Tomato Salad

This is a quick and easy one.  So simple, and it goes over great during the summer at barbecues and potlucks.  We tease my Mom because once we were having a conversation about what food we’ll be remembered for when we’re gone.  She was concerned that there wouldn’t be a “special dish” that would inspire us all to think about her when we ate it.  My husband said to her, “don’t worry Cathie, you’ll always be remembered for your tomato salad!”

Don’t blink or you’ll miss this one – it’s that quick to throw together.

Ingredients

2-3 tomatoes or more – depending on size

1/2 large or 1-2  small onions (red onions or really sweet onions are best)

1 bottle vinaigrette salad dressing (I most prefer Kraft Sundried Tomato and Oregano for this)

Directions

Slice tomatoes and onions.  Layer in a casserole (like French White) with a lid.

Pour entire bottle of dressing over the tomatoes and onions.

Cover and refrigerate at least 1-2 hours.

 

That’s it!  The longer this stuff sits, the better it is.  It’s even better the next day, so if you can make it the morning of, or even the night before, it’s best.

If you’re having burgers, some of us like to put this salad directly on our burgers for extra zing.

Enjoy!

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The Help – Book and Movie Review

I never knew why I have never reviewed the book The Help by Katheryn Stockett as I read it quite a while ago and absolutely loved it.  Gave it 5 stars, recommended it to everyone I could possibly think of to recommend it to.

Now I know why.  Because I was waiting for the movie to come out, so I could review both at the same time.  I almost feel the need to review them both at the same time, because they seem like two halves of a whole to me.  I don’t know if I’ve ever watched a movie based on a book that I’ve read that made me feel like this one did.  I truly felt like it was an extension of the book.  And I loved it.

The story takes place in Jackson, Mississippi, in 1962.  It revolves around three main characters, and is told in each of their voices.  Skeeter, a white, 22 year old woman who just graduated from college, comes home to get a job at the local newspaper.  She has dreams of being a journalist, a novelist, both.  She is idealistic, and has huge dreams for herself, way beyond the small town and her “friends” there that live their lives around their bridge club, and the white society that they have built up for themselves.

The other two characters in the story are Aibileen and Minnie.  They are two black maids that work for white families in the town.  The line between the black folk and the white folk is drawn so carefully, and observed so firmly, that it is enough to make you so incredibly angry at some parts at the ignorance and audacity of some of these people and the way they think.  Though it was so common in the South at the time.

I won’t ruin the story, but it basically centers around Skeeter wanting to write a book about “The Help” and how they are treated in Jackson.  There is a ton of back story, so much to this story, and it is written using the voices of three very different women, who come together to do something that will maybe, hopefully, make a difference.

I loved this book so much.  I loved how each woman’s voice was so distinctive.  Even though her name was written at the top of each chapter, it was written with such individuality that it was unnecessary.

This movie I felt really did the book justice.  They did take some liberties with the story, and changed things around, as they often do when making a movie, but these didn’t bother me at all and I’m sure were mostly done due to time constraints.  It would be impossible to fit all the bits of story into a two and a half hour movie.  It would be more like a mini-series.  But the casting choices were bang on I thought.  There were many familiar faces.  All of them perfect for the roles they were chosen for.

Read it.  See it.  That is all.

Stuffed Burgers

Not quite “The Full Monty,” but pretty good nonetheless!

It’s my hubby’s birthday today, and he has requested for his dinner tonight, these stuffed burgers.  He will have to barbecue them, but he doesn’t mind at all, because the payoff is amazing.

Please keep in mind that these are just my version of these burgers, and you could change them up in hundreds of different ways.  Different meats, different stuffings, etc.  You’re only limited by your imagination!

Notes in blue I’ve added after making them last night.

Ingredients:

2 lbs lean ground beef I actually used one package, about a pound.

1 lb, or 4-6 links of your favourite sausages, removed from the casings – I actually used a little more than a pound, I found this in bulk in the meat section of the grocery store.  There was more sausage in these burgers than beef last night…and they were so good! 🙂

2 eggs – To be honest, once I got home I realized I had no eggs, so I took a chance and omitted them, as opposed to going back out to the store.  The burgers were fine without them.

a healthy shake of Worchestershire sauce

salt and pepper

1-2 onions, sliced finely

1 lb fresh mushrooms, sliced – I forgot to add before that once the mushrooms are sauteed, I chopped them slightly so that they weren’t so big inside the burger, and were more the same size as the bacon and onion.

4-6 slices cooked bacon, crumbled

1 cup or so cheddar or marble cheese, shredded.

Directions:

In a hot skillet, heat some vegetable oil.  Add  onions and cook slowly until caramelized.  Set aside.  In same skillet, saute mushrooms until tender.  Once cooled, add mushrooms, onions, bacon and the cheese and mix together in a medium sized bowl.  Set aside.

In a large bowl, combine meats, eggs and Worchestershire sauce.  Combine together until well incorporated and season with salt and freshly ground black pepper.  Divide meat into equal sized portions.  With this much meat you could probably make 8 or so burgers.  Take a portion and flatten it out on your hand.  Take a good bunch of the filling and set it in the center of the patty.  Then wrap the meat up around the filling, and roll like a large meatball in your hand.  Make sure there is no filling peeking out anywhere and it is sealed completely.  Carefully flatten the patty between your hands or using something flat, like a large can or plate.

The most important thing is that when the burgers go on the grill, that there is no sign of filling, almost like you wouldn’t know they’re stuffed.  The filling has to melt inside the burger and cook in there.  If there is any cracks or anything, the filling will leak out, and you’ll lose it.

Cook on barbecue until desired doneness.  Serve on large toasted Kaiser rolls with your favourite burger side.  Sweet potato fries would be good. What I did this time, was butter my buns and throw them in a frying pan for a few minutes so the inside looked kind of like what a grilled cheese looks like.  I find it easier this way, because buns can burn quickly on the grill, and buttering them adds just a tiny bit of crunch and so much flavour.

Change this up any way you want.  Use different cheeses, different veggies, sundried tomatoes or roasted red peppers would be good.  Gorgonzola cheese would be awesome too.

I’d love to hear your suggestions for alternative stuffings, meats, etc.

Enjoy!

Fall = New Beginnings?

A new road to travel.

I know that many people don’t associate fall with new beginnings.  They think of everything dying and summer ending and the weather turning cold and gloomy.

Maybe because fall is my favourite season, I love the cooler days, the sweater weather, the leaves turning.  I always feel like fall is a time for new beginnings.  Perhaps because of the start of the new school year has something to do with that too.

I was on my way to work this morning and all the kids were out waiting for the school bus.  It hit me in a really bad way that in a years time, that will be my little guy.  Little back pack, waiting for the bus…oh goodness!  Stop!   I can’t think about this right now!  Anyway, it got me to thinking how fast time goes by.  The last three and a half years or so since we had the boy has flown by.  He’s a little man now, doing things for himself, expressing himself…..

I digress.  This was supposed to be about new beginnings, not about me crying about my son growing up.

But this does also have something to do with how fast time flies.  Many people wait until the new year to start their resolutions.  So I thought to myself, I could do that, and then I’ve still got a few months to do whatever.  In the grand scheme of things, a few months is nothing, right?  OF COURSE!  That is why I have to get my butt in gear and start my resolutions now!  Because time is passing me by.

So here are my plans for things to start for the month of September, and what I’m going to hopefully keep going loooong after:

1.  Join the local YMCA.  We have a beautiful gym just 10 minutes away.  I’m going to become a member and dedicate myself to becoming a serious MILF.  Updates on my progress in that area to follow.

2. Cook at least one new recipe a week.  I love to cook, and I love to experiment in the kitchen.  You know this from this blog.  Even though this is true, I find myself getting into the same old rut and cooking the same old thing all the time, because I don’t feel like doing the research, or the thinking, and planning ahead that is involved in trying new recipes.  It’s horrible, here I am, blogging all kinds of recipes, encouraging whomever reads this to try new things, and I’ve been really bad at doing that myself for the last little bit.  It all stops here!

I was going to put a few more down, but I figure that those two things, especially number 1 – are major lifestyle changes.  I’ll work on those, let you know how that goes, and maybe be able to add more to the list in a bit. 😉

Wish me luck…

Stephanie Plum Parts 3 & 4 – Janet Evanovich – Book Review

Well, the saga continues.  What a blast I am having reading these books.  Janet Evanovich is a genius.  In the next two installments of the Stephanie Plum series, Three to Get Deadly and Four to Score, she has once again succeeded in making me laugh out loud.  Several times.

This series is outrageous.  It is insane to believe that Stephanie et al get into the situations they do and remain breathing.  There are a couple of close shaves – and in some cases desperate need for a shave (when you meet Sally Street you’ll know what I mean).  Stephanie is getting a little bit smarter, but is still desperately inexperienced.  She is very lucky to have people around her that are experienced with the bad guys and that care enough about Stephanie to look out for her.

She does things that make you want to yell at her, but Evanovich manages to keep her so likable, so real, that you’re constantly rooting for her.  Luck is not always on poor Stephanie’s side, and often a simple cut and colour job can turn disastrous, but that’s part of what makes you keep rooting for her.

There are new characters introduced (Sally being one of them), we get to know some previously introduced characters a little better, including prostitute-turned-file clerk-turned-wannabe bounty hunter Lula.  Thankfully we get a bit of Grandma Mazur, Stephanie’s hilarious grandmother added in.  We also see the return of Ranger, Stephanie’s incredibly sexy badass bounty hunter mentor, and Joe Morelli – vice cop that has been weaving in and out of her life since she was six years old.  Will she finally get the Morelli induced orgasm she has been needing so badly?  You’ll have to read to find out.

In Three to Get Deadly, Stephanie is on the trail of “Uncle Mo,” an elderly candy store neighbour from the Burg, who has jumped bail and disappeared.  There turns out to be way more to Mo’s story than meets the eye, as Stephanie finds out the hard way.

In Four to Score, Stephanie is after Maxine Nowicki, a waitress who has gone and got herself into a ton of trouble, and is on a mission for revenge.  Another tale of crazy hi jinks, that will have you laughing, and shaking your head.

So I’m off to the mall this weekend, Indigo has the “Buy 3 get the 4th free” sale on.  I think I’ll pick up Volumes 5 through 8.  Can’t wait!

Have a great long weekend!