Monthly Archives: March 2013

Mary’s Memo #2311


The 8-Week Healthy Skin Diet by Karen Fischer (www.; March 30, 2013; $24.95) is a common sense diet and lifestyle program designed to fit into your life. Whatever your skin type or skin condition, you'll find all the help you need in this book. Whether the health of your skin is just okay or out of control, you can be looking fantastic within 8 weeks by following a holistic, natural approach. Since the recipe for beautiful skin begins in the kitchen, foods are matched to your specific skin problem and type. Specific instructions are included to target each skin condition, and over 100 recipes, as well as menu plans, provide all the tools that are needed to improve your skin.

Specific conditions that can be helped by the healthy skin diet are eczema/dermatitis/contact dermatitis, psoriasis, rosacea, dandruff, acne, cellulite, hives, premature aging and wrinkles, dark circles under the eyes and food intolerances to name a few. Karen Fischer is a former model and award winning author

and believes that the skin's appearance is one of the main indicators of overall health. For the last decade Karen has helped hundreds of patients gain beautiful skin and has made it her goal to make nutrition and health interesting and accesible to everyone. Fischer's The Healthy Skin Diet (Australian edition) was awarded 'Best Health, Nutrition or Specific Diet Book' at the 2008 Food Media Awards. Karen lives in Australia.


Made of corncobs and peach pits, these pliable cleaners ($9.00 for 2) resemble cooked noodles and come in two textures. The Course blend is best for stainless-steel pots and pans; use the gentle version for non-stick surfaces. There's also a Full Circle Walnut Scrubber is a plant-based cellulose sponge ($4.00) topped with an abrasive material made from walnut shells. These eco-friendly cleaners can lift stuck-on food, but won't scratch surfaces. Finally, there's the Twist Loofah Sponge ($5.00 for 2) that is free of dyes and plastic, compostable and 100% biodegradable. For more information log on to Pot Scrubbers Made from Sustainable Materials, March 8, 2013. 


Look for label symbols that indicate that you're buying

a cleaner whose ingredients probably pose less harm to humans and whose claims have been verfied by an independent certifier. Examples of certified claims include Certified Biodegradable, Design for the Environment, Green Guard and Green Seal. In Consumers Reports' latest ratings, cleaners from Green Works, whose labels bear the Design for the Environment seal and Seventh Generation, whose labels disclose all of their ingredients, were among the better spray cleaners. "Don't rely on labels that claim the product is 'natural,' which doesn't always mean the product is not toxic or non-irritating," says Urvashi Rangan, Ph.D, director of consumer safety and sustainability at Consumer Reports.

SOURCE: Consumer Reports on Health, April 2013.


I served Colcannon at the Bryan Chief on St. Patrick's Day weekend. Adults and most children gave it a "thumbs up" and a lot said they planned to make the side dish for Easter. It's so good I see no reason to reserve it for a single holiday. Although kale or Swiss chard can be used, cabbage was the original ingredient. Bon appetit!


2-1/2 lbs. potatoes, peeled and cut into large chunks

1 Tbsp. kosher salt

6 Tbsp. unsalted butter + 2 Tbsp. for serving

3 lightly packed cups of chopped cabbage

1 bunch green onions including green part, sliced thin

1 cup fat-free evaporated milk

In a 3-quart sauce pot cover the potatoes with an inch of

water. Add a Tbsp. of salt. Boil until potatoes are fork tender (about 15 minutes). Drain in colander. Return pot to

stove. Over medium-high heat, melt 6 Tbsp. butter and once it's hot, add cabbage. Cook 3-4 minutes until wilted. Add green onions and cook 1 minute more. Pour in milk and add the potatoes. Reduce the heat to medium. With a potato masher, mash the potatoes with the greens. Add salt to taste and serve immediately with knob of butter in center.

SOURCE: Recipe adapted from Simply Recipes -


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Chocolate Raspberry Crumb Bars

It's hard to believe that Easter is right around the corner... it doesn't seem much like spring at all! When figuring out what to make for dessert at Easter, I'm always torn. I want to make something light & fruity, perfect for spring. Lemon, raspberries, and coconut are often contenders in my decision. But, then I think, "What's dessert without CHOCOLATE?!" And so the battle begins... chocolate or fruit? Fruit or chocolate?   IMG_3324 Well, today's recipe gives you a little bit of both. Chocolate Raspberry Crumb Bars have a buttery shortbread crust, and are filled with a gooey chocolate and raspberry filling. They're topped with a nutty streusel topping, and are just perfect for spring. Cut them into little squares and you've got a dessert that has people coming back for "just one more little piece." They're pretty simple to make, too. Start out by whipping up your shortbread crust. Just butter, sugar, flour, and salt! (Make sure you use the real thing. If there's a time to use real butter, it's when you're making shortbread.) Press about half of it into the pan and bake it about 10 minutes, just to let it set up before topping it with the chocolate. (The other half is for the topping.)  


  For the chocolate filling, melt a cup of chocolate chips with a can of sweetened condensed milk. That's it!   IMG_3307   Now you're ready for assembly. After you've pre-baked the crust, top it with the chocolate mixture, the remaining crumbly crust mixture, some raspberry jam, and the rest of the chocolate chips. Into the oven!  

Choc Raz bars step by step

  And there ya have it - rich & buttery, chocolate & raspberry, who could say no to this? IMG_3326 ______________________________________________________________________________________________________

Chocolate Raspberry Crumb Bars

Servings/Yield: 20-24 bars
  • 1 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • ½ cup packed brown sugar
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups semisweet chocolate chips, divided
  • 14-oz can sweetened condensed milk
  • ½ cup chopped nuts
  • ½-¾ cup raspberry preserves
Method Preheat oven to 350*F. Line a 13x9-inch baking pan with foil and spray with cooking spray. Beat butter in large mixing bowl until creamy. Add flour, brown sugar, and salt; beat until crumbly. Press about half the mixture into the prepared pan. Bake 10-12 minutes until light golden brown. Meanwhile, combine chopped nuts with remaining topping. To prepare chocolate filling, microwave 1 cup semisweet chips with sweetened condensed milk in microwave-safe bowl 1 minute, stirring until smooth. Spread chocolate mixture over pre-baked crust. Drop dollops of raspberry jam over chocolate mixture. Sprinkle with remaining crumb topping and remaining chocolate chips. Bake an additional 25-35 minutes until golden brown. Let cool completely (or chill in refrigerator) before cutting. Store in an airtight container. Source: adapted from Very Best Baking

Mary’s Memo #2310


You'll need a special baking pan to use this week's new

cookbook, 150 Best Ebelskiver Recipes by Camilla V. Saulsbury. The pans are enjoying widespread availability in cooking stores, department stores, a best-seller at Williams Sonoma and a top-selling kitchen pan for 5 years running at Amazon. com.

Ebelskivers hold modern appeal for home cooks of all

stripes, thanks to their ideal shape and size for any occasion. Assuming you're going to invest in a pan, you'll discover an array of both simple and sophisticated puffs, including classic ebelskivers, innovative breakfast options, make ahead appetizers, snacks for the family and decadent desserts that can be made in minutes, all without turning on the oven. The cookbook also contains helpful information, advice on ingredients and tips on making perfect ebelskivers every time.

Author Camilla Saulsbury is a freelance food writer and

recipe developer. She has written over 15 cookbooks and

won several of America's top cooking competitions including

the $100,000 National Chicken Cook-off, the $50,000 Better Burger Contest and the Food Network's $25,000 Ultimate Recipe Showdown (Cookies episode). Zucchini and dill have a real affinity and they come together in Zucchini Dill Ebelskivers.


7-well ebelskiver pan

1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon freshly cracked pepper

3 large eggs, separated

1 cup milk

2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

2 tablespoons chopped fresh dill

1 cup shredded zucchini

1/3 cup freshly grated Romano or Parmesan cheese

Vegetable oil

In a large bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, salt and pepper. In medium bowl, whisk together egg yolks, milk, butter and dill until well blended. Add the yolk mixture to the flour mixture and stir until just blended (the batter will appear slightly lumpy). Gently stir in zucchini and cheese. In a medium bowl, using an electric mixer on medium-high speed, beat egg whites until frothy. Increase speed to high and beat until stiff, but not dry, peaks form. Using a rubber spatula, gently mix one-third of the egg whites into the batter. Gently fold in the remaining whites. Brush wells of pan lightly with oil. Set pan over medium heat. When oil begins to sizzle, add 2 tablespoons batter to each well. Cook 2 to 4 minutes or until bottoms are golden brown. Using 2 skewers, flip the puffs over. Cook 2 to 3 minutes or until bottoms are golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out with a few moist crumbs attached. Remove pan from heat and transfer puffs to a plate. Let pan cool slightly. Repeat with remaining batter, brushing wells with oil and reheating pan before each batch. Serve warm. Recipe makes 28 puffs.

SOURCE: 150 Best Ebelskever Recipes by Camilla V. Saulsbury (Robert Rose Inc. (, 2013, $24.95).


Hungarian Hamburger Dish dates back to when I did microwave classes for Bryan Parks and Recreation. At home I was using the appliance a lot. I still have favorites from those days and this week's recipe is a good example.


1 lb. ground chuck or even leaner ground beef,

if you prefer

1 medium onion, thinly sliced

2 cups uncooked, medium-size egg noodles

1 teaspoon paprika

2 teaspoons caraway seed

1 bay leaf

1/4 teaspoon pepper

1 (10.5 oz) can condensed beef bouillon, undiluted

2 cups Greek yogurt

1/2 cup chopped parsley

In a microwave-safe 2-quart round baking dish, put ground

meat in bottom of dish and arrange sliced onions on top. Microwave on high 5 minutes, stirring midway through cooking. Discard any grease from casserole. Put noodles, paprika, caraway seeds, bay leaf and pepper in bottom of same casserole. Spoon meat and onion mixture on top. Pour bouillon over all. Cover and microwave on high 12 minutes, stirring midway through cooking. Add yogurt and parsley; let stand 5 minutes. Recipe makes 4 to 5 generous servings.


A recent study showed that women who consumed moderate amounts of alcohol, more than four glasses weekly, had a 37% lower risk of rheumatoid arthritis (RA) than women who drank one or fewer glasses of alcohol weekly. And women who drank three glasses of wine weekly had a 52% lower risk than women who never drank alcohol. Results were based on a study of 34,000 Swedish women between 1987 and 1997, with follow-up in 2003 to 2009, during which time 197 new cases of RA were identified.

SOURCE: Duke Medicine HealthNews, March 2013.
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Red Wine & Goat Cheese Risotto

Risotto. It can be intimidating, but it's really not difficult to make! The first time my husband and I had risotto was on our honeymoon in southwestern Michigan. (By the way, if you are ever in the Saugatuck area of Michigan, you must eat at Salt of the Earth. Hands-down, my favorite restaurant in the world. We loved it so much we ate there multiple nights in a row during our stay.) Anyway, back to the risotto. It was a butternut squash version, and it was divine! I could not get over how creamy and smooth it was, just the perfect consistency. I had to figure out how to re-create it at home. Turns out, it's not too hard to make. A little bit time-consuming, yes, but easy to do while multi-tasking. You want to use a high-starch rice; arborio is best. Basically, instead of cooking the rice in a pot of water, you gradually add liquid to the rice, stirring as it is absorbed before adding more. This makes the risotto ultra creamy and delicious.   IMG_3283   I've made a few versions, but this might be my favorite - Red Wine & Goat Cheese Risotto. I've been on a goat cheese kick lately, and it adds a tanginess to this dish that I absolutely loved. The chicken and mushrooms give it a little more heartiness, and the red wine just takes it over the top. (And turns it purple! How cool is that?!) To get started - saute some mushrooms in butter and olive oil, until they are juicy & caramelized.  


  While your mushrooms are caramelizing, get started on the risotto. First, toast the rice in a bit of melted butter, olive oil, and garlic. After a few minutes, stir in a cup of your favorite red wine. Cook over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally until all the liquid is absorbed. Then, add a cup of chicken stock; cook, stirring occasionally until all the liquid is absorbed. Continue doing this until you've used up all your liquid. It will probably take 20-30 minutes or so. The nice thing - you don't have to stir constantly. (Give it a stir, go check on the mushrooms. Give it a stir, then start making your salad. Give it a stir, then check facebook on your phone. I know I can't be the only one who does that.)   Risotto Steps   Once your mushrooms are done, while your risotto is still cooking, saute a few diced chicken breasts until tender. Set aside.  


  Once the risotto is done, add the goat cheese. Stir until the risotto is creamy-smooth.  


  Then, just fold in the mushrooms and chicken pieces, and you've got a meal to impress!   IMG_3275   Garnish with goat cheese and fresh basil. And serve with the rest of the bottle of wine. :)  



Red Wine & Goat Cheese Risotto

Servings/Yield: 4-6 servings
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 teaspoons minced garlic
  • cups arborio rice
  • 1 cup red wine
  • 3-4 cups chicken stock
  • 6-oz goat cheese
  • 3 cups sliced mushrooms
  • 1 lb. boneless skinless chicken breast tenders, diced
  • salt & pepper
  • fresh basil
  • ½ cup dried cranberries, optional
Method In a large skillet, heat 1 tablespoon butter and 1 tablespoon olive oil over low heat. Add mushrooms, cook over low heat about 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally until mushrooms are juicy and caramelized. Remove mushrooms; add chicken pieces and increase heat to medium. Season with salt & pepper. Cook about 10 minutes, until cooked through and tender. Meanwhile, while mushrooms & chicken are cooking, heat remaining 1 tablespoon butter and 1 tablespoon olive oil in large saucepan. Once melted, add garlic; cook 30 seconds. Add rice, stirring to coat in butter/oil mixture. Toast rice, stirring occasionally for 3-4 minutes. Pour in wine, stirring every few minutes until absorbed. Once the wine is absorbed, add 1 cup chicken stock, stirring occasionally until absorbed. Repeat until you have used 3 cups chicken stock; taste rice and determine if it's cooked to your liking. If not, add the remaining 1 cup chicken stock and cook until absorbed. When rice is done, add in 4-oz goat cheese; stir until smooth and creamy. Season with salt & pepper. Stir in mushrooms and chicken. To serve, garnish with additional goat cheese and fresh basil. Top with dried cranberries if desired. Source: adapted from How Sweet It Is

Mary’s Memo #2309

div>Finlayson is a best-selling author whose lifelong love of food and passion for cooking has translated into sales of over 1 million cookbooks including several popular slow cooker cook- books. Visit her at: and

For me every month is soup month and Gingery Chicken and Wild Rice Soup sounded good enough to eat.


1 whole chicken (about 3 lbs.), cut into pieces 
1 onion, coarsely chopped 
2 carrots, peeled and diced 
2 stalks celery, diced

2 sprigs parsley 
1 clove garlic 
1 bay leaf 
1/2 teaspoon salt 
1/2 teaspoon cracked black peppercorns 
12 cups water

1 tablespoon olive oil 
2 large leeks, white part only, cleaned and sliced 
2 cloves garlic, minced 
2 tablespoons minced ginger root 
1 cup brown and wild rice mixture

In a stockpot, combine the chicken, onion, carrots, celery, pars- ley, whole garlic, bay leaf, salt, peppercorns and water. Bring to a boil over high heat. Using slotted spoon skim off foam and simmer, uncovered, until chicken is falling off the bone, about 1.5 hours. Drain, reserving chicken and liquid separately. Let cool. Cut chicken into bite-size pieces, discarding skin and bones. Measure 2 cups of chicken and set aside in the refrig- erator. Skim off fat from the stock. (Refrigerate remainder for other uses.) In a large saucepan or stock pot, heat oil over me- dium heat for 30 seconds. Add leeks and cook, stirring until softened, about 5 minutes. Add minced garlic and ginger and cook, stirring 1 minute. Add rice and toss to coat. Add reserved stock and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer uncovered until the rice is quite tender, about 1 hour. Add reserved chick- en. Cover and simmer until chicken is heated through, about 15 minutes. Recipe makes 6 main-course servings.

SOURCE: The Complete Gluten-Free Whole Grains Cookbook by Judith Finlayson (Robert Rose Inc., 2013, $24.95,


Large amounts of that sweetener in food might help explain the rising epidemic of diabetes, say researchers at the University of Southern California and the University of Oxford in England. They found food supplies that had the highest levels of high- fructose corn syrup had a rate of type 2 diabetes that was 20% higher than countries that don't use it. The U.S. had the highest consumption of the sweetener, about 55 pounds a year. SoURCe: ConsumerReports On Heath, March 2013.


New research shows that loneliness is a chronic stressor that produces inflammation-related proteins. Chronic inflammation is linked to a number of harmful conditions, including type 2 diabetes, arthritis, heart disease and Alzheimer's disease. This finding offers the potential to intervene and counter the nega- tive effects, for example, by staying socially connected. Lead study author Lisa Jaremka, of the Institute for Behavioral Medi- cine Research, the ohio State University, presented the findings in January at the Society for Personality and Social Psychology annual meeting. SoURCe: Duke Medicine HealthNews, March 2013.


At my house something green has to be on the menu March 17th. If you agree and want something that doesn't take much time to prepare, do make Betty Crocker's Key Lime Mini-Tarts. Look for the frozen pre-baked mini fillo dough shells in the frozen food section at Chief and Rays. HINT: To make the filling greener, add a tad of green food coloring sparingly. (Strive for mint green.)


1 can (14 oz.) fat-free Eagle Brand sweetened condensed milk

1/2 cup Key lime juice, either fresh or bottled 
1 (8 oz.) container frozen whipped topping, thawed 
4 packages (2.1 oz. each) frozen mini fillo dough shells 
Green maraschino cherry halves for garnish

Beat condensed milk and lime juice in large bowl with electric mixer on medium speed until smooth and thickened. Fold in whipped topping. Spoon a heaping teaspoonful of lime mix- ture into each fillo shell. Cover and refrigerate tarts at least 1 hour or until set but no longer than 24 hours. Just before serving garnish with a maraschino half. NOTE: Recipe can be cut in half.

SOURCE: Adapted from Betty Crocker recipe.
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Corned Beef Blarney Sandwiches

Growing up, I loved St. Patrick's Day. I attended a small parochial school near Peoria, Illinois, named after St. Patrick, so we always had the day off! My mom & dad would take me to the annual St. Patrick's Day parade where I would receive TONS of candy, and then we would always go out to lunch. If only that was still the case today. ;) I never used to be a fan of corned beef when I was young, but decided to give it another try last year. Turns out, it's not too bad! While it's not something I want to eat every week, I can handle it one or twice a year.  

Corned Beef Sammy

  If you're looking for a way to spice up the traditional corned beef & cabbage dinner, I've got a twist for you today - a Corned Beef Blarney Sandwich. Roasted corned beef, piled high on a fluffy bun, and topped with a tangy Irish slaw. No mushy cabbage here! To start, prepare the corned beef. I went the easy way and picked up a ready-to-go corned beef brisket from the meat department. It has all the spices and everything right in the package. All I had to do was plop it in the slow-cooker and it was ready when I got home from work!  


  When you're ready to assemble the sandwiches, just take the meat out of the slow-cooker and let it cool for a few minutes while you prepare the slaw topping.  


  It's really simple - just a bag of coleslaw mix (cabbage!), some diced red pepper, and some sliced green onions.  


  Mix it up with as much thousand island dressing as you like. (I like mine pretty lightly dressed; I want the cabbage to still be crisp.)  


  Then, just slice up your rolls, layer on the beef, and top it with the crunchy coleslaw! This might be the quickest Irish dinner, ever.  


  My husband and I "mmmm'd" all the way through this meal. The corned beef was perfect combined with the tangy slaw. It heated up great as leftovers, too. Happy St. Patrick's Day!   ______________________________________________________________________________________________________

Corned Beef Blarney Sandwich

Servings/Yield: 4 sandwiches
  • 1 lb. prepared corned beef roast
  • 4 sandwich buns
  • 1 package coleslaw lettuce
  • cup finely diced red pepper
  • 3 green onions, thinly sliced
  • ½ cup thousand island dressing
Method For slaw topping, combine coleslaw lettuce, red pepper, and green onions; toss with thousand island dressing. To assemble sandwiches, layer corned beef and slaw on buns. Enjoy! *To prepare corned beef, place 2-3 lb. corned beef roast in a crock pot with pickling spices. Cook on high 4-6 hours or on low 6-8 hours until corned beef is tender. Source: inspired by Trader Joe's

Mary’s Memo #2308


You have the power to whip yourself into your own Iron Chef. With's wide library of recipes ranging from traditional dishes to historic ones, you can make Bess Truman's Mac and Cheese, a favorite of President Harry Truman. Her handwritten recipe is even shown on the site. It contains the most basic ingredients and kids will love it! Being meatless, it's a good Lenten choice. The size baking dish wasn't given but a 1.5 to 2 quart one should be ample. Temperature was also missing so I added 350oF.


8 oz. of elbow macaroni

8 oz. grated Cheddar cheese (I prefer sharp Cheddar)

2 cups milk (whatever kind you have on hand)

1 egg

1/4 cup butter

Cook macaroni. Drain and cool. Place layer of macaroni in baking dish, then add a layer of cheese. Repeat layers. Combine milk and egg and pour over mac and cheese. Dot with butter. This can be done the day before and refrigerated. Bake in preheated 350oF oven until bubby and golden brown on top.

SOURCE: Harry S. Truman National Historic website


Beware of so-called "nutritionists," who might try to

sell you unnecessary and costly vitamins, minerals and dietary supplements. Instead, stick with practitioners who are registered dietitians. Some insurance providers, including Medicare, will cover nutritional counseling by a registered dietitian for certain conditions, such as diabetes and kidney disease, when you are referred by a licensed healthcare provider. Without insurance, the cost can vary from $50 to $250 per visit, depending on the practitioner and where you live.

SOURCE: ConsumerReports on Health, March 2013.


The 2006 Christmas recipe sheet featured a recipe called

Gruyere, Bacon and Caramelized Onion Grits. This became

a favorite brunch dish for me. Unfortunately, there was an

omission on the recipe sheet .... no directions for how to

caramelize the onions. Without fail when this happens on

a memo at least one person will call about it but none ever

did, leading me to think that very few people tried the recipe. If you resist paying a higher price for gruyere cheese, you can replace it with less expensive Swiss. I didn't catch it until now because I'm making it soon and when I noticed the omission I referred back to the original recipe in Better Homes and Gardens Biggest Book of Casseroles published in 2005. Southerners love their grits but you don't have to be born below the Mason-Dixon Line to enjoy them in this flavorful dish!


5 slices bacon (about 1/4 pound), chopped

1 large onion, halved and thinly sliced (about 3 cups)

4 cups milk

1/4 cup butter, cut up

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 cup uncooked quick-cooking grits

1-1/2 cups shredded Gruyere cheese (6 oz.)

Several dashes hot pepper sauce or 1/4 teaspoon

cayenne pepper (optional but I use)

2 tablespoons Parmesan cheese

In a large skillet cook bacon over medium heat until crisp. Remove bacon with a slotted spoon, reserving 2 tablespoons of drippings in skillet. Drain bacon on paper towels and set aside. Cook onion slices, covered, in reserved drippings over medium heat for 15 minutes or until tender and golden. Set aside. In a large saucepan, combine milk, butter and salt. Bring mixture almost to boiling. (Watch carefully to prevent boiling over.) Gradually stir in grits; cook and stir with a long handled wooden spoon until mixture comes to boiling. Stir 2 minutes more or until thickened. (Reduce heat if necessary.) Remove from heat; stir in bacon, onion, 1 cup cheese and if desired, hot pepper sauce. Spread grits into 2 quart oblong baking dish. Sprinkle with remaining 1/2 cup cheese and the Parmesan cheese. Bake, uncovered, in a 350oF oven for 20 to 25 minutes or until heated through. Recipe makes 10 side-dish servings or 5 to 6 main-dish servings.


It's not secret; I love mashed potatoes so much that I do fix them for myself at least once a week. Sometimes I make 1 cup of gravy with McCormick's dry mix (no canned or jar gravies for me) or I have them plain. Then daughter Mary Ann mentioned that the 4-ounce package of Idahoan Buttery Homestyle Mashed Potatoes are especially good for instant potatoes but said to try them before mentioning the brand in a memo and I did. They are a lot better than ordinary instant potatoes and reheat nicely. There's also a garlic flavored Idahoan users say is even better. Each package makes four 1/2-cup servings if you can stop with just a 1/2 cup!
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Zesty Tortellini Skillet

Since the Lenten season has begun, I thought I'd share one of my favorite meatless meals. Even if you don't fast from meat on Fridays, it can be good to eat a vegetarian meal once in awhile! Going meatless once a week can reduce risk of cancer, heart disease, diabetes, and obesity. It's also great for the planet. [Source] Zesty Tortellini Skillet takes simple cheese tortellini and kicks it up a notch. The pasta is combined with crisp green pepper & mushrooms, a creamy tomato sauce, and then it's all topped with melty mozzarella cheese.  


    One of the best parts about this dish is it comes together all in one skillet (fewer dishes!) Also, it comes together fast. (And it should... it's from a cookbook titled "29 Minutes to Dinner." Because we all know 30 minutes is way too long to prepare dinner.) Start with the biggest skillet you can find. Saute a diced green pepper with some minced garlic and a package of sliced mushrooms. Once they're tender, add 2 cans of tomatoes. Once they come to a simmer, add a package of frozen cheese tortellini.  


  Let that bubble away until the tortellini is tender, and then pour in a bit of heavy cream. (This makes the sauce oh-so-creamy and delicious.) Then, add a few handfuls of spinach to wilt. Top it off with some shredded cheese; cover it and let it stand until the cheese melts. Voila! Dinner is served. IMG_3220   How can you go wrong with cheese + pasta?! Plus, this dish is filled with vegetables, making it pretty healthy as well.  


  Question: What's your favorite meatless meal? Feel free to share it in the comments below! ______________________________________________________________________________________________________

Zesty Tortellini Skillet

Servings/Yield: 4-6 servings
  • cup heavy whipping cream
  • 4 cups fresh spinach, loosely packed
  • 6 oz. Provolone cheese, grated
  • 1 tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 green pepper, diced
  • 1 package fresh mushrooms
  • 3 tbsp. minced garlic
  • 2 cans diced tomatoes, undrained
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • ½ tsp. coarsely ground black pepper
  • 1 package frozen cheese tortellini
  • halved grape tomatoes, optional
  • Parmesan cheese
Method In large saucepan, cook garlic, green pepper, and mushrooms in olive oil over medium heat until crisp tender. Add tomatoes, salt, and black pepper; cook and stir until simmering. Add tortellini; stir to coat. Cook, uncovered, until tender. Stir cream into skillet. Cook, uncovered, 1 to 2 minutes until simmering. Sprinkle spinach over tortellini; cook, covered until spinach starts to wilt. Remove skillet from heat. Top with cheese; cover and let stand until cheese is melted. Garnish with grape tomatoes and Parmesan cheese.

Source: adapted from Pampered Chef's "29 Minutes to Dinner"