Monthly Archives: October 2010

Mary’s Memo #2185


For your information, it could be my age but I’m not into grave yard “rest-in-peace” decorations, witches, ghosts, black cats, spiders or anything on the gory side. I’m a smiling pumpkin-type person. I must confess, though, that several years ago I dipped 3/4th of Nabisco Nutter Butters in white chocolate and added 2 miniature chocolate chips for eyes. I did this because the taste outweighed the fact that it was a ghost and I do like Nutter Butters!!

With a large cookie cutter collection, of course I decorate cut-out pumpkins every year. I dab the stem with green tinted frosting and the pumpkin itself with orange. Use regular size chocolate chips or dark raisins for eyes. For the nose, instead of setting candy corn flat, stand it on its side. For the mouth use 3 or 4 red hots turned up at each end. I’ve been making decorated pumpkins ever since my room mother days when our first born was in kindergarten and I’m still doing them. Adults like cut-out cookies, too. If you don’t want to bother with homemade cut-outs, you can do almost the same with Chief and Rays Special Recipe unfrosted sugar cookies. For the stem, use a piece of green gumdrop and then frost like I do the cut-outs. I know a lot of you buy ready-to-spread frosting but it’s so easy to make a better one from scratch. If you have my cookbook, Thank You, I’m Glad You Liked It, the recipe is included. The frosting also freezes well.


I do hope that by the time you read this memo canned pumpkin from this year’s crop will be on the shelves again. Last year’s crop of pie pumpkin was small and there wasn’t enough to meet the demand. Pie pumpkin comes from smaller pumpkins that are more tender and flavorful. Jack-o-lantern pumpkin is lighter colored and the cooked flesh is courser. I did make a pie with it once but only once! I’ll take Libby’s any day! The famous Libby pumpkin pie recipe can’t be beat and during the year I pour the filling into ramekins and bake it like regular custard in a pan of water.


Baby boomers are less likely to have hearing problems than their parents, a study in the January 15, 2010, issue of the American Journal of Epidemiology has found. Researchers looked at 5,275 adults born between 1902 and 1962 and found that for every five year increase in birth year, the rate of hearing loss at any given age was 13 percent lower in men and 6 percent lower in women.

Source: Consumer Reports on Health, May 2010.


Focus on your plate when you eat, since talking on the phone, listening to the radio or watching TV can cause you to eat more.

Source: Consumer Reports on Health, May 2010.


Chief and Rays carry a large selection of McCormick products and kudos to them for being one of the first major food companies to remove MSG from their products! I also subscribe to their internet newsletter at One of September’s recipes was Hearty Chili Roni. To make it more nutritious, I replaced ground beef with ground turkey and whole wheat elbow macaroni for the regular kind. Also, the recipe calls for 2 tablespoons of tomato paste. I suppose I could freeze the rest but I added the entire 6-ounce can.


1 lb. ground turkey (I buy the kind sold in the fresh meat department)
½ cup chopped green bell pepper
½ cup chopped onion
1 pkg. McCormick Chili Seasoning Mix, Original
(1) 14.5-oz. can diced tomatoes, undrained
14-oz. Swanson organic beef broth that is MSG-free
6-oz. can tomato paste
1-1/2 cups uncooked whole wheat elbow macaroni
1 cup shredded sharp Cheddar cheese

Cook ground turkey, bell pepper and onion in a large skillet on medium-high heat 4 to 5 minutes or until turkey is lightly browned. Add Seasoning Mix; stir until well mixed. Stir in tomatoes, beef broth and tomato paste. Bring to a boil. Stir in macaroni. Reduce heat to medium; cover and cook 10 minutes or until pasta is tender. Sprinkle with cheese; cover. Let stand 5 minutes or until the cheese is melted. Recipe makes 6 servings for under $2.00 per serving.

Source: Adapted from recipe
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Mary’s Memo #2184


“A stroke-prevention diet should be low in sodium, saturated fat, trans fat, cholesterol and processed foods, moderate in calories and high in fruits, vegetables, low-fat dairy products and whole grains,” explains Alissa Rumsey RD, CDN, a dietitian with the Neurology Service at Weil Cornell Medical College. “This diet will help reduce stroke risk by lowering blood pressure, decreasing abdominal obesity and overall weight, and improving blood cholesterol levels.”

In summary, to reduce your stroke risk:

Limit intake of red meat to once per week and whole eggs to no more than three times per week.
Avoid processed snack foods, lunch meats, canned soups and frozen prepared dinners.
Use low-fat dairy products such as skim milk and 1%-fat yogurt.
Eat more whole grains (oatmeal, brown rice, quinoa, whole-grain breads and pastas).
Increase consumption of fresh fruits and vegetables, nuts and legumes.
Cook with olive or vegetable oil rather than butter, margarine or lard.

Source: Weil Cornell Medical College Food & Fitness Advisor


The original recipe this week was made with ¾ cup uncooked long grain uncooked rice. To make it more nutritious I used Flavorite brown rice. Because it takes about 30 minutes longer to cook than regular white rice, I started it on the top of the stove for half the time suggested on the package. It absorbed at least half the water. Reserve what is drained and use it in the sauce mixture. I replaced 4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts with 8 boneless, skinless thighs (2 per serving). Do use larger thighs because you need to bake the mixture until the rice is done and you don’t want the meat overcooked. Also, trim as much fat from the thighs as you can. A kitchen scissors is helpful with this. Since I do not use foods with MSG I replaced Campbell’s Condensed Golden Mushroom Soup with Campbell’s Healthy Request Cream of Chicken Soup.


¾ cup uncooked regular brown rice, partially cooked on top of stove according to package directions
8 large boneless, skinless thighs, trimmed of fat
1 can Campbell’s Healthy Request Cream of Chicken Soup
Liquid from partially cooked brown rice plus water to make ¾ cup
2 tablespoons reduced sodium soy sauce
2 tablespoons cider vinegar
2 tablespoons honey
½ teaspoon garlic powder

Spray 2-quart oblong glass casserole with non-stick spray. Spread partially cooked rice in dish. Top with chicken. Stir together, soup, liquid, soy sauce, vinegar, honey and garlic powder. Pour soup mixture over chicken. Sprinkle with paprika. Cover the baking dish. Bake at 375ºF. for 45 to 50 minutes or until the chicken is cooked through and the rice is tender. Recipe makes 4 servings

Source: Adapted from recipe.


I turned to an old microwave spiral bound cookbook for this Apple Crisp recipe. Yes, I still cook in the microwave and you should, too, when there are not enough hours in the day to get everything done.

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Mary’s Memo #2183


Researchers found that people 80 years and older with higher levels of vitamin E components in their bloodstream were less likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease, according to a study published in the July 2010 Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease. Naturally occurring vitamin E from dietary sources contain 8 components, while many vitamin E supplements contain only one …. alpha-tocopherol. The researchers found that among those with the highest vitamin E levels, Alzheimer’s disease risk was reduced by as much as 54 percent compared to those with the lowest levels. Foods that are good sources of vitamin E in its natural form include nuts, seeds, vegetable oils, spinach, broccoli, kiwi, mangos and tomatoes.

Source: Weill Cornell Medical College Food & Fitness Advisor, September 2010.


To reduce the risk of heart disease and diabetes, limit your intake of processed meats. In a recent Harvard Review that combined data from 20 studies, people who often ate smoked, cured or salted meats (such as sausage, bacon and processed deli meats) had a 42 percent higher risk of heart disease and a 19 percent higher risk of diabetes than those who ate them rarely. In contrast, unprocessed meats including beef, lamb and pork, were not linked to increased risk. Processed and unprocessed meats contain similar amounts of saturated fat, so the researchers suggested that the high sodium content and the nitrite preservatives in processed meats may be responsible.

Source: University of California at Berkeley Wellness Letter,
October 2010

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Mary’s Memo #2182


I confess: I like eggs “sunny side up” so you can imagine how I feel about the recent salmonella poisoning outbreak attributed to undercooked eggs. Although the outbreak was linked to Iowa producers with a history of violations, unfortunately all eggs are now suspect and we’ve been advised by the FDA to fully cook them.

Kevin Keener, an associate professor of food science at Purdue University, believes the poultry industry could implement a rapid cooling technology to reduce future outbreaks. Keener says that quick cooling of eggs after they are laid would significantly reduce the ability for salmonella to grow inside eggs and potentially keep consumers from getting sick. There are no federal guidelines for how quickly eggs should be cooled, but current industry procedures can take as long as six days to cool eggs to 45ºF, the temperature at which salmonella can no longer grow. Keener’s rapid-cool technology would take two to five minutes.

Keener said eggs can be more than 100ºF after washing and packaging in cartons. Thirty dozen eggs are then packed in a case, and 30 cases are stacked onto pallets and placed in refrigerated coolers. The eggs in the middle of the pallet can take up to 142 hours to cool to 45ºF. He said scientists estimate that one in about every 20,000 eggs has salmonella naturally inside. The eggs in the middle of a pallet take up to six days to cool and if the one in 20,000 that has salmonella is in the middle, the bacteria will grow. In reality, some eggs don’t cool to 45ºF until they’re refrigerated in your home. The Purdue food scientist said the Food and Drug Administration studies show that if eggs were cooled and stored at 45ºF or less within 12 hours of laying, there would be an estimated 78% fewer salmonella illnesses from eggs in the United States each year.

Source: Purdue Newsroom, August 25, 2010.


In spite of higher food prices Chief and Rays continue to feature pork in their ads. I like boneless pork loin halves cut into 1-inch chops that I can grill inside or out. If a recipe calls for uncooked cubed pork I use the chops for this purpose, also.

. This week we’re sharing a soup recipe I adapted from the Allrecipes website. For the meat I used Chief and Rays’ own Smokehouse brand of sweet Italian sausage because it’s made without MSG. What could be better on a fall day than a hearty soup! Serve with a salad, whole wheat bread and an apple dessert.


1 lb. 2-oz. package Smokehouse sweet Italian sausage, casing removed
6 cups canned beef broth, either College Inn or Swanson organic without MSG
(1) 28-oz. can stewed tomatoes
(Chief and Rays carry Dei Fratelli)
(1) 15-oz. can tomato sauce
2 cups sliced zucchini
1 large onion, chopped
1 cup sliced carrots (about 2 to 3)
1 cup sliced fresh mushrooms or use an equivalent amount of canned mushroom stems and pieces
1 medium green pepper, chopped
¼ cup minced fresh parsley
2 teaspoons sugar
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon dried basil
1 garlic clove, minced
2 cups frozen cheese tortellini
Grated Parmesan cheese

In a skillet, cook the sausage over medium heat until no longer pink; drain. Transfer to 5 or 6-quart slow cooker; add all but the cheese tortellini and Parmesan cheese. Cover and cook on high 4 hours or until vegetables are tender. Cook tortellini al dente, according to package directions; drain. Stir into slow cooker; cover and cook 30 minutes longer. Serve with Parmesan cheese if desired. Recipe makes 14 servings.

Source: Adapted from recipe provided by, the world’s favorite recipe web site..

Apple Nut Squares was a recipe I often made when we were a family of 6, especially with an oven meal. When the food was within 30 to 35 minutes of serving, I baked the Apple Nut Squares. While we ate, the apple dessert cooled to warm and I served with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.


1 large egg, beaten
¾ cup sugar
½ teaspoon vanilla
½ cup unsifted flour
¼ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 cup chopped unpeeled apples
½ cup chopped walnuts

Preheat oven to 350°F. Combine egg, sugar and vanilla. Stir dry ingredients together and add to creamed mixture; blend well. Stir in apples and nuts. Spread in a greased 8x8x2-inch pan. Bake 30 to 35 minutes or until cake tester inserted in center comes out clean. Recipe makes 6 servings.
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