Meatloaf and Baked Potatoes for Two {Slow Cooker} {Recipe ReDux}

If you usually bake meatloaf in a loaf pan, you’ll be surprised to see how easy it is to do in a slow cooker. While you’re  at it, toss in a few baked potatoes, too. The best part  is you come home to a complete meal. Pure comfort food the way Mom used to make it.

Some of you grew up on casseroles out of a slow cooker (sorry)– but now were using that same slow cooker to roast chickens, bake bread, make lasagna and for other creative dishes. Yep, slow cookers were originally made to cook or braise meats for long periods of time, but we decided to color outside those lines today. This meal is inspired by The Recipe ReDux theme this month: “No-Casserole Crock Pot.” And the best part is…

You come home to a meal READY TO EAT!


So if you don’t have a slow cooker, borrow one from your neighbor or pick one up at a second hand store now!  Then ask for one for Christmas.

This dish is great right out of the cooker, but is also incredible the next day in a sandwich. 100% perfect for left overs; so don’t be afraid to make the full recipe even if it’s only for you.

Meatloaf Ingredients

  • 1 egg
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tablespoon dried onion flakes
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt and black pepper
  • 1/4 cup bread crumbs or quick cooking oats (or in a pinch use crushed croutons or crackers)
  • 1/2 teaspoon Italian seasoning
  • pinch crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 lb. uncooked ground beef 90/10 Lean  (Remember to use the butcher counter to get the smaller portion)

Topping Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup ketchup
  • 1 tablespoon vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar


  • 2 baking potatoes, russet
  • Foil
  • Optional Potato toppings: butter, sour cream, green onions, etc.

STEP ONE: In a medium bowl, mix together all the meatloaf ingredients. Form into a loaf.


STEP TWO: Place the loaf onto a sheet of foil and place into the slow cooker with the foil sides left open up. The foil just makes it easier to lift it out when it’s done, contains the meat juices and keeps clean up easy! Scrub the potatoes and tightly wrap in foil and place next to the meat loaf in the slow cooker.


STEP THREE: Make the meatloaf topping by mixing the 3 ingredients and spreading over the top of the meatloaf.



LAST STEP: Carefully lift the meatloaf from the cooker by grabbing the sides of foil.


Let it rest for 10 minutes. It slices easier if you do this. Meanwhile, remove the potatoes and the foil from the slow cooker.  Prep your potato fixings. Slice the meatloaf. Serve with a vegetable, or side salad.  For pure easiness, I just microwave a bag of Steam Fresh veggies.


Love slow cooker recipes? Try these next time:

Slow cooker Chiptole Chicken and Rice Bowl , Garlic Lemon Chicken , Sweet and Sour Meatballs on Rice, Pork Carnitas or Mouthwatering Chicken Tacos

Setting up a New Kitchen? Use this Grocery Shopping List

Setting up your pantry and refrigerator for the first time? Not sure what essentials you should have in your pantry and fridge?  Here’s a basic grocery shopping list to get you started.  Student Opportunites take note:  Take this list with you when your parents come to town and ask to take you to the grocery store!

After all, it’s hard to know what foods and staple ingredients to have on hand.  Come on… you can’t eat chips and salsa every day.  Right?  Don’t answer that!  My son Ryan is moving into a rented home  near his school campus this weekend. Here’s the list I made for him.  The items listed are generic items you’ll need to have on hand to make meals at home.   What would you add?



Canned  and Jar Goods

  • Beans (Black, pinto, garbanzo)
  • Canned corn, string beans, etc
  • Canned Chili
  • Diced Tomatoes
  • Pasta Sauce
  • Salad Dressing

Dry Goods

  • Pasta (various kinds)
  • Rice (white and brown rice)
  • Breakfast Cereal
  • Crackers

Spices, Flavorings and Cooking ingredients

  • Salt and Pepper
  • Cinnamon
  • Ground Cumin
  • Curry Powder
  • Garlic Powder
  • Cornstarch
  • Sugar
  • Chicken Bouillon Cubes or powder
  • Seasoning Salt (Lawry’s)
  • Soy Sauce
  • Canola Oil
  • Vinegar ( red wine or balsamic)
  • Peanut Butter and Jelly


  • Garlic
  • Bag of potatoes
  • Onion
  • Lettuce
  • Your favorite fruits and veggies

Refrigerator Items

  • BBQ sauce
  • Butter or margarine
  • Eggs
  • Ketchup, mayo, mustard
  • Milk or soymilk
  • Cheese (slices or shredded cheese)

Frozen ( or items to keep in the freezer)

  • Bag of frozen skinless chicken breasts
  • Flour tortillas
  • Whole Grain Bread
  • Frozen Fruit (for smoothies)
  • Ground beef or turkey

Creamy Cashew Cheese {Vegan}

What if you love cheese but can’t eat dairy products? Guess what? You can make a non-dairy “lick-the-bowl” creamy cheese from…nuts. Actually, cashews. I think cashews work well because they don’t have a chewy skin like walnuts and almonds do. But don’t hold me to that because I’ve never tried them in this recipe. Cashews just seem to be best nut to make this cheese alternative. There are cashew cheese recipes all over the internet, so I can’t claim I’m a genius or anything. Just resourceful (and curious).

cheesy goodness

You see we have a problem with real cheese in our family, and most dairy products, too. Why? Lots of reasons really…from intolerance and allergies plus a growing fondness for a vegan lifestyle. Oh, and I can’t forget the cute girlfriends both my sons acquired this past year that happen to be vegan and vegetarian. That helps too.

So I have been experimenting with lots of new recipes void of a la animals. Did you try my vegan Black Bean Burgers yet or Split Pea Soup? both are awesome. And perfect for a meatless Monday night. So what to do with this cheesy wonderfulness? Spread on crackers, use as a dip with veggies, use in your lasagna recipes or in an omelet. The ideas are endless. The only drawback is you need a food processor.  I use this mini-food processor ($20 at Target) and it works great. Don’t try the blender….trust me.



cc in processor






What you need…

  • 1 cup cashews, raw or roasted
  • 3 cups water
  • 2 teaspoons lemon juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt (to taste)
  • Black pepper to taste
  • 1/4 cup water

How to do it

Soak the cashews in 3 cups of water for an hour. Drain and rinse. Add to the food processor with the lemon juice and salt and pepper. Pulse and combine ingredients and now add the 1/4 cup water and keep pulsing until smooth.  About 1-2 minutes. Its really very simple and oh so good.

Super Easy Black Bean Burgers

If I could only eat one food for the rest of my life, beans would probably be it. Especially black beans–rich in protein and fiber and packed with antioxidants –all for pennies per serving. Let’s just call them a “super food” bargain. Please don’t keep this a secret, especially if you are trying to eat on a budget…or trying to eat healthier…or you’re just curious about what its like to eat like your vegan roommates.

I love this black bean burger recipe. Yep, it’s meatless. Yep, it’s delicious. And the best part is you can make several patties at one time and freeze some of them for later.

Then microwave them for a quick meal you can eat on the run, for fun, in a bun, or in the sun.

Black Bean Burger Plate

No sense buying those expensive soy or bean made patties from the store when you can make your own in less than 15 minutes-flat, for less than $3.00.

And here’s the most exciting part!!  I have to tell you about this new study that proves why beans are so great for weight maintenance. And its beyond the fiber effect, these miracle beans feed our healthy gut bacteria, and in return our gut bacteria feed us back by slowing down digestion and keeping us fuller longer.  If you want to learn more about this, watch this video I’ve embedded here from Dr. Gregor tells the story better than me.  It’s fascinating!

So when you make this homemade black bean burger, serve it on a bun with hot-spiced mayo or ketchup, a couple slices of tomato, avocado and onion. I promise you won’t miss the meat.


  • 3 tablespoons flaxseed (this is the binder or you can use one egg minus the water)
  • 1/3 water
  • 2-15 oz. can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1/3 cup bread crumbs
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon oregano leaves
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • Burger buns and other fixins ( tomato, lettuce, onion, etc)
  • Ketchup, mayo and Sriracha sauce


Mix the flaxseed and warm water; set aside. This is your binder. You can always just use an egg, but if you don’t use animal products this is the way to go.

Pour the rinsed and drained beans in a bowl. Now with clean hands squeeze the beans between your fingers to mash them. Just like playing with play dough.  You can also use a food processor but this is more fun. Mash them until just a few beans remain whole. But it should look like refried beans.

Add the rest of ingredients through the salt. Add the flaxseed mixture too. Combine well with a spoon. If you have time, put it in the refrigerator to cool for 30 minutes. If not, it still works.

In a skillet, heat to medium and add the olive oil.

BBB in the panDivide the bean mixture into 6 equal portions and form patties. Have your skillet ready to go before you do this. Add the patties to the skillet and cook about 5 minutes each side until the bottom edges are browned. Be careful when you turn them over. Serve now or freeze for later. For a spicy kick, add Sriracha to the ketchup or mayo.


Black Bean Burger- take a biteAnd here are some other fabulous patty recipes you can try from my friends at RECIPE REDUX.

As the first and only recipe challenge founded by registered dietitians, The Recipe ReDux aims to inspire the food lover in every healthy eater and inspire the healthy eater in every food lover. Thank you for visiting. We hope you enjoy!

Kickin’ Edamame

Trade in your potato chips for this edamame snack that’s full of spicy, garlicky goodness. It’s a great way to get some complete protein in your diet along with a healthy dose of dietary fiber and micro-nutrients – you know, vitamins and minerals. It’s a snack with a powerful nutritional punch! I hear it goes good with beer.


  • 1 lb. bag frozen edamame, in shells
  • 1 tbsp. olive oil
  • crushed red pepper (start with a little – about 1/4 teaspoon!)
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped fine
  • kosher salt or coarse sea salt, to taste (I used about 1/2 teaspoon)
  • soy sauce, to taste (I used 2 splashes, approximately 2 teaspoons)
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Step 1: Boil edamame

Cook edamame in boiling salted water according to package directions. Drain and set aside.


Step 2: Season edamame

In a large frying pan, heat the oil on medium high heat. Toss in the edamame and stir to heat up, 2-3 minutes. Add the crushed red pepper, garlic, salt and a couple of splashes of soy sauce to help seasonings stick to the edamame. Stir to coat briefly. You don’t want the garlic to brown because it will become bitter.DSCN1342-300x225 DSCN1343-300x224


Step 3: Eat edamame!

Edamame is best served warm or at room temperature. If you’ve never had edamame before, here’s how to eat it for maximum enjoyment. Place a pod in your mouth and enjoy the salty/spicy goodness. Then pull the pod between your front teeth. The beans will pot out easily. Make sure to have an extra bowl handy for your discarded shells. And depending on the heat level, you’ll need something cool to drink along with them. It’s confirmed: beer is good!


Soyaki Tofu Veggie Stir-fry

It’s time for “Meatless Monday.” Need inspiration? Try this… I promise you won’t miss the meat at all (gasp). Soyaki Tofu Veggie Stir-fry is rich in flavor, easy to make and low in cost. Seriously, it’s our new weekly favorite. Come on… save a cow or a chicken or a pig… give it a try!

True confessions, until a month ago, I never made tofu. Not because it’s too hard to make. Not because I have to have meat. I just never found a tofu recipe that I wanted to make. Until now.

The secret lies in the sauce. Sauce is important because tofu absorbs the flavor of what’s around it. Use a salty, bottled sauce to save time and you’ll get salty, so-so tofu meal.

But who wants to be a slave to the kitchen, right?

So drive to Trader Joe’s (no, I don’t work there) and buy their “SOYAKI sauce.” No Trader Joe’s? That’s ok, most grocery stores sell a sauce called SOY VAY VERI VERI TERIYAKI. They are basically the same.

The health benefits and cost savings of using tofu instead of meat are numerous. Rich in protein, calcium and vitamin E yet low in calories and cost. Eat some tofu.


  • Steamed rice
  • 8 oz. Firm or Extra Firm Tofu
  • 2 Japanese eggplant, sliced (these are the small thin ones not the large eggplant)
  • 1 cup mushrooms, sliced
  • 2 red bell peppers (or a red and yellow), sliced
  • 1 carrot, peeled and sliced
  • Small bunch green onions, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon fresh ginger
  • ½ cup Soyaki sauce (from Trader Joe’s)
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil (peanut or canola oil)
  • Chili garlic paste or red pepper flakes or Sriracha (for optional heat)

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Step One: Get your rice on! 

Combine 1 cup rice plus 2 cups water. Simmer for 20 minutes. Enough to feed two people. Click here for basic rice.

Step Two: Prepare that big block of tofu.  

Before you cook tofu, you need to drain it and get rid of some of the water it has absorbed. Tofu is like a huge sponge but you can’t squeeze it. Place the tofu block on several folded paper towels on a plate. Apply pressure to the top of the tofu using a cutting board and a couple of large cans. It just needs to be heavy and apply constant pressure. Let it stand for about 15 minutes.

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Step Three: Cut the tofu and prep all the other vegetables, garlic and ginger.

Cut the tofu into 1 inch pieces. Like little square blocks. All the veggies should also be cut into bite size pieces. Please, please wash all the vegetables including the mushrooms prior to slicing. You can chop up the green onions last.

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Step Four: Stir-fry the tofu.

Heat the wok or skillet until very hot and add a tablespoon of oil. Add the tofu and cook until lightly browned on all sides. You’ll need to toss it around every minute or so, very gently. This usually takes around 5 minutes total. Remove the tofu from the wok and set aside.

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Step Five: Cook the veggies, and then the ginger.

Add a little more oil to the wok and first add the carrots, stir fry for a couple minutes ’til they are kinda tender, then add all the other vegetables. Add the ginger last so it will taste fresh when serving. I like to buy a large chunk of ginger and keep it in the freezer. When I need a little, I just take it out frozen and grate off what I need and place it back (in a baggie) in the freezer.




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Step Six: Put everything back in the wok and add the sauce.

Add the tofu back to the veggie mixture. Add the green onions, Soyaki sauce and a little chili garlic paste if you like the heat (go easy on the chili paste as this is serious hot! I only use a ½ teaspoon). Turn the heat down to low and let the tofu absorb some of the sauce and flavor. Sprinkle with a few more green onions and serve with the rice.

Soyake-Tofu-Stirfy-from-Betterthandormfood.com_-150x150 IMG_4552-150x150

Scrambled Eggs for One

Have you ever tried making scrambled eggs and found them underwhelming? My nephew Ryan told me that he finally figured out how to make perfect scrambled eggs. It was then that I realized how it took me years to get it right. (More years than I like to admit.) And it was mostly because I was winging it and not really paying attention, and trying to do too many things at once to get breakfast on the table. The secret is to keep it simple and take your time. With a little patience, you can make perfect scrambled eggs, too.

First of all, if you’re making bacon, sausage, toast, etc. to go with these eggs, make them first and put them in a low 200° oven to keep warm. Make the scrambled eggs last after you’ve done all the rest of the prep. The best tasting eggs need to be fresh out of the pan.

This recipe is pretty flexible. Don’t stress if you don’t have milk, or only have margarine in the fridge instead of butter. It all comes out pretty much the same… delicious!

Here’s what you’ll need to make eggs for one person. It’s easy to increase the recipe if there’s more than one of you.

  • 1-2 eggs
    I find one egg is plenty for me but my daughters like two.
  • A splash of milk (about 1 tablespoon per egg)
    You can use just about any milk product you have: whole, low-fat, nonfat, soy, rice, almond, half and half, cream, etc. And if you don’t have any, use water. Just don’t go overboard adding liquid. Too much and the eggs will be runny. If you slip and add too much, add another egg!
  • 1 tablespoon butter
    I like the taste of butter best but if you prefer margarine that’ll do. And in a pinch, use vegetable oil. When making more eggs, use just enough to moisten the pan and help prevent sticking. For instance, if you’re making 4 eggs you don’t need 4 tablespoons of butter, about 2 will do.
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

Step One: Combine the eggs and milk

In a small mixing bowl, combine the eggs and the milk. Stir vigorously with a fork or whisk until well combined and foamy on top (but no more than 2 minutes). You want to add air into the mixture but too much will make the results spongy. Stir in about ¼ teaspoon of salt.

DSCN1254-300x225beating egg with forkegg with milk

Step Two: Melt the butter

Warm your frying pan over medium-low heat. Add butter and allow to melt until bubbly. Swirl the butter around the pan until the entire surface is covered. Do not allow the butter to brown. Seriously, if the butter browns, let the pan cool a bit, wipe it clean with a paper towel and start over. Most recipes call for a non-stick frying pan. Personally, I prefer not to use non-stick pans and opt for a stainless steel skillet instead. If you use enough butter, you won’t have any problems with the eggs sticking to the pan.

butter melted melting butter

Step Three: Cook the eggs

Pour the egg mixture into the pan. Wait for approximately 10 seconds until the bottom layer of the eggs starts to set. Now push the edges of the eggs towards the center of the pan using a spatula or a wooden spoon. This allows the uncooked layer of eggs to flow to the bottom. Continue pushing and folding the eggs until there is no more liquid egg mixture in the pan and large soft curds have formed. The eggs should look moist and almost done. At this point, remove the pan from the heat. The heat retained in the pan will continue to cook the eggs just a bit more. Season with salt and pepper and serve immediately.

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Green Smoothie

Are you looking for a great way to get more fruits and veggies into your diet? Try a healthy and refreshing smoothie. Beware, though, that not all smoothies are healthy for you. Many juice bar smoothies are loaded with sugar and a boatload of calories. Make your own and you control the ingredients for a flavorful good-for-you snack or breakfast on-the-go. With a nod to St. Paddy’s Day, let’s do a green smoothie. You can tell your mom you ate spinach today.


  • 1 banana, peeled and cut into chunks (see note on using frozen bananas)
  • 1 cup packed baby spinach
  • 1 cup plain yogurt (if you don’t have yogurt on hand, try almond, coconut or rice milk)
  • 2-3 oranges juiced to make 1 cup juice (or store-bought orange juice)
  • 6 ice cubes

Step One

Gather and measure your ingredients before you start. For a really fresh tasting smoothie, I recommend squeezing your own orange juice. It’s easy and worth the extra effort.


About bananas:  Smoothies are a great way to use up bananas that may be a little past their prime. Once a banana has passed the slightly green state that I like to eat them, I peel them, cut into chunks and freeze them in a glass container or plastic bag. It’s a great way to prevent waste and have banana on hand for adding to smoothies, breads, pancakes, and more.

Step Two

Blend away until smooth and creamy. OMG this just became my new breakfast favorite!


Mac and Cheese in a Mug

When I say “comfort food” what do you think of? Would you say…“wheat flour, niacin, whey, milk fat, milk protein concentrate, salt, sodiumtripolyphosphate, calcium phosphate, yellow dye #5, enzymes and cheese cultures”? Probably not. But you might say MAC AND CHEESE FROM A BOX. Guess what? Next time check the ingredient label. Same thing.

How about a really easy way to make your own macaroni and cheese… just one serving… in a mug or bowl made with REAL ingredients? Four to be exact: Pasta, water, milk, and cheese. And you can make this recipe in less time. Ready, set, follow me…

Here are the ingredients you will need:ingredients-300x225

  • ½ cup macaroni pasta (any size or shape)
  • ¾ cup water
  • ¼ cup low fat milk
  • ½ cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
  • Salt (to taste)


cup-in-micro-300x225Step One:  Pour the macaroni pasta and water in a bowl or extra large mug. My mug holds 2 cups. Heat on HIGH for 7 minutes or until all the water is absorbed. My microwave is really strong so 7 minutes was enough. The water may boil over if you use a mug that’s too small. That’s ok. It still works but try a bowl next time. Look, I put a paper towel beneath mine.


Step Two:  Remove from microwave. Careful!! Its hot! The macaroni pasta may come out a little stuck together but that’s ok. Add milk and cheese. Stir until it’s well combined and place back in the microwave for 1 minute. Heat on high.



Step Three:  Remove from oven. Stir again. Add some salt if you want. Enjoy. 


The BLT Sandwich – Simple and So Delicious

You may be thinking… Really? Do I need a recipe for a BLT sandwich? But since this blog is for kids like my own, college students just learning to cook, it makes sense. In fact, my daughter requested it! She has many memories of BLT night when I got home from work late and wanted to put something yummy on the table in no time. My kids never complained on BLT night.

So here’s the thing: Making a good BLT isn’t just a matter of slapping together some bread, bacon, lettuce, tomato, and mayo. It takes a little care and the right ingredients. I’ve made some good BLTs and some not-so-good BLTs in my time and learned a few things.

  • One: The bread is better when it is soft, like a classic sandwich white or sandwich wheat or even an airy sourdough or French bread. Thick, chewy bread takes away from the overall experience since there’s a lot going on between the slices.
  • Two: If I’m making sandwiches for the family, I’ll buy a pound of lower sodium bacon. It tastes the same as regular bacon to me and is just a tad healthier. If you’re cooking for one or two, there are couple things you can do. You can buy the whole pound, use what you need and freeze the remainder for future use (use within two months). Or, you can go to the service meat counter and buy just what you need. That way your roommates won’t have a free-for-all with your bacon.
  • Three: Iceberg lettuce is the traditional choice. It adds a nice crispness to the sandwich. I often use Red Leaf since that’s what I usually have on hand. Both are excellent choices.
  • Four: Look for the ripest, juiciest tomatoes you can find. I suggest buying heirloom tomatoes which are available at your local farmer’s market, most natural foods stores, and increasingly often at your local supermarket. Yes, they’re a bit more expensive but totally worth it. After all, we’re only talking about a few pennies. Once you get hooked on really good tomatoes you won’t ever want to go back. And don’t put them in the refrigerator! Tomatoes don’t need refrigeration unless they’re over-ripe. Putting them in the fridge turns them mealy and tasteless.
  • Five: A good mayo is essential. Best Foods is tops in my book (Hellman’s if you’re east of the Rockies).
  • Extras: This sandwich is so good you might never want to add a thing. But if you have a ripe avocado on hand, it is a tasty addition (making it a BLAT sandwich). Another fabulous add-on is a fried egg (a BELT sandwich)!

Ingredients for one sandwich

  • 2 slices white, wheat or sourdough bread
  • 3-4 slices bacon
  • 1 ripe tomato
  • 1-2 leaves of lettuce
  • mayonnaise, approximately 1 tablespoon or to your liking
  • salt and pepper to taste


Step One: Prepare the veggies

Slice the tomato into medium thick slices (about 1/8- to 1/4-inch thick). You’ll need two or three slices depending on how big your bread is. Rinse your lettuce leaves and pat dry with a paper towel.


Step Two: Cook the bacon

The key is to get the bacon just crisp enough that it doesn’t slide out of your sandwich when you take a bite. Be patient, you can’t hurry bacon along or it’ll burn. Here are two popular ways to cook your bacon:

Frying pan method:  Place bacon strips side-by-side in a cold skillet, turn the heat to medium low and cook gently. The key is to not move the bacon until it releases easily from the pan. Once it is browned on the first side, turn the bacon using tongs and cook on the second side until it releases easily again. At this point, you can turn the bacon frequently for even cooking. The bacon is ready when it is no longer pink, white or translucent. Drain cooked slices on a paper towel.


Microwave method: Line a microwave-safe plate with two layers of white paper towels. Layer the bacon strips side-by-side on the paper towels and cover with another paper towel. Cook the bacon at full power for approximately 4-6 minutes, or 90 seconds per slice. If your microwave doesn’t have a rotating base, rotate the plate at regular intervals to cook evenly. Time may vary depending on your microwave and the amount of bacon. Carefully remove the plate from the microwave and allow bacon to cool for about 1 minute. Then remove bacon to another paper towel to absorb any remaining fat. Don’t leave bacon on the original paper towels for it will stick.


Step three: Toast the bread

Toast the bread until it is just slightly golden. If it’s too brown, the texture makes the sandwich difficult to eat.


Step Four: Assemble the sandwich

Spread the mayo on one side of each toast slice. On one of the slices, arrange the sliced tomato and sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste. On the other slice, layer on the lettuce and arrange the bacon slices on top. Now, carefully combine the two halves together. Cut sandwich in two and serve.