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Food Bytes PG Cookbook The Food Chain
Kitchen Mailbox Countdown to Dinner Dining
Guys check in with savory recipes

Thursday, April 29, 1999

We all know men can cook. With today's busy lifestyles it's expected, so it's not surprising that today's Kitchen Mailbox recipes are from guys just as comfortable clutching a ladle as the TV remote.

Tom (Big Mac) McCreary of Bethel Park is just such a guy (his wife does the shopping). Big Mac has compiled a cookbook of his favorites dishes, and he was generous enough to share some of his recipes. The first, Big Mac's Vegetable Soup, is a satisfying, flavorful soup. There's not much to do with this soup but let it simmer while the flavors blend. Everyone will love Sausage, Macaroni and Cheese Casserole -- the combination is surprisingly tasty.

Our last recipe comes from Hershey Dugan, the former owner of the Pancake House in Monroeville. His recipe for Afternoon Focaccia uses frozen bread dough (there are numerous recipes using frozen bread dough, but we found this to be one of our favorites). Use your imagination for toppings. We made a dipping sauce for our focaccia, using a combination of olive oil and balsamic vinegar.


Big Mac's Vegetable Soup

1 1/2 to 2 pounds of sirloin tip, cut into cubes, or equal amount cubed stew meat cut into smaller chunks
2 medium onions, chopped
1/2 head red or green cabbage, shredded
3 cups tomato juice
1/2 cup barley (optional)
1 large bay leaf
2 14 1/2-ounce cans beef broth
1 teaspoon lemon pepper
2 16-ounce cans diced tomatoes
1 16-ounce bag frozen, mixed vegetables
4 cups water

In stockpot, brown meat and onions in 1 teaspoon oil. Add cabbage, tomato juice, barley, bay leaf, beef broth and lemon pepper. Cook until the cabbage is slightly tender about 10 minutes; add tomatoes, vegetables and water. Simmer for about 2 hours or until barley is soft and the soup has thickened. Discard bay leaf before serving.


Sausage, Macaroni and Cheese Casserole

2 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup chopped green or red pepper or combination of both
1 small onion, chopped
1/2 pound pork sausage (break- fast sausage)
1 box macaroni-and-cheese dinner
1/2 cup grated Cheddar cheese
1/2 cup milk
Bread crumbs

Saute green pepper and onion in butter until soft, about 5 minutes. Cook sausage; drain well. Cook macaroni and cheese according to package directions.

Mix pepper, onion, sausage, prepared macaroni and cheese dinner, Cheddar cheese and milk together. Turn into casserole dish and top with bread crumbs. Bake at 350 degrees for 1/2 hour. Makes 6 servings.

Note: This recipe can be varied by replacing bulk hot sausage (which is what we used) for the pork sausage and substituting one can of Cheddar cheese soup for the 1/2 cup Cheddar or adding 2 tablespoons of picante sauce. We doubled this recipe by using a family-size macaroni and cheese dinner, 1 pound sweet hot sausage, 3/4 cup Cheddar cheese and 3 tablespoons butter.


Afternoon Focaccia

1 pound prepared bread dough (one loaf, thawed)
4 teaspoons roasted garlic oil, see note
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, fresh- ly grated (we used a combina- tion of Romano and Parmesan)
2 teaspoons fresh, chopped rosemary
1/4 cup walnuts

Separate dough into 4 equal parts. Roll each piece into a 5-inch circle. Bake at 350 degrees for 10 minutes. Remove from oven and brush with oil. Sprinkle evenly with remaining ingredients and return to oven. Bake at 350 degrees for about 15-20 minutes or until golden around the edges. Slice each round in half. Serves 8.

Nutritional analysis per serving: Calories, 220; protein, 8 grams; carbohydrates, 36 grams; fat, 8 grams; cholesterol, 4 mg.

Note: We found a 1.7-ounce bottle of garlic oil at Giant Eagle for 99 cents.


Marion Springer of Gibsonia is desperately seeking the Chocolate Mousse recipe served at Dingbats Restaurant.

J Joan Cairns of McCandless said Kaufmann's used to make a butterscotch topping for its pecan ball and she would love to have the recipe.

Who has a good old-fashioned rice pudding recipe? If anyone does, please send it. Marilyn Hogg of Bethel Park would love to have it.


Here's a letter from Agnes Matrosky of Carnegie that we would like to share with our readers:

"I want to thank you and your readers for sending the oil pie crusts and icing recipes. I baked a cake and used the recipe for the Smooth 'n' Creamy Frosting -- it was delicious. Next week I will try a recipe for pie crust and Chocolate Philly Frosting. My son will be so happy to know there are people who answer requests -- and he can now enjoy his apple pie and cake.

"Thank you for taking the time and God bless all of you."

-- By Arlene Burnett

If you want to answer a recipe request from a reader or are looking for a recipe yourself, please write to Kitchen Mailbox, c/o Arlene Burnett, 34 Blvd. of the Allies, Pittsburgh 15222. Please include a name, neighborhood and a daytime phone number. All recipes are kitchen-tested by the Post-Gazette.

If you want to answer a recipe request from a reader or are looking for a recipe yourself, please write to Kitchen Mailbox, c/o Arlene Burnett, 34 Blvd. of the Allies, Pittsburgh 15222. Please include a name, neighborhood and a daytime phone number. All recipes are kitchen-tested by the Post-Gazette.

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