Monthly Archives: July 2012

Mary’s Memo #2276

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Women who consumed two or more servings of strawberries and

blueberries each week were able to avoid memory problems for an average of 2.5

years longer than women who didn’t, according to study findings published in

the April 25, 2012, issue of the Annals of Neurology. Between 1995 and 2001,

memory was measured at two-year intervals in 16,010 older women (mean age 74)

participating in the Nurses’ Health Study. Researchers attributed the

beneficial effects of berries to flavonoids, antioxidants that are believed to

combat the inflammation that has been linked to cognitive decline.  Source: Weill Cornell Medical College

Women’s Nutrition Connection, July 2012.


1.      Eat

more citrus fruit. Women who consumed the most citrus were less likely to have

an ischemic (clot-related) stroke than women who consumed the least, according

to data from the well known Nurses’ Health Study, reported in the journal


2.      Eat

more apples and pears. This advice comes from a Dutch study, also in Stroke.

People who ate the most white-fleshed produce had half the risk of stroke over

10 years, compared to those eating the least.

3.      Get

enough magnesium. A Swedish analysis in the American Journal of Clinical

Nutrition found that for every 100 milligram daily increase in dietary

magnesium, there was a 9 percent drop in stroke risk.

4.      Drink

a little (not a lot) of alcohol. Also from the Nurses’ Health Study, light to

moderate alcohol consumption (up to one drink a day) was associated with a

lower risk of all strokes.

5.      Avoid

or at least limit trans fats. A study of participants in the Women’s Health

Initiative Observational Study in the Annals of Neurology found that those who

consumed the most trans fats (average 6 grams a day) were nearly 40 percent

more likely to have an ischemic stroke than those who consumed the least

(averaging 2 grams a day).

Source: University of California, Berkeley, Wellness

Letter, July 2012.


It has been six years since

the FDA began requiring packed foods to list trans fats on the label. Though

animal foods like butter contain tiny amounts of natural trans fats, most trans

fats in our food supply are synthetic, created when unsaturated vegetable oils

are partially hydrogenated. In response to the labeling law, many manufacturers

voluntarily reduced or eliminated partially hydrogenated oils, trans fats, from

their margarines, baked goods, snacks and other food. Some fast food

restaurants got rid of trans fats in French fries, while California and New

York City banned artificial trans fats in restaurants altogether. These

government and industry steps seem to be paying off now. According to a large

study from 

the Center for Disease Control in the Journal of the

American Medical Association in February, blood levels of trans fats decreased nearly

60 percent between 2000 and 2009, thanks to the removal of trans fats from

processed foods. The American Heart Association advises that trans fats provide

no more than 1 percent of your total daily calories (that’s less than 2 grams a

day for someone eating 2,000 calories a day). Check nutrition labels for trans

fats, but you have to read between the lines.  Because of a labeling loophole, manufacturers can say their products

have 0 grams of trans fat if they contain less than 0.5 grams per serving. That

may not sound like a lot, but the numbers add up if you eat several servings.

To avoid synthetic trans fats in packaged food, make sure that partially

hydrogenated oil is not in the ingredients list. If you use margarine, soft

(tub) margarines are much less likely to contain trans fats, or at least much

less of them, than hard margarine. Keep in mind that products that contain

trans fats tend to be junk foods anyway, often high in calories, fat and


Source: University of California, Berkeley, Wellness

Letter, July 2012.


Bryan Chief tasters gave a thumbs up to Blueberry Crunch Bars

recently. They liked them so much that most left with 2 pints of blueberries in

their basket. The other ingredients you are likely to have on hand. Also

appealing is the ease of preparation. 

Original recipe was made with vegetable shortening but I

used butter instead. If you use unsalted butter, do add ¼ teaspoon of salt. But

if you use salted butter skip the extra salt.



1 cup sugar


1 teaspoon baking powder


3 cups unsifted, all-purpose flour


1 cup unsalted butter


1 egg


¼ teaspoon salt


4 cups fresh blueberries


½ cup sugar


1 tablespoon cornstarch

Preheat oven to 375ºF. In medium bowl, stir together

sugar, baking powder, flour and salt. Using a fork or pastry cutter blend in

butter and egg (I did in a food processor, pulsing on and off).  Dough will be crumbly. Pat half the

mixture into 9x13-inch baking pan. In another bowl, stir together the ½ cup

sugar and cornstarch. Carefully fold in blueberries. Sprinkle blueberry filling

over bottom crust. Crumble remaining dough over the berry layer. Bake in

preheated oven for 45 minutes or until lightly browned. Cool completely before

cutting into 15 squares.

Source: Recipe provided by

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Orchard Harvest Chicken Salad

Lunch. It might be my least favorite meal of the day. During the school year, when I'm working, it has to be something easily packed and toted to school, which requires planning ahead. (I'm not a big school cafeteria fan.) I tend to stray from foods that need to be heated up, because if you end up at the end of the microwave line, then you have no time to eat! I often pack sandwiches, but you can only eat PB+J or turkey & cheese so many times before it gets a little boring.  

  Today I'm sharing one of my favorite lunches, Orchard Harvest Chicken Salad. This creamy chicken salad is light and refreshing, filled with crisp apples, celery, golden raisins, and dried cranberries. It's not too heavy, but filling enough to keep you energized throughout the afternoon. (Ever had one of those lunches that pretty much puts you right to sleep? Not so great when you're teaching a classroom full of high schoolers! Sometimes I wish we had nap-time in high school. :-P) I love making Orchard Harvest Chicken Salad on a Sunday afternoon, and having a quick & easy lunch option in the fridge for the entire week. It makes a lot, and the flavor actually gets better after a few days in the fridge. To get started, you need to remove all the meat from a rotisserie chicken, discarding all the skins and bones. Rotisserie chicken is key here, because it is already so flavorful. (FYI: Rotisserie chickens are on sale for just $5.99 this week at Rays & Chiefs! Plus, if you use the coupon on page 3 of the ad, you can also get a free ciabatta baguette from the bakery!)

Next up, peel and dice two crisp apples into teeny, tiny pieces. Honeycrisp apples are my favorite variety, but those aren't in season, so I used Pink Lady. Still delicious.  

  The other crunch component comes from diced celery. Two to three stalks, rinsed and diced finely.  

  Then we've got the chewy components - golden raisins and dried cranberries. (These also make delicious oatmeal cookie add-ins, if you need an idea for the leftovers.)  

  Mix together the chicken, apple, celery, and dried fruits in a large bowl.  

  Then, it's time for the seasonings - just salt, pepper, and a bit of cayenne pepper. You want to season it before you add the mayo, so that way the chicken is being seasoned and not just the mayo. After you've seasoned it, add just enough mayonnaise to lightly coat the mixture. Light mayo works just great here, if you're not a fan of regular.  

  And it's ready! If you can make it a few hours in advance, it tastes even better. I like to serve it up on soft and sweet Hawaiian rolls. I've even enjoyed it over a bed of spinach when I'm in one of my 'healthier moods'.  

  The perfect packable lunch! ______________________________________________________________________________________________________

Orchard Harvest Chicken Salad

Servings/Yield: 8 servings
  • 1 rotisserie chicken
  • 2 stalks celery, chopped
  • 2 Pink Lady apples, peeled and diced
  • ¼ cup golden raisins
  • ¼ cup dried cranberries
  • ½-¾ cup light mayonnaise
  • salt, to taste
  • pepper, to taste
  • cayenne pepper, to taste
Method Carve rotisserie chicken, and discard all skin and bones. Dice chicken into small chunks. Combine chicken with celery, apples, golden raisins, and dried cranberries in a large bowl. Add mayonnaise, as much to your liking. Season with salt, pepper, and cayenne pepper to your liking. You can eat it right away, but it gets much tastier as it sits in the fridge for several hours. (The flavors get a chance to blend together.) Serve on Hawaiian rolls.  

Rice Krispie Ice Cream Cake

July just might be the best month of the year. Why? It's National Ice Cream Month! President Reagan established July as National Ice Cream Month way back in 1984, and American citizens have been celebrating ever since. On average, Americans eat 20 quarts of ice cream per year per person! (Pretty sure I am over the average on that statistic.)     I am an ice cream fanatic, and I will come up with any excuse to go out for ice cream. (Do well in a 5k race? Ice cream! Finish the laundry? Ice cream! My favorite TV show is on? Ice cream! I'm sure my husband loves it.)   [caption id="attachment_793" align="aligncenter" width="388"] Just a small collage of a few of the ice cream treats I've enjoyed this summer. (Yes, I am that girl who takes a picture of everything.)[/caption]   Today I've got a fabulous ice cream cake recipe that is the epitome of summer. Creamy vanilla ice cream, sandwiched between two layers of crispy, caramel, peanut-ty cereal. The bonus - it's super simple to make. When topped with hot fudge sauce, it's the perfect combination of sweet, salty, and chocolatey. Here's what ya need to get started.   [caption id="attachment_784" align="aligncenter" width="360"] Rice Krispies cereal, brown sugar, roasted peanuts, butter, and vanilla ice cream.[/caption]   And it's as easy as this - melt the butter, and combine it with the brown sugar, Rice Krispies, and peanuts. Spread about half into a 9x13-inch pan.  

  Now it's time for the ice cream. You could get all fancy and make it from scratch, but this is supposed to be an easy dessert. I picked up a container of Velvet 'Olde Tyme Vanilla'. The Velvet headquarters are just a hop, skip, & a jump away over in Utica, Ohio! It's always great to support a local company. After poking around a bit on their website, I learned you can even tour their factory and visit Ohio's interactive ice cream museum. Looks like I know we're headed on our next date night! [Just an FYI: Velvet ice cream is BOGO this week at Chiefs & Rays... so pick up a container of Vanilla for the ice cream cake, and then choose another fun flavor to try out. Extreme Moose Tracks, Chocolate Lovers Trio, Raspberry Fudge Cordial, Buckeye Classic... go for it! What better time to indulge than National Ice Cream Month?] Back to the recipe... let the ice cream soften a bit, and then scoop it into the crust.  

  Take a spatula and smooth it out.  

  Then, top with the remaining cereal mixture. Pop it back into the freezer for a couple hours, and you're good to go!     When you're ready to serve, just cut a nice big square.  

  Looks delicious, right? Just wait...     A little hot fudge takes it to a whole 'nother level.     There's nothing better than ice cream + peanuts + chocolate. Perfect for summer-time. ______________________________________________________________________________________________________

Rice Krispie Ice Cream Cake

Servings/Yield: 9x13-inch pan, 8-12 servings
  • ½ cup butter, (1 stick)
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1 cup dry roasted peanuts
  • 4 cups Rice Krispies cereal
  • ½ gallon French vanilla ice cream, softened
  • hot fudge topping, for serving
Method Line a 9x13-inch pan with foil. Set aside. Melt butter in a large microwaveable bowl. Stir in brown sugar, peanuts, and Rice Krispies until evenly combined. Spread half of cereal mixture over bottom of prepared pan. Spoon softened ice cream over cereal mixture, and smooth with a spatula. Top with remaining cereal mixture. Freeze until solid. To serve, let soften at room temperature a few minutes. Cut into pieces and serve with warm hot fudge topping. Source: family recipe

Mary’s Memo #2275

      The 5-hour Energy® drink is making millions for its inventor, Manoj Bhargava, age 58, and has garnered 90% of the energy shot market. It is sugar-free with only 4 calories and has as much caffeine as the leading premium coffee. I’m not going to tell you not to drink the energy booster but please check with your family doctor before you do because it isn’t for everyone. In a related matter, some of you are inclined to take highly advertised over-the-counter drugs but before you do, it’s also a good idea to discuss it with your doctor.

     Eating less red meat helps reduce the risk of dying prematurely, especially from cardiovascular disease and cancer, suggests a new analysis from a long term study of more than 120,000 health care professionals in the Archives of Internal Medicine. People who ate the most red meat (average 2 servings a day) were 30% more likely to die over a two-decade period than those eating little or none. That included processed meats such as hot dogs and bologna. This was true even when the researchers adjusted the findings for major lifestyle factors and other dietary variables. In contrast, people who ate fish, poultry, nuts, beans, whole grains and/or low-fat dairy products instead of meat had a reduced mortality rate.
Source: University of California, Berkeley Wellness Letter, July 2012.

     You can make Crisco’s® Creamy Risotto with Asparagus and Parmesan with vegetable juice and make it a vegetarian dish but I personally prefer chicken broth. Risotto requires a special kind of rice called Arborio (ar-BOH-ree-oh). It is Italian-grown with a shorter, fatter shape. Its high starch kernels yield a creamy texture, characteristic of risotto.
     Because of all the stirring, it helps preparation of this recipe if everything is measured ahead of time.

1 tablespoon Crisco® olive oil1 cup finely chopped onion1 teaspoon finely chopped garlic1 cup uncooked Arborio rice(1) 12-ounce can evaporated milk(1) 14.5-ounce can chicken broth without MSG1/2 cup water1/2 teaspoon salt1/2 lb. asparagus, washed and tough ends removed1 teaspoon lemon juice1 cup finely shredded Parmesan cheeseSalt and pepper to taste
Heat oil in 3-quart saucepan. Add onion. Cook on mediumhigh heat, stirring constantly, for 2 minutes. Stir in garlic and cook 1 minute. Add rice. Reduce to medium heat. Cook, stirring constantly, about 2 minutes or until the edge of rice is transparent. Add evaporated milk, broth, water and salt. Heat to just beginning to boil. Simmer, stirring frequently, 20 to 25 minutes or until rice is tender. Stir in asparagus, lemon juice and cheese. Simmer; stirring constantly, 5 minutes or until asparagus is fork tender. Season with salt and pepper to taste and serve immediately. Recipe makes 6 to 8servings.

     In keeping with alternatives to meat, our next suggestion comes from daughter Mary Ann. I used fresh cod but tilapia or any white fish will work. Preheat oven to 425ºF. Then brush olive oil on both sides of fish. Place in foil-lined pan (saves clean-up later). Arrange any color chopped pepper, tomato and onion to each serving of fish. Add sliced black or pimiento-stuffed olives to mix and season with salt and pepper to taste. Bake 20 to 25 minutes or until fish


     Salt tablets are no longer recommended for heat stroke prevention. But the American Heart Association recommends drinking lots of liquids, particularly water, before, during and after physical activity, and avoiding caffeinated and alcoholic beverages. Older adults may be more prone to dehydration since they may be slower to feel thirsty, so keep the water bottle handy and keep sipping!
Source: Duke Medicine Health News, July 2012.

     The more soda, regular and/or diet you drink, the higher your risk of stroke, according to a study published April 4, in the American Journal of Clinical Research. Researchers analyzed soda consumption and incidence of stroke among 43,371 men and 84,085 women between 1980 and 2008. Men and women who drank more than 1 serving of sugar sweetened soda per day were more likely to have high blood pressure
and high cholesterol, while those who consumed diet
soda were more likely to be overweight and have chronic diseases.
Source: Weill Cornell Medical College Women’s Nutrition Connection, July 1012.
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Grilled Corn with Bacon Butter

Two words: Bacon. Butter.     Yes, I realize those two words should probably never come anywhere near each other. But hear me out. Take fire-roasted, caramelized corn, and slather it up with butter (duh!) that has been filled with crisp, peppery bacon bits. It doesn't get much better than that.     Oh wait, but it does get better. Say hello to crumbled feta cheese and fresh cilantro. Fresh corn with bacon butter AND cheese?! I think I would eat anything covered in bacon butter and cheese. Just sayin'. Let's get started with the corn, which is perfectly sweet & crisp this time of year. To grill the corn, you wanna shuck it, and then brush each ear with a bit of olive oil. Wrap it up in a single layer of foil and throw it on the grill for 20-25 minutes, rotating every so often.  

  After it's done grilling, let it sit for a few minutes while you get the toppings ready.  

  The bacon butter is pretty simple. Dice up a few slices of crisp bacon into very small crumbles. (Small is key, because otherwise it won't stick to the corn.)   [caption id="attachment_763" align="aligncenter" width="356"] Super small pieces![/caption]   Mix the bacon into some softened real butter. None of that fake margarine stuff. That's it!  

  I made a little assembly line for the toppings for maximum ease in preparation. (Basically, I didn't want to make a huge mess at the dinner table.)   [caption id="attachment_766" align="aligncenter" width="576"] Cilantro, feta, bacon butter.[/caption]   Then, just load 'em up! Bacon butter first, then the feta, then the cilantro.     Mmmmm... my husband & I both absolutely loved this way to prepare corn. I don't know if we'll ever be able to go back to plain ole' butter & salt. Bacon, feta, & cilantro is the way to go! Does it still count as a vegetable when it's covered in all this goodness?   --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Grilled Corn with Bacon Butter

Servings/Yield: 8 ears
  • 8 ears corn , shucked
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 6 tablespoons butter, softened
  • 4 slices pepper bacon, cooked & crumbled finely
  • 4 oz. feta cheese, crumb
  • ¼ cup minced fresh cilantro
  Method Preheat grill to highest setting. Brush each piece of corn with some olive oil, and wrap in a single layer of foil. Grill for about 25 minutes, rotating every 5 minutes or so. While grilling corn, combine softened butter with bacon. Place feta on a large plate. When corn is done, let sit in foil for about 5 minutes to cool before serving. For each serving, spread the bacon butter on the corn, then roll the corn in the feta cheese, and sprinkle with the cilantro.   Source: Adapted from How Sweet It Is

Mary’s Memo #2274

     Sunday Brunch by Betty Rosbottom (Chronicle Books, July 2012, $19.95) is your guide to beautiful brunches. In this book Betty puts a mouthwatering array of homemade fare at your fingertips. Imagine baskets of pastries alongside scrambled eggs piled high on platters next to crisp, glistening bacon, tender biscuits, bowls of fresh fruit salad and pots of steaming coffee. The more than 50 recipes include Pan-Fried Eggs and Mixed Mushroom Sauté on Toasted Sourdough Slices, Parmesan Flans with Parmesan Crisps and Southern Cheese Grits. Whether you host a weekly get-together or limit yourself to special holiday brunches, Sunday Brunch is a resource and an inspiration for sparkling meals for years to come!
     Betty Rosbottom has been a cooking teacher, syndicated columnist, PBS host and cookbook author for two decades.

Unsalted butter, for baking dish4 cups water1 cup old-fashioned (not instant or quick) gritsSalt3/4 cup grated sharp white Cheddar cheese1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepperButter a shallow 2-quart baking dish. Bring the water to a boil in a large, heavy saucepan (with a lid) set over medium-high heat. Pour the grits in slowly. Add 3/4 teaspoon salt and whisk well. When mixture comes to a simmer, reduce the heat to low and cover the pan. Cook the grits at a gentle simmer, stirring every 3 to 4 minutes so they do not stick to the bottom
of the pan. Cook until grits have thickened, about 15 minutes. Remove grits from the heat and stir in 1/2 cup of the Cheddar and all of the Parmesan. Add the black pepper and cayenne and season with more salt, if needed. Spread the grits in an even layer in prepared baking dish and sprinkle with the remaining 1/4 cup Cheddar over top. Arrange a rack at center position and preheat the oven to 350ºF. Bake the grits until they are hot and cheese is melted on top, about 25 minutes. If you would like to brown the cheese, arrange an oven rack 4 to 5 inches from the broiler and broil until cheese starts to brown lightly, 2 to 3 minutes. Serve immediately with scrambled or poached eggs. Recipe serves 4 to 6.
Source: Sunday Brunch by Betty Rosbottom (Chronicle Books, July 2012, $19.95).SITTING TOO MUCH?
      According to a new Australian study of 22,000 healthy adults in the Archives of Internal Medicine, those who sit for at least 11 hours a day are 40% more likely to die over the course of the three year study than those sitting less than 4 hours a day. These findings are in line with other research and held true regardless of body weight, age, overall health, smoking status and time spent exercising. Prolonged sitting can have adverse effects, notably on blood vessel function, HDL (good cholesterol), triglycerides and blood sugar. Many people spend 90% of their waking hours sitting. Try to break up prolonged sitting time by getting up every hour or two and walking a few minutes.
Source: University of California, Berkeley Wellness Letter, July 2012.

     If you don’t have fresh rhubarb you can use frozen in Land O'Lakes Rhubarb Streusel Bread.


1 cup sugar1/2 cup butter, softened1/3 cup orange juice2 large eggs2 cups all-purpose flour1 teaspoon baking powder1/4 teaspoon baking soda1/4 teaspoon salt1-1/2 cups sliced fresh rhubarb (1-1/2 cups frozen rhubarb, thawed, can be used)Streusel:
2 tablespoons sugar2 tablespoons firmly packed brown sugar1 tablespoon all-purpose flour1 tablespoon butter, melted1-1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamonPreheat oven to 350ºF. Grease and flour an 8x4-inch loaf pan. Combine 1 cup sugar and 1/2 cup butter in large bowl. Beat at medium speed, scraping bowl often, until creamy. Reduce speed to low and add orange juice and eggs. Continue beating just until mixed. (Mixture will look slightly curdled.) Stir in flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt by hand just until moistened. Gently stir in rhubarb. (Batter will be stiff.)                                                          Reserve 1-1/2 cups batter. Spread remaining batter into prepared pan. Combine all Streusel ingredients in a small bowl; stir until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Sprinkle half streusel mixture over batter in pan; gently press into batter. Carefully spread reserved batter into pan; top with remaining streusel. Press streusel into batter. Bake for 65 to 70 minutes or until a toothpick in center comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes; remove from pan.
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Chicken Bruschetta Panini

As a kid, I hated tomatoes. I absolutely despised them. (Although I loooooved ketchup. Turkey sandwiches with ketchup, green beans dipped in ketchup, pickles dipped in ketchup. Yes, I was strange.) But actual tomatoes? Gross. Whenever my  mom served up BLT's, I was served a bacon & cheese sandwich. So it definitely surprised me last summer when I decided to try a few grape tomatoes at a barbecue - and liked them! More than liked them, I LOVED them! Grape tomatoes dipped in ranch or hummus is now one of my all-time favorite summer snacks. When I came across this recipe for Easy Tomato Bruschetta made with grape tomatoes, I knew it would be a winner. Bruschetta is an Italian appetizer made from toasted bread with roasted garlic, and topped with a mixture of fresh tomatoes, basil, garlic, and spices. The fact that it's made with grape tomatoes makes it that much better. (And easier to prepare!) Not only can you enjoy Easy Tomato Bruschetta as a delicious appetizer atop toasted bread, but it also makes a delicious Chicken Bruschetta Panini, which is how my husband and I enjoyed it. Chewy artisan bread, stuffed with grilled chicken, fresh tomatoes, basil, & garlic, and gooey mozzarella cheese made for a fresh dinner on a hot summer day.     Start with the Easy Tomato Bruschetta. Saute 2 tablespoons of minced garlic in 2 tablespoons of olive oil over medium-high heat for about a minute, just until golden. The aroma is out of this world! Once it has become golden-brown, place it in a separate bowl. [caption id="attachment_737" align="aligncenter" width="366"] Careful! It might splatter![/caption] Now it's time for the fresh stuff. You need 2 pints of grape tomatoes, and 12-16 leaves of fresh basil. You can find fresh herbs in the produce section, and they're way better than the dried stuff.

  Next, you're going to chiffonade the basil. (Chiffo-what?!) Chiffonade is a technique for cutting fresh herbs into thin, long strips that would be difficult to cut otherwise. Start by stacking all the basil leaves on top of each other.  

  Then, roll them all up tightly into a little cylinder. (Almost like you might roll up a rug.)  

  Then, take your knife through and cut thin little strips.  

  Ta-da! Basil chiffonade!  

Combine the basil and halved cherry tomatoes with roasted garlic & oil that you sauteed earlier. Add a tablespoon of balsamic vinegar and salt & pepper to taste.


At this point, the Easy Tomato Bruschetta is ready. If you have time, let it sit for 1-2 hours to blend flavors. Even if you don't, it's still fabulous as is. Toast up some good Italian bread and serve it with the tomatoes and you have a killer appetizer.

I went a step further and turned the bruschetta into a panini. I started with a hearty loaf of fresh-baked ciabatta bread from the bakery section. You want a bread that is pretty dense & chewy, so that it will hold up to the liquid of the tomatoes. Focaccia would be a good choice as well.

Then, mix up a pesto mayo. Just equal parts basil pesto (found in the Italian section near the tomato sauce) and mayonnaise. Pesto is a great thing to have on hand - great with pasta, on sandwiches, or as a dipping sauce for fresh bread.

Spread the pesto mayo on your bottom piece of bread, and top with some grilled chicken. I threw on some leftover chicken I had in the fridge. (That's something I love about paninis - they help you clean out the fridge!)

Then, load on the Easy Tomato Bruschetta. Don't skimp here, this is what makes the sandwich.


Then, some sliced mozzarella cheese. Because what's a panini without cheese? (I apologize to all the vegans out there, but I couldn't do it.)

Place the top layer of bread on, and place the sandwich on a panini grill or George Foreman grill. If you don't have either of those, you can certainly use a skillet over medium heat; just place another skillet on top, and put something heavy inside it to weigh it down.

About 5 minutes later, you have a piping hot, hand-crafted sandwich bursting with mozzarella and bruschetta.



Easy Tomato Bruschetta

Servings/Yield: 4 cups
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons minced garlic
  • 12-16 leaves fresh basil, chiffonade
  • 2 pints grape tomatoes, halved
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • salt & pepper, to taste
Method Heat olive oil in small saucepan over medium heat. Add garlic and cook 1 minute, just until golden. Remove from heat and place in mixing bowl. Add basil, tomatoes, balsamic vinegar, salt, and pepper. Mix to combine. Let sit 1-2 hours for best flavor. Serve on toasted bread. ______________________________________________________________________________________________________

Chicken Bruschetta Panini

Servings/Yield: 4 sandwiches
  • 1 loaf ciabatta bread, sliced
  • ¼ cup prepared pesto
  • ¼ cup mayonnaise (light is fine)
  • 1-2 cups diced cooked chicken
  • 4-oz. sliced mozzarella cheese
  • Easy Tomato Bruschetta
Method Prepare Easy Tomato Bruschetta. Set aside. To make pesto mayo, combine pesto and mayonnaise in small bowl until smooth. To assemble sandwiches, spread a small amount of pesto mayo onto a piece of bread. Top with some diced chicken. Top with a generous amount of Easy Tomato Bruschetta. Top with sliced mozzarella, and another piece of bread for the top of the sandwich. Cook in a panini or sandwich press on HIGH for 5-7 minutes, until golden brown and cheese is melted. Or, cook in a buttered skillet, with another skillet on top, pressing down as it cooks. Source: Adapted from The Pioneer Woman

Brownie Berry Pizza

The 4th of July. Some people celebrate America's birthday with fireworks, parades, baseball games, and family reunions. I celebrate by making as many red, white, & blue foods as I possibly can. We are hosting a little shin-dig this year for the 4th, and I've gone a bit crazy planning the party food. (Thanks to the help of Pinterest, I've discovered star-shaped jell-o jigglersAmerican flag cake ballscheesecake shotsfireworks pretzels, and Oreo pops... and those are just a few.) So, I knew for this week I needed to share an easy, patriotic dessert for the 4th of July, a twist on the traditional fruit pizza. We've all seen the fruit pizza at the 4th of July barbecues... the one with the sugar cookie crust, vanilla frosting, and strawberries & blueberries decorated to look like a flag? Brownie Berry Pizza is the more grown-up, more chocolatey version. (Because can dessert really be considered dessert without chocolate? I think not.) You start out with a basic brownie base. I'm all for brownies from scratch, but when you're planning a holiday celebration, it sometimes makes sense to make things a bit easier on yourself. So I went with my favorite box mix - Ghirardelli. (Seriously, the best ever.)

Mix up the brownie batter, and spread it into a circular pan. Since this is a dessert pizza, I wanted to use my pizza pan. However, I didn't think it would hold the batter very well with all the holes in it. (Make a judgment call on that for yourself.) I ended up using a 9-inch springform pan, which ended up being a good thing because I ended up with a larger brownie to topping ratio. (More brownie = a good thing.)

After your brownie has baked and cooled, prepare the topping. Just cream cheese, a bit of sugar, vanilla extract, and good ole' fashioned Cool Whip.

Spread it evenly over the brownie base.

Now it's time for the berries! You could really top it with whatever fruit you want, but we're going with the patriotic theme here, so I chose strawberries, blueberries, and raspberries. (Bonus! They're on sale this week, 2/$5. So stock up!)

I sliced my strawberries and arranged them around outside edge. It kinda reminds me of fireworks.

Then I arranged a layer of blueberries.

And filled the center with raspberries!

Not only is this dessert stunning to look at, but it's absolutely delicious. The fresh, juicy fruit combines with the creamy topping and the fudgy brownie for the perfect bite. So many wonderful textures! My husband and I each enjoyed a slice (or two), and I happily sent the rest of it with him to work. (To prevent myself from eating it for breakfast the next day. Although, one could consider it a balanced meal - fruit + dairy serving!)

If you're still considering your Independence Day dessert menu, make sure you include this Brownie Berry Pizza! ______________________________________________________________________________________________________

Brownie Berry Dessert Pizza

Servings/Yield 8-10 servings
  • 1 family-size brownie mix, plus eggs, oil, water called for on package
  • 4-oz cream cheese, softened
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ½ container Cool Whip
  • 2 cups mixed berries, (strawberries, blueberries, raspberries)
  Method Preheat oven to 350*F. Line a spring form pan with foil, and spray with cooking spray. Prepare brownie mix according to directions on package. Spread into prepared pan. Bake in preheated oven 33-38 minutes, or until toothpick inserted one inch from side comes out clean. Let cool. Once brownies are cool, remove from pan. For topping, combine cream cheese, sugar, and vanilla extract until smooth. Gently fold in Cool Whip. Spread over brownie crust. Top with mixed berries. Store in refrigerator. Source: idea from Betty Crocker, recipe adapted from Livin' the Dream in Beantown USA

Mary’s Memo #2273

     Desserts in a jar are a trend today, but grandmothers tucked desserts into their canning jars because they had
them on hand. This was the inspiration for Shaina Olmanson’s Desserts in Jars, 50 Sweet Treats That Shine (Harvard Common Press, July 2012, $16.95). In a day and age where so much of what we use is disposable, using glass jars as a serving mechanism is a way to make the entire package reusable. Olmanson is a cook, writer and photographer of the popular and award-winning blog Food for My Family. She lives in the Minneapolis-St. Paul area with her husband Ole, and their 4 children.
     Flourless cakes amaze me so I chose Olmanson’s Flourless Chocolate Cake to share. Some of us have jelly glasses collecting dust on basement shelves but if you need new ones Chief and Rays have a variety of jars suitable for her recipes.

Oil for greasing the jars7 ounces bittersweet chocolate4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter4 large eggs, separated1 cup granulated sugarConfectioner’s sugar, for dustingPreheat oven to 350ºF. Grease (14) 8-ounce jars. In a double boiler over simmering water, melt the chocolate and butter until smooth. Remove from the heat and allow to cool slightly. In a separate bowl, use a handheld mixer to beat the egg whites until stiff peaks form. Set aside.In a stand mixer, beat together the granulated sugar and egg yolks until thick and creamy. Mix 1/4 cup melted chocolate and butter into the egg yolks. Continue to mix, slowly pour the remaining melted chocolate mixture into the egg yolks until all is incorporated. Fold the egg whites into the chocolate mixture. Spoon 4 to 5 tablespoons of the cake batter into each greased jar. Place the jars 2 inches apart on
a large baking sheet. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, until tops of the cakes start to crack. Remove from the oven and let the jars cool. Dust with confectioners’ sugar before serving. Serve warm or at room temperature. Recipe makes 14 individual cakes.
Source: Desserts in Jars by Shaina Olmanson (Harvard Common Press, July 2012, $16.95).CAN COCONUT OIL TREAT ALZHEIMER’S?
     A new book by Dr. Mary Newport, a pediatrician, has gotten a lot of media coverage. Newport, whose own husband has Alzheimer’s, suggests that coconut oil may have dramatic effects on people with the disease. Coconut oil is high in calories (115 calories per tablespoon). That can add up when the recommended doses are 4 to 8 tablespoons per day.
     The University of California, Berkeley Wellness Letter, June 2012, reports that although the book makes a convincing case for coconut oil, they can’t. The most important thing to do if a family member has serious memory problems is to consult a doctor, preferably a neurologist. Don’t assume it is Alzheimer’s disease. There are other causes of memory problems and other forms of dementia, some of which are reversible. A vitamin B-12 deficiency, hypothyroidism and depression can all lead to symptoms that may be mistaken for early Alzheimer’s. Certain medications can also impair memory. Thus it’s important to rule these out and not be sidetracked by self-treatments such as coconut oil.
Source: University of California, Berkeley Wellness Letter, June 2012.

     When Portobello mushroom caps are on sale at Chief and Rays I buy! I like the meat-like texture of Portobellos. I’ve stuffed the caps with regular stuffing but recently roasted the caps in the oven with a light breading mixture. Extras can be reheated in the microwave. A half tablespoon of freshly grated Parmesan cheese was not nearly enough to suit me so I used 1 tablespoon per cap. Recipe called for plain dry bread crumbs but I only had Italian seasoned ones
on hand and they worked fine.

4 large Portobello mushrooms, stems removedSalt and freshly ground pepper to taste (use caution because there is salt in the topping)1/4 cup Italian dry bread crumbs4 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese1 tablespoon chopped flat leaf parsley1 tablespoon light olive oil1/8 teaspoon saltPreheat oven to 450ºF. Cover a 9x13-inch baking pan cover with foil. Coat with cooking spray. Place mushroom caps, gill side up, on prepared pan. Sprinkle caps with salt and pepper. Roast for 20 minutes. Meanwhile, combine breadcrumbs, Parmesan, parsley, oil and 1/8 teaspoon salt. Divide
mixture between mushroom caps, spreading evenly. Return to oven until crumbs are browned, about 5 minutes. Recipe makes 4 servings.
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