Monthly Archives: May 2011

Mary’s Memo #2216

What better time than Memorial Day to review 400 Best Sandwich Recipes by Alison Lewis! Published by Robert Rose in April, Lewis proves that a sandwich is more than lunchtime fare. In fact her selections include new twists on traditional sandwiches and creative new ones to serve at any meal. 400 Best Sandwich Recipes has the perfect sandwich for anyone’s taste. Alison Lewis is a nationally known recipe developer, TV and social media spokesperson and consultant. She is known for creating healthy, family-friendly recipes that are easy to prepare, and she offers great and entertaining ideas on her blog, Previously, she was an
Editor on the Food Staff at Southern Living Magazine and Oxmoor House Books after completing degrees in Marketing, Advertising and Nutrition.
  I like the southwestern twist she gave to a classic grilled cheese sandwich by using pepper Jack, thinly sliced tomato and avocado slices.


8 slices white or whole-grain bread2 tablespoons butter, softened4 slices pepper Jack cheese2 tomatoes, thinly sliced2 avocados, thinly sliced Toppings, optionalSalsaSour creamChopped, seeded jalapenosFreshly chopped cilantroBrush one side of each bread slice with butter. Place on work surface, buttered side down. Top 4 bread slices equally with cheese, tomato slices and avocado slices. Cover with remaining bread slices, buttered side up, and press together 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 with desired toppings. Recipe makes 4 servings.
Source: 400 Best Sandwich Recipes by Alison Lewis; Robert Rose Publishers, $24.95/softback.
     When boneless pork loin is on sale I buy one and have it cut into 1-inch chops for broiling inside or on the outdoor grill. The “other white meat” people have a new web site: www.PorkBeInspired. com that’s worth your time browsing. That’s where I found America’s Favorite Pork Chops. Chops are marinated 2 hours or overnight before grilling. Please note that my 1-inch chops will take a little longer to cook because they’re thicker and I grill by indirect heat rather than over a flame. One other thing: It’s okay
if chops are pink inside when served.


4 pork chops, 3/4 inch thick3/4 cup Italian dressing (reduced-fat can be used)1 teaspoon Worcestershire saucePlace all ingredients in a self-sealing bag; seal bag and place in the refrigerator for at least 20 minutes (or as long as overnight). Remove chops from bag, discarding marinade, and grill over a medium- hot fire, turning once, until just done, about 8 to 11 minutes total cooking time.

PS: Many vinaigrette-type salad dressings make excellent marinades in a pinch and could spare you spending money on ingredients you’d rarely use otherwise.

     We’re ending on a sweet note with my sister Ann’s Crème de Menthe Bars that you can make ahead for various parties or take to a picnic. There is no baking powder or baking soda used in the cake layer.

Cake Layer:

1 cup sugar1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, softened4 eggs, beaten1 cup flour1/2 teaspoon salt1 teaspoon vanilla(1) 16-ounce can Hershey® chocolateBeat ingredients with electric mixer. Spoon into greased and floured 10x15x2-inch jelly roll pan. Bake in preheated 350ºF oven for half hour. Check at 25 minutes. Cool completely before spreading with mint layer.
Mint Layer:
2 cups powdered sugar2 tablespoons crème de menthe liqueur1/2 cup (1 stick) soften butterBeat mixture until light and fluffy. Spread on cooled chocolate cake. Refrigerate until firm. Spread with glaze.
6-ounces semi-sweet chocolate chips + 1/3 cup more1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons butterMelt together over low heat and spread over chilled mint layer. Store in refrigerator until needed. Cut into bars to serve. They also freeze well.
Source: Ann Trentadue, Upper St. Claire, PA.


     With a sharp paring knife, remove tough outer leaves and snip off leaf tips. Next, cut off and discard the stem so that artichoke stands upright. Open the leaves to expose hairy choke and purplish leaves covering it; remove with small spoon. Place artichoke
in a mixture of lemon juice and water to prevent discoloring until ready to use.
     Steam whole for approximately 25 minutes. Serve with melted butter, lemon-flavored butter or hollandaise sauce.
Download PDF of Memo #2216

Mary’s Memo #2215

     Mary Ann’s only criticism of last week’s memo was that recipes seemed too “wintry” than they should be for this time of year so I promised more “spring” in this week’s selections.
     Not Your Mother’s Casseroles by Faith Durand is a January 2011 Harvard Common Press selection, featuring over 200 recipes for healthy, easy and modern casseroles. It’s organized into chapters including Breakfast, Starters and Spreads, Vegetarian Casseroles, Pasta and Grains, and Desserts. With gluten-free offerings, Not Your Mother’s Casseroles will suit just about any dietary preference.
     Author Faith Durand writes for and is managing editor of The, a popular home cooking website in the Apartment Therapy network. Not Your Mother’s Casseroles is her first book. She lives in Columbus, OH.
     I love sea scallops and this recipe can be ready in 20 minutes.


1 pound large sea scallops2/3 cup Japanese panko crumbs1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese1/4 cup flat-leaf parsley, mincedJuice and zest of 1 lemon1/2 teaspoon salt1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper1/4 cup (half stick) unsalted butter2 tablespoons white winePreheat the oven to 400ºF and lightly grease a 9x13-inch glass baking dish with olive oil or nonstick cooking spray. Pat scallops dry. Use the tips of your fingers to work the bread crumbs, Parmesan, parsley, lemon zest and salt and pepper together in a small
bowl. Roll each of the scallops in this bread crumb mixture and arrange them in a single layer in the prepared dish. Whisk the lemon juice, melted butter and white wine together until thick and emulsified. Pour over the crumb-coated scallops. Sprinkle the
remaining bread crumb mixture over the top. Bake for 15 minutes, or until the topping is golden and the scallops are opaque. Do not overcook! Serve immediately. Recipe makes 4 servings. Source: Not Your Mother’s Casseroles by Faith Durand; Harvard
Common Press, January 2011, $16.95/softback.

     Now available in paperback by Harvard Common Press is Tomatoes & Mozzarella by Hallie Harron and Shelley Sikora. Who are more suited partners on a plate than tomatoes and mozzarella? Cookbook includes 100 recipes from a variety of cuisines from the Mediterranean to the American Southwest. There are recipes for every season, from quick dishes to more sophisticated creations. The cookbook is also filled with gorgeous photos to tempt.
     Harron is a professional chef and restaurant consultant and author of Not Your Mother’s Fondue and Cheese Hors d’Oeuvres.Sikora is co-owner of the Bobby McGee‘s restaurant chain and is also the author of An Italian Affair.
Spring Tomato and Bread Casserole sounds good to me. It’s like a savory bread pudding. Enjoy!

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil (I prefer light kind)2 large sweet onions, thinly sliced3 large cloves garlic, mincedSea salt and freshly ground pepper1/2 loaf rustic country bread (about 8-ounces) at least day old, sliced and toasted (Aunt Millie's has a country buttermilk bread that will work)2 tablespoons minced fresh basil leaves2 tablespoons minced fresh Italian parsley4 medium-size ripe tomatoes, cored and sliced 1/4-inch thick1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese3 to 4 cups store-bought canned vegetable broth, as needed (Chief and Rays carry Swanson® vegetable broth and it’s located by chicken and beef broth)4 ounces fresh mozzarella cheese, thinly slicedPreheat the oven to 375ºF. In a large skillet, heat olive oil over medium heat and sauté onions for 5 minutes. Stir in the garlic and cook 1 minute. Season with salt and pepper. Oil a gratin or 9x13-inch casserole dish. Make 2 layers each of onions, bread, herbs and tomatoes. Top the second layer of tomatoes with Parmesan cheese. Slowly pour 3 cups vegetable broth around the edges. Drizzle a little oil over the top of the dish, cover and bake for 45 minutes. Uncover the dish and bake 20 minutes more, or until the top is just starting to brown. Remove from the oven, spread mozzarella on top and bake an additional 15 minutes or until casserole is well browned and the cheese is
melted and light brown speckled. If the dish seems dry, add up to 1 cup more of vegetable broth and bake for a few minutes. Let stand for 15 minutes at room temperature before serving. Recipe makes 6 servings.
Source:Tomatoes & Mozzarella by Hallie Harron and Shelley Sikora, Harvard Common Press, re-issued in April, 2011, as a $14.95 paperback.

     Bryan Chief customers have been asking about fresh artichokes lately. Although they are available year round, March through May is the peak season and again, with a smaller crop, in October. Choose artichokes that have tightly packed, crisp leaves with bright coloring. Avoid artichokes that are tough or woody or that have leaves that are spread apart, a sign the vegetable is old. Check the cut end for freshness; avoid a black cut, which indicates the artichoke has been stored too long. At home, store in the refrigerator for no longer than a week.
     Next week: How to prepare an artichoke for cooking. Download PDF of Memo #2215

Mary’s Memo #2214

     Mary’s Memo has been around since 1968 when it first appeared in the Bryan Chief. By now I certainly know my readers and their preference for recipes. First of all, in this economy you want reasonably priced ingredients. I hear you loud and clear on that! Also, you want something tasty with a minimum of ingredients and time to make it.
     So when I perused the pages of 300 Best Casserole Recipes by Tiffany Collins, I looked for a recipe that fit my criteria for Mary’s Memo recipes. Tiffany Collins is a nationally recognized culinary professional and spokesperson on food, fitness, entertaining and fitness. She is also Culinary Director of the Texas Beef Council.
     I’ve chosen Easy Taco-Mac to share.


1 lb. lean ground beef1.25-oz. envelope taco seasoning mix(1) 14.5-oz. can diced tomatoes, undrained8-oz. elbow macaroni1 cup water1/2 cup chopped celery(1) 8.5-oz. package cornbread mix (like Jiffy®)1 egg, lightly beaten1/3 cup milk1/2 cup shredded Cheddar cheese (my preference is always sharp Cheddar)In large nonstick skillet, over medium-high heat, cook beef and taco seasoning, breaking beef up with the back of a spoon, for 8 to 10 minutes or until the beef is no longer pink. Drain off fat. Stir in tomatoes, macaroni, water and celery; bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer, stirring occasionally, for 20 minutes. In medium bowl combine cornbread mix, egg and milk, stirring with a fork until just combined. Fold in cheese. Spoon beef mixture into 2.5-quart casserole dish. Spoon dollops of batter on top. Bake in preheated 400ºF oven for 15 to 20 minutes or until bubbling.
Source: 300 Best Casserole Recipes by Tiffany Collins; Robert Rose Publisher, October 2010, $24.95/softback.

     I am sick and tired of food companies reducing package and can sizes and that includes Kraft’s reduced-fat shredded sharp Cheddar cheese that I needed for a recipe recently! Raise the price if you must but stop changing the amount in the container! I do use reduced-fat cheese whenever I can but I’m not going to buy it in a 7-oz. package when I need an 8-oz. one and I told that to a Kraft representative on their consumer hot line this morning. If you are as displeased about package and can changes as I am, let food companies know it. Kraft’s hotline number is 1-800-323-0768 and to their credit, you do get a live person to talk to right off the bat.

     The price of gasoline is making me ask the question more often:
“Is this trip is necessary?” When petrol was cheap I thought nothing of jumping in the car to get an ingredient for a recipe. Now I think about what I can make with what I have on hand. That’s called improvisation cooking. Testing recipes, I end up with dabs of food that I am sorry to say have become fossil food. By doing improvisation cooking I utilize the “stuff” while it’s still identifiable. It’s actually fun and challenging to make something tasty. The easiest thing to make is a soup. I jotted down the amounts of everything I used and ended up with a tasty soup. Improvise if you don’t have all the ingredients!

1/3 lb. of bulk Italian sausage1 cup chopped onion(I always have onions in the refrigerator)2/3 of a 28-oz. can of stewed tomatoes(1) 14.5-oz. can diced tomatoes with garlic and onion3 small carrots, peeled and sliced1 cube of frozen pesto (2 tablespoons)1/2 teaspoon Italian seasoning1 cup frozen cheese-filled tortellini1/2 cup frozen peasFresh ground pepperShredded Romano or Parmesan cheese for garnishIn a Dutch oven, sauté sausage and onion together until meat is no longer pink. Add carrots, pesto and Italian seasoning. Bring to a boil; reduce heat to low and simmer covered until carrots are tender. Add peas and tortellini and cook until tortellini is al dente but not enlarged (if it is, you’ve cooked it too long). Serve with a sprinkling of shredded Romano or Parmesan on top. My soup was a little too thick so I added a 12-oz. can of V-8 Juice. Anything goes when you’re  improvising. For example, if you don’t have sausage, ground beef can be used. Replace tortellini with the same amount of another pasta. Go ahead and use a 28-oz. can of stewed tomatoes. (I didn’t have a whole can because I ate a serving from it). If you don’t have pesto, use a half teaspoon of dried basil. Get the drift? The point is that when you improvise you use what
you have on hand and don’t go out and buy a darned thing.
Bon Appetite! Download PDF of Memo #2214

Mary’s Memo #2213

     In The Flavors of the Florida Keys, Linda Gassenheimer takes home cooks on a cultural and culinary tour of one of the most popular vacation spots in the U.S., the sun-drenched and laid back Florida Keys. We’ve already shared a recipe from this cookbook but who says we can’t feature another one!
     Hidden from the Overseas Highway in Key Largo, the Key Largo Conch House looks like a Victorian home. Their porch is a perfect setting to enjoy a Keys breakfast including Tropical Coffee Cake made in-house fresh daily.

Vegetable oil spray3 cups flour3 teaspoons baking powder1 teaspoon salt2 cups sugar1 cup key lime juice1/2 cup pineapple juice1 cup butter, softened (I used unsalted)3 eggs1 small box vanilla instant pudding1/2 cup crushed pineapple, drained1/2 cup macadamia nuts, chopped1 cup shredded coconut1/2 cup sugarPreheat oven to 350ºF. Grease a 9x13-inch pan with vegetable oil spray. Mix flour, baking powder, salt, 2 cups sugar, key lime juice, pineapple juice, butter, eggs and vanilla together until blended. Add the pineapple and mix well. Mix macadamia nuts, coconut and 1/2 cup sugar together in a separate bowl.

Pour half the batter into greased pan. Sprinkle half the nut mixture over the batter and pour the remaining batter into pan. Sprinkle the remaining nut mixture over top. Bake for 55 to 60 minutes.

Source: The Flavors of the Florida Keys (Atlantic Monthly Press; December 2010; $27.50).


     How can anyone not have time to brew a cup of coffee in the morning when there are coffeemakers that make it in a minute or two? Give me a break! I have a conventional coffee maker that has a mug of java ready to drink in the time it takes to put the dog out and feed her! That’s because I get it ready to plug in the night before. How instant do people expect
things to be? And what’s in that tiny bottle labeled 5-Hour Energy Drink that keeps a person going that long? What do you think? WHAT’S UP WITH EGGS
     Today’s eggs have less cholesterol and more vitamin D. The USDA has reassessed the nutrition content of eggs and found that they contain 14 percent less cholesterol and 64 percent more vitamin D than amounts found during the previous assessment in 2002. The government based its findings on a random sample of large eggs taken from 12 locations around the country. They found that one large egg contains an average of 185 milligrams of cholesterol and 41 International Units (IU)
of vitamin D. The USDA 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend consuming less than 300mg of cholesterol per day and 600 IU of vitamin D for adults up to age 70 and 800 IU for adults over the age of 70.
Source: Weill Cornell Medical College Food & Fitness Advisor, April 2011.
I really like eggs and they are a good source of protein and cheap compared to meat and fish. When was the last time you made deviled eggs for yourself or family? I made some to eat today with a slice of olive on top. Since I limit meat consumption to once daily, two deviled egg halves, a mug of hot V-8® juice and whole wheat crackers like Triscuits® or a slice of whole wheat bread makes a nutritious lunch. To make deviled eggs my way, remove yolks to a dish and mash fine with a fork. Add mayonnaise, Dijon or honey mustard, salt, pepper and a tad of sugar to taste. Fill white halves and garnish with a pimiento stuffed olive slice.

     Mary Ann belongs to a theater group from her church that sees a movie together once a month. Afterwards they go to someone’s house for snacks and a discussion of the movie. At one of these events the hostess served a Baked Potato Dip. Mary Ann thought it was especially good and sent me a copy. Knowing
many of you are planning graduation parties, it seemed like an opportune time to share the recipe. You can also make it ahead and zap in the oven just before needed. Now how easy is that!?

(2) 8-ounce packages cream cheese1 cup sour cream(1) 3-ounce package real bacon pieces2 cups shredded sharp Cheddar cheese, divided5 scallions, choppedMix cream cheese with sour cream. Stir in bacon, one cup of cheese and scallions. Spoon into a 10-inch glass pie plate. Top with other cup of cheese. Microwave on high for 5 minutes. Serve with Frito Scoops.
*To make a leaner version, you can use reduced-fat cream cheese and reduced-fat sour cream (my preference in sour cream, whether regular or light, is always Daisy®). I’ve tried it and it works. Just let it set a couple minutes before serving.
Download PDF of Memo #2213

Mary’s Memo #2212

     Cinco de Mayo is Spanish for the fifth of May and commemorates the Mexican militia victory over the French at the Battle of Pueblo on May 5, 1882. Although it’s celebrated in Pueblo, it’s more of an American celebration when American Hispanics use the occasion to celebrate their heritage.
     For Cinco de Mayo we’re featuring a fruit salsa recipe from the Fresh Market 25th Anniversary Cookbook. I served it earlier this spring at the Bryan Chief, following the recipe the first day and finely dicing fruits and peppers. Mixture tasted good but
looked like a relish. The second day I chopped with my chef’s knife but left pieces recognizable. It didn’t take any longer to do than when I used a Pampered Chef chopper to dice fine the first day. I also recommend that the salsa be made on the day it’s served. To save time, hull the strawberries the night before but do not wash and go ahead and get the rest of the fruits and bell peppers ready for chopping but keep separate. Hot pepper jelly gives it zing. I guarantee your guests will say ole!

3 kiwis, peeled1/4 cup hot pepper jelly1 mango, coarsely chopped4 cups strawberries, coarsely chopped2 tablespoons honey1 yellow bell pepper, coarsely chopped1 green bell pepper, coarsely chopped2 tablespoons turbinado sugar(turbinado is raw sugar and Chief and Rays carry it)
Slice peeled kiwis in half, then in half again to make 4 wedges each. Thinly slice each wedge into a mixing bowl. Add remaining ingredients and toss carefully to combine. Refrigerate 1 hour or until ready to serve. Recipe makes 10 servings. Serve with Cinnamon Pita Chips.

3 pitas or flour tortillas4 tablespoons butter, melted1 tablespoon cinnamon1/2 cup sugarPreheat oven to 400ºF. Brush sides of each tortilla with butter and cut in eighths. In small bowl combine cinnamon and sugar with a fork. Sprinkle over tortillas and bake on cookie sheet for 8 to 10 minutes or until golden brown. Recipe makes 24 chips.
Source: Adapted from recipe in The Fresh Market & Friends

     Keeping with a Cinco de Mayo theme this week, Chronicle Books’ Skinny Dips by Diane Morgan has some appropriate dips for the occasion including Mango Guacamole. Author Morgan says the addition of mango prevents the dip from turning
brown, even after two days in the refrigerator. And the skinny news is that a 1/4 cup serving (4 tablespoons) contains only 36 calories! Nutrition facts about each dip are included with all 60 recipes.
For more information, recipes, tips and videos from Diana Morgan, check her web site at

1 large, ripe mango, peeled, pitted and coarsely chopped1 large ripe Hass avocado, halved, pitted and coarsely chopped3/4 cup chopped red onion3 tablespoons seeded and minced jalapeño chili1/2 teaspoon minced garlic1/3 cup sliced green onions1/2 tablespoon fresh lime juice1-1/2 teaspoons kosher or sea saltIn the work bowl of a food processor fitted with the metal blade, pulse the mango, avocado, red onion, jalapeño and garlic until creamy and finely textured but not pureed. Transfer to a bowl and stir in green onions, lime juice and salt. Taste and adjust the seasoning. Transfer to a serving bowl and serve immediately with baked tortilla chips.
Source: Skinny Dips by Diane Morgan; Chronicle Books, $18.95.

     While people trying to lose weight are encouraged to eat breakfast every day, certain breakfast foods, like those high in simple carbohydrates and sugars (for example doughnuts and pastries) should be avoided.
     “Like anything else, breakfast is about nutritious food that is filling,” says Lynn Goldstein, RD, a dietitian at Weill Cornell Medical College. “You want to incorporate a good protein with fruit and/or vegetables and whole grains. It should also be low
in fat and sugar.”
Source: Weill Cornell Medical College Food & Fitness Advisor, April 2011.

    According to University of Oxford research, eating just one more serving of fruits or vegetables daily cut the risk of dying of heart disease by 4 percent in an observational study of more than 300,000 Europeans in 10 countries. And people who ate the most produce, eight or more daily portions, were 22 percent less likely to die of heart disease than those eating two or fewer daily portions of fruits and vegetables.
Source: Tufts University Health & Nutrition Letter, April 2011. Download PDF of Memo #2212