I’m Alive

It is hard to believe I have not created one post on my blog in over three years. A lot has happened in that time. I visited Yosemite National Park with my aunt and uncle in 2016. In 2017 my dog Buddy got a little brother. I don’t know his breed, Toby was given to me by someone who didn’t know what he was. He looks like Disney’s Tramp, but the artist that created Tramp was drawing her version of a mutt so that is no help. My mother passed away and I got married in 2018. I have read well over 200 books. And I have cooked a lot.

Tammy and Julio on 1/132/2019
 Tammy Sue and Julio   //    January 2019

My husband is latino and I am caucasion as evidenced above. We have two very different cultures at work in our home. This is obvious in our cooking. I love italian food and he loves spicy comfort food. I had plenty of spices on hand when we married so our kitchen works well for both of us. But anything I serve without extra heat I have to make sure he has some sort of hot pepper, whether it’s a spice or sauce, to put on his food. I rarely make anything anymore that I haven’t adjusted to a spicy version unless I am cooking solely for myself.

Some things never change. My Bacon Wrapped Chicken Stuffed with Cream Cheese and Jalapenos post is still the most popular thing I have ever shared. I feel the need to update that post since I now grill the peppers and I often marinate the stuffed chicken in spicy cajun marinade. I was living in Louisiana 9 years ago and there was a meat market that made them. They were so delicious. I can’t say I make them exactly the same because I had to make them based on something prepped by others. But they taste the same to me. It is a simple stuffed chicken. You can vary the type of bacon used. Some times I use hickory smoked and other times I will use Applewood. You can also vary the seasoning on the outside. Some people like simple black pepper. I like to make the stuffed chicken a day ahead and marinate in a vaccum sealed bag in the refrigerator.

Here’s to a brand new year and a brand newlywed life.

Tammy’s French Dip Recipe

French Dip


Boneless Chuck Roast
Boneless Chuck Roast
One chuck roast. Lean is preferred, trim if overly marbled with fat.

HEB Beef Broth 32 oz.
32 oz Beef Broth
32 oz sounds like a lot of liquid for slow cooking but remember that this is the base for the au jus dipping sauce. It is so good there never seems to be enough.

Pioneer Brand French Dip Au Jus Mix
Pioneer Brand French Dip Au Jus Mix
2 packages – this is key, do NOT substitute with other brands.  http://www.pioneerbrand.com/where-to-buy/

HEB 5 for $1 Bakery Bolillos
HEB 5 for $1 Bakery Bolillos
Or other suitable hoagie/sub or ciabatta rolls.


Pour the beef broth and au jus mix into the crock pot. Mix well (I use a silicone whisk).  Add beef chuck roast.  Slow cook on low for 6 to 8 hours.

Tear cooked roast apart with fork.  Load up a bakery roll with slow cooked beef and other toppings as desired. I like mayo, but some folks like cheese and/or carmelized onions and peppers.

Serve au jus on the side for dipping.

Tammy’s Plain Chili

This is a plain basic chili recipe that works when you don’t have fresh veggies on hand but want to do a quick pot of chili. You can add canned beans if you’d like. It will serve 3 – 4 and can be easily doubled for leftovers or lunches.



1 lb. ground beef, cooked
1 15 oz. can of tomato sauce
1 14.5 oz. can of diced tomatoes
3 TBSP chili powder
1 1/2 tsp onion powder
1 tsp garlic salt
1/4 tsp oregano
1/4 tsp cumin


Mix all ingredients in a saucepan and bring to boil. Simmer for 20 minutes.

Chili with cheese

Tammy’s Homemade St. Louis Style Pizza

For my last night in Missouri I made homemade St. Louis Style Pizza. I can’t do this on the gulf coast since there is no provel cheese down there. The instructions below will make two 12″ pizzas.

Tammy's St. Louis Style Pizza

for the dough:
3/4 cups lukewarm water
1 teaspoon active-dry yeast
1 ½ cups unbleached all-purpose flour
½ cup whole wheat flour
1 1/2 teaspoons salt

for the toppings:
pizza sauce
provel cheese
(If you are using meat toppings you will need to precook them)


Set the oven to 500°F or as hot as it will go and let it heat for at least a half an hour before making the pizza. If you have a pizza stone, put it in the lower-middle part of the oven now.

Combine the water and yeast in a mixing bowl, and stir to dissolve the yeast. The mixture should look like thin miso soup. Add the flour and salt to the bowl and mix until you’ve formed a shaggy dough.

Turn the dough out onto a clean work surface along with any loose flour still in the bowl. Knead until all the flour is incorporated, and the dough is smooth and elastic, about 5 minutes. I admit to kneading the dough right in the mixing bowl, but I am a bit like The Anal Retentive Chef (as portrayed by Phil Hartman on SNL) and clean like a scrubby dutch as I go. If it is not necessary to dirty up another surface or dish I don’t do it. The dough should still feel moist and slightly tacky. If it’s sticking to your hands like bubble gum, work in more flour one tablespoon at a time until it is smooth.

Pizza Dough Balls

Divide the dough into two equal size balls. I cover the dough and let it rise for at least an hour but this is not necessary. You can also refrigerate the 2nd dough ball for up to three days or freeze it if you want to just make one pizza.

Lay out a piece of parchment paper that is roughly 13″ long and using a rolling pin roll the dough out until you have about a 12″ pie. The dough will stick to the parchment paper, which makes it easier to roll out.

Mix some grated provel into your pizza sauce, enough cheese so that basically you just have sauce coated cheese. Spread the sauce/cheese mixture over your pizza crust. Add toppings of your choice. Meat toppings need to be precooked. I make cheese pizza so I added more cheese. BE VERY CAREFUL when you are using provel cheese. A little bit goes a long way and you will have more cheese than think. Too much will cause a cheesesplosion in the oven which will cause a very smoky kitchen.

Ready to go into the oven

Using a pizza peel or a cookie sheet, slide the pizza (still on the parchment paper) onto the pizza stone. If you don’t have a pizza stone, bake it on a baking sheet.

Bake for about 8 minutes until the crust is golden brown and the cheese looks toasty. Do NOT overcook the provel cheese. It has a very low melting point and burns easily.

Remove from oven and let cool for about 5 minutes (so cheese won’t run) before slicing and serving.

Tammy's Homemade St. Louis Style Pizza

Look at that crust! Yummy!

crust detail

Note: You can use this quick and dirty crust recipe if you do not keep wheat flour in your pantry. I actually go that route most of the time because it is so easy. This is a thin crust recipe so there is no rise. Just mix up the ingredients into a dough and roll it out as thin as you possible can.

2 cups and 2 tbsp all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp. baking powder
2 tsp. olive oil
2 tsp. dark corn syrup
1/2 cup and 2 tbsp. water

St. Louis Style Pizza

I am currently visiting Missouri for the holidays. I can’t get anything close to St. Louis Style pizza on the gulf coast so that has been priority one in the food department on this trip. The defining characteristics are fresh made thin crust and provel cheese. Imo’s Pizza does not count! They use mass produced pizza shells. Yuck! When I was a kid Imo’s made the crust fresh but no one but me seems to even remember that!

First stop was Pirrones Pizzeria. This style is my favorite. Same recipe as Saullo’s. Some people say it is too greasy but I order cheese only and do not have that experience. They load up the toppings so I can imagine that a meat lovers type pizza would be greasy!

Cheese Pizza from Pirrone's
Cheese Pizza from Pirrone’s

Next stop was Tony’s B’s in Fenton, MO. Good pizza is harder to find in South County. But this particular style is a recipe similar to Nick & Elena’s Pizzeria and Serra’s Pizzeria in North County.

Cheese Pizza at Tony B's
Cheese Pizza from Tony B’s

Though it is not St. Louis Style pizza, I prefer Arris’ Pizza when I am at the Lake of the Ozarks. It has a fresh made thin crust and good cheese. It is a greek restaurant so you can get feta cheese but that is not to my taste. Quality mozzarella cheese is fine for me.

Cheese Pizza at Arris'
Cheese Pizza from Arris’

So far that is all that I have had while in Missouri. If I could go to Saullo’s and Serra’s I totally would but not having a car makes it impossible to go to each place.

Tammy’s Tomato Soup

This tomato soup recipe is vegetarian.

Tammy's Tomato Soup


2 – 28 oz. cans of whole tomatoes (you may substitute fresh tomatoes)
32 oz. of vegetable broth
2 green onions, diced
2 yellow onions, chopped
1 clove of garlic, pressed
1 stalk of celery, diced
1 Tbsp basil
1/4 tsp ground thyme
sea salt & fresh ground pepper (to taste)


In a large stock pot sauté yellow onions, celery and garlic in a couple tablespoons of olive oil to soften. Add vegetable broth, tomatoes, green onions and bring to a boil. Add basil, thyme, salt and pepper. Simmer for about 25 minutes.

Purée soup using an immersion blender. If you don’t have one you can, with extreme caution, purée the soup in a blender.

Serves 4

This soup works well if you let it cool and freeze for later consumption. Pairs well with a hearty sourdough 3 cheese panini. You can substitute chicken broth for the veggie broth but then it will no longer be a vegan soup.