Monthly Archives: August 2013

Yaki Soba

Well, it's that time of year. Students are going back to school, and lots of families' lives will certainly pick up the pace and become extremely busy! Sports, homework, tutoring, music lessons... when there's lots of activities going on at night, it can be hard to provide a home-cooked meal for your family. Growing up, my  mom almost always had a home-cooked meal on the table at night. I didn't think much of it back then, but now that I have my own household, I appreciate how nice that was! There are nights now when it's way too easy just to order a pizza or Thai food. (And we don't even have kids yet!)  


  Yaki Soba is one of the meals my mom often prepared on a busy night. It's an Asian pan-fried noodle dish that comes together really quickly, in about 25 minutes. (Take that, Rachael Ray!) It's very budget-friendly, with the main ingredients being ground beef, onion, Ramen noodles, and whatever veggies you have in the fridge. Start by browning a pound of ground beef and a diced onion in a skillet. When the beef is browned, about about 2 cups of water, some soy sauce, and the seasoning packets from two packages of beef Ramen noodles. Bring it all to a simmer, and add your veggies and cabbage. (I used a combo of carrots, red pepper, green pepper, and mushrooms.) Once the veggies are almost tender, add in the Ramen noodles.   step by step   [caption id="attachment_3075" align="aligncenter" width="287"]IMG_4733 Betcha never thought you'd eat Ramen noodles after college, huh? ;)[/caption] Cover and simmer everything until the noodles are cooked all the way through, and stir in the water chestnuts. Serve topped with crunchy chow mein noodles.  


  I guess I had never cooked this dish since my hubby and I got married, because this was the first time he tried it. He loved it! (Minus the mushrooms... but he's a mushroom hater.) I'm so surprised that we've been married 3+ years and I had never made this before, because it's super easy and tasty. Serve it up with your favorite frozen egg rolls or pick up a sushi roll from the Chief deli.  


  _______________________________________________________________________________________________________ Yaki Soba Servings/Yield: 6 servings
  • 1 lb. ground beef
  • 1 onion, diced
  • ¾ cup diced carrots
  • 1 bag coleslaw lettuce
  • 1 package fresh mushrooms
  • ½ cup chopped green pepper
  • ½ cup chopped red pepper
  • 2 cups water
  • 3-4 tbsp. soy sauce
  • 2 packages beef ramen noodles
  • 1 can sliced water chestnuts
  • crispy chow mein noodles
Method Brown ground beef and onion in skillet. Add water, soy sauce, and seasoning packets. Add vegetables; simmer until carrots are tender. Add noodles and cook until done. Stir in water chestnuts. Serve topped with crispy chow mein noodles. Source: family favorite

Mary’s Memo – August 26th


A new report published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says 66% of products containing trans fats have reduced their content of the heart-unhealthy fats since 2007. But most of those gains were made soon after research showed that fats, found in partially hydrogenated vegetable oils and favored by the food industry for their stability and shelf life, raise bad cholesterol levels while cutting good HDL cholesterol. Only 3.4% of the 270 products studied reduced trans fat content in 2010-2011. Categories showing the most improvement were doughnuts, crackers and pies, while rolls, margarines and microwave popcorns lagged; overall, microwave popcorn averaged highest in trans fats with 4.5 grams per serving found in 2007 and 3.8 grams still found in 2011. Noting that trans fat consumption is harmful even in low levels, researchers called for continued major efforts and commitment toward reformulating (or discontinuing) foods to eliminate trans fats.
Source: Tufts Health & Nutrition Letter, August 2013.


Foods that contain nicotine, the same chemical found in cigarettes, might reduce a person’s risk of Parkinson’s disease, a study in the May Annals of Neurology concluded. Researchers compared the lifetime diets of 486 people newly diagnosed with Parkinson’s and 336 healthy people. Higher intake of plant based foods that contained nicotine and similar chemicals, including bell peppers, were linked to a lower risk of the disorder.
Source: Consumer Reports on Health, August 2013.


Some readers think I’ve failed to include food ideas for one or two family households so this week’s recipes are for them. We’re starting with a breakfast (or brunch) dish for one that Mary Ann adapted from a Bon Appetit recipe called Company Eggs that served 6. Original recipe called for Swiss chard, but I used fresh spinach. A grab-it bowl works fine for 1 serving. In place of whipping cream, we both used evaporated milk.


• 1 teaspoon olive oil
• 2 scallions, chopped
• 1 small clove garlic, minced
• 2-1/2 to 3 cups packed spinach
• 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon evaporated milk
• 1 or 2 eggs large eggs (1 use one)
• 1 tablespoon cheese (we used Parmesan but whatever kind you have on hand will be fine)

Preheat oven to 400ºF. Heat olive oil over medium heat in a 10-inch skillet. Add scallions and garlic. Cook, stirring occasionally, until onion is softened. Add spinach by the handful, tossing to wilt between additions. Add cream and simmer until thickened and almost evaporated (doesn’t take long). Spoon into grabit bowl. Using the back of a spoon, make 2 divots. Crack one egg into each divot. Season eggs with salt and pepper to taste. Sprinkle cheese over top. Bake, rotating dish once, for 11 minutes, until egg whites are almost set and yolks still runny. Let stand 5 minutes before serving. Note: First time I made this my yolks were hard cooked so watch carefully.
Source: Adapted from Bon Appetit recipe.


If you’ve never done this, you’re in for a tasty surprise. Halve romaine hearts lengthwise, leaving the cores intact. Brush the surface with canola or olive oil. Grill the hearts, cut side down, over medium heat for 2 minutes on each side, until char marks appear. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Parmesan cheese can also be added. Serve immediately.


A retired elementary teacher friend of mine did the ice cream recipe with her granddaughters. The only thing you have to buy is half and half, assuming that you have gallon and quart size Ziploc bags on hand.


• Ice cubes (enough to fill half of each gallon size bag)
• 1 cup half and half
• 1/2 cup salt (The bigger the granules, the better. Kosher or rock salt works best, but table salt is fine.)
• 2 tablespoons sugar
• 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
• 1 quart-size Ziploc bag
• 1 gallon-size Ziploc bag
• Your favorite mix-ins (a la Coldstone) such as chocolate chips, cereal pieces or fresh fruit

Combine the half and half, sugar and vanilla in the quart size bag and seal tightly.

Place the salt and ice in the gallon size bag, then place the sealed smaller bag inside as well. Seal the large bag. Now shake the bags until the mixture hardens (about 5 minutes). Feel the quart bag to determine when it’s done.

Take the smaller bag out of the larger one, add mix-ins and eat the ice cream right out of the bag. Easy clean up!

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A Taste of France: Baked Brie Bites

Our last stop on our Mediterranean cruise was the French Riveria - Monte Carlo, Monaco, to be exact. The city was located right on the water, and built up on a hill. My husband and I decided to explore the city by foot... little did we know how much climbing UP we would do! After walking around the port area (and getting a little lost), we finally made it to the main shopping & dining area. We toured the Prince's Palace, which was really neat. We then stopped a little cafe for lunch, hoping to taste some authentic French cuisine. The menu was all in French, and (of course), we hadn't brushed up on our French before the trip. And when I say brushed up... we had no knowledge of French to begin with. Except for "Bon jour!" So, it was quite an adventure ordering.  


I played it safe with a salad (hoping for it to come with a basket of chewy French bread that I saw on all the other tables), and my husband ordered a 'double' Croque Monsieur. We figured that meant double the meat or something like that... nope, it came with two sandwiches! Haha. And no bread came with my salad.



  So, although the meal was somewhat of a bust, it did its job in fueling us for the afternoon. After lunch, we continued to head up, toward the 'Jardin Exotique de Monaco', also known as the Monaco Cactus Garden. We didn't have any directions to the garden, we just followed the street signs to get there. We must have walked/hiked 3 miles! But once we made it, the view was totally worth it.  


As were the enormous cacti! So much fun.   IMG_2757   For today's recipe, I am featuring one of the best ingredients from Monaco - the CHEESE! Gruyere, Emmental, Bleu, Brie, Rocquefort... you can't go wrong with French cheese. Baked Brie Bites combine flaky puff pastry with creamy Brie cheese and cherry preserves to form an outstanding appetizer. It comes together in minutes, and is sure to be a hit at your next party or event.  


  Start with puff pastry from the freezer section. (You are more than welcome to make puff pastry from scratch, but even a baking enthusiast such as myself would say 'Ain't nobody got time for that!')   IMG_4672   Unfold it and cut it into squares. Then, place a cube of Brie cheese onto each square, and then top the cheese with a spoonful of cherry preserves. You could use any type of jam or preserves here... I think a sweet onion & pepper jam would be fabulous as well.   step by step   Pull the sides up and press them together to form what almost looks like a little purse. Brush it with an egg wash, and bake it at 400*F about 15 minutes until golden. Serve drizzled with honey.  


  So fancy, but so simple! And so tasty, too. Jouir de! _______________________________________________________________________________________________________

Baked Brie Bites

Servings/Yield: 18 appetizers
  • 1 package frozen puff pastry, thawed
  • 8-oz Brie cheese
  • ½ cup cherry preserves
  • 1 egg yolk
  • ¼-⅓ cup honey
Method Preheat oven to 400*F. Unroll puff pastry onto cutting board. Cut each piece into 9 squares. (You will have 18 squares total.) Place a small cube of Brie cheese on each square. Top with a dollop of preserves. Wrap pastry up over the cheese, creating a little purse. Place on parchment-lined baking sheet. Make an egg wash by beating the egg yolk with 1 tablespoon water. Brush a little over each pastry. Bake in preheated oven 13-15 minutes, until golden brown and flaky. Serve warm or at room temperature, drizzled with honey.              

Mary’s Memo – August 19th


I bought Cincinnati and Soup: Festivals and Frolics by Cheri Brinkman recently at a Dorothy Lane Market in Oakwood near Kettering. This isn’t the first Cincinnati and Soups cookbook but it was new to me and brings together all the fun of Cincinnati’s great events with more recipes and stories about such area events as Octoberfests, Goetta Fests, Greek Fests, Italian Fests, Ohio State and Local Fairs, Blues and Barbecue and many others. The author has lived much of her life in Cincinnati and is an avid cook. She is a graduate of Monterey Peninsula College and the University of Cincinnati.

When cookbooks are printed and published in such places as Timbuktu, this one was printed in Ohio by Mac Guffin Productions. How could a made-in-the-USA person like me resist a copy of Cincinnati and Soup: Festival and Frolics! For more information about the series go to

If you haven’t eaten at the Golden Lamb in Lebanon, Ohio’s oldest inn, put it on your “to do” list when you’re in southwestern Ohio. The same family has owned the Golden Lamb for years but a variety of different management groups have run the place and a host of different chefs have graced the kitchen. Shaker Sugar Pie is a tradition at the Golden Lamb and has been published a number of times including this rendition clipped from a local paper.


• 1/2 cup soft butter
• 1/4 cup flour
• 1 cup brown sugar
• 2 cups light cream or half and half
• 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
• Nutmeg
• 9-inch unbaked pie crust

Preheat oven to 350ºF. Mix flour and sugar and place in pie shell. Add cream and butter, broken into small pieces. Add vanilla. Sprinkle nutmeg on top. Bake in oven 40 to 45 minutes or until firm.
Source: Cincinnati and Soup: Festivals and Frolics by Cheri Brinkman.


Americans’ snack attack is approaching the point where the day becomes just one continuous meal, according to data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES). The average number of eating occasions per day has jumped from 3.9 in the late 1970s to 5.6 in 2009-10, while the percentage of total calories from snacks doubled from 12 percent to 24%. At about 500 daily calories, snacking adds the equivalent of a pound a week to weight. The share of respondents saying they’d eaten no snacks the previous day went from 40% in the late 70s to just 4% with 56% now reporting consuming three or more snacks daily.

In other NHANES data, all that snacking is making it slightly more likely that Americans will skip lunch (20%) than breakfast (15%). And despite the drumbeat of evidence touting the health benefits of produce, fruit consumption (including juice) has stayed flat while average vegetable intake has actually declined, from 2.6 daily portions in the late 70s to 1.9 in 2007-8 including French fries.
Source: Tufts Health & Nutrition Letter, August 2013.


Having a pet might lower your heart disease risk, according to a scientific statement published in May by the American Heart Association. Researchers reviewed studies that looked at pet ownership and cardiovascular risk markers. Compared with non-pet owners, people with pets tended to have lower blood pressure and cholesterol, better responses to stress, and, with dog ownership in particular, higher levels of physical activity and less obesity.
Source: Consumer Reports on Health, August 2013.


My Mary Ann eats lots of vegetables, raw and cooked, on the Weight Watchers Diet and Cabbage & Kale Sauté is a recent cooked one. Although the recipe serves 6, a half recipe made two generous portions for her.


• 2 teaspoons canola oil
• 1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds
• 2 teaspoons minced, peeled fresh ginger
• 2 cups sliced onions
• 1 tablespoon chopped, seeded jalapeño pepper
• 1 teaspoon sugar
• 1/2 teaspoon salt
• 1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
• 5 cups chopped kale
• 2 cups sliced green cabbage
• 2 tablespoons water

Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add cumin seeds; cook 1 minute. Add ginger; cook 1 minute, stirring frequently. Add onion; cook 5 minutes. Stir in remaining ingredients. Cover and cook 15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until kale is tender. Recipe makes 4 to 6 servings.
Source: From via Mary Ann Thaman.

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A Taste of Italy: Grilled Steak Caprese Salad

As I mentioned last week, my husband and I recently took a cruise through the Mediterranean, visiting several countries along the way. I've been highlighting recipes from each of the countries we visited here on the blog. Last week, we took a culinary journey to Spain with some Spanish Paella. This week, it's all about Italy!  


Italy was by far my favorite country of the three we visited throughout the cruise. We had two stops in Italy - Portofino and Alghero. Portofino was the most beautiful little fishing village. It was so picturesque... I could have spent a week there, just walking around and soaking up the sights.  


    We enjoyed a few tasty meals at our stops in Italy. It seemed that the approach to food in Italy was pretty simple. (So, so different from America where we have things like burgers topped with mac & cheese!)  Most of the dishes on the restaurant menus featured simple, light flavors that worked well together. We enjoyed a margherita pizza at a little cafe, and it was phenomenal. So simple, too - just tomato sauce, cheese, and fresh basil. The crust was crisp but chewy, and everything tasted so fresh.  


  We also enjoyed a slow morning people-watching with a few brioche (stuffed with marmalade, yum!) and cafe lattes. It was so relaxing and serene. The pace of life in Italy was just a bit slower than here in the US.


Caprese is a very popular trio of flavors featured in Italian cuisine - tomato, basil, and mozzarella. The traditional method of preparation is to layer fresh sliced tomato, sliced mozzarella, and basil with a drizzle of olive oil and sprinkle of salt. I put a little twist on the typical caprese salad and turned it into a main entree, Grilled Steak Caprese Salad with Balsamic Glaze. IMG_4652 A combination of spinach, fresh basil, diced tomatoes, and fresh mozzarella, topped off with freshly grilled sirloin and a balsamic drizzle. We went nuts for this salad! It is so fresh, but still has an indulgent taste. (I think because of the steak. Steak makes everything better!) It's full of healthy ingredients as well. It's pretty easy to prepare, too. First up, get your steak marinating. Just drizzle a bit of olive oil and balsamic vinegar over the steak, and top it with some minced garlic and salt & pepper. Let it marinate 30-60 minutes before you fire up the grill.


Once get the steak on the grill, you can start with the balsamic glaze. Pour about a cup of balsamic vinegar into a saucepan, and let it simmer about 15 minutes on low. It'll become thick & syrupy, and so delicious. (You will want to pour it over everything, haha!)  


  Once your steak is done, assemble the salads. Start with a bed of baby spinach, then top with diced fresh tomatoes, and cubed fresh mozzarella. Fresh mozzarella is key here - it is so much more flavorful than standard mozzarella. You can find it in the deli section.  


  Slice the steak and top the salads with it. Then, just a sprinkle of salt & pepper, and pour on a drizzle of olive oil and that yummy balsamic glaze. IMG_4646 So many flavors in this salad - everything works so well together! You could definitely leave off the steak to make this a meatless meal, or substitute grilled chicken to lighten it up even more. We served it up with some toasted sesame semolina artisan bread from the Chief deli, which was fantastic to soak up the extra balsamic glaze left on the plate.   IMG_4648   Ciao! _______________________________________________________________________________________________________

Grilled Steak Caprese Salad

Servings/Yield: 4 servings
  • For the steak
    • 1-lb. sirloin
    • olive oil
    • balsamic vinegar
    • salt & pepper
    • minced garlic
  • For the balsamic glaze
    • 1 cup balsamic vinegar
  • For the salad
    • 6-oz package baby spinach
    • 3-4 Campari tomatoes, diced
    • 6-8-oz fresh mozzarella cheese, diced into chunks
    • 10-12 basil leaves, chiffonade
    • additional olive oil, for dressing
    • toasted Italian bread, for serving
Method For marinade, drizzle steak with olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Sprinkle with salt & pepper, and add a few teaspoons of minced garlic. Let marinate 30-60 minutes. To prepare steak, preheat grill to high heat. Discard large chunks of garlic. Add steaks to grill and cook until your desired doneness. Let rest 5 minutes before slicing. For balsamic glaze, add 1 cup balsamic vinegar to a small saucepan. Simmer 10-15 minutes, until thick & syrupy. Set aside. To prepare salads, start with a plate of baby spinach. Layer on diced Campari tomatoes, mozzarella cheese, and basil leaves. Add sliced steak, then top with balsamic glaze and an additional drizzle of olive oil. Season with salt & pepper, and serve with toasted Italian bread.

Mary’s Memo – August 12th


Smoking may increase your risk of colon cancer, at least among women, suggests a new Norwegian study in Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention. The researchers followed 600,000 people for 14 years and found that female smokers were 19 percent more likely to develop colon cancer, on average, than women who never smoked. And female smokers tended to develop the cancer at a younger age than male smokers. Women who smoked for at least 40 years had a 50 percent higher risk of colon cancer. Though this study did not find that male smokers were at increased risk, they are not off the hook, since some earlier studies found that they, too, are more likely to develop colon cancer. Source: University of California, Berkeley Wellness Letter, August 2013.


Let yourself cheat on weekends. Trying to eat healthy 100 percent of the time is unrealistic, but 80 to 90 percent of the time isn’t, says nutritionist Jackie Newgent, R.D.N. “It is okay to enjoy a couple of not so perfectly healthful meals per week,” she says. “You can specifically plan to have those on the weekend without worrying about willpower. Plus, when it’s possible, plan to walk at least 30 minutes before your less-than-stellar meals to help accommodate extra calories in advance.” Source: Consumer Reports on Health, August 2013.


Several foods have been linked to improved brain health. Blueberries and walnuts contain polyphenols that have been shown to protect the brain from oxidative stress and reduce the effects of age-related conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease. Walnuts also contain omega-3 fatty acids. Research has shown that people who do not get enough omega-3s are at increased risk of fatigue, poor memory, decreased concentration and mood swings. Source: Weill Cornell Medical College Women’s Nutrition Connection, August 2013.


While doing some summer housecleaning I found a bean salad recipe from my sister, Ann, from ages ago. It appeals to me because one of the ingredients is stuffed olives and I haven’t tasted an olive I didn’t like!


• 1 (14.5-ounce) can blue lake green beans
• 1 (14.5-ounce) can yellow wax beans
• 1 (15-ounce) can kidney beans
• 1 cup chopped celery
• 1 cup chopped sweet onion
• 1 cup sliced stuffed olives
• Italian dressing
• Vinegar (optional)

Drain beans. Add other vegetables. Marinate in Italian dressing. If you like it more tart, add vinegar to taste. Chill overnight. Source: Ann Trentadue, Upper St Claire PA.


Although most fresh fruits are available throughout the year, they are not always USA-grown. That’s why I like the summer fruit selection best of all because the grapes I used in Grape Salad were grown here. I used equal amounts of red and green for added color. Calories were cut by substituting reduced-fat cream cheese for regular and light sour cream for full fat one. Because toasting enhances the flavor the pecans were toasted that go on top.


• 2 pounds green seedless grapes
• 2 pounds red seedless grapes
• 1 teaspoon vanilla
• 1 (8-ounce) package reduced-fat cream cheese
• 1 (8-ounce) carton light sour cream (I use Daisy brand)
• 1 cup packed light brown sugar
• 2 cups chopped pecans, toasted

Wash grapes and pat dry (important). Combine vanilla, cream cheese, sour cream and brown sugar. Stir into grapes and toss gently. Before serving, top with toasted pecans. To toast nuts, lightly brown in a nonstick skillet, stirring constantly, until nuts give off a nice aroma, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and cool. Source: Adapted from recipe in Four Seasons Colony Cookbook, via Renee Isaac, Bryan.


Oxo has a new 3-in-one adjustable potato ricer with a rotating stainless steel disk to easily change puree consistency. Fine setting is perfect for fluffy mashed potatoes, turnips and carrots. Medium setting is ideal for spaetzle and pressing water out of cooked greens and coarse setting is great for chunky applesauce, egg salad and pressing tomatoes for sauce. I bought mine at Bed Bath & Beyond at 20% off with coupon. Also, at a Crate and Barrel I found a 6-inch Anchor Hocking made-in-the-USA glass pie plate. Now I can make 2 serving-size pies, quiches and frittatas. They should also be available at

A Chief customer has lost a recipe for Dilled Carrots that I had on a memo during the 80s. I seem to have lost mine, also. If you have the recipe would you please leave copy at the Chief Supermarket nearest you?

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A Taste of Spain: Spanish Paella

A few weeks ago, my husband and I had the privilege of going on a Western Mediterranean cruise. (I know, right??!) It was utterly amazing. We departed from Barcelona, Spain, and then had stops in Monaco, Italy, and a few more in Spain. I thought it would be neat to recap a little bit of our trip and feature a recipe from each of the countries we visited. First up - Valencia, Spain. This was actually our last port of call on the cruise, so we didn't have any big plans for the day. We decided to go out and explore on our own. Valencia is the third largest city in Spain, so it was a bit overwhelming. We walked a few miles to the 'Ciudad de las Artes y las Ciencias' (City of the Arts and Sciences) and saw a lot of neat architecture and gardens. There was an aquarium, an art museum, a botanical garden, plus a science museum. We just wandered around looking at all the sights. It's actually located right near an old riverbed that flooded several years ago and has since been tuned into a picturesque park snaking throughout the city.  


  After getting our arts and science fix, we decided to visit the 'old town', where the cathedral, basilica, and lots of historical sights are. (Along with shopping and restaurants.) We'd already walked a few miles from the ship, and considered walking to the old town... but we weren't sure how far it was. We ended up taking a cab instead, which was a great idea since it was about 5 miles away. (Or so it seemed.)  


  After walking through all the shops and such, we found a little cafe for lunch. We wanted to get some paella, which is a rice dish that actually originated in Valencia. It's typically made with long grain rice, a few types of meat, green vegetables, beans, and seasonings like sweet paprika, oregano, and saffron.   [caption id="attachment_2986" align="aligncenter" width="384"]IMG_4510 Enjoyed with sangria, of course.[/caption]   The paella we ate actually had rabbit (!!) along with chicken, peas, and butter beans. I still can't believe I ate rabbit. (Honestly, I couldn't tell the difference between the rabbit pieces and chicken pieces.) I wasn't quite able to find rabbit at the Chief, so I adapted the recipe a bit to what is readily available in Ohio. ;) To make your paella, you definitely want to use the biggest pan (or wok) you own. Even better if you have a paella pan. (I don't, so I actually used two pans. This makes a lot of paella!) Start by browning some chorizo in a pan. Once it's cooked through, remove it to a dish, and add some diced chicken breast that has been seasoned with paprika and oregano. Once that's browned (not necessarily cooked through), remove it to a dish. This allows all the flavor of the meat permeate the entire dish.  


  Next, add your onion, garlic, and parsley to the pan; saute 2-3 minutes. Add a can of crushed tomatoes, and your other vegetables; cook a few minutes just until caramelized. Add the rice; stir it around to toast it a little.   sofrito + tomatoes + rice   Next, add the majority of the water to the dish. Stir everything around, and let it simmer about 10 minutes. Add your chicken pieces and chorizo back to the pan, along with several dashes of turmeric, and salt and pepper. (If you have saffron, use that instead of the turmeric... it's just a pretty expensive spice.) Continue simmering, adding additional water as needed, until the rice is al dente. When the rice is cooked, turn up the heat for about a minute to form a crispy crust on the bottom. Let it sit for 5 minutes before serving.   rice cooking + meat back in   Serve with a squeeze of fresh lemon juice and a spring of parsley. It was so much fun to be transported back to Spain last night on our back patio.  


  This dish is so good - you've got crisp vegetables, chewy rice, and a bit of heat from the chorizo and spices. The nice thing about paella is you can really add whatever you've got in your fridge. Have extra meat in the fridge to use up? Extra veggies about to go bad in the crisper drawer?  Throw them all in. It's really a 'clean out the fridge' type meal.  


  Be sure to mix up a pitcher of Raspberry Mango Sangria to go with it! _______________________________________________________________________________________________________

Spanish Paella

Servings/Yield: 8-10 servings
  • 1 tablespoon sweet paprika
  • 2 teaspoons dried oregano
  • kosher salt & black pepper , to taste
  • 2 lbs. boneless skinless chicken breast tenders, diced
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 lb. Spanish chorizo sausage
  • 1 large sweet onion, diced
  • 4 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1 red pepper, diced
  • 1 package snow peas, chopped
  • 1 bunch flat-leaf parsley, chopped
  • 15-oz can crushed fire-roasted tomatoes
  • 4 cups long grain rice
  • 6 water, (plus more, as needed)
  • large pinch turmeric
  • lemon , for garnish
Method Combine the sweet paprika and oregano with salt and pepper to taste. Rub all over diced chicken breast; set aside. Heat olive oil in LARGE skillet (or 2 skillets) over medium-high heat. Add chorizo; cook until browned. Remove and reserve. Add chicken breast, turning to brown on all sides. (Do not cook chicken all the way through at this point.) Add additional salt and pepper to taste. Remove chicken from pan and reserve. In the same pan, add onion, garlic, and parsley. Saute 2-3 minutes on medium heat. Add crushed tomatoes, red pepper, and snow peas; cook mixture a few minutes until the tomatoes caramelize a bit. Fold in rice and stir fry to coat the grains. Pour in water and simmer 10 minutes, gently moving the pan around so the rice cooks evenly and absorbs the liquid. Add chicken, chorizo, and several shakes of turmeric to the pan. Continue simmering, adding additional water as needed until the rice is cooked al dente, about 15-25 more minutes. When the paella is cooked and the rice looks fluffy and moist, turn the heat up for 1 minute until you can smell the rice toast at the bottom. Remove from heat and let sit 5 minutes before serving. Garnish with additional parsley and a squirt of fresh lemon juice. Source: adapted from the Holland American Culinary Arts Center

Mary’s Memo – August 5th


For the last 50 years, health authorities have widely cautioned Americans against eating eggs. It was thought that their high cholesterol content would raise blood cholesterol and increase the risk of heart disease. But such fears were not based on much actual science. In fact, dietary cholesterol has relatively little effect on blood cholesterol in most people (saturated fats and trans fats are the bigger culprits). And more recent research has largely exonerated eggs and even suggested that they may provide some heart benefits. Bottom Line: Eggs are an excellent and relatively inexpensive source of protein and also provide vitamins A and D, some B vitamins, iron, zinc and other healthful substances including choline and the carotenoids lutein and zeaxanthin. For most people, eating an egg a day, on average, has no ill effects. It may even be beneficial. Source: University of California, Berkeley Wellness Letter, August 2013.


Celebrate 100 years of making and sharing with the Limited Edition Ball Heritage Collection Perfect Mason Jar. If not available at Chief Supermarkets, order from I thought canning was a dying art but there’s been a resurgence of interest in food preservation as food prices increase.


Many people avoid coffee for health reasons. But now, as with chocolate and wine, the pendulum has swung so far in the other direction that we have to remind readers that moderation is still a good idea. Like all plant foods, coffee beans contain many naturally occurring chemicals. More than 1,000 have been identified so far, many formed during the roasting process. Some are potentially harmful for coffee drinkers, while others are potentially healthful, according to lab studies. Many of the beneficial substances are polyphenols that are antioxidants. In fact, coffee is the No.1 source of antioxidants in the U.S. and many countries, largely because we drink so much of it. For most people, coffee means caffeine, which is one of the most studied substances in food. Caffeine is a mild psychoactive substance that stimulates the central nervous system. Thus it improves reaction time, mental acuity, alertness and mood; wards off drowsiness; and helps people wake up and feel better in the morning. So it’s no surprise that a recent Australian study of long-distance truck drivers found that caffeine greatly reduced the risk of crashes. Source: University of California, Berkeley Wellness Letter, August 2013.


People who work in community gardens are less likely to be overweight than non-gardeners, suggests a study published online April 18 in the American Journal of Public Health. Researchers compared body mass index of 198 community gardeners and their non-gardening neighbors in Salt Lake City. The likelihood of being overweight was 62 percent lower for male gardeners and 46 percent lower for female gardeners. Source: Consumer Reports on Health, August 2013.


Many cooks avoid potatoes, thinking they are fattening. The potato is a healthy food; it’s how they are prepared that racks up the calories. My Mary Ann recommends Smashed Potatoes and Peas as a healthy way to “have your cake and eat it, too.” Do avoid Green Giant Frozen Peas. The company doesn’t hesitate to tell you the beans are grown and processed in China. Instead use Birdseye brand. Original recipe calls for whole milk but Mary Ann used skim. I am saying use whatever milk you normally buy.


• 1 cup whatever kind of milk you use
• 1 pound large red boiling potatoes (about 4), scrubbed well and cut into 1-inch pieces
• 2 garlic cloves, quartered
• 2 (4-inch) sprigs of fresh thyme (in produce dept)
• 1-1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
• 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
• 1 (10-ounce) package frozen Birdseye peas (not thawed)
• 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
• Grated nutmeg (optional)

Briskly simmer milk, potatoes, garlic, thyme, salt and pepper in 2-quart saucepan over moderate heat, partially covered, 10 minutes (do not let boil). Add peas and cook partially covered, until potatoes are tender, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat, add butter and let stand, covered, until melted, about 1 minute. Discard thyme. Coarsely mash mixture with a potato masher or large fork. Thin with additional milk if desired. Top with a little nutmeg. Source: Adapted from Gourmet Magazine recipe, March, 2006, via


Knowing everyone loves a bargain, do have a Chief Smokehouse bratwurst sandwich at your neighborhood Chief on Saturdays from 11 to 1.

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Sweet Corn Burger

One of my favorite restaurants is Red Robin (yummmm!) They specialize in gourmet burgers, with some outrageous toppings and combinations. Think bleu cheese, pineapple, bacon, avocado, frizzled onions, barbecue sauce, fried jalapenos, mushrooms, onions, to name a few. Not necessarily all on the same burger. ;)  


  Today's recipe reminds me of a burger that might be found on Red Robin's menu - the Sweet Corn Burger. It's a beef patty with bacon (inside the patty!), topped with Wisconsin cheddar cheese, mashed avocado, and a bacon & pepper sweet corn relish. Talk about indulgent, but definitely well worth the splurge. Start by preparing your burger patties... pretty simple. Combine ground beef with finely diced thick-cut bacon and salt & pepper. This is truly a bacon burger. Grill your patties over medium high heat 5-6 minutes on each side, until cooked to your liking. Add cheese during the last 1-2 minutes of cooking time.  


  Next, prepare the corn relish. Saute four (more!) bacon slices until crisp, then add sweet corn, red pepper, and green onion with a little butter. Season with salt & pepper and cook until everything's toasted and golden.


  Lastly, prepare the avocado mash. It's super simple - just mash up a ripe avocado with some salt & pepper to taste.  


  To assemble the burgers, layer the avocado spread on bottom of your bun, then top with the burger patty, and then the corn relish.  



Delicious! The corn relish brings a great fresh & light flavor to the burger, whereas the bacon really takes it over the top. The perfect balance, in my opinion. Give it a try while sweet corn is in season and on sale! IMG_4525 _______________________________________________________________________________________________________

Summer Corn Burger

Servings/Yield: 8 burgers
  • 2 lbs. ground beef
  • 1 lb. thick-cut bacon
  • salt & pepper, to taste
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 3-4 ears fresh sweet corn, shucked
  • 2-3 green onions, sliced
  • ¼ cup red pepper, diced
  • 1-2 avocados, mashed
  • 8 slices cheddar cheese
  • 8 onion buns, split & toasted
Method Preheat grill to medium-high heat. Reserve 4 slices bacon for the corn relish. Finely dice remaining bacon and combine with ground beef and salt & pepper to taste. Form into 8 patties. Grill 5-6 minutes on each side until cooked until your liking, adding cheddar during the last few minutes of cooking. For the corn relish, dice remaining 4 slices bacon. Cook in a skillet over medium heat until crisp. Drain off fat, leaving about 1 tablespoon. Add butter to pan and let melt. Slice corn kernels off cob and add to pan along with green onions and red pepper. Season with salt & pepper; cook 3-5 minutes until corn is toasted and fragrant. Remove from heat. Mash avocado with salt & pepper in a small bowl. To assemble burgers, spread avocado on the bottom of bun. Top with a burger patty (with cheese) and corn relish. Enjoy! Source: adapted from Iowa Girl Eats