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Mary’s Memo – October 27th


Although I bought Not Just Another Cookbook, Classic Recipes, Simple Cooking by Colleen Brethren in Kettering, OH, where she lives, it is also available from Not too many cookbooks are written by a project engineer, but Brethren takes her attention to inventive solutions and combines it with her passion for food. The result is a collection of more than 200 mouthwatering recipes written clearly for the beginner, yet stimulating and daring for the experienced. And because of her analytical mind and attention to detail, there are even instructions about tools of the trade and tips on using them efficiently. Who knew that 40 twists of the pepper grinder equals 1 teaspoon of pepper?! Not Just Another Cookbook is for every bride, or groom-to-be. It’s a gastronomical bible for empty-nesters, bachelors and anyone who loves mouthwatering, inventive and taste-tested dishes


• 4 bone-in pork chops, 1/2-inch thick
• 2 teaspoons olive oil
• 1 large onion, cut in thin wedges
• 1/2 apricot preserves
• 1 tablespoon Dijon or spicy mustard
• 1/4 cup water
• 1 teaspoon paprika
• 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg

Season chops with salt and pepper. In a large skillet, heat olive oil over medium-high heat. Add pork and onions and cook an additional 3 to 4 minutes. Meanwhile, combine the preserves, mustard, water, paprika and nutmeg in a micro-safe bowl. Heat mixture in microwave for 1 to 2 minutes or until melted. Pour mixture over pork and onions, reduce heat to medium, cover and cook 10 minutes.
Source: “Not Just Another Cookbook” by Colleen Brethren.


If you grew up being taught to clean your plate and still mostly follow that motherly admonition, you’re not alone. A new analysis of 14 studies on portion and consumption habits finds that US adults eat almost 92 percent of the food we put on our plates. And the drive to eat everything on your plate isn’t just an American habit: Researchers found almost identical patterns in Canada, France, South Korea, Taiwan, Finland and the Netherlands.

Source: Tufts Health & Nutrition Letter, October 2014.


Whenever Ohio Attorney General, Mike DeWine runs for office, including re-election, Fran DeWine writes a cook booklet. The 12th edition has my recipe for Buffalo Chicken Salad. Fran loves to cook and so do their 8 children. A new recipe in the 12th edition is Fran’s Roasted Vegetables that she prepares for Thanksgiving dinner “They were the first thing to be eaten.” reports Fran.

Be sure sizes are the same so they will cook evenly. Vegetables like broccoli, cauliflower and asparagus take less time, she cautions.


• Butternut squash, peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes
• Carrots, peeled and cut into 1-inch chunks
• Turnips, peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes
• Small onions or onion wedges
• Whole cloves of garlic
• Brussels sprouts, whole or cut in half if large

Toss with olive oil. Put on large baking sheet. Season with salt and pepper. Bake at 425ºF for 40 minutes or until vegetable are tender.
Source: Fran DeWine’s Family Favorites, 12th Edition.


If it is candy you bought to pass out, freeze it in an additional freezer bag. I froze leftover candy corn and peanuts last year and it survived in good condition (open the bag while it returns to room temperature). Chop chocolate candies and use like chips in cookies. My Grandfather Smith insisted that candy be served at the end of the meal, not in-between, and I did the same, replacing a regular dessert with a candy bar.


My slow cooker is utilized at least once a week to test recipes, make soup to freeze or a favorite entrée. It’s as essential as any appliance in my kitchen! This week’s Slow Cooker Cheeseburger Soup can also be made with ground turkey.


• 2 pounds ground beef
• 4 medium onions, chopped
• 2 (28-ounce) cans diced tomatoes, undrained
• 1/2 cup steak sauce (I used Heinz)
• 16-ounces reduced-fat American cheese, chopped (I used unwrapped Kraft Sharp Cheddar slices)

Spray 5 or 6 quart slow cooker with cooking spray. In large skillet, cook beef over medium-high heat, stirring frequently until brown; drain. In slow-cooker mix ground beef, onions, tomatoes and steak sauce. Cover and cook on high 1 hour; then reduce to low heat for an additional 5 hours. Stir in cheese long enough to melt, stirring occasionally. Recipe makes 10 servings.
Source: Adapted from recipe.

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Crock Pot Cheesy Ham & Potato Soup

There's a chill in the air and that makes me very happy... it's soup season! One of my favorite ways to warm up in the fall and winter months is with a bowl of soup and big hunk of crusty bread. I love to make a big pot on Sunday night and then eat it for lunch all week long.

Today I'm sharing my family's favorite recipe for Crockpot Cheesy Ham & Potato Soup. My mom has made this ever since I was a kid, and it's completely irresistible! It's chock full of potatoes, veggies, ham, bacon, and full of cheesy flavor (thanks to a tasty jar of Cheez Whiz). While it might not be the healthiest soup out there, it definitely does the trick when you're craving a big bowl of comfort food.


Another bonus? It's made in the crock pot! Start by layering potatoes, carrots, celery, onion, green pepper, bacon, and ham in a crock pot or slow cooker. (I used the Chief smokehouse ham steak, and it was phenomenal!) Pour 3 cups of beef stock over the top and let it cook on high 3-4 hours. (Or low 6-8). It will look funky, but I promise, it will turn out delicious in the end!


About 30 minutes before you want to serve the soup, combine a bit of cornstarch with some water, and stir it into the soup. This will help thicken it up. Let it cook on high 20 minutes or so, then stir in a jar of Cheez Whiz. It goes from a brothy, chunky mixture to a velvety smooth cheesy soup!



Perfect on a crisp fall day!


Looking for other soup recipes?


Crock Pot Cheesy Ham & Potato Soup

Yield: Serves 6-8

  • 6-8 oz ham, cubed
  • 8 slices cooked bacon, crumbled
  • 3 carrots, diced
  • 6-8 potatoes, diced
  • 4 stalks celery, sliced
  • ½ cup diced onion
  • ½ cup chopped green pepper
  • 3 cups beef stock
  • ¼ cup cornstarch
  • ¼ cup water
  • 16-oz jar Cheez Whiz


1. Combine first 8 ingredients in crock pot. Cook on high for 3-4 hours.

2. Combine cornstarch with water; add to crock pot. Cook 20 minutes to thicken. Stir in Cheez Whiz until fully incorporated. Serve topped with shredded cheese.

Source: family favorite

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Mary’s Memo – October 20th


I haven’t tried a recipe in the Junior League of Pasadena cookbook, California Mosaic, that I haven’t liked! Published in 2008, each chapter includes basic recipes that can be transformed into multiple dishes, local histories, places of interest, menu ideas and beautiful artwork. The latest recipe I’ve tried is Apple Brownies made with area grown Bauman Orchards Ginger Gold apples. I skipped the Lemon Glaze to cut calories.


• 2 cups all-purpose flour
• 2 teaspoons baking soda
• 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
• 1 teaspoon salt
• 2 cups sugar
• 1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
• 2 eggs
• 4 cups finely chopped, peeled apples
• 1 cup walnuts, chopped
• 1/2 cup dark raisins

Preheat oven to 350ºF. Mix the flour, baking soda, cinnamon and salt together. Beat sugar and butter in a mixing bowl until creamy. Add flour mixture and eggs to the creamed mixture and beat until blended. Stir in apples, walnuts and raisins. Coat a 9x13-inch baking dish with nonstick cooking spray. Spread batter in prepared dish and bake 45 minutes or until brownies test done. Let stand until cool and cut into 24 to 30 bars. Store brownies in an airtight container.
Source: Adapted from California Mosaic recipe.


Canned tuna accounts for 28 percent of Americans’ exposure to mercury. You know you should eat more seafood, but you are confused about what types are healthiest and safest. One worry: methylmercury, which can cause neurological damage in fetuses and have harmful effects in children as well as adults who eat a lot of high-mercury fish. A recent Consumer Reports analysis of the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) data on mercury in seafood found 20 types of fish and shellfish that are low in that toxic metal. The bad news: Canned tuna, second only to shrimp as America’s favorite catch, isn’t one of them. Consumer Reports found that 20 percent of the samples tested by the FDA since 2005 had almost twice the average level of the toxin the agency lists for that type of tuna. Some had 7 times as much. (Albacore, or white, tuna has even higher average mercury levels than canned light.) Consumers have no way to know how much mercury is in any can. As a result, Consumer Reports experts say that pregnant women should avoid tuna, canned or fresh. They, along with women of child-bearing age, those who are breastfeeding, young children and adults who eat 24 ounces or more of fish per week, should also steer clear of high mercury fish: Gulf tile fish, king mackerel, shark and swordfish. Lowest mercury fish are oysters, sardines, scallops, shrimp (most wild and U.S. farmed), domestic squid and domestic tilapia and wild and Alaskan salmon, canned or fresh. Low-mercury fish are Atlantic croaker, Atlantic mackerel, catfish, crab, domestic crawfish, founder and sole, haddock, mullet, Pollock and trout.
Source: Consumer Reports on Health, October 2014

Note: My go-to-person at Purdue, Dinah Dalder, MS, RD, CNSC, CD, Dietetics Program Manager, Department of Nutrition Science, reports the following: “The main concern with the canned tuna and mercury content is for children, fetuses and pregnant and women of childbearing age. Others are welcome to be careful of the amount of tuna they eat but moderation is acceptable.”

Personally, I’ll be looking for alternatives to canned tuna and only eating it occasionally in tuna casseroles, where it is extended with other ingredients, not plain.


There are choices throughout the store from fall motif cupcake liners to spicy-tasting Keurig cups! Thinking ahead to holiday baking needs, even if it isn’t on your mind yet, the price is right on sugar and flour. Watch for butter savings (it freezes, you know) because nothing thing is better than butter in baked goods! This is another year of December following Thanksgiving in only a few days. Christmas of 2013 almost did me in and I’m determined that history doesn’t repeat itself in 2014! Roll making is on my October agenda.


In the past when a recipe called for ground beef, I always bought ground chuck. However, I’ve taken a second look at ground beef because it costs less and like you, I want the cheapest best buy. It may have more fat than ground chuck but it doesn’t take any longer to drain it. It’s the cost-perserving that matters. And yes, I took advantage of savings on 2 pounds of ground beef on my 8 weeks of coupon savings card. During the last week of coupon savings, October 30 thru November 5, a 5-pound bag of Spartan sugar is just $1.77, limit 2. That will make a lot of peanut brittle in my kitchen.

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Mary’s Memo – October 13th


The Cook’s Essential Kitchen Dictionary, Second Edition, by Jacques L. Roland is an exciting blend of food history, anecdotes, origins and culture. How often have you found yourself in the middle of preparing a recipe when you come across an unfamiliar term? If you are like most people, the answer is probably quite often. Not recognizing a word and its meaning can diminish the pleasure of preparing a dish. The Cook’s Essential Kitchen Dictionary, Second Edition, has been reviewed, vetted and edited to reflect today’s culinary landscape. So whether you’re looking for an entertaining read or the answer to a specific question, this delightful book offers a unique vantage point to expand your knowledge of food and your appreciation of cooking.

Jacques L. Roland was born in Chamery, France. He is a third-generation member of a hotel and restaurant family, has a degree in culinary arts and hotel management and is a certified sommelier. Roland travels extensively around the world and currently teaches an etiquette, service and wine class. He is also the author of The Food Encyclopedia. The Cook’s Essential Kitchen Dictionary, Second Edition, (; September 2014, $19.95/softback) is available from


No matter which lettuce you choose, filling your plate with no more than 10 calories per cup of greens may decrease your portion sizes of higher-calorie starches and/or proteins, which is a smart weight management tactic. To get the most nutrition per bite, the more colorful the lettuce, the better. Darker-colored leaves are able to absorb more light and synthesize more vitamins as they grow. While iceberg lettuce is extremely hydrating (it is 96% water), other lettuce varieties, such as romaine, spinach, arugula, kale and red leaf lettuce, do contain more nutrients, such a vitamin A, C, K and folate, as well as calcium, potassium and fiber. A word of caution: Collard greens, kale and spinach are high in vitamin K. If you are taking a blood-thinning medication, such as warfarin (Coumadin), consume the same amount of greens from week to week, since they can affect how your medication works.
Source: Weill Cornell Medical College Women’s Nutrition Connection, October 2014.


Ball canning lids have a shelf life of 3 to 5 years. According to Ball representative, company doesn’t guarantee a safe seal if lid is older. You’re not seeing Kerr jars and lids anymore because Ball bought Kerr in 1996. Any Kerr jars you have are now a collectible item. Also, Ball lids are silver, not gold colored. In addition to 5% acidic vinegar, Heinz sells Cleaning Vinegar that is 6% acidic.

There are Tostitos Multigrain Scoops from Frito Lay (no artificial flavors or preservatives and no MSG). I’ll never buy regular scoops again!

Marzetti is making two flavors of Baked Croutons, neither with high fructose corn syrup, artificial flavors, colors or trans fat.


I found Easy Ziti with Sausage and Peppers on Crisco’s website. What I liked best about the recipe was that it makes 5 servings with only 8-ounces of meat. Since Bob Evans, Jimmy Dean and another brand sold in the meat case contain MSG, I used Chief’s own MSG-free Smokehouse brand instead, removing the casing from 3 links.


• 1/2 cup finely chopped onions
• 1/2 cup chopped red bell pepper
• 1/2 cup chopped green bell pepper
• 2 cloves garlic, minced
• 1-1/2 tablespoons Crisco Pure Olive Oil
• 3 links Chief Smokehouse Hot Italian Sausage, casings removed
• 1 (28-ounce) can crushed tomatoes • Salt & pepper to taste (I used 1/4 teaspoon of each)
• 1 tablespoon chopped flat leaf parsley (1 teaspoon dried)
• 1-1/2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil (about 1-1/2 teaspoons dried)
• 2 cups cooked ziti (1 cup uncooked = 2 cups cooked)
• Freshly grated Parmesan cheese for topping

Cook onions and peppers in 4 quart saucepan over medium heat until softened, stirring occasionally. Add garlic and sausage; continue cooking until sausage is no longer pink. Drain off excess fat. Stir in crushed tomatoes. Reduce heat; cover and simmer 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Season with salt and pepper. Stir in parsley and basil. Toss with cooked pasta. Top each serving with Parmesan cheese to taste. Recipe makes 5 servings. Source: Adapted from Crisco recipe.


According to The Cook’s Essential Dictionary, Second Edition, it is an Italian phrase that means “to the tooth.” The term is used to describe pasta that is not overcooked or soft, but with a bit of resistance in the bite.

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Baked Orange Chicken

I have been looking forward to sharing this recipe for weeks! I first made it back at the beginning of September... and have been thinking about it ever since. We don't have too many fabulous Chinese restaurants here in Lima, and I've been craving Chinese on a weekly basis during my pregnancy. I decided to take matters into my own hands, and whip up a dish of my own! Baked Orange Chicken is just like your favorite Chinese take-out - tender chicken pieces that are lightly breaded and tossed in a sweet & spicy orange sauce. Might I say it's even better than your favorite Chinese take-out? And healthier, too! IMG_7822 It does take a bit of time to prepare, but it's so worth it (and not all hands-on). Start by dredging the chicken pieces, first in cornstarch and then egg. (I know, it seems backwards, but it makes it so good!) Pan-fry the pieces just until they are golden-brown, and then add to a 9x13-inch baking pan. IMG_7814   IMG_7815 Mix up the sauce, a mixture of orange juice soy sauce, vinegar, chili sauce, and garlic salt. Then pour it over the chicken pieces in the pan. Bake at 325*F for 1 hour, stirring every 15-20 minutes to coat the chicken with the sauce. It will go from super liquidy to thick and flavorful, coating the chicken perfectly. IMG_7817 IMG_7820 While the chicken is baking, prepare your favorite rice to go alongside. Regular rice is tasty, but I love to serve it with Coconut Rice (recipe below). Add a few egg rolls and your meal is complete! IMG_7822

Baked Orange Chicken

Yield: 4-6 servings

For the chicken:
  • 1½-2 lb boneless skinless chicken breasts or thighs, diced into bite-size pieces
  • salt & fresh ground pepper pepper
  • 1-1½ cups cornstarch
  • 3 eggs, beaten
  • ¼ cup canola oil
For the sauce:
  • cup brown sugar
  • cup orange juice
  • ¼ cup soy sauce
  • 2 teaspoons sriracha chili sauce
  • 3 tablespoons white vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon garlic salt
  • zest from 1 orange
  • 2 teaspoons cornstarch


1. Preheat oven to 325*F. Season chicken pieces with salt & pepper.

2. Place the cornstarch and beaten eggs in separate bowls. Dip chicken pieces in cornstarch; then egg mixture. (Yes, it seems backwards. This is what makes it so good!)

3. Heat oil in large skillet over medium-high heat and brown chicken 2-3 minutes on each side, until it is crispy and has some color. Place into a 9x13-inch baking pan. Repeat with remaining chicken pieces.

4. In a small bowl, combine all sauce ingredients; pour over chicken.

5. Bake chicken for 1 hour, stirring every 15 minutes. The sauce will thicken as it cooks. Serve over fresh, hot cooked rice.

Source: adapted from The Recipe Critic

Coconut Rice

Yield: 4-6 servings

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 3-4 tablespoons minced onion
  • 1½ cups water
  • 1½ cups lite coconut milk
  • 1½ cups long grain white rice
  • ½ teaspoon salt


1. In a medium saucepan, heat oil. Add garlic and onion; cook 1-2 minutes until fragrant. Stir in water and coconut milk; bring to a boil.

2. Once liquid is boiling, stir in rice and salt. Cover with the lid, and simmer 15-20 minutes until all the liquid is absorbed and the rice is tender.

Source: adapted from Iowa Girl Eats

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20-Minute Spinach Artichoke Pasta

I think a common need and request for busy families out there is to be able to prepare a healthy meal quickly. I don't know about you, but sometimes the thought of cooking and preparing an entire meal seems exhausting. (Perhaps this could also be the fact that I'm currently 8 months pregnant...) However, if I can pull off a meal in about 20 minutes, I can usually muster up the energy. And I mean a real meal, not just a grilled cheese sandwich or microwave cheese quesadilla. Let me introduce you to my new favorite 20-minute meal - Spinach Artichoke Pasta! This pasta dish comes together super fast, and only requires getting two pans dirty. One pot to boil the pasta, and one saucepan to make the sauce. The creamy sauce combines cream cheese, garlic, spinach, and artichokes and reminds me of my favorite spinach artichoke dip. It's quite the filling meal, and you can even add cooked chicken pieces or better yet, bacon! IMG_7863 Start by cooking your pasta according to package directions. I like mine with a little bite, so I always use the lower end of the time range. While the pasta is boiling, make the sauce. In a large saucepan over medium heat, melt a bit of butter and add a few teaspoons of minced garlic. Let it cook about 30 seconds, just until it's fragrant. Then, add a brick of cream cheese, and stir until it's melted. Slowly stir in some milk, sour cream, a little bit of lemon juice, and salt & pepper to taste. Stir over medium heat until everything is smooth. Then, stir in some artichoke hearts, spinach (fresh OR frozen that has been thawed), and Parmesan cheese. IMG_7859 IMG_7860 As soon as the pasta is done; drain it and return to the pot. Stir the sauce into the pasta mixture, and your meal is ready to serve! This has become a family favorite since I discovered the recipe about a year ago. We usually pair it with garlic bread or breadsticks. It definitely makes this carb lover happy! IMG_7861

Spinach Artichoke Pasta

Yield: Serves 4-6

  • 12-oz box shell pasta
  • 1 teaspoon butter
  • 2 teaspoons minced fresh garlic
  • 8 oz reduced fat cream cheese
  • ½ cup milk
  • ½ cup reduced fat sour cream
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • salt & pepper, to taste
  • 14-oz can artichoke hearts, drained & chopped
  • 10-oz package frozen spinach, thawed & squeezed dry OR 12 cups fresh baby spinach
  • ½ cup parmesan cheese
  • 2 cups chopped cooked chicken, optional


1. Cook pasta according to package directions.

2. In a medium saucepan over medium heat, melt butter and add garlic. Cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the cream cheese and stir until melted. Slowly stir in milk, then add sour cream, lemon juice, salt and red pepper flakes. Stir in artichoke hearts, spinach, Parmesan cheese and chicken (if using).

3. Drain pasta and add to artichoke mix. Toss and season to taste with salt and additional lemon juice as needed. Serve with additional shredded Parmesan.

Source: adapted from Heat Oven to 350

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Mary’s Memo – October 6th


According to the National Pork Board, it marks the time when hogs were traditionally marketed. Today it serves as a celebration to thank pork producers and share their stories with consumers. October Pork Month is an opportunity to refresh the connection consumers have with farmers. Pork is the world’s most widely eaten meat representing 42% of the meat consumed, according to the USDA Foreign Agricultural Service. Some 81% of the population consumes pork in-home at least once in a two-week period. The top 5 most popular pork products are ham, sausage, bacon, lunchmeat (excluding ham) and pork chops. The recommended internal temperature of cooked pork is now 145ºF unless you’re making this week’s Slow Cooker Pork Tenderloin via my niece, Beth. I love using a slow cooker, especially when I’m busy with other things (I’m not always cooking). Original recipe didn’t call for cooking on high at all but if it contains meat, I always start on high for an hour, then turn knob to low for remaining time.


• 1/4 cup low-sodium soy sauce (I use La Choy brand because it doesn’t contain gluten)
• 1 tablespoon yellow mustard
• 2 to 3 tablespoons maple syrup
• 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
• 2 tablespoons diced dried onions
• 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
• 2 pounds pork tenderloin

Whisk first 6 ingredients together. In a 5 to 6-quart crock pot, spoon sauce over tenderloin. Cook on high 1 hour; reduce to low setting and cook an additional 5 hours.
Source: Adapted from recipe via Beth Trentadue, Rome City, IN.


Recently, another niece wondered why I was so opposed to monosodium glutamate. First sold under the name, Accent, MSG became available as a flavor enhancer when I was a student at Purdue. I never did think it made “one chicken taste like two,” nor did we need another salt in our diet when we already had sodium chloride to season food. But my opposition became adamant when our youngest son, Chris, was diagnosed with Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (Lou Gehrig’s disease) at age 39. One thing ALS patients have in common is too much natural glutamate in their systems and MDA at the Indiana University Medical Center advised Chris to avoid any food with MSG. Ever since this time I have avoided it like the plague! It may be the seasoning salt of choice in Asian countries, but it’s the law in the USA that it be listed on the label no matter how much or how little is used in a food product. That’s because there are people who are highly allergic to MSG and could have a serious reaction if they ate it in anything. There are food companies like McCormick, Penzeys, Lays (except for their Cheetos) and Better than Bouillon that are MSG-free. I’d like it removed from all food products! Marzetti has salad dressings with it but brag about their MSG-free products. Campbell’s do the same. Looking for bulk hot Italian sausage for a recipe, Bob Evans, Jimmy Dean and another brand in the meat department all contained it. Chief’s Smokehouse brand is MSG-free so I bought the links and removed the casing. In no way am I trying to force you to go to the lengths I do to avoid buying anything with it, but just letting you know why I personally avoid MSG at all cost!


The healthiest diet is made up of a variety of whole foods, but sometimes, meeting your nutrient needs can be challenging. Making your own shakes and smoothies at home can be less expensive, and you can tailor them to your taste preferences. Because milk and Greek yogurt are great sources of protein, they make ideal bases. For an added boost of protein, make double-strength milk by mixing 1/2 cup powdered milk with 1 cup milk.


• 6-ounces nonfat plain or vanilla Greek yogurt
• 1/2 cup skim or soy milk
• 1 tablespoon peanut butter
• 1/2 cup sliced strawberries

Place all ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth; serve immediately. Nutritional information: 252 calories, 26 grams protein, 22 grams carbohydrate, 8 grams total fat, 3 grams fiber, 151 milligrams sodium.
Source: Weill Cornell Medical College Women’s Nutrition Connection, October 2014.

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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


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


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.


• 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


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.


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.


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.


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.


• 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


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