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

Mary’s Memo – July 27th


I have no idea how much of my life I’ve spent looking for something but it’s probably more time than I care to admit! During the summer prior to my junior year at Purdue in 1947, I was hired as interim director of the 44 bed Jay County Hospital in Portland, Indiana. It had to be the gutsiest thing I have done in my entire life because I not only planned the meals but bought the food served. Son Tom, Food Director at Sidney and Lois Eskenazi Hospital in Indianapolis, wants to frame the menus and hang them in his office. So while looking for them, I found an old cookbook of Mother’s that I thought was lost as well as two handwritten recipes I had never seen before. One of the recipes is “Chicken A La Can” and the other “Hamburger Chowder.” Knowing how much memo readers like quick-to-make entrees with a minimum of ingredients, we’re sharing them this week.


• 1 can Healthy Request Campbell’s Cream of Chicken Soup (this was not available when Mother made it but it’s what I used)
• 1 can Healthy Request Cream of Celery Soup
• 1 can water
• 1 can Minute Rice
• 12.5-ounce can Swanson White Premium Chicken Breast, drained (1½ cups chicken)
• 3 1/2-ounce can French’s Fried Onion Rings

Combine soups and water. Add rice and chicken; stir to mix. Bring to a boil, cover; reduce heat and simmer for 7 minutes. Top with onion rings. Recipe makes 4 to 6 servings.


• 2 tablespoons butter
• 1 large onion, chopped
• 4 or 5 carrots, peeled and sliced
• 1 cup chopped celery
• 1 cup chopped green pepper
• 1 pound ground beef
• 2 cups tomato juice
• 3 to 4 medium-size potatoes, peeled and diced
• 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
• 1 teaspoon seasoned salt
• 1/8 teaspoon pepper
• 1/3 cup flour
• 1 quart milk

Melt butter in large saucepan or Dutch oven. Add onion, carrots, celery and green pepper and cook until tender but not brown. Add ground beef and cook until crumbly. Stir in tomato juice, potatoes and seasonings, cover and cook on low heat until vegetables are tender 20 to 30 minutes. Combine flour with1 cup milk. Beat until free from lumps. Stir into soup mixture. Add remaining milk; heat, stirring frequently until thickened…. do not boil. Serves 10.


Being a guru of gadgets, I haven’t bought something made by OXO that I didn’t like! To free up more space in my kitchen, I recently purchased three slender 5 1/2-qt. BPA-free containers to store flour, crackers and oatmeal. I lost the silicone gasket for one and called their toll-free customer service (1-800-545-4411) to see if I could buy a new one and they are sending it gratis. Is there any better customer service than that! Corporate headquarters are in Chambersburg, PA.

Also new for me is an OXO Good Grips Silicone Sink Mat that can be cut to accommodate your drain, depending on where it’s located (mine is in the center). It also has feet that elevate the mat to allow for water flow and aeration. Personally, the biggest selling point is that with heat-safe silicone, pots and pans can go directly from stove to sink. Mine was purchased at Bed Bath & Beyond for $14.95 plus tax.


They are: Watercress, Chinese cabbage, chard, beet greens, chicory, leaf lettuce, parsley, romaine lettuce, collard greens, turnip greens, mustard greens, endive, chives, kale, dandelion greens, red pepper, arugula, broccoli and pumpkin.
Source: Weil Cornell Medical College Women’s Nutrition Connection, July 2015.


Trying to maintain a healthy weight? Choose a comedy rather than a sad flick or an action adventure. In recent studies, researchers at Cornell University ‘s Food and Brand Lab found that people who watched the science-fiction “Solaris” ate 55 percent more than viewers of the comedy “My Big Fat Greek Wedding.” In another experiment, people ate 28 percent more while watching “Love Story” (sad) compared to “Sweet Home Alabama” (funny). And watching an action movie led viewers to eat 65 percent more calories than they did when they viewed an interview show.
Source: JAMA (Journal of American Medical Association) Internal Medicine, March 2015.

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Grilled Basil Caprese Chicken Wraps

Quick weeknight meals are a must in my household. My husband usually gets home from work between 6:30-7pm, and we need to eat quickly before our 8-month old goes into complete cranky mode before bed! For this reason, we love to make variations on sandwiches for dinner. Every once in awhile, it's the typical turkey and cheese, but we like to spice it up with oven-baked subs, quesadillas, grilled paninis, and open-faced flatbreads. IMG_1266 Usually, when we're dong paninis, we find the crustiest sourdough bread we can get our hands on, but I decided to switch it up and try a wrap on the panini grill. It was awesome! I took advantage of the fresh basil in my garden, and whipped up these Grilled Basil Caprese Chicken Wraps. Grilled chicken breast, fresh sliced tomatoes, fresh mozzarella cheese, and an herby cream cheese spread are all wrapped up and grilled until warm and melty. The cheese is gooey, the wrap is nice and toasted, and you can never go wrong with the classic caprese pairing. IMG_1257 We used fresh grilled chicken (with a basil herb rub), but you could easily use any leftover chicken or pick up a rotisserie chicken to keep it simple. IMG_1260 To make the herby cream cheese, combine some cream cheese, basil leaves, garlic, and Parmesan cheese in a food processor and give it a whirl. (You could also mix this by hand, just make sure you dice your basil super fine.) IMG_1258 To assemble the sandwiches, spread the cream cheese down the center of a flour tortilla or wrap. (We did a mix of flour tortilla and gluten free wraps for a guest who needed to eat GF.) Top with thinly sliced tomatoes, chicken, fresh mozzarella, and additional basil. IMG_1262 IMG_1263 We love these little fresh mozzarella balls that you can find in the specialty cheese section. They also make a great little salad when combined with fresh diced tomatoes, cucumber, and a drizzle of balsamic vinegar. IMG_1261 Fold up your wraps and place them on your panini press or griddle. Cook until golden brown, and dig in! IMG_1269

Grilled Basil Caprese Chicken Wraps

Yield: 4-6 servings

  • lbs boneless skinless chicken breast
  • 2 tablespoons basil herb rub
  • 3-4 fresh tomatoes, thinly sliced
  • 4-6 oz fresh mozzarella cheese, (sliced or balls)
  • 2-3 oz grated Parmesan cheese
  • cup light cream cheese
  • cups loosely packed basil leaves, divided
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 4-6 large flour tortillas


1. Preheat grill to medium high. Coat chicken on all sides with basil herb rub. Grill on preheated grill 4-5 minutes until chicken reaches 165*F. Remove from grill and rest 5 minutes before slicing into strips.

2. Preheat panini press or griddle to medium heat.

3. To make the herby cream cheese, combine cream cheese, Parmesan cheese, 1 cup basil leaves, and garlic in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse until basil is finely chopped and the mixture is pretty smooth. Finely chop or chiffonade the remaining basil and set aside.

4. To assemble each wrap, spread the center with the herby cream cheese. Top with 4-5 thin slices tomato, strips of chicken, mozzarella cheese, and remaining chopped basil. Fold wrap to enclose ingredients.

5. Place wrap on panini press or griddle, and cook 3-4 minutes on each side until golden brown and cheese is melted. Let sit 5 minutes before slicing and serving.

Source: adapted from Pampered Chef

Mary’s Memo – July 20th


Keep in mind that up to half of the bottled water produced in the U.S. comes from the tap and is then purified. And in some cases, safety standards for tap water are more rigorous than those of bottled water. So people with a weakened immune system should consult their doctor to discuss whether filtered tap water or bottled water is best. If you’re otherwise healthy but worried about water purity, try a home filter and reusable bottles. Also, public water is often fluoridated, which helps protect teeth. And with tap water, you won’t add plastic to landfills.
Source: Consumer Reports on Health, July 2015.


Study was published on line April 20, 2015, in the Journal of Psychology & Marketing. Researchers randomly gave 120 shoppers a slice of apple, a piece of cookie or no snack at the start of their shopping trip and then tracked their purchases. Those who were given an apple slice bought 28 percent more fruits and vegetables than those given a cookie piece and 25 percent more fruits and vegetables than those given no snack. Researchers recommend having a small, healthy snack, such as a piece of fruit, before shopping.
Source: Weill Cornell Medical College Women’s Nutrition Connection, July 2015.


According to the USDA, a lean cut of beef is a 3.5-ounce serving that contains less than 10 grams of total fat and 4.5 grams of saturated fat. The USDA defines an extra lean cut (3.5 ounces) as one containing 5 grams or less of total fat and 2 grams or less of saturated fat. If you are going to eat beef, here is your guide to the healthiest cuts that can help you make decisions while grocery shopping or eating out. Avoid buying cuts labeled “prime,” which are higher in fat than “choice” or “select” cuts. The five cuts of beef that are “extra lean” include eye of round roast or steak, sirloin tip side steak, top round roast and steak, bottom round roast and steak and top sirloin. When choosing ground beef, look for the percentage of fat. The USDA defines “lean ground beef” as having no more than 10 percent fat by weight and “extra lean” no more than 5 percent fat. Ground sirloin is usually the healthy choice; it is usually 90 to 95 percent lean.
Source: Weill Cornell Medical College Women’s Nutrition Connection, July 2015.

PS: Beef does cost more so my suggestion is to use a minimal amount combined with other greens and/or vegetables.


I served this salad at the Bryan Chief recently but changed Friday’s version to this one on Saturday. Original internet recipe said the salad served 4 people when a single recipe filled a 3-quart round casserole dish! Considering the fact that recipe makes 8 servings, I also increased avocados to 2 instead of 1. Because cherry tomatoes are often on sale, chopped Roma were replaced with a pint of cherry tomatoes, halved. Feel free to make only half a recipe if this suits your needs better.


4 seedless cucumbers, sliced into ¼ inch rounds
1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved
1/2 small red onion, sliced thin
2 Haas avocados, peeled, pitted and cubed
1 cup basil, mint or cilantro leaves or a combination of all
3, coarsely chopped


2 tablespoons Our Family extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
Seat salt and ground pepper to taste

Place the sliced cucumbers, cherry tomato halves, avocados, sliced onion and herbs together in 3-quart stainless or glass serving bowl. Drizzle with olive oil and balsamic vinegar and season with sea salt and a few grindings of pepper. Serve immediately or chilled.
Source: Adapted from 2014 Jen Hoy internet recipe.


When we were a family of six and even now, main dish salads are a refreshing summer treat. On my Meatless Monday the following salad is perfect!


1 package Chicken-Flavored Rice-a-Roni
4 scallions (green onions), sliced thin
1/2 green bell pepper, chopped
12 stuffed green olives, sliced
2 6-ounce jars marinated artichoke hearts, drained and
chopped, reserving marinade
3/4 teaspoon curry powder
1/3 cup Hellmann’s Light Mayonnaise

Cook rice and cool. Add scallions, green pepper and olives. Add remaining ingredients including reserved marinade. Mix well and chill. Recipe makes 6 servings.
Source: Adapted from Southern Living recipe.

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Zucchini Pizza Casserole

Do you have zucchini out the wazoo?! We actually don't grow any zucchini, but it's always such a good deal in the produce section this time of year! I love to gobble it up every which way... grilled, pan-fried, oven-roasted, and of course, in the form of zucchini bread. I've had a recipe for Zucchini Pizza Casserole bookmarked for quite some time. Zucchini + pizza... what's not to love? This main dish casserole uses grated zucchini and cheese as a "crust", and then it's topped with pizza sauce and all your favorite toppings. IMG_1190 Now... I'll be honest... it won't satisfy a craving for real pizza, but it was definitely a tasty meal to put into the rotation. I did end up serving some garlic bread on the side. Still gotta have my carbs! Start with the crust. You'll want about 6 cups of grated zucchini - that's about 4-5 small zucchinis. I used my box grater, but I'm sure you could use a food processor to make it go a little quicker. Sprinkle the grated zucchini with some salt, and let it sit about 10 minutes. Then, squeeze it out with a dish towel to draw out the extra moisture. We don't want soggy zucchini! IMG_1187 Mix the grated zucchini with a couple eggs and some grated mozzarella, cheddar, and Parmesan cheeses. You can use whatever cheese you have on hand. Spread it into a 9x13-inch baking pan, and bake about 20 minutes at 400*F until golden browned and a little crispy. IMG_1189 Then, top with pizza sauce and all your favorite pizza toppings. I left a skinny portion with just cheese for my 8-month old, and loaded the rest up with pepperoni, olives, and mushrooms. Bake an additional 15 minutes until golden brown and bubbly. I topped it with some fresh basil from the garden for a pop of fresh flavor. IMG_1191 All the flavor of pizza, with none of the carbs. This is a great dish for those on low-carb or gluten-free diets. Enjoy!

Zucchini Pizza Casserole

Servings/Yield: 4-6 servings

  • 6 cups grated zucchini
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon pepper
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 cups grated mozzarella cheese, divided
  • 2 cups grated cheddar cheese, divided
  • ½ cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 cup pizza sauce
  • your favorite pizza toppings!


1. Preheat oven to 400*F.

2. Place 6 cups grated zucchini in a bowl and toss with salt. Let sit 10 minutes to draw out the extra moisture. Squeeze as dry as possible with a hand towel. Combine grated zucchini with pepper, 1 cup mozzarella cheese, 1 cup cheddar cheese, Parmesan cheese, and eggs. Spread into greased 9x13-inch baking dish.

3. Bake zucchini crust in 400*F oven for 20 minutes until golden brown. Top with pizza sauce, remaining cheese, and your favorite pizza toppings. Bake an additional 15 minutes until golden brown and bubbly. Let cool 5 minutes before cutting into squares to serve.

Source: adapted from Lauren's Latest 

Mary’s Memo – July 13th


I have several of Anne Byrn’s Cake Mix Doctor cookbooks. In recent years she’s added all-purpose kinds including the Cake Mix Doctor Goes Gluten-Free and What Can I Bring Cookbook. The latest is Anne Byrn Saves the Day (Workman Publishing, $18.95/softback) featuring guaranteed-to-please recipes for weeknight dinners, quick birthday parties, too hot to cook meals, appetizers ASAP, Super Bowl party foods and book club treats. In addition Bryn shares strategies to end kitchen stress, create a system for meal planning and food shopping to avoid last minute pressures. She also discusses the benefits of a well-stocked pantry, refrigerator and freezer. From the Too Hot to Cook section there’s Heirloom Tomato Gazpacho and Chilled Cucumber Soup; from Potluck Perfection there’s My Baked Chicken and Rice; Company’s Coming includes Barb’s One Pound Pork Chops; from Last Minute Birthday Party, there’s Lou Ann’s Salmon Croquettes; and in Holiday Foods, Dave’s Ooh-La-La Potatoes. Rescuing Brunch has a recipe for Marion’s Pumpkin Bread with Chocolate Chips and Nashville Sour Cream Coffee Cake. Finally, being a chocoholic, I couldn’t resist Ole Mis Fudge Pie!

Ann Byrn Lives with her family, cooks and entertains in Nashville, Tennessee. You can subscribe to her newsletter at Cake Mix


A registered dietitian or registered dietitian nutritionist must have a bachelor’s or master’s degree in nutrition or dietetics, complete 1,200 hours of supervised practice, pass a national exam and do continuing education to keep his or her status. ”Nutritionist” is a non-accredited title without any specific set of requirements. Medicare and some private insurers cover medical nutrition therapy by registered dietitians for patients with health problems such as diabetes, kidney disease and heart disease.
Source: Consumer Reports on Health, July 2015.


“Increased dietary intake of berry fruit has a positive impact on human health, performance and disease,” says Barbara Shukitt-Hale, PHD, of Tufts HNRCA Neuroscience and Aging Laboratory. Shukitt-Hale and colleagues, who have shown cognitive benefits from blueberry consumption, performed a similar experiment with blackberry-extracts. Their study, published in Nutritional Neuroscience, tested a 2% blackberry supplemented diet for its effectiveness in reversing age-related deficit in behavioral and neuron function when fed to aged rats for eight weeks. “The results showed that the blackberry diet improved motor performance on three tasks which rely on balance and coordination. Results for a water maze showed that the blackberry-fed rats had significantly greater working, or short-term memory performance than the control rats. These data support our previous investigations in which we have seen improved motor and cognitive performance in aged rats after supplementation with other berry fruits.”
Source: Tufts Health & Nutrition Letter, July 2015.


Customers seem very accepting of Our Family store brand and I am, also. I have already mentioned using Our Family cheese products and their cocktail sauce. Add to that list Our Family regular and wavy potato chips cooked in sunflower and/or corn oil plus salt. This endorsement doesn’t include any flavored potato chips because they contain mono sodium glutamate. Although Aunt Millie’s bread is still my favorite brand, Our Family breads and buns are acceptable, especially when any of them are on sale such as 10 for 10. I do avoid any bread with high fructose corn syrup, hidden sugar none of us need! Something I always have on hand is a box of sandwich bags and Our Family ones are your best buy. There are multiple uses for them in my kitchen. When pork chops or Chief’s bratwurst patties are on sale each chop and/or patty is put in a sandwich bag, closed and then stored in a freezer bag. Buns are also packaged this way so that I can take out several or just one. They’re used to store fresh lemons and limes as well.


Bryan Chief shoppers with few exceptions liked Red Coleslaw with Grapes, adapted from a Grapes from California recipe.


• 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
• 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
• 2 teaspoons sugar
• 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
• 1/2 teaspoon ground pepper
• 1/4 cup Our Family extra-virgin olive oil
• 1/2 large head red cabbage, finely shredded
• 1/3 cup chopped fresh Italian parsley
• 6 scallions (green onions), chopped
• 2 cups seedless red grapes, halved

To make the dressing, whisk the vinegar with mustard, sugar, salt and pepper in a large bowl. Gradually whisk in olive oil until well blended. Add the cabbage, parsley, scallions and grapes to the bowl and toss to coat with dressing. Cover and refrigerate 1 to 4 hours before serving. Recipe serves 6 to 8.
Source: Adapted from Grapes from California recipe.

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Broccoli Slaw

We are getting ready to go on a family vacation with my parents up to Door County, Wisconsin. We leave for the last week of July, and couldn't be more excited! Door County is a peninsula on Lake Michigan, and full of cute little towns with lots of shopping, dining, and outdoor activities for the whole family. They are known for their cherries, and there are several little markets with all sorts of fresh cherries and cherry goodies available to purchase. One of our favorite markets makes the best cherry salsa, and they also make cherry wine, cherry bbq sauce, cherry marinades, cherry salad dressings, and all sorts of cherry jams & jellies. The employees always send us home with a bunch of recipes that use their yummy products, and this tasty Broccoli Slaw was one we tried out a few years ago. broccoli1 The original recipe called for their delicious cherry poppyseed dressing. Well, I wasn't about to pour the majority of my $7.95 bottle of cherry poppyseed dressing into coleslaw, so I made some improvisations. This slaw is a great combination of crisp veggies & chewy dried cherries, with a sweet dressing & salty sunflower seeds. It seems that my favorite recipes combine the sweet & salty flavors together... what can I say? I think it all stems from mixing my m&m's with the popcorn at the movies when I was a little kid. Mom taught me that one. broccoli2 It's a cinch to make, too. Just dump all your ingredients in a bowl - broccoli slaw, dried cherries, salted sunflower seeds, and green onions. Then, add your favorite creamy poppyseed dressing! Mix to combine, and serve cold.

Broccoli Slaw

  • 1 bag broccoli slaw
  • 5 green onions, sliced
  • 1 cup dried cherries
  • ½ cup sunflower seeds
  • ⅔-¾ cup creamy poppyseed dressing


Combine all ingredients in large bowl. Stir well. Store in refrigerator.
Source: adapted from Lautenbach's Orchard Country

Mary’s Memo – July 6th


I am appalled at the cost of cookbook magazines but liked one enough in a rack by Chief’s checkout lane, that I paid $12.99 + tax for Sunset’s Best Brunch & Breakfast featuring 124 easy recipes. Cookbooks cost less at one time! Speaking of cost, did you know that Family Circle and Woman’s Day magazines started out in 1932 at 5 cents? What prompted me to buy the Sunset cookbook is that I saw a recipe, Honeydew Relish Salad, made with melon, cucumber pieces, chopped celery, green grapes and celery. Dressing includes white wine vinegar, honey, yellow mustard seeds and salt. Because brunches are my favorite way to entertain, the magazine cover’s eye-appealing Parmesan Toasts with Asparagus, Prosciutto and Eggs drew my attention, also.


Avian Influenza (AI) has reared its ugly head in the US. Although no cases have been reported in Ohio, many consumers are leery of eating eggs. Also, it has caused the price of eggs to surge. AI is not transferrable to humans by eating poultry and eggs that have been properly cooked. To avoid any problems, avoid cross contamination by separating raw and cooked foods. Washing hands after handling raw foods is the key to food safety. Even though eggs cost more they are still a good buy nutritionally.


So says a magnet on my refrigerator door. No one ever told me that cucumbers can’t stand temperatures lower than 50 degrees (no wonder they have rotted so fast in my refrigerator fruit and vegetable bins all these years). “Old dogs can learn new tricks” and they now join tomatoes and bananas on the counter top. Something else you may not know about cucumbers is that they’re a fruit, not a vegetable and the interior can be up to 200F cooler than the outside air, even on a hot summer day, according to the July issue of Shop Smart, your guide to the best deals from Consumer Reports.


Judging by what I see in grocery carts, shoppers buy a lot of soft drinks and other beverages. Most people drink when they feel thirsty, which seems to work. But as we age, the sense of thirst is less acute and the body is less able to conserve water. Some drugs and medical conditions also increase urine output. All that increases the risk of dehydration, which can be life threatening. The color of your urine can indicate if you are well hydrated, says Marvin Lipman, MD, Consumer Reports’ chief medical advisor. “If it’s clear, you’re drinking too much. If it’s concentrated and dark yellow, you’re drinking too little. It should be in between. Drink plenty of fluids every day and more when it is hot and humid, and if you are physically active. Carry water with you, ask for it when eating out and drink it when you snack. And remember that foods can also be hydrating. Produce such as grapes, melon and tomatoes are 90 to 99 percent liquid, says Leslie Bonci, a dietitian in Pittsburgh. “What’s on your plate and bowl contributes to your total for the day.”
Source: Consumer Reports on Health, July, 2015.


In 1984 President Ronald Reagan designated July as National Ice Cream Month and the third Sunday in July as National Ice Cream Day. Other ice cream trivia includes the origin of the ice cream cone. Charles Minches is credited with serving the first ice cream cone at the 1904 St. Louis World’s Fair. There is controversy over this because Italo Marchiony of NYC was selling lemon ice cream cones as early as 1896 and applied for a patent months before the St. Louis World’s Fair opened. We do know for sure that in July “we all scream for ice cream!”

This week’s recipe came from Gert Bitler of Adams County, IN., via Mother years ago.


• 1 stick butter
• 1/2 to 1/3 cup slivered almonds
• 1 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
• 1 cup flake coconut
• 2 1/2 cups Rice Chex, crushed fine
• 1/2 gallon softened vanilla ice cream

Melt butter in a medium size saucepan over low heat. Lightly brown almonds in butter. Add brown sugar ans stir until melted. Add coconut and crushed Rice Chex. Put half the mixture into a 2-quart oblong baking dish. Spoon softened ice cream over crumbs. Top with remaining crumbs. Cover with foil and freeze for 24 hours. Recipe makes 12 servings.

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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.


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!


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.)


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.


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!


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


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


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, 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.


• 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).


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.


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.


• 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


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