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Mary’s Memo – January 26th


It’s been my observation that nothing helps supermarkets’ business more than a winter storm warning. That said, there are essentials you should have on hand such as bottled water, toilet paper, a full propane tank (so you can cook on your gas grill), and a supply of different size batteries. After sitting in the dark when there wasn’t any power for an extended period of time I invested in the Spectrum/Rayovac Sportmen Area Lantern. It is far safer than burning candles. I bought mine at our local Ace Hardware but you can also purchase one at It lights up a room and is bright enough to read by. Just be sure batteries are dependable at all times. Years ago someone who lived on a farm told me to fill bathtubs with water so you have it to flush toilets. If there are infants in the family be sure you have plenty of baby formula and diapers. It amazed me during the blizzard of ‘78 that there were so many parents that didn’t! Our needs are not the same but just think about what your family can’t be without and be sure you have those provisions on hand when an emergency comes along.


Dagwood Bumstead, the comic-strip character, might want to check his blood pressure. A new analysis of national dietary data by USDA researchers reports that sandwiches account for one fifth of average sodium intake, a key contributor to hypertension. Previous studies underestimated sandwich consumption because of the challenges posed by sandwiches’ many different ingredients; those analyses pit sandwiches’ share of sodium at only 4%. By taking a novel approach to coding responses to dietary intake questionnaires, the new study was able to count multiple ingredients consumed as a sandwich, including both eating out, take out or at home. Nearly half of Americans were found to eat a sandwich on any given day, and sandwich consumers averaged 600 milligrams more daily sodium. For adults, sandwiches alone added up to 30% of the recommended 2,300 milligrams daily maximum of sodium, and 46% of the stricter 1,500 milligrams guideline for those over 50. Sandwich eaters also ate an average 300 more calories daily. Publishing their findings in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, researchers said the results “underscore the importance of making healthful choices of sandwich ingredients. Many sandwiches, such as burgers and franks, and common sandwiches made with yeast breads, cheese and cured meats, are among the top contributors not only to sodium but also energy in the diets of adult Americans.”
Source: Tufts Health & Nutrition Letter, January 2015.


Although one of the ingredients is chicken broth, using vegetable broth makes it vegetarian and a good Lenten recipe. I recall when I first made it that I was amazed at how good a soup it was without any added meat. The emphasis today is on more fruits and vegetables in our diet and this soup fills the bill!


• 1 tablespoon canola oil
• 1 large onion, chopped
• 2 large ribs celery, chopped
• 2½ teaspoons Italian seasoning
• ¾ teaspoon kosher salt
• ¼ teaspoon ground pepper
• 2 14.5-ounce cans Italian-style diced tomatoes
• 5 cups Swanson chicken or vegetable broth without MSG
• 2 large sweet potatoes, peeled and diced
• 2 large carrots, sliced thin
• 2 cups fresh cut green beans
• 2 cloves garlic, minced
• Parmesan cheese for garnish

Heat oil in a soup pot over medium-high heat. Sauté onion, celery, Italian seasoning, and salt and pepper until tender, about 5 minutes. Add remaining ingredients except Parmesan cheese. Bring to a boil; reduce heat to low and simmer, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are tender. Recipe makes 6 servings and soup is freezable.


Leafy greens are more expensive in wintertime and this year not the best quality due to California weather conditions. I never had an actual recipe for what Mother called “Combination Salad” but it is cheaper to make this time of year. The components include shredded cabbage, shredded carrots, chopped scallions, red or green bell pepper (or both for more colorful presentation), chopped seedless cucumber, halved grape tomatoes and dressed with fresh lemon juice and canola or olive oil. You can make as much or as little as you need, scaling up or down the amount of lemon juice and oil. Fresh lemon juice instead of cider vinegar in the dressing was Mother’s idea. A shortcut would be to use Cole slaw mix but Mother made this salad when no one knew there were salad mixes.

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Black Bean & Roasted Tomato Salad

I often get in a dinner rut... especially when it comes to side dishes! All too often, I just prep the main course, and do a simple green salad on the side, or steamed broccoli. (Not that there's anything wrong with those vegetables, but a girl can only eat so much salad! It starts to get old.) While it's super easy to open a bag of tater tots or chips (and my hubby sure won't complain), I also try to keep our dinners on the healthier side. IMG_9092 Enter: Black Bean & Roasted Tomato Salad. This is a great protein-packed veggie side that's not your usual salad! Tender black beans are combined with sweet roasted tomatoes, green onions, and a citrusy dressing. A sprinkle of feta cheese adds a little extra zing. It tastes great cold or at room temperature, so it's easy to make a big batch and eat from it all week long. The hardest part is roasting the tomatoes. Combine about 2 cups of halved cherry tomatoes in a baking dish, and drizzle with olive oil. Sprinkle with salt, pepper, and a bit of sugar, and roast at 350*F for 40 minutes. I used half yellow and half red tomatoes to add a little extra color. IMG_9088 After the tomatoes are roasted, it's just a matter of mixing everything together! Black beans, green onions, lemon zest & juice, and the tomatoes. Toss it all together, and top with feta cheese upon serving. IMG_9090 We enjoyed this as a simple side dish, and I also enjoyed the leftovers over spinach the next day for lunch. I'm also planning a burrito-style wrap with the last of it!


Black Bean & Roasted Tomato Salad

Yield: 4-6 servings

  • 2 cups cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • salt & fresh ground pepper pepper, to taste
  • 1-2 teaspoons sugar
  • 2 14-oz cans black beans, rinsed & drained
  • juice & zest from 1 lemon
  • 2-3 green onions, diced
  • ½ cup crumbled feta cheese


1. To roast the tomatoes, place them in a baking pan. Drizzle with olive oil, and sprinkles with salt, pepper, and sugar. Roast at 350*F for 40 minutes, tossing a few times throughout.

2. To make the salad, combine black beans with roasted tomatoes, lemon zest & juice, and green onions. Serve topped with feta cheese.

Source: adapted from Annie's Eats

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Mary’s Memo – January 19th


Usually someone gives me a cookbook for Christmas but not in 2014. That being the case, I broke down and bought the 15th Anniversary Edition of The Complete America’s Test Kitchen TV Show Cookbook. A year ago I started subscribing to the magazine as well. What I like best about Cook’s Illustrated is that in addition to recipes there is detailed information about food and equipment that they test and recommend. Although I also get Consumer Reports, Cooks Illustrated has additional information that as a food writer is useful to me.

For example, I’m sharing a Cook’s Illustrated recipe for Glazed Salmon and how they present it. First, they explain their method of preparation followed by the recipe itself. Instead of broiling, the traditional method, Cooks Illustrated found that gently baking the fish was a better way to go. To insure the glaze stayed put, they rubbed the fish with a mixture of cornstarch, brown sugar and salt before searing.


• 1 teaspoon light brown sugar
• 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
• 1/4 teaspoon cornstarch
• 1 (1-1/2 to 2 pound) skin-on salmon fillet, about 1-1/2 inches thick
• Ground black pepper
• 1 teaspoon vegetable oil
• 1 recipe glaze

Adjust oven rack to the middle position and heat oven to 300ºF. Combine the brown sugar, salt and cornstarch in a small bowl. Use a sharp knife to remove any whitish fat from the belly of the salmon and cut the fillet into 4 equal pieces. Pat the fillets dry with paper towels and season with pepper. Sprinkle brown sugar mixture evenly over the top of the flesh side of the salmon, rubbing to distribute. Heat oil in a 1-inch oven safe nonstick skillet over medium-high heat until just smoking. Place the salmon, flesh side down, in the skillet and cook until well browned, about 1 minute. Using tongs, carefully flip the salmon and cook the salmon on the skin side 1 minute. Remove the skillet from the heat and spoon glaze evenly on the salmon fillets. Transfer the skillet to the oven and cook until the fillets register 125ºF on an instant read thermometer (for medium rare) and are still translucent when cut into with a paring knife, 7 to 10 minutes. Transfer the fillets to a platter or individual plates and serve.


• 2 tablespoons ketchup
• 2 tablespoons hoisin sauce
• 2 tablespoons rice vinegar
• 2 tablespoons brown sugar
• 1 tablespoon soy sauce
• 1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
• 2 teaspoons Asian chili-garlic sauce
• 1 teaspoon minced or grated fresh ginger

Whisk the ingredients together in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat; simmer until thickened, about 3 minutes. Remove from heat and keep warm.
Source: The Complete America’s Test Kitchen TV Show Cookbook, 2001 to 2015.


New Year’s brings a brief boost in popularity of black-eyed peas, the key ingredient in the traditional Southern celebratory dish if Hoppin’ John. But if you’re looking for a nutritional bargain, black-eyed peas (aka cowpeas) should be a year-round staple in your pantry. So should another lesser known legume, garbanzo beans (aka chickpeas). They’re the main ingredient in trendy hummus, which recently topped $1 billion in US sales. But garbanzos, like black-eyed peas, deserve a place in our healthy pantry, not just as a dip in your refrigerator. “Legumes are good sources of protein and fiber, while low in calories,” says Diane L. McKay, PhD, an assistant professor at Tufts’ Friedman School. “Both black eyed peas and garbanzo beans are tasty ways to get your phytochemicals as well as a variety of nutrients we may fall short on, including potassium, folate, magnesium and manganese.
Source: Tufts Health & Nutrition Letter, January 2015.


It is no secret that anything Buffalo wing flavored gets my attention (although the wings at a Buffalo Wing restaurant didn’t) so I made my version of Allrecipes’ Touchdown Pizza recently. A warning though: it’s spicy-hot and not for the “faint at heart!”
Try it before Super Bowl Sunday.


• 1 (14-ounce) pre-baked pizza crust (such as Boboli)
• 1 cup diced rotisserie chicken
• 3 tablespoons Buffalo wing sauce
• 1/2 cup Buffalo wing sauce
• 1 (4-ounce) package crumbled blue cheese
• 1 rib celery, thinly sliced
• 1 cup Sargento 6 Cheese Italian Blend

Preheat oven to 475ºF. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil. Place pizza crust on prepared baking sheet. Mix chicken with 3 tablespoons wing sauce. Spread half cup wing sauce on the pizza crust; top with blue cheese, chicken mixture and celery. Cover pizza with Italian blend cheese. Bake in preheated oven until pizza is cooked through and cheese is bubbling, about 12 minutes. Cool pizza about 5 minutes before cutting into wedges. Recipe makes 8 servings.
Source: Adapted from

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Jalapeo Popper Pizza

Any Buckeye fans reading today?? (What kind of question is that? Haha...) The BIG GAME is tonight, and I've got a great tailgating snack recipe for you! My favorite snack food to indulge in while watching football are these BBQ Bacon Jalapeno Poppers... that I posted about almost three years ago! Jalapenos are stuffed with a cream cheese/cheddar cheese mixture, then wrapped in bacon, brushed with BBQ sauce and baked until crisp. They are pretty time-consuming (and messy) to make, so I don't make them all that often. And, they're way too easy to pop one after the other into your mouth. Before you know it, half the pan is gone! IMG_9003 I decided to take the same flavors, and turn it into a pizza! Thus, Jalapeno Popper Pizza was born. I took my favorite pizza dough, spread it with cream cheese, and topped it with sliced jalapenos, bacon, and two types of cheese. It reminded me exactly of my favorite snacks! Except even better, because now there are carbs involved. Start with your favorite pizza dough (homemade or storebought). I have been using this recipe for years, and absolutely love it. IMG_8996 Grate up some cheese. Freshly grated cheese is SO much better than the bagged stuff, especially when it comes to homemade pizza. I used a mix of cheddar and a mild pepper jack. Be sure to talk to the cheese monger at your local Chief... there were several varieties of pepper jack, and I wanted one that wasn't super spicy. She was able to help me select a good one! IMG_8997 To assemble the pizza, spread the dough with some softened cream cheese, then top with your grated cheeses. Then, top with sliced jalapenos, sliced shallots, and crisp bacon pieces. I took the seeds out of my jalapenos to keep the pizza from being too spicy, but if you like the heat, be sure to leave the seeds in! PicMonkey Collage Bake the pizza according to the directions for your dough, and you've got one big sizzling jalapeno popper! (In pizza form, ha!) IMG_9004 My hubby and I both enjoyed this pizza... I might have to make another one tonight to enjoy while watching the game! (Or maybe I'll settle for some Buckeye Caramel Corn instead... hehe...)

Jalapeno Popper Pizza

Yield: One 12-inch pizza

  • 1 batch pizza dough or refrigerated dough, your choice
  • 6-oz softened cream cheese
  • 1 cup freshly grated pepper jack cheese
  • 1 cup freshly grated cheddar cheese
  • 2-3 jalapenos, thinly sliced (and seeded if desired)
  • 1-2 shallots, thinly sliced
  • 6-8 slices bacon, cooked & crumbled


1. Preheat oven to 500*F with pizza stone inside for 30 minutes. Meanwhile, prepare the pizza.

2. Sprinkle cornmeal over a piece of parchment paper. Roll out pizza dough to a 12-inch diameter (or stretch it out with your hands) and place it onto the cornmeal-topped parchment paper. Spread with softened cream cheese; then, top with grated cheeses, jalapeños, shallots, and bacon.

3. Remove (hot) pizza stone from oven and slide the parchment paper with pizza directly onto the stone. Place back in oven and bake 10 to 12 minutes until pizza crust is golden and cheese is melted.

Source: original recipe

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Mary’s Memo – January 12th


Maintaining an optimal acid-alkaline balance is integral to enjoying good health, yet our modern day diet often wreaks havoc with this delicate balance. Highly processed food acidify the body, as does a diet high in meat, dairy and sugar. Your body becomes overwhelmed with the acid imbalance and this leads to acidosis and this can lead to a host of problems from weight gain, gastrointestinal conditions to skin conditions, chronic fatigue and respiratory ailments. The pH Balance Health and Diet Guide for GERD, IBS & IBD by Dr. Fraser Smith, Susan Hannah and Dr. Daniel Richardson (; October 2014, $24.95/softback) will give you all the information you need to follow an acid-alkaline balanced diet and provides current information on common gastrointestinal conditions. Also included are 175 recipes to try.
The pH Balance Health and Diet Guide for GERD, IBS or IBD is available from or at your favorite book store.


Since I had too many recipes on the January 5 Memo, Creamy Loaded Mashed Potatoes had to be removed but is still one from 2014.


• 3 pounds russet potatoes, peeled and cubed
• 1-1/2 cups (6-ounces) reduced-fat sharp Cheddar cheese, divided
• 1 cup Hellmann’s Light Mayonnaise
• 1 cup reduced-fat Daisy Sour Cream
• 3 green onions, finely chopped
• 6 slices of bacon, crisp-cooked and crumbled

Preheat oven to 375ºF. Butter 2.5-quart baking dish. In 4-quart saucepan, cover potatoes with water; bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat to low and cook until tender; drain and mash with portable electric mixer. Stir in 1 cup cheese, mayonnaise, sour cream, green onions and half the bacon. Spoon into prepared casserole dish and bake 30 minutes or until bubbling. Top with reserved cheese and bacon. Bake an additional 5 minutes or until cheese is melted. Garnish with additional chopped green onions, if desired.
Note: All but topping can be made the night before and stored in the refrigerator until time to bake.
Source: Hellmann’s website via


My daughter-in-law, Kelly, had my name in our stocking gift exchange this past Christmas and she out-did herself with useful
items such as a non-mechanical ice cream dipper with a sealed in defrosting fluid. Ice cream can’t stick to it. It’s not a new gadget because her mother started married life with one. There’s a Company in the USA that makes “CRAZY BUT IT WORKS” gadgets including a Baggy Rack that holds storage bags open for easy filling and keeps your hands free to pour or fill. It adjusts to fit any size bag, has a non-slip grip on the bottom and folds flat for storage. Since has just about anything, I am sure both are available there.


Even though Campbell’s is probably responsible for declaring it, a bowl of hot soup is welcome treat on a cold, wintery day. I could live on a hearty soup, salad and serving of fruit. How about you?


• 2 tablespoons olive oil
• 1/4 head cabbage, shredded
• 1 red onion, cut in small dice
• 3 ribs celery, finely chopped
• 4 small Yukon Gold Potatoes, cut in 1/2-inch dice
• 2 large carrots, cut in 1-inch julienne strips
• 1 (14-ounce) cans chicken broth
• 2 (14-ounce) cans fire-roasted tomatoes with liquid
• 1 pound cut-up rotisserie chicken
• 2 teaspoons dried oregano and 6 sprigs for garnish

Add the olive oil to a large soup pot and heat over medium-high heat until oil is hot. Add cabbage, onion, celery and potatoes and sauté for 8 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the carrots, chicken broth, tomatoes and oregano. Cook 20 minutes or until vegetables are tender. Add chicken last. Serve in individual bowls garnished with sprig of oregano. Recipe makes 6 servings
Source: Kathy Thaman, Indianapolis, IN


One of the best gifts you can give your children or grandchildren is a record of your family’s medical tree. Putting all the information you have down on paper or a computer can also help you and your doctor evaluate your health risks, determine what steps you can take to reduce those risks and discuss whether you should have earlier and more frequent screening tests or pursue genetic testing. The medical tree should include your first-degree (parents, children, siblings) and second-degree (grandparents, aunts and uncles) relatives, listing their ages (or age at death) and the diseases they have or had (especially cause of death). If you were adopted or your parents used a sperm or egg donor, it may not be possible to obtain this information. Data on your grandparents may also be difficult to uncover because the cause of death might not have been known or misdiagnosed. State health departments can provide a copy of death certificates and if you go to site, they’ll help you create a family history portrait.
Source: Special Winter Issue 2014-15 University of California at Berkeley Wellness Letter.

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Quinoa, Roasted Squash, and Apple Salad with Cumin Vinaigrette

Welcome to 2015! The holidays have come and gone, and if you're anything like me, you're craving some lighter, healthier fare to get this year off to a fresh start. Grilled chicken breasts and steamed broccoli get boring fast, and sometimes it's hard to stomach leafy salads in the winter-time. (At least for me, just being honest!) IMG_8905 I've always had a bad attitude when it comes to quinoa. I've made a few recipes in the last couple years that were NOT good, and I quickly decided that quinoa was a food I just "didn't like". Well, I was watching the Food Network a few weeks ago, and Giada made this delicious looking grain-based salad using none other than - quinoa. I groaned, but decided maybe, just maybe, I would give it one more chance. It's a nutritional powerhouse - it's high in protein and fiber, and also gluten-free. I'm so glad I did, because I love quinoa in this Quinoa, Roasted Squash, and Apple Salad! Cooked quinoa is combined with roasted squash, crisp apples, dried cherries, and toasted pecans with a slightly smoky cumin vinaigrette. The vinaigrette is key here... it's where all the flavor and moisture is! I think my experiences with quinoa in the past were lacking in the flavor and moisture department. Nothing like dry quinoa to turn you away. Start by roasting your squash - roast cubed butternut squash tossed with olive oil, cumin, salt, and pepper at 400*F for about 30 minutes until tender. IMG_8901 While the squash is roasting, prepare your quinoa. Cook 11/4 cups quinoa in 2 cups vegetable stock or chicken stock about 15 minutes until water is absorbed; then let it sit 5-10 minutes before fluffing with a fork. Using stock instead of watergives it a little extra kick of flavor. IMG_8902 While the squash is roasting and quinoa is simmering, prepare your vinaigrette. Combine olive oil, apple cider vinegar, cumin, and a few other spices in a container with a lid, and shake vigorously to combine. IMG_8900 Once all these elements are done, simply combine everything in a big bowl! Squash, quinoa, baby spinach, dried cherries, and toasted pecans. Let it sit 5 minutes to wilt the spinach; then pour the vinaigrette over all. Toss to combine and serve! It can be served warm, room temperature, or cold, but I liked it warm the best. It would be even better topped with a sprinkle of feta or goat cheese! IMG_8903 IMG_8904    

Quinoa, Roasted Squash, and Apple Salad with Cumin Vinaigrette

Servings/Yield: 6 servings

  • For the vinaigrette:
    • ¼ cup olive oil
    • tablespoons apple cider vinegar
    • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
    • ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
    • ½-1 teaspoon ground cumin
    • ¼-½ teaspoon chili powder
    • dash ground cinnamon
    • dash ground allspice
    • 1 large shallot, finely chopped
  • For the salad:
    • 2 cups vegetable or chicken broth
    • cups whole-grain quinoa
    • 4-5 cups peeled & cubed butternut squash
    • 3 tablespoons olive oil
    • ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
    • ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
    • ½ teaspoon cumin
    • 1 large Honeycrisp apple, diced
    • ½ cup dried cherries
    • ¾ cup toasted chopped pecans
    • 6-8 cups baby spinach


1. For the vinaigrette, combine all ingredients in a jar or container with lid. Shake until well-combined. Set aside.

2. For the salad, roast the butternut squash. Preheat oven to 400*F. Place squash cubes in a 9x13-inch pan. Toss with olive oil, salt, black pepper, and cumin. Roast 30-40 minutes until tender, stirring every few minutes. Set aside.

3. While squash is roasting, prepare the quinoa. Bring vegetable or chicken broth to a boil in a medium saucepan; add quinoa. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer 15 minutes until quinoa is tender. Remove from heat and let quinoa stand, covered, 5-10 minutes; then fluff with a fork.

4. To make salad, place baby spinach in bottom of large bowl. Pour warm quinoa and squash over spinach; add diced apple, dried cherries, and walnut pieces. Let sit 5 minutes to wilt the spinach. Pour vinaigrette over the salad and toss to combine.

Source: adapted from Giada De Laurentiis





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Mary’s Memo – January 5th


Traditionally, the first Memo of the New Year features what I consider the best from the previous ones. Hopefully, you agree! We’re starting with daughter Mary Ann’s Smoked Sausage Harvest recipe from the January 20th Memo.


• 2 tablespoons butter
• 5 cups chopped green cabbage
• 1 medium onion, cut in half and sliced
• 1 cup sliced carrots
• 1 (15.5-ounce) can red beans, drained
• 1 (10-ounce) can Original Rotel Tomatoes
• 1 tablespoon cider vinegar
• 1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
• 2 tablespoons flour
• Dash ground pepper
• 1 (19-ounce) package Chief Smokehouse sausage, cut into 12 pieces

Preheat oven to 350ºF. Melt butter in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add cabbage, onion and carrots and sauté for about 10 minutes. Stir in beans, tomatoes and vinegar. Add cheese, flour and pepper and mix together. Spoon into 2 quart oblong casserole dish. Arrange sausage pieces on top of cabbage mixture and push down partially. Cover and bake 40 minutes or until hot. Recipe makes 6 servings, about 350 calories each.

We discovered how good roasted Brussels sprouts are last year when we tried a recipe from the Penszeys catalog and they’ve been in my vegetable rotation ever since! Recipe was in the March 17th Memo.


• 1 pound Brussels sprouts
• 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
• 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
• 1/4 teaspoon cracked pepper
• 1/2 teaspoon oregano
• 1/2 teaspoon thyme
• Juice of a half lemon

Preheat oven to 350ºF. Clean sprouts, peeling off loose, outer leaves clinging to head. Cut off stems and slice in half. Reserving lemon juice, whisk oil, salt, pepper and herbs together. Toss sprout halves in mixture until all are coated. Arrange cut-side down on a jelly roll pan. Bake in preheated oven for 20 to 25 minutes (mine were done in 20 minutes). Serve immediately after squeezing with lemon juice. Recipe makes 4 servings. Sourc e: Adapted from Penszeys catalog recipe. The next recipe we’re including is a meatless mushroom chili from the April 21st Memo made with button and baby bella mushrooms that I sliced with my egg cutter. Original recipe called for shitake but baby bella made the recipe more affordable.


• 2 tablespoons canola oil
• 1 cup chopped sweet onion
• 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
• 2 tablespoons chili powder
• 1 teaspoon ground cumin
• 1-1/2 pounds button mushrooms, sliced
• 1 (14.5-ounce) can stewed tomatoes
• 1 (15.5-ounce) can white kidney beans, rinsed (I prefer Bush brand)
• 1/2 cup sliced ripe olives, drained
• 1/2 cup water

In large saucepan heat oil until hot; add onion. Cook, stirring frequently, until onion is tender, about 5 minutes. Stir in garlic powder, chili powder and cumin; cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add mushrooms; cook, stirring occasionally, until mushrooms are crisp-tender, 6 to 8 minutes. Add stewed tomatoes, beans, olives and water. Simmer, uncovered, to blend flavors, about 10 minutes. If desired, garnish with chopped lettuce, chopped green onions and reduced-fat sharp Cheddar cheese. Recipe makes 4 servings.
Source: Adapted from Mushroom Council recipe.

My large slow cooker gets a workout at least once a week and last year Slow Cooker Beef Stroganoff from the November 17th Memo was a “thumbs up” recipe.


• 1 pound beef stew meat (cut large pieces in half)
• 1 (10.75-ounce) can condensed Healthy Request Campbell’s Golden Mushroom Soup
• 1/2 cup chopped onion
• 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
• 1/4 cup water
• 4-ounces reduced-fat cream cheese

In a 5 to 6-quart slow cooker, combine meat, soup, onion, Worcestershire sauce and water. Cook on High setting for 1 hour; reduce setting to Low and cook an additional 7 hours. Stir in cream cheese just before serving. Recipe makes 4 servings. Not e: Reynolds Slow Cooker Liner bags make clean up a breeze!

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Cranberry Cider Punch

How is New Year's Eve just around the corner already?! We had a fabulous time celebrating Christmas with our families over in Illinois, and made the big drive back to Ohio today. Let me say, traveling with a 6-week-old takes a little bit more time (and patience) than I expected. :) We don't have big plans for New Year's Eve (life with a newborn) but are planning on staying in for some homemade pizza along with a movie marathon. We will still toast at midnight, of course! If you're planning a big party or just keeping it low-key, I've got a great holiday punch perfect for any occasion. Cranberry Cider Punch combines several classic holiday flavors - cranberry, apple, orange, cinnamon - into a zippy punch that can be spiked with hard cider to make it a little more fun for adults. It's cool and refreshing while still being festive for the holidays. (Without weighing you down.) IMG_8616 To start, make the spiced simple syrup. This can be made a few days in advance if you are a planner. Combine brown sugar, water, nutmeg, cinnamon sticks, and a few orange peel slices in a saucepan. Cook over medium heat until the sugar dissolves; then, set aside to cool and refrigerate until chilled. IMG_8612 When you're ready to serve the punch, combine the spiced simple syrup with apple cider, cranberry juice, and club soda. It's great like that, but if you're feeling especially spunky, mix a glass with half punch and half hard (alcoholic) cider. It's even better. ;) IMG_8613 Cheers to a wonderful 2015!

Cranberry Cider Punch

Servings/Yield: 12-16 servings

  • 8 cups apple cider
  • 4 cups club soda
  • 4 cups cranberry juice
  • 4-6 cups hard cider (alcoholic)
  • For the spiced simple syrup
    • 1 cup brown sugar
    • 1 cup water
    • ¼ teaspoon nutmeg
    • 3 cinnamon sticks
    • 3-4 slices orange rind


1. To make the spiced simple syrup, combine brown sugar, water, nutmeg, cinnamon sticks, and orange slices in a medium saucepan. Cook over medium heat until sugar dissolves. Refrigerate until cool.

2. Once cool, combine simple syrup with apple cider, club soda, and cranberry juice in large pitcher or punch bowl. Add hard cider along with punch to individual serving glasses.

Source: adapted from How Sweet It Is

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Mary’s Memo – December 29th


To be honest, I’m not into aromatherapy but knowing some memo readers are interested, The Complete Aromatherapy & Essential Oils Handbook for Everyday Wellness by Nerys Purchon and Lora Cantele (; October 15, 2014, $24.95/softback) deals with 109 essential oils and more than 450 remedies and uses. The best known way to employ oils is through massage, but as you will discover in this comprehensive book, there are so many ways to use them for everything from arthritis and asthma to high blood pressure and constipation. Essential oils are attracting more attention and emerging as scientifically proven and accepted remedies.

Nerys Purchon was one of Australia’s leading experts on aromatherapy and essential oils. Her books have sold more than 300,000 copies worldwide. Lora Cantele is a registered clinical aromatologist, certified Swiss reflect therapist, international lecturer and aromatherapy educator and writer. In 2009-2010, she brought her professional expertise to a pilot program aimed at providing a better quality of life to children with life-limiting diseases including cerebral palsy and muscular dystrophy.


At some point, you’ve probably heard that you shouldn’t eat eggs if you have high cholesterol or heart disease, However, in recent years, researchers have learned much about dietary cholesterol, as well as the many nutritional benefits of eggs. “Eggs offer a variety of nutrients, notably protein,” says clinical dietitian Stephan Torres, RD, CDN, with New York-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell Medical Center. “Eggs are a source of complete protein: They contain all nine essential amino acids in an adequate amount. In fact, eggs are the reference other foods are held to when assessing their protein profile.” Torres explains that studies suggest that, in people with heart disease, recommendations are slightly more stringent: no more than four to six eggs per week,” Torres says. One large egg contains about 187 milligrams (mg) of cholesterol. The American Heart Association recommends limiting dietary cholesterol to 300 mg per day for healthy Americans, and 200 mg for those with high cholesterol. If you want to have an egg each day, you need to pay attention to the cholesterol in other foods you eat. But it’s important to remember that cholesterol in not a dirty word. “Cholesterol is vital to the human body,” Torres says. “It makes various hormones, vitamin D, bile acids, and substances needed to build cell walls. The body synthesizes all of the cholesterol it needs via the liver. Excess cholesterol can cause plaque in blood vessel walls, leading to increased risk of a coronary event.” Only about 20 percent comes from the foods you eat. For many people, moderate amounts of dietary cholesterol can be metabolized by their bodies without unhealthy buildup occurring in their blood vessels. But dietary cholesterol affects each person differently. Your genes play a significant role in the way your body produces and metabolizes cholesterol. ”Fortunately, there are foods that can lower blood cholesterol, such as fruits and vegetables, and whole grains,” Torres says. “Exercise and weight loss if you are overweight also contribute to cholesterol reduction.”
Source: Weill Cornell Medical College Women’s Nutrition Connection, December 2014.


Mary Ann brought Babaganoush as an appetizer before our Thanksgiving dinner. Note: She added a pinch (1/8 teaspoon) smoked paprika to the original recipe.


• 1 large eggplant (about 1 pound)
• 1 clove garlic, minced
• 1/4 teaspoon salt
• 1/4 cup finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley, plus more for garnish
• 2 tablespoons tahini
• 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

Preheat oven to 450ºF. Prick eggplant with a fork and place on a cookie sheet lined with foil. Bake the eggplant until it is soft inside, about 20 minutes. Let the eggplant cool. Cut in half lengthwise, drain off liquid and scoop the pulp into a food processor. Process the eggplant until smooth and transfer to a medium bowl. On a cutting board, work garlic and 1/4 teaspoon salt together with the flat side of a knife, until it forms a paste. Add garlic-salt mixture to the eggplant. Stir in parsley, tahini and lemon juice. Season with more salt to taste and smoked paprika. Garnish with additional parsley.
Source: Adapted from Food Network’s Ellie Krieger’s recipe via Mary Ann Thaman.

The second dip, Spicy Pumpkin Hummus, is in Fran DeWine's Family Favorites, 12th Edition - 2014.


• 1 can chick peas (garbanzo beans)
• 2 cloves garlic, minced
• 1/4 cup lemon juice
• 1/4 cup water
• 3 tablespoons tahini or peanut butter
• 1/2 cup pumpkin, fresh cooked or canned
• 1 teaspoon cumin
• 3/4 teaspoon salt
• 1/4 teaspoon cayenne
• 1/4 cup olive oil

Mix thoroughly in food processor. Serve with pita bread or tortilla chips or veggies.


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Bagel & Cream Cheese Baked French Toast

Christmas is just 3 days away... do you have everything on your list completed? I'll admit, I've been running around like a crazy person these last couple days to finish all my to-do's for the big holiday. I didn't even start wrapping gifts until yesterday! (Usually, I have them all finished at least a week before Christmas.) To say the least, I am a bit frazzled this year!

If you're feeling the same way, I've got a simple breakfast casserole that is sure to please any group. Bagel & Cream Cheese Baked French Toast takes all your favorite flavors of an everything bagel toasted with cream cheese, and turns it into a warm, comforting French toast casserole that is super easy to prepare. Assemble the casserole the evening before, and all you have to do is pop it in the oven in the morning. You'll have a winner of a breakfast (or brunch) that is sure to please everyone.

Start with a package of everything bagels. Rip them into pieces and place in a 9x13-inch pan.



Cut a package of cream cheese into cubes, and nestle it in between the bagel pieces. Top the whole thing with grated cheddar cheese.


Mix up the egg custard - eggs, milk, cream, and some fresh chives. Pour that over the bagels & cheeses in the baking dish. Cover, and refrigerate overnight.


In the morning, bake about 45 minutes covered with foil, then remove the foil and bake 15 minutes more until cheese is golden brown. Serve it up with a big fruit salad and some bacon!

Somehow, I missed getting a picture of the end product... just picture toasty bagels with gooey cream cheese and a fluffy egg custard. So good! The creamy pockets of cream cheese were my favorite part. I am dreaming up a sweet blueberry version as well. The options are endless!

Bagel & Cream Cheese Baked French Toast

Yield: One 9x13-inch pan

  • 6 everything bagels
  • 8-oz package cream cheese
  • 2 cups grated cheddar cheese
  • 8 eggs
  • 2 cups milk
  • ½ cup heavy cream
  • 1 tablespoon fresh chopped chives
  • ½ teaspoon ground mustard
  • ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • ½ teaspoon salt


1. Spray a 9x13-inch baking dish with cooking spray. Tear bagels into bite-size pieces; place into pan. Cut cream cheese into chunks, and distribute them all throughout the bagels. Sprinkle with grated cheddar cheese.

2. In a medium bowl, whisk together eggs, milk, cream, chives, ground mustard, cayenne, and salt. Pour over bagel mixture, pressing bagels down to ensure all are coated with egg mixture. Cover with foil and refrigerate several hours or overnight.

3. When you’re ready to bake the casserole, bake, covered, for 45 minutes at 350*F. Uncover and bake 15 to 20 minutes longer, until the top is golden brown. Let cool 10 to 15 minutes before serving.

Source: The Pioneer Woman Cooks: A Year of Holidays