Monthly Archives: December 2012

Mary’s Memo #2299

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If one of your New Year resolutions is eating healthier, Clean Eating for Busy Families by Michelle Dudash, R.D., should be on your list of required reading. Every parent knows what a struggle it can be to get dinner on the table night after night. They want to prepare healthy meals for their families, but picky eaters, busy schedules and way-too-long cooking times always seem to stand in the way. Clean Eating for Busy Families (Fair Winds Press, January 2013, $19.99) takes the challenge out of putting delicious food on the table every night by providing readers with a clear plan for dinner success.

Most energy bars are not cheap so why not make your own. Dudash wraps them individually and stores in the fridge for family members to "grab and go" for between-meal-snacks at work, school, running errands etc.


Expeller-pressed canola oil spray

1 cup raw cashews

1/4 cup dried tart cherries or raisins

1 cup toasted pumpkin seeds

1/2 cup raw sunflower seeds

1/3 cup sesame seeds

(old-fashioned oats can be substituted)

3 tablespoons flaxseed meal

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 cup honey

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 300oF and coat a 9x9-inch pan with canola oil spray. Finely chop cashews and dried fruit in a food processor and add to a large bowl. Add pumpkin seeds, sunflower and sesame seeds, flaxseed meal and salt and stir to combine. In separate bowl, microwave the honey for a few seconds to warm. Drizzle honey and vanilla into nut mixture and stir until completely incorporated. Pour the mixture into the pan and spread evenly. Spray sheet of waxed paper with canola oil spray; place the waxed paper on to of the mixture, spray side down, and pack down gently with your hands. Cut into 12 bars. For maximum freshness, store bars individually in snack bags and refrigerate for one month. Per serving: 260 calories.

Source: Clean Eating For Busy Families by Michelle Dudash, R.D. (Fair Winds, January 2013, $19.99).


Every New Year's Eve party should have a designated driver who doesn't imbibe. Hot Spiced Percolator Punch on

page 12 of my cookbook is the perfect beverage for all who prefer a non-alcoholic drink. A good host should offer an alternative.


1 (46-ounce) can unsweetened pineapple juice

8 cups cranberry juice cocktail

2 cups water

3/4 cups light brown sugar

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon whole cloves

12 inches cinnamon sticks

Peel from 1 orange, cut in thin strips

Combine juices, water, brown sugar and salt in 24 to 30 cup automatic percolator. Place cloves, cinnamon sticks and orange peel in coffee basket. Assemble coffee maker, plug in percolator. Recipe makes about 25 (6-ounce) servings.

Source: Thank You, Glad You Liked It, by Mary Thaman.


In addition to eating healthier, exercise is another one to consider. According to the January 2013, University of California, Berkeley, Wellness Letter, about half of Americans are basically sedentary .... That is, they rarely if ever exercise and seldom do any sustained physical activity reports John Swartzberg, M.D., Chair of its Editorial Board. To counter the inertia, the Wellness Letter constantly reports on research highlighting the wide array of health benefits of exercise. But for many people, promoting exercise for its long-term health benefits isn't very effective. One of the best ways to "sell" exercise is to focus on immediate perks. For Swartzberg, it energizes him for the evening, destresses the mind, reduces anxiety and gives him a sense of well-being. Several years ago he started listening to audio books while exercising and now "reads" a couple books a month and his half hour or 15 minutes of weight training goes by in no time. But you don't have to go to a gym or health club. There are simple exercises you can do at home including using chairs, light weights, a jump rope or whatever is at hand. You can walk briskly outdoors or at a mall, even more beneficial.

Finally, try to be more grateful in 2013. It's difficult to be stressed out when you're grateful. Gratitude doesn't cost a thing and its rewards are many: It's what keeps me going with only a few relapses now and then!


Download PDF of Memo #2299

La Bella Lasagna

We're about to start a new year - cheers to 2013! Growing up, we always kicked off the brand new year with a big family dinner. My grandma's birthday was on January 1st, so we all gathered together to celebrate with one last final holiday hurrah before returning to normal life. (Is there such a thing?) I kind of always assumed that every family celebrated New Year's Day with a family feast. After asking my husband what his family did when he was little, I realized my family might have just been celebrating a birthday. That happened to fall on New Year's Day. Oh well, any excuse to cook a delicious meal! ;) I remember we always had one of the classic family recipes for dinner - Chicken Cacciatore, Chicken Supreme with Creamy Rice, or my great-grandma's La Bella Lasagna. Served with the classic Orange Jell-O Salad, always. (Who says Jell-O doesn't go with lasagna? Jell-O goes with everything!)  

photo 2 (10)

  La Bella Lasagna is a classic lasagna, just like your grandma (or great-grandma) used to make. Layer after layer of noodles, homemade bolognese sauce, ricotta cheese, and mozzarella cheese combine to form a dish that's comfort food at its finest. It is a bit of a process, but it's worth every single step. Plus, it'll feed you for days! Start with the bolognese sauce. Brown some ground beef along with a diced onion. Add some canned tomatoes, tomato sauce, tomato paste, and seasonings and let it simmer about 45 minutes. Your house will smell wonderful... if other people are home, they will most likely wander into the kitchen asking to taste-test. This sauce is also delicious served over spaghetti if you don't want to fuss with lasagna.   IMG_2773   Once the sauce has simmered, mix together some ricotta cheese, parmesan cheese, and eggs. Set that aside.   IMG_2775   Grate up some mozzarella, and you're ready to assemble!   IMG_2776   Start by spreading a layer of sauce in the bottom of a 13x9-inch pan.   IMG_2777   Top with a layer of oven-ready lasagna noodles.   IMG_2778   Spread the noodles with the ricotta mixture, and then sprinkle with mozzarella cheese.   IMG_2780   Repeat the layers until you've filled up the pan, and top with the last of the mozzarella.   IMG_2781   Cover the dish with foil, and bake at 350*F for 30 minutes. Remove the foil, and bake an additional 20 minutes, until the noodles are cooked through and the lasagna is bubbling.   photo 1 (9)   Serve it up with salad and garlic bread, and you've got one heck-of-a-meal! Happy New Year!   ______________________________________________________________________________________________________

La Bella Lasagna

Servings/Yield: 9x13-inch pan
  • Spaghetti Sauce (recipe below)
  • 2 cups ricotta cheese
  • cup parmesan cheese
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon pepper
  • 1 lb. mozzarella cheese, shredded
  • 1 lb. oven-ready lasagna noodles
Method Combine ricotta and parmesan cheese. Add eggs, salt, and pepper. To assemble lasagna, pour thin layer of sauce in bottom of 9x13-inch pan. Cover with noodles. Spread ricotta mixture over noodles. Sprinkle mozzarella over ricotta mixture. Repeat starting with sauce. Cover and bake for 20 minutes at 350*F. Uncover and bake 20 minutes more, until noodles are tender. Let set 10 minutes before serving for easier cutting.  

Spaghetti Sauce

Servings/Yield: 6-8 servings
  • 1 ½ lbs. ground beef
  • ½ onion, chopped
  • 1 clove minced garlic
  • 2 tablespoons chopped parsley
  • 1 tablespoon basil
  • 1 ½ teaspoons salt
  • 16-oz. can tomatoes
  • 2 6-oz. cans tomato paste
  • 15-oz. can tomato sauce
  • 1 ½ cups water
Method Brown ground beef and onion. Drain off fat. Add garlic, parsley, basil, salt, tomatoes, tomato paste, tomato sauce, and water. Simmer 30 to 45 minutes, stirring occasionally. Serve over hot cooked noodles or in lasagna.   Source: family favorite (great-grandma Pearl!)    

Cranberry-Red Wine Meatballs

It's that time of year for festive holiday parties and open houses! It's always such fun to catch up with family & friends... and usually the food isn't too bad either. When I entertain, I love to put out a huge spread of various appetizers. It's less stressful than a sit-down formal dinner, and appetizer foods are way more fun. Probably because most appetizers include some sort of cheese, bacon, carb, or a combination of all three.   photo 3   My husband is a big fan of party meatballs - something I've never made. We hosted a small Christmas party for his employees, so I surprised him with a batch of Cranberry-Red Wine Meatballs. My mom has always made the grape jelly-chili sauce meatballs (which he loves), but these blew them out of the water! Made with cranberry sauce and red wine, there is a little extra zing that you don't expect from a typical party meatball. They're perfect for a party or open house, because you can just mix up the sauce and place them in a crock pot on low. Make twice as many as you think you'll need, because they'll go fast! For the sauce, just combine a can of whole berry cranberry sauce, some red wine, brown sugar, Chinese hot mustard, and Worcestershire sauce.   photo 1   I chose a merlot from the Mon Ami Winery up near Lake Erie, which is one of the oldest wineries in the state of Ohio. I love that we can get locally made wine right in store. Check out the wine section if you get a chance, there's lots of great selections!   IMG_2636 Let it simmer about 15 minutes until the sugar dissolves; then, add the meatballs and cook until they're heated through. Transfer to a crock pot or serve right away. photo 4 Sweet & tangy, these are so addicting. Give 'em a try! Looking for more appetizer recipes? Here's a few from the archives... check 'em out! ______________________________________________________________________________________________________

Cranberry-Red Wine Meatballs

Servings/Yield: 36 meatballs
  • 2 cups whole berry cranberry sauce (about 1 can)
  • ½ cup packed brown sugar
  • ¾ cup red wine
  • 2 teaspoons hot Chinese mustard
  • 2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 36 meatballs, cooked
Method Combine cranberry sauce, brown sugar, red wine, mustard, and Worcestershire sauce in a saucepan. Heat and stir to dissolve sugar; simmer 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add cooked meatballs, stirring to coat, and heat thoroughly. Meatballs and sauce can be placed in a crock pot on low. Source: Confections of a Foodie Bride

Mary’s Memo #2298

It's the night before Christmas and all through the house, not a creature is stirring except the cook of the house. She's made a list and checked it twice so that Christmas dinner will be flavorful and nice.

Turkey was (and still is) the favorite meat served when the Smith clan got together, even in the summertime, but with other families, prime rib, a crown roast of pork, leg of lamb or a spiral ham may take center stage at Christmas. Having an appetizer buffet or brunch are other options.

Because I wanted things done my way, I seldom asked other members of the family to contribute any of the food but I'm getting wiser in my older days and this Thanksgiving I did ask

for help and family members obliged! I even supervised grandson,

Gabe, carving the turkey.

Daughter-in-law Kelly has usually brought appetizers but this year I asked her to bring a large salad instead. One forkful and I knew it would be perfect for the Christmas memo. Kelly made several changes to Food Network's Pioneer Woman's Apple, Pecan, and Blue Cheese Salad with Dried Cherries, using Spring Mix salad greens, dried cranberries instead of cherries, crumbled gorgonzola cheese in place of blue cheese and she toasted the pecans. To the dressing she also added 1 to 2 tablespoons more of pure maple syrup because she thought mustard taste was too strong. The revised recipe is as follows:


12 oz. Spring Mix salad greens

2 whole apples, cored and sliced very thin

1/2 cup pecan halves, toasted

1/4 cup dried cranberries

6 oz. gorgonzola crumbled cheese (served on the side)

1 heaping tablespoon Dijon mustard

1 tablespoon pure maple syrup or more to taste

1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar

1/4 cup olive oil

Salt and pepper to taste

Add greens, apple slices, pecan halves and dried cranberries together in a large salad bowl. Because everyone doesn't like gorgonzola cheese, Kelly served this in a separate dish for people

to add. To make the dressing, in a small jar combine Dijon mustard, maple syrup, vinegar, olive oil, salt and pepper and shake well to mix. Just before serving pour a little salad dressing over the top of the salad and toss to combine. Taste salad and add more salad dressing to taste (you will have some left).

SOURCE: Pioneer Woman recipe adapted by Kelly Thaman,

Indianapolis, IN.


Daughter Mary Ann was the first to make Bok Choy Mushroom Stir-Fry from I liked the combination but told her I would thicken my version with cornstarch because I love things flavored with soy sauce and unless mixture is thickened and coats the vegetables, much of the juice remains in bottom of the serving dish (at least that's my opinion). But it's your call.


2 tablespoons canola oil

1 cup thinly sliced onions

1/2 cup chopped red bell pepper

4 cloves garlic, minced

1-1/2 teaspoons grated ginger

1 lb. coarsely chopped bok choy

8 oz. sliced mushrooms

2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

1 tablespoon La Choy soy sauce (it's gluten-free)

1 teaspoon sugar

1-1/2 teaspoons cornstarch

Heat oil in large heavy skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onions, pepper, garlic and ginger. Stir-fry for about 1 minute. Add the bok choy and mushrooms and stir-fry for about 1 minute. Whisk lemon juice, soy sauce, sugar and cornstarch together. Add to vegetable mixture and stir-fry for about 2 to 3 minutes, until done. Recipe makes 4 servings.

SOURCE: Adapted from recipe.


The so-called Mediterranean diet has been linked to living

longer. To start eating like a Mediterranean, try these simple

diet changes:

1. Drink alcohol in moderation.

2. Eat less meat and meat products

3. Eat more vegetables, fruits, legumes and nuts.

4. Choose more monounsaturated fats (like olive oil),

less saturated fat (like butter).

5. Eat more fish.

SOURCE: Tufts University Health & Nutrition Letter, December 2012.


It boggles my mind thinking about how much food trends have changed since I started writing Mary's Memo for Chief in the spring of 1968. I am gratified that customers of all ages make a point of taking a memo home each week. The food industry has made many improvements, either voluntarily or legislated. Labels are more informative for sure! Shoppers taste in food is more sophisticated, thanks to the Food Network and the internet in general. From what I've observed, men are assuming more culinary responsibilities and the kitchen's no longer a woman's domain. Through all these changes Chief and Rays try their best to accommodate shoppers' demands.


Download PDF of Memo #2298

Mary’s Memo #2297


I do envy younger Chief and Rays shoppers who seem
to have unlimited energy getting ready for Christmas. With
me the “spirit is willing but the flesh is weak!” With four
children and working I learned early on about time management but I still “burned the midnight oil” some nights before Christmas. I gave away trays and trays of cookies to friends …. so many that I had them scattered about the kitchen, filling with cookies assembly- line fashion. One year at midnight mass when I could hardly stay awake, it finally dawned on me that I may have had a lapse of memory about the “reason for the season.” From then on, trays were eliminated and whenever cookies were baked during the year I set some aside to take to a friend or friends, depending on the size of the batch. There are several people who still get Christmas cookies from me but no more trays by the dozen from this house!


The most important thing about a cookie is the taste so
start with the best ingredients you can afford. Nothing gives
a cookie a better flavor than butter. (I stock up and freeze it
when Chief and Rays’ butter is on sale). Another flavor enhancer is toasted nuts, whether recipe says to toast or not. The easiest way to do it is in a large non-stick skillet over medium heat. Stir frequently until nuts give off an aroma, about 5 minutes.

After having old baking soda spoil a batch of peanut brittle
last year, I started with fresh boxes of baking soda and baking powder. Pure vanilla extract is best because imitation vanilla flavor freezes out.

Thanks to major help from daughter Mary Ann on Thanksgiving weekend, we both have 6 kinds of cookies, already frozen.


The holiday season is a good time to keep track of what
you’re eating, especially if you’re concerned about weight
loss, keeping track of all foods eaten, portion sizes and time of intake can help you be accountable for every calorie that goes into your body. It is surprising how easy it is for uncounted calories to add up from foods between meals, or from larger-than-expected portion sizes. Also include how hungry you are and how you are feeling at the time; some people find that they eat when they are bored, sad or frustrated, even if they are not very hungry. This can help identify emotions and situations that trigger unhealthy eating behaviors.SOURCE: Weill Cornell Medical College Women’s Nutrition

Connection, December 2012.


In a study published recently in the Journal of the Academy
of Nutrition and Dietetics, participants ate a larger quantity of vegetables overall when they were served three different types of veggies at a meal rather than a single vegetable.
SOURCE: Consumer Reports on Health, December 2012.


Five general rules are:
1. Start with a clean kitchen including cutting surfaces, colander, knives and sink.
2. Wash your hands well before handling produce.
3. Rinse produce under cold running water. In some cases
you’ll want to use a brush for extra cleaning.
4. Blot dry with a paper towel or clean cloth to reduce any
pathogens that may be present.
5. Wash fruits and vegetables before you plan to eat them.
Washing and then storing can promote mold and bacterial
SOURCE: University of California, Berkeley, Wellness Letter, December 2012.


Mary’s Memo 31 & 32 in 1968 featured 10 cookie recipes.
One that Daddy liked especially well was Ambrosia Drop Cookies. Do any of you remember this one?



1/2 cup butter

1/2 cup sugar

1 egg

1 cup + 1-1/2 tablespoons unsifted flour

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon zest of orange

1 cup toasted chopped pecans

1 cup flaked coconut

Additional pecan halves

Cream butter; add sugar gradually and cream until light and
fluffy. Add egg and beat well. Mix dry ingredients together
and add to creamed mixture until blended. Stir in zest of orange, chopped nuts and coconut. On cookie sheets lined with parchment paper drop dough by teaspoonfuls onto prepared sheets and press a pecan half into center of each cookie. Bake in 375ºF oven until lightly browned, about 10 to 12 minutes. Recipe makes 3 dozen.
Download PDF of Memo #2297

Red Velvet Cheesecake

Every Christmas celebration needs a show stopper dessert. And that's what I have for you today - Red Velvet Cheesecake!  


  For some reason, I always associate red velvet-anything with Christmas. Last year, I went on a red velvet kick - red velvet chocolate chip cookies, red velvet brownies, red velvet fudge, and even red velvet rice krispy treats! Something about the red tint to the desserts automatically puts me in the Christmas spirit. (Not to say I would turn down a red velvet dessert in a month other than December...) Red Velvet Cheesecake takes red velvet cake to another level. Red velvet cake layered with real cheesecake, all covered in fluffy cream cheese frosting. It's like two desserts in one!  


  I first saw the idea on the menu at the Cheesecake Factory, and I've been wanting to give it a try myself ever since. I knew it would be perfect for Christmas - one of the only times of year such an extravagant dessert would be worth it. Don't be intimidated by the long recipe! It does take awhile; but each of the stages are pretty simple. I spread the process out over two days to make it a bit easier. I made the cheesecake and cakes on a Saturday night, and then assembled the cake the following afternoon. Let's get started! First, whip up your cheesecake batter. Cream cheese, sugar, eggs, cream, vanilla extract. Pretty simple! Into the spring form pan, and into the oven.   IMG_2596   Then, the red velvet cake batter. It is RED! Don't be alarmed by the 6 tablespoons of red food coloring. :)   IMG_2599   Once everything has baked, let the cakes and cheesecake cool; then pop the cheesecake in the fridge for several hours. (I just let it chill overnight.)   IMG_2601   When you're ready to assemble, whip up the cream cheese frosting. Cream cheese, butter, vanilla extract, powdered sugar. Can't go wrong there! Once it's all mixed up; whip it on high for 3-4 minutes to make it really fluffy.   IMG_2607   Now for the assembly. Pick your prettiest cake pedestal. (This is a show stopper dessert, after all!) Place one of the red velvet cake layers on the cake stand. Spread it with a very thin layer of cream cheese frosting. This is just to glue the cheesecake down.   IMG_2610   Next, remove the cheesecake from the spring form pan and very carefully place it on top of the bottom cake layer. The good news - if you mess it up, you won't be able to tell once you have it all frosted. Mine completely broke into a few pieces and it still turned out fabulous! (Just don't tell anyone...)   IMG_2614   Top with the last cake layer, and you're ready to frost.   IMG_2615   Cover the top and sides with the cream cheese frosting, and decorate as you wish! I just did a simple swirl around the edge and topped it with some Christmas sprinkles.   IMG_2616   This dessert will most certainly WOW your guests! Each bite has the perfect combination of creamy cheesecake with moist red velvet cake. It's decadent and absolutely delicious.  



Red Velvet Cheesecake

Servings/Yield: 16 servings
  • For the cheesecake
    • 4 8-oz packages cream cheese, softened
    • cups granulated sugar
    • 4 eggs
    • ¾ cup heavy cream
    • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • For the red velvet cake
    • 1 cup unsalted butter, softened
    • cups granulated sugar
    • 2 eggs
    • ¼ cup + 1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder
    • 6 tablespoons liquid red food coloring
    • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
    • 1 cup buttermilk
    • cups all-purpose flour
    • 1 teaspoon baking soda
    • 1 teaspoon salt
    • 1 tablespoon distilled white vinegar
  • For the cream cheese frosting
    • 8-oz package cream cheese, softened
    • ¼ cup unsalted butter, softened
    • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
    • 5 cups powdered sugar
    • 2-4 tablespoons heavy whipping cream
  Method For the cheesecake: Preheat oven to 350*F. Spray a spring form pan with cooking spray. Beat cream cheese with sugar until completely smooth. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Scrape down the bowl as needed. Add heavy cream and vanilla extract; beat until fully incorporated. Pour batter into prepared pan; bake 50-60 minutes until the edges are set but the very middle jiggles a little. Remove from oven and cool on wire rack; refrigerate until firm. For the red velvet cake: Preheat oven to 350*F. Line two 9-inch cake pans with parchment paper, spray with cooking spray, and coat with flour. In a mixing bowl, cream butter with sugar until light and fluffy. Turn the mixer to high and add eggs one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Scrap down the bowl and beat until well incorporated. In a small bowl, combine cocoa powder, red food coloring, and vanilla extract to form a paste. Add to mixing bowl and beat until smooth, scraping the sides as you go. Reduce the mixer to low and add half the buttermilk, followed by half the flour; mix until combined. Repeat with remaining buttermilk and flour; beat on high until smooth. Add salt, baking soda, and vinegar; turn mixer to high and beat a couple minutes until completely combined and smooth. Spread batter in prepared pans; bake about 30 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes; then remove cakes from pans and let cool completely on a wire rack. For the cream cheese frosting: Beat cream cheese and butter until smooth. Add vanilla extract and powdered sugar; mix to combine. Add enough of the heavy cream to hold it together. Beat a few minutes on high until light and fluffy. To assemble cake: Place one layer of red velvet cake on cake stand. Spread a thin layer of frosting on top. Remove cheesecake from spring form pan and place on top of cake. Spread with a thin layer of frosting. Top with remaining red velvet cake layer. Frost outside and top with remaining cream cheese frosting. Store in refrigerator. Source: adapted from Brown Eyed Baker

Mary’s Memo #2296


Maybe it’s my age but this time of year I think about family and friends who are no longer here, especially those who shared recipes with me that I use at holiday time such as Daddy’s peanut brittle, Mother’s cranberry salad, and Milli Simerl’s chocolate chip cookies. Milli kept her chocolate chip cookie dough balls frozen and when you went to her home she took a dozen frozen balls from the freezer and baked them to serve with a cup of tea and then sent the rest home with her guest. Sorry to say but this kind of hospitality is almost extinct!

Milli’s cookie recipe is in my cookbook on page 101. If
you haven’t made them, do make a batch for your guests
this Christmas. Regarding “Thank You, I’m Glad You Like
It,” only about a dozen copies are still available. If you’ve
held out buying one or giving it as a gift, you should purchase it before the end of the year. The Bryan Chamber of Commerce and Sauder Farm and Craft Village gift shop in Archbold still have a book or two. You can also buy a copy from me when I am working at the Bryan Chief. It goes
without saying that I appreciate all of you who bought copies before now! For that reason there’ll not be a closeout sale.


Some of you don’t care and that’s okay with me, but
I am concerned about where my food is grown and processed, whether fresh, frozen or canned. First, I have no problem with Canadian foods because their standards are even higher than here in the US.

Awhile back, my niece sent me an email forward that
contained alarming information about Green Giant frozen
vegetables being grown and processed in China. I checked
it out on the internet and sure enough Green Giant frozen
vegetables and canned ones, too, come from China! Since I planned to serve the “who-doesn’t-like-it” green bean casserole at my holiday dinner, I found one brand that grows and processes green beans in the US and that’s Libby's. For this reason I bought Libby's cream style and whole kernel corn for Jo Cunningham’s corn casserole in my cookbook.


Maybe, according to a 12-year study of 1,031 Finnish
men. Those with higher blood levels of lycopene, a potent
antioxidant found in tomatoes and other red produce, were
55 percent less likely to have a stroke compared with men
who had the lowest lycopene levels, though the researchers pointed out that the overall number of strokes noted in the study was small (76 total). The findings were published in the October 9, 2012 issue of the journal Neurology.
SOURCE: ConsumerReports On Health, December 2012.


I know I have a winner when shoppers decide to buy ingredients before they leave the store or remark about what they’ve sampled to the Chief associate checking them out. That was the case recently with Sweet Potato Pear Casserole from the Sarasota, FL Junior League Cookbook. Although I think Thanksgiving/Christmas Sweet Potatoes in
my cookbook is the very best, this one is good and with far
less calories! Chief and Rays do not carry pear brandy, so I
replaced it with Triple Sec to complement the orange juice
and the least expensive orange liqueur.



6 large sweet potatoes, peeled

6 ripe Bartlett pears, peeled
and each cut into 8 wedges

3/4 cup packed light brown sugar

1/2 cup orange juice

1/3 cup Triple Sec

1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter

1/2 cup golden raisins

Cut sweet potatoes into 1/2 inch slices. Cook in enough water to cover in a Dutch oven and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and simmer, but avoid overcooking, for 10 to 15 minutes. Preheat oven to 375ºF. Layer sweet potatoes and pears alternately in a 9x13-inch baking dish. Combine the brown sugar, orange juice, Triple Sec, butter and raisins in a small saucepan over medium heat until brown sugar dissolves and butter melts. Pour over prepared layers and bake 30 minutes or until light brown and bubbly. Serve immediately. Yields 10 to 12 servings. Note: This can be made ahead for baking the night before.
SOURCE: Adapted from recipe in Simply Sarasota Creative
Casual Cuisine by the Junior League of Sarasota.


I limit most of my personal driving to Bryan so I’ve been
amazed at the number of stocking stuffer gifts for cooks,
edible and non-edible, that I’ve found at the Chief. Who
says Christmas fun is just for children! With “my best-oftime-
is-now” philosophy anyone can enjoy this custom!
Download PDF of Memo #2296

Mary’s Memo #9997


Before I did Chiefly Foods at our local radio station and demos at the Bryan Chief, I sent relatives and friends a recipe sheet featuring the best recipes I had tried that year. Then during my 28 year tenure at the radio station listeners could send for the recipes. Chief took over distribution when I started doing fresh produce demos of my choosing at their Bryan location in 1991. Hopefully this collection appeals to you as much as it did to me.


1 lb. bite-size balls of fresh mozzarella cheese or

fresh mozzarella cut into 24 bite-size pieces

24 fresh basil leaves

1 pint grape or cherry tomatoes

Juice of 1 lemon

Extra virgin oil for drizzling

Salt and pepper to taste

Wrap each ball or piece of fresh mozzarella with a basil leaf. Thread bamboo skewers or wooden toothpicks with 1 tomato, 1 wrapped mozzarella ball or piece and 1 more tomato. Arrange skewers on a platter and drizzle with lemon juice and olive oil. Season with salt and pepper. You may prepare in advance and store covered in the refrigerator. Drizzle with lemon juice and olive oil just before serving. Recipe serves 10 to 12.

SOURCE: California Mosaic by Junior League of Pasadena, Inc.


2/3 cup panko bread crumbs

2/3 cup Parmesan cheese

1 tablespoon Italian herb seasoning

1-1/2 teaspoons garlic salt

1/8 teaspoon crushed red pepper

1/2 cup flour

2 beaten eggs

1-1/2 pounds very small red potatoes

O live oil cooking spray

Marinara sauce and pesto sauce for dipping

Preheat oven to 400ºF. Line a baking sheet with foil. Stir panko crumbs, cheese, herbs, salt and pepper in a small bowl. Place flour and eggs in 2 additional small bowls. Place potatoes on prepared baking sheet and spray liberally with olive oil spray. Roll each in flour, then egg, then crumb mixture, coating well with each step. R eturn to baking sheet and spray again. Bake 35 to 40 minutes until potatoes are lightly browned and tender. Serve with dipping sauces.

Recipe makes 8 appetizer servings.

SOURCE: United States Potato Board


1 cup chopped walnuts

1/2 cup balsamic vinegar

1/3 cup Smucker’s O rchard’s Finest Northwest

Triple Berry Preserves

1/3 cup light olive oil

Salt and fresh ground pepper to taste

2 (5-oz) packages spring greens with baby spinach mix

2 cups fresh blueberries

1 small red onion, halved and sliced

1 cup crumbled blue cheese

Heat the walnuts in a small skillet over medium-high heat,

stirring constantly, about 5 minutes, or until toasted and

fragrant. Whisk together balsamic vinegar, Triple Berry

Preserves, olive oil and salt and pepper to taste. C ombine

walnuts, greens, blueberries, red onion and blue cheese.

Drizzle with desired amount of dressing. R ecipe makes 8


SOURCE: Adapted from Southern Living magazine recipe.

February, 2012.


3 tablespoons light olive oil

1-1/2 tablespoons red wine vinegar

1/4 cup fresh mint leaves, finely chopped

1/4 cup flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt or to taste

Freshly ground pepper to taste

2 cups halved cherry tomatoes

(regular cherry or grape, yellow pear shaped and


Whisk together olive oil, vinegar, mint, parsley, salt and

pepper. Add cherry tomatoes and gently combine. Recipe

makes 4 servings. Better served the same day it is made.


2 teaspoons light olive oil, separated

6 cups Glory brand ready-to-cook kale

8-ounce package sliced button mushrooms

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon white pepper

1/2 teaspoon dry mustard

1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves or 1 teaspoon dry

5 large eggs
1 cup sour cream or reduced-fat kind

1/4 cup water

2/3 cup shredded Swiss cheese

1 prepared 9-inch pie crust

Preheat oven to 400ºF. Heat 1 teaspoon oil in a large nonstick pan over medium low heat. Add kale and cook, stirring occasionally, until reduced in volume by half. Transfer to a bowl. Add second teaspoon of oil, add mushroom slices and cook, stirring often, until they have released their water and begin to brown. R eturn kale to pan. Stir in salt, pepper, mustard and thyme. In medium bowl whisk together the eggs, sour cream and water. Reduce oven temperature to 350ºF. Spoon filling into prepared pastry shell. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes or until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean. Let stand for 5 minutes before cutting into 6 wedges and serving.

SOURCE: Adapted from Fresh Market recipe.


1/4 teaspoon dried basil

1/2 teaspoon thyme

Salt and pepper to taste

4 lamb chops, about 1-inch thick

1 tablespoon olive oil

1/4 cup chopped onion or shallots

1/3 cup balsamic vinegar

3/4 cup chicken broth

1 tablespoon butter

Mix basil, thyme, salt and pepper together and rub on chops. C over and let set for at least 15 minutes. Then heat olive oil on medium-high heat in a skillet. C ook chops 3-1/2 minutes per side. R emove and keep warm. To the skillet, add chopped onion or shallots. Cook until slightly

browned. Stir in balsamic vinegar, scraping bits from bottom. Add chicken broth. Cook over medium high heat about 5 minutes or until reduced in half. R emove from heat and add butter. Pour over chops and serve. Note: Lamb is something I never fix for myself but these lamb chops are the best I have ever eaten!

SOURCE: Lynnette Diaz, Bryan, O H.


8 boneless, skinless chicken thighs

Salt and pepper to taste

1 can Campbell’s Healthy R equest cream of

mushroom soup

1 teaspoon dried minced onion

1 teaspoon dried parsley

1/4 cup white wine

1/4 teaspoon garlic powder

1 tablespoon milk

1 (8-oz) can mushroom stems and pieces, drained

1 tablespoon Minute Tapioca

Arrange thighs in a 5 to 6-quart slow cooker. Salt and

pepper to taste. Mix together soup, onion, parsley, wine,

garlic powder, milk, mushrooms and Minute Tapioca. Spoon

mixture over thighs. C over and start on high for 1 hour.

Reduce temperature to low and cook an additional 4 to 5

hours. Recipe makes 4 servings.

Source: Adapted from recipe.


1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened

3/4 cup sugar

1 large egg, at room temperature

1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1 cup creamy peanut butter

1-1/2 cups unsifted all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 (18-oz) jar strawberry preserves

2/3 cup salted peanuts

2/3 cup Reese's peanut butter chips

Preheat oven to 350ºF. Butter and lightly flour a 9x13-inch

baking pan. U sing an electric mixer on medium speed, cream butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. Lower speed; add egg, vanilla and peanut butter and beat until combined. Stir flour, baking powder and salt together. On low speed, slowly add flour mixture to peanut butter mixture. Mix until just combined. Set aside 1/2 cup dough. Using your fingertips, press remaining dough into an even layer in pan. Spread preserves over dough. C rumble reserved 1/2 cup dough over preserves and then sprinkle with peanuts and peanut butter chips. Bake until golden and bubbly, about 40 to 45 minutes. When cool cut into 3 dozen bars. Can be frozen.

SOURCE: Recipe adapted from All You recipe.


1 cup butter, softened

1/2 cup solid vegetable shortening (like C risco)

3 cups sugar

6 large eggs

3 cups all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/8 teaspoon salt

1 cup milk

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1 teaspoon lime zest

1/4 cup fresh lime juice

Lime Glaze

Preheat oven to 325ºF. Beat butter and shortening at medium speed with a heavy-duty electric stand mixer until creamy. Gradually add sugar beating at medium speed until light and fluffy. Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating just until blended. Whisk flour, baking powder and salt together. Add to butter mixture alternately with milk, beginning and ending with flour mixture. Beat just until blended after each addition. Stir in vanilla, lime zest and lime juice. Pour batter into a greased and flowered 12-cup (no less) tube pan. Bake for 1 hour and 15 minutes to 1 hour and 20 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. C ool on wire rack 10 to 15 minutes; remove from pan to wire rack. Prepare Lime Glaze and immediately brush over top and sides of cake. Cool completely (about 1 hour). To make glaze, whisk together 1 cup powdered sugar, 2 tablespoons lime juice and 1 teaspoon vanilla until smooth. Apply to cake with a pastry brush.

SOURCE: Adapted from Southern Living recipe, March

Download PDF of Memo #9997

Cherry-and-Chili Glazed Ham… and what to do with the leftovers!

Christmas + ham. It's pretty much a given, right? Every year, on Christmas Eve, my grandma cooks up a delicious ham. I think it's the only time of year that I ever even eat ham! But it's always so good.  

  When I had the opportunity to prepare and taste-test a Chief Spiral Sliced Ham this week, I was all sorts of excited. It's like Christmas came 3 weeks early! I consulted my latest Rachael Ray magazine and decided to make a Cherry-and-Chili glaze for the ham. The sweet and savory glaze is added in the last few minutes of baking to add that extra bit of flavor to the outside. (The crispy edges might have just been my favorite part.) After smelling the ham for 2 hours, it was finally time to dig in! The ham was sweet, smoky, and perfectly tender. It would make a wonderful centerpiece for a special occasion meal. (Or ya know, a random Tuesday night in December, how we enjoyed it.) The best part - it's not intimidating at all! Nothing like its holiday cousin, the roasted turkey. :)     Simply remove the ham from its packaging and place in a roasting pan! It's already fully-cooked, so you're basically heating it up and adding the glaze.   Bake in a 250*F oven for about 2 hours. While it's baking prepare the glaze. You should have plenty of time. ;) Combine 1/2 cup cherry preserves with some brown sugar, chili powder, dijon mustard, ginger, cayenne, salt, and pepper. Bring it to a simmer to dissolve the sugar, and then it's ready!     After the ham has baked for 2 hours, increase the oven to 400*F and pour about half the glaze over the ham. Let it roast about 12-15 minutes, until hot and sizzling. That's it! Serve it up with the remaining cherry-and-chili glaze.     You can be really gourmet, and serve it up with some box mac & cheese like I did... hehe. It would go wonderfully with all the typical holiday sides, as well. And the best part - LEFTOVERS! Nothing is better than a ham & cheese sandwich with leftover Christmas ham. I've got a great little appetizer you can prepare with the leftover ham - Oven-Baked Ham & Cheese Sliders, mini ham & cheese sandwiches baked in a tasty buttery-poppy seed sauce.  

  Take some good quality butter rolls, leftover ham, cheese, and your favorite sandwich spread. Assemble as many little sandwiches as you want.  

  For the sauce, melt some butter, and add in Worcestershire sauce, minced onion flakes, poppy seeds, and dijon mustard (if desired). Pour it all over the sandwiches, cover with foil and bake in a 350*F oven until the cheese melts. Remove the foil and let them crisp up for a few minutes, and serve.  

  These little sandwiches may be small, but they're completely irresistible! Definitely give them a try if you've got some leftover ham.   ______________________________________________________________________________________________________

Cherry-and-Chili Glazed Ham

Servings/Yield: 12-14 servings
  • 1 Chief fully cooked spiral-sliced ham, (8 lbs.)
  • ½ cup cherry preserves
  • ¼ cup brown sugar
  • 3 tablespoons dijon mustard
  • 2 teaspoons chili powder
  • ¼ teaspoon ground ginger
  • pinch cayenne pepper
  • salt & pepper, to taste
Method Preheat to 250*F. Place ham in roasting pan and cover with foil. Roast for 2 hours. Meanwhile, combine preserves, brown sugar, mustard, chili powder, ginger, salt, & pepper in a small saucepan. Bring to a simmer, stirring, to dissolve the sugar. Remove foil from ham and brush with about half of the glaze. Increase the oven temperature to 400*F and roast about 12-15 more minutes, until surface is dark brown and sizzling. Let rest 10 minutes before serving. Serve with remaining glaze. Source: adapted from Rachael Ray ______________________________________________________________________________________________________

Ham & Cheese Sliders

Servings/Yield: 24 sliders
  • For the sliders
    • 24 butter rolls
    • sliced roasted ham
    • 24 small slices swiss cheese
    • mustard & mayo, if desired
  • For the sauce
    • ½ cup butter
    • tablespoons dijon mustard, (can be omitted)
    • 1 tablespoon minced onion
    • ½ teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
    • 1 tablespoon poppy seeds
Method Preheat oven to 350*F. Assemble sandwiches as desired, and place in a baking dish, very close together. For sauce, melt butter, and add mustard, minced onion, Worcestershire sauce, and poppy seeds. Pour sauce evenly over sandwiches. Cover with foil. Bake at 350*F for 12-15 minutes until cheese is melted. Uncover and bake an additional 2-3 minutes until tops are slightly brown and crispy. Serve warm. Source: The Girl Who Ate Everything

Holiday Gifts from the Kitchen

December is upon us and that mean one thing - time to get ready for the holidays! The Christmas season is my favorite time of year. Something about all the lights, festive music, and gift giving always puts me in a good mood. (Snow days aren't too bad either... hehe.) Each year, I always try to give a few homemade gifts to friends and family. It's always fun to get a little creative, and it feels special to give somebody something you actually made yourself. Today, I'm sharing with you three homemade gifts from the kitchen - Cookie Dough Truffles, Orange-Glazed Pecans, and Buckeye Popcorn. Anybody who likes to eat would love any of these treats! --- First up, Cookie Dough Truffles. How do I even describe these? All the things you love about cookie dough, coated in a chocolatey shell. And before you ask, there's no risk of salmonella because there's no eggs! I dare you to eat just one.  

  They're super easy to make, too. Just mix up the dough, shape it into balls, and refrigerate for an hour or two. Once they are chilled, melt some chocolate chips and dip away! I always use a fork when dipping truffles; it seems to get the excess chocolate off the easiest.   --- Next up, Orange-Glazed Pecans. My mom has been making these ever since I can remember. Christmas wouldn't be Christmas without the smell of these pecans wafting through the house!  

  Just three ingredients - pecans, orange juice, and brown sugar. Just combine the orange juice and brown sugar, and toss over the pecans. Lay out on a greased, foil-lined baking sheet, and bake at 350*F for 10-13 minutes.  

  These make a perfect gift for any nut-lovers out there. How cute are they, packaged up in mugs?  

  --- And finally, Buckeye Caramel Corn. If you are a peanut butter-chocolate fanatic like myself, you will go crazy for this. Sweet crunchy caramel corn, combined with honey-roasted peanuts, and drizzled with peanut butter and semisweet chocolate! Yum.     I have always been intimidated by caramel corn, but this recipe proved that it's actually pretty easy! Start with 2 bags of popped popcorn. (About 18-20 cups.)  

  For the caramel sauce, combine the butter, brown sugar, corn syrup, and salt; bring it to a boil.  

  Once it's boiling, let it boil for 3 minutes WITHOUT stirring.  

Remove from the heat and stir in the peanut butter and a bit of vanilla extract.  

  Pour this over the popcorn, and distribute evenly.     Spread the popcorn across a couple baking sheets, and bake at 250*F for one hour, stirring every 15 minutes.  

  Once the popcorn has cooled, it's time for the good stuff - the peanut butter and chocolate drizzle.     For the peanut butter drizzle, melt 2 cups of peanut butter chips with a bit of vegetable shortening. Drizzle all over the popcorn, stirring to coat evenly.  

  For the semisweet chocolate drizzle, melt 1 cup of semisweet chocolate chips. I decided to get fancy and drizzle it using a ziploc bag. Transfer the chocolate to a ziploc bag and cut one of the corners. Voila! Instant pastry bag.  

  Just let the chocolate set up, package, and enjoy!     I ordered these cute little boxes online, and think they would make perfect little gifts, filled with yummy caramel corn. Hope you enjoy these gift ideas! Spread a little Christmas cheer to those you love. :) ______________________________________________________________________________________________________

Cookie Dough Truffles

Servings/Yield: 6 dozen
  • ½ cup butter, softened
  • ¾ cup brown sugar
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 14-oz. can sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 cup mini chocolate chips
  • ¾ cup chopped walnuts
  • 2 12-oz. bags semisweet chocolate chips
  • 1-2 tbsp. shortening
Method Blend together butter, brown sugar, and vanilla. Beat in flour alternately with sweetened condensed milk. Shape into 3/4-inch balls and place on parchment-lined or wax paper-lined baking sheets. Refrigerate 1-2 hours until firm. Melt chocolate chips with 1-2 tbsp. shortening until smooth. Remove balls from refrigerator and dip each into the melted chocolate, covering completely. Place onto lined baking sheets. Let sit until firm, or refrigerate until firm to speed up the process. Store in refrigerator. Source: Taste of Home ______________________________________________________________________________________________________

Orange-Glazed Pecans

Servings/Yield: 4 cups
  • 1 cup packed brown sugar
  • cup orange juice
  • 4 cups pecan halves
Method Preheat oven to 350*F. Line a 15x10-inch jelly roll pan with foil, and grease the foil with butter. In a bowl, combine brown sugar and orange juice until smooth. Stir in pecans. Spread onto foil-lined jelly roll pan as evenly as possible. Bake in preheated oven 10-13 minutes, stirring occasionally until bubbly and fragrant. Remove from oven and immediately dump nuts onto another foil-lined, greased baking sheet. Move quickly, because they will stick! When set, break into pieces/individual nuts. Enjoy! (And have fun cleaning up the pans... bwa ha ha...) Source: my mom ______________________________________________________________________________________________________

Buckeye Caramel Corn

Servings/Yield: 20 cups
  • 20 cups popped popcorn, (about 2 bags of microwave popcorn)
  • tablespoons butter
  • cup packed brown sugar
  • cup light corn syrup
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ cup creamy peanut butter
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup honey roasted peanuts
  • 2 cups peanut butter chips
  • ½ tablespoon vegetable shortening
  • cup semisweet chocolate chips
Method Preheat oven to 250*F. Spray two large baking sheets with nonstick spray. Place popcorn in a large bowl. For the caramel, melt butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Stir in brown sugar, corn syrup, and salt; bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Let boil 3 minutes without stirring. Remove pan from heat; stir in peanut butter and vanilla extract. Pour over popcorn and mix to combine. Spread popcorn evenly into the prepared pans. Bake at 250*F for one hour, stirring every 15 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool completely. Break into pieces and stir in honey roasted peanuts. Combine peanut butter chips with vegetable shortening in a microwaveable bowl. Microwave 2 minutes or until smooth, stirring every 30 seconds. Drizzle over popcorn and toss to combine. Melt the semisweet chips in the same manner (no shortening this time), and transfer to a ziploc bag. Snip a corner off the bag and drizzle over popcorn. Place pans in refrigerator until chocolate has hardened. Break into small pieces. Store in airtight container. Source: Sweet Pea's Kitchen