John Wayne Casserole

I’ve made this casserole several times now, and it is always a hit. Named after western film star, John Wayne, it is reminiscent of chuck wagon food. It is great for groups of meat and cheese lovers. It seems every time that I make it a little differently. I have managed to stretch one pound of meat and one tomato into a decent casserole when supplies were running low. Recently, however, my mother had the idea to change the original two pounds of beef into one pound pork and one pound beef. That was the winning combo.

The trickiest part of preparing this casserole is the layers. To start with, mix your two cups of Bisquick with one cup water until dough forms. Spread that in the bottom of the pan. Don’t worry if it is thin in places or doesn’t reach the edges. Once it rises, everything will be smoothed out.biscuit doughNext, add in everything you’ve sautéed. If you mixed your meat, peppers, and onions, add them together. If, like me, you didn’t have enough room in your pan, add the meat first, then the peppers and onions.meatpeppers and onionsNow layer on your beautiful sliced tomatoes.tomatoesYou want to add the sour crème mixture now. It will make everything all creaming and delicious. Then top with shredded cheese and bake!cream mixturecheese

‘John Wayne Casserole’

Source: Adapted from Mississippi Magazine


1 pound ground beef, cooked and drained

1 pound ground pork, browned

1 (1.25-ounce) packet taco seasoning or cumin, cayenne pepper, and garlic powder

4 ounces sour cream

4 ounces mayonnaise

8 ounces Cheddar cheese, shredded and divided

1 yellow onion, chopped

2 cups Bisquick

1 cup of water

2 tomatoes, sliced

1 green bell pepper, chopped


  1. Heat oven to 325. Brown ground beef and pork and add taco seasoning, set aside.
  1. In a separate bowl, combine sour cream, mayonnaise, 4 ounces of cheddar cheese, and half of the onions; set aside.
  1. Stir Bisquick and water together to form soft dough. Pat dough on the bottom and one-half-inch up the sides of an 9 x 13 in greased casserole dish.
  1. Saute remaining onions and bell peppers until slightly tender.
  1. On top of biscuit mix, evenly distribute ingredients in the following order: ground beef, tomato slices, green peppers, onions, jalapeno peppers, sour cream mixture and end with remaining shredded cheese.
  1. Bake for 30-40 minutes or until edges of dough are lightly browned.

There you have it: a yummy casserole for the cowboys and girls in your life.


Film Prep Before I Go to Vienna

There is less than a month left before I leave to study abroad for a semester in Vienna, Austria. Before I go, I want to start learning more about the culture there. To begin with, I thought a film education was in order. Here are four films set in Austria that I want to watch before I leave.

  • The Sound of Music: I have seen this Rogers and Hammerstein classic enough times to know the words to most of the songs, but not enough to remember all of the names of the children. Since it is the 50th anniversary of the movie this year, and I plan on taking the film location tour in Salzburg, I thought a re-watch was due. Besides, who can resist Julie Andrews?

  • Amadeus: When I got the letter confirming my study abroad destination, I was suddenly hit with a realization: I don’t know enough about classical music. To remedy this ignorance, I have been reading up about the history of classical music. Arguably Austria’s most famous musician, Mozart has been treated to his own semi-historical film adaptation, so I thought I should watch it.

  • The Third Man: This movie was filmed on location in Vienna in 1948 and is considered one of the greatest films of all time. Known for its cinematic brilliance and film noire style, it is a bit of a departure from the usual movies I watch. It does have Orson Wells in it though.

  • The Emperor Waltz: Bing Crosby, Joan Fontaine, dogs, set in Vienna, how could I resist this vintage film from 1948? Even if they did film it in Canada, I love old musicals too much to pass on this one.

Have you seen any of these movies? Do you know of any other great movies set in Austria? Let me know!

The Girls at the Kingfisher Club Review

This year, people have been buzzing about Genevieve Valentine’s new book, The Girls at the Kingfisher Club.

When I first heard about a retelling of the twelve dancing princesses, set in Jazz Age New York, I was totally onboard. It wasn’t until I started the book that I realized how heartbreaking the story of the twelve dancing princesses really is. They are trapped in their home, never allowed to leave. They live in fear of a father they hardly know. For some reason I was expecting a lighthearted children’s tale. The plot of this book was a winding narrative filled with fears and, ultimately, hopes. Much like the streets of New York, where it was set, there were broad, wide avenues sparkling with wit and fun, but there were also dark alleyways filled with danger and mystery.

All twelve sisters are featured in the story, but the main character is Jo, the eldest. Nicknamed the General, she rallies her eleven younger sisters, caring for them, and sneaking them out at night to go dancing. Through the story you get to know Jo well. Her character development was great. The other sisters played more supporting roles, and their storylines didn’t get as much detail. I appreciated that Valentine gave each girl a personality, with individual hopes and dreams, but twelve characters were a lot to keep up with at times. The four oldest sisters were about all I managed to know well. Everyone else I kept getting mixed up. I sympathized with Jo, having so many people to keep track of.

Ultimately, this was an enjoyable book with plenty of exciting scenes of dancing in the nightclubs, etc. There was more conflict and plot than I originally anticipated, and a pack of characters, but the appeal of a princess story set in the jazz Age was certainly still there. If you are accustomed to a darker, more adult novel, and like dancing or the 1920’s, this is a good read for you.