really tasty salsa and chips would be just the thing with this great fajita .

Oven Baked Chicken Fajitas
  • 1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into strips
  • 2 Tbsp vegetable oil
  • 2 tsp chili powder
  • 2 tsp cumin
  • ½ tsp garlic powder
  • ½ tsp dried oregano
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • 1 (15 oz) can diced tomatoes with green chilies
  • 1 medium onion, sliced
  • 1 large bell pepper, seeded and sliced (I use half a green and half a red)
  • 12 flour tortillas
  • Toppings such as cheese, sour cream, and guacamole – if desired
  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Place chicken strips in a greased 13×9 baking dish.
  2. In a small bowl combine the oil, chili powder, cumin, garlic powder, dried oregano, and salt
  3. Drizzle the spice mixture over the chicken and stir to coat.
  4. Next add the tomatoes, peppers, and onions to the dish and stir to combine.
  5. Bake uncovered for 20-25 minutes or until chicken is cooked through and the vegetables are tender. Serve on tortillas with desired toppings.

Sunday, August 11, 2013


We have a restaurant in a nearby town called Cheddars and they serve a dish very similar to this one.  If you are growing fresh herbs this summer, and we hope you are, this would be a great way to use the lovely flavors of fresh basil and fresh oregano.  This dish served with a fresh tomato and cheese salad and maybe your favorite bread would be a tasty treat indeed.

Next week Olivia and I will be attending one of our favorite, although not large, events--the annual Heirloom Tomato Festival here in Northern Indiana.  It celebrates one of summer's star players in the garden--the tomato!  If possible, we will try and take a few pictures to share on the blog.

If you don't grow your own produce, we certainly hope you are enjoying what your nearby farmers market has to offer.  Olivia and I have been keeping our stoves and canners busy preserving everything from tomato sauce to chicken.  Let's face it, food costs aren't going down and enjoying fresh produce and even preserving it is a great way to maybe cut costs and enjoy what your area has to offer.
Have a great week!  Enjoy these precious days of summer that still remain.

Recipe from


    • 1 1/2 lbs spaghetti noodles, uncooked
    • 2 lbs mozzarella cheese
    • 8 ounces ricotta cheese
    • 8 ounces sour cream
    • 1 1/4 cups half-and-half
    • 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese, divided use
    • 1 teaspoon dried oregano leaves
    • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil
    • 1/2 teaspoon white pepper
    • 1 teaspoon chopped garlic
    • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
    • 1 1/2 teaspoons olive oil

    Meat Sauce

    • 1 (24 ounce) jars spaghetti sauce
    • 12 ounces ground beef
    • 1 tablespoon chopped garlic
    • 1 cup chopped onion
    • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
    • 1 teaspoon dried oregano leaves
    • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil
    • 1 teaspoon granulated sugar
    • 1/2 cup red wine
    • 1/4 cup romano cheese
    • salt, to taste
    • pepper


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Cook spaghetti al dente according to package directions. Rinse under cold water and drain. Place in large mixing bowl.
  3. In another mixing bowl, stir together sour cream, ricotta, half-and-half, mozzarella, oregano, basil, white pepper, garlic, salt, and half the Parmesan cheese.
  4. Add above cheese mixture to the spaghetti. Using hands, mix gently until spaghetti is evenly coated with mixture.
  5. Rub a 9x13 glass baking dish with the olive oil.
  6. Gently place spaghetti mixture into prepared dish. Top with remaining Parmesan cheese.
  7. Cover dish with aluminum foil and bake at 350 degrees in pre-heated oven for 30 minutes.
  8. Remove from oven, remove foil and place dish on cooling rack for 10 minutes.
  9. Cut into six-eight squares and top with meat sauce below, or your favorite meat or marinara sauce.
  10. Meat Sauce.: Heat a heavy saucepan on medium heat for five minutes.
  11. Add ground beef and stir to break up clumps. Cook till meat is browned well. Drain meat and set aside.
  12. Add onions and garlic to saucepan and cook over medium heat for about five minutes, or until softened.
  13. Return reserved meat to pan, along with spaghetti sauce, salt, oregano, basil, sugar, red wine and romano cheese. Stir well to combine.
  14. Bring mixture to a simmer and cook uncovered for 30 minutes.
  15. Adjust seasoning with additional salt and pepper to taste.

Sunday, August 4, 2013

French Onion Soup Pot Pie

Canning season is in full swing and Olivia and I have been super busy filling the basement shelves with every kind of vegetable imaginable.  A retired teacher friend of Olivia's gives her a large quantity of sweet corn every year.  Last week she processed lots and lots of corn.  She was kind enough to share with me so I was able to make vegetable soup and corn chowder.  Olivia shared the idea with me of making carmelized onions and canning them.  Boy are they good!  You just cook down vidalia onions in a crock pot with butter and then can them.  They are delicious.

When the canning season is at its peak, Olivia and I are always looking for something good and easy to make for dinner just in case we are making a "batch" of something that day.  This french onion soup pot pie is a great example.  It is rich and hearty and, best of all, easy!  Try it soon!


1 lb ground chuck
1 small onion, chopped
1 can(s) (10.5 oz.) condensed french onion soup
1 1/2 c shredded Swiss cheese
1 tube refrigerated crescent rolls
1. In a large skillet over medium heat cook ground beef and onion until beef is no longer pink; drain.
2. Stir in the French onion soup; bring to a boil. Transfer to an ungreased 9-inch deep dish pie plate. Sprinkle with the Swiss cheese.
3. Bake in a preheated 350-degree oven for 3 minutes, or until the cheese is melted. Top with the crescent rolls and bake 15-20 minutes longer or until crescent rolls are golden brown.