Monthly Archives: January 2011

Mary’s Memo #2199


I succumbed to the TV hype and when ceramic Yoshiblade
knives became available at Bed Bath & Beyond and other retail
stores I asked for one for Christmas. It took me a half hour to
cut the plastic cover away from the knife and bonus peeler
because I haven't figured out how to get things out of the
sealed-in- plastic containers. I'm sure there's a solution but I'm
not privy to it. The knife comes with a protective cover and
that's good because now that I have the knife there's enough
warnings about how sharp it is that I fear for my life if my
finger accidentally gets in its way! I'm on a blood thinner and
at the very least could bleed profusely if cut. So it's still on my
counter until I'm courageous enough to use it. Stay tuned!
One of my stocking stuffers was an Avo Saver that stores
and keeps avocado halves fresh by reducing its exposure to air
and slowing oxidation. Store avocado and pit cut side down.
Secure it with the sturdy plastic strap. It's top rack dishwasher
safe. To find a store near you call 1-800-975-0335.

When I lose interest in cooking gadgets I'll be headed
for the big kitchen in the sky. That said I invested in a small
round ceramic disk called The Pot Minder for $2.50. It keeps
liquids from pasta and potatoes from boiling over. It's made
by the same Canadian (not China) company that makes a disk
to keep brown sugar soft. I also invested in a Joseph Joseph
(yes, 2 Joseph's) $7.00 scoop colander that scoops and drains
from the same pan. It's heat resistant for deep frying to 480ºF
and dishwasher safe. I bought both of these kitchen gadgets
at Sur La Table in Naperville, IL. For more information check
Sur La Table on line.


Before Christmas I helped a young father (he could have
been in his early 30s) looking for ingredients for a recipe he
had printed on his iPod (or something I haven't mastered). He
was looking for lemon grass, a seasoning that is commonly
used in Southeast Asia cooking. It's available fresh but not
likely to be found in regular supermarkets including Chief and
Rays. I called McCormick's consumer hot line and although
they do have dried lemon grass in their Gourmet line of spices,
less than 1% of shoppers ever purchase it. That being the
case, the dried version can be ordered from Penzeys at 1-800-
741-7787. If you do much Thai cooking, it would be especially
handy to stock. Getting back to the customer I helped find
ingredients, in the absence of lemon grass I suggested zest
of lemon because there is a chemical in zest that is also in
lemon grass. I was excited to help this budding cook make
a challenging dish for his wife and children who so far have
liked what he cooked. Whether a beginner or experienced,
compliments to the cook are appreciated!


After indulging ourselves with rich foods during the
holiday season, you can count on low calorie, low priced and
comfort food being emphasized on the internet, in magazines
and newspapers this month.

Mac and cheese casseroles are everywhere. Some are
baked, made in a slow cooker or on top of the stove. I still
like the microwave version that I served to Bryan Parks and
Recreation microwave classes in the 70s and 80s. Although it's
made with the original Kraft Macaroni and Cheese Dinner,
your family will never guess that you started with a mix. The
recipe is in my cookbook. Feel free to add about 3/4 to 1 cup
chopped fresh broccoli to the mixture.


1 package Kraft macaroni and cheese mix (not the

deluxe kind) including cheese

(1) 5-ounce can boned chicken or 1 cup chopped

rotisserie chicken

1 can undiluted Healthy Request cream of chicken soup

1 T. dry minced onion

1-1/2 cups MSG-free chicken broth

1/4 cup chopped green bell pepper (if adding broccoli,

use chopped red bell pepper)

2 tablespoons butter

1 small can French-fried onion rings

Mix all ingredients together except onion rings and spoon

into 2-quart round casserole. Microwave on HIGH 16 minutes,

stirring after 8 minutes. Continue cooking on HIGH. When

time is up, sprinkle top with onion rings. Cover and let stand

for a few minutes. Recipe makes 6 servings.


Greens are usually more expensive this time of year.

Replace them with an artichoke salad. It's a good keeper, too!


1 package chicken-flavored Rice-a-Roni

1 bunch scallions, sliced thin

1/2 green bell pepper, chopped

12 stuffed green olives, sliced

(2) 7.5-ounce jars marinated artichoke hearts, drained

and chopped, reserving marinade

3/4 teaspoon curry powder

1/3 cup Hellmann's Light Mayonnaise

Cook rice according to package directions and cool. Add
onions, green pepper and olives. Add remaining ingredients
including marinade. Mix well and chill. Recipe makes 6 to 8
servings. Download PDF of Memo #2199

Mary’s Memo #2198


When thirty million Americans are gluten intolerant or
have gluten sensitivity, and must eliminate wheat flour from
their diets, the Cake Mix Doctor, Anne Byrn, comes to the
rescue this month with The Cake Mix Doctor Bakes Gluten-
Free. Published by Workman for $14.95, the book includes
recipes that transform gluten-free cake mixes into those classic
American cakes and sweets that were until now impossible
for people to enjoy on gluten-free diets. Order The Cake Mix
Doctor Bakes Gluten-Free via or look for it at
your favorite book store. Recipes include Devil's Food Cake
with Vanilla Buttercream Frosting, Almond Cheese Pound
Cake and Magic Brownie Bars. Although I am not glutenintolerant,
I would think that those who are would make this
a "must have" cookbook!

I was privy to the above information from the Cake Mix
Doctor herself last month and also received boxes of her new
chocolate and yellow cake mixes, available online, to sample.
It makes sense that Byrn would eventually have cake mixes of
her own after using other brands for the past 10 years. More
on those mixes in a later Memo.

Anne Byrn is an award winning food writer and author
of the New York Times bestselling The Cake Mix Doctor,
and its sequels Chocolate from the Cake Mix Doctor, The
Dinner Doctor, Cupcakes from the Cake Mix Doctor and most
recently, the Cake Mix Doctor Returns. These cookbooks have
more than 3.3 million copies in print, and USA Today called
the first book the bestselling cookbook of 2000. Byrn is a
cum laude graduate of the University of Georgia and a home
economist (although no one uses this term anymore) and has
been featured in People magazine, The Washington Post, The
New York Times, The New York Times magazine, Los Angeles
Times, Chicago Tribune, Southern Living, Publishers Weekly
and many more publications. She has appeared on Good
Morning America, Later Today, CNN and the Food Network
and has taught cooking classes across the country.


Leafy greens are more expensive during the winter months
so try a salad made with thinly sliced button mushrooms! We
watched Giada De Laurentiis on the Food Network make Fresh
Mushroom and Parsley Salad just before Christmas. Daughter
Mary Ann made it for our Christmas dinner guests and it tasted
as good as it looked on TV! We did think it would be even better
by adding a little more olive oil/fresh lemon juice dressing so
instead of 1/4 cup of each, we are recommending 1/3 cup of
olive oil and 1/3 cup fresh lemon juice instead of 1/4 cup.


1 lb. large button mushrooms, trimmed, cleaned and

thinly sliced (we used regular size button mushrooms)

1/3 cup chopped fresh flat leaf parsley or curly leaf if

flat leaf unavailable

1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil

1/3 cup fresh lemon juice

Kosher salt and pepper to taste

2-ounce piece of chunk Parmesan cheese

In medium salad bowl, mix together the mushrooms and

parsley. In small bowl, whisk together the oil and fresh

lemon juice until smooth. Add salt and pepper to taste. Add

oil mixture to the salad bowl and toss until ingredients are

coated. Using a vegetable peeler, shave the Parmesan on top

and serve. Recipe makes 4 servings.

Source: Adapted from Giada De Laurentiis recipe.

Although the next salad from my friend Yolanda (Mrs. Jesse)
Juarez of Bryan does contain greens, the packaged ones are
often specially priced at Chief and Rays. Recipe can be halved.

Note: Original recipe includes poppy seeds but I'm personally
disenchanted with them because consumers will have a
positive drug test if eaten. It will still have a wonderful flavor
without them.


Poppy Seed Dressing:

2/3 cup canola oil

1/2 cup sugar

1/3 cup fresh lemon juice

2 teaspoons finely chopped onion

1 teaspoon Dijon mustard

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 tablespoon poppy seed


(2) 10-ounce bags romaine lettuce

1 cup shredded Parmesan or Swiss cheese

1/4 cup dried cranberries

1 cup cashews

1 apple, cubed

1 pear cubed

To make dressing combine in a blender or food processor

sugar, lemon juice, onion, mustard and salt. Add oil slowly
until thick and smooth. If using poppy seeds, blend or process
a few seconds. Pour dressing into a container and add apple
and pear cubes (lemon juice in dressing will keep fruit from

In a large salad bowl combine salad ingredients with desired
amount of dressing. Toss to coat. Recipe serves 8 to 10.

Source: Yolanda Juarez, Bryan OH. Download PDF of Memo #2198

Mary’s Memo #2197


It could, if you drink a lot of tea with meals and don’t consume adequate iron. Studies have shown that tea, notably black tea, but also green, decreases the absorption of iron, especially non-heme iron, the kind found in plant foods (heme iron comes from animal-derived foods).

Compounds in tea called tannins can combine with non-heme iron and make it less available for absorption. Drinking tea with a meal can decrease iron absorption by 50% or more. Putting lemon juice in the tea can counter the negative effect by increasing iron absorption. Coffee may also decrease iron absorption, though not as much as tea.

. Even though tea inhibits iron absorption, you still absorb some iron. But if you are a postmenopausal woman, for instance, and drink tea with every meal, or drink many cups a day, while eating minimal amounts of iron-containing food, it’s possible that the tea could promote iron deficiency. If you have a deficiency, or are at high risk for it, wait at least an hour after a meal before drinking tea

To get the nutrients you need, you have to balance the positives and negatives. Tea in moderation can be part of a healthy diet.

Source: University of California at Berkeley Wellness Letter,January 2011.


Probably not. It’s true that an adequate intake of vitamins A, C, E, and the B vitamins, as well as iron, zinc and healthful probiotic bacteria, help to maintain a strong immune system, which improves your ability to fight off illness. But there’s no solid clinical-trial evidence that supplements of vitamins offer additional protection against flu. A small, recent study found that taking 1,200 international units of vitamin D a day during the winter, about triple the recommended intake, cut the risk of developing a common strain of seasonal flu by 42% in children. More research is needed to confirm that benefit. But it might be another reason to consider a vitamin D supplement to help you meet optimal levels of the vitamin, which research has linked to a number of disease preventing benefits.

Source: Consumer Reports on Health, January 2011.


Q: What is Sazon Seasoning?

A: Sazon Seasoning is a type of seasoned salt found in Spanish and Mexican markets. It is a combination of herbs and spices that carries Latino and Caribbean flavors specific to those areas of the world. In the Dominican Republic it’s considered an all-purpose seasoning.

Q: Do you have a recipe for doing orange roughy in the microwave?

A: When I did microwave classes for the Bryan Parks and Recreation Department in the 70s and 80s, I fixed Fillet of Sole with Almond Butter. Later I replaced sole with orange roughy and tilapia in recent years. Here’s the original recipe but feel free to use other mild white fish fillets.


1/3 cup sliced almonds
1/3 cup butter
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
½ teaspoon dill weed
½ teaspoon salt
1 pound fresh or frozen sole, thawed In 2-quart oblong glass baking dish,

combine almonds and butter. Cook uncovered on HIGH until butter and almonds are golden brown, about 4 minutes. Stir in lemon juice, dill weed and salt. Arrange fillets in butter mixture, spooning sauce over fish. Cook covered with wax paper until fish flakes easily, about 5 minutes (check at 4 minutes). Let stand covered for 2 minutes before serving. If desired, garnish with lemon slices. Recipe makes 4 servings.

Download PDF of Memo #2197

Mary’s Memo #2196


Humor, music and spirituality can obviously boost your mood but growing evidence suggests that they offer physical benefits, too, without co-payments or side effects.

A hearty laugh appears to have a number of physiologic effects including increased blood flow, strengthened immunity, reduced muscle pain, lower blood sugar and burns calories.

Reading music and singing might boost your brain’s auditory and language processing functions, while playing an instrument strengthens reaction speed and manual dexterity. Other research has linked choral singing with good physical and emotional health. In addition, music might improve symptoms of several health problems including Alzheimer’s disease, insomnia, pain, Parkinson’s, stress and stroke.

Source: Consumer Reports on Health, January 2011.


Campbell’s may have started National Soup Month but I’m into soup making year round, only now I freeze it in smaller containers. It’s good to know that when I don’t have time to cook or I’m ailing from seasonal adjustment disorder (SAD) in January, I can thaw a container of soup, fix a salad and my meal is ready.

v Near Christmas I got a frantic call from a lady who lost a recipe for German Sausage Chowder that she served to her family on Christmas Eve. I asked her the approximate date that it had been on a memo and she thought before Christmas. As it turns out the recipe was on the February 17, 2005 memo. If her family was going to be so disappointed if they didn’t have this soup, I decided it was worth repeating.


3 chicken bouillon cubes (I prefer Better than Bouillon brand)
5 medium potatoes, scrubbed and cubed
1 medium onion, diced
1 small head of cabbage, cored and sliced
(1) 6-ounce package kielbasa sausage, sliced
(1) 12-ounce can evaporated milk
(1) 12-ounce package Kraft Swiss Pasteurized Prepared
Cheese Product, unwrapped
Salt and pepper to taste

Put bouillon cubes, potatoes, onion and cabbage in a large stock pot. Add enough water to cover vegetables. Bring to a boil, and then simmer over medium heat for 15 minutes. Add sausage and continue cooking for an additional 20 minutes. Reduce heat and stir in evaporated milk, cheese, salt and pepper. Cook until heated through and cheese is melted (do not boil). Remove from heat and serve. Recipe makes 8 servings.

Source: Used with permission of, the world’s favorite recipe web site.


“The interest in vitamin D has been historically linked to bone health, but new research suggests this nutrient may do other things like prevent cancer and diabetes as well as reduce blood pressure,” said James C. Fleet, a Purdue University foods and nutrition professor who studies how vitamin D controls calcium metabolism as well as its role in colon and prostate cancer prevention.

The dietary reference intake guidelines, which were released November 30, are evidence-based recommendations for healthy people that are broken up into different age groups. For example, the recommendation for men and women ages 14-70 increased from 200 international units to 600 international units, which are the common measurement for vitamins. The recommended vitamin D intake is lower for some groups (400 international units for infants to 13 years old) and higher for others (800 international units for adults over the age of 71). The new recommendations will serve as the federal guidelines for many nutrition programs, including the food stamp program; school lunch program; and the Woman, Infants and Children program, also known as WIC.

“For most people, and assuming they live where there is ample
sunlight, it really doesn’t take much sun to make adequate levels
of vitamin D,” Fleet said. “However, that said, the dermatology
community believes that there is no such thing as safe sun, so
people need to get vitamin D from supplements or their diet.
“Older adults’ bones are becoming weaker, especially
postmenopausal women, so it is critical that vitamin D is consumed
adequately to preserve bone health,” Fleet concluded.

Source: National Pork Producers Newsletter, 1981.


Chief and Rays rotisserie chicken is my convenience-food-of-choice. Sometimes when they are on sale I buy and bone a whole one and freeze it in 1 and 2 and 3-cup portions to use in recipes. It takes 2 cups of cut-up rotisserie chicken to make Hot Chicken Bunwiches. Serve with a salad for a filling meal.


2 cups coarsely chopped rotisserie chicken
½ cup chopped celery
2 tablespoons chopped onion
½ cup shredded sharp Cheddar cheese
2 hard cooked eggs, chopped
½ cup mayonnaise (I use Hellmann’s Light)
Salt and pepper to taste
6 sandwich buns

Combine chicken, celery, onion, cheese, eggs, mayonnaise, salt and pepper. Divide between sandwich buns. Wrap each sandwich in foil and heat in 375ºF oven for 15 minutes
Download PDF of Memo #2196

Mary’s Memo #2195


1 cup unsifted all-purpose flour
¾ teaspoon baking powder
1 tablespoon sugar
¼ teaspoon cinnamon
¼ teaspoon salt
½ cup milk
1 egg, beaten
2 Granny Smith apples, peeled and diced
Peanut oil for frying (because of the higher smoking point there will be less fat absorption)
Powdered sugar

 Mix flour, baking powder, sugar, cinnamon and salt. Add milk and beaten egg. Fold in apples. Drop 1 tablespoon amounts into hot oil and deep fry until brown. Turn and brown other side. Drain on paper towels and sprinkle with powdered sugar.

Source: Adapted from recipe.


¾ cup butter
1 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg, beaten
¼ cup molasses
2-1/4 cups unsifted all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons ground ginger
¾ teaspoon cinnamon
Turbinado sugar (available at Chief and Rays)

 Cream butter with sugar and molasses until fluffy. Add beaten egg. Mix flour, baking soda and spices and add dry ingredients to butter mixture. Shape into balls (I use the smaller Pampered Chef scoop). Roll in turbinado sugar. Place on parchment paper lined cookie sheet and flatten slightly. Bake in preheated 350ºF oven for 10 minutes. Cool on rack. Watch so they don’t over-bake.

Source: Jill Thurmond, Bradenton. FL.


2 tablespoons white vinegar
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 quart 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. This mixture did wonders for my old kitchen cupboards last spring!


3 cups cut-up rotisserie chicken
(2) 14-ounce cans chicken broth without MSG
(2) 14.5-ounce cans Mexican stewed tomatoes
1 cup medium hot salsa
½ cup chopped fresh cilantro Toppings:
Reduced-fat shredded sharp Cheddar cheese
Reduced fat sour cream
Lime wedges

Combine chicken, broth, stewed tomatoes and salsa in a slow cooker on low for 8 to 10 hours. Stir in cilantro. Serve with toppings if you like. 

Source: Adapted from Fix-It and Forget-It 5-Ingredient Slow-Cooker Recipes by Phyllis Pellman Good. 

1 cup cherry tomato halves½ seedless cucumber, sliced thin1 small sweet onion, sliced thin½ cup seedless kalamata olives4 ounces mozzarella cheese cut in ½-inch cubes Vinaigrette:¼ cup canola oil2 tablespoons white wine vinegar1 teaspoon dill weed¼ teaspoon kosher salt¼ teaspoon sugar¼ teaspoon ground pepperPlace all salad ingredients except the cheese in large serving bowl; toss lightly. Whisk together vinaigrette ingredients in a small bowl and toss with salad mixture. Refrigerate overnight to blend flavors. Add cheese cubes just before serving. Recipe makes (10) ½-cup servings.

1-1/2 pounds ground chuck2/3 cup crushed saltine crackers1/3 cup minced onion1 egg¼ cup milk1-1/2 teaspoons ground ginger½ teaspoon salt1 tablespoon olive oil2 tablespoons corn starch½ cup packed brown sugar(1) 20-ounce can drained chunk pineapple, reserving juice1/3 cup white vinegar2 tablespoons soy sauce1 green bell pepper cut into 1-inch piecesIn large mixing bowl, combine meat, cracker crumbs, onion, egg, milk, ginger and salt. Shape mixture by rounded tablespoons into meatballs. Heat olive oil in a large skillet and cook until evenly brown. Drain excess fat. In small bowl whisk together cornstarch, brown sugar, reserved pineapple juice, vinegar and soy sauce. Mix until smooth, then pour into skillet with meatballs. Cook, stirring constantly, until mixture thickens and boils, about 5 minutes. Stir in bell pepper and pineapple and heat through. 

Source: Adapted from recipe. 
Download PDF of Memo #2195