Red (Velvet), White, & Blue(berry) Trifle

Imagine that... a red, white, & blue-themed dessert for 4th of July! It seems like everywhere I look, I see flag cakes, Jell-O salads, and fruit trays, all using the colors red, white, & blue.

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Independence Day is coming right up, and this Red (Velvet), White, & Blue(berry) Trifle is perfect for your celebration. (And yes, it's totally a mouthful to say.) It's a little more elegant than your traditional flag cake, or angel food layered with strawberries and blueberries. Red velvet cake cubes are layered with a homemade whipped cream cheese mousse, decadent chocolate ganache, and fresh blueberries.

It can be made over the course of 1-2 days, leaving you plenty of time to rest & relax on the 4th.

Start with a red velvet cake. You can do homemade, but honestly, a mix does the trick. Once everything's combined together, you can't even tell!

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Once it's baked & cooled, use a serrated knife to cut it into 1/2-inch cubes. You most likely won't need the whole cake, so as the chef, you get to enjoy the extras. ;)

Then, make the ganache. Bring a cup of heavy cream to a simmer, and pour it over 1 1/3 cups of semisweet or bittersweet chocolate chips. Let it sit 5 minutes, then stir until smooth and add a bit of corn syrup to give it that glossy finish. (You could also just use a jar of hot fudge sauce.)

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You can do both the cake and ganache a day ahead. When you're ready to assemble your trifle, make the cream cheese mousse. Start by whipping 3 cups of heavy cream until stiff peaks form. (You could also just use a carton of Cool Whip.) Then, blend together some cream cheese, sugar, and vanilla until smooth. Carefully fold in the whipped cream until it's light & fluffy.

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Now for the assembly. In a trifle bowl (or really big bowl), layer the cake cubes, then drizzle the ganache over them. Top with a sprinkle of mini chocolate chips and blueberries. Then, the cream cheese mousse. Repeat until you have used all the ingredients or reach the top of your bowl, whichever happens first. Store in the fridge until serving time!

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This is such a fantastic dessert - the slightly tangy cream cheese mousse is a great contrast to the sweet cake and rich dark chocolate ganache. The blueberries add that pop of freshness (and of course, the blue color!)

Happy 4th of July!

Red (Velvet), White, & Blue(berry) Trifle

Servings/Yield: 10-12 servings

  • red velvet cake
  • For the cream cheese mousse
    • 16 oz cream cheese
    • ½ cup sugar
    • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
    • 3 cups heavy cream, whipped
  • For the ganache
    • 1⅓ cups semisweet chocolate chips
    • 1 cup heavy cream
    • 1 tablespoon corn syrup
  • mini chocolate chips
  • blueberries

Method

1. For chocolate ganache, bring heavy cream to a simmer. Pour over semisweet chocolate chips in a bowl; let sit 5 minutes. Stir until smooth. Stir in corn syrup.

2. For cream cheese mousse, beat together cream cheese, sugar, and vanilla extract. Fold in whipped cream.

3. In trifle dish, layer red velvet cake cubes, chocolate ganache, mini chips, blueberries, and cream cheese mousse.

Source: original recipe

Mary’s Memo – June 29th

FROM THE COOKBOOK SHELF


Virginia Willis is a French-trained chef with Georgia roots. She is also one of the most loved authorities on Southern cooking. So when her doctors told her she needed to lighten up her diet, she wanted to do it without sacrificing any of the flavor or richness that makes Southern food so appealing. The result is “Lighten UP, Y’all, a collection of easy-to-make, chef-approved recipes for your favorite Southern foods. Wherever you are on your health and wellness journey, Lighten Up Y’all has all the classics covered from comforting Southern Style Shepherd’s Pie with Grits to warm, melting Broccoli Mac and Cheese to Old-Fashioned Buttermilk Pie. There’s something to make everyone from five to ninety five happy!

Willis is author of the acclaimed cookbooks, Bon Appetite, Y’all; Basic to Brilliant Y’all; Grits; and Okra. She’s a columnist for foodnetwork.com, a contributing editor to Southern Living and was named one of the “Seven Food Writers You Need to Know” by the Chicago Tribune. She lives in Atlanta, Georgia.

MAKEOVER BROCCOLI MAC AND CHEESE


• 1 cup shredded 50 percent reduced-fat extra-sharp sharp Cheddar cheese (4 ounces)
• 3/4 cup shredded 75 percent reduced fat extra-sharp Cheddar cheese (3 ounces)
• 2 tablespoons panko (Japanese) bread crumbs
• 1/2 teaspoon paprika
• 1 3/4 cups 2 percent milk
• 3 tablespoons unbleached all-purpose flour
• 1 cup low-fat cottage cheese
• 1/2 teaspoon dry mustard
• Pinch freshly grated nutmeg
• Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
• 8 ounces whole wheat elbow macaroni
• 12 ounces (4 cups) broccoli florets and stems

Preheat oven to 4500F. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Coat an 8-inch square baking dish with cooking spray. Combine the two cheeses. Mix 1/4 cup cheese mixture, the bread crumbs and the paprika in a small bowl. Set aside. To make the cheese sauce, heat 1 1/2 cups of the milk in a large heavy saucepan over medium-high heat until simmering. Whisk remaining 1/4 cup milk and the flour in a small bowl until smooth; add to hot milk and cook, whisking constantly until sauce simmers and thickens, 2 to 3 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in remaining 1 1/2 cups cheese mixture and the cottage cheese until melted. Stir in the dry mustard and nutmeg, and add salt and pepper to taste. Cook pasta according to package directions. In the last 3 minutes of cooking, add the broccoli florets. Drain well and add to the cheese sauce; mix well. Spread the pasta-broccoli mixture in the prepared baking dish; sprinkle with the bread crumb mixture. Bake until bubbly and golden brown, about 20 minutes. Remove to a rack to cool slightly. Serve warm.
Source: Lighten Up Y’all by Virginia Willis (Penguin Random House, March 3, 2015. $24.99/hardcover).

REDUCE DISEASE RISK WITH “POWERHOUSE” VEGETABLES


Eating a diet rich in green, leafy vegetables such as watercress and spinach, may help lower your risk of developing chronic diseases. These foods are among the highest-ranking items on a new “powerhouse” vegetables and fruits report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Scientists evaluated the nutrient density of 6 types of food: Cruciferous vegetables, dark leafy vegetables, citrus fruits, berries and allium vegetables (scallions, leeks onions). They measured how many of a selected list of nutrients could be found in 100 grams of each food, determined a nutrient density score and ranked the foods from highest to lowest. Watercress topped the list with a score of 100, while white grapefruit was the lowest with a score of 10.
Source: Weill Cornell Medical College Women’s Nutrition Connection, July 2015.

DON’T FORGET SALAD AT YOUR 4TH OF JULY COOKOUT


This week’s recipe from Dorothy Lane Market in Dayton includes the convenience of packaged coleslaw mix combined with fresh fruits and vegetables tossed together with a homemade sweet-sour dressing.

APPLE COLESLAW


• 1 14-ounce package coleslaw mix
• 1 unpeeled red apple, cored and chopped
• 1 unpeeled green apple, cored and chopped
• 1/2 cup red bell pepper, finely chopped
• 2 green onions, finely chopped
• 1/3 cup mayonnaise (I use Hellmann’s Light)
• 1/3 cup brown sugar
• 1 tablespoon lemon juice, or more to taste

In large bowl, combine slaw mix, red apple, green apple, red pepper and green onions. In a small bowl, mix together mayonnaise, brown sugar and lemon juice. Pour dressing over salad and toss gently. Recipe makes 6 servings.
Source: Dorothy Lane Market recipe www.dorothylane.com

HAPPY 4TH OF JULY TO ALL!


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Grilled Caesar Salad (with Buffalo Chicken)

Caesar salad... on the grill! Say what?! Yes, Grilled Caesar Salad is a thing.

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I know it sounds weird, but grilled romaine is seriously one of the best vegetables out there. If you haven't tried it, you're missing out! The lettuce just gets a little bit of char and wilts ever so slightly. It still has a bit of crunch, but all that smoky flavor from the grill.

I whipped up a homemade Caesar dressing to go with it, but you could easily use your favorite bottled dressing. Some grilled bread on the side took the place of croutons, and we added some grilled chicken thighs tossed in buffalo sauce to make it a heartier main dish.

To prep the lettuce for the grill, slice each romaine head lengthwise in half. You want there to be a flat side, so it will stay on the grill easier. Drizzle it with olive oil and season with salt and pepper.

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Preheat the grill to medium-high, and throw the romaine halves on the grill for 1-2 minutes on each side. You want it to get just wilted, but still maintain a little crunch.

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Top it off with your dressing (homemade or store bought) and Parmesan cheese and serve immediately. If you're wanting a main dish type salad, throw some chicken on the grill before you add the lettuce, and add that to the salad when it's finished. Yum!

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You can cut the lettuce before serving, but I love the presentation of the whole romaine.

Try it as an appetizer salad, or try it as a main dish... spice up your salad by throwing your lettuce on the grill.

Grilled Caesar Salad

Servings/Yield: 4 servings

  • 2 heads romaine lettuce
  • grated parmesan cheese
  • 2-3 tablespoons olive oil
  • fresh bread, sliced
  • minced garlic, if desired
  • For the dressing:
    • 3 tablespoons plain Greek yogurt
    • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
    • 2 tablespoons Parmesan cheese
    • 1 tablespoon dijon mustard
    • 2 teaspoons red wine vinegar
    • 1 tablespoon anchovy paste
    • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
    • salt & pepper, to taste
    • ½ cup olive oil

Method

1. Prepare dressing by combining all ingredients in the bowl of a food processor or blend. Blend until smooth and creamy.

2. For salads, cut romaine in half lengthwise. Drizzle each sliced side of the romaine with olive oil. Preheat grill to medium-high. Grill romaine 1-2 minutes on each side, just until slightly wilted.

3. Drizzle bread with olive oil and rub with garlic if desired. Grill until lightly toasted.

4. To serve, place a romaine half on a plate. Drizzle with dressing, and top with shaved parmesan cheese. Serve with grilled bread.

5. (For a hearty main dish, top with sliced grilled chicken. We like ours tossed in buffalo sauce!)

Source: adapted from How Sweet It Is

Mary’s Memo – June 22nd

FROM THE COOKBOOK SHELF


Salute your sweet tooth with impressive cakes (cupcakes, too) and irresistible ice cream desserts in Cake and Ice Cream. Recipes for Good Times (Chronicle Books, 2015, $14.95/hardback). Cookbook includes people-pleasing recipes as well as tantalizing photographs of each one. Our featured recipe is Strawberry Ice Cream.

STRAWBERRY ICE CREAM


• 1 cup heavy cream
• 1/2 cup half-and-half or whole milk
• 3 egg yolks
• 3/4 cup sugar
• 2 1/2 cups fresh strawberries
• 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice

Prepare a large bowl or pan of ice water, to be used as an ice bath. In top of double boiler or in heat-proof bowl, heat the cream and half-and-half over simmering water until steaming. Whisk the egg yolks in a bowl until blended, then whisk in ½ cup of the sugar. Whisk in some of the hot cream and then pour the yolk mixture back into the top of the double boiler. Stir and cook over the simmering water until mixture forms a custard and coats the back of a spoon, about 10 minutes. Immediately set the custard-filled pan in the ice bath and stir the custard occasionally until it cools to room temperature. While the custard cools, mash the strawberries with a potato masher, sprinkle with remaining 1/4 cup sugar and the lemon juice, and let stand until sugar dissolves. Stir into custard and transfer to a container. Cover and refrigerate until thoroughly chilled. Freeze the chilled custard in an ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Transfer to a container and freeze until firm, about 2 hours before serving. Recipe mzkes about 1 quart.
Source: Cake and Ice Cream, Recipes for Good Times (Chronical Books, 2015, $14.95/hardback.

QUESTION: I see recipes today that call for ramps. What are they?

ANSWER: According to the 4th Edition of the Food Lover’s Companion, a ramp is a wild onion that grows from Canada to the Carolinas and resembles a scallion with broad leaves. Ramps have an assertive garlicky-onion flavor. It is usually found in specialty produce markets from March to July. Choose those that are firm with bright-colored greenery. Although the flavor of a ramp is slightly stronger than a leek, scallion or onion, it can be used raw or cooked in many dishes as a substitute for any of the three.

QUESTION: What’s the difference between a cantaloupe and a muskmelon?

ANSWER: First, cantaloupe is named for a castle in Italy and a true cantaloupe is not exported. American “cantaloupes” are actually muskmelon. When perfectly ripe. they have a raised netting on a smooth grayish-beige skin. Store unripe muskmelon at room temperature, ripe ones in the refrigerator. Muskmelon is an excellent source of vitamins A and C.

BLUEBERRIES LOWER BLOOD PRESSURE


Blueberries lower blood pressure, suggest a recent study in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, which included 40 postmenopausal women with prehypertension or mild hypertension. The researchers attributed the benefits to polyphenols in blueberries, which may improve blood vessel functioning by boosting nitric oxide production.
Source: University of California at Berkeley Wellness Letter, June 2015.

THUMBS UP FOR THIS RED, WHITE AND BLUEBERRY FRUIT SALAD!


I wanted something red white and blue to serve at the Chief Memorial Day weekend and this recipe got an A+ for taste and eye appeal.

RED WHITE AND BLUEBERRY SALAD WITH HONEY YOGURT DRESSING


• 1 cup plain low fat Stonyfield organic yogurt
• 2 tablespoons honey
• 1 banana, sliced
• 1 apple, cored and chopped
• 1 cup fresh blueberries
• 1 cup strawberries, quartered

Whisk together yogurt and honey in bottom of a large bowl. Stir in fruit and toss gently to combine. Serve immediately or refrigerate up to 3 days (yogurt will keep the fruit fresh for 3 days).
Source: Recipe adapted from The Lemon Bowl at www.lemonbowl.com.

SHOPPING SMARTER FOR YOGURT


There is a huge selection so how to pick? “Your best bet is to choose yogurt in its most simple form,” advises Alicia Romano , a clinical dietitian at the Frances Stern Nutrition Center at Tufts MedicalCenter. “Start with plain yogurt and then control what you add.” While fat content has traditionally been the focus of yogurt labeling and advertising, Romano says what consumers should really be paying attention to is added sugar. Yogurt naturally contains 6 and 12 grams of sugar in a six-ounce serving (the size of most yogurt containers these days). So anything too far above that is something to be cautious about. Some yogurts have up to 33 grams of sugar. That’s just crazy, Romano says.

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Bang Bang Shrimp with Slaw

One of my husband's favorite appetizers at pretty much any restaurant is Bang Bang Shrimp. It's served at several different chains (though usually with a slight variation on the name.) Crispy shrimp are tossed in a creamy, spicy sauce with an Asian kick. If you've ever had these shrimp, you know how easy it is to eat just one more!

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My homemade version is on the healthier side - the shrimp are dusted with cornstarch and pan-fried in just a bit of canola oil, rather than deep-fried.

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They're then tossed in a sauce made of light mayo, Asian chili sauce, and sriracha (for that spicy kick).

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I served up the shrimp over an Asian-inspired slaw, with napa cabbage, green onions, cilantro, and cashews. This added a little extra veggie heft (healthy, yay!) My husband and I actually made an entire meal out of this, but it could easily serve as either an appetizer or main dish.

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So delicious!

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Bang Bang Shrimp with Slaw

Servings/Yield: 2-3 main dish servings, 4-6 appetizer servings

  • 5 tablespoons light mayonnaise
  • 2 tablespoons sweet Asian chili sauce
  • 2 teaspoons sriracha chili sauce
  • 5 cups thinly sliced napa cabbage
  • 2 cups thinly sliced butter lettuce
  • 2 cups thinly sliced red cabbage
  • 4 green onions, thinly sliced
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • ½ cup finely chopped cilantro
  • ½ cup chopped cashews
  • 1-lb raw shrimp, peeled & deveined
  • 2-4 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1-2 tablespoons canola oil

Method

1. For shrimp sauce, in a small bowl, stir together mayonnaise, sweet chili sauce, and sriracha. Set aside.

2. For the slaw, combine napa cabbage, butter lettuce, red cabbage, and green onions in a large bowl. Toss with olive oil, balsamic vinegar, and honey until thoroughly combined. Set aside until serving time.

3. Toss shrimp with cornstarch. Heat a sauté pan over medium-high heat and coat with canola oil. Add shrimp in single layer, and cook 3 minutes until pink, flipping halfway between. If you don’t have room to cook all the shrimp at once, do it in two batches.

4. Toss shrimp with as much as the sauce as you desire. (I used about half and served with the remaining sauce on the side.)

5. To serve, top slaw with shrimp. Sprinkle with cilantro and chopped cashews.

Source: adapted from Skinnytaste

Mary’s Memo – June 15th

FROM THE COOKBOOK SHELF


Don’t look now but the new darling of the dessert plate is red velvet. It’s popped up in corner bistros, cafes, Starbucks and bakeries across the nation from Sprinkles in Los Angeles to Magnolia in New York. All report that Red velvet is their most popular flavor. Now home cooks can bring this trendy dessert into their own kitchen with Deborah Harroun’s The Red Velvet Cookbook (October 2014, the Harvard Common Press). The first cookbook on the subject, Harroun shares 50 easy-to-follow recipes for everything from red velvet cupcakes to Red Velvet Truffles to name a few.

Deborah Harroun is the cook, writer and photographer behind the popular blog Taste and Tell. Her writing has been featured in Every Day with Rachel Ray and on line at the Kitchen, Huffington Post and Babble. She appears frequently as a sweets and dessert expert on local television in Salt Lake City, where she lives with her husband and three children.

Red Velvet Truffles make the perfect gift or for you to indulge.

RED VELVET TRUFFLES


• 6 ounces white chocolate, chopped
• 2 ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped
• 4 ounces cream cheese, softened
• 1/4 cup confectioners’ sugar
• 1/2 teaspoon red liquid food coloring
• 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

Combine the white chocolate and semisweet chocolate in a microwave-safe bowl. Microwave on 50 percent power in 30-secnd increments, stirring after each increment, until melted. Beat cream cheese and confectioners’ sugar with an electric mixer in a mixing bowl until fluffy. Beat in food coloring. Beat in the melted chocolate mixture. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate until very firm, about 4 hours. Roll the truffle mixture into 24 balls and place on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet. Refrigerate until solid, at least 1 hour. Put the cocoa powder in a shallow dish. Roll each ball in the cocoa to coat completely, shaking off any access. Store the truffles in the refrigerator.
Source: Red Velvet Lover’s Cookbook by Deborah Harroun (Harvard Common Press, October 2014, 17.95/hardcover.)

YOUR HEART LOVES NUTS!


If you grew up thinking of nuts as a not-very-good for you indulgence, there’s a growing pile of evidence that should change your mind about healthy foods. “For a long time, consumers thought that coffee raises blood pressure, eggs cause heart disease, chocolate is an unhealthy treat and nuts make you fat,” says Jeffrey Blumberg, PhD, director of Tufts’ HNRCA Antioxidants Research Laboratory. “However, such conclusions were often based on very little science and several mistaken assumptions. The latest news in nuts’ rehabilitation comes from two studies spotlighting the heart-health benefits of almonds and peanuts, including the Health Professionals Follow-Up Study and the Nurses’ Health Study, which linked nut consumption to a lower risk of mortality, especially from cancer and heart disease. Most such studies, however, have focused primarily on whites from upper socioeconomic levels. One new study, led by Vanderbilt University researchers and involving more than 200,000 people in the American South and in Shanghai, helps broaden the evidence for nuts predominately from lower socioeconomic groups. Many had serious risk factors for premature death such as smoking. “The results from this study are consistent with a fairly large body of evidence but are of some novelty because of the cohorts examined, “Blumberg notes.

Researchers followed US participants for an average of 5.4 years and two Shanghai groups for 6.5 and 12.2 years, during which a total of 14,440 deaths were identified. Questionnaires were used to measure nut consumption among US participants (50% of whose nut intake consisted of peanuts) and peanut consumption among those in Shanghai. (Although peanuts are actually a legume and not a tree nut. Their nutritional profile and health effects closely resemble tree nuts such as walnuts, almonds and cashews.) After controlling for more than two dozen variables, researchers calculated that those in the highest one-fifth of nut consumption had a 21% lower mortality risk in the US study than those who ate the least. Among Shanghai participants, those eating the most peanuts were at 17% lower risk.
Source: Tufts Health & Nutrition Letter, June 2015.

GREAT ON SUMMER GREENS


One item you’ll always find in my refrigerator is a fresh lemon or two. I also keep Minute Maid Frozen Lemon Juice on hand. So it should come as no surprise that I like Food Network Ina Garten’s recipe for Fresh Lemon Vinaigrette

INA’S FRESH LEMON VINAIGRETTE


• 1/4 cup fresh squeezed lemon juice
• 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
• 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
• 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

Whisk above ingredients together until well blended.

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Grilled Sausages with Summer Vegetables

There's nothing quite like a fresh meal off the grill on a hot summer day. We don't just use the grill for meat around here... I love to grill fresh veggies all summer long. If you season them just right, they are very tender and flavorful with just a bit of char that complements whatever meat you are serving them with. IMG_0716 In today's recipe for Grilled Sausages with Summer Vegetables, I marinated my favorite summer vegetables, red peppers, zucchini, and yellow squash, in a sweet & sour Asian-inspired sauce, then grilled them and served them up alongside some hot Italian sausage. Dinner was done in less than 30 minutes, and it was pretty healthy, too! The marinade is just a mix of peach preserves, soy sauce, ginger, garlic, and a touch of sriracha. The key to grilling vegetables is to cut them into large chunks and/or strips, so they don't fall through the grates. After they're grilled, then you can remove them and cut them into bite-size pieces. IMG_0714 To prep this meal, simply pour half the marinade over the veggies, and throw both the veggies and sausages on the grill. When they're done, remove the veggies, dice them up, and toss with the remaining sauce. Serve up the sausages with the veggies on the side, and you've got dinner! IMG_0715

Grilled Sausages with Summer Vegetables

Servings/Yield: 4-5 servings

  • ½ cup peach preserves
  • cup soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • ½ teaspoon sriracha chili sauce
  • 2 medium sweet red peppers
  • 2 small zucchini
  • 2 small yellow squash
  • 1 package Italian sausage links

Method

1. For marinade, combine peach preserves, soy sauce, ginger, and minced garlic in a bowl; whisk to mix thoroughly.

2. Prepare the sweet red peppers by cutting off each end, and scoop out seeds. Cut into 4 large pieces. Prepare the zucchini and yellow squash by cutting off each end and cutting into quarters length-wise. Place vegetables in large bowl and drizzle with half of sauce, tossing to mix.

3. Preheat the grill to medium heat, and oil grates. Place vegetables on one half of grill, and sausages on the other half. Grill 15-20 minutes, flipping halfway, until vegetables are slightly charred and tender, and sausages are cooked to 160*F.

4. Remove sausages and veggies from grill. Dice vegetables into bite-size pieces and toss with remaining marinade. Serve sausages alongside veggies.

Source: adapted from Taste of Home Magazine

Mary’s Memo – June 8th

FROM THE COOKBOOK SHELF


Icebox Cakes, Recipes for the Coolest Cakes in Town by Jean Sagendorph and Jesse Sheehan (Chronicle Books, May 2015, $18.95/hardback) in its most basic form features crisp cookies or wafers sandwiched between layers of billowy whipped cream or pudding then chilled in the refrigerator overnight. Icebox Cakes includes fantastic flavor combinations such as Old School pairing chocolate wafers with whipped cream, Luscious Lemon with its lemon curd filling and layers of ladyfingers and Salty Milk Dud with its graham crackers and salty caramel pudding topped with billowy mounds of chocolate whipped cream.

A literary agent and author, Jean Sagendorph has worked at the Food Network and Iron Chef America, among others. She is icebox cake obsessive. Jessie Sheehan is an avid baker and recipe developer with a sweet spot for whipped cream and pudding. Tara Donne, responsible for the beautiful how to photos, is a Brooklyn-based food, travel and portrait photographer.

COLA AND CANCER RISK


Every day more than half of Americans between the ages of 6 and 64 usually drink soda in amounts that could increase their risk of cancer. That’s according to an analysis of national soda consumption by Consumer Reports and John Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. Why? Colas and other brown soft drinks are often made with caramel color, and some contain 4-mehtylimidazole (4-Mel), a potential carcinogen. Carbonated drinks with caramel color contribute about 25 percent of the 4-Mel in the diets of people older than age 2, more than any other source. The additive is found in a variety of other foods, too, including baked goods, dark sauces (barbecue and soy, for example), pancake syrup and soups. We don’t know what type of caramel color is in those foods or how much 4-Mel, but it’s clear that many people are already getting an amount from soda that is significant enough to cause concern.
Source: Consumer Reports on Health, June 2015.

“NATURAL” DOESN’T EQUAL “HEALTHIER”


Some people tout alternatives to common white sugar, including agave nectar and honey, as healthier options, but you need to look past the hype at the facts. “Sweeteners such as honey and agave have a ‘health halo’ around them that can make people think they are healthier choices. These sweeteners still should be used in limited amounts. They both are higher in calories than an equal amount of table sugar, although they are also sweeter, so it is possible to use less of them to achieve the same sweetness,” says Rachel Lustgarten, RD, a dietician at Weill Cornell’s Center for Weight Management. She adds, “Both honey and agave contain less glucose and more fructose than table sugar; at one time it was thought that these sweeteners were smarter choices for diabetics. However, we know now that consuming large amounts of fructose can promote fat storage and insulin resistance. The bottom line is to use all sweeteners in moderation.
Source: Weill Cornell Medical College Women’s Nutrition Connection, June 2015.

BEWARE


Emeril Lagasse and Bobby Flay may not know best, at least when it comes to your waistline If you try to emulate your favorite celebrity chefs, according to findings in the journal Appettite, those cooking shows may be making you fat. Cornell University researchers reported that women who get their recipes from TV programs and cooked fron scratch weighed 11 pounds more than those who watched but didn’t follow up in the kitchen.
Source: Tufts Health & Nutrition Letter, June 2015.

YOU ASKED


Recently a Bryan Chief shopper asked me if I used salad dressing or mayonnaise or both. My answer is that Hellmann’s Light Mayonnaise is my dressing of choice for everything requiring salad dressing or mayonnaise. When it comes to cottage cheese, my favorite brand is Daisy, Ditto for Daisy Sour Cream. No matter what kind is on sale, I prefer Daisy. Regarding buying organic or inorganic, I buy what is cheaper.

BUMPER CROP OF ASPARAGUS


Right now I’m consuming a lot of asparagus from my garden. One of my favorite recipes is Asparagus Cheese Pie mainly because it tastes delicious even when reheated and it takes quite a bit to make it.

ASPARAGUS CHEESE PIE


• 3 cups fresh asparagus cut into small pieces
• 2 cups (8-ounces) shredded sharp Cheddar cheese
• 1 cup Hellmann’s Light Mayonnaise
• 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
• 9-inch unbaked pie crust

In mixing bowl, combine asparagus, cheese, mayonnaise and lemon juice. Mix thoroughly. Spread mixture evenly in prepared pie crust.. Bake in preheated 3500F oven for 40 to 50 minutes. Let stand 10 minutes. Serve warm. Recipe makes 6 servings.

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Blueberry Muffin Smoothies

Every time I go grocery shopping at Chief, I have to very carefully weave my way from the produce section through the specialty cheese & wine section to get to the rest of the store. (Avoiding the bakery!) You'd think that since I am a baker by trade, that the Chief bakery wouldn't hold any temptations... but have you ever seen the giant rack of JUMBO muffins?! They are so irresistible! Moist and soft, and full of mix-ins. My favorite is the Blueberry or Lemon Poppyseed, and my hubby loves the Pistachio. (I can't get past the green color of that one...) IMG_0679 Anyway, we splurged this week and picked up a few packs to share with our Sunday School class at church... and unfortunately (fortunately?) we ended up with a 4-pack to take home. While I love these muffins, they probably aren't the best choice for my intentions to eat healthier. IMG_0681 Luckily this Blueberry Muffin Smoothie is a great choice! While I can't say it replicates those bakery-style muffins exactly, it surprisingly tastes like a blueberry muffin, and is very filling as well. With over 16 grams of protein and a serving of dairy and two servings of fruit, this smoothie is a great way to start your day. Frozen blueberries are combined with milk, Greek yogurt, banana, oats, and lemon zest and whizzed to a frosty perfection. IMG_0680 It's super easy to make - just plop all your ingredients in a blender, and blend until smooth! Drink up! IMG_0683

Blueberry Muffin Smoothie 

Yield: 1 smoothie

  • ½ cup milk
  • 4-6oz container vanilla Greek yogurt
  • ½ cup frozen blueberries
  • ½ frozen banana
  • ¼ cup oats
  • ¼ teaspoon lemon zest
  • 5-6 ice cubes

Method

Combine all ingredients in a blender. Blend until very smooth.

Source: from Iowa Girl Eats

Mary’s Memo – June 6th

FROM THE COOKBOOK SHELF


As informed consumers, we avoid processed foods to eat as healthfully as possible, so why feed Fido generic, mass-produced pet food? When Henrietta Morrison’s border terrier, Lily, developed chronic health problems, Morrison began cooking real food for Lily at the suggestion of her vet. Meals made from fresh ingredients like chicken, rice and vegetable had an immediate effect on Lily’s health and behavior. Her earache and skin problems disappeared and she had more energy every day. Inspired by Lily’s progress, Morrison wrote Dinner for Dogs: 50 Home-Cooked Recipes for a Happy Healthy Dog (The Experiment Publishing Co., January 2015, $12.95/softback). Morrison’s recipes were developed with the help of veterinarians, nutritionists and chefs. Fresh, healthy dog food doesn’t mean breaking the bank, either. Recipes use common pantry staples. In addition there are options for puppies, old hounds and gluten-intolerant dogs and remedies for upset tummies plus nutritional information and calorie count for each recipe. Fruits that are good for dogs include apples, bananas, blueberries, melon, papaya, oranges, raspberries and strawberries I can vouch for this because my Abby loves most of these fruits although she hasn’t had papaya or blueberries. As for vegetables, broccoli, butternut squash, cabbage, carrots, lentils, peas, parsnips and spinach are acceptable. Do not feed your dog alcohol, artificial sweeteners, avocado, chocolate, coffee, grapes, raisins or chives, onions and shallots..
Source: Dinner for Dogs by Henrietta Morrison.

THE GRILLING SEASON IS HERE!


Unlike most outdoor grillers, I never cook meat over an open flame but light one side of the grill while cooking the meat by remote control on the opposite side. It does take longer but it is healthier to do it this way. A flame hitting the meat directly can be carcinogenic. When cooking bratwurst, I cook an entire package then store the cooked brats in the freezer and reheat as needed. As for doing vegetables on the grill, I either do them in a container made for that purpose or wrapped in foil packets that are cooked above the flame.

GRILLED VEGETABLE PACKETS


• 1 zucchini, cut into 1/2-inch slices
• 2 cups broccoli florets
• 1 potato, cut into 1/4 inch slices
• 3 tablespoons butter, divided
• Seasoning salt
• 4 teaspoons water, divided

Preheat grill over medium high heat. Rip 3 large sheets of heavy duty foil. Place zucchini in the center of one sheet, broccoli in the center of another, and a layer of potato slices in the center of the last sheet. Dot the top of vegetables in each packet with 1 tablespoon butter, then with seasoning salt to taste. Drizzle 1 teaspoon water each over the zucchini and broccoli packets and 2 teaspoons water over the potato packet. Bring the long edges of the foil packets together, then roll tightly until they nearly touch the vegetables. Roll both ends in towards the center tightly. Grill zucchini and broccoli packets for 8 minutes, rotating 1800 halfway through cooking. Grill potato packet for 15 minutes, rotating 1800 halfway through cooking. Remove to platter and carefully open packets to allow steam to escape before fully opening.
Source: American Butter Institute

THE TOP FIVE FOODS FOR BRAIN HEALTH


Data from the Department of Agriculture show that "you are what you eat" and that is especially true of the brain. “Diet has a tremendous influence in terms of improving brain health; a healthy diet can boost memory and thinking skills and help prevent cognitive decline, “says Richard Isaacson, MD, director of the Alzheimer ‘s Clinic at New York-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell. If you want to keep your brain cells healthy, add more berries, nuts, cruciferous vegetables, cocoa powder and spinach to your diet.
Source: Weill Cornell Medical College Women’s Nutrition Connection, June 2015.

RECIPE OF THE WEEK


Recently daughter Mary Beth shared her version of a Campbell Soup recipe called Hearty Chicken and Noodle Casserole. She added 1/2 cup light sour cream as well as Mrs. Dash to taste.

HEARTY CHICKEN AND NOODLE CASSEROLE


• 1 can Campbell’s Healthy Request Cream of Mushroom Soup
• 1/2 cup reduced fat (2%) milk
• 1/2 cup light sour cream
• 1 cup frozen mixed vegetables carrots, green beans, corn, and peas
• 2 cups cubed cooked chicken (can be rotisserie chicken)
• 1 1/2 cups dry medium egg noodles, cooked and drained
• 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese
• 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
• Mrs. Dash to taste
• 1/2 cup shredded Cheddar cheese

Stir the soup, milk, sour cream, vegetables, chicken, noodles, Parmesan cheese, black pepper and Mrs. Dash in 1 1/2-quart oblong casserole dish. Bake in preheated 4000F for 25 minutes or until vegetables are tender. Stir the chicken mixture. Sprinkle with Cheddar cheese. Recipe makes 4 servings.
Source: Adapted from Campbell Soup recipe.

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