Monthly Archives: April 2013

Mary’s Memo #2316


Just in time for Cinco de Mayo, May 5, along comes Easy Mexican Recipes by Kelley Cleary Coffeen. Coffeen’s fifth cookbook, she’s also a food consultant and media personality who enjoys the flavors of the American southwest and Mexico. She lives with her family in Las Cruces, NM. In her latest cookbook, Easy Mexican Recipes, she’s put together a collection of recipes that will give you the basics of, and foundation for, good Mexican cuisine. It offers you insight on how to create the bold, complex flavors of Mexican cooking right in your own kitchen. The book is full of no-fuss recipes like Margarita Pie that the author and her family and friends have come to appreciate.


•2 eggs

•2 egg yolks

•1/4 cup freshly squeezed lime juice

•1 can sweetened condensed milk

•1/3 cup high quality margarita mix with a medium
sweet-sour balance

•3 drops green food coloring

•1 (9-inch) vanilla or graham cracker-flavored cookie
crumb crust

•1 cup whipping cream

•1/2 cup granulated sugar

•1 lime, thinly sliced

In a medium bowl, using an electric mixer, beat eggs and egg yolks until thick and pale, about 2 minutes. Continue mixing and add lime juice, condensed milk, margarita mix and food coloring and beat 2 to 3 minutes. Pour into pie shell and bake in preheated 350ºF oven until center is firm, about 25 minutes. Let cool completely. Cover and refrigerate until chilled for at least 1 hour or up to 4 hours. Just before serving, in a medium chilled bowl, using an electric mixer on medium-high speed, beat whipping cream and sugar until soft peaks form, 6 to 8 minutes. Serve slices of pie on individual plates topped with whipped cream and garnish with lime slices. Recipe makes 6 servings.

SOURCE: Easy Mexican Recipes by Kelley Cleary Coffeen (Robert Rose Inc; April 2013; $24.95. Buy at or at your favorite bookstore.


Probiotics are a big and rapidly growing business, with annual global sales of products expected to rise to $42 billion by 2016. Probiotics are a promising field of research and may one day be used to treat or help prevent many disorders. But there’s not enough solid evidence to recommend widespread use. Larger, longer studies are needed to test specific strains against specific conditions and to determine the proper doses and regimens. The FDA has not approved any specific health claims for probiotics and has called claims made by manufacturers, including yogurt companies, misleading. Going one step further, the European Union recently deemed that any reference to the term “probiotics” on packaging is unauthorized and subject to legal action.

SOURCE: University of California at Berkeley Wellness Letter, March 2013.


Be wary of Sensa’s claims about “clinically proven” weight loss. When you sprinkle these “tastant” crystals (primarily maltodextrin, along with flavorings) they supposedly trigger the brain’s appetite control center to make you feel full. Its website mentions research findings of 30-pound weight loss in six months, but no studies have been published in peer-reviewed journals to validate such findings. Now, the manufacturer has settled two lawsuits brought against Sensa for making false advertising claims and will pay millions of dollars in penalties and restitution to customers. Plus, the company must restrain its claims and fully disclose the conditions of its automatic shipment program before customers sign up with their credit cards.

SOURCE: University of California at Berkeley Wellness Letter, April 2013.


I'm not the only one who serves food to customers at the Bryan Chief and early this year Eight Can Taco Soup was served in the deli area of the store. I could hardly believe that a soup so easy to make could taste so good!


•1 (15-ounce) can black beans, drained and rinsed

•1 (15-ounce) can pinto beans, drained and rinsed

•1 (14.5-ounce) can diced tomatoes, drained

•1 (15-ounce) can sweet corn, drained

•1 (12.5-ounce) can chicken breast, drained

•1 (10.75-ounce) can of chicken soup

•1 (10-ounce) can green enchilada sauce

•1 (14-ounce) can chicken broth

•1 taco seasoning packet

Mix all ingredients together in a large stock pot. Heat until hot, stirring occasionally. Serve with tortilla chips and sour cream.

Download PDF of Memo #2316

Fish Tacos with Strawberry-Mango Salsa

It seems like every family has some version of 'Taco Night'. Whether it's traditional beef tacos with all the fixings, grilled fajitas, or a more unique twist (like Buffalo Chicken Tacos), Mexican food is quick to prepare and generally pleasing to everyone.


  Just in time for Cinco de Mayo, here's a fresh new spin on tacos for your next Mexican celebration. Fish Tacos with Strawberry-Mango Salsa - chili-lime seasoned fish, topped with crisp & refreshing homemade salsa full of strawberries, mango, & avocado. Start by marinating your fish. Just lime juice, chili powder, garlic powder, and olive oil. Let the fish marinate about 30 minutes. You can choose any firm fish - I like mahi mahi or tilapia.   IMG_3621   While the fish is marinating, put together the salsa. Diced strawberries, mango, avocado, red onion, and jalapeno, tossed with more lime juice and my favorite Mexican herb - cilantro!   IMG_3638   The salsa also makes a great appetizer while the fish is cooking. You can bake or grill the fish, whichever you prefer. Just about 10-12 minutes on high heat, until the fish flakes easily with a fork.  


  To assemble the tacos, layer everything up in a tortilla - fish, salsa, some feta cheese, and cabbage for crunch. Don't forget some more cilantro. (If you're into that kind of thing... it seems like most people either love cilantro or hate it.)  


  This meal is perfect this time of year, just when strawberries are coming into season. My husband and I gobbled up every last bite. _______________________________________________________________________________________________________

Fish Tacos with Strawberry-Mango Salsa

Servings/Yield: 3-4 servings
  • For the fish
    • ¾ cup fresh lime juice, (from 3 limes)
    • 2 tablespoons chili powder
    • ½ tablespoon garlic powder
    • 1 tablespoon olive oil
    • 3-4 fillets fish (mahi mahi, tilapia, or halibut)
  • For the strawberry-mango salsa
    • 1 cup finely diced strawberries
    • 1 mango , finely diced
    • 1 avocado, diced
    • 2 tablespoons finely diced red onion
    • 1 jalapeno , finely diced
    • ¼ cup chopped cilantro
    • ¼ cup fresh lime juice, (from 1 lime)
    • salt, to taste
  • 10-12 small tortillas
  • feta cheese
  • cabbage
  • additional cilantro
Method For marinade, combine lime juice, chili powder, garlic powder, and olive oil. Add fish filets; marinate 30-60 minutes. While fish is marinating, prepare salsa. Combine strawberries, mango, avocado, onion, and jalapenos in a medium bowl. Add lime juice, cilantro, and salt to taste. Refrigerate until serving. To prepare fish, preheat broiler, or preheat the grill to high heat. Broil or grill fish 10-12 minutes, until opaque and flakes easily with a fork. To assemble tacos, layer fish, salsa, feta cheese, cabbage, and cilantro in tortilla. Yum!  

Mary’s Memo #2315


In "Put 'em Up! Fruit" by Sherry Brooks Vinton, the author

teaches home cooks how easy it is to preserve fruit.

Beginning with step-by-step, photographic instructions for

boiling water method basics, readers will move confidently

through the canning recipes, referring to specifics about

acidity, pectin, prep techniques and more, to ensure successful preserves. "Put 'em Up! Fruit" not only includes information about preserving fruit with classic and contemporary flavors, it also features 80 recipes for cooking with those preserves such as Pulled Pork Tacos with Cherry Ancho Chile Jam, Hearty Greens with Pears Poached in Wine, Flourless Chocolate Cake with Strawberry Rhubarb Jam and Quince Kiss Cocktail. With these and dozens of other inventive recipes, cooks will make the most of this year's bounty.

Sherri Brooks Vinton, also author of "The Real Food

Revival," travels the country doing hands-on workshops

teaching how to find, cook and preserve local, seasonal

farm-friendly food. Her website can be found at www. Look for "Put 'em Up! Fruit" at

your favorite book store or order from


1 cup water

1/4 cup bottled lemon juice

4 lbs. peaches

(weigh at the store if you don't have a scale)

4 cups sugar

Combine the water and lemon juice in a large nonreactive

pot. Peel, pit and slice the peaches, adding them to

the lemon water as you go. Bring the mixture to a boil,

then reduce the heat and simmer for 10 minutes to soften

the fruit, crushing with a potato masher if you prefer a

smooth textured jam. Add the sugar and stir to dissolve.

Continue to simmer until the gel stage is reached (220oF),

about 30 minutes. Or for a more accurate test put a clean

plate in the freezer to chill. When you think your jam might

be ready, dribble a few drops on the plate's cold surface,

give it a minute to cool, and then push on the little spot

of jam with your finger, like you are trying to wipe it off. If

the smudge of jam wrinkles when you start to push against

it, the jam is ready. If it is thick but does not wrinkle, you

need to cook it a bit more. Remove from heat. Allow the

jam to rest for 5 minutes, giving it an occasional gentle stir

to release trapped air; it will thicken slightly. Skim off any

foam. Spoon into prepared jars. Cover and refrigerate for

up to 3 weeks. Recipe makes about 6 cups. Recipe can also be canned using boiling water method.

SOURCE: "Put 'em Up! Fruit" by Sherri Brooks Vinton; Storey Publishing; April 2013; $19.95 paperback.


The United States lags far behind such famously tea drinking countries as Britain, China and Japan in per capita

tea consumption, drinking less than one-fifth as much

tea as the British, for example. But Americans may need

to start sipping more if we want to be healthier. Why is

tea so good for us? All types of tea while varying in their

nutritional profiles, contain antioxidant compounds called

flavonoids. Flavonoids are good for the heart, the brain, reduce cancer risk and a combination of green tea flavonoids and caffeine increases calorie expenditure and fat oxidation. To get the most flavonoids from tea, steep in hot water. Cold-brewed tea and powdered mixes generally don't achieve the same flavonoid levels. If you don't like your tea plain, opt for lemon, or other citrus juice instead of milk or cream. Besides adding little or no calories, citrus juices reduce the loss of tea flavonoids through digestion.

SOURCE: Tufts Health & Nutrition Letter, April 2013.


I can't tell you how often I made this open-face sandwich

for myself during Lent and will continue making it as an alternative to a meat sandwich. I was generous with the

cheese that I used: Sargento Reduced Fat 4 Cheese Mexican, a combination of reduced-fat Monterey Jack, Cheddar, Queso Quesadilla and Asadero.


4 slices Italian bread, 1/2 inch thick

1/2 cup light olive oil

1/2 teaspoon garlic salt

1 large tomato, cut in 4 slices

1 cup or more shredded Sargento Reduced Fat

4 Cheese Mexican

Preheat oven broiler. Arrange bread in a single layer on a

baking sheet. Mix together olive oil and garlic salt. Brush

onto slices of bread. Cover each with a tomato slice and

sprinkle with as much cheese as you like. Broil until cheese

is melted (it doesn't take long).

SOURCE: Recipe adapted from, the world's

favorite recipe web site.
Download PDF of Memo #2315

Greek Nachos

I typically associate spring time with fresh flavors - crisp veggies, citrus, anything light. Today's recipe is just that. Greek Nachos are a twist on traditional cheesy, meaty, spicy nachos. Not that I don't love a big ole' plate of greasy nachos (bonus points if buffalo sauce is involved), but I often finish the meal feeling not quite my best.   IMG_3614   Greek Nachos, however, are light & fresh! Crispy pita chips covered in seasoned ground beef, topped with a feta-yogurt-lemon dressing. All topped off with diced cucumbers, tomatoes, and more feta cheese. Start off by cooking the meat. I used ground sirloin, but you could definitely use ground turkey or ground chicken. Whatever you have on hand! Saute it with some diced onion, and season it up with a good amount of cumin, coriander, salt, and pepper. Once the meat is browned; add about 1/4 cup water and let it simmer until the water is absorbed.  


  While the meat is browning, mix up the dressing. Just a mix of plain Greek yogurt, crumbled feta, lemon juice, olive oil, and salt & pepper.  


  To serve, scatter the pita chips on a large platter (or individual serving plates). Something about pita chips... I could eat them all day long. Good thing the bags are pretty small. :)  


  Top with the seasoned meat, and drizzle with the dressing. Sprinkle additional feta, diced cucumber, and diced tomato all over the top.   IMG_3616   You can also serve the nachos over a bed of lettuce, if you're trying to get more veggies into your life. :)   _______________________________________________________________________________________________________

Greek Nachos

Servings/Yield: about 4 servings
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • ½ onion, finely chopped
  • 1 lb. ground beef
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 2 teaspoons cumin
  • ½ teaspoon cardamom
  • ¼ cup water
  • ½ cup plain Greek yogurt
  • 1 cup feta cheese crumbles, divided
  • juice from 1 lemon
  • ½ cucumber, seeded and diced
  • 1-2 roma tomatoes, seeded and diced
  • salt & pepper, to taste
  • 1 bag pita chips
Method Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large skillet over medium high heat. Add onion and ground beef; season with salt & pepper and cook until browned. Add coriander, cumin, and cardamom with water and stir to combine. Reduce heat to low; simmer until most of the water has been absorbed. For the dressing, combine yogurt, 1/2 cup feta crumbles, remaining tablespoon of oil, and lemon juice. Season with salt & pepper to taste. To serve, spread pita chips on a large platter. Top with seasoned meat. Drizzle with dressing, and sprinkle with remaining feta cheese, cucumber, and tomatoes. Serve immediately. Alternately, you could top the meat mixture with the dressing and serve with pita chips for dipping. Source: adapted from Quick Dish  

Mary’s Memo #2314


Mini-pies are proving to be one of the most popular

trends in baking today and are leading the way in the mini-dessert craze. Mini-pies are the new cupcake. In 175 Best

Mini Pies by Julie Anne Hession (Robert Rose Inc. www., April 30, $24.95), Julie shares her expertise

by providing tips and techniques for creating perfect mini-pies, including a wonderful array of crusts and sweet and

savory fillings such as Strawberry Basil Hand Pies, Chocolate Mocha Pecan Tarts, Chicken Brie and Apple Turnovers and Pork Empanadas with Salsa Verde.

Henson has combined her love of food with her love of

words to become a successful chef, food writer, competitive

cook and food blogger. She has been featured in People, O, The Oprah Magazine, Better Homes and Gardens and Food Network Magazine. She lives in LA. Order 175 Best Mini Pies by Julie Anne Hession (Robert Rose Inc. from or your favorite

book store.


Consuming too many carbohydrates could be bad for

your brain, according to recent research at the Mayo Clinic

linking high carbohydrate intake to greater risk of mild

cognitive impairment. Why might carbohydrate consumption

contribute to cognitive decline? "A high carbohydrate

intake could be bad for you because carbohydrates impact

your glucose and insulin metabolism," according to Mayo

lead author of the study, Rosebud Roberts, MB, ChB. Sugar fuels the brain so moderate intake is good. However, high levels of sugar may actually prevent the brain from using sugar. Complete carbohydrates that are low in fiber, such as pasta, white bread and other refined grain products, cause spikes in blood sugar because the body converts them into glucose. Whole grains such as whole wheat, brown rice, oats and barley retain the fiber and nutrient of the grain's bran and germ, which are lost in processing. Because these carbohydrates are digested more slowly, they have a less dramatic effect on blood sugar and thus better for the brain. Beans and vegetables are other carbohydrates that have more modest impacts on blood sugar.

SOURCE: Tufts Health & Nutrition Letter, April 2013.


Americans are still far from achieving their daily fiber

quotas: According to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics

(formerly the American Dietetics Association), the

average American consumes only 15 grams of fiber a day.

The recommended daily amount of fiber for adult women

younger than 50 is 25 grams per day; women over 50 need

21 grams per day. Add dried fruit, nuts and seeds to your

diet to boost your fiber.

SOURCE: Weill Cornell Medical College Women's Nutrition

Connection, April 2013.


In last week's memo I said I wouldn't choose Spartan

Toasted Oats over Cheerios that I've eaten since this whole

grain ready-to-eat cereal was introduced in the 40s. That

said, what's a bargain hunter to do when Chief and Rays

had the 14-ounce box for only $2.00? I bought a box!

Since I had Cheerios at home I compared them and taste

seemed the same but Cheerios were a tad darker in color.

Who knows, General Mills may make them for Spartan. Just

thought I'd mention it.


Knowing how much you like easy recipes, I know you're

going to rave about Six Can Tortilla Soup from Allrecipes.

com. If you prefer, the 10-ounce can of chunk chicken can

be replaced with the same amount of rotisserie chicken.

Kick it up a notch by using medium instead of mild diced

tomatoes with green chile peppers. Top with shredded reduced-fat sharp Cheddar cheese and chopped scallions, if you like. No one will guess that this soup took only minutes to make instead of hours. Give it a try ASAP!


1 (15-ounce) can whole kernel corn, drained

2 (14.5-ounce) cans fat-free chicken broth

1 (10-ounce) can chunk chicken

1 (15-ounce) can black beans

1 (10-ounce) can diced tomatoes with green chile

peppers, drained

Open the cans of corn, chicken broth, chunk chicken, black

beans and diced tomatoes with green chile peppers. Pour

everything into a large saucepan or stock pot. Simmer over

medium heat until chicken is heated through. Recipe makes

6 servings and only 214 calories each (4.9 grams from fat).

SOURCE:, the world's favorite recipe web

Download PDF of Memo #2314

Rainbow Fruit Cookie Cake

Spring has finally arrived! Though we've had a lot of rain, it has been so nice to start to enjoy some of the spring produce. Today's recipe is a fabulous dessert that is perfect for those special occasions that seem to pop up during the spring time - baby showers, bridal showers, Mother's Day, graduations. Or you know, just a regular ole' Monday.  


  Rainbow Fruit Cookie Cake is a cute twist on traditional fruit pizza. Instead of making one big pizza pie, small thin sugar cookies are stacked with layers of cream cheese frosting and fresh fruit of all colors of the rainbow. Not only is it simple to make, but it would be a great activity with little ones. Kids love helping in the kitchen, and how much fun would it be to decorate your very own cookie cake? Start out with some basic sugar cookie dough - you can go the homemade route or pick up some from the refrigerated section. (Shhh... I won't tell.)  


  Roll it out thin, and using a cookie cutter or bottom of a glass, cut out rounds. You want them to be no bigger than 2 inches or so.  


  While they're baking, mix up the frosting. If you can, make the frosting from scratch. It makes such a difference! Just a mix of cream cheese, butter, powdered sugar, and vanilla extract. When you're ready to assembly the cookie cakes, cut all the fruit up before-hand, and make yourself a little assembly line. If you want to save a little time, check out many of the new pre-cut options in the produce section! So handy to just grab and go.  


  Decide how many layers you want your cookie cakes to be. I went with five so I could have a wide variety of colors - strawberries, oranges, pineapple, kiwi, and blueberries. Spread a thin layer of frosting on each cookie and layer on the fruit! It's much easier to frost and top each cookie separately, then stack them. (Frosting a cookie that's already stacked is a bit challenging. Not that I would know. :-P)  


  Before you know it, you've got a show-stopper dessert!  


  I also made up some simple mini fruit pizzas with the leftover cookies. These were just a little bit too easy to snack on. It's hard to say no to fresh fruit!  



Fruit Pizza Cookie Dough

Servings/Yield: about 10 cookie stacks, or 50 cookies
  • cups unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 4 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 teaspoons almond extract
  • 4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
Method Using an electric mixer, beat butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add in eggs and egg yolks; mix until combined. Add vanilla and almond extracts; mix until combined. In a separate bowl, combine flour, salt, and baking powder. Gradually add to creamed mixture on low speed until thoroughly combined. Refrigerate dough 1 hour. Preheat oven to 350*F. Roll out dough about 1/4-inch thick, cut out cookies, and place on parchment-lined or greased baking sheets. Bake 8-10 minutes until golden and set.

Cream Cheese Frosting 

Servings/Yield: about 3 cups
  • 8-oz package cream cheese, softened
  • 3 tablespoons butter, softened
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • cups powdered sugar
Method Combine cream cheese and butter in a bowl; beat with electric mixer until smooth and creamy. Add vanilla extract and powdered sugar; beat on low until combined. Increase speed to high and beat 3-5 minutes until light and fluffy. Source: i am baker

Mary’s Memo #2313


Championship Barbecue Secrets for Real Smoked

Foods, Second Edition by Karen Putnam and Judith Fertig

(Robert Rose Inc., April 2013, $24.95)

takes smoking to a new level. Defined, slow-smoked foods

are cooked next to a fire, low and slow and flavored with

wood smoke. Learn all about the art of slow smoking in this

comprehensive cookbook, which will appeal to novice and

experienced outdoor chefs alike. It's been updated with

16 new photographs including 12 pages of step-by-step

photos, all new secret tips from championship barbecue

experts across North America and even more information

on creating the perfect balance of flavors. Over 300 carefully selected recipes are organized by ingredients to offer inspiration for the ultimate in smoked foods. The mouth watering recipes make this an absolutely superb guide to an increasingly popular method of backyard cooking. Karen Putnam is a prize-winning chef who has won many contests on the competition barbecue circuit, including a grand championship in the American royal and several world championships. Judith Fertig is a food/lifestyle

writer and cookbook author who, with co-author Karen Adler, have written eight barbecue books.

Available at or your favorite bookstore.


A positive mood benefits decision making, working

memory and creative skills, according to a study published

in the January 2013 issue of the journal, Cognitive & Emotion. While it's known that younger adults are more cognitively flexible when they're in a good mood, the study

found the same is true for older adults.

SOURCE: Duke Medicine, April 2013.


Spring cleaning doesn't necessarily mean you have to

resort to harsh chemicals in your home. Try these recipes

for home-made cleaning solutions using products you may

already have on hand.

To speed clean microwaves and mask odors, place a

small bowl with about 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice in your microwave. Then run on high for 1 minute. Remove the bowl of juice and wipe the microwave oven cavity. Baked-on stains should come off with plain water. Repeat if necessary. Scrape off any stubborn stains with a plastic credit card. Just don't scrape the window, which could damage it. To clean a greasy oven, mix 1 cup baking soda and with

1/4 cup washing soda, then add enough water to make a

paste. Put on house cleaning gloves and smear the paste

on oven surfaces and leave it on overnight. The next morning, wipe off the soda mixture and grime and rinse all surfaces. If you live in an area with hard water, you can keep showers and ceramic tile free of water spots by using a squeegee on the door and shower stall after each use. It will prevent hard water build-up.

To clean windows, add 1 cup of white vinegar to 1 cup

of water. Pour mixture into a spray bottle. Spray and wipe

with a lint-free rag or squeegee, which minimizes streaks

and doesn't leave anything behind. It also makes it easier

to clean tilt-out windows and is reusable.

SOURCE: Consumer Reports on Health, April 2013.


Of all the personalities on the Food Network, Ina Garten

is my favorite. I don't think I've ever tried one of her

recipes that I didn't like. Her Buttermilk Mashed Potatoes

taste like they're made with sour cream instead of less fattening buttermilk. It's been my experience that when

mashed potatoes are put through a food mill or ricer they

can be made ahead and be reheated and maintain their


3 lbs. Klondike Gold Potatoes, peeled and cut into

1-1/2-inch cubes

1/2 cup milk

1 stick unsalted butter

3/4 to 1 cup buttermilk (I used 1 cup)

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

In large pot, bring 4 quarts of water and 2 tablespoons salt

to a boil. Add potatoes. Bring water to a boil again, lower

heat and simmer uncovered until potatoes fall apart when

pierced with a fork. Meanwhile heat the milk and butter in

a small sauce pan, making sure it doesn't boil. Set aside until potatoes are done. As soon as potatoes are tender, drain them in a colander. Place a food mill fitted with a small

disc/blade over a heat proof bowl. Process the potatoes

through the food mill. As soon as the potatoes are mashed,

stir in hot milk and butter mixture with a whisk or rubber

spatula. Add enough buttermilk to make potatoes creamy.

Add kosher salt and pepper to taste and serve hot.
Download PDF of Memo #2313

Asian Lettuce Wraps

About a year and a half ago, my husband and I traveled to Las Vegas for one of his work conferences. Though most people would be excited to be surrounded by the gambling and night life, I was most excited to try a bunch of new restaurants! At one point during the weekend, we stopped at PF Chang's for a light lunch on the patio. I wasn't too hungry, so I just ordered the lettuce wraps. (Because really, who wraps something in lettuce and calls it a full meal?) I loved them, but since there's no PF Chang's near us, I set out to find a take-out fake-out recipe. And that I did! Asian Lettuce Wraps are a cinch to put together, and they might just be better than the real thing. (Or else my memory's a little foggy since my PF Chang's visit was over a year ago... can you really remember what something tastes like a year later?) Either way, these were excellent!  


The filling is made up of seasoned ground turkey and crisp veggies combined with a tangy-spicy-sweet sauce with just a hint of peanut butter. Wrapped up in cool, crisp lettuce leaves, the texture is just perfect! My favorite part was probably the water chestnuts. What is it about those things? So good! They are so simple to make, too. If you can make sloppy joes, you can make these lettuce wraps. To make the filling, simply cook a pound of ground turkey with some diced onion and carrot. Stir in the sauce, water chestnuts, and green onions, and let it simmer away.  


  Spoon the filling into crisp lettuce leaves and top with chopped peanuts. That's it!


Never would I have thought that lettuce wraps would be a satisfying meal, (where's the carbs?!), but these definitely fit the bill. Although that didn't stop me from eating five just a few crab rangoons on the side. _______________________________________________________________________________________________________

Asian Lettuce Wraps

Servings/Yield: 2-3 as a main course, 4-6 as an appetizer
  • 1 lb. ground turkey
  • ½ medium onion, finely diced
  • ½ cup diced carrots
  • salt & pepper
  • 2 teaspoons minced garlic
  • 1 tablespoon sesame oil
  • 2 ½ tablespoons soy sauce
  • ½ tablespoon water
  • 1 tablespoon peanut butter
  • ½ tablespoon honey
  • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons sriracha chili sauce
  • 3 green onions, chopped
  • 8-oz. cans sliced water chestnuts, drained & chopped
  • ¼ cup chopped peanuts
  • 10-12 large outer lettuce leaves, rinsed & patted dry
Method Heat a large non-stick skillet on high. Add turkey, onion, and a dash each of salt and pepper. Cook until almost done, stirring frequently to break up the meat. (You want the pieces to be really small!) Add minced garlic and cook 1-2 minutes longer, until turkey is no longer pink. Meanwhile, in a small microwaveable bowl, combine sesame oil, soy sauce, water, peanut butter, vinegar, and sriracha. Microwave for 30 seconds; stir until smooth. Add to skillet and stir to combine. Add green onion and water chestnuts to skillet and cook 1-2 minutes until they are heated through. Serve mixture in cold lettuce leaves and top with chopped peanuts. Source: adapted from Iowa Girl Eats

Mary’s Memo #2312


150 Best Desserts In A Jar by Andrea Jourdan provides

the cook with a unique way to present desserts. Whether it's a beveled jar picked up at a flea market or that classic Mason jar in the back of your kitchen cupboard, any jar is a sparkling, creative way to prepare and serve desserts. The author has developed a wondrous way to prepare everything from puddings to cobblers to pies and cakes. And because the jars allow for freezing or presenting in layers, you get beautiful colors and textures. 
Andrea Jourdan has spent over 25 years in Europe honing her skills when it comes to both traditional and modern cuisine. She has published several cookbooks and is a food writer, television personality and an innovator of web gastronomy. She lives in Quebec. From the Sweet Soups, Parfaits, Frothy Desserts and So On chapter, Cold Strawberry Orange Soup sounds perfect for a spring luncheon.


4 cups hulled fresh strawberries

1/2 cup confectioner's sugar

1 cup orange juice

3 tablespoons chopped fresh mint leaves, divided

1 tablespoon finely grated orange zest

1 teaspoon granulated sugar

1 tablespoon slivered almonds

1/2 cup plain yogurt

6 mint leaves for garnish

In a food processor fitted with the metal blade, puree

strawberries. Add confectioner's sugar and process for 1 minute. Add 1 tablespoon mint and process 1 minute. Transfer to jars, dividing equally, and refrigerate for 1 hour. In a bowl, mix remaining mint, orange zest, granulated sugar and almonds. Add yogurt and mix well. Top each jar of soup with a dollop (about 1 tablespoon) of the mixture. Garnish with a mint leaf and serve immediately.


As you should have noticed by now Chief and Rays are affiliated with Spartan supermarkets as of March 1 and carry all of their products. For me, there are some brand name products that I'll always choose over the store brand such as Folgers coffee, Jiff peanut butter, plain Cheerios, Bush beans and Tropicana orange juice to name a few but that said, I'm willing to try the remainder. So far I'm impressed with Spartan light ricotta cheese, English muffins, butter, fettuccini and although it isn't exactly in the healthy category, Spartan White Cheddar Popcorn is so good that I shouldn't have eaten it during Lent! As an incentive for you to try Spartan products, look for them to be specially priced. I'm sure there will be some that I won't like as well as what I'm currently using but I'm willing to try them and I urge you to do the same. "This is a winner" Bryan tasters said about Fettuccine

with Fresh Asparagus and Ricotta that I served recently. I did make a lot of changes including the amount of fettuccini, Parmesan cheese instead of Parmigiano-Reggiano because of the cost and used a lot more liquid than original recipe (1-1/2 cups or more).


1-1/2 lbs. fresh asparagus, woody ends removed and washed

12 oz. box Spartan fettuccini, cooked according

to package directions

1-1/2 cups Spartan light ricotta cheese at room temperature

1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese plus more for


3 tablespoons unsalted butter at room temperature

3 tablespoons minced fresh chives (in produce dept)

Kosher salt and freshly ground pepperBring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil over high heat. Cut spears about one inch below tips; reserve tips. Cut stalks in 1-inch pieces. Add to boiling water and cook 1-1/2 minutes. Add tips and cook an additional 1-1/2 minutes. Using a large skimmer or sieve, lift asparagus from water and transfer to a bowl. Do not rinse. Add fettuccini to boiling water and cook until al dente (to the tooth or chewy, not overcooked). During last minute of cooking return asparagus to liquid to reheat it. Drain pasta and asparagus, reserving liquid. Return to pot. Add ricotta, 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, butter and chives. Add enough reserved liquid, at least 1-1/2 cups, to make a creamy sauce. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve hot in individual bowls with additional Parmesan cheese on the side. Recipe makes 6 servings.

SOURCE: Adapted from recipe in Cooking in Season with The Fresh Market; The Fresh Market, Inc. and Chronicle Books, 2012, $24.99.
Download PDF of Memo #2312

Spinach & Cheese Strata

Breakfast is one of those meals I hardly think about. During the week, it's basically "grab a granola bar, and get out the door as fast as possible!" What can I say, I'm not one to leave a lot of time to leisurely enjoy a morning meal before work. (I like to sleep.)   IMG_3373   Spinach & Cheese Strata is the perfect make-ahead meal. The entire casserole is prepped the night before; all you have to do in the morning is pop it in the oven! It's almost like a savory bread pudding - spinach, onions, and two types of cheese all combined together in an eggy custard with French bread cubes. My husband and I enjoyed it for dinner, and it made great leftovers for breakfast for the rest of the week. A few seconds in the microwave, and we had a warm, home-cooked breakfast. (Much better than a granola bar any day.) To make the casserole, simply saute an onion with some butter; once it's cooked, add some chopped spinach.  


  In a 2-quart casserole dish, layer some diced French bread cubes. (Really, any bread you have lying around will work.)  


  Then, top it with half the spinach mixture.  


  Then, the CHEESE! (The best part.) I used a mix of grated Havarti and Parmesan. You can use whatever you like.  


  Repeat all the layers a second time; then prepare the egg mixture. Just a few eggs combined with milk, salt, and pepper.  


  Pour the egg mixture over the casserole; cover and refrigerate at least 8 hours or up to 24. When you're ready to bake, just pop into a 350*F oven for about 45 minutes until the eggs are set.  


  Mmmm... who could turn down a cheesy delight such as this? And it's healthy, too - full of spinach and protein. _______________________________________________________________________________________________________

Spinach & Cheese Strata

Servings/Yield: 10-12 servings
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • 2 10-oz packages frozen chopped spinach, thawed & squeezed dry
  • salt & pepper, to taste
  • 8 cups French bread, cut into cubes
  • 6-oz grated Havarti cheese
  • 2-oz grated Parmesan cheese
  • 9 large eggs
  • cups milk
Method Melt butter in skillet over medium heat. Add onions; saute until tender, about 5 minutes. Add salt & pepper to taste and stir in spinach. Set aside. Spray the inside of a 2-quart baking dish with cooking spray. Layer the bottom of the dish with half the bread cubes. Top with half the spinach mixture. Sprinkle half the cheese over the top. Repeat layers. In a medium bowl, combine eggs, milk, and salt & pepper to taste. Whisk until smooth. Pour egg mixture over bread/spinach in baking dish. Cover with foil and chill at least 8 hours or up to 24. Remove from refrigerator 30 minutes before baking. Preheat oven to 350*F. Bake casserole until puffed and golden brown, about 45-55 minutes. Let stand at least 5 minutes before serving. **This recipe can be easily adapted to your tastes. Add meat, swap out the veggies, and use your favorite cheese.

Source: Adapted from Annie's Eats