Mary’s Memo #2154


St. Patrick’s Day is over and that’s my cue to replace green theme table decorations with Easter accessories. I’m excited about new cloisonné Easter egg napkin rings that I got with Williams Sonoma gift cards given to me. It may not work for you but setting an attractive table adds to my meal enjoyment. I did it when we were a family of six and I am still doing it!

I’m always on the lookout for attractive linens and accessories. Kohl’s Department Store has affordable items for every holiday or season and it’s one of the first places I look. Yes, I have a hankering for places like Williams Sonoma and Sur La Table but you don’t have to go to high-end stores to get what you need. Like all stores, however, they have end of season sales, also.

In this economy more meals are being eaten at home. Plan theme menus and decorations on weekends when you have more time. Get the family involved. I know from experience that when children are involved with food preparation they’re more likely to eat what they’ve helped prepare.


Michelle Obama has made this a major project and I applaud her for doing so! I can talk until I’m blue in the face and some of you may listen but it takes a high profile person like our first lady to call attention to what is definitely a problem in America. Obesity in children transcends politics and more power to Michelle Obama if she inspires kids and their parents to do something about overweight and obesity. And while they’re at it, children need to spend less time on Facebook and more time on their feet exercising because physical activity and healthy eating go together. Limiting TV is also advisable.


Even though I think the price of Better Homes and Gardens Special Interest Publications ($9.99 plus tax) is outrageous, I weakened after perusing the pages of the second printing of their Ultimate Slow Cooker issue. For one thing I love the slow cooking concept and I found many recipes from Mexican to Thai that I’ve made or plan to make. How could I resist a recipe called Kickin’ Chicken Chili and the taste was as appealing as the title! Chief and Rays didn’t have a 16-ounce package of frozen peppers and onion so I used fresh. I had my choice of boneless skinless breast meat or thighs and when given a choice I usually choose thighs.


2 pounds skinless, boneless thighs, cut into 1-inch pieces
2 teaspoons ground cumin
¼ teaspoon kosher salt
1 tablespoon olive oil (I prefer light-type)
1 16-ounce jar green salsa, also known as salsa verde (Chief and Rays carry the Pace brand)
½ of red, green and yellow bell peppers cut into thin strips
½ medium sweet onion cut into thin slices
1 15-ounce can cannelloni beans, rinsed and drained
1 14.5-ounce can diced tomatoes with onion and garlic, undrained
Shredded sharp Cheddar cheese (optional but I used)
In a large bowl toss the chicken pieces with cumin and salt. In large nonstick skillet cook chicken, half at a time, in hot oil over medium heat until browned on both sides. Drain off fat. Place chicken in 5 or 6-quart slow cooker. Stir in salsa, fresh pepper and onion mixture, beans and undrained tomatoes. Cover and cook on low-heat setting for 4 to 5 hours or on high-heat setting for 2 to 2½ hours. Serve in bowls and top with shredded cheese. Recipe makes about 9 cups. Note: Starting mixture is thick but when cooked I’d call it hearty but still a soup.

Source: Adapted from Better Homes and Gardens Ultimate Slow Cooker recipe.

Finally, let Cauliflower-Pea Salad “green up” your St. Patrick’s Day menu. This recipe was in a Chicago Junior League cookbook published in 1983.


It’s spring cleaning time and in the early 70s Mrs. Arthur Spletzer Sr. (Clara) of Bryan introduced me to her homemade cleaner for cabinets and woodwork. I haven’t made it for years but decided to try it again on my kitchen cabinets. It’s an inexpensive alternative to commercial cleaners and contains only natural ingredients..

tablespoons white vinegar
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 quart of hot water

Combine ingredients. Apply mixture with a soft cloth, wrung out as dry as possible, to either cabinets or woodwork. Keep water hot while you work. No need to rinse, just wipe dry. Download PDF of Memo #2154

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