Monthly Archives: November 2012

Mary’s Memo #2294


If you know someone who loves to cook, trust me, they

will appreciate a new cookbook for Christmas. So here we

go with several suggestions. The first one is coffee table size:Come In, We’re Closed, An Invitation to Staff Meals at the World’s Best Restaurants by Christine Carroll and Jody Eddy (Running Press; October 2012; $35.00). This book with more than 100 recipes goes behind the scenes to explore what 25 famed eateries are feeding their own before they open the doors to the public each night. A long-standing custom in France as well as Japan, staff meals are gaining popularity as an inside perk for restaurant workers around the globe. In Come In, We’re Closed, the authors, with the help of topnotch chefs and restaurateurs, elevate the lowly staff meal to new heights. Carroll is the founder of the nonprofit CulinaryCorps

and more recently the director of the Bowery Culinary Center for Whole Foods Market Manhattan. Eddy is

the author of and contributes to several print and web publications and is an instructor at several culinary schools. This book is for an advanced cook and recipes include ingredients that may not be available in regular supermarkets. That said it has informative information that any cook will appreciate knowing.

Raising The Bar, The Future of Fine Chocolate by Pam

Williams & Jim Eber (Wilmor Publishing Corporation; 2012;

Hardcover/$19.95) is not a cookbook but one chocoholics

will certainly enjoy because it’s a global journey from cacao

gene and cocoa bean to chocolate bar and bon bon through the eyes of people who live chocolate every day and strive to preserve the richest, most complex and endangered forms for future generations. The next two cookbooks are from Robert Rose: 300 Best Bread Machine Recipes by Donna Washburn & Heather Butt and 300 Sensational Soups by Carla Snyder & Meredith Deeds. Neither of these cookbooks is new but certainly warrant

consideration. Available at bookstores or,

300 Best Bread Machine Recipes features all the information you need about baking bread using older and newer bread machine models and traditional and innovative recipes such as low-fat, international and even gluten-free recipes. With winter approaching 300 Sensational Soups by Carla Snyder and Meredith Deeds ( will be a welcomed edition on any cookbook shelf. Join me in trying Cheesy Zucchini, Sausage and Tomato Chowder. Note: Chief and Rays Smokehouse Italian Sausage links can be used in this recipe. Also, unless it is critical to use whipping cream or half and half, I replace cream with undiluted evaporated milk to cut calories.


1 teaspoon vegetable oil

1 lb. mild Italian sausage, casings removed

1 large onion, minced

1 (14.5-ounce) can diced tomatoes with juice

1 lb. baking potatoes, peeled and cut into small dice

4 cup chicken broth

1 teaspoon salt

2 zucchini, cut into small dice

1 cup whipping cream

2 cups shredded sharp Cheddar cheese,

tossed with 1 tablespoon all purpose flour

Cheesy Croutons

In a large pot, heat oil over medium heat. Add sausage and sauté, breaking up with the back of a wooden spoon until no longer pink, about 5 minutes. Add onion and sauté until softened. Add tomatoes with juice, potatoes, chicken broth and salt; bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes. Add zucchini and simmer until vegetables are tender, about 10 minutes. Stir in cream and return to simmer, stirring often. Add cheese, 1/2 cup at a time until cheese is melted. Do not let boil. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Ladle into heated bowls and garnish with croutons.

Source: Recipe from 300 Sensational Soups by Carla Snyder and Meredith Deeds (; $24.95/softback).


Already touted for heart health and other benefits, the

so-called Mediterranean diet may also be good for your

bones, especially when it’s served with extra olive oil. Spanish researchers report that a Mediterranean-style diet enriched with olive oil, improved blood markers associated with bone formation. Consumption of olives was also positively associated with indicators of bone health.

Source: Tufts University Health & Nutrition Letter, November



Right now Chief and Rays are stocked with many seasonal

items for Christmas from crackers to coffee. Just about

every aisle has something to make the season more festive. Oreo has them chocolate covered or embossed with a holiday design. There’s a snowflake-topped Ritz cracker and Dickenson’s Country Pumpkin Butter is back. And don’t forget the most useful gift of all for holiday giving … a Chief or Rays gift card!
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Skillet Chicken Parmesan with Roasted Garlic Bread

Well, Thanksgiving has come and gone. We had a great long weekend spent with our families back in Illinois, filled with lots of delicious food, of course. I hope you all had fabulous feasts and wonderful time spent with your family. As soon as Thanksgiving is over, I get very excited because I can now *officially* blast the Christmas music 24/7. My favorite thing to do the week after Thanksgiving is to spend an afternoon or evening decorating the house for Christmas, dancing along to Mariah Carey's "All I Want for Christmas is You!" If that doesn't get you in the mood, then I don't know what will. I love the holiday season, but sometimes it gets a bit busy. (<-- major understatement, right there.) Holiday parties, gift shopping & wrapping, Christmas plays & concerts, and so on... blink and you'll miss it all! One of the first things to go when we get busy is a home-cooked dinner. I know what you're thinking - "you write a food blog, and you don't cook dinner?!" Yes, that's right. All too often, December leaves us eating frozen pizza, rotisserie chickens, or my favorite, BWW's take-out. Not quite the healthiest. Today's recipe is the perfect meal when you're short on time and don't know what to make for dinner. Skillet Chicken Parmesan uses pantry staples, and is ready start-to-finish in less than 30 minutes. Seriously!  

  It's also much healthier than its restaurant counterpart. This version is browned in a skillet and simmered, instead of breaded and fried. Don't worry, there's still lots of gooey cheese involved. ;) Serve it up with some Roasted Garlic Bread for a complete meal. To start, heat a tablespoon of olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Brown a few boneless skinless chicken breasts for 2-3 minutes on each side. They do NOT need to be cooked all the way - just get some color on the outside. They will finish cooking as they simmer in the sauce. Remove the chicken to a plate, and take the skillet off the burner for a minute or two.     Now it's time for the sauce. Add a jar of your favorite marinara sauce to the skillet, along with some grated Parmesan, and dried basil.     Bring it to a simmer, and nestle the chicken pieces into the sauce. Let it simmer, covered, about 10 minutes, until the chicken is cooked through.     To get that golden, bubbly cheese, preheat your broiler. If your skillet is ovensafe, scatter shredded mozzarella over the top of the chicken, and transfer the whole thing to the oven for a few minutes.     If you don't have an ovensafe skillet (like me), you will just have to do more dishes. :) Just transfer the chicken/sauce mixture to a baking dish, top with cheese, and then broil until the cheese is bubbly.     Serve up over the pasta of your choice, and you've got a delicious meal on your table. The chicken is so juicy, it's incredible! I have made this meal twice already, and my husband told me I can keep making it as much as I want.  

  And what's an Italian meal without garlic bread? I skipped over my usual method of toasting bread and sprinkling it with garlic powder, and I actually put some effort into it.     Start by roasting a head of garlic. Just wrap it in foil and pop it into a 350*F oven for about 20 minutes. (Do this while your chicken is cooking.)  

  Then squeeze out the roasted garlic (mmmm, one of the best smells in the world) and combine it with some softened butter, Parmesan cheese, and parsley.   Spread it over some crusty bread, and broil for a few minutes until it's toasted! Broil at the same time as your chicken, and it'll all be ready at the same time. ______________________________________________________________________________________________________

Skillet Chicken Parmesan

Servings/Yield: 4-6 servings
  • 4-6 small boneless skinlesschicken breasts, (or 3 large, cut in half)
  • 1-2 tablespoons olive oil
  • salt & pepper
  • 24-oz. jar marinara sauce
  • cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • ½-¾ teaspoon dried basil
  • 1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 8-oz. shell pasta, (or your favorite)
Method Drizzle a large skillet with olive oil; heat over medium-high heat. Season chicken breasts with salt & pepper. Add chicken to skillet; cook 2-3 minutes on each side until browned. Set chicken aside on a plate. (The chicken will not be cooked all the way through; that's ok.) Remove skillet from heat for 1-2 minutes to allow to cool. Reduce temperature to medium-low. Once skillet has cooled a bit, add marinara sauce, Parmesan cheese, and basil. Stir to combine. Nestle chicken breasts into sauce mixture; cover, and simmer 10 minutes until chicken is cooked through. Meanwhile, preheat oven to broil. If using an oven-safe skillet, top chicken pieces with mozzarella cheese, and broil 3-4 minutes until golden and bubbly. If not using an oven-safe skillet, transfer chicken along with sauce to a baking dish. Cover with mozzarella cheese, and broil 3-4 minutes until golden and bubbly. Source: adapted from Iowa Girl Eats ______________________________________________________________________________________________________

Roasted Garlic Bread

Servings/Yield: 4-6 servings
  • 1 loaf Italian bread
  • 1 head garlic
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • ½ cup butter, softened
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
  • 2 tablespoons Parmesan cheese
Method Slice the tops off the garlic cloves so that the tip of each clove is exposed. Drizzle with olive oil and wrap with foil. Roast in a 350*F oven for about 30 minutes; let cool 5-10 minutes. For bread, slice the loaf in half horizontally. Preheat the oven to broil. In a small bowl, squeeze out 3-4 cloves of garlic from their skins. Stir in the butter, parsley, and Parmesan cheese until well-blended. Spread onto the cut sides of the bread. Broil 4-5 minutes, until bread is toasted. Source: Sweet Pea's Kitchen

Mary’s Memo #2293


Just in time for the holiday season is Gluten-Free Baking for the Holidays by Jeanne Sauvage (Chronicle Books; October 2012; $24.95/hardback) with homemade treats that everyone can enjoy. From savory Cheese Straws and light airy dinner rolls to classic desserts like Apple Cinnamon Pie, all 60 recipes have been tested by the author, gluten-intolerant herself, and an army of her gluten-sensitive friends. From her home in Seattle, Jeanne Sauvage writes a popular blog: The Art of Gluten-Free Baking. Her philosophy is that it is not enough to bake gluten-free; Recipes should also be delicious or what’s the point? Food photographer Clare Barboza, also from Seattle, has a passion for documenting how food goes from the farm to the table.

On a less serious side, Frank DeCaro, author of the Dead Celebrity Cookbook, is back with Dead Celebrity Christmas in Tinseltown from Six Feet Under the Mistletoe (HCI; October 2012; $14.95/paperback). In addition to culinary delights, DeCaro has filled the book with pop culture facts. DeCaro is best known for his years as a movie critic on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart. Now he has his own call-in show on Sirius XM Satellite Radio. His writing has appeared in Martha Stewart Living, Vogue, Entertainment Weekly and The New York Times.

Remember Shirley Booth from the early 1960s sitcom, Hazel? Her Pumpkin Bread is a timely choice for the holiday season.


(1) 2/3 cup + 1 tablespoon flour
1 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup water
1 cup canned pumpkin
2 eggs
1 cup raisins or chopped dates

Preheat the oven to 325ºF. Sift dry ingredients (except 1 tablespoon flour) together in a large bowl. In another bowl, beat together the oil, eggs, water and pumpkin. Blend in the dry ingredients. Toss the raisins or dates with the remaining tablespoon of flour and add to the mixture; stir to combine. Spread the batter in a greased and floured loaf pan and smooth the top. Bake 1-1/2 hours.

Source: HCI; October 2012; 14.95/paperback.


The US produces some 1.1 billion pounds of pumpkins annually, valued ay more than $140 million. The top pumpkin-producing states are Illinois, Ohio, Pennsylvania and California. More than 90 percent of the pumpkins grown for processing as canned pumpkin in the US come from Illinois.Source: Tufts Health & Nutrition Letter, October 2012.


I like metal pie shields that keep the edge of the crust from getting too dark. I’ve had two shields for 9-inch pies for ages but at Jungle Jim’s near Cincinnati I found NORPRO shields for 8-inch pies, what I use most often. NORPRO has a website and the shields are also available from


Treat your Thanksgiving guests to Pumpkin Spice Philadelphia Cream Cheese Spread in an 8-ounce tub.

Green Mountain Pumpkin Spice K-cups, 12 to a pack, will interest Keurig owners.

I’ve tried both. The pumpkin spread would be good on gingersnaps but I had it on Townhouse crackers. As for the pumpkin spice coffee, I’ve made it for myself several mornings and the pumpkin spice flavor stands out.


Turkey may take center stage on Thanksgiving but be sure to include a relish tray and salad in your meal plans. Instead of calorie-loaded cheese dips or balls before dinner I’m putting out a relish tray filled with colorful veggies and olives to munch on. My dinner-time salad will be Chutney Broccoli Salad that can be made ahead. A Bryan Chief shopper just told me how much her family likes this particular salad.


8 cups fresh broccoli florets
4 cups halved red grapes
(Holiday or Celebration if still available)
3/4 cup chopped purple onion
2 cups Hellmann’s Light mayonnaise
(1) 8-ounce jar Major Grey’s Chutney
1 teaspoon curry powder
2/3 cup slivered almonds, toasted

Combine broccoli, grapes and onions. Mix mayonnaise, chutney and curry powder together. Gently stir mayonnaise mixture into vegetable mixture. Cover and chill overnight. Just before serving add slivered almonds. Recipe makes 12 servings.


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Turkey, Brie, & Cranberry Quesadilla

One of the best parts about Thanksgiving is the leftovers. I can remember as a kid, the day after Thanksgiving was the best. Sweet potato casserole for breakfast, green bean casserole and broccoli & rice for lunch, and mini turkey sandwiches on my mom's butter rolls for dinner. Nothing better. Now that I live away from home, I usually roast a turkey breast sometime in the month of November or December, just so I can have that leftover turkey. I love seeing what I can put together with leftovers from a big meal. This quesadilla does just that. It combines leftover turkey with another Thanksgiving staple - cranberry chutney. [Side note... there is always cranberry chutney leftover. Does anybody ever eat it in the first place?!]     As I've been calling it, the "Thanksgiving Leftover" Quesadilla combines roasted turkey, tangy cranberry chutney, and soft & creamy Brie cheese. It's all tucked inside a tortilla and cooked until crisp. The gooey cheese pairs with the cranberries just perfectly. Maybe I can persuade my grandma to let me take some turkey home, just so I can have this again.   Start by slathering one side of a tortilla with cranberry chutney. Store-bought is fine, but homemade is even better! I whipped up a Cranberry-Apricot Chutney, and it was super simple. (Recipe below.)     Then, layer on the turkey. Load it up, this is not a time to be skimpy with the turkey!     Then, layer on some sliced Brie cheese for the ooze factor. A bit of spinach for some color, and you're ready to go!     Heat in a skillet over medium heat for a few minutes on each side, until the cheese has melted and the tortillas have crisped up.  

  Yum! Forget Thanksgiving, I'm looking forward to the day after! ______________________________________________________________________________________________________

Turkey, Brie, & Cranberry Quesadilla

Servings/Yield: One quesadilla
  • 1 large flour tortilla
  • 2-3 tablespoons cranberry chutney
  • ½-¾ cup roasted turkey
  • 1-2 oz. Brie cheese, sliced
  • baby spinach
Method Drizzle a skillet with oil (or spray with cooking spray) and set on medium heat. In the tortilla, layer cranberry chutney, turkey, Brie cheese, and spinach. Cook in skillet 3-4 minutes on each side, until cheese has melted and tortilla is crisp. ---

Cranberry-Apricot Chutney

Servings/Yield: About 2 cups
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • cup chopped onion
  • 1 serrano pepper, seeded and chopped
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • juice from 1 orange
  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 4-5 tablespoons brown sugar
  • pinch ground ginger
  • 12-oz. bag fresh cranberries
  • 12 dried apricots, chopped
  • 1 cup water
  • pinch salt
Method Heat olive oil in a sauce pan over medium heat. Add onion and pepper; cook 3-4 minutes until onions have softened. Add garlic; cook 1 minute more. Add all remaining ingredients and bring to a boil. Cover, and let cook for approximately 10 minutes until the cranberries have softened. Remove the lid and cook another 10-15 minutes, until nearly all the liquid has evaporated. Let cool and store in the refrigerator. Source: from Confections of a Foodie Bride  

Mary’s Memo #2292

I have allergies but fortunately not any food ones. But if I did, I’d be the first to invest in The Total Food Allergy Health and Diet Guide by Alexandra Anca, MHSc, RD with Dr. Gordon L Sussman, MD ( October 31, 2012, $24.95/softback). Book also includes 150 recipes for managing food allergies and intolerances. Alexandra Anca is a member of the College of Dietitians of Ontario and Dietitians of Canada, and is Chair of the Consulting Dietitians Network. She also serves as Nutrition Advisor to the Canadian Chapter of the Canadian Celiac Association and is scientific advisor to the association’s Professional Advisory Board.


1 clove garlic minced
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1/4 teaspoon salt
Pinch of nutmeg
Pinch of paprika
Pinch of freshly ground white pepper
4 boneless, skinless chicken breastsIn a sealable plastic freezer bag set in a bowl, combine garlic, lemon juice, olive oil, thyme, salt, nutmeg, paprika and white pepper. Add chicken breasts to marinade, seal bag and refrigerate for 1 hour. Preheat oven to 375ºF. Place chicken breasts with marinade in 2-quart oblong casserole dish and cover tightly. Bake for 45 minutes or until chicken is no longer pink inside and a meat thermometer inserted in the thickest part of breast registers 165ºF.Source: The Total Food Allergy Health and Diet Cookbookby Alexandra Anca (, October 31, 2012,$24.95/softback).


I’m totally flabbergasted at the amount of soda and dietsoda customers of all ages buy. Is it possible to drink too much soda, including the diet kind? Definitely. Diet soda doesn’t provide any calories, a good thing as far as your waistline is concerned, but it also doesn’t have any vitamins or other beneficial nutrients. So it’s a poor substitute for healthier beverages, such as low-fat milk or antioxidant-rich coffee or tea. Some research suggests that artificially sweetened drinks might activate sugar cravings and increase your appetite, though the evidence is mixed. The phosphoric acid in some diet colas can weaken bones over time, and the high acidity of all soft drinks can harm tooth enamel. And getting too much caffeine from any source can cause poor sleep, anxiety and other symptoms. So be sure to count any diet cola youdrink toward overall caffeine intake.Source: ConsumerReports on Health, November 2012.


The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics warns that reusable

grocery totes may harbor harmful bacteria that can cause food poisoning if, for instance, juice leaks from raw meat; the bacteria can linger ands multiply and then contaminate

other foods. That’s good reason to wrap your meat, fish and poultry in plastic bags before placing them in a tote.

Better yet, use separate totes for raw meats and ready-to-eat foods such as salad greens and bread and mark them clearly so they don’t get mixed up. Wash bags in hot, soapy water, either by hand or in the washing machine, let them dry completely and store them in a clean, dry place.

Source: University of California at Berkeley Wellness Letter,

October 2012. 


Slow cooker recipes come in handy when I’m busy getting

ready for Thanksgiving. Instead of chicken, this cacciatore

is made with boneless pork chops.


4 boneless pork loin chops (1-inch thick)

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 onion, sliced

(1) 28-ounce jar pasta sauce

(1) 28-ounce can diced tomatoes, undrained

1 green bell pepper, seeded and sliced into strips

(1) 8-ounce package button mushrooms, sliced

2 large cloves garlic, halved

1 teaspoon Italian seasoning

1/2 teaspoon dried basil

1/2 cup white wine

4 mozzarella cheese slices

4 servings of pasta cooked according to package directions

In a large skillet, brown chops over medium-high heat. Transfer to slow cooker. In same pan, cook onion in oil over medium-high heat until browned. Stir in mushrooms and bell

pepper, and cook until these vegetables are soft. Mix in pasta sauce, diced tomatoes and white wine. Season with Italian seasoning, basil and garlic. Pour over pork chops in slow cooker. Cook on high 1 hour; reduce heat to low and continue cooking for 6 hours. To serve, arrange pork chop over pasta. Place a slice of cheese on each chop and cover with a generous amount of sauce. Recipe makes 4 servings.

SOURCE:, the world’s favorite recipe website.
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Upside Down Pumpkin Pie

Is it just me, or did Thanksgiving sneak up on us this year? As in, it's only 10 days away? I'm all sorts of excited, as usual. (Anytime I get a 5-day weekend is a reason for excitement!) If you're anything like me, you've been dreaming up Thanksgiving recipes for the past month or so. Unfortunately, I do not get to host Thanksgiving (yet); for some reason my entire extended family doesn't want to trek the 400 miles to Lima. We'll be heading back to Illinois to spend some quality time with them instead. However, since I don't get to make the meal, I do always get to bring dessert!  

    The recipe I'm sharing with you today is a twist on pumpkin pie - Upside Down Pumpkin Pie. It's like pumpkin pie, but upside down. The pumpkin custard filling is on the bottom, and the top is made up of a crumbly, buttery topping, filled with chopped pecans. It's definitely easier to make than pumpkin pie (no pie crust to deal with), and might I say it is even better-tasting? The streusel topping is seriously the best part. My mom usually made it about once a year when I was a kid, and it has since become one of those recipes that has to be made, every year, no matter what. I will always remember the year that she forgot to put the sugar in the filling... whoops! It was pretty much inedible. But my dad still had a serving or two; he said he didn't notice a difference! (Hehe... men...) To start, make the pumpkin custard filling. Canned pumpkin, evaporated milk, sugar, eggs, and spices. Blend until smooth.  

Pour the filling into a greased 9x13-inch pan.  

  Next, just sprinkle a yellow cake mix over the top. Super simple.  

  Then, sprinkle with chopped nuts of your choice. Pecans are my favorite. If you're not a nut person, you could certainly leave them out.  

  And then the magic - two sticks of melted butter. Remember, it's a holiday, and fat grams don't count. ;)     Pour the butter all over the top of the cake mix.  

  Pop the pan into a 350*F for about 60 minutes. It should be mostly set... if it's a little jiggly in the center, that's okay. Let it cool to room temperature, and then refrigerate until cold.     Add a little whipped cream, and you've got one fantastic dessert! ______________________________________________________________________________________________________

Upside Down Pumpkin Pie

Servings/Yield: one 9x13-inch pan
  • 29-oz. can pumpkin puree
  • 12-oz. cans evaporated milk
  • cups granulated sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon cloves
  • ¼ teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1 box yellow cake mix
  • 1-2 cups chopped pecans, (or other nut)
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) melted butter
  • whippped cream, for serving
Method Preheat oven to 350*F. In a large mixing bowl, blend together pumpkin, evaporated milk, sugar, eggs, cinnamon, salt, nutmeg, and cloves. Pour into greased 9x13-inch pan. Sprinkle cake mix over the top; sprinkle with chopped pecans. Pour melted butter over entire dish. Bake at 350*F for 60 minutes or until the center is mostly set. Let cool; then refrigerate. Serve with whipped cream. Source: family favorite

Mary’s Memo #2291


If you like southern cooking you’ll want Fire In My Belly:

Real Cooking (Andrews McMeel Publishing, October 2012,

$40.00), by Kevin Gillespie with David Joachim. “Cooking is

figuring out the great qualities of any food and making those qualities shine,” writes Gillespie. Fire In My Belly embraces this creed and explores it with 120 original recipes and techniques that embrace and marry the traditional ingredients of the South with methods such as grilling, braising, smoking, frying and roasting. Illustrated with more than 350 rich color photographs, the book is organized into clearly conceived chapters with an emphasis on narrative. Filled with soulful and sometimes irreverent tales, Southern traditions and remarkable foods, Fire In My Belly will appeal to a wide range of home cooks looking to create the best possible meals from the best possible ingredients.

Kevin Gillespie is an Atlanta native who grew up learning

to cook at his grandmother’s knee and started helping

with meals in the kitchen at age 10. Rather than accept a

scholarship to MIT, Kevin chose to attend culinary school. He was a semifinalist for the James Beard Rising Star Chef Award from 2009-12. Currently, he is head chef at the Woodfire Grill in Atlanta. This is his first cookbook. David Joachim has written, edited or collaborated on more than 35 cookbooks. Kevin Gillespie’s version of Sugar Snap Peas Amandine demonstrates how the author reinvents a classic recipe.


8-ounces sugar snap peas, strings removed

4-ounces oyster mushrooms

4 tablespoons butter

2 tablespoons finely chopped Vidalia onion

1/4 cup crushed or coarsely chopped almonds


1 teaspoon lemon juice

1 tablespoon ice cold water

Fill 2-quart saucepan 3/4th full of water and bring to a

boil over high heat. Fill a large bowl with ice water. Drop peas in boiling water and cook for 1 minute. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the peas to the ice bath, swirling until pods are completely cool, about 1 minute. Then transfer to a kitchen towel. Cut peas in half on the diagonal and set aside. Wipe any dirt from the mushrooms and remove the tough, woody root ends. Slice into thin strips. Heat a 10-inch sauté pan over medium heat and add 2 tablespoons butter. Swirl the pan until the butter melts and foams up. Add the mushrooms and onion until mushrooms are browned and crispy, about 10 minutes, stirring now and then. Add the almonds and remaining butter and cook 3 to 4 minutes, stirring a few times. Add the peas and a pinch of salt, about 1 teaspoon lemon juice and 1 tablespoon ice water. Cook and stir for 1 minute. Serve immediately. Recipe makes 4 side dish servings. Source: Fire In My Belly by Kevin Gillespie with David Joachim (Andrews McMeel Publishing, October 2012, $40.00).


When you’re using a hand sanitizer, especially in a restaurant, be sure to use sanitizer on salt and pepper shakers. According to research conducted at the University of Virginia the highest concentration of cold and flu viruses can be found on salt and pepper shakers so disinfect the surfaces after each use. Someone pointed out to me that restaurant menus could be a source of germs as well so wipe menu clean.


It’s a good idea to get as much vitamin D from food as

you can, since the top sources also tend to have other essential nutrients. To do this, include more meat, eggs and milk into your diet. You might also need a supplement. Discuss with a registered dietician or your family doctor.

salad gets two thumbs up Bryan Chief tasters gave this salad a thumbs-up recently. I’m thinking the combination will work well with any large tomato now that homegrown ones are no longer available. Look for fresh mint year-round in the produce department at Chief and Rays.


2 seedless English cucumbers (the kind sealed in

plastic), halved and cut into 1/4 inch slices

1/3 cup red wine vinegar

1 tablespoon sugar (or equal amount of Splenda)

1 teaspoon kosher or iodized salt

3 large tomatoes, seeded and coarsely chopped

2/3 cup coarsely chopped red onion

1/2 cup chopped mint

3 tablespoons light or extra virgin olive oil

Salt and pepper to taste

In large bowl toss together the cucumbers, sugar and

salt. Let stand at room temperature 1 hour, stirring occasionally.

Add tomatoes, onion, mint and oil to cucumber mixture

and toss to blend. Season with salt and pepper. Recipe makes

6 servings, 110 calories each.

Source: Adapted from recipe.
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Bacon-wrapped Stuffed Dates

This weekend, my mom & dad made the 400-mile trek (all the way from Illinois!) to visit. Usually, when they come, we spend the weekend working on house projects. (Oh the joy of home ownership...) But, this time, we decided to leave the tools behind and have FUN! We headed over to Cleveland to sight see and visit the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, which was totally a blast.   Typically, when we have visitors, I like to 'wow' them with some tasty eats. Dates are one of my mom's favorite foods, so I set out to find a recipe that highlighted them. And so we have... Bacon-wrapped Stuffed Dates! (Because everything's better with bacon, hehe...)  

  Sweet, chewy dates are filled with two different fillings - tangy goat cheese or a mixture of crunchy pistachios, dried apricots & cranberries, and gorgonzola cheese. The whole she-bang is then wrapped in bacon, and then baked until crisp. These little bites are seriously irresistible! Crispy, chewy, & creamy, it's all about the texture. We couldn't stop popping them into our mouths!   First, start with the dates. You can find them in the dried fruit aisle, near the raisins.     Cut a slit across the top of each one, and lay them out on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.     For the goat cheese-stuffed dates, simply place goat cheese in a ziploc bag, and microwave for 10-15 seconds until smooth. Cut the corner off the bag, and pipe a bit of cheese into each date.     For pistachio-gorgonzola-stuffed dates, combine chopped pistachios, diced dried apricots, dried cranberries, and gorgonzola cheese in a bowl. Spoon a bit of the mixture into each date.  

Once all the dates are stuffed, it's bacon-wrapping time! I absolutely love the Chief Smokehouse pepper bacon; since I discovered it, it's the only type I will buy. So good! Cut the bacon into thirds, and wrap a piece around each date. Secure with a toothpick.     Pop into the oven for 20-30 minutes at 375*F until the bacon is crisp.     These would make the a wonderful holiday appetizer! I'm thinking they might appear at our next friends get together.  


Bacon-wrapped Stuffed Dates

Servings/Yield: 40-50 appetizers
  • 40-50 pitted dates
  • goat cheese
  • chopped pistachios
  • diced dried apricots
  • dried cranberries
  • gorgonzola cheese
  • 1 lb. bacon, cut into thirds
  • toothpicks
Method Preheat oven to 375*F. Cut a slit in each date. Place on a parchment-lined or foil-lined baking sheet. For goat cheese-stuffed dates, place goat cheese in a ziploc bag; microwave 15-20 seconds until smooth. Cut off the corner of the bag; squeeze goat cheese into each date. For pistachio-gorgonzola-stuffed dates, combine chopped pistachios, dried apricots, dried cranberries, and gorgonzola cheese. Stuff into slit dates. Wrap each date with a piece of bacon (cut into thirds.) Secure with a toothpick and place on baking sheet. Bake at 375*F 20-30 minutes until bacon is crispy. Remove to paper towel-lined plate to drain. Serve warm or at room temperature. Source: adapted from Confections of a Foodie Bride