Side Dishes

Crack Tomatoes

(Also from Mary Lewis)

John Jr. doesn’t rave about various dishes unless he flips over them. At a recent Father’s Day gathering we hosted, we invited his in-laws. Mary offered to bring the now infamous Crack Tomatoes. They’re named, as you can guess, as no one can eat just one, you just want more and more…John Jr. was so concerned I wouldn’t get to try them once our crowd went thru’ the line that he made me a plate with a couple of tomatoes on it and set it aside so I’d be sure to try them! And yes, they are amazing:

Ingredients for dressing/marinade:
2/3 c. olive oil
1/3 c. red wine vinegar—Pompeian is good
¼ c. chopped red onion—finely chopped (optional)
¼ clove garlic—she usually uses 1 small clove, minced
1 tsp. cracked black pepper
2 tsp. kosher salt
handful of fresh parsley, rinsed
handful of fresh chopped basil


  • Mix together and chill above ingredients.
  • Thinly slice 4-5 tomatoes and layer in a 9 x 13 Pyrex dish.
  • Pour marinade over tomatoes
  • Cover and refrigerate for at least 3 hours.
  • Set out ½ hour before serving.

Hot tip: After chopping parsley, put it on a double layer of paper towels, gather up ends so parsley’s in a ball and completely covered. Then rinse under cold water and squeeze it out. Do this ‘til paper towel starts to tear. You’ll see green water come out. Then dump it in the mix. This removes some of the bitterness. This is a trick a chef taught Mary several years ago. She does this every time she uses parsley in a recipe. It does make a difference!


Green Bean-n-Bacon Bundles

(from Jayne Combs)

Jayne is always trying new recipes and the Ya Yos are forever happy guinea pigs. This one she discovered on one of their trips out to Washington State. Our youngest son, Woody, will eat ANYTHING with bacon on it and in the younger days of our boys vetoing most veggies, I sorely wish I’d have had this one in my repertoire. This is easy and a great accompaniment to any meal…

1 pound of fresh, green beans, ends snapped
8 strips of lean bacon, partially cooked (don’t get too crispy or they won’t wrap around the green beans!)
3 Tablespoons of BUTTER
1 Tablespoon of finely chopped onion
1 Tablespoon of white vinegar
1 Tablespoon of sugar
¼ teaspoon of salt


  • Cook beans in boiling water until tender-crisp, about 5 minutes. Plunge them into cold water and drain well.
  • Divide beans into 8 bundles and wrap each with a strip of bacon, securing it with a toothpick. (Bundles may be made 1 day in advance.)
  • Place bundles on a baking sheet and bake at 400 degrees for 10-15 minutes, or until bacon is crisp.
  • Melt BUTTER in a small skillet over medium heat.
  • Add onion and saute until tender, about 3 minutes.
  • Add vinegar, sugar, and salt and heat thoroughly.
  • Place bundles on a serving platter and top with sauce. Enjoy!


To-Die-For Cheese Grits

(from Lynn Reece)

This dish is one we Abbies crave on a regular basis, especially at Christmas time. Lynn loves to have us over for a Christmas Brunch. She gets out all her finery. Her table becomes a banquet table, loaded with everyone’s favorite food which includes her famous grits.

I don’t know what it is that makes these grits so good, but my guess is the TWO sticks of BUTTER certainly help. Give this a try:

1 cup of grits
6 cups of cold water
1 Tablespoon salt
1-3 Tablespoons garlic minced
4 cups sharp cheddar cheese
2 sticks BUTTER
2 eggs, beaten


  • Heat oven to 400 degrees.
  • Take 1 cup of grits, put into 6 cups of cold water with 1 Tablespoon of salt and heat to boiling, stirring often.
  • Once it begins to boil, turn down to medium and cook for 5-6 minutes, stirring constantly.
  • Once grits have gotten to a medium consistency, add the eggs, the cheddar cheese, garlic, and BUTTER. You can adjust consistency by adding extra water if necessary.
  • Grease a large, round casserole dish. Pour grits in.
  • Bake for about 45 minutes to an hour. Test to be sure grits are hot all the way through.

Lynn suggests covering the grits until about the last 20 minutes. You can make this and refrigerate 2-3 days ahead.