Meals with Marge

Most of us consume a large number of tomatoes in different forms, from whole tomatoes, juice, sauce, etc., especially in the summer months.

Tomatoes have reached their peak in most of our gardens, but not in mine. My tomato plants did not do well this year. On two plants of small tomatoes, the skin was tough even though the tomato was tasty. Another plant had blemishes on the underside of each tomato as it ripened. I believe it was due to an unseasonable cool spring.

Before reading the recipes, take the time to read this story about just how important the tomato is.

An unemployed man with a wife and three kids is finding it hard to find a job. He applies for a janitor position at $8.35 per hour, only to have the job offer withdrawn when they find out that he doesn’t have a computer or e-mail to fill out forms and get into their system. Dejected, he leaves and walks by a farmer’s market that is selling 25-pound crates of tomatoes. He buys a crate with the $10 in his pocket, carries the crate to a busy corner and begins selling the tomatoes. He makes 100 percent profit and repeats the process before returning home with several bags of groceries. He decides to continue selling tomatoes and within a short time he multiples his profit. The second week he acquires a cart to carry the tomatoes and after a month sells the cart to buy a broken-down pickup truck.

At the end of the year, he owns three old trucks. His two sons help him with the tomato business, his wife is buying the tomatoes he sells, and his daughter is keeping the books.

By the end of the second year, he has a dozen nice used trucks and employs 15 previously unemployed people.

At the end of the fifth year, he owns a fleet of nice trucks and a warehouse, his boys manage two tomato farms, and he is employing hundreds of homeless and jobless people.

At this time he decides to buy some life insurance. The insurance adviser asks him for his e-mail address in order to send the final documents electronically. The insurance advisor is stunned when the man says that he doesn’t have time to mess with a computer and has no e-mail address. The insurance advisor says, “No computer, no internet? Just think where you’d be today if you’d had all of that five years ago.” The man laughs and says, “If I’d had e-mail five years ago, I would be sweeping floors at Microsoft and making $8.35 an hour.”

There are a lot of lessons to be learned from this story, but I like to think that since this is a recipe column we’ll leave it at this: Never underestimate the impact this beautiful, red vegetable can have in your recipes and sometimes even in your life!

Cheese-Topped Grilled Tomatoes

Makes 4 servings

  • 4 plum or small vine-ripened tomatoes, cut lengthwise in half
  • ¼ cup Zesty Italian reduced fat dressing
  • ½ cup shredded low-moisture part-skim Mozzarella cheese
  • 2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh herbs (basil, chives and/or parsley)

Preheat grill to medium-high heat. Place tomatoes, cut-sides up on greased 8-inch square foil pan.

Drizzle with dressing; sprinkle evenly with cheeses. Place pan on grate of grill; close lid.

Grill: 10 to 12 minutes or until cheeses are melted and bottoms of tomatoes are browned. Sprinkle with herbs just before serving.

The following recipe I made for us last week. It was very good—the only thing I would change would be to use a shredded cheese, like a Mexican blend, which would give it a little more taste. I liked it the way it was, but Stan needed more taste.

Mexican Corn Bread

Makes about 6 servings

  • 1 lb. ground meat
  • 1 box Jiffy Cornbread mix
  • 1/3 cup milk
  • 1 can cream-style corn
  • Chopped onion—about ½ of a medium size onion
  • 1 cup shredded cheese of your choice—mild, sharp or Mexican blend

Saute meat with onions until cooked through.

Combine bread mix, milk, corn and ½ shredded cheese together. Spread half of mixture in greased square cake pan. Then spread meat/onion mixture on top. Spread final layer of bread mixture on top and sprinkle remaining cheese.

Bake at 350 F for 25 minutes. If recipe is doubled add 5 to 10 minutes to bake time and use larger pan. Good served with sour cream and/or salsa.

This is one of my favorite desserts.

Cool Strawberry Brulee

Makes 4 servings

Divide 2 cups sliced strawberries among four 8-ounce dessert dishes. Sprinkle 1 teaspoon Demerara (raw sugar) over berries in each dish. With a whisk or electric mixer, beat ½ cup whipping cream until soft peaks form. Fold in 1/3 cup vanilla yogurt. Spread mixture over berries in dishes.

Sprinkle an additional 1 teaspoon raw sugar over each. Chill for at least 2 hours.

Easy Baked Drumsticks

Serves about 10

(I cut the recipe in half for 2 to 3 people)

  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • juice of one lemon
  • 2 teaspoons garlic powder
  • 2 teaspoons onion powder
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • ¼ cup Soy or Worcestershire Sauce
  • ¼ cup brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 10 chicken drumsticks

In a medium bowl, whisk together the olive oil, lemon juice, garlic powder, onion powder, salt, soy or Worcestershire sauce, brown sugar, pepper and paprika.

Add the chicken drumsticks to a large zip-top bag and pour the marinade over the chicken. Close the bag and massage the marinade into the chicken for a few seconds.

Refrigerate the chicken in the marinade for at least 30 minutes. For best flavor allow the chicken to marinade for 2 hours or more.

Preheat the oven to 425 F. Line a large baking sheet with foil and spray with cooking spray.

Arrange the chicken in an even layer on prepared baking sheet and bake in preheated oven for about 40 minutes. Flip the chicken and cook for an additional 5 to 10 minutes, until cooked through.

Enjoy the simple pleasures of life and, of course, eat well.

Call or email me with questions or comments. I can be reached at 920-980-3885 or email

Send your favorite recipes to be included in this column to me at The Sheboygan Sun, 606 Fremont St., Kiel, WI 53042. Please include your name and phone number in the event I have questions.

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