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Easy Stuffed Ham & Cheese Biscuits

Hope you all had a happy Easter weekend! We had both my family and my husband's family in town, and spent lots of time outside in the sunshine. One of the highlights of the weekend was definitely our Easter feast - cheesy potatoes, deviled eggs, baked beans, and of course, a Chief Smokehouse spiral ham. So glad that we hosted... that means we get all the leftovers! This week's recipe is a super simple supper from my childhood - Stuffed Ham & Cheese Biscuits. My mom always whipped these up on a school night when we needed something filling and fast. Buttery biscuits are sandwiched around a cheesy ham filling. Perfect with a bowl of soup, side salad, or some tater tots. It's definitely a budget friendly meal, too. Canned biscuits, canned ham (or leftover Easter ham), sliced cheese, and a little bit of onion and mushroom (if you're feeling it.) IMG_6447 Start by making your ham filling. Place a can of smoked ham (or equivalent amount of leftover ham) into a bowl and add some diced onion, diced mushroom, and a bit of mayonnaise or butter spread to hold it all together. Season with salt and pepper.

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To assemble the sandwiches, pop open a can of biscuits. You will use two biscuits for each sandwich. Flatten each biscuit to about a 4-inch circle and place on a greased or parchment-lined baking sheet. Distribute the ham filling between the biscuits, and top with a slice of your favorite cheese. Top with the remaining flattened biscuits and seal the edges.

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Bake at 350*F for about 15-20 minutes until golden brown and cooked through. So easy and so delicious!

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This recipe is also pretty versatile... you could sub canned chicken for ham or use leftover Easter ham instead. You can always switch it up the veggies and cheese as well. ---

Ham & Cheese Biscuits

Yield: 4 sandwiches
  • 1 can refrigerated biscuits
  • 1 can smoked ham
  • cup finely diced onion
  • cup finely diced mushrooms
  • 1-2 tablespoon mayonnaise or butter spread
  • salt & pepper, to taste
  • 4 slices cheese, (Swiss, American, Co-jack)
Method 1. Preheat oven to 350*F. Combine ham, onion, mushrooms, and mayonnaise or butter spread in a bowl. Season to taste with salt & pepper. 2. Flatten each biscuit to a 4-inch round. To assemble sandwiches, place 4 flattened biscuits on a greased or parchment-lined baking sheet. Evenly distribute the ham mixture onto each biscuit. Top with cheese slices. Top with remaining flattened biscuits; pinch edges to seal. 3. Bake at 350*F for 15-20 minutes until golden brown and cheese has melted. Source: family favorite recipe from my mom, Patty Schlink
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Mary’s Memo – April 21st

BEEF …. IT’S WHAT’S FOR DINNER


If a juicy steak is not in your budget, Chief’s ground beef, the leaner the better, has endless possibilities including the Beef Council’s recipe for Korean Beef Skillet.

KOREAN BEEF SKILLET


• 1 pound 93% lean ground beef
• 2 cups bok choy cut into 1-inch pieces
• 3 cloves garlic, minced
• 1/2 cup Korean barbecue sauce (or your preferred brand)
• 1/4 cup water
• 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
• 1 cup thinly sliced red cabbage
• 1/2 cup fresh bean sprouts
• 1/2 cup thinly sliced green onions
• Hot cooked brown rice or La Choy Chow Mein Noodles Topping (optional):
• Thinly sliced radishes

Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium heat until hot. Add ground beef, bok choy and garlic; cook 8 to 10 minutes, breaking into small crumbles and stirring occasionally. Stir in barbecue sauce, water, red pepper; cook 1 to 2 minutes or until heated through, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat. Stir in cabbage, bean sprouts and green onion. Let stand 5 minutes. Serve mixture over rice or La Choy Chow Mein Noodles. Recipe makes 4 servings. Note: Be sure ground beef is thoroughly cooked to an internal temperature of 150ºF. Color is not a reliable indicator of doneness.
Source: Adapted from Beef Council recipe.

CAN TOO MUCH COFFEE CAUSE ATRIAL FIBRILLATION?


Too much caffeine may make your heart race, but it’s not likely to cause atrial fibrillation (afib). Rather, regular caffeine intake may lower your risk of afib. In a meta-analysis of six U .S. and Scandinavian studies involving more than 228,500 participants, regular consumption of caffeine in coffee, tea, cola, cocoa or chocolate lowered the incidence of afib by 11-16 percent. The more caffeine that was consumed, the lower the risk, with the incidence of afib dropping 6 percent for every additional 300 mg of caffeine consumed per day. Afib risk increases the presence of atrial fibrosis. The authors of the study, published online January 6, 2014, in the Canadian Journal of Cardiology, suggested that caffeine‘s protective qualities may be due to its antifibrotic properties.
Sourc e: Duke Medicine Health News, April 2014.

NEW FROM LE CREUSET


I could not resist investing in the new stove top 10.25-inch Skinny Grill from Le Creuset, especially since shipping was free at the time of my purchase. Best of all, the regular price for the Skinny Grill is $145.00, but I bought it from Sur la Table’s latest catalog for $79.00. It’s available in several colors including rosemary, Le Creuset’s newest green color that blends well with previous light green pieces. I used it for the first time last night and it cooked a 1-inch thick boneless loin pork chop in less time than it would take had I used my oven broiler or cooked it outside on the grill by indirect heat. Before the pork chop had finished cooking, I added 6 asparagus stalks and they were done in minutes. I mistakenly thought the grill itself had a nonstick finish but it doesn’t. Skinny Grill should also be greased before adding food. Burner temperature should be no higher than medium heat for any grilling. The only negative thing I have to say is the card that came with the grill didn’t have the information about greasing the grill or what the burner temperature should be. This information came from a customer service representative at toll free 1-877-418-5547. Le Creuset products are made in France.

MEATLESS MUSHROOM SOUP FOR LENT


Any recipe that is meatless gets my attention during Lent. Original recipe from the Mushroom Council called for 1-1/2 pounds sliced button mushrooms and 8 ounces of fresh shitake mushrooms, sliced. The latter would have made a soup that only yields 6 cups prohibitive. To keep the price more reasonable, shitake were replaced with 8-ounces of baby bella mushrooms, sliced.

MUSHROOM CHILI


• 2 tablespoons canola oil
• 1 cup chopped sweet onion
• 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
• 2 tablespoons chili powder
• 1 teaspoon ground cumin
• 1-1/2 pounds fresh button mushrooms, sliced
• 8-ounces baby bella mushrooms, sliced
• 1 (14.5-ounce) can stewed tomatoes
• 1 (15.5-ounce) can white kidney beans, rinsed and drained (I prefer Bush brand)
• 1/2 cup sliced ripe olives
• 1/2 cup water

In large saucepan heat oil until hot; add onion. Cook, stirring frequently, until onion is tender, about 5 minutes. Stir in garlic powder, chili powder and cumin; cook until fragrant about 39 seconds. Add button and baby bella mushrooms; cook, stirring occasionally, until mushrooms are crisp-tender, 6 to 8 minutes. Add stewed tomatoes, beans, olives and water. Simmer uncovered, to blend flavors, about 10 minutes. If desired, garnish with chopped lettuce, chopped green onions and reduced-fat shredded sharp Cheddar cheese. Makes 4 servings.
Source: Adapted from Mushroom Council recipe

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Buffalo Blue Cheese Deviled Eggs and Compound Herb Butter

Easter is less than a week away, and I've got two more fabulous recipes for you to whip up for your Easter celebration! First up - Buffalo Blue Cheese Deviled Eggs. These are a twist on traditional deviled eggs, with a touch of heat and the tang of blue cheese. If you like hot wings, you will love these deviled eggs. IMG_6393 [Funny story: I cannot make hard-boiled eggs for the life of me. Seriously. Over the course of the last few months, I tried making hard-boiled eggs on three separate occasions. They either were gooey on the inside, or completely overcooked. My solution? The pre-made hard-boiled eggs in a bag. They make life so much easier!] IMG_6385 To make the deviled eggs, start by cutting all your hard-boiled eggs in half, and removing the yolks to a bowl. Mash the yolks up with a bit of buffalo sauce, chopped pickles, green onions, mayonnaise, and blue cheese. Spoon it back into the egg halves, or get fancy with a ziploc bag and pipe it in. Top them with additional hot sauce and blue cheese for garnish. IMG_6388 Second recipe for the day - Compound Herb Butter. This is a super simple way to jazz up your butter to serve with fresh-baked bread. Simple combine softened butter with a combination of minced fresh herbs - basil, thyme, and dill. Add some minced garlic, salt, and pepper, and you've got quite the tasty spread! IMG_6401 We spread it on a loaf of Italian bread from the Chief bakery, and it was delicious. It'd be great on dinner rolls, too. Or even on the outside of a grilled cheese sandwich. It also keeps really well in the fridge, for several weeks. Happy wishes for a smooth and stress-free Easter dinner! :) ---

Buffalo Blue Cheese Deviled Eggs

Yield: 20 appetizers
  • 10 hard-boiled eggs
  • 2 green onions, finely chopped
  • cup finely chopped dill pickles
  • ½ cup mayonnaise
  • salt & pepper, to taste
  • tablespoons hot sauce
  • ½ cup blue cheese crumbles, divided
Method Slice each egg down the center lengthwise; remove cooked yolks to a bowl. Mash yolks with green onion, pickles, mayonnaise, salt, pepper, hot sauce, and 1/4 cup blue cheese. Spoon filling back into cooked egg whites. Garnish with remaining 1/4 cup blue cheese and a drizzle of hot sauce. Source: adapted from Lauren's Latest ---

Compound Herb Butter

Yield: 1/2 cup
  • ½ cup unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons minced garlic
  • 1 tablespoon fresh basil, finely minced
  • 1 teaspoon fresh dill, finely minced
  • 1 teaspoon fresh thyme, finely minced
  • ½-¾ teaspoon kosher salt
  • ¼-½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Method Combine all ingredients in a bowl; mix together until well-combined and all ingredients are evenly incorporated. Serve with your favorite bread or rolls. Source: adapted from Annie's Eats
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Mary’s Memo – April 14th

WHAT’S NEW AT CHIEF


The product Nutella has been around for ages but now comes Jif’s Salted Caramel Flavored Hazelnut Spread and Hershey Spreads including Chocolate with Hazelnut. Spread on bread or toast, crackers or as a dip for fresh fruit. Yummy! Because I love the salt and sweet combination, I’m partial to the Jif spread. Daughter Mary Ann preferred Hershey because it tasted natural while Jif did not.

One of the newer Dole salad mixes (at least to me) is Very Veggie. Sweet carrots, zesty radishes and pea pods add color and crunch to mild and crispy iceberg and romaine.

Chief’s already large assortment of cheese now includes Wexford Mature Irish Cheddar, a product of Ireland. It may be a getit-while-it-lasts cheese introduced for St. Patrick’s Day but surely worth trying!

WE’RE EATING BETTER, REGARDLESS OF INCOME


It’s not just the recession that’s led to improvements in the US diet, according to a new analysis in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. Beyond merely cutting back for pocketbook reasons, Americans are choosing to consume fewer calories and obesity rates are leveling off. The study used sophisticated statistical tools to control for changing economic conditions over the past decade, including unemployment rate and food prices. Calories declined more in beverages than food choices, the study found, and healthier eating trends actually accelerated during the worst of the recession. The new findings align themselves with another recent study by the USDA researchers that found average daily calorie intake among working Americans had dropped 78 calories between 2005 and 2010. That report also showed people using nutrition labels more, eating better at home and eating out less.
Source: Tufts Health & Nutrition Letter, April 2014.

STRENGTHENING MEMORY RETENTION


Finding ways to strengthen or compensate for shortened attention span can help cut down on frustrating memory lapses. Begin by removing barriers to concentration. It’s more difficult to commit information to memory when you’re stressed, emotionally upset, bored or in a negative mood. Physical annoyances, such as uncomfortable temperatures, noise and distractions also make the act of remembering more challenging. When trying to remember something, make an effort to focus and take in more details. Lend meaning to information by thinking about why it is important, organizing it or using visualization, association or mnemonic tricks such as rhymes, acronyms or stories to help retain it. You can also strengthen your powers of attention with games and activities. Play cards, read an article …. then test yourself on the contents or try to remember what you and your friends wore to recent party or luncheon. You can also change your habit patterns. Sit in a different chair to watch TV; take a new route home; rearrange the furniture; try a new restaurant. The trick is to keep your brain active and engaged.
Source: Duke Medicine Health News, April 2014.

BENEFITS OF BLUEBERRIES


The USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging at Tufts University has ranked blueberries as the greatest antioxidant powerhouse out of 40 fresh fruits and vegetables tested. Because of this you should never be without blueberries in some form at home.

Among my cookbook collection is one called The Joy of Blueberries by Theresa Millang published by Adventure Publications in 2003. It is still available from Amazon.com as are Joy of Rhubarb, Cranberries, Raspberries, Strawberries, Apples and Pumpkin! Joy of Blueberries features 200 recipes ranging from bars to soups to ice cream. Trust me, this cookbook is worth buying! So it shouldn’t come as a surprise that this week’s recipe is for Food Network Patrick and Gina Neely’s Blueberry Crisp. I did add an additional 1/2 tablespoon of cornstarch to the recipe so blueberries would be less runny. A few tasters at the Bryan Chief asked if Minute Tapioca could replace cornstarch and I said yes. At home I added a small scoop of Edy’s reduced-fat ice cream.

BLUEBERRY CRISP


• 6 cups fresh blueberries, cleaned and air-dried
• 1-1/2 tablespoons cornstarch or 1-1/2 tablespoons Minute

Tapioca


• 1/4 cup sugar
• 1/8 teaspoon salt

Topping Mixture:


• 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
• 1/2 cup quick cooking oats
• 1/4 cup packed light brown sugar
• 1/4 cup granulated sugar
• 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
• 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
• 3/4 cup chopped pecan
• 1/2 stick room temperature unsalted butter (1/4 cup)

Preheat oven to 375ºF. Toss blueberries, cornstarch or tapioca, sugar and salt together in a bowl. Set aside. To make the topping combine flour, oats, sugars, spices and pecans. Add butter and pinch into chunks or use a pastry blender until crumbly. Add blueberries to a 2-quart oblong baking dish. Top evenly with crumb mixture. Bake for 40 minutes. Serve with a dollop of vanilla ice cream.
Source: Adapted from Patrick and Gina Neely’s recipe.

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Roasted Asparagus with Goat Cheese and Walnuts

Easter is just around the corner, so the next couple weeks will be devoted to simple and easy recipes for your Easter feast. Chief has a great spiral-sliced ham... so all you need is the side dishes! Asparagus has always been one of my favorites vegetables in the springtime - something about the green crispiness and fresh flavor makes it perfect for these warmer days. It's also a healthy superstar. It's a great source of fiber, folate, and Vitamin K, and it's packed with antioxidants. (source) IMG_6425 Now, if you have already formed an opinion on asparagus, I ask that you just try it one more time. There's a huge difference between limp, soggy, steamed asparagus and roasted asparagus packed with flavor. Add some goat cheese, walnuts, and a balsamic glaze, and what's not to love? It's really easy, too. Ready from start to finish in about 15-20 minutes. Place your asparagus on a foil-lined baking sheet, and drizzle with olive oil. Season with salt and pepper, and roast at 400*F about 10-12 minutes until tender. IMG_6421 While your asparagus is roasting, make the balsamic glaze. Just add some balsamic vinegar to a small saucepan and simmer until it's reduced and has become thick and syrupy. IMG_6422 When the asparagus is done, let it rest a few minutes. Transfer it to your serving platter, and then drizzle it with the balsamic glaze. Top with goat cheese crumbles and candied walnuts, and you're ready to enjoy! There's a lot of great textures here - crispy, creamy, crunchy. The tangy sweetness of the balsamic glaze makes the dish. IMG_6423   ---

Roasted Asparagus with Goat Cheese

Yield: 4-6 servings
  • 1 bunch asparagus
  • 1-2 tablespoons olive oil
  • salt & pepper, to taste
  • cup balsamic vinegar
  • 2-oz crumbled goat cheese
  • cup candied walnuts or pecans, chopped
Method 1. Preheat oven to 400*F. Rinse asparagus and break off the bottom of each stalk. 2. Place the asparagus in a single layer in a baking dish or on a sheet pan. Brush with olive oil; season with salt & pepper. Roast in preheated oven for 10-12 minutes. 3. Meanwhile, place the balsamic vinegar in a small saucepan over medium heat. Simmer until it reduces by half and becomes thick and syrupy. 4. Let asparagus sit a few minutes after roasting; transfer to serving platter. Top with crumbled goat cheese and candied walnuts. Drizzle with balsamic glaze.  
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Mary’s Memo – April 7th

APRIL SHOWERS BRING SAVINGS AT CHIEF!


As we get closer to Easter be looking for savings on foods of the season. I already purchased a center cut boneless pork loin when it was on sale. Some members don’t eat ham, so pork loin it is for my family. Ham will surely be on sale. I did notice a Smithfield ham in someone’s cart this past weekend. Smithfield has a distinctive taste. Unfortunately, to me at least, the Smithfield brand that originated in Smithfield, Virginia, was purchased by the Chinese in 2013. Other foods likely to be on sale are eggs and baked goods ingredients for items like hot cross buns. If you don’t want to make them yourself, look for this traditional Holy Week bread at Chief.  Note that I always plan menus around sale items …. did it when we were a family of 6 and continue to do it today.

A BERRY GOOD CAKE


I can tell when a recipe is a success when Bryan Chief shoppers buy the ingredients before they leave the store. Some mentioned that it would be a good dessert for Easter brunch or dinner. I agree.

RASPBERRY BUTTERMILK CAKE


• 1 cup unsifted all-purpose flour
• 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
• 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
• 1/4 teaspoon salt
• 1/2 stick (1/4 cup) unsalted butter, softened
• 2/3 cup sugar plus 1-1/2 tablespoons sugar, divided
• 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
• 1 large egg
• 1/2 cup well-shaken buttermilk
• 1 cup fresh raspberries, cleaned and air dried

Preheat oven to 400ºF with rack in the middle. Butter and flour a deep 9-inch cake pan. Whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Beat butter and 2/3 cup sugar with an electric mixer at medium high speed until pale and fluffy, about 2 minutes, and beat in vanilla. Add egg and beat well. At low speed, add flour mixture in 3 batches. Begin and end with flour mixture, alternating with buttermilk. Spoon batter into prepared cake pan, smoothing top. Scatter red raspberries evenly over top and sprinkle with remaining 1-1/2 tablespoons sugar. Bake until cake is golden and a wooden toothpick inserted in center comes out clean, about 25 to 30 minutes (mine took 25 minutes). Cool in pan on rack for 10 minutes, then turn out on rack and cool 10 to 15 minutes more. Invert onto cake plate. Recipe makes 6 servings.
Source: www.gourmet.com/recipes.

YOU ASKED


I can’t tell you how many people ask me what to do with leftover buttermilk saying they end up throwing it away. Because I have had the same problem in the past, use it in mashed potatoes and twice baked potatoes instead of milk. It also makes excellent biscuits, both drop and cut-out ones. Since buttermilk lightens any baked goods, use it for pancakes or recipes such as the Red Raspberry Buttermilk Cake. Another question that you have asked is whether or not it can be frozen. People who drink it won’t like it after it’s thawed but its okay for cooking and baking. Finally we all ask dairy companies why they don’t sell it in pints instead of quart containers and none of us would have a problem as to what to do with leftover buttermilk!

A LENTEN SOUP


Although this soup calls for chicken broth, it can be replaced with vegetable broth during Lent because the other ingredients give it plenty of zip. Add a small swirl of basil pesto and a sprinkle of Parmesan cheese to each bowl for an Italian twist.

TOMATO POTATO FLORENTINE SOUP


• 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
• 1 medium onion, chopped
• 2 ribs celery, sliced
• 2 medium carrots, sliced
• 1 (32-ounce) container vegetable broth
• 1 (28-ounce) can crushed tomatoes or 1 (26-ounce) jar marinara sauce
• 1 pound russet potatoes, peeled and cubed
• 2 teaspoons dried basil
• Garlic salt and ground pepper to taste
• 3 cups fresh spinach, coarsely chopped

Heat oil in a large saucepan; add onion, celery and carrots and cook 5 minutes to lightly brown. Stir in stick, tomatoes, potatoes and basil. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer, covered, for 30 minutes. Let cool slightly, then puree in a blender, food processor or emersion stick blender until smooth. Pour back into saucepan and stir in spinach. Cook for a minute or 2 more to wilt the spinach.
Source: Adapted recipe from Potatoes, Goodness Unearthed! (National Potato Council) www.potatogoodness.com

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Pepperoni Pizza Knots

March  Madness is in full swing, and the final basketball games are nearing! I'm not much of a basketball watcher... (though I was a basketball cheerleader for a few years in high school. Does that count?) However, I won't pass up a chance to munch on some appetizers and spend some time with friends while 'watching' the game. IMG_6375 These Pepperoni Pizza Knots take all the goodness of a hot & cheesy pepperoni pizza and wrap it up into individual servings. They were irresistibly cheesy, and the pepperoni (the best part!) seemed to find itself in every nook & cranny of the rolls. Dare I say that I enjoyed these better than a homemade pepperoni pizza? The great thing about this recipe is it can be put together with just 4 ingredients, and about 15 minutes of prep time. Start with your pizza dough - you can use canned refrigerated dough or frozen bread dough that has been thawed. (Of course, you are more than welcome to make your pizza dough from scratch as well.) Roll it out to a large rectangle, about 12x18-inches. Spread your favorite pizza sauce over half the dough; then, top with cheese and pepperoni. Fold everything in half and pinch the edges to seal. PicMonkey Collage.jpg The next part is a bit messy. Cut the folded dough into 8 strips. Then, take each strip, twist it several times (to keep the toppings from falling out), and tie it in a knot. Place it on a baking sheet that has been lined with parchment or sprayed with cooking spray. Repeat with all the strips, and sprinkle all the knots with a little more cheese. PicMonkey Collage 2.jpg IMG_6373 Bake at 500*F for about 10-12 minutes until golden brown and bubbly. Serve with additional warmed pizza sauce for dipping.

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These also could be totally customizable! Not a pepperoni fan? Add some sausage, ham, or bacon. Vegetarian? Go crazy with vegetables! Though I will say, I am quite partial to the classic pepperoni version. ---

Pepperoni Pizza Knots

Yield: 8 pizza knots
  • 1 package refrigerated pizza crust, or 1 loaf frozen bread dough (thawed)
  • ½ cup pizza sauce
  • 1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese, plus more for topping
  • 15-20 slices pepperoni
Method 1. Preheat oven to 500*F. Roll out dough to a large rectangle, about 12x18-inches. Spread pizza sauce over one half. Top with cheese and pepperoni. Fold dough over, sealing edges. 2. Cut into 8 strips. Twist each strip and then roll it into a knot. Place on a parchment-lined or greased baking sheet. Repeat with remaining strips. Sprinkle each with additional mozzarella cheese. 3. Bake in preheated oven for 10-12 minutes until golden brown and cheese is melted. Serve with additional warmed pizza sauce. Source: adapted from Lauren's Latest  
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March 31st – Mary’s Memo

FROM THE COOKBOOK SHELF


Although 150 Best Grilled Cheese Sandwiches by Alison Lewis is a 2012 cookbook, it is still a go to cookbook, especially during Lent. I can’t tell you how many times a grilled cheese sandwich served with tomato soup was a Friday favorite when we were a family of six. It’s still a winning combination for me! As you know, I usually work at the Bryan Chief on Friday and Saturday and when I get home I’m hungry but in no mood to cook but I can muster enough energy to make a grilled cheese sandwich paired with (yes, I admit it) a bowl of Campbell’s Healthy Request Soup or a mug of hot V-8 juice. Chief’s cheese selection is impressive in both the deli and the dairy department. Price usually determines which department I buy it from but not always. I “jazz up” canned tomato soup with a frozen cube (about 2 tablespoons) of pesto (addition makes it seem more homemade).
Classic Grilled Two Cheese is an excellent choice for Lenten Fridays. Make in Panini grill or large skillet.

CLASSIC GRILLED TWO CHEESE


• 8 slices white or whole grain bread (1/2-inch slices)
• 2 tablespoons butter, softened
• 4-ounces Muenster cheese, thinly sliced
• 4-ounces Cheddar cheese, thinly sliced

Brush one side of 4 bread slices with butter. Place on a work surface, buttered sides down. Top bread slices equally with Muenster and Cheddar cheeses. Cover with remaining bread slices, buttered side up, and press gently. Place sandwiches on preheated panini grill or in a large skillet over medium heat and cook, turning once if using a skillet, for 3 to 4 minutes or until golden brown and cheese is melted. Serve immediately.
Source: Robert Rose (www.robertrose.ca); 2012, $24.95/softback. Order from Amazon.com.

IT’S OKAY TO BE IN A PICKLE


The gut is the largest component of the immune system and there is evidence that gut heath can affect inflammation, allergies and autoimmune disorders in the whole body. Fermented foods have been part of the human diet for centuries, derived mainly for the purposes of preserving foods in days when there was no refrigeration. In fermentation, bacteria or yeast feed on the natural sugars in foods, and create compounds such as lactic acid or alcohol, which helps preserve the foods. The end product is filled with “friendly” bacteria (think probiotics) and gut-friendly enzymes. The bacteria predigest certain food components, which make it easier for your gut to handle and for nutrients to be absorbed when you eat them. Common fermented foods include yogurt, especially Greek yogurt, kefir, pickles, sauerkraut, kimchi, miso, soy sauce and tempeh. Just be sure to check the sodium content of the fermented foods you purchase.
Source: Duke Medicine Health News, April 2014.

ANOTHER MEATLESS RECIPE FOR LENT


I have never tasted a Betty Crocker impossible pie that I didn’t like and Impossible Easy Spinach-Parmesan Pie is no exception! NOTE: I only use Birdseye or Freshlike frozen chopped spinach because it’s grown and frozen in the USA.

IMPOSSIBLY EASY SPINACH-PARMESAN PIE


• 1 tablespoon butter
• 4 green onions, sliced
• 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
• 1 (10-ounce) package Birdseye chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed to drain
• 1/2 cup small curd cottage cheese
• 1/2 cup Heart Smart Bisquick mix
• 1 cup milk (whatever kind you use)
• 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
• 1/4 teaspoon pepper
• 3 eggs
• 3 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
• 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

Preheat oven to 350ºF. Grease 9-inch pie plate. Melt butter in 10-inch skillet over medium heat. Cook onions and garlic in butter 2 to 3 minutes or until onions are tender. Stir in spinach; spread mixture in pie plate. Spread on cottage cheese. Stir Bisquick mix, milk, lemon juice, pepper and eggs until blended. Pour into pie plate; sprinkle with additional Parmesan cheese if desired.
Source: Betty Crocker recipe.

ABOUT SPARTAN PRODUCTS


Until St. Patrick’s Day, I have not purchased any Spartan meats except bacon when it’s been on sale. But their corned beef was specially priced before March 17th and I did buy it. The cut was very tender and as lean as any corned beef I have ever eaten. That said, I do prefer Chief’s meat but did feel I should share the experience I had about Spartan corned beef. Generally speaking, it is worthwhile to try store products before you pass judgment on them. You will like some that I don’t and vice versa. For example, I will always buy such foods as Arps milk, Bush beans, Campbell’s Healthy Request soups, V-8 juice, 50 percent less sugar Tropicana orange juice, Folgers coffee and Red Gold tomato products over Spartan no matter how much the savings by choosing the store brand. It’s all about customer choice.

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Mango Guacamole

I am blogging this week from the sunny state of Arizona! My husband has a work conference so I decided to tag along. Sure, force me to lay by the pool all day in the 80-degree weather... (Feel free to hate me, it's ok.)

IMG_6331

It's quite fitting that I'm sharing a recipe for Mango Guacamole - because avocados are everywhere down here! They are definitely a southwestern staple. This guacamole is a nice twist on the classic, full of flavor from lime juice, cilantro, mangoes, and a bit of jalapeno. It's actually become my go-to guacamole recipe. (It's that good!) The hardest part of making it is dicing the mango. It's so slimy and hard to peel. Forget peeling it! All you need to do is cut right down, almost through the center, and you'll end up with two flat ovals of mango. Just score them in a crosshatch pattern with your knife, and then you can easily dice little chunks! IMG_6329 IMG_6330 For the actual guacamole, simply mash together some ripe avocados, a little red onion, a diced jalapeno, salt, pepper, fresh lime juice, and some diced cilantro. And of course, the mango! Serve it up with your favorite tortilla chips and you won't be able to stop eating it. ---

Mango Guacamole

Yield: : 3-4 cups
  • 4 ripe avocados
  • 2 ripe mangoes, chopped
  • cup chopped red onion
  • 1 small jalapeno , seeded & chopped
  • ½ teaspoon sea salt
  • ¼ teaspoon pepper
  • juice from 2 limes
  • ½ cup diced cilantro
Method Mash avocado meat in a bowl. Stir in mango, red onion, jalapeno, salt, pepper, lime juice, and cilantro. Mash until it reaches your desired consistency. Serve with tortilla chips. Source: adapted from How Sweet It Is
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Mary’s Memo – March 24th

EMPHASIS IS ON VEGETABLES WITH MEAT, NOT MEAT WITH VEGETABLES


According to leading health authorities, we should be thinking about meat as an additive, not the principle part of the meal. Examples include chicken or beef and noodles, pot pies, quiches, stews and soups like Hearty Lentil and Sausage Soup made with only 1/2 pound of meat in a soup that serves 10!

HEARTY LENTIL AND SAUSAGE SOUP


• 1/2 pound bulk sausage
• 8 cups water
• 2 (14.5-ounce) cans Swanson chicken broth
• 1 (16-ounce) package dry lentils, rinsed
• 1 large onion, chopped
• 1 rib celery, finely chopped
• 1 cup shredded carrot
• 1 teaspoon garlic powder
• 1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
• 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
• 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
• 1/2 teaspoon dried basil
• 1/4 teaspoon dried rosemary
• 1-1/2 cups diced cabbage
• 1 (28-ounce) can diced tomatoes
• Kosher sea salt, to taste

Heat a large pot over medium-high heat. Break sausage into chunks and put in pot; cook and stir until browned, about 5 to 7 minutes. With a slotted spoon transfer sausage to 5 to 6-quart slow cooker. Add water, chicken broth, lentils, onion, celery and carrot. Season with garlic powder, parsley, oregano, pepper, basil and rosemary. Cook on low heat until lentils are soft, about 4 hours. Only when the lentils are softened, add cabbage and diced tomatoes and continue cooking until cabbage is tender. Season with kosher or sea salt to taste. Recipe makes 10 servings. Source: Adapted from an allrecipes.com recipe.

LOWER CARDIOVASCULAR RISKS WITH DIET AND LIFESTYLE


Eating a diet rich in fruits and vegetables, along with exercising 40 minutes a day, are key guidelines issued recently to help reduce cardiovascular disease (CVD). Dietary improvements are at the heart of the new guidelines, which specifically suggest an eating plan such as DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) diet. The DASH diet focuses on increasing the consumption of low-fat dairy, vegetables and fruits, nuts, seeds, legumes and whole grains, while limiting meats, fat and added sugars. “By changing to the DASH diet, you can increase your intake of foods high in potassium, magnesium and calcium, which may help lower blood pressure,” says clinical dietitian Tanya Freirich, MS, R D, with the C ardiac and Medicine Service at New York-Presbyterian Hospital/Weill-Cornell. “With the right approach, the DASH diet can be a very reasonable eating plan for women. You don’t need special protein bars or juice cleanses to follow the DASH diet. The components of the diet are the foods that you would find at any grocery store.
Source: Weill Cornell Medical College Women’s Nutrition Connection, April 2014.

ATTENTION GOLFERS WITH SLEEP APNEA


Treating the condition may improve your game, according to a small new study in the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine. It looked at middle-aged male golfers with moderate to severe sleep apnea who began C PAP (continuous positive airway pressure) therapy. Within 6 months, they reported significant improvements in sleep quality and daytime sleepiness, along with a big drop in their handicap (lower is better). The greatest golf improvement was in better players, attributed to enhanced cognitive function from CPAP. Sleep apnea, characterized by frequent stopping of breathing during sleep, increases the risk of high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke and premature death. The gold standard treatment is C PAP, which pumps air through a mask to keep nasal airways open but is notoriously hard to stick with. In this study, compliance was unusually high, suggesting that just the possibility of improving performance may be enough to motivate people to use it.
Source: University of California, Berkeley Wellness Letter, April 2014.

THINK POTATO AND EGGS FOR A LENTEN MEAL


In 45 minutes you can have a nutritious and delicious meatless meal on the table for about $1.62 per serving! E at your heart out fast food restaurants!

POTATO AND EGG DINNER BAKE


• 3/4 pound red potatoes cut into 1/2-inch cubes
• 1/2 cup each: chopped red pepper and zucchini
• 1/4 cup green onions
• 2 cups coarsely shredded 2% reduced-fat sharp Cheddar cheese
• 8 eggs
• 3 tablespoons flour
• 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
• 1 teaspoon garlic salt
• 1 cup low-fat cottage cheese

Preheat oven to 350ºF. C oat an 11x7-inch casserole dish with nonstick cooking spray. Spread potatoes, pepper, zucchini, green onions and C heddar cheese. Whisk together eggs, flour, baking powder and garlic salt. Stir in cottage cheese and pour into prepared dish; stir lightly. Bake for 45 minutes or until eggs are puffed, golden brown and set in the center.
Source: Potatoes Goodness U nearthed (www.potatogoodness.com).

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