Sunday, August 19, 2012

We're moving!

It's a work-in-progress, but we're moving over to our new site, Life's A Tomato.

We'll be posting more recipes, more places, more ... everything! And we'll bring some of the old along with us.

So join us at Life's A Tomato!

Monday, August 13, 2012

Ballreich's Potato Chips - Smokey Sweet Barbecue

Sadly, I'm nearing the end of my journey through eating 7 different flavored chips from Ballreich's. Happily, these smokey sweet barbecue chips are definitely one of my favorites.

Like the other Ballreich chips I've tried, the chips themselves are great. Thick. Wavy (er.. marcelled, named after a popular 1920s wavy hairstyle). Crunchy. And they taste like potatoes.

Prior to smokey sweet barbecue, I'd have to say that the sour cream and onion was my favorite flavor. Ballreich's makes another BBQ-flavored chip, but it is more edgy and tangy. The smokey sweet barbecue chips are just that. Smooth, with a little smoke and a hint of sweet. This is a great chip. Great for parties or the big game, or anything.

You can find my reviews of the other Ballreich's flavors below:

Sour cream and Onion
Cheddar and Sour cream

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Grilled Green Beans

This is the easiest side to make on the grill. I try and make everything I can outside on the grill, specially when it is hot out.

Add some diced white onion for extra flavor. I like to serve beans in a small glass jar. It just looks a little spiffier.

Makes: 4 servings
Prep time: 5 minutes
Cook time: 10-15 minutes
Printable Recipe


  • 1 pound green beans
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/4 cup white onion, diced (optional)
  • Pinch red pepper flakes, to taste
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • 2 tablespoons water

1. Preheat grill for indirect cooking.

2. Tear off a large piece of aluminum foil.

3. Combine beans, oil, garlic, red pepper and salt and pepper in a large bowl. Place in center of foil.

4. Add 2 tablespoons of water and seal the packet tight.

5. Place over indirect heat and cook until the beans are just tender, 10-15 minutes.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Uncle Oinker's Bacon Mints

Always on the lookout for something bacony for me, Anita picked up a box of these mints from ThinkGeek.

How are they? Well, they're a little minty. And a little bacony! (They are bacon mints, after all!)

Perfect for that first (or 100th) date. Let that someone you love know you care by having bacony breath.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Grilled Hobo Packets

I was surprised as to how well these came out. The first time I made them, they were a little bland, so I made a few changes the second time and they turned out great!

These are very easy to make and cook. They're perfect for a hot evening when you don't want to heat up the house - everything is all in one simple packet.

Makes: 6-8 servings
Prep time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 20-30 minutes
Printable Recipe


  • 1 pound summer (or smoked) sausage, cut into bite-sized pieces
  • 4 medium potatoes, cut into 1/2" cubes
  • 1 medium head green cabbage, shredded
  • 1 large sweet onion, cut into chunks
  • 1 medium green pepper, chopped
  • 1 medium sweet red pepper, chopped
  • 1 medium zucchini, sliced
  • 1 medium squash, sliced
  • 1 pound chicken tenderloins (or breast), cut into bite-sized pieces
  • 2 medium tomatoes, cut into wedges
  • 1/2 stick butter, cut into cubes
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • Cajun seasoning, to taste
  • Italian salad dressing

1. Set up your grill for indirect cooking.

2. Tear off 4 large sheets of aluminum foil.

3. Combine all the but the seasoning and dressing in a large bowl. Toss to mix.

4. Divide the mixture between each piece of foil, creating a pile in the middle.

5. Season each packet with the Cajun seasoning (and/or salt and pepper) and seal well. Place over medium high heat and cook 20-30 minutes or until the potatoes are tender and the chicken is done.

6. Serve drizzled with a little dressing.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Ballreich's Potato Chips - Hot-n-Sassy

This is the fourth flavor of Ballreich's potato chips that I've tried. The first three, sour cream and onion, cheddar and sour cream, and Bar-B-Q, were on the gentler side. Time to kick things up a bit!

Look at the picture below, and you'll know that you're in from something hot. And sassy. It's going to sneak up on you, too. You'll eat the first crunchy, potatoy, yummy chip, and you might think... Hmpf, not hot and not sassy... Then WHAM! Whoa nellie! The hot and sassy arrives!

Now, I'd still take a few big bags of these chips to the next family get-together. I'd make sure your grandma stayed away from them, though. She's probably more the sour cream and onion type. I'd put the hot-n-sassy down at the other end of the table, near the beer cooler.

Like the other Ballreich's chips, these are marcelled (wavy), thick, and super crunchy. And you can still taste the potato even with all that sass. Try some and get ready for a kick!
Other flavors of Ballreich's potato chips I've tried:

Sour cream and Onion
Cheddar and Sour cream

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Country Sausage Gravy

If you haven't ever checked out the BBQ Pit Boys, you should. They make some of the best food around. Their videos on YouTube are instructional, very well made, and everything they make will make you hungry. And the soundtracks are even good!

This country style sausage came from their video. It's fantastic and pretty easy. Great over biscuits or country-fried steak.

Makes: 4 servings
Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 30 minutes
Printable Recipe


  • 4 slices thick-cut bacon
  • 1 pound bulk pork sausage
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 1 small red onion, chopped
  • 2 large cloves garlic, minced
  • 4 tablespoons all-purpose flour (plus more, maybe)
  • 2 cups whole milk (plus more)
  • 2 chicken bouillon cubes, ground
  • 1 teaspoon dried sage
  • 1 teaspoon  thyme
  • 1 teaspoon Cajun seasoning (I used Slap Ya Mama Hot)
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tablespoon fresh parsley, chopped
  • 4 tablespoons green onion, chopped, divided

1. Heat a cast iron skillet over medium-high heat. Add in the bacon and cook until crisp. Remove.

2. Crumble the sausage into the skillet and cook until done. Remove.

3. Add in the butter. Melt and add the red onion. Cook until the onion just starts to soften.

4. Add the garlic and cook for 30 seconds.

5. Next, make a roux by slowly adding the flour, stirring constantly. Cook and stir until the flour starts to brown, but don't burn it.

6. Add the milk, 1/2 cup at a time, while stirring constantly. The mixture will get good and thick.

7. Add the chicken bouillon, sage, thyme, Cajun seasoning, Worcestershire sauce, and salt (not much) and pepper to taste. Stir constantly.

8. Add the meat back in, along with half of the green onion and parsley. Stir and heat through. Add more milk if necessary.

9. Serve garnished with remaining green onion.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Ballreich's Potato Chips - Bar-B-Q

This is the third flavor of Ballreich's potato chips that I've tried. The first two, sour cream and onion and cheddar and sour cream were great (with sour cream and onion being my favorite).

The BBQ-flavored chips would be great at a party or family get-together. They're not in-your-face-BBQy. It's a very mellow, slightly tangy flavor. Not sweet, and not hot. They wouldn't offend your grandma or your in-laws like your favorite habanero-flavored chips might.

Like all Ballreich's chips that I've tried, these are thick, tasty, and crunchy. And they are marcelled (the name of a popular wavy hairstyle from the 1920s), making them rigid enough to stand up to even the thickest of dips. They are salted and seasoned just right. Try some!

Other flavors of Ballreich's potato chips I've tried:

Sour cream and Onion
Cheddar and Sour cream

Monday, August 6, 2012

Bean Salad

Well, this was supposed to be a garden bean salad, but thanks to the bad drought this year, beans are hard to find. So, I used canned beans instead. I was very happy with the results.

 You can pretty much use whatever beans you like or have on hand.

This salad is very much like my mom's bean salad, except that it uses red onion instead of white, and apple cider vinegar instead of red wine vinegar. Both versions are great.

Makes: 6-8 servings
Prep time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 1 hour
Printable Recipe


  • 1/2 medium red onion, diced
  • 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3 cans beans, rinsed and drained (green, wax, kidney, white, etc)
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh parsley
  • Salt and pepper

1. Place the onion in a bowl of water and soak for 10 minutes. Drain well.

2. In a small bowl,whisk together the vinegar, sugar and 1/2 teaspoon of salt. Drizzle in the oil while still whisking.

3. Place the beans in a large bowl. Add in the onions and dressing. Mix well. Sprinkle with the parsley and season with salt and pepper.

4. Let set at room temperature for 1 hour, stirring occasionally, before serving.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Happy 12th Anniversary

It's Anita's and my wedding anniversary today! Anita found the perfect card a few years back, and I've been searching ever since for an even better one. I think I found it! It really does say it all, doesn't it?

(You can find it and others at Oh Geez Design)


Friday, August 3, 2012

His Place Eatery, Indianapolis, Indiana (Revisited)

Anita and I returned to His Place Eatery today for lunch. His Place is our favorite place to eat. The food is outstanding. Funny how we first went there with a Groupon. Those usually don't pan out. It certainly did for us.

His Place has some great lunch specials, but we had to go with the full-sized entrees. I chose one of my favorites, the smoked meatloaf (with a tangy BBQ sauce) , the green beans (you have to get green beans at His Place. They are beyond good.), and the coleslaw (a sweet slaw). Everything was soooo good.

Anita also had the meatloaf and green beans, with some dirty mashed potatoes (she passed on the good gravy). The potatoes are so yummy. You could just sit down with a bowl of them and a spoon and be very, very happy.

It's been a while since our first blog post on His Place Eatery. We can't wait to return again. I'm already thinking about getting the fried chicken again. That stuff is crazy good.

Ballreich's Potato Chips - Cheddar and Sour Cream

This is my second flavor of Ballreich's potato chips. The first, sour cream and onion, was a major winner.

The cheddar and sour cream chips are finger-licking good. You can see all of the flavoring in the picture below. Don't fear, it's not overwhelming like if you'd bite into a block of cheddar cheese dipped in sour cream. It's smooth, with a little sharp cheddar kick.

Like all of Ballreich's chips, these are thick, marcelled (wavy), and seasoned well. You can still taste the potato. And they hold up great to dip, bouncing around in the back of your car, or at a family get-together.

Ballreich's makes a bunch of other kinds of snacks besides potato chips. I'll definitely put them on my list of things to try!

Other flavors of Ballreich's potato chips I've tried:

 Sour cream and Onion

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Red Velvet Cake Jars

I rarely do desserts. I'm more an ice cream guy than a cake or pie guy. But, lately I've been using Mason jars for more and more things, and I thought... why not bake little cakes in them?

I used 1/2 pint jars for these. They are a little bigger than your standard sized cupcake, but I think they would work out great at a party. People can just grab a jar and a fork or spoon and eat up.

Makes: 8 servings
Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 15 minutes


  • 1 store bought cake mix (plus whatever you need to make it)
  • Butter or non-stick spray
  • 8 1/2 pint wide-mouth Mason jars
  • 1 store bought can of icing

1. Prepare the cake mix per the package instructions.

2. Butter or spray the insides of the jars. It's hard to get into the corners, so expect them to stick a bit.

3. Pour the cake mix into the jars. Place on baking sheets and bake per mix instructions. Test their doneness with a toothpick. You might have to cook them a bit longer than you would normally.

4. Let cool completely and cover with icing.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Ingrid 1960s Picnic Kit

Anita and I were out hitting all of the local (and not-so-local) antique malls when I came across this cool item. It's a 1960s picnic kit, completely new and never used.

There are 4 trays, red, green, yellow and orange, that are all held together as one with a rubber strap on each end.

Each try has 3 food compartments plus another for holding the utensils.

The utensils were all included, in their original packaging, along with salt and pepper packets!

The only tray that had a little damage was the yellow one, but it's perfectly usable. I'll be using this kit the next time we head to the local park for a lunch picnic.

I think this goes well with the 1960s BarBee-Q indoor grill I found recently!

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Ballreich's Potato Chips - Sour Cream and Onion

I'm continuing on my quest for the perfect chip. Well, chips. I don't have to have just one #1 you know? I'm making up the rules as I go!

This time I ordered a jumbo pack of 7 different flavors from Ballreich's chips, of Tiffin, Ohio. Ballreich's has been around since the 1920s, and I can see why. Their chips have really great flavor and texture and crunch. They have a very interesting history. Their chips are 'marcelled', which was a new term to me. Marcelled is the name of a popular wavy hairstyle from the 1920s.

I started out with sour cream and onion flavored chips.

These chips are insanely good. The salt level is just right, the crunch is great (those marcelled ridges really make for a great chip), and the flavoring is spot-on. And you can still taste the potato, an important thing in chips!

I love these chips. Of all the Ballreich's chips I tried, these are definitely at the top of my list. Not that the other flavors aren't good, it's just I think they really nailed it on the sour cream and onion variety. And the big bags are perfect for family get-togethers.

I'm looking forward to trying the rest of the flavors I ordered!

Monday, July 30, 2012

Smashburger, Hamilton, Ohio

Oh, we love a good burger, and boy did we find one. I was reading somewhere the other day that Smashburger was one of fastest growing hamburger chains, and that they have a very dedicated, almost cult, following. So, I went to their website, and lucky happy me, there's one not too far from Jungle Jim's International Market where we just happened to be going yesterday.

So off to Smashburger we went. The one in Bridgewater Falls is in a little strip mall in front of an outdoor, open mall. You order at the counter, and they bring the food out to you. Service was fast and very pleasant.

Anita ordered classic burger (American cheese, lettuce tomato, ketchup, onion, pickles, and smash sauce on an egg bun) with a fried egg on top and a side salad.

I also ordered the classic, but got it 'big' and a side of flash-fried veggie frites.

Smashburgers are made from 100% fresh Angus, smashed onto a hot griddle and cooked perfect. The toppings were all very, very fresh, as was Anita's salad. I absolutely loved my veggies. They are fried really quickly, hit with some sea salt, and served with a dipping sauce. They were really outstandingly good.

The burgers were messy, drippy, yummy, great. If I close my eyes while I'm eating, you know I'm enjoying it. Anita really liked hers too. She commented several times as to how fresh everything was.

I wish there was a Smashburger closer to Indianapolis. I think there will be soon since they are adding stores all over. I'd like to try the rest of their menu as everything on it sounds great! (Oh, and they also have beer... )

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Italian Pasta Salad

I've been on a pasta and potato salad kick lately. It's been really hot (and dry) here in Indiana. The beauty of salads is that I can make them in the morning when it is still cool out. Then, there's no additional work at dinner time. Perfect!

I found the original recipe for this salad here. I made a few minor changes.

Makes: 8-12 servings
Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 15 minutes
Printable Recipe


  • 1 pound dry pasta (I used farfalle, but bow-tie would also work well)
  • 2 cups cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 8 ounces fresh mushrooms, sliced
  • 2/3 cup Kalamata olives, pitted and sliced
  • 1 medium green bell pepper, diced
  • 1 cup balsamic vinaigrette salad dressing (I used Paul Newman's)
  • 1/4 cup mayonnaise
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • Salt and pepper

1. Cook pasta per package instructions. Drain well and let cool. Transfer to a large bowl.

2. Add the tomatoes, mushrooms, olives and bell pepper to the pasta and fold to combine.

3. Whisk together the salad dressing, mayo, and sugar. Add to the pasta mixture and fold to combine.

4. Season with salt and pepper. You may have to add a bit more dressing the next morning after the salad sits in the fridge.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Classic Pasta Salad

Nothing beats a good, old-fashioned pasta salad. I particularly like this one. You can add whatever else you want, like bacon. Or diced ham. Or cubed rotisserie chicken.

The addition of the minced sweet peppers really adds a lot to this salad. Don't leave them out.

Makes: 16-20 servings
Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 15 minutes
Printable Recipe


  • 1 pound dry elbow macaroni
  • 1 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • Salt and pepper
  • 2 ribs celery, diced
  • 1 medium red bell pepper, diced
  • 1/2 small red onion, diced
  • 3 green onions, sliced
  • 1/4 cup sweet piquanté peppers, minced
  • 1/4 cup fresh parsley, minced

1. Cook the pasta per the package instructions. Drain well and let cool. Place in a large bowl.

2. Whisk together the mayonnaise, vinegar, mustard, and sugar. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.

3. Add the remaining ingredients to the pasta and fold gently to combine.

4. Add in the dressing and fold to combine. Season with salt and pepper.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Hot Dogs with Onion, Chili, and Slaw

I was drooling over Chris' Tennessee Smoky Hot Dogs posting over on Nibble Me This, and thinking... boy, that sure sounds and looks great. But, I was in a bit of a hurry, so I changed it up to be a bit easier. It's not the same as Chris', but the inspiration is there!

Makes: 4 servings
Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 35 minutes
Printable Recipe


  • 1 sweet onion, cut into 1/4" rings
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1/4 teaspoon BBQ rub (or use Creole seasoning)
  • 1 can favorite chili
  • 1 14oz bag coleslaw mix
  • 1 slaw dressing (I used Marzetti's)
  • 8 premium beef hot dogs
  • 8 hot dog buns
  • Handful sharp cheese, shredded

1. Preheat grill.

2. Put onion slices on a sheet of aluminum foil. Top with the butter and seasoning. Seal and place over indirect heat on the grill for about 20 minutes or until the onion gets soft. Remove.

3. Warm the chili.

4. Mix coleslaw vegetables and dressing. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

5. Grill the dogs and toast the buns as desired.

6. Serve dogs topped with onion, chili, cheese and slaw.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Baked Creole Onion Rings

No, they are not deep-fried onion rings. Face it, you can't beat deep-fried onion rings. But, sometimes you have to do them a tad bit healthier. Like these baked Creole rings.

Panko bread crumbs are a wonderful thing. They make everything good and crunchy. Throw in some spicy Creole seasoning and these rings are actually pretty good. Almost addicting, really.

The original recipe came from Pam's Midwest Kitchen Korner.

Makes: 4 servings
Prep time: 5 minutes
Cook time: 12-20 minutes
Printable Recipe


  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons Creole seasoning, divided (or more, to taste)
  • 2 large egg whites, beaten lightly
  • 2 cups Panko bread crumbs
  • 1 large sweet onion, sliced into thick rings (or 2 onions if they are smaller)

1. Preheat your oven to 450 F.

2. Spray two baking sheets with non-stick spray.

3. Arrange 3 bowls in a row. In the first bowl mix the flour and half of the Creole seasoning. In the second bowl place the egg whites. Finally, in the third bowl combine the bread crumbs and the remaining Creole seasoning.

4. Separate the onion into individual rings. Dip them into the flour mixture first. Shake off the excess.

5. Next, dip the rings into the egg whites. Shake off the excess.

6. Last, dip the rings into the bread crumbs.

7. Arrange rings on the baking sheets and spray lightly with non-stick spray. Bake for 6 minutes

8. Gently flip the rings and bake another 6-10 minutes or until golden brown.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Pasta Salad with Dill and Ham

'Tis the season for pasta salads, and the more, the merrier.

A co-worker of Anita's gave her a Food Network calendar last Christmas. Each day has a different recipe. This one came out quite good. It's a fairly traditional pasta salad. Double the recipe for a big grill-out party.

Makes: 4-6 servings
Prep time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 15 minutes
Printable Recipe


  • 8 ounces pasta (elbow macaroni, etc)
  • 2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/3 cup sour cream
  • 1/4 medium red onion, minced
  • 6 ounces cooked ham, cut into small cubes
  • 3/4 cup frozen baby peas, thawed
  • 2 ribs celery, diced
  • 2 tablespoons fresh dill, chopped
  • Salt and pepper
  • 2 tablespoons milk

1. Cook pasta per package instructions. Drain well and let cool slightly. Transfer to a large bowl.

2. In a small bowl, combine the vinegar and mustard. Slowly drizzle in the olive oil while whisking.

3. Whisk in the sour cream and season with 2 teaspoons salt and pepper, to taste.

4. Add the onion, ham, peas, celery and dill to the pasta and mix. Add in the dressing and fold to coat the pasta. Season with more salt and pepper as desired.

5. If the pasta is a little dry, add some of the milk. You may need to add more the next day if you keep the salad overnight.