Mary’s Memo – August 31st


John Montagu, the Fourth Earl of Sandwich, invented the bread and something combination so he could eat his meal one handed while gambling with the other. There’s no reason why a sandwich can’t replace a conventional meal as long as it contains healthy ingredients. The Earl of Sandwich didn’t add a salad or soup although it’s common for us to do so. To celebrate National Sandwich Month, I can’t think of a better recipe to share than Barbecued Beef for Sandwiches from a cookbook called “From the Horse’s Mouth,” that I bought when we were traveling through Ft. Riley, Kansas, years ago. I made it often when we were a family of 6 but it makes enough for casual entertaining. Make this when Chief’s boneless chuck roasts are on sale.


• 4 pounds boneless chuck roast
• 1 large rib celery
• 2 large onions, chopped
• 1 green bell pepper, chopped
• 14 ounces of catsup
• 3 tablespoons barbecue sauce
• 1/2 teaspoon Tabasco sauce
• 3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
• 2 tablespoons chili powder
• 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
• 1 1/2 teaspoons pepper
• 1 1/2 cup water

Preheat oven to 3000F. Trim as much fat from the roast as possible before cooking. Put roast in a large roasting pan. Mix other ingredients together and spoon over beef. Bake, uncovered, for 5 hours or until meat is tender shreds easily. Prepare the beef ahead of time, chill and then lift any fat off the meat before reheating to make sandwiches. Mixture freezes.
Source: From the Horse’s Mouth, Ft. Riley, Kansas.


It’s at least virtually free of drug residues, according to an FDA report involving 1,900 milk samples tested for 31 veterinary drugs, including antibiotics. Fewer than 1 percent contained residues. And dairy farms that previously tested positive for residues were no more likely to fail the testing than those without violations. Though treated cows are not supposed to be milked until drugs are out of their system, many people worry that residues still end up in the milk. Putting such concerns to rest, the findings “provide evidence that the nation’s milk safety system is effective in helping prevent drug residues of concern in milk.”
Source: University of California at Berkeley Wellness Letter, August 2015.


Plantains, pronounced PLAN-tihn are certainly not new to my Hispanic friends but they were to me when I served them at the Bryan Chief recently. The source of the recipe used was from Food Network’s Sunny Anderson. Others who hadn’t eaten one thought they tasted like a potato and I did, also. A young lady whose mother came to the states from Mexico said they’re served with salt and pepper, brown sugar and cinnamon or plain. Personally, they would replace potatoes if worked into a meal.

Visiting other supermarkets wherever I’m visiting is a fun experience and that’s when I first tasted a fresh peppadew pronounced PEP-pah-doo pepper. It’s on the hot but sweet side and delicious chopped and added to cream cheese. Just so you know, Chief has jars of peppadew peppers in the condiment aisle. I served the spread on whole wheat crackers. Not necessary for you to do but to enjoy the flavor of the peppadew, choose a neutral-flavored cracker.


Chief has a variety of ways to buy kale and there’s no doubt about the fact that it’s good for us! But Swiss chard is also available and at home I’ve made it several times with caramelized onions. Although it makes four 1/2-cup servings, I like it so well that I have half the recipe at one sitting!


• 1 teaspoon olive oil
• 2 cups sliced sweet onions
• 12 cups Swiss chard, stems removed & torn in pieces
• 2 tablespoons water
• 2 teaspoons sherry vinegar
• Salt and pepper to taste

Heat a large non-stick skillet over medium heat. Add olive oil; swirl to coat. Add onion; cook 10 minutes or until golden brown but not burned, stirring occasionally. Add Swiss chard and water to skillet; cook 3 minutes or until chard wilts. Stir in vinegar and season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve immediately. Calories per serving: 64 including just 1.4 grams fat.
Source: Recipe adapted from

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PB&J Muffins

Hi ho, hi ho, it's back to school we go... Well, not me, but students and children everywhere are heading back to school this week and next! Time to get back into routines - quick breakfasts, packed lunches, and after school snacks! I'll admit, my favorite go-to meal when I need something quick and reliable is still the classic PB&J. Crunchy natural peanut butter, tart cherry jam, and a sprinkle of salt on whole grain bread. It's filling, easy, and takes me back to my childhood. IMG_1814 Today's recipe makes a great snack, lunch addition, or quick breakfast. PB&J Muffins take the classic lunchbox favorite and turns it into a portable muffin. These soft muffins are packed with peanut butter flavor, filled with your favorite preserves, and loaded up with the most buttery crumb topping. (I dare you to leave this sitting on the counter and not pick at the crumb topping every single time you walk by.)   To make the batter, combine your dry ingredients in a bowl - flour, salt, cinnamon, and baking soda. Combine your wet ingredients in a bowl - melted peanut butter, melted butter, brown sugar, egg, vanilla, and milk. Mix the dry ingredients into the wet just until combined. IMG_1808   Then, scoop the batter into a greased muffin tin, and place a dollop of your favorite jam or preserves into the center. I love strawberry or cherry. You can always go with the classic grape! IMG_1809 Then, make your crumb topping. Mix together melted butter, sugar, brown sugar, cinnamon, salt, and flour until a crumbly mixture forms. Press it into the top of each muffin. You want big crumbs, and LOTS of them! IMG_1810 Bake at 350*F for 18-22 minutes until golden brown. Then try to let them cool before digging in! (As you can see, we had a hard time waiting...) IMG_1813 Voila! PB&J Muffins! IMG_1817

PB&J Muffins

Servings/Yield: 12 muffins

  • cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon cinnamon
  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • ¾ cup creamy peanut butter
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • ¾ cup milk
  • 1 cup your favorite jam or preserves
  • For the crumb topping:
    • ¼ cup brown sugar
    • ¼ cup sugar
    • ¼ teaspoon cinnamon
    • ¼ teaspoon salt
    • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
    • 1 + 2 tablespoons cup all-purpose flour,


1. Preheat the oven to 350*F. Grease a 12-cup muffin tin with cooking spray.

2. In a small bowl, combine flour, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon set aside. In a medium microwave-safe bowl, combine butter and peanut butter. Melt in microwave at 30 second intervals, whisking between, until smooth. Whisk in the brown sugar, egg, vanilla extract, and milk. Fold in the flour mixture, being careful not to over mix. (Batter might be thick, depending on how quick you are. The peanut butter doesn’t stay melted for a super long time.)

3. Scoop into the prepared muffin tin. Place a dollop of jam or preserves in the center of each muffin tin.

4. Prepare the crumb topping. Combine all crumb topping ingredients and stir together until it is crumb-like and dry, almost like a sludge or paste. Press the large crumbs over and into the prepared muffins.

5. Bake at 350*F for 18-22 minutes until the muffins spring back when lightly pressed. Let cool before removing from tins.

Source: adapted from How Sweet It Is

Mary’s Memo – August 24th


A newly published follow up to findings from a study of the so-called Mediterranean diet adds to the evidence that such an eating pattern, especially when it includes nuts and olive oil, may help the aging brain. Results from a subgroup of the Spanish PREMIMED study showed that those assigned to a Mediterranean diet held steady in cognition while a control group declined. In the PREDIMED study, participants in addition to consumption of nuts and olive oil, ate at least two daily servings of vegetables including a salad; at least three daily servings of fresh fruit; at least three weekly servings of legumes, such as beans, lentils, garbanzo beans, soybeans and peas; at least three weekly meals of fish such as salmon, tuna or sardines; a sauce (“sofrito”) of tomatoes and onion, often including garlic and aromatic herbs, simmered in olive oil, at least twice a week; and wine with dinner for those who drank alcohol. Participants were told to cut down on fatty red and processed meat, commercially baked goods such as pastries, fat-based spreads and sugared sodas.
Source: Tufts University Health & Nutrition Letter, August 2015.


My Keurig coffeemaker was a birthday gift from daughter Mary Ann three years ago and now it’s one of my favorite appliances even though ecologists think it’s an environmental disaster. Although I keep K-Cups for guests, I fill a reusable container (available at Chief) with ground Folger’s whenever I want a cup. It’s much cheaper, too! My advice is not to use tap but bottled water, preferably distilled, to fill the tank. Last time I looked, Chief’s Our Family distilled water was $1.00 per gallon. I must do something right because I’ve only decalcified it once (it will tell you when this should be done). With a Keurig, I rarely use a conventional coffeemaker.


A recent study revealed that gratitude was associated with better sleep and lower levels of markers of inflammation in the body (such a C-reactive protein). That might be because it provides more happiness, the researchers noted.
Source: Spirituality in Clinical Practice, April 2015


It’s clear that added sugar is a problem for many Americans. But what matters most are the context and quantities. Excessive sugar intake is usually a marker for a diet heavy in processed foods and high in calories, saturated fat and sodium. But research now indicates that it boosts risk independently of overall diet. If you eat mostly whole foods (as opposed to processed foods) and rarely consume sugary soft drinks, you may well be getting less than 10 percent or less of your daily calories from added sugar. Some simple steps can help reduce sugar intake, such as limiting your consumption of sugar-laden yogurt (add your own fruit to plain yogurt) and choosing breakfast cereals with little or no sugar. Still, if you are generally careful and the rest of your diet is healthful, consuming small amounts of sugar is unlikely to be harmful. Limiting added sugar will be easier in the future, since food companies will have to list it separately on the FDA’s new nutrition labels, which were proposed in 2014 but will not go into effect for a couple years.
Source: University of California at Berkeley Wellness Letter, August 2015.


Sam Trentadue, my brother-in-law, came up with the name. That said, I really "Marynized” this week’s slow cooker entrée called Swiss Chicken. Original recipe called for skin-on chicken breast halves, 8 slices Swiss cheese, regular mushroom soup, 1/2 to 1 cup Italian flavored bread crumbs and 1/2 cup (1stick) butter. First time, it was prepared as printed. The recipe on the memo reflects the changes that were made.


• 4 chicken breast halves with ribs attached, skinned
• 4 slices Our Family Swiss cheese
• 1 can Campbell’s Healthy Request mushroom soup
• 3/4 cup Progresso Italian bread crumbs
• 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter, melted.

For easy clean-up, line 5 or 6-quart slow cooker with a slow cooker liner (available at Chief). You’ll still have to wash the cooker afterwards but it’s a breeze to do. Lay chicken on the bottom. Put a slice of cheese on each piece of meat. Spoon undiluted mushroom soup on chicken. Combine dry bread crumb with melted butter and scatter over all. Cook on high setting for 1 hour, then reduce to low and cook an additional 7 hours.
Source: Adapted from A Day in Motherhood recipe at

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Southern Tomato Pie

Well, I am just all about the tomatoes lately! I just can't seem to get enough of garden-fresh tomatoes... and either can my family. My 9-month old son is going crazy for tomatoes! I just cut him a slice, cut it in half and he goes to town.

Today's recipe for Southern Tomato Pie is a great unique way to use up your tomato bounty. Fresh tomatoes are layered with sweet onions in a flaky pie pastry, and then topped with a cheesy topping and baked to a beautiful, crispy golden brown. It reminds me a lot of pizza! Served alongside a tossed salad and some crusty bread, it makes a great light lunch or dinner.

Start by blind baking your crust. Use your favorite recipe, or a store bought pie pastry. (I won't tell.) Roll out the crust into the pan, prick it all with a fork, and then line with parchment and dried beans or pie weights. This keeps the crust from shrinking all the way back down. Bake at 425*F about 20 minute just until golden.


While the pie crust is baking, thinly slice and salt your tomatoes. Lay them out on a baking sheet lined with paper towels, let them rest at least 15 minutes. The salt will help draw out the extra water and help you avoid a soggy pie. You can even squeeze out more moisture with paper towels.


Next, layer up the tomatoes in your pie pastry along with some thinly sliced sweet onion. Top it off with some fresh basil.


Mix up your cheesy topping (cheddar, Parmesan, and mayonnaise) and spread it over the top.


Bake at 350*F about 40 minutes until golden brown and bubbly. Wait at least 5-10 minutes to dig in, or you can even serve it room temperature. I made mine in the afternoon and we reheated slices for dinner. So tasty and fresh!


Southern Tomato Pie

Yield: One 9-inch pie

  • 1 9-inch unbaked pie shell
  • 3 medium tomatoes, thinly sliced
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup thinly sliced sweet onion
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons basil chiffonade
  • 1 cup grated cheddar cheese
  • ½ cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • ¼-½ cup light mayonnaise


1. Preheat oven to 425*F. Place pie crust in pie shell, and prick the bottom and sides with a fork for venting. Line with parchment paper and place pie weights (or dried beans) in the center. ‘Blind bake’ the crust for 20 minutes, just until golden brown. Remove parchment and pie weights. Reduce the oven temperature to 350*F.

2. While crust is baking, lay tomato slices out flat on a towel-lined baking sheet. Sprinkle with salt. Let sit 15 minutes to draw out the moisture. Pat dry with another towel or paper towel.

3. Layer sliced tomatoes in baked crust; top with sliced onions. Top with freshly ground black pepper and basil chiffonade.

4. In a small bowl, combine cheddar, Parmesan, and mayonnaise. Spread over the top of pie. Bake pie at 350*F for 40 minutes more, until golden brown and bubbly. Let cool 5-10 minutes before slicing.

Source: adapted from Add a Pinch

Mary’s Memo – August 17th


How can two glasses stuck together be separated? Three
things are needed: A sink, ice water and hot water. Step 1: Fill top glass with ice water (this causes top glass to contract), Adding salt to ice water will chill it faster. Step 2: Run hot water over bottom glass. Twist gently (hot water causes bottom glass to expand). Still stuck? Try colder water or keep bottom glass submerged in hot water a little longer (this may take up to 10 minutes, depending on the glass.)


For decades scientists have known that whole grains in general and oats in particular, are associated with reduced risk of chronic disease. Now, new research shows that phenolic compound avenanthramide (AVE) found only in oats, may have antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer properties as well as a protective role in heart health. Heretofore, most of the benefits associated with oats were attributed to the high fiber, vitamin, mineral and phytochemical content of whole grains, notably soluble fiber betaglucan, recognized for its ability to lower total and LDL cholesterol. The new research shows that oats’ benefits may result not just from fiber but also AVE’s, for additional cardio-protective benefits. Researchers from Tufts University have shown that AVEs suppress production of inflammatory cytokines linked with fatty streak formation in the arteries and also seem to inhibit the process associated with atherosclerosis. These findings were presented at the 247th Annual Conference of the American Chemical Society in Dallas in 2014.
Source: Duke Medicine Health News, August 2015


Abundance of rain has increased the number of pesky mosquitoes. No one told me that mosquitoes didn’t like Listerine but had I asked a pharmacist, he would have told me so. Friends of mine put a capful in a small plastic spray bottle filled with water and it’s been enough to repel them. Someone else told me they do half Listerine and half water in a spray bottle. I’ve gone with the larger amount because mosquitoes have plagued me my entire life! If you don’t have a spray bottle, The Dollar Tree Stores have them. Wish I had known this during my Girl Scout camp days! Yes, Listerine contains chemicals but far better choice than other products available and safer to spray on children.


Norovirus, the contagious infection that causes gastroenteritis, might afflict dogs, too. Canines might be susceptible at a lower rate than people, and it has not been proved that you can catch norovirus from them. But a study by researchers in the United Kingdom recommends that “sensible hygiene precautions” be taken around pets, especially in a household where gastroenteritis is present. That means washing your hands after cleaning up after your dog.
Source: Consumer Reports on Health, August 2015


The supermarket should be your last stop when shopping. Chief does have bags and Styrofoam containers to keep perishables safe and maintain quality if you don’t have a suitable ones. It’s not as much of a problem in cooler weather but absolutely necessary during the summer months. No food should set out more than 2 hours whether it’s at a picnic, potluck or home environment. Otherwise, keep it hot or cold, not in-between. When in doubt, throw it out. Better to be safe than sorry!


My sister doesn’t recall Mother making this but it was a replacement for a lettuce salad, especially in the wintertime when garden lettuce was not available. Traveling with Daddy, Mother was served a salad made with lemon juice instead of apple cider vinegar (in those days we didn’t have the plethora of dressings we have now) and that’s what gives combination salad such a good taste anytime of the year. It gets rave reviews whenever I’ve served it to company and can be made ahead. One thing I do is toss salt to taste to the cabbage mixture before lemon juice and canola oil is added.


• 1 package Cole Slaw Mix
• 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
• 1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
• 1 cup chopped unpeeled seedless cucumber
• 1 cup chopped green bell pepper
• ¼ cup chopped sweet onion
• Juice of fresh lemon
• Pepper to taste
• Just enough canola oil to moisten

Add salt to slaw mix and toss together. Let stand about 15 minutes. Add remaining ingredient. Cover and store in refrigerator until serving time. Recipe serves 6 to 8.

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BLT Salad

Last week, I shared with you how to make Homemade Croutons. This week, I've got a great recipe to use them! BLT Salad takes your favorite BLT flavors, and combines them with a tangy homemade buttermilk dressing. It's like summer in a bowl. I have been obsessed with BLT's lately. Gimme that thick-cut pepper bacon, crisp romaine, and juicy tomatoes, and layer it all up on artisan bread with some mashed avocado. Mmmmmm, I could eat one of those everyday. I've taken those same flavors, and tossed them all into a salad. Just a bit healthier! The homemade croutons really take this salad over the top, and the buttermilk dressing comes together super quick with kitchen/pantry staples. It would also be pretty tasty with good ole' ranch. Toss together your salad ingredients - chopped romaine, diced tomatoes, crisp bacon, homemade croutons, avocado, and Parmesan cheese. IMG_1644 Mix up your buttermilk dressing, and drizzle over individual servings. YUM! IMG_1645

BLT Salad

Servings/Yield: 2 as a main dish, 4-6 as a side dish

  • 8 slices thick cut pepper bacon
  • 2 heads romaine lettuce, chopped
  • 2 cups cherry tomatoes, cut in half
  • 1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 avocado, diced
  • 2 cups homemade croutons
  • For the buttermilk dressing:
    • 3 tablespoons light mayonnaise
    • 3 tablespoons buttermilk
    • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
    • juice from 1/2 lemon, freshly squeezed
    • salt & fresh ground pepper pepper, to taste


1. Preheat the oven to 400*F. Lay the bacon flat on a foil-lined baking sheet. Bake 15-20 minutes until crisp.

2. Meanwhile, prep the veggies by chopping the romaine and dicing the tomatoes. Toss the romaine, tomatoes, Parmesan, avocado, and croutons in a large serving bowl.

3. Combine dressing ingredients in a small jar or tupperware; shake to mix thoroughly.

4. Crumble the bacon into the salad, and toss to combine. Top individual portions with buttermilk dressing and additional croutons.

Source: adapted from Annie's Eats

Mary’s Memo – August 10th


A Bryan Chief shopper asked recently if she could replace Crisco with butter in baking and if she could use the same amount. My go-to person at Purdue is Dinah C Dalder, MS, RD, CNSC, CD, Dietetics Program Manager, Department of Nutrition Science. Her reply was as follows: “I think that most recipes are going to be very forgiving. I suggest substituting equal amounts of butter for shortening. You are correct that butter and shortening do not have the same composition, but for all practical purposes I would not worry about adjusting the amounts.”

I also asked Purdue graduate Annie Watts Cloncs, Marketing Communications Consultant, the same question. She replied: “In cookie recipes I have successfully replaced Crisco vegetable shortening with the same amount of unsalted butter. The texture of the baked product might be a little different (a slightly less soft/chewy cookie for example). My suggestion to your shopper is to try 1 for 1 substitution and decide if the end result is acceptable. Also, in the back of my Better Homes and Gardens plaid cookbook (11th edition) substitution chart says: If you don’t have margarine, for 1 cup, substitute 1 cup butter or 1 cup shortening plus 1/4 teaspoon salt, if desired.”


Except for Chief’s own cookies baked fresh daily, it’s safe to say that Oreo cookies are near the top of the list of “store bought” ones. That said, I have avoided them because of the calories and because I still make homemade cookies. But along came Oreo Thins introduced in July in chocolate or vanilla flavors. Nabisco considers 4 cookies a serving and there are 10 servings per package. Calories per serving are 140 including 80 from fat. For me 2 Oreo Slims are enough, a more guilt-free choice!

As for regular Oreos, they’ve been around since 1912. The first Oreos looked very similar to the cookies of today with only slight differences on the chocolate disc. Since that time that time some variations have come along including double stuffed, fudge covered, Halloween and Christmas Oreos. A Chief associate said the Key Lime Oreos are to die for! I must admit they’re a winner as regular Oreos go but I’ll still take the Slims!


It doesn’t get much better than this and right now a lot of Chief’s produce is grown in Ohio such as sweet corn, green beans, zucchini and yellow squash. The advantage to buying your sweet corn at Chief is that it’s in a cool environment from the time it’s received until you take it home and less likely for sugar in corn to change to starch as it does at a lot of farmers’ markets.


Although the recipe is relatively easy to put together, by the time crust, filling and streusel topping are made it’s on the labor-intensive side. Even when Bryan Chief tasters were warned up front about the time it took, they didn’t seem to care. On the plus side, it does make 15 servings. This is not an everyday dessert but for company it’s worth the effort!



• 2 sticks unsalted butter, at room temperature and cut into small pieces, plus more for greasing 10x15 jelly roll pan (or spray with butter flavored Pam).
• 3 cups all-purpose flour
• 2/3 cup powdered sugar
• 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt


• 3 pounds peaches (about 10) cut into 1/2 inch wedges
• 1 1/2-cups packed light brown sugar
• Juice of 1 lemon
• 3 tablespoons cornstarch
• 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
• 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
• 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
• 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg


• 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
• 1/2 cup sliced skin-on almonds
• 1/2 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
• 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
• 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

Preheat oven to 3750F. For dough, combine butter, flour, powdered sugar and salt in a food processor or electric mixer and process until mixture comes together in solid mass (will take time to do). Drop pieces of dough on pan. With the palm of your hand, press evenly along the bottom of pan and about 1/2-inch. Set aside. Meanwhile toss filling ingredients together until cornstarch dissolves. Spoon filling evenly into prepared pan. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes (mine took 30 minutes). While pie bakes combine streusel ingredients with a fork. Sprinkle evenly over filling and bake an additional 25 to 30 minutes more. Cool on cake rack. Serve warm or at room temperature.
Source: Adapted from Food Network recipe.

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Mary’s Memo – August 3rd


My birthday present from my sister last year was a Spiral Slicer but it wasn’t until recently that I purchased Insprialized by Ali Maffucci (Clarkson Potter, 2015, $19.95/softback) at Bed Bath & Beyond so I had recipes to use it. One of the best things about spiralizing is that it introduces you to new vegetables and fruits. Eventually, you’ll be in the supermarket asking yourself, “Can I spiralizer that?” Maybe you’ll find something you’ve never tasted before or haven’t heard of yet. To spiralizer, the vegetable or fruit must be solid with no tough pit, seedy interior or hollow core, it must be at least 1 1/2 inches in diameter, at least 1 1/2 inches long and cannot be soft or juicy.

On her widely popular blog, author Ali Maffucci is revolutionizing healthy eating. Whether you’re low carb, gluten-free, Paleo or raw, Inspiralized shows you how to transform more than 20 vegetables and fruits into delicious meals. Recipes include appetizers, sandwiches, soups, salads, casseroles, rice, pastas and even desserts. Best of all, Maffucci tells you how to customize them for whatever vegetables you have on hand.


How often have you pulled something out of the refrigerator, wondered if it was still okay to eat and then tossed it out? You're not alone. Billions of pounds of food go to waste in the U.S. every year because consumers are unsure of the food’s safety. Knowing how to safely store food and when to dispose of it can help prevent food-related illnesses that are all too common in the U.S. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention reports that about 48 million Americans get sick every year from something they eat, resulting in thousands of hospitalizations and even some deaths. “There are a lot of misconceptions about food safety,” says Georgia Giannopoulos, RD, CDN, a senior dietitian with New York-Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell. For example, people tend to worry much more about meat than fruits and vegetables when it comes to food-related illnesses. However, research shows that seafood and produce are the two leading causes of foodborne illnesses. Studies also show that most people believe you can tell if food is safe by its appearance and smell, but pathogens such as E. coli and Salmonella don’t change the look of food and often don’t affect its smell or taste. The dates on most food labels should serve as a guideline, but not a hard-and-fast rule; many foods, especially those that require refrigeration, still may be safe to eat after those dates. Here is a guide to what those dates mean according to the USDA:|

Sell by: Tells the store how long to display the product. You should always buy items prior to the “sell by” date on the label.

Best if used by or before: This is not a safety date, but a reference to the date at which a food at its peak of flavor/or quality.

Use by: This date is established by the manufacturer as the date recommended for use of the product at its peak quality.

For fresh or uncooked items, use by dates should be followed closely, unless item is frozen. Frozen foods can be consumed safely long after their use by or sell dates. The USDA recommends the following guidelines for safe, refrigerated (not frozen) storage and consumption of foods after the sell-by dates:

Poultry: one or two days.

Beef and pork: three to five days.

Ground meat or poultry: one or two days.

Eggs: three to 5 weeks.

Get more information about food safety on line at www.cdcaagov/food-safety or call 1 800-CDC-INFO.
Source: Women’s Nutrition Connection August 2015.


“I never heard of such a thing,” said Bryan Chief tasters, but they really liked it! Bread gets its moistness from pureed cantaloupe. Enjoy!


2 cups cubed fresh cantaloupe
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
1 cup chopped pecans

Preheat oven to 3250F. Puree cantaloupe in blender until smooth. In mixing bowl, cream together butter and sugar. Beat in eggs until thoroughly mixed. Stir in cantaloupe puree. Combine dry ingredients except nuts and gradually add to cantaloupe mixture. Fold in pecans. Cut a piece of parchment paper to fit bottom of 9x5x3-inch greased loaf pan. Spoon batter into pan. Bake 50 minutes or until a cake tester comes out clean. Remove from oven and let rest on cooling rack for 10 minutes before turning out to finish cooling. Source: Adapted from California Cantaloupe Advisory Board recipe.

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Homemade Croutons

I know... you're probably thinking, "a whole blog post dedicated to making croutons?! I just stock up when the packages are 10 for $10 and I'm set!" While I'm no stranger to the package of ready-made croutons, homemade croutons are where it's at. If you've never had one, you haven't lived. (I can be just a bit dramatic sometimes.) My husband and I often catch each other snacking on these straight out of the container. Who needs salad anyway?! IMG_1549 Homemade Croutons are a great way to use up old bread that would otherwise be thrown away. It's best to use an artisan bread - baguette, ciabatta, focaccia, something that's a bit crusty or has some chew to it. (Though sandwich bread works great, too!) I had half a loaf of focaccia leftover from making paninis earlier in the week. Slice the bread up into 1/2-inch cubes and place in a large bowl. IMG_1539 Pour a mixture of melted butter, olive oil, salt, pepper, garlic powder, and parsley over the bread cubes; toss to mix well. I like to go heavy on the seasonings, but you can adjust the taste to your preference. IMG_1541 Bake at 250F for 40-45 minutes, tossing them around with a spatula every 10 minutes. Let cool and devour! IMG_1545 Stay tuned next week for a great entree salad featuring these tasty croutons!

Homemade Croutons

Yield: 6 cups croutons

  • 6 cups 1/2-inch bread cubes
  • tablespoons olive oil
  • tablespoons melted butter
  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder
  • ½ teaspoon dried parsley
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper


1. Place the bread cubes in a large mixing bowl. In a small bowl, stir together melted butter, olive oil, and seasonings. Toss the butter/oil mixture with the bread cubes.

2. Spread the croutons in a single layer on a baking sheet. Bake at 250*F, stirring once every 10 minutes, until the croutons are light golden and crisp and no chewiness remains (be sure to let a crouton cool for a minute or two before testing!) They will bake about 40-50 minutes total but the time may vary depending on the size of cubes and type of bread. Remove to a cooling rack and let cool completely. Store in an airtight container.

Source: adapted from Annie's Eats

Cajun Catch of the Day with Ratatouille

Back in June, my husband and I were able to travel to New Orleans for a conference for his job. We had a blast soaking up the culture of the city - especially the food! We took a cooking class one night at the New Orleans School of Cooking, and learned how to prepare a 3-course feast from a local chef. We dined on Fried Green Tomatoes with Shrimp Remoulade, Catch of the Day with Lemon Butter & Capers, Ratatouille, and Pecan Pie with freshly whipped cream for dessert. Not only was it a lot of fun, but the food was some of the best we ate all weekend! IMG_1355 I'll be sharing the Rataouille and Catch of the Day recipe with you today. Ratatouille is a great summertime dish, because it uses up all those garden veetables - zucchini, yellow squash, tomatoes, eggplant, and onion. Start the ratatouille by heating some olive oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Add diced onion and cook about 5-7 minutes, just until it starts to brown. Add some diced eggplant, zucchini, and yellow squash, and cook another 7-10 minutes, stirring frequently. Season wiht salt & pepper. Add the tomatoes, garlic, and cajun seasoning, and cook another 5-7 minutes until the vegetables are soft. IMG_1344 IMG_1345 I have always struggled with cooking fish in the past... but this recipe was pretty fail-proof. Season the fish liberally with cajun seasoning, lightly bread with flour, and pan fry on each side in some butter. Butter is the secret to restaurant-quality food! IMG_1349 To make the lemon butter sauce, simply melt some butter into the pan where you cooked the fish. Add a bit of heavy cream, some capers, and the juice from half a lemon. Let it simmer until it's reduced by half, and serve over the fish. IMG_1354

Catch of the Day with Lemon Butter & Capers

Servings/Yield: 4 servings

  • lbs tilapia or cod, or any other firm fish, portioned into 4 filets
  • 2-4 tablespoons cajun seasoning
  • 1-2 cups flour
  • ½ cup unsalted butter, divided
  • ¼ cup capers
  • ¼ cup heavy whipping cream
  • ½ lemon


1. Rinse fish off with cold water and pat dry. Season as you wish with cajun seasoning, and dredge with flour.

2. Melt 1/4 cup butter over medium-high heat in large skillet. Add seasoned & dredged fish to skillet, and brown on each side 4-6 minutes. Remove fish from skillet and tent with foil to keep warm.

3. Add remaining 1/4 cup butter, capers, cream, and juice from 1/2 lemon to skillet. Simmer until reduced by half. Serve warm over fish.


Servings/Yield: 3-4 servings

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 cup diced onion
  • 1 cup diced eggplant
  • 1 cup diced zucchini
  • 1 cup diced yellow squash
  • 1 cup diced tomatoes
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 1-2 tablespoons cajun seasoning
  • salt & fresh ground pepper pepper, to taste


1. Heat oil in large skillet over medium heat. Add onion; cook 5-7 minutes until slightly translucent. Add eggplant, zucchini, and yellow squash, and season with salt & pepper. Saute another 7-10 minutes, stirring often, taking care not to burn.

2. Add tomatoes, garlic, and cajun seasoning. Stir well and continue to cook over medium heat 5-7 minutes until all vegetables are soft. Taste, and season again with salt & pepper.

Source: adapted from New Orleans School of Cooking