6.13.2018

Savor Summer with a Southern Tomato Pie

I love tomatoes. I get most excited in the summer because that is when tomatoes are in abundance. They are fresh, tasty and less costly in the summer. They are even better in a grocery store, but nothing beats tomatoes at a Farmer's Market.

This is also the best time to make a tomato pie, which makes a great side dish or even a main meal with a salad.

Southern Tomato Pie with Parm Cheese.
Southern Tomato Pie. Photo by Mandi McClure


There are several ways to do a tomato pie and a lot of times, the variation is in the cheese that you use.


Savory Southern Tomato Pie
(adapted from Southern Living, August 2011)

Puff Pastry (you can also use regular pie crust instead)
4 medium tomatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2 inch thick slices (about 1 1/2 lbs)
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup mayonnaise 
2 Tbsp chopped fresh basil
1 cup (4 oz) shredded Parmesan cheese, divided

  • 1. Preheat oven to 350º. 
  • 2. Meanwhile, place tomatoes in a single layer on paper towels; sprinkle with salt. Let stand 45 minutes to an hour. Pat dry with paper towels. Stir together next 3 ingredients and 3/4 cup of cheese. 
  • 3. Cut the puff pastry into a 13-inch circle on a lightly floured surface. Fit into a 9-inch pie plate; fold edges under, and crimp. Prick the bottom and part way up the sides with a fork.
  • 4. Bake at 350° for 10 to 12 minutes or until lightly brown. Remove from oven, and sprinkle remaining 1/4 cup cheese over bottom of crust. Arrange tomato slices over cheese in crust; spread mayonnaise mixture over tomatoes.
  • 5. Bake at 350º for 34 to 37 minutes. Let cool 5 minutes before serving. Garnish with whole basil leaves if desired.
Instructions for Summer Tomato Pie

**Leigh's Alternate version of Southern Tomato Pie with onions, pepper, and different cheeses. 

Add 1/4 tsp of pepper and 1/2 cup of diced onions to the above list of ingredients. Use one cup of Cheddar Cheese and 1 cup of Mozzarella cheese rather than Parmesan cheese.

This recipe,, adapted from one of my favorite cookbooks from Edenton, North Carolina, uses a pie shell. Preheat oven to 425 degrees, and bake crust for five minutes; reduce heat to 400 degrees. Remove from oven and arrange thick tomato slices in the shell. Mix salt, pepper, basil, and onion.  Sprinkle over tomatoes. Mix mayonnaise and cheese; spread on top. Bake for 35 minutes. Let cool 10 minutes before slicing. 

You could even be adventurous, and use all three kinds of cheese. Enjoy!

Southern Tomato Pie recipes. Great for when Tomatoes are in abundance in the summer. #sidedishes #mainmeals #tomatoes

5.17.2018

Since Becoming a Parent, I have More Respect for our Educators

I am going to do something on this blog that I rarely do. I'm going to write very hastily about a political subject in North Carolina and I'm going to do it in 15 minutes because that is all the time I have right now.  But, I have a voice and I cannot keep quiet. Not any longer.



Yesterday was a historic day in North Carolina. Schools closed so that teachers could rally in our state capital to encourage better public education funding in our state. This rally has made national news. It has created debates about teacher salaries in our state. Frankly, it's created controversy.

I'm a parent of two children in North Carolina's public schools and I support our teachers 100 percent. I've read some of the public comments in the New York Times and I became angry. Comments such as:

"They don't work eight hours a day and they have summers off."
"A lot of other people make less money."

You know what? That is true. There are a lot of people who do make less money. This rally was not just about salaries, but public education funding in general. But, I am going to talk money for a minute and the salaries for a teaching profession. 

I, too, was ignorant when I was 23-years-of age working full-time in television and made eight thousand dollars a year less than a starting teaching salary of $24k at the time in North Carolina.  I even thought about leaving TV and perhaps trying to teach drama and journalism in high school.  I said to myself, "They are not on call, they don't even work in the summer and they can get holidays off and I would make almost 10K more a year." 

 I didn't do it. I did not leave my job for teaching. I guess I got cold feet or didn't want to go back to school to get that lateral education degree. I'm not sure what happened, but I decided to take a different path professionally. 

It is a true statement that most teachers do not go into their profession for money. They typically do it because they like to help people. Same thing with those in the social work field.  A job also can't be just about the money, especially when you talk about education. It takes the right person to do that job. Good teachers inspire and mentor. Good teachers make learning seem like the easiest thing to do on this planet. 

I would have failed as a teacher. I would have received an F grade because after becoming a parent, I now know that I do not have the personality to deal with students. In fact, on many days I do not even like children. That includes my own two children so I pretty much know I would fail miserably with someone's child. 

Notice I said like. Not love. I love my children and because I love my children I became heavily involved in my elementary school's PTA. I even took on the role as President. I have served on committees that help give PTA grants for innovative teaching and programs. Through my years of spending a lot of time in school, I have have had the privilege of seeing a very realistic behind the scenes look at our public schools.

Is my perception different than my life before having a family of my own?  Absolutely. I have so much respect for our educators. 

"Respect. Amazement and Awe" 

That sums up how I feel about the educators. My children go to really good public schools. The staff and leadership at these schools are amazing. These individuals work a lot more than eight hours a day. They work nights, early mornings and weekends. The work does not stop when the school dismisses. 

I could go on and on to convince others to feel like I do, but that is just wasted words on so many. Many people would not last one day as an educator. As parents, we trust these people to mold and shape our children into educated adults. A lot rides on this profession.  I've seen great educators who have a gift with children, especially male, leave this profession because they can make more money doing sales or something else. 

I've seen other people have successful careers in the private sector then leave it because their first love is education. 

I've seen the school receptionist hold a kid's hair back in the sick room who was vomiting. I've seen the attitudes that educators see daily in their classrooms. Some educators provide a stable role model when a child's home life sucks. To me, our educators are right up there after GOD.  I'll go ahead and put God first then educators second. That's how important they are to me. 

I have so much respect for all education staff. I thank all teachers for their service. I'm glad you did what you did yesterday. 

Our education system deserves the best.

My fifteen minutes are up and I'm now going to be late for an appointment.  Thanks for letting me get on a soapbox today.  It doesn't happen often, but when it does, you can feel sure I believe in the cause. 

And one more note....if you are local and can vote for Julie Von Haefen for State House. Take the time to learn more about her. She's a friend of mine. Unfortunately,  I do not live her district, but she is the voice for change that our public education system needs. 





5.10.2018

Hotels in England have Royal Wedding Fever, Too

I love a wedding. Make it a royal wedding and I can't contain myself. I will set an alarm clock and watch the events unfold live on TV this month. No one better disturb me.

Meghan Markle and Prince Harry  Before Wedding
Photo: Kensington Palace 

I will not be making a child a bowl of cereal on this morning. My children are now 12 and 8. They know how to make their own bowl of cereal as does my husband. Someone else must let out the dog. Well, I may do that during a commercial break. I'm sure he will be snuggled up with me watching the wedding, too.

I also vow not to wake my husband or children that early in the morning. I've already been told that I should sleep upstairs and use the big TV in our bonus room.  It's new. We bought it when we moved in our house. It's big and away from everyone. The only thing I need to learn to do before May 19 is how to turn that TV on. I always sit down and someone else does it for me, that is when I take the time to watch TV in that room.

But, I'm not the only person with royal wedding fever. This wedding is huge for Britain's tourism market and many of the hotels are marketing the fun, too.

Are you also named Named Harry and Meghan?...

Wonder what the chances are for an actual couple to also be called Harry and Meghan or even spelled as Megan?  I'm sure it's possible and those lucky people can apply to stay complimentary at either Mercure London Kensington or Mercure London Hyde Park on May 19.

Which one would you choose?



Royal Tea Adjacent Buckingham Palace


If you love to partake in afternoon tea then London is a wonderful place, but the Rubens at the Palace offers guests the Royal Tea with an overnight stay. As the Queen's neighbor adjacent to Buckingham Palace, the hotel has a package that wants you to live like a royal, too. From July 23 to September 30th, Rubens at the Palace will offer this special package that includes two nights accommodations, royal afternoon tea, a royal cocktail or your choice.  royal turndown service, full English Breakfast, and tickets to the State Rooms in Buckingham Palace.  How cool is that? I want to do that.

The hotel is also offering  Royal Wedding Celebration Tea on May 18 and 19, the weekend of the wedding.  To mark the occasion, the hotel's Executive Head Chef has created “The Royal Wedding Celebration Afternoon Tea”, consisting of four specially created pastries inspired by Royal wedding cakes of the past.  The ceremony will be screened live. 


Royal Tea at Rubens at the Palace


Feel like a Princess with a Horse-Drawn Carriage Ride Around London 

Leading Hotels of the World hotels are known for luxury and extravagance.  The 5-Star Boutique Hotel The Milestone Hotel and Residences will have you swooning with envy with its Royal Engagement Package. 

Shoot. I'm turning 50 this year and I just want to do it for my birthday.   Wonder if I can convince Will to pretend we just got engaged. The package is valid until the end of the year. This great opportunity comes with a photography session, your own Bently ride, your own horse and carriage, royal tea service, a private tour of Kensington Palace and a lot of wonderful memories.

Who will be watching the wedding of Prince Harry and Ms. Meghan Markle?


As Prince Harry and Meghan Markle get ready to Wed. London is excited and has Wedding Packages that will make you also feel Royal.

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