Strawberry Nutella Bruschetta

When it comes to cooking, I love to work with seasonal ingredients. Fresh fruits are one of my favorites, but it's hard to get through the winter with just citrus fruit! Now that spring is here, I'm going crazy with berries, especially strawberries. IMG_0109   Strawberry Nutella Bruschetta is a tasty little bite perfect for a Mother's Day brunch, afternoon tea, or baby or bridal shower. Crusty bread is brushed with melted butter and toasted, then topped with a creamy Nutella mixture, fresh strawberries, and fresh mint. Get started with your bread. I picked up a loaf of crusty French bread from the Chief bakery, but you can grab whatever strikes your fancy! Cut it into small rounds, and brush with some melted butter. Pop it under the broiler for 2-3 minutes until golden brown. IMG_0103 While the bread is toasting, mix up your Nutella mixture. Just equal parts whipped cream cheese and Nutella. IMG_0102 To assemble the bruschetta, spread each toasted bread slice with a spoonful of the Nutella mixture, and then top with finely diced strawberries and fresh mint. Mmmm, such a great contrast of textures. The Nutella gets a little melty on the warm bread, and the mint adds a nice touch of freshness.   IMG_0107  

Strawberry Nutella Bruschetta

Yield: 6-8 servings

  • 1 loaf French bread, cut into 1/2-inch slices
  • 2 tablespoons melted butter
  • ½ cup whipped cream cheese
  • ½ cup Nutella
  • 1 pint strawberries, finely diced
  • 1 tablespoon fresh mint, roughly chopped

Method

1. Preheat oven to broil. Place bread slices on baking sheet; brush with melted butter. Toast 2-3 minutes until golden brown.

2. In a small bowl, combine cream cheese and Nutella. Spread over each toasted bread slice. Top with diced strawberries and chopped mint.

Source: adapted from Floating Kitchen

Mary’s Memo – April 20th

THE COOKBOOK SHELF


Ciao Biscotti, Sweet and Savory Recipes Celebrating Italy’s Favorite Cookie By Domenica Marchetti (Chronicle Books, April 2015, $18.95/hardback) is filled with traditional flavors such as Hazelnut or Anise, coffeehouse classics like Cranberry Pistachio, tempting versions such as Browned Butter or Toblerone or savory ones including Mountain Gorgonzola and Walnut.

Domenica Marchetti is the author of five books, most recently The Glorious Vegetables of Italy (also published by Chronicle Books). Her articles have appeared in the Washington Post and many other publications. Her food blog is DominicaCooks.com. Photographs are by Antonis Achilleos, a New York-based photographer specializing in food and lifestyle photos. His work has appeared in numerous publications including Bon Appetit, Real Simple and Martha Stewart Living.
Cappuccino Dunkers are homemade answer to the gargantuan biscotti you find at fancy bakeries.

CAPPUCCINO DUNKERS


• 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
• 3 large eggs
• 1 tablespoon instant expresso powder
• 1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
• 2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
• Scant 1 cup granulated sugar
• 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
• 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
• 3/4 cup whole almonds, toasted (see below)

Heat oven to 3500F. Lightly coat an 11x17-inch rimmed baking sheet with oil. In a bowl, whisk together the eggs, expresso powder and vanilla. Combine the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt in bowl of a standard mixer fitted with paddle attachment. Add almonds and mix on low speed to combine. Add the egg mixture and mix on medium speed until a soft, sticky dough has formed. Gather the dough on the baking sheet. Lightly moisten your hands with water and use your fingers to pat into a log about 4½ inches wide and 12 inches long. Bake log for 20 to 25 minutes, or until lightly browned and just set, it should be springy to the touch and there should be cracks on the surface. Transfer the baking sheet to a cooling rack. Gently slide an offset spatula under the log to loosen it from the baking sheet. Let the log cool for 5 minutes and then transfer it to the rack and cool 20 minutes. Lower oven temperature to 3000F. Transfer cooled log to a cutting board and using a serrated bread knife, cut it on the diagonal into 3/4-inch thick slices. Arrange slices, cut-side up, on baking sheet and bake for 15 minutes. Turn the slices over and bake for another 10 to 15 minutes, until they are crisp. Transfer the slices to the rack to cool completely. The biscotti will keep for up to two weeks in an airtight container stored at room temperature. Recipe makes 18 biscotti. (To skin almonds, place almonds in a heat-proof bowl and pour boiling water over them. Let sit about 1 minute to loosen skins. Drain and rinse and use your fingers to pop the almonds out of their skins.)
Source: Ciao Biscotti by Domenica Marchetti (Chronicle Books, April 2015, $18.95/hardback).

TAKING THE TOWN BY STORM!


On the recommendation of my sister, Ann, and recipe via niece Jennifer, I served Dill Pickle Soup at the Bryan Chief this spring. You do have to like dill pickles to enjoy this soup and I do! For that matter, I haven’t tasted any kind of pickle I didn’t like!

Originator of the soup is the Noble Pig Restaurant in Austin, TX, where menu includes only pork recipes, the soup being one of them. To cut fat calories, I replaced regular sour cream with reduced fat Daisy brand. Because dill pickles are salty, some more than others, I didn’t use any salt in the soup. Note: If you have one, doing vegetables in food processor saves time.

DILL PICKLE SOUP


• 5 1/2 cups Swanson Chicken Broth
• 5 to 6 medium russet potatoes, peeled and quartered
• 2 cups chopped carrots (small dice – 2 to 3 large)
• 1 cup chopped dill pickle (about 3 large whole dills)
• 1/2 cup unsalted butter (1 stick)
• 1 cup all-purpose flour
• 1 cup reduced-fat Daisy brand sour cream
• 1/4 cup water
• 2 cups pickle juice
• 1 1/2 teaspoons Old Bay Seasoning
• 1/2 teaspoon coarsely ground pepper
• 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

In large pot, combine broth, potatoes, carrots and butter; bring to a boil and cook until potatoes are tender. Add pickles and continue to boil. In medium bowl, stir together flour, sour cream and water, making a paste. Vigorously whisk sour cream mixture, 2 tablespoons at a time, into soup. Although this will break up some of the potatoes, don’t be concerned. Also, you might see some initial little balls form but between whisking and boiling all will disappear! Add pickle juice, Old Bay, pepper and cayenne. Cook 5 minutes and remove from heat. Serve immediately.
Source: Adapted from noblepig.com recipe.

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Asparagus, Goat Cheese, & Pancetta Flatbread

Spring is FINALLY HERE! The sun is shining, the birds are chirping, the grass is turning green again. I love all the season changes of the year, but the transition to spring has to be my favorite. It's like the whole world comes to life again. I love to cook with fresh & light flavors in the spring time, and this Asparagus, Goat Cheese, & Pancetta Flatbread has it all. Asparagus, chives, and lemon bring bright notes to a cheesy flatbread that's perfect as a main dish or appetizer. IMG_0114 The recipe's not too involved... the hardest part is mixing up the goat cheese mixture! You can find this great local goat cheese from Turkeyfoot Creek Creamery in Wauseon, Ohio. Look in your Chief store's specialty cheese section. It's so good! Mix it up with a little lemon zest and some chopped chives, and it's ready for topping the flatbread. IMG_0105 For the flatbread, I used a simple naan bread found in my Chief store's deli/bakery section. You could also pick up a bag of pita bread or large tortillas. To assemble the flatbread, simply layer up all the ingredients - mozzarella, the goat cheese mixture, crisp pancetta (or bacon), and shaved asparagus pieces. The asparagus almost melts into the flatbread as it bakes, and adds a great layer of flavor. IMG_0111 When you take it out of the oven, add a few chopped pistachios for garnish, and slice it up. Pour yourself a glass of white wine, and you've got the perfect date night or girls' night meal.

Asparagus, Goat Cheese, & Pancetta Flatbread

Servings/Yield: 2 servings

  • 2 large pieces naan bread or flatbread
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 4-oz goat cheese
  • 1 cup freshly grated mozzarella cheese
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh chives
  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest
  • 5-6 large asparagus spears, shaved into thin pieces
  • 3-oz pancetta, cooked until crisp and crumbled
  • 3-4 tablespoon chopped pistachios

Method

1. Preheat oven to 400*F. In a small bowl, combine goat cheese with chives and lemon zest; mix until smooth.

2. Drizzle naan bread with olive oil. Sprinkle with mozzarella cheese. Place dollops of goat cheese mixture over mozzarella cheese. Top with shaved asparagus and pancetta pieces. Season with salt & pepper.

3. Bake directly on oven racks for 10-12 minutes until naan is crisp and cheese is melted. Remove from oven and top with pistachios. Cut into wedges and serve.

Source: adapted from Two Peas and their Pod

Mary’s Memo – April 13th

FROM THE COOKBOOK SHELF


Eat Right for Your Sight by Jennifer Trainer Thompson and Johanna M. Seddon, MD, ScM (The Experiment Publishing Company, February 24 2015, $24.95/softback) was first published in 2014 as a project of the Macular Degeneration Foundation. With 85 delicious recipes that act like medicine, but don’t taste like it, eating for your eye health has never been easier with this indispensable guide.

Jennifer Trainer has written about science, food, art and lifestyle for the New York Times, Travel and Leisure, Discover and more. She’s the author or coauthor of 16 books including three James Beard Award-nominated cookbooks. Johanna M. Seddon is a professor of ophthalmology at Tufts University School of Medicine and the founding director of the Ophthalmic Epidemiology and Genetics Service at the New England Eye Center, Tufts Medical Center. Her research has earned numerous awards and honors. There is a potential link between eating a lot of tomatoes and reducing your risk of age-related diseases such as heart disease and cancer. While the studies aren’t conclusive, tomatoes, which are high in vitamin A, vitamin C, calcium, folate, potassium and lycopene, may help promote healthy eyes.

GREEK SALAD


• 20 cherry tomatoes, halved
• 2 cucumbers, peeled, halved and sliced ½ inch thick
• 1/2 small red onion, thinly sliced
• 3 ounces feta cheese, diced
• 15 Kalamata olives, pitted and quartered
• 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
• 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
• 2 teaspoons freshly chopped oregano
• Freshly ground pepper

In a bowl, toss the ingredients gently to blend. Let them sit for 10 minutes before serving. Recipe serves 4 to 6.
Source: Eat Right for Your Sight (The Experiment Publishing Company, February 2015). Note: Order cookbook online via Amazon.com. It’s also available as an ebook.

SEVEN GUIDELINES TO REDUCING THE RISK OF CANCER


1. Avoid excess alcohol intake
2. Don’t smoke
3. Maintain a healthy weight
4. Sleep at least 7 to 8 hours a night
5. Engage in physical activity
6. Avoid eating between meals
7. Eat breakfast

Source: Duke Medicine Health News, April 2015.

QUESTIONS FROM SHOPPERS AND MEMO READERS


Q: What is agave?

A: Agave, pronounced ah-GAH-vee, is a native plant of US, Mexico and Central America. It is poisonous raw, but when baked or made into syrup has a mild flavor.

Q: What is kimchi?

A: Kimchi, pronounced KIHM-chee, a Korean favorite food, is made from fermented Nappa cabbage. If you can get beyond the fermented cabbage image, added to other foods, it takes on an entirely different dimension. It’s enjoying popularity in trendy restaurants around the country. Recently, most Bryan Chief tasters gave a “thumbs up” to kimchi in a grilled cheese sandwich. To keep bread from getting soggy, kimchi was in between 2 thin Cheddar cheese slices.

KIMCHI GRILLED CHEESE SANDWICH


• 2 slices Our Family wheat bread
• Softened butter to thinly spread on one side of each bread slice
• 2 thin slices Our Family sharp Cheddar cheese (or your favorite cheese)
• 1/3 cup kimchi (sold in Chief’s produce department), well drained, patted dry and chopped

Heat skillet over medium heat (electric skillet can also be used). Place bread, butter-side down in skillet. Layer kimchi over one slice of cheese. Flip the cheese only slice onto the kimchi-and-cheese slice to complete sandwich. With spatula lightly press sandwich together. Grill until cheese is melted and squishes together. Cut diagonally to serve. Recipe makes 1 sandwich.
Source: Adapted from Two Bowls Internet recipe.

ANOTHER COOKED CARROT RECIPE


Originally this recipe was featured in Woman’s Day Holiday Cooking and Entertaining, Pickled Cocktail Carrots is a winner! Include on a relish tray or serve alone.

PICKLED COCKTAIL CARROTS


• 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
• 1 1/2 cups cider vinegar
• 1 cup water
• 2 teaspoons mustard seed
• 2 teaspoons dill seeds
• 2 teaspoons celery seeds
• 1/2 teaspoon salt
• 2 large cloves garlic, minced
• 2-pound bag of baby carrots

In large pot, combine sugar, vinegar, 1 cup water, mustard, dill and celery seeds, salt, garlic and carrots. Bring to a boil. Cover and reduce heat and simmer 10 minutes. Store in covered plastic container at least one week to allow flavors to develop. Can be stored in the refrigerator for up to one month.

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Avocado Egg Salad

Did you have a great Easter weekend? My husband, baby James, & I spent the weekend visiting family over in central Illinois, soaking up the beautiful sunshine! Of course, baby James has loved the extra cuddles with all his grandparents. Who can resist this cutie in his baby fedora?! IMG_0171 It always seems like we have an overabundance of hard-boiled eggs the week after Easter. I've got a great way for you to use up those eggs - Avocado Egg Salad! I've recently become obsessed with avocados... avocado on turkey sandwiches, avocado in wraps, avocado BLT's, fresh avocado with a spoon. When I saw this recipe for Avocado Egg Salad, I knew it would be a winner. IMG_0046 I whipped it up in about 5 minutes after church, and my hubby & I enjoyed it for lunch. It's packed with avocado flavor, the addition of lemon juice and green onions make it light and refreshing. It's delicious served between two slices of bread, on mini croissants, or scooped up with crackers. IMG_0040 It's a cinch to make - mash your avocado, then add all the remaining ingredients. Stir to combine, and then season with salt & pepper. That's it! The hardest part is boiling the eggs, haha. ;) IMG_0048 Enjoy!

Avocado Egg Salad

Yield: 2-3 servings

Ingredients

  • 2 hard-boiled eggs, chopped
  • 2 hard-boiled egg whites, chopped
  • 1 large avocado, ripe
  • 1 tablespoon plain Greek yogurt, (or sour cream)
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons chopped green onion
  • ½-1 teaspoon sriracha chili sauce
  • salt & fresh ground pepper pepper, to taste

Method

In a bowl, mash the avocado with a fork. Add the hard-boiled eggs and egg whites, Greek yogurt, lemon juice, green onion, and sriracha chili sauce. Stir to combine. Season with salt and pepper. Serve on sliced bread, croissants, or with crackers for dipping.

Mary’s Memo – April 6th

HEALTHY SKIN FROM INSIDE OUT


It’s said that you are what you eat, and that is especially true when it comes to your skin. Diet and nutrition can directly affect the health and appearance of your body’s largest organ. Here is a look at how increasing your intake of some nutrients and reducing your intake of others can strengthen your skin. To minimize wrinkles and lines, vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant that blocks free radicals that damage the skin and assists with tissue repair to reduce the appearance of wrinkles. Some of the foods highest in vitamin C include sweet bell peppers, oranges, pineapple, strawberries, cantaloupe, grapefruit and broccoli. Women should consume 75 milligrams (mg) daily, which is easy to achieve with consistent fruit and vegetable intake. “Aim for 5 cups per day of fruits and vegetables, and add them to every meal,” says Bridget Quinn, RD, a dietitian at New York-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell Medical College. Lack of moisture can cause skin dryness and more prominent lines and wrinkles, and most women (and men) don’t get enough fluids from their diets. It’s important to drink several glasses of water daily, says Quinn, as well as consuming other hydrating beverages (unsweetened coffee and tea) and foods (cucumbers, celery, melon, tomatoes and leafy greens). Other foods and beverages can draw moisture from your skin. “Foods that contain simple carbohydrates, such as white bread, crackers, candy, chips and soda immediately increase blood glucose levels, causing a spike in insulin levels, which leads to inflammation. This response can worsen overall appearance of the skin.” A diet high in sodium can have the same affect, so limit or bypass high sodium-foods, which typically can be deli meats, canned goods, frozen meals, sauces, salad dressings and condiments. Source: Weill Cornell Medical College Women’s Nutrition Connection, April 2015.

BE WARY OF YOGURT-COVERED SNACKS LIKE PRETZELS AND RAISINS


Despite their healthy image, in most cases, the yogurt coating is predominately sugar and fat, with little if any yogurt. A 1 1/2-ounce serving (8 pieces) of one popular brand of yogurt pretzels, for example, contains 7 grams saturated fat, 200 calories and only 40 milligrams of calcium (4 percent of Daily Value). Some snacks now claim to be covered in Greek yogurt, which wouldn’t make them any healthier. A far more nutritious snack is plain low-fat yogurt, which has as much as 450 milligrams of calcium per cup; top it off with raisins or fresh fruit.
Source: University of California, Berkeley Wellness Letter, March 2015.

SUGGESTIONS FOR LEFTOVER EASTER HAM


It amazes me that many of you who have my cookbook (now sold out) have never tried some of the recipes I like a lot such as Quiche Without a Crust.

QUICHE WITHOUT A CRUST


• 2 cups whole wheat bread cubes (or white)
• 3 tablespoons butter, melted
• 8 eggs
• 1 1/2 cups milk (whatever kind you drink)
• 1/2 teaspoon salt
• 1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
• 2 cups Our Family brand Swiss cheese, shredded
• 1 cup cooked ham cut in julienne strips

In bottom of a 10-inch quiche dish or pie plate, toss together bread cubes and melted butter. Spread evenly on bottom of dish. In a large bowl whisk together eggs until well blended; add milk, salt, nutmeg, cheese and ham. Pour egg mixture over bread cubes. Bake in preheated 3500F oven for 35 minutes or until golden brown and puffy. Cut into 8 servings.

I’ve worked weekends at the Bryan Chief long enough to know that ease-of-preparation and relatively inexpensive to make recipes are the most popular. Enter Betty Crocker’s Three Ingredient Lemon Loaf. Because Chief doesn’t carry a 5.3-ounce container of Yoplait Lemon Meringue Yogurt, it was replaced with Dannon Oikos Lemon Meringue Greek Yogurt. To make it more lemony, Betty Crocker White was replaced with Betty Crocker Lemon Cake Mix. Lemon desserts make me think of spring.

“MY APOLOGIES TO BETTY CROCKER” THREE INGREDIENT LEMON LOAF


• 1 box Betty Crocker SuperMoist Lemon Cake Mix
• 2.3-ounce container Dannon Oikos Lemon Meringue Greek Yogurt
• 1 cup water

Preheat oven to 3500F. Spray 9x5x3-inch loaf pan with cooking spray. For easy removal, line bottom of pan with cooking parchment paper. In large bowl, beat cake mix, yogurt and water for 1 minute with electric mixer on low speed, then medium speed for an additional 2 minutes. Pour batter into prepared pan. Bake 50 minutes (check at 45 minutes) or until a cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool on rack for 10 minutes; run a sharp knife around the edge to loosen. Remove from pan to rack to cool completely, about 1 hour. Recipe makes 12 servings. A scoop of vanilla ice cream and fresh berries on top makes a colorful presentation.
Source: Adapted from Betty Crocker internet recipe.

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Almond Croissants

I've got quite the decadent breakfast treat for you today - Almond Croissants. (No, we are not making croissants from scratch... I'm not that crazy! Though homemade croissants are on my baking bucket list.) IMG_0029 These would make a great Easter morning breakfast or a nice addition to an Easter brunch buffet. Heck, they'd make a great dessert topped with some vanilla bean or salted caramel ice cream! Day-old bakery croissants are soaked in a vanilla simple syrup, then filled with a toasted almond cream, and baked until golden and toasty brown. They are buttery and just slightly sweet... perfect when served warm from the oven. Start by making the vanilla simple syrup. Just combine some water, sugar, and vanilla extract in a bowl, and microwave until the sugar dissolves. IMG_0022 For the almond cream, combine some almonds with sugar in the bowl of a food processor; pulse until coarsely ground. Then add some softened butter and pulse until smooth. Finally, add a few eggs and pulse until creamy and fluffy. almond cream Now for the assembly. Slice your day-old croissants (they need to be a little dry) in half; then dip each half quickly into the simple syrup. Dollop a bit of the almond cream onto each bottom half and cover with the top half. Spread with a bit more almond cream, and top with a few sliced almonds. IMG_0021 IMG_0023 Bake at 350*F for 15 to 18 minutes until golden brown and toasted. A little bit of powdered sugar, and they're ready to be devoured!

IMG_0024

Almond Croissants

Yield: 12-15 croissants

  • 12-15 small day-old croissants
  • cup sliced almonds, toasted
  • powdered sugar, for garnish
  • For the syrup
    • 1 cup water
    • 2 tablespoons sugar
    • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • For the almond cream
    • cup sliced almonds, toasted
    • ½ cup sugar
    • pinch salt
    • ½ cup unsalted butter, softened
    • 2 large eggs

Method

1. For the syrup, combine 2 tablespoons sugar, water, and vanilla extract in a small microwaveable dish. Microwave on high 1 minute until sugar dissolves. Stir, and set aside.

2. For the almond cream filling, combine 1/2 cup sugar, 2/3 cup almonds, and salt in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse until finely ground. Add the softened butter, and mix again until well-blended. Add the eggs; pulse on high speed until creamy and fluffy.

3. Preheat oven to 350*F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or spray with cooking spray.

4. Slice each croissant in half sandwich style. Dip each half of the croissant quickly in the syrup, just a light coating. Place on baking sheet. Spread 1-2 tablespoons of the almond cream on the bottom half of the croissant; place top half onto bottom half. Spread another tablespoon of almond cream on top. Repeat with remaining croissants.

5. Sprinkle sliced almonds over the top of all the croissant sandwiches. Bake at 350*F for 15 to 18 minutes until golden brown and toasted. Sprinkle with powdered sugar. Serve warm.

Source: adapted from Natasha's Kitchen

Mary’s Memo – March 30th

GADGET WORTH BUYING!


Living alone, I can’t tell you how much produce I throw away so is it any wonder that I didn’t hesitate buying a package of two Bluapples plus a one year refill kit. That said, most households have experienced throwing away tons of spoiled fruits and vegetables and when produce was inexpensive, no one cared. But each Bluapple contains a packet of active granules which absorb ethylene gas continuously in your produce storage space. The active ingredient in Bluapple acts like an ethylene gas molecule “flypaper” collecting the gas and rendering it harmless. No other gasses or chemicals emitted by Bluapple and your food can be harmed. Bluapple will continue to absorb ethylene gas until it’s filled to capacity, and then the packet will need to be replaced. Tear open the used packet and add it to your houseplants, it makes a great fertilizer! Bluapple is made of food-grade polypropylene in the USA without lead-based coloring and dyes and it is BPA-free. The earth-friendly Bluapple is designed to be refilled, and not added to landfills. One Year Refill Kits are available from your local retailer or online. PS: If you log on to www.TheBluapple.com and enter a valid e-mail address and the beginning use date, Bluapple will send you a confidential packet replacement reminder every three months.

A Chef’n Zipstrip was a recent purchase at a cost of $8.00 plus tax. Zipstrip easily strips, collects and measures herbs like thyme and rosemary. Just pull woody stem through a choice of 4 hole sizes. It’s also BPA free and top-rack dishwasher safe.

If not available in a houseware department where you shop, order from Amazon.com.

DIETITIANS PICK TOP TRENDS


Trends to watch in nutrition-driven consumer choices this year will include growing popularity for seeds and nuts, green tea and "ancient grains” such as amaranth, quinoa, spelt and freekah, according to a survey of 500 registered dietitians. The survey, conducted for the journal Today’s Dietitian, predicted that consumers will eat less red meat and continue to turn away from low-fat diets. Kale and coconut will remain popular (accurate for kale, less so for coconut), as will healthy choices like Greek yogurt and avocado. The dietitians also predicted consumers will keep trying gluten-free and wheat-free diets to lose weight (than a genuine need, as in celiac-disease patients). Despite a lack of evidence supporting such regimens for weight loss, the so-called “Paleo diet” will gain in popularity. Also on the rise: misinformation about nutrition, fueled in part by the Internet.
Source: Tufts University Health & Nutrition Letter, March 2015.

ABOUT NEW STORE BRAND, OUR FAMILY


The new store brand at Chief is Our Family. When it comes to any store brand, you may like some while I prefer name brand and vice versa. So I’ve been doing comparison testing of several Our Family products with positive impressions to report about Our Family sliced red beets, cheese slices and cocktail sauce to name a few. As for red beets, I compared Our Family sliced red beets with Freshlike sliced. Eaten uncooked from the cans, the flavor and appearance was the same. Accustomed to buying Sargento thin slices, Our Family Natural Pepper Jack looked and tasted the same. Ditto for Our Family cocktail sauce compared to Cross and Blackwell Zesty Shrimp Sauce that I had on hand. Our Family was brighter red while Cross and Blackwell Zesty Shrimp Sauce was a tad more salty. In coming weeks I will report on more experiences with Our Family products but don’t expect me to give up favorites such as Bush beans, Folger’s coffee, Hellmann’s Light Mayonnaise and Arps milk, name brands that I buy no matter what!

SOLD OUT!


Just so you know, my cookbook, “Thank You, I’m Glad You Liked It,” is sold out. Many have asked if there will be a reprinting and the answer is no, although a supplement with additional recipes is a possibility but not a certainty.

EASTER SIDE DISH


A Thaman vegetable favorite has always been asparagus. Serving it in a casserole was a way to extend it.

ASPARAGUS CHEESE CASSEROLE


• 2 pounds fresh asparagus, washed and trimmed
• 1 tablespoon butter
• 1/4 cup flour
• 1 teaspoon salt
• 1/8 teaspoon pepper
• 1 cup milk (whatever kind you use)
• 2 tablespoons chopped pimiento
• 6 hard-cooked eggs, sliced
• 8-ounces shredded, sharp Cheddar cheese
• 1/2 cup buttered crumbs

Cook asparagus until barely tender; drain well. Melt butter in a saucepan; blend in flour, salt and pepper. Add milk and cook, stirring constantly until mixture thickens and boils. Remove from heat and add pimiento. In 1½ quart casserole, alternate layers of asparagus, egg slices, sauce and cheese. Top with buttered crumbs. Bake in 3500F oven until bubbly. Let stand 10 minutes before serving. Recipe makes 6 to 8 servings.

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Crunchy Chicken Bites with Celery-Carrot Slaw

I was first introduced to Pampered Chef about 6 years ago, while I was still in college. One of my friends had a Pampered Chef party, and since I enjoy cooking, I attended and had a blast. I came away from the party with my first clay baking stone - and I'm still using it today! At the party, I also purchased a cookbook, 29 Minutes to Dinner. Who needs 30 minutes to cook dinner, when you can do it in just 29?! ;) It was my go-to cookbook throughout my senior year of college... easy, simple recipes that were easy to prepare and pretty nutritious. I recently re-discovered the cookbook, and decided to share one of my favorite meals. Crunchy Chicken Bites are bite-size pieces of chicken breast, coated in a crunchy whole grain chip coating, and baked until golden brown and crispy. They are served with a side of celery-carrot slaw and a homemade ranch dipping sauce. IMG_9941 First, make the dipping sauce by combining some sour cream, mayonnaise, and a tablespoon of ranch seasoning powder. This actually doubles as the dressing for the slaw as well. Set aside. To prep the chicken, cut it into bite-size pieces, about 1-inch cubes. In a medium bowl, beat an egg white together with another tablespoon of the ranch seasoning powder. Add the chicken pieces to the bowl and toss to coat evenly. In a gallon-size zipper bag, combine 6 cups of whole grain chips (Sun Chips!) with the rest of the ranch seasoning powder and a bit of paprika. Crush the chips to smithereens and shake to combine everything. Add the chicken pieces to the bag, and shake to coat evenly. IMG_9930 Place the chicken pieces onto a baking stone or large baking sheet. Bake at 400*F for 14-16 minutes until golden brown and chicken juices run clear. IMG_9936 While chicken is baking, prepare the rest of the slaw. Combine thinly sliced celery and carrot with about half the dipping sauce from earlier. Add a bit of gorgonzola cheese and mix to combine. IMG_9932 Such a quick & easy meal! The chicken stays nice & juicy, while the Sun Chips give them a bit of a crunch. The carrot-celery slaw adds a nice contrast on the side. I am thinking they'd be even better with the cheesy Sun Chips! Yum! IMG_9943

Crunchy Whole Grain Chicken Bites

Yield: 3-4 servings

  • For the dressing & slaw:
    • ½ cup reduced fat sour cream
    • 2 tablespoons reduced fat mayonnaise
    • 1-oz package powdered ranch seasoning, divided
    • 5 stalks celery, thinly sliced
    • 10-12 baby carrots, thinly sliced
    • ¼ cup gorgonzola cheese
  • For the chicken bites:
    • 1-lb boneless skinless chicken breast, cut into bite-size pieces
    • 1 egg white
    • 6 cups whole-grain chips, such as Sun Chips
    • ¼ teaspoon paprika

Method

1. Preheat oven to 400*F. For dressing, combine sour cream, mayonnaise, and 1 tablespoon ranch seasoning mix. Set aside.

2. Whisk together egg white with 1 tablespoon ranch seasoning mix in a medium bowl. Add chicken pieces, and mix to combine.

3. Add chips to large gallon-size freezer bag with remaining ranch seasoning mix and paprika. Crush chips and mix to combine. Add chicken pieces to bag and shake to coat evenly.

4. Place coated chicken pieces on baking stone or baking sheet. Bake at 400*F for 14-16 minutes until golden brown and chicken juices run clear.

5. Prepare slaw by combine about half the dressing with celery, carrots, and gorgonzola cheese. Serve chicken bites with remaining dressing (to dip) and slaw.

Source: adapted from Pampered Chef 29 Minutes to Dinner

Mary’s Memo – March 23rd

FROM THE COOKBOOK SHELF


First there was Mr. Sunday’s Soups, then Mr. and Mrs. Sunday’s Saturday Night Chicken and now there’s Mr. & Mrs. Sunday’s Sunday Suppers by bestselling author Lorraine Wallace, wife of Fox Sunday News anchor Chris Wallace. Regarding the latest cookbook, it’s the one Lorraine has wanted to write because it’s about the recipes that keep a family going day in and day out, the ones that are good for any occasion from game-day get-togethers to holiday feasts. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, order from Amazon.com or your favorite bookstore.

MID-WINTER BREAK


Daughter Mary Ann says it’s easy to please me: just take me to a supermarket that I had never been in before. Although a trip to Kettering to visit my Mary Beth always includes shopping at Dorothy Lane Markets (DLM), on February 19th, I had a unique behind-the-scene tour with Carrie Walters, Culinary Director and Chef for DLM as my tour guide. I felt like a “kid in a candy store” sampling whatever I wanted in their Washington Square store and the location of the bakery that makes all the “from scratch” bread that is available at the three markets including Oakwood, Washington Square and Springboro. DLM has come a long way since Norman Mayne’s father sold fruits and vegetables in an open air market at the Oakwood location. While Chief customers are attracted to Chief because of their low prices, DLM customers pay no attention to price! I’ve had an opportunity to shop in “high end” supermarkets throughout the country but none compares to DLM!

One of DLM’s many success stories is Killer Brownies. According to Chimene Mayne Ross, daughter of Norman Mayne, she and her siblings came home to a small brown bag on the kitchen counter with a special treat inside. Their father said, “Try that; it’s a killer brownie.” Norman Mayne would use the term “killer” to describe anything over the top, so Chimene and her siblings thought this was his way of describing this big yummy gooey treat. After trying it they agreed that it was a “killer brownie.” Dad smiled and said, “No, really, that is the brownie’s name! We are going to start making these in the bakery, and we are going to call it the Killer Brownie.” And so began decades of growing affection for this big, yummy treat. I have been the recipient of Killer Brownies on several occasions and they are rich and one brownie makes 4 servings for me! DLM ships everywhere so if you’d like to order a gift tin of four Killer Brownies, call Dorothy Lane at 1-866-748-1391. In case you’re interested, the gift tin-of-my choice included 2 blonde salted caramel and 2 blond macadamia nut ones.

CARROTS, WORTH A CARAT OR MORE IN HEALTH BENEFITS!


Bugs Bunny, always depicted munching on a carrot, may have been on to something. Researchers have found that carrot consumption not only helps insure an adequate intake of a variety of important nutrients and fiber but may also reduce your risk of chronic disease. “Carrots are so much a part of our diet that their health benefits may have been overlooked,” says Elizabeth J. Johnson, PhD, a scientist in Tufts’ HNRCA Antioxidants Research Laboratory who specializes in Vitamin A and carotenoid compounds. “They are best known for their beta-carotene content (a form of vitamin A), but are also packed with a range of phytochemicals and nutrients that contribute to optimum health.”

What about raw or cooked? The science is mixed. While cooking destroys some heat-sensitive nutrients, such as vitamin C, it helps make others more readily absorbed by the body. Steaming or microwaving carrots, rather than boiling them, loses fewer nutrients in the cooking water. Roasting carrots brings out their natural sweetness. The bottom line: Eat your carrots however you think you like the taste best …. just eat more of them!
Source: Tufts University Health & Nutrition Letter, March 2015.

Bugs Bunny would give Marinated Carrots a “thumbs up” just like Bryan Chief shoppers did!

MARINATED CARROTS


• 2 pound bag baby carrots
• 2/3 cup apple cider vinegar
• 1/2 cup canola oil
• 1/2 cup sugar
• 1/2cup chopped sweet onion
• 1 package Good Seasons Italian salad dressing mix
• 1/4 cup chopped Italian parsley

Steam or boil carrots until crisp-tender. Drain and cool. Blend other ingredients except parsley together. Pour over cooled carrots. Marinate for several hours or overnight in refrigerator. Add parsley just before serving. Recipe makes 6 to 8 servings.

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