By Ilene Duffy

Ilene Duffy
Issue #140 • March/April, 2013

One last outing before heading back to college is to take
Damon for his first trip to the beach. L-R: Rob, Jacob, Sam

Our oldest sons, Jacob and Robby, are big eaters. So I get a lot of pleasure when I get the chance to don my apron when they’re home from college and cook up a big meal for them. Recently, on their last day home before returning to school, I wanted to fix an extra special meal for their send-off. I started the day by remembering what was already in the fridge that needed to be used up, what I had in my pantry, and how to conjure up side dishes that would pair nicely with my blossoming idea for a casserole using leftover hamburgers.

The day before, I had made a huge batch of burgers after my three guys and three of their friends came home after snowboarding. They arrived super hungry and I was ready for them with loads of hamburgers and all the fixings. I started with about five pounds of ground beef, added three eggs, about ¾ cup of oatmeal, a large squirt of ketchup, about a half cup of water, and a bit of salt and pepper. I made the patties and fried them in hot olive oil. It must have been a huge batch since I wound up with three large hamburgers left over. Here’s how I used them up.

I started preparing the casserole by using up tidbits of vegetables in the fridge. I found a bit of celery, a half of a large onion, a couple of carrots, and about a half of an orange bell pepper. I chopped everything and began frying them in hot olive oil for about five minutes. I turned off the stove to zip to the garage pantry to get two cans of cream of mushroom soup. When I got back to the kitchen, I noticed that it looked like some of the veggies from the pan were missing. Then bold as brass, husband Dave joined me in the kitchen and started scooping up spoonfuls of the cooked veggies! “Stop it … they’re for the casserole!” So here’s a warning from me — if you’ve got a hungry husband like mine, cook a few extra vegetables or guard your fry pan.

A nicely browned hamburger and potato casserole
along with a pretty green salad dress up the dinner table.

Hamburger and potato casserole

½ large onion, chopped
2 stalks of celery, chopped
2 small carrots, chopped
½ orange bell pepper, chopped
5 cloves of garlic, chopped
olive oil for frying the vegetables
3 large pre-cooked hamburgers
11 small to medium potatoes, peeled and sliced thin
2 15-oz. cans cream of mushroom soup
½ cup sour cream
¾ cup milk
¾ cup cheddar cheese, grated
2 tsp. no salt seasoning blend
½ tsp. salt
½ tsp. pepper
1 Tbsp. dried parsley
olive oil for greasing casserole dish
bread crumbs (optional)


Heat oven to 350° F. Chop the vegetables and garlic, heat olive oil in a fry pan, and cook vegetables for about five minutes, adding the garlic last. In a large bowl, mix the cooked vegetables and all remaining ingredients except the olive oil and bread crumbs. Mix thoroughly. Add more milk if needed to make the mixture somewhat liquidy. Pour into oiled large casserole dish. Bake for about 90 minutes. Shake a spoonful or two of bread crumbs over the top and bake another 10 minutes.

Salad with mandarin tangerines

I love this colorful salad and it’s so easy to prepare. I didn’t have any purple onion in the house, but it’s a nice addition. The hardest thing about making this salad is having enough self control so I won’t gobble up a bunch of the sweet, cold tangerines after I open up the cans.

6-8 cups of salad greens
1 cucumber, peeled and sliced
½ yellow or orange bell pepper, sliced
2 cans mandarin tangerines, drained
½ small purple onion, sliced thin
½ cup walnuts, chopped (optional)
2 Tbsp. olive oil
2 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar
½ tsp. spicy brown mustard
pinch of sugar
salt and pepper to taste
Parmesan cheese, grated


Add salad greens, cucumber, bell pepper, tangerines, onion, and walnuts in a salad bowl. Mix gently. In a separate bowl, wisk together the olive oil, vinegar, mustard, sugar, salt, and pepper. You might need to add a bit more vinegar if the dressing looks too thick. Right before serving, add the dressing to the salad and toss gently. Serve with grated Parmesan cheese.

Orange and date platter

This is a great little side dish that’s pretty and so quick to prepare. I like to add this to the dinner table when juicy oranges are in season.

Just peel three oranges and slice crosswise. Spread on a platter. Add pitted whole dates around the edge. You can add a few pecan halves for decoration, if desired.

I grew a bunch of nice pumpkins this past year and still have a couple in storage. A proper college send-off for my college boys wouldn’t be complete without a couple of their favorite pies. This is Jackie Clay’s recipe that is tried and true in the Duffy household.

I grew the pumpkins. I baked the pies. The boys and Dave love them.

Pumpkin pie

1 unbaked pie crust
3 eggs
1½ cups mashed pumpkin
½ cup brown sugar
½ cup sugar
½ tsp. ground cloves
½ tsp. nutmeg
1 tsp. ginger
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 cup milk
2 tsp. butter, melted
1 Tbsp. flour


Pre-heat oven to 400° F. Prepare a pie crust, place in a pie pan and set aside. In a large bowl, beat eggs. Add pumpkin, sugars, and spices. Mix. Stir in milk. In a separate small bowl, melt butter, add flour and mix until smooth. Add a bit more butter to make it creamy if necessary. Add to pumpkin mix and thoroughly whisk in. Pour into pie shell. Bake for 15 minutes at 400°. Turn down heat to 350° and bake for 45 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here