Monthly Archives: July 2013

Mary’s Memo – July 29th

HAPPY 100th BIRTHDAY TO HELLMANN’S MAYONNAISE!


In 1913, there was only one kind of Hellmann’s while today there are several kinds on supermarket shelves. The formula for it is about the same. Not only has it been around for a century, it was the first commercial mayonnaise in the marketplace. Kraft didn’t introduce a mayonnaise until 1988.

I started married life using Kraft Miracle Whip Salad Dressing like Mother. Early Mary’s Memo recipes may have called for mayonnaise but I replaced it with Miracle Whip because I wasn’t using mayonnaise at the time. When I started including mayonnaise in recipes, I still had Miracle Whip on hand. When a light version of both became available that’s what I bought until I finally dropped Miracle Whip altogether. I have tried several kinds of Hellmann’s but liked none as much as Hellmann’s Light.

Daughter Mary Ann also uses Hellmann’s Light Mayonnaise and to celebrate the 100th birthday we’re featuring her low calorie herb dip.

MARY ANN’S HERB DIP


• 1 cup Hellmann’s Light Mayonnaise
• 1 cup small curd cottage cheese
• 1 clove garlic, minced
• 1/4 cup chopped chives
• 1/4 cup flat leaf parsley, finally snipped or 1 tablespoon dried parsley
• 1 tablespoon fresh dill or 3/4 teaspoon dried dill weed
• 1 tablespoon fresh basil, finely snipped or 3/4 teaspoon dried basil
• Dash of Worcestershire sauce
• Dash of Tabasco
• Assorted vegetable dippers

Note: For a striking presentation, serve dip in hollowed out red cabbage.

PEOPLE WHO EAT MORE FISH LIVE LONGER


“The advantages of eating fish are many,” says Alice Lichenstine, DSc, director of Tufts’ HNRCA Cardiovascular Nutrition Laboratory. “Fish offers omega 3 fatty acids and, depending on how it is prepared, is low in calories and saturated fat.”

The American Heart Association recommends eating fish twice a week, particularly fatty varieties high in omega 3s such as salmon, mackerel, herring, lake trout, sardines and albacore tuna. A “serving” is 3.5 ounces cooked, or about three-quarter cup of flaked fish.

On a day when I thought it was too hot to cook outside I broiled Glazed Grilled Salmon in my oven. So that salmon cooks evenly, a salmon steak works better than a fillet.

GLAZED GRILLED SALMON


• 3 tablespoons packed brown sugar
• 1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
• 1 teaspoon rice vinegar
• 1 tablespoon reduced-sodium soy sauce
• 2 (8-ounce) salmon steaks (about 3/4-inch thick)

To create a glaze, combine brown sugar, mustard, rice vinegar and soy sauce in medium bowl and whisk to blend. Spray both sides of broiler pan rack with nonstick spray. Brush one side of salmon steaks with half the glaze (be sure salmon surface is dry). In upper third of oven place glazed salmon steaks under broiler and broil until slightly charred, about 5 minutes. Turn salmon over and brush with remaining glaze mixture. Broil second side until opaque in center, about 5 minutes longer. Transfer to plates. Recipe serves 2.

To do on an outdoor grill, brush salmon steaks with half the glaze and grill glazed-side-down over medium-high heat. Grill for 5 minutes. Brush top side with remaining half of glaze and place glazed-side-down and grill and cook another 5 minutes. Source: Adapted from Cooking.com recipe.

PIECE DE RESISTANCE


A neighbor asked me recently if I had a good recipe for a rhubarb custard pie and I didn’t hesitate to say yes and promised to share the recipe but it took two weeks to find it! A few years after I graduated from Purdue one of my two mentors, Dr. Gertrude Sunderlin, sent me a stapled mimeographed packet of favorite recipes from the Home Economics Lunchroom that had been reduced to family size by several students in the experimental foods laboratory. Over the years I’ve used many of these recipes including the rhubarb custard pie. To justify the time spent on the search, we’re including Rhubarb Custard Pie while fresh rhubarb is still available.

PURDUE RHUBARB CUSTARD PIE


• 2 eggs
• 1 tablespoon melted butter
• 2 teaspoons flour
• 1 cup sugar
• 2 cups finely sliced rhubarb

Beat eggs. Add melted butter. Stir in well mixed flour and sugar. Stir in the rhubarb. Pour into 8-inch pie plate. Bake in preheated 425ºF oven for 10 minutes. Then in a moderate 350ºF oven continue baking for about 30 minutes. This may be served with whipped cream. Source: Family Size Recipes from Purdue University Home Economics Lunchroom “Favorites.”

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Mary’s Memo – July 22nd

FROM THE COOKBOOK SHELF


A healthful diet which can reduce your risk of developing many chronic conditions starts in your kitchen and your trips to
the supermarket can make or break it. So to eat right, you have to shop right. But that’s not easy, considering that the average supermarket carries close to 40,000 different items, according to the Food Marketing Institute. Having a wealth of food options can be a wonderful thing, but it can also be confusing. Without help, you may pick up something that seems healthful when, in fact, it is not a good choice. Or you could end up resorting to impulse purchases. Perhaps the choices overwhelm you (there are dozens of yogurt varieties alone) that you can’t decide which to pick and you leave empty-handed. The key to surviving the supermarket is to keep healthful eating in mind in every aisle. To help you do this is the 90 page Wellness Supermarket Buying Guide by Ed Blonz, M.S., PhD. Blonz is an assistant professor in the department of clinical pharmacy at the University of California, San Francisco, and a syndicated columnist. For more information about the full guide plus how to order it, go to wellnessletter.com/supermarket. Source: University of California, Berkeley Wellness Letter, Summer 2013.

MEDITERRANEAN DIET MAY PRESERVE COGNITIVE SKILLS


Approximately 15 percent of adults over the age of 70 suffer from dementia. Currently, there are no preventive or therapeutic measures to deter advancement of the disease, but some studies have suggested that dietary factors are associated with lower risk of Alzheimer’s disease (AD). The Mediterranean diet in recent years has been associated with lower risk of cardiovascular risk, cancer mortality and AD. The Mediterranean diet is characterized by high intake of plant foods including whole grains, fruits and vegetables, olive oil and small amounts of fish and limited intake of saturated fats from meat and dairy products. This study, published in the April 30, 2013 print issue of Neurology, is the largest study to date on the Mediterranean diet. It included dietary information from 17,478 participants, average age 64, with no record of stroke or impaired cognition at baseline. It was conducted between January 2003 and October 2007; follow up extended through September 2010. Source: DukeMedicine, July 2013.

SLOW COOKING IS “COOL”


Why heat up the kitchen or stand over a hot grill when you have a slow cooker? I have both 4 and 6 quart ones. You might not think you need either but slow cookers are handy for any size family! What I don’t eat fresh is frozen in single or 2- serving portions to use when summertime activities beckon. McCormick’s Easy Slow Cooker Tuscan Stew inspired me to write about slow cookers this week because I just ate the last package. To be honest, I haven’t used the recipe until now because it needed some changes. The original recipe was thickened with flour when I prefer Minute Tapioca as a thickener. Stew was to be served with toasted Italian bread when my choice is mashed potatoes. Finally, beef bouillon cubes include MSG and my preference is beef-flavored Better Than Bouillon without MSG.

EASY SLOW COOKER TUSCAN STEW


• 1 tablespoon McCormick Mixed Pickling Spice
• 2 pounds beef stew meat, trimmed and cut into 1 to 1-1/2-inch cubes
• 1 medium onion, cut into medium wedges
• 4 carrots, cut into 1/2-inch slices
• 1 teaspoon McCormick Rosemary Leaves
• 1 teaspoon McCormick Garlic Powder
• 2 teaspoons beef-flavored Better than Bouillon
• 2 (14.5-ounce) cans diced tomatoes, not drained
• 1 cup red wine
• 3 tablespoons Minute Tapioca

Place pickling spices in the center of a piece of cheesecloth. Tie tightly with a long piece of string. Place beef cubes, onion, carrots, crushed rosemary leaves, garlic powder and bouillon in 5 or 6-quart slow cooker. Stir in tomatoes and wine. Add pickling spice bag; cover. Start on HIGH for one hour. Reduce to LOW and cook an additional 7 hours. Remove pickling spice bundle. Return cooker to HIGH and thicken stew with Minute Tapioca, stirring until stew thickens. Serve over mashed potatoes. Recipe makes 8 (1-cup) servings. Source: Adapted from McCormick recipe.

A HEALTHY VEGGIE DIP


Replace sour cream-based dips with one made with plain yogurt.

YOGURT VEGGIE DIP


• 8-ounces plain yogurt
• 1 teaspoon lemon juice
• 1 teaspoon dried onion flakes
• 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
• 2 teaspoons Italian blend herbs (or use 1 teaspoon basil,
1/2 teaspoon oregano and 1/2 teaspoon parsley)
• 1/4 teaspoon pepper

In small bowl, combine all ingredients. For maximum flavor, make dip at least two hours before serving to allow flavors to combine. Stir before serving. Recipe makes 8 (1/8-cup) servings.

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No-Bake Chocolate Eclair Dessert

Aren't no-bake desserts the best in the summertime? Who wants to fire up their oven when it's 90+ degrees outside? Today's recipe is one of those simple, but absolutely delicious, classics. No-Bake Chocolate Eclair Dessert is a lightened up French vanilla pudding mousse layered with graham crackers, and then it's all topped off with a rich chocolate glaze. It's got such great textures - creamy pudding, soft graham crackers with a bit of crunch, and that deep chocolate glaze on top brings everything together.   IMG_4398   It's a quick & easy dessert (as long as you remember to plan ahead). It does require about 8 hours in the fridge, so try to make it the day before you need it. First off, mix up the pudding. Just some milk & French vanilla pudding mix, with a container of Cool Whip folded in. (Who doesn't love Cool Whip?)   IMG_4389   Then, layer the graham crackers --> pudding --> graham crackers --> pudding --> graham crackers.   IMG_4392   For the chocolate topping, just combine a bit of cocoa powder, sugar, and milk in a saucepan. Heat, stirring, until it boils; then let it boil for 1 minute.  

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    Stir in some butter and a splash of vanilla, and you've got a silky smooth chocolate glaze! Spread it over the top layer of graham crackers and let it set up in the refrigerator.   IMG_4395   As we were eating this yummy dessert, I couldn't help but brainstorm some different ideas to change it up... here's a few ideas if you feel like being creative!
  • Fold in some marshmallows for a s'mores inspired treat.
  • Use a different flavor of pudding, or chocolate or cinnamon graham crackers.
  • Add in some fresh banana slices for a twist on banana pudding.
  • Use Oreos instead of graham crackers, and fold chopped Oreos in with the pudding mixture.
_______________________________________________________________________________________________________ No-Bake Chocolate Eclair Dessert Servings/Yield: 12-16 servings
  • 2 3.5-oz boxes instant French vanilla pudding
  • 3 cups milk
  • 12-oz container Cool Whip, thawed
  • 1 package graham crackers
  • For the chocolate topping
    • cup cocoa powder
    • 1 cup sugar
    • ¼ cup milk
    • ½ cup unsalted butter
    • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Method Combine pudding mix and milk in a large bowl; whisk until combined and thickened. Fold in Cool Whip. Place graham crackers in a single layer in the bottom of a 9x13-inch pan. Spread half the pudding mixture over the graham crackers; repeat with another layer of graham crackers. Spread the remaining pudding mixture, and top with one last layer of graham crackers. To prepare topping, combine cocoa powder, sugar, and milk in a medium saucepan. Cook over medium-high heat, stirring frequently, until the mixture comes to a full boil. Boil 1 minute, stirring constantly. Remove from heat and stir in butter and vanilla extract. Pour chocolate mixture over the graham crackers. Refrigerate 8 hours until set. Source: The Kitchen is My Playground

Buffalo Chicken Meltdown

Today's recipe is inspired by one of my college cafeteria's most popular sandwiches - the Buffalo Chicken Meltdown. (Sounds intense, huh?) Whenever the dining commons served up this sandwich, the line would be crazy long for the main entree. Something about a deep-fried chicken patty, smothered in buffalo-barbecue sauce, topped with cheese must have been very appealing to college students. My friends & I always gobbled them up.   IMG_4351   The cafeteria always seemed to serve these sandwiches on a Tuesday or Thursday, which also happened to be 'speedwork at the track' day. (I was on the cross country & track teams in college.) I just remember getting through 2 or 3 repeats and everybody would be clutching at their bellies... "Did you have the Buffalo Chicken Meltdown for lunch?" "Yea... when will we ever learn??!" As tasty as those sandwiches were, they didn't prove to be great running fuel. Something about the deep-fried goodness plus cheese plus buffalo sauce was just not a good combination. (Not a good combination for running... but otherwise an excellent combination.) So, I set out to re-make my college favorite, but make it a little healthier. I replaced the deep-fried chicken patty with a lean, grilled chicken breast. I kept the standard sauce (barbecue + buffalo sauce), but kept it to a small amount of cheese, and served it up on a fresh-baked onion bun. Dare I say these were better than the original? They are super easy, too. Start by making your sauce - just a mix of barbecue and buffalo wing sauce. Use more buffalo if you like it spicier, use less if you're a bit of a wimp.  

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  Season some chicken breasts with salt & pepper, and grill them up. During the last couple minutes of grill time, brush the sauce on top, and lay a slice of cheese on each chicken breast so it melts.  

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  Once the chicken's done, it's all about the assembly. Just a toasted onion bun, topped with the chicken, some chopped green onions, and a little ranch dressing. You could certainly add lettuce & tomato, but I wanted the barbecue-buffalo flavor to really come through.   IMG_4350   My husband never had the privilege of enjoying the Buffalo Chicken Meltdown in college, so this was his first experience. He gave it two thumb's up for sure. (I will actually admit, we ate this for dinner three nights in a row last week. It was so easy since the chicken was already grilled up!) _______________________________________________________________________________________________________ Buffalo Chicken Meltdown Servings/Yield: 4 sandwiches
  • 1 lb. boneless skinless chicken breasts
  • salt & pepper
  • ½ cup barbecue sauce
  • ¼ cup buffalo wing sauce
  • 4-6 slices provolone cheese
  • 2-3 green onions, chopped
  • 4 onion buns, toasted
  • ranch dressing, for serving
Method Preheat grill to medium-high. Season chicken breasts with salt & pepper. For sauce, combine barbecue sauce and buffalo wing sauce in bowl. Set aside. Grill chicken breasts, 4-5 minutes on each side, until cooked through. During last 1-2 minutes of grilling, brush with sauce mixture and top with provolone cheese. Serve chicken on toasted onion buns topped with green onions and a drizzle of ranch. Source: inspired by a dish served in the Greenville College cafeteria

Mary’s Memo – July 15th

NATIONAL HOT DOG DAY, JULY 17TH


A lot of health-conscious consumers have eliminated hot dogs from their diet but just as many or more must still be buying them, judging by the number of hot dog choices in the supermarket. Two stand out in my opinion including Hebrew National and Ball Park’s new Angus Franks. Both are all beef, free of artificial flavors or colors, fillers and by products. They’re also available in bun-size or regular. I admit to enjoying a beef hot dog occasionally and for some reason they taste best when eaten outdoors.

I actually did taste-testing of National and Ball Park’s new Angus Frank without checking the sodium content ahead of time. Hebrew National are saltier and their label verified this. In both their favor, insignificant fat drippings were observed after broiling.

FIVE ITEMS TO BAN FROM YOUR PANTRY


They are soda pop, shortening, canned soups, microwave popcorn and white bread. Why? Sodas are high calorie beverages that add unnecessary sugar to your diet. Shortening is a hidden source of trans fat because manufacturers are required to note the amount of trans fat only if it has more than 0.5 grams per serving. Canned soups tend to be every high in sodium. Choose only “sodium-free” or “low sodium” options. Microwave popcorn is high in sodium, saturated fat and typically contains trans fats. Replace white bread with whole wheat, a much healthier option due to its fiber content. High-fiber diets are associated with improved blood sugar control and decreased LDL (bad cholesterol). Source: Weill Cornell Medical College Women’s Nutrition Connection, July 2013.

CREATING A HEALTHIER PICNIC OR POTLUCK


*Provide healthier alternatives to mayonnaise-soaked sides: Serve grilled vegetable kabobs with zucchini, onions, tomatoes and red and green bell peppers that have been seasoned with garlic or onion powder, pepper and a drizzle of olive oil.
*Serve a fresh green salad loaded with healthy vegetables and dress it with extra-virgin olive oil and vinegar instead of bottled salad dressing; this increases the healthy fat and decreases the unhealthy fat and sodium.
*Opt for lean proteins, such as skinless chicken breast, lean turkey burgers, fish and shrimp, rather than fatty burgers or processed meats such as hot dogs, sausage and bratwurst.
*Accompany fresh vegetable crudités with yogurt-based, instead of sour cream-based dips.
*Enjoy naturally sweet fresh fruit for dessert; thread chunks of melon and pineapple, strawberries, grapes or other favorites on skewers for kabobs that will appeal to adults and children alike. Source: Weill Cornell Medical College Women’s Nutrition Connection, July 2013.

Although I’m contradicting myself by using a commercial dressing, Bryan Chief tasters gave 4 ingredient Tomato-Cucumber Salad rave reviews recently. I replaced 2 small cucumbers with a seedless European cucumber. Since it is hard to find a small red onion, I used half of a medium size one. A food processor will save time.

TOMATO-CUCUMBER SALAD


• 4 small on-the-vine tomatoes, thinly sliced
• 1 seedless cucumber, thinly sliced
• 1 small red onion, thinly sliced
• 1/2 cup Kraft Lite Zesty Italian Dressing

Arrange tomatoes, cucumbers and onions on large platter. Drizzle with dressing. Recipe makes (4) 70-calorie servings. Source: Adapted from Kraft recipe.

SZECHUAN CUISINE


With daughter Mary Ann on the Weight Watcher’s Diet, she’s doing a lot of low calorie cooking including this week’s Szechuan Green Beans with Ground Pork. Szechuan is a Chinese province known for its hot and spicy foods. A small amount of crushed red pepper goes a long way so you may want to adjust it, but if you do it may not be Szechuan. That said, start with 1/2 teaspoon.

SZECHUAN FRESH GREEN BEANS WITH GROUND PORK


• 1/2 pound lean ground pork
• 1 teaspoon cornstarch
• 1/8 teaspoon salt
• 1/8 teaspoon white pepper
• 1 teaspoon peanut oil
• 2-1/2 cups (1-inch) green beans
• 1 teaspoon minced garlic
• 2 tablespoons hoisin sauce
• 1 teaspoon sugar
• 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper
• 2 teaspoons low-sodium soy sauce
• 2 cups cooked white or brown rice
• Chopped scallions for garnish

Combine first four ingredients in a mixing bowl. Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add pork mixture, beans and garlic; cook 3 minutes to 5 minutes or until pork loses its pink color, stirring to crumble. Combine hoisin sauce and next three ingredients (through soy sauce) in small bowl; stirring with a whisk. Add hoisin sauce to pork mixture. Cook 2 minutes or until heated thoroughly. Serve over cooked white or brown rice. Garnish with chopped scallions. Recipe makes 4 servings.

Source: Cooking Light, April 2006.

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Tomato Bacon Zucchini

Is anybody else absolutely loving all the fresh summer produce available right now? Fresh tomatoes, corn, berries, watermelon, squash... they're all especially delicious right now. Zucchini & yellow squash are two of my favorite vegetables, and they're perfectly ripe right now. And this week at the Chief, they're just $0.99/lb! It's even grown in Ohio and organic. One of my favorite ways to prepare zucchini is to throw it on the grill with some olive oil & garlic, but today I've got a recipe that takes it up a notch. Tomato Bacon Zucchini is actually a recipe passed down from my great-grandma, and I can always remember my mom cooking up a big ole' batch of it on a hot summer night. Zucchini slices are simmered in a tomato-basil sauce, along with fresh mushrooms, onions, and a few pieces of thick-cut bacon.  

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  Start by browning about 1/2 lb. of bacon pieces in an electric skillet. (A regular skillet will work, too, just make sure you have a lid!) Once the bacon is almost crisp, add a bit of diced onion and some sliced mushrooms. Cook a few minutes until bacon is crisp.  

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  Add in one can of tomato sauce, along with salt, pepper, a bit of brown sugar, and some basil leaves. Mmmm... the fresh basil takes this dish over the top! Turn down the heat to a simmer, and stir everything to combine.  

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  Now, add the zucchini. I used about 4 zucchinis, cut into 1/4-inch slices. You could do yellow squash as well if you want to mix it up a bit.  

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  Cover the skillet, and let it simmer about 35-40 minutes until the zucchini is tender, stirring occasionally.  

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  Serve as a side dish. It goes great with grilled meats.  

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  I love this unique twist on zucchini - it's got great flavor without feeling too heavy. The basil & tomato work really well with the zucchini. Make sure you have some crusty bread to soak up the extra sauce! The leftovers are also really delicious served over cooked pasta, almost a zucchini ragout.   ______________________________________________________________________________________________________

Tomato Bacon Zucchini

Servings/Yield: 6 servings
  • 3-4 zucchinis, sliced into 1/4-inch rounds
  • 1/2 lb sliced bacon, diced into pieces
  • ½ lb sliced fresh mushrooms
  • ¼ cup diced onion
  • 15-oz can tomato sauce
  • 1 cup water
  • ¼ cup basil leaves
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
Method Heat skillet over medium heat. Add bacon, mushrooms, and onions; brown until bacon is crisp. Add tomato sauce, water, basil leaves, and brown sugar. Cook 3 minutes to blend flavors. Add sliced zucchini and cook 35-40 minutes covered on low heat. If sauce cooks down too much, add a small amount of water. Source: family favorite  

Mary’s Memo – July 8th

WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW ABOUT GARLIC


China is the largest producer of garlic, followed by the United States. Be sure that the garlic you buy is USA-grown. Fortunately Chief Supermarket garlic is grown here. It costs more to grow garlic in the United States because growers pay a decent wage and benefits to their employees while the Chinese do not and they flood the U.S. with their cheap garlic. Personally, I don’t mind paying a little more. Also, I’m familiar with how we grow garlic but not the Chinese imports.

BASIL BASICS


Called the “king of herbs,” basil is particularly popular in Mediterranean and Asian cuisines. A member of the mint family, its aromatic leaves add flavor and color to pastas, pizzas, curries, soups, sauces (think pesto) as well as chicken and fish dishes. The basil you are probably most familiar with is sweet basil. Basil leaves have antioxidant properties. The essential oils help defend plants against bacteria, fungi and insects, among other beneficial functions. Basil is a source of potassium, vitamins C and K, calcium and iron, though to get significant amounts, you’d have to eat cups of the herb. Unfortunately, studies in people are in short supply and given the scarcity of good studies, appreciate basil because of its tastiness.

Source: University of California, Berkeley Wellness Letter, July 2013

Frugal Italians ate panzanella because it was cheap to make and they love bread. I’d like to serve this at the Bryan Chief but a bread salad needs to be eaten immediately after making. Recipe includes a generous amount of fresh basil that’s so flavor-compatible with chopped tomatoes. Some recipes call for chopped peeled and seeded cucumber but not this one.

PANZANELLA (Italian Bread Salad)


• 4 large tomatoes, cut into chunks (about 3 cups)
• 3 cloves garlic, minced
• 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
• 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
• Freshly ground pepper to taste
• 1 (16-oz) loaf country white bread (not sourdough)
• Olive oil to taste
• 1/2 cup fresh basil, coarsely chopped
• 1/2 cup (2-oz) freshly shaved Parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 300ºF. Toss the tomatoes, garlic, vinegar, 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt and pepper in a large bowl. Marinate for 30 minutes. Tear bread into bite-size pieces and arrange on a baking sheet lined with foil. Drizzle the bread pieces with  olive oil and season with salt to taste. Bake 20 minutes or until golden brown, stirring occasionally. Add toasted bread, basil and cheese to the tomato mixture and toss to mix. Serve immediately. Recipe makes 4 to 6 servings.

Source: California Mosaic by the Junior League of Pasadena, Inc.

GADGET GURU STRIKES AGAIN


Honestly, I don’t buy every gadget I see but I did succumb to the TV ads for the Wraptastic, buying one for plastic wrap and another for heavy duty foil at Bed Bath & Beyond with 20 percent off coupons. If you look around, they are also available in area stores so don’t spend money on postage to get one (or two). If you’ve ever been annoyed trying to unroll plastic wrap or foil, the Wraptastic really does work and saves on the amount of wrap that you use. Mine are in use a lot!

SUMMERTIME IS SALAD TIME


When daughter Mary Ann sent me this recipe I could almost taste it! It’s adaptation of a Weight Watchers recipe.

SAUTEED SPINACH AND TOMATOES WITH CHEESE AND PINE NUTS


• 1/4 cup pine nuts
• 2 tablespoons light olive oil
• 4 cups grape tomatoes
• 2 teaspoons minced garlic
• 1 (10-oz) bag baby spinach
• 1/8 teaspoon kosher salt or to taste
• 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground pepper or to taste
• 2 ounces low-fat feta cheese (about 1/2 cup)

Place pine nuts in a large nonstick skillet and set over medium heat; cook, tossing occasionally, until lightly toasted, about 2 minutes. Remove from skillet and set aside. Heat oil in same skillet over medium high heat. Add tomatoes and cook, tossing occasionally, until skins are lightly charred and start to split, pressing down with a spoon several times, about 6 to 10 minutes. Add garlic and cook, stirring until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add spinach; cook, tossing with tongs, just until wilted, about 1 minute. Sprinkle with salt and pepper; toss. Spoon into serving bowl; sprinkle with cheese and pine nuts. Recipe makes (6) 2/3-cup servings.

Source: Adapted from Weight Watchers recipe.

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Red, White, & Blue Pasta Salad

Can you believe summer's almost half-over? It feels like summer hasn't even begun yet, where is the sun? The 4th of July is just around the corner... what a perfect reason to get together with friends & family! With an over-abundance of red, white, & blue desserts (I don't know how many variations of a flag cake I can handle...), I decided to share a savory red, white, & blue recipe. This weekend, we had my husband's family out to visit. We had tons of fun activities planned - swimming pool, splash pad in the park, the drive-in movie theater. However, with all the rain, we ended up spending a majority of the time inside watching movies. Still a great time! We did brave the rain and fired up the grill for lunch with our favorite Chief Smokehouse beer brats. I served up this fabulous Red, White, & Blue Pasta Salad as a side to go with the brats, and it was enjoyed by everyone.   IMG_4275   It's a tangy pasta salad, with a light garlic balsamic dressing. The red comes from halved grape tomatoes, the white from the pasta, and the blue from crumbled blue cheese. (I know... stretching it a bit? I thought blueberries might be a little too strange.) It's a cinch to make... especially because you can make it ahead of time to avoid that crazed last minute prep work for a potluck or party. Start with the pasta. You can use any type of small pasta that you want; I went with the bow ties. Cook the pasta until al dente; then, drain and rinse with cold water to stop the cooking process. Combine the pasta with halved grape tomatoes, some green onions, blue cheese, and a few pieces of cooked & crumbled bacon. (Everything's better with bacon, am I right?)   [caption id="attachment_2827" align="aligncenter" width="448"]IMG_4268 I waited until the last minute to add the bacon so it would stay crisp.[/caption]   Then, for the dressing. Whisk together olive oil, balsamic vinegar, brown sugar, minced garlic, cajun seasoning, and salt & pepper.  

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  Simply pour it over the pasta salad, and stir to combine. Keep the salad in the fridge until it's time to eat!  

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  The leftovers also make a great main dish meal when combined with leftover grilled chicken pieces or grilled steak. Yum.   IMG_4273 _______________________________________________________________________________________________________ Red, White, & Blue Pasta Salad Servings/Yield: 8-10 servings
  • 8-oz bowtie pasta
  • 1 bunch green onions, thinly sliced
  • 2 cups grape tomatoes, halved
  • 1 cup crumbled bleu cheese
  • 6 slices thick-cut bacon, cooked & crumbled
  • For the dressing
  • ½ cup olive oil
  • ¼ cup balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon pepper
  • ½ teaspoon cajun seasoning
Method Prepare noodles according to the package directions. Drain and rinse in cold water; transfer to a large bowl. Add green onions, tomatoes, bleu cheese, and bacon. For dressing, whisk together oil, vinegar, brown sugar, garlic, salt, pepper, and cajun seasoning. Drizzle over salad and toss to coat. Store in refrigerator. Source: adapted from Taste of Home