Savor Summer with a Southern Tomato Pie

We are in prime tomato season right now in North Carolina. In fact, I'm eating about one tomato a day. I love tomatoes. This is the best season to have a Southern tomato sandwich. For me, that's white bread, Duke's Mayo, a ripe NC tomato with some salt and pepper. Oh my gosh, that sandwich cannot be beaten.

Summer is also the best time to make a tomato pie. Tomato pies make a great side dish or even a main meal with a salad.

Southern Tomato Pie with Parm Cheese.
Southern Tomato Pie

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

I also use an alternate version of Southern Tomato Pie with onions, pepper, and different cheeses.  I also use a Pillsbury pie crust. 

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. I guess it you really wanted you could add some bacon to the tomato pie as well or serve it on the side. Enjoy!

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

CATS the Musical was my First Real Exposure to the Arts: Why Pushing Kids when they Don't Want to Do Something is Important

Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. I'm off-topic for my usual banter on this blog, but it was a big day in movie trailers this week. Honestly, I feel as if my teens are coming back to life. Do I need to look at a calendar? Is it the eighties again? All I need now is for Madonna to go back on tour and I'll be golden.

First off, Tom Cruise will be back as Maverick in a Top Gun sequel. I declared on social media that I may actually go to a movie theater again. I really can't remember the last time I went to one.

No, seriously. I can't.

When you're two aging parents going into different directions with kids all the time then the last thing you want to do is pay $40 to go to a movie plus pay $40 for a babysitter to sit in a gigantic room with people munching over food and creating light because they just cannot turn off that device. Seriously. I rarely talk to my spouse now. I have no desire to pay $80, be alone with him, and still not talk to him.

But then over coffee this morning,  I woke up to the trailer of the new movie, "CATS!"  The cats look a little creepy so I don't know if Liza will want to go see it with me, but perhaps if I talk up Taylor Swift, I can expose her to the same exact musical that made me fall in love with the arts so many years ago.

I saw Cats on Broadway in 1982 with the original cast just one month after it opened. I was thirteen. And to be totally honest, I griped about going to see it.

You see, I have not always been a crazy dog person like I am in my older years.  In my younger days, I was the most loyal cat lover ever, but when my Mom told me that the Musical about CATS that I was about to see on Broadway was based on a collection of whimsical poetry called  T.S.Elliott's Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats, I resisted.

I probably did more than balk. I more than likely threw a fit like I saw my own daughter do just yesterday over something very trivial.

It did not matter how much I complained that day though. We were going to that show no matter what and I had to listen to boring poetry being sung in orchestra seats, and then afterward, we had to talk to one of the main cats, Mr. Mistoffolees in a theatre panel.

I'm sure I thought at the time, "Just kill me now!" We were on a drama department trip with the University in the town where I lived it.

When I look back on that trip thirty-seven years ago, I realized I was the luckiest person in the world on that day and that one moment changed my life forever.

From the moment we got into our seats and saw the oversized sets, life as I saw it would be different.

The house lights went off. The theater was black except for twinkling lights that resembled cat eyes. It was slightly spooky.  A cat slinked by me and stared into my face.

My former disgust of knowing I had to listen to poetry being sung by a bunch of people dressed as cats slowly turned to mesmerization.

Then there was Rum Tum Tugger. He reminded me of my own yellow tomcat, Sonny.

"The Rum Tum Tugger is a curious cat
And there isn't any call for me to shout it
For he will do as he do do
And there's no doing anything about it!"

Rum  Tum Tugger Poem by T.S. Elliott from Cats

Thirty-seven years after reading the poem I've discovered that I'm part  Rum Tum Tugger, too. I kind of do as I do do, and there's no doing anything about it!

What I write might not be popular or viral on the internet these days, but I do it because I want to do it even though advisors may say I should focus on something else to be more successful.

On that one night in 1982, the magic happened.


And you'll all say:
Oh! Well I never! Was there ever
A cat so clever as magical Mr. Mistoffelees!"

That night I was a tween made to DO something that I did not really want to do. 

But, after I did it. 

I bought that poem book.

I still own that poem book to this day. 

I became interested in drama. After that night, I went on to be in several plays and musicals. Unfortunately, I can't sing so one is kind of limited in musicals when you can't sing. But, I still was in shows.

I served on Arts Councils in my professional years. 
I have a liberal arts degree.  I almost had a minor in theater. 

I work in the arts now. Writing is a form of art. 

I made Will see Cats in London's West End. He didn't love it and will certainly not want to go see the movie.

His response when I told him about the trailer was simply, "Why?"

The moral of this little blogging tale is that one night of doing something I was made to do opened up a whole new world for me. 

Thank goodness for doing something you did not want to do.

CATS the Musical was my First Real Exposure to the Arts: Why Pushing Kids when they Don't Want to Do Something is Important #Inspiration #Parenting #RaisingKids

We all know a cat has nine lives. It's never too late to open your eyes and start something new.

What is something you didn't want to do, but you do it then it made an impact on you?

Cats the movie will be in movie theaters this holiday season.  Will you go? 

Disclosure: Kids may not want to get braces either, but sometimes they just have to do what they need to do. My thanks to HinesSightBlog sponsor, The Miami Orthodontist, Derek Sanders, DMD MDS, for being a July editorial sponsor and for keeping me at my desk writing and exploring #OutaboutNC.

Healthy Recipe: Warm Quinoa Salad with Fresh Cherries

Cherries. They are sweet with a bit of tartness. They are filled with health benefits.  Life is perfect with a bowl of fresh cherries.

Fresh cherries are summer fruits and are in season late June, July and August.
Post Updated July 2019

At least my daughter thinks so. She has eaten so many fresh cherries this month that I've lost count. They are filled with fiber and powerful antioxidants. It's food that I am glad she is eating.

Most cherries are grown in our Northwest state.  More than likely, what you find in your grocery store will be from this part of the country.

The Northwest is known for seven varieties including Bing cherries, the most popular cherry in North America, and the unique golden-blushed Rainiers. Other popular varieties include the deep juicy sweet Tietons and heart-shaped Chelans on the shelves now, and late-season Lapins, dark Skeenas, and bright red Sweethearts. Aside from the light-hued Rainier (and its many sub-varieties), consumers can typically spot sweet cherries by their darker red skins – in general, the darker, the sweeter. Fresh cherries should be kept in a tightly sealed bag or container and will keep for approximately two weeks when refrigerated. Rinse just before eating for best longevity.

I used Chelans from Washington for this healthy recipe. They were dark, sweet and delicious.

You could use this dish as a vegetarian entree or a side dish.  Once I prepared it, I ate it a lot for a late breakfast or lunch.  Liza,  my daughter, would not eat this. She continued to eat her cherries plain.

Healthy side dish or entree with quinoa and fresh cherries

Warm Quinoa Salad with Fresh Cherries 


1 cup of quinoa cooked in vegetable or chicken broth
fresh basil
20 fresh cherries, quartered and pitted
15 ounce can of chickpeas, drained and rinsed
2 tablespoons of Olive Oil
Green onions (optional)
1 tablespoon of white wine or white balsamic vinegar
1/2 teaspoon of Himalayan Pink Salt or more as needed
1/4 teaspoon of black pepper
Crumbled Feta Cheese

Prepare quinoa as directed. Once quinoa is ready, combine all ingredients except feta cheese in mixing bowl.  Add additional salt or pepper to your taste. Once mixed, serve in bowls and top with feta cheese.


When eating leftovers, I reheat in the microwave and eat in warm.

A very easy recipes with quinoa using fresh cherries. #cherries #healthyeating #sidedishes

To learn more about cherries, visit

Updated July 2019 

Disclosure: My thanks to HinesSightBlog sponsor RiverRun Dental Spa in Richmond, Va for being a July blog sponsor. My sponsors keep me at my desk writing editorial content and #OutaboutNC. 

Why You Should Attend NC's Premier Social Media Conference at The Carolina Inn in Chapel Hill

The landscape of social media changes daily. One thing that I've learned in my stint as an online digital publisher in the past eight years is that you can never stop learning and connecting.

When the Carolina Inn in Chapel Hill, NC invited me to be part of its first-ever social media conference called #Innfluenced2019, I knew I wanted to be there.

NC Blogger Leigh Powell Hines talks Social Media and Blogging
Photo by Curious Notions Photography

In my career as a blogger, I have floundered many times. Sometimes, it seemed like I had more unsuccesses than successes. As a self-employed businesswoman who still works to do this online publishing gig part-time while my primary focus still remains with raising my children, now 13 and 9, I feel as if  I have created a small business that has the workload of a 60-hour week.  But yet, I don't have enough hours to work. I am constantly saying, "Oh, I want to do this or do that story." As a former TV journalist who served as my own assignment editor, I have the ability to find a good story or angle. My years of education in journalism at UNC-Chapel Hill taught me well.

However, I never have enough time to do all that I need to do to make this business grow and raise my family. So, a lot of my story ideas remain in the black hole of "one day I may do this story on the blog."

And of course, it's also nice to write editorial content for my audience, but I do not work for public relations people. I work for myself and I know very few public relations people ( I've been one myself) who will craft story ideas, write news releases and tell a story without being paid anything.

I have to find sponsors to help pay me for my time. Yes, I love to write, share things, but I also value my own time because, like most working people, I want to have some income and have obligations to do things for my family.

I've never really discussed my goals because I rarely ever talk about the business side of blogging, but I know that what I do now with my blog and social media is my passion. Every year,  I want to do more work than the year prior, but I don't want to do it just for my own enjoyment. Money needs to be behind it somehow whether that be through sponsorships, brand posts or advertising.

In five years, I will have more time to run this business, hopefully. We never truly know the future. My son will be in his last year in high school and my daughter will be in her last year of middle school. When Will decides to retire, I hope to kick it up a notch because when I get in my home office to work on my projects, it does not feel like work to me but instead brings me joy.  I imagine an actor feels the same way when he or she does a role. I really do not have any other way to explain it.

The age of 50 has been my year of a reboot after a few years of soul-searching on what is it I want to do. Where do I want to head in the future? Who am I? What story do I have to tell? And the biggest question of all is why would anyone even care? I wrestle with that one a lot especially when it comes to social media because that is new for me. I've had to learn on the job. I also find that it changes just as soon as I learn something I feel like is the right way.

#Innfluenced 2019_Social Media Conference

People like to say social media is for the Millenials. In my opinion, Gen X is going to get more social media savvy each year. More and more people Gen X people or even Baby Boomers will start using Instagram because it's the only way they will be able to see their grandchildren. My own mother-in-law tells me every so often that she needs to break down and get Instagram because she's missing all the action because they never post to Facebook anymore.

Professionally, social media has changed the world's digital landscape. We are connected more than ever. It's changed how events are covered. It gives people professional opportunities. Social media gives every single person a chance to have a voice, a platform and be their own boss.  It's not going anywhere, but it will change from year to year and we will have to learn to grow with it.

With all of this new social media opportunity, however, comes a new wave of blogs, YouTube shows, and social media channels.  Unfortunately,  everyone is out there in this space screaming for attention. Businesses are also looking for your attention as well. What may have started out as something fun for people to do online is now a billion-dollar marketing industry.

If you are a business, blogger, online social media user, join me at #Innfluenced2019 in Chapel Hill, NC at the Carolina Inn August 23-25.  At this conference, we will learn to:

Empower. Expand. Engage

Early Bird Price until July 15 is $299
Admission Price July 16 and after is $349
There is 10% off for groups of more who attend together.
Buy Influenced 2019 Tickets here:

I  look forward to meeting you.

Love Social Media?  NC Carolina will have #Innfluenced2019 at the Carolina Inn August 23-25 in Chapel Hill, NC.

Disclosure: I am a media partner for this Innfluenced2019 Conference. All my fees and hotels lodgings will be covered by the conference.

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