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Buffalo Chicken Enchiladas

Mmmmm, enchiladas. Who can resist a hot pan full of cheesy goodness? Buffalo Chicken Enchiladas are a fun twist on traditional chicken enchiladas. Add a little buffalo sauce, a few green onions, and some gorgonzola cheese, and you've got a new (Americanized) favorite! It makes quite a big pan, so being the smart one that I am, decided that I'd split it into two smaller casseroles to put one in the freezer for when the baby comes. I was definitely regretting that later that week when I had eaten all the leftovers! At least I have another version of a really tasty meal to enjoy a few months down the road. :) They're pretty simple to make, using a few convenience items. Start by mixing up your sauce. Combine a can of red enchilada sauce with about 1/2 cup buffalo wing sauce, adding more to taste. It will taste pretty spicy when it's just the sauce, but when it's all mixed in with everything else, the flavor really mellows out. (I wish I would have started with more buffalo sauce.) Then, combine the meat from one rotisserie chicken along with about 4 diced green onions and 1/2 cup grated monterey jack cheese. Mix in enough sauce to coat the chicken mixture thoroughly. IMG_7846 Now, prep your pans. Pour enough sauce to coat the bottom of a 9x13-inch baking dish. Or, if you'd like, split it into two smaller casserole pans. IMG_7847 For the enchiladas, add a few spoonfuls of the chicken mixture to the center of a medium-sized flour tortilla. Roll it up and place it seam-side down in the pan, repeating until you've used all the chicken mixture. IMG_7848 Pour enough enchilada sauce over the top to coat the mixture. If you have any sauce leftover, store it in the fridge to serve with the leftovers. Finally, cover the whole thing with MORE grated monterey jack. (The more cheese, the better!) IMG_7849 [caption id="attachment_4102" align="aligncenter" width="307"]IMG_7850 I ran out of cheese on the freezer casserole... will definitely be adding more the second time around![/caption] Pop the casserole into a 375*F oven for 20-25 minutes until the sauce is bubbling, and the cheese is melted and crispy. Immediately after taking it out, sprinkle it with gorgonzola crumbles and garnish with more diced green onions and chopped fresh cilantro. Serve with sour cream! IMG_7852

Buffalo Chicken Enchiladas

Servings/Yield: 4-6 servings

  • 8 8-inch flour tortillas
  • 1 rotisserie chicken, chicken removed from bones & shredded
  • 28-oz can red enchilada sauce
  • ½-1 cup buffalo wing sauce
  • 2 cups monterey jack cheese, freshly grated
  • 1 cup gorgonzola cheese, crumbled
  • 6-8 green onions, diced
  • ½ cup cilantro, coarsely chopped

Method

1. Preheat oven to 375*F. Spray 9x13-inch pan with cooking spray.

2. In a medium bowl, combine enchilada sauce with 1/2 cup buffalo wing sauce. Add more buffalo sauce to taste.

3. In a large bowl, combine shredded chicken with half the green onions and 1/2-3/4 cup monterey jack cheese. Pour in enough sauce to coat the mixture; mix thoroughly.

4. Pour enough sauce into the 9x13-inch pan to cover the bottom. Fill each tortilla with a few spoonfuls of the chicken mixture; roll up, and place seam-side down in the pan. Repeat with remaining tortillas. Pour enough sauce over the enchiladas to coat completely. (Store any remaining sauce to serve with leftovers.) Top enchiladas with remaining monterey jack cheese.

5. Bake at 375*F for 20-25 minutes, until bubbly and cheese is golden brown. Immediately top with gorgonzola cheese. Garnish with remaining green onions and cilantro and serve.

Source: adapted from How Sweet It Is

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Mary’s Memo – September 29th

A NEW SEASON!


In case you missed it, fall officially arrived on September 23rd (I thought seasons changed on the 21st). Even though the Farmer’s Almanac predicts another cold winter try not to think about it. Instead enjoy fall’s pleasures including warm days and cool nights, mums in abundance (my favorite flower), leaves changing color, football games, harvesting “last of the garden” vegetables and apple desserts.

With those last of the garden vegetables in mind, daughter Mary Ann makes Summer Pasta with Walnuts. Recipe calls for fresh corn kernels but if fresh sweet corn isn’t available replace with frozen corn.

SUMMER PASTA WITH WALNUTS


• 8-ounces farfalle (bow tie pasta), uncooked
• 2 medium yellow squash, halved lengthwise and sliced (about 1-1/2 cups)
• 1 medium zucchini, halved lengthwise and sliced (about 1-1/2 cups)
• 2 cups fresh corn kernels (about 3 ears)
• 1/2 cup fresh basil, finely chopped
• 1 cup low-fat ricotta cheese
• 1/2 cup low-fat buttermilk
• 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
• 3/4 teaspoon salt
• 1/4 teaspoon pepper
• 1-1/2 cups seeded tomatoes
• 1/2 cup chopped walnuts, toasted

Cook pasta in boiling water 8 minutes. Add squash and zucchini; return to a boil); return to a boil and cook 3 minutes. Add corn; cook an additional 2 minutes. Drain well. Combine basil and next 5 ingredients (basil through pepper) in a large bowl. Add pasta mixture and tomato; toss gently to coat. Sprinkle with walnuts; garnish with basil spring if desired. Serve immediately. Recipe makes 4 servings (239 calories, 28% from fat in each 2 cup serving).
Source: Cooking Light, June 1997, via Mary Ann Thaman

SEARCHING FOR SUGAR


Many foods that you may not think of as being sweet contain a significant amount of added sugar. Examples include ketchup, barbecue sauce, salad dressing, flavored yogurt, breakfast cereal, granola and protein bars, bread, crackers and rolls. Added sugar comes in many forms; look for these terms, which are all sugars, on ingredients list: Agave nectar; Barley malt syrup; Beet sugar; Brown sugar; Corn sweetener; Corn syrup; Dextrose; Evaporated cane juice; Fructose; Fruit juice concentrate; Glucose; Fructose corn syrup; Honey; Invert sugar; Lactose; Maltose; Maple syrup; Molasses; Raw sugar; Sucrose; Syrup.
Source: Weill Cornell Medical College Women’s Nutrition Connection, September 2014.

TIP OF THE WEEK


Some Citrus fruits and juices can affect the absorption of a drug’s active ingredients from your gastrointestinal tract, resulting in too much or too little of the drug getting into your bloodstream. For example, an enzyme in oranges and grapefruits can accelerate absorption of the cholesterol drug atorvastatin (Lipitor and generic) potentially leading to too-high blood levels. And the calcium in dairy foods can inhibit the absorption of certain drugs, including antibiotics, making them less effective. That’s why some drug labels advise waiting several hours after consuming citrus or dairy foods before taking them or even avoiding these foods altogether.
Source: Consumer Reports On Health, September 2014.

MICROGREENS


You’re probably familiar with baby carrots and baby corn, maybe even baby lettuce, zucchini and eggplant. But did you know there are microgreens and they’re one of the latest culinary trends at upscale restaurants and specialty markets with their rich colors and distinct flavors. Some large supermarkets now carry them, too. A downside is their cost: about $7.00 to $12.00 per 1/4 pound (a little goes a long way).You can grow your own for far less. Supplies, including “microgreen kits,” are sold at gardening stores and online. Microgreens are best used as edible garnishes or as additions to salads, sandwiches and other dishes. They keep for about five days if you refrigerate them in a sealed bag.
Source: University of California, Berkeley Wellness Letter, September 2014.

CHILI-MAKING TIME


Marilyn Sachs, retired Extension Educator, Bryan, makes a white chili with only 4 ingredients. That’s “music to the ears” of any busy person or not! Although soup is a year-round food for me, nothing tastes better when there’s a chill in the air than a bowl of hearty soup with a grilled cheese sandwich. When we were a family of six, it was popular fare on football Friday night.

FOUR INGREDIENT WHITE CHILI


• 6-ounce can of boned chicken or same amount of chopped rotisserie chicken (about 1 cup)
• 2 (15-ounce) cans Great Northern beans, rinsed and drained
• 8-ounces Velveeta cheese
• 1 can Rotel Tomatoes

Heat all ingredients together until cheese is melted (about 10 to 15 minutes). Serve immediately.
Source: Marilyn Sachs, Bryan OH.

Note: There is now a Cheddar Velveeta cheese available.

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Pumpkin Cream Cheese Muffins

It's no secret, I love to bake. I bake cupcakes for a living, and it's rare that I actually get the chance to bake for fun. When I do have the time (or energy) to bake something for fun, I tend to gravitate toward breakfast treats. Scones, cinnamon rolls, muffins... who doesn't love a warm, fresh-from-the-oven sweet treat in the morning? Pumpkin Cream Cheese Muffins are the perfect treat to help kick off the fall season. Pumpkin muffins are spiced with cinnamon, nutmeg, and ginger, and filled with a surprise cream cheese center. They've got a crumbly topping that is pretty much irresistible. I baked these this past weekend to share at church, and they were definitely a hit! They'd make a great addition to any breakfast or brunch celebration throughout the fall. (I'm thinking breakfast on Thanksgiving morning perhaps...) IMG_7844 There are a few steps involved. First, you have to make the cream cheese filling in advance and freeze it for at least 2 hours. This keeps it nice and gooey in the oven. Combine a package of cream cheese and a cup of powdered sugar until smooth; then form it into a log, and wrap it in saran wrap and place it in the freezer. I did the step the day before, which made the muffin baking process go much quicker on Sunday morning. IMG_7840 Then, mix up the muffin batter. It calls for pantry basics - canned pumpkin, oil, sugar, eggs, flour, and spices. Mix it up using a mixer, or a large bowl and a powerful whisk. IMG_7839 Finally, mix up the crumb topping. In a small bowl, combine a bit of flour, brown sugar, and cinnamon. Cut in some butter pieces until everything is crumbly. You can use a pastry cutter, two knives, or simply your fingers. (I go the simple route - use my fingers to rub the butter into the dry mixture until it's crumbly. A little messy, but the easiest in my opinion!) IMG_7838 Now for the assembly - spoon a few tablespoons of the batter into the bottom of 24 paper-lined muffin cups. For the cream cheese filling, take the frozen cream cheese log out of the freezer, and slice it into 24 pieces. Place one in each of the 24 muffin cups. IMG_7842 Then, cover each cream cheese piece with another few tablespoons of batter, until the muffin cups are very full. Sprinkle each muffin with a bit of the crumb topping. IMG_7843 Pop the muffins into a 350*F oven for about 20-25 minutes, until the muffins have domed and are baked through.

Pumpkin Cream Cheese Muffins

Servings/Yield: 24 muffins

  • For the cream cheese filling:
    • 8-oz package cream cheese
    • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • For the muffins:
    • 3 cups all-purpose flour
    • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
    • 1 teaspoon nutmeg
    • 1 teaspoon cloves
    • 4 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
    • 1 teaspoon salt
    • 1 teaspoon baking soda
    • 4 large eggs
    • 2 cups sugar
    • 2 cups pumpkin puree
    • cups vegetable oil
  • For the crumb topping:
    • ½ cup brown sugar
    • 5 tablespoons all-purpose flour
    • teaspoons cinnamon
    • ¼ cup cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces

Method

1. To prepare the filling, combine cream cheese and powdered sugar until smooth. Transfer the mixture to a piece of plastic wrap and shape into a log, covering the log tightly with the saran wrap. Place in freezer and chill until firm, at least 2 hours.

2. For the muffins, preheat oven to 350*F. Line muffin tins with paper liners. In a medium bowl, combine flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, pumpkin pie spice, salt, and baking soda. In a large mixing bowl or electric mixer, combine eggs, sugar, pumpkin puree, and vegetable oil. Mix until smooth until well-blended. Add the dry ingredients, and mix on low just until incorporated.

3. For the topping, combine brown sugar, flour, and cinnamon in a small bowl. Add the butter pieces and cut into the dry ingredients until the mixture is coarse and crumbly.

4. To assemble the muffins, spoon a few tablespoons of the batter into the bottom of 24 paper-lined muffin cups. For the cream cheese filling, take the frozen cream cheese log out of the freezer, and slice it into 24 pieces. Place one in each of the 24 muffin cups. Divide the remaining batter among the muffin cups, covering cream cheese completely. Evenly divide the crumb topping over each muffin.

5. Bake in preheated oven for 20-25 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack and let cool before serving.

Source: adapted from Annie's Eats

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Mary’s Memo – September 22nd

FROM THE COOKBOOK SHELF


Whether you’re cooking for two or serving a crowd, Easy Everyday Slow Cooker Recipes by Donna-Marie Pye makes easy work of creating delicious, satisfying meals, representing cultures from around the world. In this full-color book with more than 80 photographs, you’ll find 200 recipes featuring the best of North American regional cuisine and globally inspired dishes. All the recipes have been created with convenience in mind. While most of the recipes in this book serve from 4 to 8 people and are perfect for families, there are also chapters like Meals for Two and Big Batch Dinners. Along with the recipes, there are handy slow cooker tips and time savers, as well as general slow cooker know-how. Donna-Marie Pye is a professional Home Economist and food writer who has also authored Canada’s Best Slow Cooker Recipes, The Best Family Slow Cooker Recipes, and 300 Slow Cooker Favorites. She has a 20-year career in the food industry working with such companies as Kraft Foods, Ontario Turkey Farmers and Ontario Pork and California Raisins. Donna-Marie shares her kitchen with her husband and family in Waterloo, Ontario. Donna-Marie uses some ready-made ingredients in Creamy Artichoke Casserole. To reduce calories she says that light Alfredo sauce and light mayonnaise can replace regular versions.

CREAMY CHICKEN ARTICHOKE CASSEROLE


• 1 red bell pepper, chopped
• 3 cups chopped cooked chicken
• 1 cup shredded Asiago cheese
• 1/4 cup chopped green onions
• 1 (14-oz) can artichoke hearts, drained and chopped
• 1 (10-oz) container Alfredo sauce
• 1/2 cup mayonnaise
• 1-1/2 cups croutons, coarsely crushed
• Sliced green onions (optional)

In large bowl, combine red pepper, chicken, Asiago, green onions, artichokes, Alfredo sauce and mayonnaise. Transfer to a prepared 4 to 6-quart slow cooker stoneware. Sprinkle with croutons. Cover and cook on Low for 5 to 6 hours or on High for 2-1/2 to 3 hours, until bubbling. If desired, garnish with sliced green onions. Serve with rice and a crisp green salad. Recipe makes 6 servings. Source: Easy Everyday Slow Cooker Recipes by Donna-Marie Pye (www.robertrose.ca; August 2014, $19.95/softback).
Cookbook is available from Amazon.com

TAKE YOUR EXERCISE PILL!


A meta-analysis of 19 exercise and drug trials comprising more than 339,000 participants found that exercise can be as effective as medications on mortality outcomes, specifically, as secondary prevention of coronary heart disease, stroke rehabilitation, heart failure treatment (albeit, diuretics were found more effective than exercise) and diabetes prevention. People who exercise have a higher quality of life and improved health compared to those with sedentary lifestyles. Similar findings have been shown in arthritis, cancer, diabetes, heart disease and respiratory illnesses, among other chronic conditions. The World Health Organization’s Global Burden of Disease study ranks physical inactivity as the fifth leading cause of disease burden in Western Europe but also as one of the top modifiable risk factors, along with smoking. According to John Ioannidis, MD, DSC, director of Stanford Prevention Care Center at Stanford University School of Medicine, and Huseyin Naci, research fellow at the London School of Economics, exercise should be considered as a viable alternative to, or along with, medications. The study is published in the British Medical Journal.
Source: Duke Medicine HealthNews, September 2014

BRYAN CHIEF RECIPE TESTING


Some Mary’s Memo recipes are tested in my kitchen …. others at the Bryan Chief Supermarket. Red Potatoes & Green Bean Sauté was one of them.

RED POTATOES & GREEN BEAN SAUTE


• 1 lb. red potatoes, scrubbed and halved
• 1 lb. fresh green beans, cut in half or 3rds depending on length
• 1-1/2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil
• 1 clove garlic, minced
• Salt, to taste
• 3 tablespoons fresh basil, chopped (basil makes the dish so don’t skimp)

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add potatoes; cook about 15 minutes until almost tender. Add green beans and cook about 3 minutes or until crisp-tender; drain well. In same pot, heat oil over medium heat. Add garlic; cook, stirring for 30 seconds. Add potatoes, beans and salt and pepper to taste. Cook about 2 minutes, or until heated through, tossing to coat. Add basil and toss once more before serving. Recipe makes 6 servings.
Source: Adapted from a Deen brothers recipe.

YOU ASKED


“Is it safe to eat yet” is the question you ask most often when you call me at home. My answer is usually “when in doubt throw it out.” Unfortunately no matter how much I try to do otherwise, I discard food that is no longer usable. As for frozen food, I rarely throw any away even though it may be two years old. Reorganizing my upright freezer food yesterday I discovered two turkey thighs that I bought just before Thanksgiving, 2012. I cooked them in enough water to cover, refrigerated both broth and turkey so today I can remove the fat on top and use broth and cut up turkey in stuffing like I make at Thanksgiving. And yes, I will serve McCormick Turkey Gravy on top. Another option would be to cook noodles in the defatted broth seasoned with dried sage and poultry seasoning, then mix with cubes of meat for turkey and noodles.

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Cold Spinach Dip

It's football season, and that means one thing - FOOTBALL SNACKS! Who doesn't love a complete spread of appetizers to enjoy while watching the game?! (It might just be the only part that I like...) IMG_7741 Cold Spinach Dip is a dip my mom has been making for years... it always makes an appearance at any big party or family get together. Cool, creamy sour cream and mayonnaise are combined with chopped spinach, vegetable soup mix, water chestnuts, and green onions to create a tangy dip with just the perfect amount of crunch. It's even green, which automatically makes it healthy, right? ;) To start, simply combine sour cream and mayonnaise with a packet of Knorr vegetable soup mix. IMG_7737 Then, stir in chopped spinach, green onions, and chopped water chestnuts (my favorite part). IMG_7738 Let it chill in the fridge for at least 2 hours, and then serve with your favorite chip! I love it with pita chips, and it's also really good with cubed Hawaiian bread. IMG_7744 Looking for other easy appetizer ideas? Check these out!  

Cold Spinach Dip

Yield: 4 cups

  • 10-oz. package frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
  • 1 package Knorr vegetable soup mix
  • 16-oz. container sour cream
  • 1 cup mayonnaise
  • 8-oz. cans water chestnuts, chopped
  • 3 stalks green onions, chopped

Method

Stir together soup mix, sour cream, and mayonnaise until well-blended. Stir in spinach, water chestnuts, and green onions. Cover; chill at least 2 hours. Stir before serving. Excellent served with pita chips or Hawaiian bread.

Source: family favorite

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Mary’s Memo – September 15th

FROM THE COOKBOOK SHELF


Formal entertaining is almost a lost art because the younger generation has a more casual lifestyle than their parents and grandparents. Instead, their parties are likely to include salsas, dips with crackers or chips. I admit they’re a great catalyst for getting a party off to a good start because they encourage guests to congregate around while scooping and munching. 150 Best Dips and Salsas by Judith Finalyson and Jordan Wagman should satisfy many dietary preferences from strictest vegans to wide ranging omnivores. There’s a wonderful rainbow of textures and flavors, from salty and sweet to spicy and sour. Many of the recipes are simple and can be prepared ahead if time.

Judith Finalyson is a best selling author whose lifelong love of food and passion for cooking has translated into sales of over 1 million cookbooks. Judith resides in Toronto, ON. Jordan Wagman was nominated as a “Rising Star in North America” by the James Beard Foundation He is the author of Easy Gourmet Baby Food. Jordan also lives in Toronto. Spinach and Artichoke Dip has become a classic and Finalyson and Wagman’s version is made in a small (no more than 3.5-quart) slow cooker.

SUMPTUOUS SPINACH AND ARTICHOKE DIP


• 1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
• 8-oz. cream cheese, cubed
• 1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
• 1 clove garlic, minced
• 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
• 1 (14.5-oz) can artichokes, drained and finely chopped
• 1 pound fresh spinach leaves, stems removed and thoroughly washed in a colander

In slow cooker stoneware, combine mozzarella, cream cheese, Parmesan, garlic, pepper, artichokes and spinach. Cover and cook on high 2 hours, until hot and bubbly. Stir well and serve with tortilla chips or sliced baguette. Recipe makes 6 to 8 servings.
Source: 150 Best Dips and Salsas (www.robertrose.ca; September 2014, $19.95/softback)

CUTTING BACK ON SUGAR


According to Stephan Torres, clinical dietician with New York Presbyterian/Weill Cornell Medical College, sugary beverages are the number one source of added sugar in the American diet including regular sodas, sports drinks and sweetened coffees and teas. Torres recommends limiting processed foods in general. “If your diet consists of lean meats, poultry, fish, vegetables, fruits, nuts, low-fat dairy and grains, you will avoid added sugar,” Says Torres.
Source: Weill Cornell Medical College Women’s Nutrition Connection, September 2014.

FAMILY MEAL NIGHT MONDAY, SEPTEMBER 22ND


Being a firm promoter of family meals, I’m giving you a week’s notice to celebrate this event next Monday. Unfortunately too many meals are “eaten on the run” now (having had 4 children who participated in extra-curricular activities, I know how challenging this can be) so Family Meal Night is a way parents and children can discover how enjoyable a meal together can be! Forget about electronic devices that have replaced verbal communication skills in many homes. Yes, I know the answers for everything are just a Google away and I appreciate that but there are other ways to find answers. Verbal communication skills are necessary when it comes to getting a job. And where better than the family dinner table to start!

HAPPY 100TH ANNIVERSARY!


The Velvet Ice Cream Company in Utica, Ohio has been owned by the Dager family for 4 generations. For the occasion there are special 100th anniversary flavors including All Natural Bourbon Pecan. It’s like butter pecan with a kick. Ball Corporation in Muncie, Indiana is also celebrating its 100th year. For the event there are Vintage Green Wide Mouth Quarts, also green pint ones. I’m a sucker for dated merchandise and haven’t decided to store staples in them or hold on to them as a collectable.

MAC & CHEESE WITH CORN ANYONE?


• 1-1/2 cups elbow macaroni
• 12-oz. can whole kernel corn, drained
• 1 can Campbell’s Healthy Request Cream of Mushroom Soup
• 1 soup can milk
• 1/4 pound Velveeta cheese, cut in small cubes
• 2 tablespoons softened butter
• 6 drops Tabasco sauce
• 1/8 teaspoon salt
• 1/8 teaspoon pepper

Cook macaroni 10 minutes in boiling, salted water. Drain well. Dilute soup with milk. Combine with remaining ingredients. Spoon mixture into buttered 1.5-quart casserole. Bake in 325ºF oven for 1 hour or until macaroni is browned and bubbly. Recipe makes 6 servings.

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Mary’s Memo – September 8th

FROM THE COOKBOOK SHELF


While USA-grown blueberries are still available, do make Blueberry Lemon Quick Bread from The Joy of Blueberries by Theresa Millang. Millang presents over 200 recipes from soups to ice cream so you’re sure to find one that’s right for the occasion! Also included in the book are tips for growing, choosing and storing blueberries.

BLUEBERRY LEMON QUICK BREAD


• 2 cups unsifted all-purpose flour
• 2 teaspoons baking powder
• 1/2 teaspoon salt
• 1/2 cup butter, softened
• 1 cup granulated sugar
• 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
• 2 large eggs
• 1/2 cup whole milk
• 1-1/2 cups fresh blueberries
• 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice, mixed with 5 tablespoons granulated sugar

Preheat oven to 350ºF. Mix flour, baking powder and salt; set aside. Beat butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add vanilla. Beat in eggs, one at a time, on low speed until well blended. Stir in flour mixture and milk alternately, starting and ending with flour, just until blended. Fold in blueberries. Spoon batter into a greased and floured 9x5x3-inch loaf pan. Bake about 1 hour or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Remove from oven; cool in pan 10 minutes. Remove from pan. With a wooden pick, prick sides and top of warm loaf. Brush with lemon juice-sugar mixture. Cool on wire rack.
Source: The Joy of Blueberries by Theresa Millang (Adventure Publications, Inc., Cambridge, Minnesota, 2003).

BLACK WALNUTS AND TOMATOES


I learn a lot at my Bryan Chief demo table each week. During the growing season garden tomatoes are really appreciated and I can’t get enough to suit my craving. Recently a customer told me she preferred to grow tomatoes close to her house but because of a black walnut tree nearby, she had to plant them a fair distance away or they wouldn’t grow. Why, I asked myself, so looked on the internet for an explanation when I got home (you can find the answer for about anything on the internet). Sure enough, U niversity of Wisconsin E xtension plant pathologists Anna Joy and Bryan Hudelson report that black walnut trees produce a toxic substance called juglone that prevents many plants including tomatoes, asparagus, peppers, potatoes and rhubarb from growing as far away as 8 feet. Symptoms may occur within a few days causing yellow and brown spots on tomato leaves and will wilt on the vine. There is no cure for a plant affected by walnut toxicity. Hickory nut trees can also affect growth of plants but not to the extent that black walnut trees do.

THE POWER OF CRUCIFEROUS VEGETABLES


When you think of cruciferous vegetables, you probably go straight to the usual suspects …. broccoli, cauliflower and cabbage. However, the family is far bigger than many people realize and also includes kale, Brussels sprouts, rutabaga, watercress, broccoli rabe, turnips, radishes, arugula, mustard greens and collard greens. For those who take a blood thinning medication such as warfarin (Coumadin), be aware that many of these vegetables are high in vitamin K and can interact negatively with blood thinning or clot-prevention medications. A consistent intake of these foods will enable your doctor to regulate your medication dose based on the amount of vitamin k you regularly consume.
Source: Weill Cornell Medical College Women’s Nutrition Connection, September 2014.

AMERICANS SPEND SMALLER SHARE OF THEIR INCOME ON FOOD


You may complain about food prices but we spend less on food than any other society in history or anywhere else in the world, yet get more for it. We now spend less than 10 percent of our disposable income on food, down from 20 percent in the 1950s. For lower-income Americans, food still accounts for about one third of disposable income.
Source: University of California, Berkeley Wellness Letter, September 2014.

THUMBS UP RECIPE!


I haven’t met a mushroom I didn’t like and usually have them on hand for recipes. Baby bella mushrooms, also known as cremini, seem to be a better keeper than white button ones, at least for me. They cost a little more but have a slightly firmer texture than the white (perhaps the reason for their longer storage life). Bryan Chief shoppers were enthusiastic about the following recipe made with them. Serve as a topper for grilled steak or as a side dish.

SAUTEED BABY BELLA MUSHROOMS


• 3 tablespoons olive oil
• 3 tablespoons butter
• 2 (8-ounce) packages baby bella mushrooms, sliced (I used an egg slicer)
• 1 clove garlic, minced
• 1 tablespoon red wine
• 2 tablespoons teriyaki sauce (I use La Choy without gluten)
• Freshly ground pepper

Heat olive oil and butter in large skillet over medium heat. Add mushrooms and stir until lightly browned, about 5 minutes. Reduce heat and simmer until mushrooms are tender, 5 to 8 minutes more. Serve immediately. Recipe makes 4 servings.
Source: Adapted from Allrecipes.com recipe.

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Crispy Gnocchi with Zucchini, Corn, and Bacon

Fall seems to be just around the corner, and I am so excited for all things fall. Not only do I get to enjoy all my favorite fall foods (pumpkin, apples, cinnamon, squash), but I get to meet my baby boy in November! The days could not go by quick enough. However, before jumping into fall foods, I thought I'd share one more recipe to use up the bounty of summer produce. Crispy Gnocchi with Zucchini, Corn, and Bacon combines soft pillowy potato dumplings with fresh zucchini, corn, and crispy bacon. It's all pan-fried until crisp, and mixed with just a bit of half & half to bring it all together. Topped with Parmesan and basil, this meal is full of bright, fresh flavor. IMG_7699 Start by cooking about half a package of diced pepper bacon in a skillet. When it's crispy, remove it to a paper towel-lined plate to drain. Leave about 2 tablespoons bacon fat in the pan. (That's what makes the veggies so good!) Then, prep your veggies. Zucchini, corn, and sweet onion, all of summer's finest. I also threw in some diced cherry tomatoes because they were on their last legs in my fridge. IMG_7689 Saute the veggies up in the bacon fat until crisp tender; then remove to a plate. Next, add a package of prepared gnocchi to the same skillet. Let it brown on each side; then stir the veggies and bacon back in, along with a little bit of minced garlic. Let everything pan fry a few minutes, and season it with salt and pepper. Finally, stir in a splash or two of half & half, and you are ready to serve! PicMonkey Collage Serve the gnocchi topped with some Parmesan and fresh basil. Yum! My hubby and I were "mmmmm"-ing all the way through this meal. I also served it with a side of garlic cheese bread, which complimented it perfectly. IMG_7699

Crispy Gnocchi with Zucchini, Sweet Corn, and Bacon

Yield: 4 servings

  • 16-oz package gnocchi
  • 6-8 slices pepper bacon, diced
  • 1 zucchini, sliced
  • ½ sweet onion, sliced
  • ¾ cup frozen or fresh corn
  • salt & fresh ground pepper pepper, to taste
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • ¼-⅓ cup half & half
  • ½ cup Parmesan cheese
  • fresh basil chiffonade

Method

1. Prepare gnocchi according to package directions; drain and set aside.

2. In large skillet, cook bacon until crisp; remove to a paper towel-lined plate to drain. Drain all fat except for 2 tablespoons in skillet.

3. Add zucchini, onion, and corn to skillet; cook until crisp tender. Remove from skillet.

4. Add prepared gnocchi to skillet. Let toast 1-2 minutes on each side, until they develop some brown color. Stir veggies back into skillet and add garlic along with salt & pepper to taste. Let cook 2-3 minutes.

5. Stir in half & half; let simmer 1-2 minutes. Serve topped with Parmesan cheese and fresh basil chiffonade.

Source: adapted from Iowa Girl Eats 

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Grilled Steak Fajitas

Labor Day marks the 'unofficial' end to summer and beginning of fall, but I always keep using the grill for several weeks into September and October. Grilling is such an easy, no-fuss way to put a quick meal on the table. (And without a lot of dishes!) IMG_7664 Grilled Steak Fajitas are one of my favorite things to cook on the grill. It is one of my mother-in-law's best-loved recipes, and there are never any leftovers whenever she makes them for the family. The steak is marinaded in a sweet & tangy sauce, then grilled until perfection. The fajitas are served with cheese, sour cream, sautéed peppers & onions, and a homemade fresh pico de gallo, which complements the flavors perfectly. The marinade is really easy - soy sauce, pineapple juice, cumin, garlic powder, and a little bit of lime juice. Marinade the steak for at least 2 hours, or up to 24. Once the steak has marinated, grill it over medium-high heat until your desired doneness. Once it's done, let it sit about 5 minutes before slicing into thin strips. IMG_7659 IMG_7662 While the steak is grilling, prepare the vegetables and pico de gallo. For the vegetables, sauté a sliced onion, red bell pepper, and green bell pepper in a little bit of olive oil until tender. I threw in some sliced mushrooms that were on their last legs in my refrigerator. IMG_7656 For the pico de gallo, combine fresh diced tomatoes, diced onion, minced jalapeno, and diced cilantro with a little bit of lime juice and salt. IMG_7658 To serve the fajitas, layer up the steak with the sautéed veggies, pico de gallo, and all your favorite toppings. Our favorites are cheese and sour cream. (Just a hint - spread your sour cream over the bottom of your tortilla before you put the meat on... this ensures evenly distributed sour cream and prevents it from flopping off in the middle of a bite.) IMG_7663

Grilled Steak Fajitas

Servings/Yield: 4-6 servings

  • 2-lbs flat iron steak
  • 1-2 tablespoons oil
  • 1 onion, sliced
  • 1 green bell pepper, sliced
  • 1 red bell pepper, sliced
  • 12 small flour tortillas
  • For the marinade
    • 1 cup soy sauce
    • cups pineapple juice
    • 1 tablespoon cumin
    • teaspoons garlic powder
    • 3 tablespoons lime juice
  • For the pico de gallo
    • 3 Roma tomatoes, diced
    • ¼ cup onion, diced
    • 2 tablespoons cilantro, chopped
    • ½ jalapeno , minced
    • 1-2 teaspoons lime juice
    • ½ teaspoon salt
  • For serving
    • sour cream
    • shredded cheese

Method

1. For marinade, combine soy sauce, pineapple juice, cumin, garlic powder, and lime juice in a large gallon-size freezer bag. Add steak to marinade. Let marinate at least 2 hours (or up to 24).

2. To prepare fajitas, grill steak over medium-high heat until desired doneness. Let sit 5 minutes; slice into thin strips.

3. While steak is grilling, sauté onion and bell pepper strips in oil until tender.

4. To prepare the pico de gallo, combine all ingredients in a small bowl; toss to combine.

5. To serve, layer steak, veggies, cheese, sour cream, and pico de gallo in tortilla.

Source: family favorite

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Mary’s Memo – September 1st

FROM THE COOKBOOK SHELF


Years ago, who would have thought that we’d have specialized cookbooks like The Complete Coconut Cookbook by Camilla V. Saulsbury. Formerly relegated to the role of a decadent treat, coconut is now embraced with an enthusiasm that borders on obsession. And it’s no wonder, given its smooth, creamy texture and the compelling health and nutrition benefits of pure coconut. Everyone from hardcore health-foodies to recreational cooks …. and everyone in between …. will enjoy these all-natural, high energy, easyto-make coconut dishes. The 200 innovative recipes cover a broad spectrum of fresh flavors and provide dependable results including user-friendly nutrition information and in-depth “how to” tips for each coconut product. Camilla V. Saulsbury is a writer, recipe developer, fitness trainer, endurance athlete and creator of the healthy food blog, Power Hungry. She’s been featured on the Food Network, Today, Good Morning America Health, QVC and in multiple publications like the New York Times, Southern Living, Food Network Magazine and others. She currently lives with her husband and son in Texas.

COCONUT-BRAISED BABY BOK CHOY


• 2 cloves garlic, minced
• 1/8 teaspoon hot pepper flakes
• 1-1/2 cups coconut water
• 1-1/2 pounds baby (or regular) bok choy
• 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
• 1 tablespoon virgin coconut oil

In large skillet, combine garlic, hot pepper flakes and coconut water. Bring to a simmer over medium-high heat. Arrange bok choy evenly in skillet. Reduce heat to simmer for about 5 minutes or until tender. Using tongs, transfer boo choy to a serving dish, cover and keep warm. Increase heat to medium-high and boil broth mixture until reduced to about 1/4 cup. Stir in black pepper and coconut oil. Pour over bok choy. Recipe makes 4 servings.
Source: The Complete Coconut Cookbook by Camilla Saulsbury (www.robertrose.ca; September 2014, $24.95/softback).

YUMMY!


When I served cold cantaloupe soup at the Bryan Chief recently a lot of adult customers were hesitant to try it but not one preschooler who tipped the cup without stopping and said “yummy” when he finished it. So enthusiastic was this young boy that an adult standing near him decided to taste it, also.

This past weekend I served Broccoli Grape Salad when USA grown red grapes were on sale for 99¢/lb. A mother told her son he wouldn’t like it. WRONG! He took a sample, finished it and gave me a thumbs up. Moral to the story: Mothers should not discourage their children from trying a sample of something new to them. More times than not, children like it. If not, I thank them for at least being willing to try it.

CHILLED CANTALOUPE SOUP


• 1 cantaloupe, peeled, seeded and cubed
• 2 cups orange juice
• 1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
• 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Scrub cantaloupe before cutting (you have no idea how many people sniff before buying). Place in blender or food processor with 1/2 cup of the orange juice. Blend until smooth. Add remaining orange juice, lime juice and cinnamon. Cover and refrigerate for at least one hour before serving. Garnish with fresh mint spring if desired. Recipe makes 6 servings.
Source: Allrecipes.com

ANOTHER ZUCCHINI RECIPE


We started this memo with a recipe using coconut oil and were finishing with a zucchini bread with coconut. Some zucchini breads have too much oil in my opinion while this one has only 1/2 cup per loaf. A slice is a healthy after school snack.

ZUCCHINI BREAD WITH COCONUT


• 3 large eggs
• 2 cups sugar
• 1 cup canola oil
• 3 cups unsifted all-purpose flour
• 1 teaspoon soda
• 1 teaspoon salt
• 1 teaspoon cinnamon
• 3 cups shredded zucchini
• 3/4 cup flaked coconut
• 3/4 cup chopped nuts, either walnuts or pecans

Beat eggs, sugar and oil together. Add dry ingredients, zucchini, coconut and nuts and mix until ingredients are moistened. Spoon into 2 greased and floured 9x5x3-inch loaf pans. Bake in 325ºF oven for 50 to 55 minutes or until a toothpick poked in center comes out clean. Allow to cool for 10 minutes and remove from pan onto cooling rack. Store each in a plastic freezer bag.

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