Monthly Archives: September 2013

Pumpkin Spice Caramel Corn

This caramel corn? Oh my goodness. I CANNOT STOP EATING IT!   IMG_4968   I am in the kitchen A LOT for my job, baking cupcakes and all sorts of other goodies on a daily basis. So, usually, I am unfazed by sweet treats. Yes, I like to eat them, but typically I can take a bite (or two) and then be on my merry way. But this caramel corn has me smitten. Pumpkin Spice Caramel Corn is the perfect snack for fall. It's buttery, sugary caramel corn spiked with tons of pumpkin pie flavors (cinnamon, cloves, & nutmeg), and drizzled with white chocolate. If you've never made homemade caramel corn before, you need to give it a try! It's a cinch. Start out with the caramel sauce. Just melt some butter with sugar, brown sugar, corn syrup, and a hefty dose of pumpkin pie spice. Bring it to a boil, stirring constantly. Once it's boiling, let it boil for 5 minutes without touching it. Then it's ready!   IMG_4960 Pour it over your popcorn and give it all a good stir to coat evenly. Spread it into a baking sheet and bake at 250*F for about one hour, stirring every 15 minutes.



  Once it's cool, drizzle it with some melted white chocolate. Once the chocolate sets up, it's ready to eat!   IMG_4966   It's the perfect combo of sweet & salty, and the pumpkin pie spice really shines through. The white chocolate takes it over the top. And popcorn is a whole grain, so it's totally healthy, ya know??! Pumpkin Spice Caramel Corn would make a great snack for any fall activity or get together. ______________________________________________________________________________________________________

Pumpkin Spice Caramel Corn

Servings/Yield: approximately 20 cups
  • 3 packages butter-flavored microwave popcorn, popped
  • 1 cup unsalted butter
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • ½ cup light corn syrup
  • 3 tablespoons pumpkin pie spice
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup white chocolate chips
Method Preheat oven to 250*F. Set popcorn in a large bowl. Melt butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add sugar, brown sugar, corn syrup, pumpkin pie spice, and salt. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Let mixture boil 5 minutes, without stirring. Remove from heat and stir in baking soda and vanilla. It will bubble up; that's ok. Pour caramel mixture over popped popcorn and stir to coat. Transfer popcorn to two large baking sheets. Bake at 250*F for one hour, stirring every 15 minutes to evenly coat the popcorn. Let cool. Melt white chocolate chips on medium power in microwave at 30-second intervals until melted. Drizzle over caramel corn and let sit until white chocolate hardens. Crumble into pieces and store in an airtight container. Source: adapted from The Marvelous Misadventures of a Foodie 

Mary’s Memo – September 30th


I was the birthday recipient of Eat Your Vegetables, Bold Recipes for the Single Cook by Joe Yonan (Ten Speed Press, Berkeley, division of Crown Publishing). What I like best about this book is a chapter on storing and using extra ingredients since they often spoil in my refrigerator. Yonan includes recipes to prevent this from happening. He also encourages the single cook to use his recipes as guidelines. How much you fix depends on how hungry you are, what you feel like eating or is it seasoned to suit you? Feel free to adjust quantity if you’re a family of 2. This is the perfect book for anyone looking to expand their produce-based repertoire.

Yonan is also author of Serve Yourself: Nightly Adventures in Cooking for One (Ten Speed Press, 2011), an outgrowth of his monthly column, Cooking for One, for the Washington Post. He got the cooking bug from his Indiana-born mother, who let him shop for groceries starting at age 8. The author holds a professional chef’s diploma from the Cambridge School of Culinary Arts outside Boston and a bachelor of journalism from the University of Texas at Austin. He lives in Washington, DC.

Roasted Sweet Potato with Coconut, Dates and Walnuts proves that single eating can be as exciting and flavorful as you want it!


• 1 small sweet potato (6 to 8 ounces)
• 3 tablespoons raw unsalted walnut halves
• 1 teaspoon virgin coconut oil (may substitute butter, olive oil or walnut oil)
• Kosher or sea salt
• 1 teaspoon finely shredded unsweetened coconut
• 2 or 3 pitted dates, preferably Medjool, chopped
• 1 tablespoon large unsweetened coconut flakes

Preheat oven to 425ºF. Use a fork to prick sweet potato in several places. Place on a piece of aluminum foil and bake until potato is tender and can be easily squeezed, 30 to 40 minutes. While the potato is baking, sprinkle the walnuts into a small skillet over medium high heat. Cook, shaking the pan frequently until nuts start to brown and become fragrant, a few minutes. Immediately transfer them to a plate to cool; if you leave them to cool in the pan, they can burn. Once they are cool, chop them. Transfer the sweet potato to a serving plate. Use a knife to slash it open, then spoon the coconut oil on top, mashing it in. Sprinkle with salt to taste, then add the finely shredded coconut, walnuts, dates and large coconut flakes and eat.
Source: Eat Your Vegetables, Bold Recipes for the Single Cook by Joe Yonan.


A study presented at the Alzheimer’s Association International Conference in July 2013 provides new evidence that a heart-healthy diet may help protect against cognitive decline. Researchers calculated DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) diet scores for 832 study participants based on the foods and nutrients that comprise the DASH diet (fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts and legumes, dairy, meat and fish. saturated fat and total fat), with higher scores reflecting better DASH accordance. Those who had higher DASH scores (more vegetables, nuts, seeds and legumes and less total and saturated fat) did better on standard tests of cognition.


Brachs realized this year what some of us have known for a long time; that peanuts and candy corn taste good together and they’re now marketing it that way. Brachs also combined peanuts with their harvest mix. However, I think Zachary’s candy corn made with honey in Frankfort, IN is the best tasting and they get my candy corn business as soon as it’s available.


When it comes to crackers I have avoided a lot of flavorful ones because one of the ingredients is monosodium glutamate (MSG). New at Chief is Annie’s Cheddar Squares with no artificial flavors, synthetic colors or preservatives. Check out other Annie’s brand items at Chief and log on to their web site at


Can you believe this Glazed Sausage Meatball recipe makes 3 dozen with just one pound of Chief’s own ground sausage? Serve as an appetizer or entrée.


• 1 slightly beaten egg
• 1 pound Chief’s own ground sausage
• 1/2 cup finely crushed saltine crackers
• 1/3 cup milk
• 1/2 teaspoon rubbed sage
• 1/2 cup water
• 1/4 cup catsup
• 2 tablespoons packed brown sugar
• 1 tablespoon cider vinegar
• 1 tablespoon reduced sodium soy sauce

In mixer bowl, combine egg, sausage, crackers, milk and sage. Beat at high speed on electric mixer for 5 minutes. Shape into 1-1/4-inch balls (mixture will be soft). Wet hands to shape easily. In skillet, brown meat on both sides, shaking pan occasionally to keep balls round. Pour off excess fat. Combine water, catsup, brown sugar, vinegar and soy sauce. Pour over meatballs. Cover and simmer 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. If serving as an appetizer, keep hot in a chafing dish.

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Apple Cider Pulled Pork

Nothing says 'autumn' more to me than a slow cooker bubbling away in the kitchen, with a warm meal just waiting to be devoured. Even better, when it's time to eat, there's little to no prep involved! Today's recipe is a traditional slow cooker recipe, but with some fall flair - Apple Cider Pulled Pork. When I think of fall flavors, my mind immediately races to apples, pumpkin, squash, and all things cinnamon or maple-flavored. I thought it'd be fun to do pulled pork with an apple cider barbecue sauce, and it turned out great! The pork is seasoned with apple cider, along with some of your typical spices of cumin, cayenne, paprika, and garlic powder. It simmers in a slow cooker all day long, and then the leftover liquid is turned into a tasty barbecue sauce for serving with the pork.   IMG_4926   The first part's super easy... just combine your liquids and seasonings and pour over the pork shoulder in a slow cooker. Let it cook about 6-8 hours on low. When it's done cooking, remove the pork and drain the liquid into a saucepan. Return the pork to the slow cooker, and shred it with two forks or some tongs.   IMG_4918     To thicken the sauce, bring it to a boil over medium-high heat. Combine the cornstarch and water, add it to the liquid, and bring it back to a boil. It should thicken up within a few minutes. Stir about half the sauce back into the pork, and reserve the rest for serving.  


  Serve on your favorite sandwich buns.   IMG_4923   We loved this pulled pork... it was a nice change up from typical heavy barbecue. It's got a more light flavor with just a bit of sweet and heat. It would also be really good with a little coleslaw on top! ______________________________________________________________________________________________________

Apple Cider Pulled Pork

Servings/Yield: 10-12 servings
  • 2 cups apple cider
  • ½ cup ketchup
  • ¼ cup barbecue sauce
  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • teaspoons cumin
  • teaspoons paprika
  • teaspoons garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon pepper
  • 1 sweet onion, sliced
  • 3-4 lbs. pork shoulder or butt roast
  • ¼ cup cornstarch
  • ¼ cup cold water
  • sandwich buns
  Method In a large bowl, combine apple cider, ketchup, brown sugar, and spices. Place half of sliced onions in bottom of slow cooker bowl; top with pork shoulder. Top with remaining onions. Pour sauce over meat, and cook on low 6-8 hours until tender. Remove pork to cool for 10 minutes before shredding. Transfer remaining liquid mixture from slow cooker to a medium saucepan; simmer over medium heat until boiling. Combine cornstarch with water in a small bowl; add to liquid mixture. Stir, until thickens. Meanwhile, shred pork and return to slow cooker. Add about half of the thickened sauce and mix to combine. Serve on sandwich buns with remaining sauce. Source: adapted from A Sweet Pea Chef

Mary’s Memo – September 23rd


First, too much sodium can make blood vessels less flexible, which may cause or worsen atherosclerosis, independent of sodium’s effect on blood pressure. Even a single, high-sodium meal with 1,500 milligrams of sodium affected the ability of blood vessels to dilate in healthy people within 30 minutes in a study reported in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. A high sodium intake can even trigger heart failure in people with impaired heart function.

Second, a high sodium intake increases calcium excretion in urine, which causes calcium to be leached from bone and thus contributes to bone loss and increased risk of fractures over time. Reduction of salt has a positive effect on calcium, studies have shown, and this may help slow age-related bone loss.

Third, in addition to contributing to hypertension, a major cause of kidney damage, salt may directly impair kidney function in some people. By increasing calcium in the urine, a high sodium diet may also increase the risk of kidney stones.

Fourth, there is evidence linking higher sodium intake to increased risk of gastric cancer. Salty foods may affect the stomach lining, making it more likely that the bacterium H.pylori, a cause of ulcers and stomach cancer, can infect tissues. A salty stomach environment may also alter the structure of H.pylori, increasing its ability to survive and do more damage.
Source: University of California, Berkeley Wellness Letter, September 2013.


If you think you can avoid unhealthy restaurant fare by skipping nationwide chain restaurants for smaller eateries, a new Tufts study has a wake-up call for you. Researchers analyzed meals from independent and small chain restaurants and found the average meal contained two to three times the estimated calorie needs of an individual adult at a single meal and 66% of daily calorie requirements.

The findings come as the restaurant industry prepares to implement new federal rules requiring chains with 20 or more locations to post calorie information. Those rules won’t affect the sort of establishments tested in the Tufts study, which nonetheless account for half of the nation’s restaurant locations.
Source: Tufts Health & Nutrition Letter, September 2013.


I’ve sautéed zucchini, tomatoes and onions together in a skillet but have you had the same combination in a layered casserole that’s baked in the oven?


• 2 to 3 zucchini, peeled and sliced into rings on the diagonal
• 1 large onion, sliced thin
• 3 large tomatoes, sliced
• Salt and pepper, to taste
• 2 teaspoons basil
• 3/4 cup Parmesan cheese
• Butter

Rub an oblong 3-quart casserole dish with butter. Line dish with a layer of zucchini, the onions and tomato. TTop with 1/2 teaspoon salt, dash of pepper, 1 teaspoon basil and 2 tablespoons Parmesan cheese. Dot with butter and repeat layering again. Bake in preheated 375ºF oven for 45 minutes. Recipe makes 6 to 8 servings
Source: Adapted from Green Earth Institute recipe, Naperville IL.

I’m not sure you know that cooked carrots are healthier than raw ones. With that in mind include this easy recipe for glazed carrots in your menu plans.


• 2 tablespoons butter
• 1/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar
• 2 tablespoons salad mustard
• 3 cups sliced carrots, crisp-cooked and drained
• 1/4 teaspoon salt or to taste
• 1 tablespoon snipped parsley

Melt butter in skillet. Stir in brown sugar, mustard and salt. Add cooked carrots; heat, stirring constantly, until carrots are nicely glazed (about 5 minutes). To serve, garnish with chopped parsley. Recipe makes 4 to 6 servings.


• 3 strips thick sliced bacon
• 1/2 of a large head of cabbage, coarsely chopped
• 1 (14.5 oz) can Del Monte Tomatoes Seasoned with Green Peppers & Onion
• 1/3 cup cider vinegar
• 2 teaspoons Cajun seasoning
• 1/8 teaspoon Tabasco sauce

Cook bacon in a Dutch oven or electric skillet until crisp. Drain bacon, reserving drippings in skillet. Stir cabbage, tomatoes, vinegar, Cajun seasoning and Tabasco sauce into hot drippings; bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover pan and simmer 45 minutes. Before serving, chop bacon and sprinkle on top of cabbage mixture. Recipe makes 6 servings.


There are only a few more copies of my cookbook, “Thank You, I’m Glad You Liked it,” available. They can be obtained from me when I’m working weekends at the Bryan Chief or purchased at the Bryan Area Chamber of Commerce office on the west side of the square in downtown Bryan. Will there be another cookbook? None is planned although I have thought of compiling a supplement.

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Grown-up Pigs in a Blanket

Football season is underway, and that means I get super excited... for the FOOD! (Who needs the game?) Today's recipe is a football snack that'll be quickly devoured by everyone - Grown-up Pigs in a Blanket. I know, you're probably thinking, "How could you make regular pigs in a blanket any better?" Three words: homemade cheesy biscuits.   IMG_4859   I was convinced that I wouldn't like these... I'm not the biggest fan of hot dogs, and I thought my culinary palate would be 'way too sophisticated' to enjoy pigs in a blanket. Ha. I think I ate even more than my husband! They were fabulous. The best part is the homemade biscuit dough surrounding each hot dog. If you've never had the pleasure of making your own biscuits (from scratch), then you are missing out. They are so much better than their canned counterparts. To get started with your dough, combine some flour, baking powder, salt, and a little cayenne with some diced cold butter. Whirl it around in a food processor for a few seconds until the butter is cut into small pieces. (If you don't have a food processor, you can simply rub the butter into the flour with your fingers until it is in small pieces.) Add some freshly grated sharp cheddar cheese.   IMG_4850   Then, add your wet ingredients, a mix of milk and heavy cream. Stir until everything's combined; then turn it out onto a floured surface.   IMG_4851   Roll it out into a big rectangle (it doesn't have to be perfect), and then cut it into 6 squares.   IMG_4853   Place a hot dog on each square, and roll up the cheesy biscuit dough around the hot dog.   IMG_4854   Cut each hot dog into four pieces, and place on a parchment-lined or greased baking sheet. Brush with some egg wash (for that beautiful shine) and sprinkle with a little additional cheese.   IMG_4856   After about 20 minutes at 425*F, you've got piping hot, fresh cheesy pigs in a blanket! The perfect game-day snack.   IMG_4859 _______________________________________________________________________________________________________

Grown-Up Pigs in a Blanket

Servings/Yield: 24 appetizer servings
  • cups all-purpose flour, divided
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, chilled and cut into small pieces
  • cups freshly grated sharp cheddar cheese, divided
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • ½ cup milk
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • 6 angus beef hot dogs
Method Line baking sheet with parchment paper and preheat oven to 425*F. Combine 2 cups flour, baking powder, salt, and cayenne in the bowl of a food processor. Add cold pieces of butter and pulse until mixture is the size of small pieces. (If you don't have a food processor, rub the butter pieces into the flour mixture with your finger until the mixture is the size of small pieces.) Remove flour mixture to a mixing bowl and add 1 cup of grated cheddar; mix to combine. Pour in heavy cream and milk, stirring to combine. Turn mixture out onto floured surface; knead 8-10 times until smooth. (If it is really sticky, add a bit more flour.) Roll out into a 15x10-inch rectangle; cut into 6 squares. Coat hot dogs in flour and place each hot dog in the center of one of the dough squares. Roll dough around hot dog and pinch seam closed. Cut each hot dog into four pieces and place on prepared baking sheet. In a small dish, combine egg yolk with water. Brush onto pigs in a blanket for a shiny, crispy crust. Sprinkle each pig in a blanket with a bit of the reserved 1/2 cup cheddar cheese. Bake at 425*F for 20-25 minutes until golden brown. Serve warm. Source: adapted from Sweet Pea's Kitchen 

Mary’s Memo – September 16th


Even though Ohio really isn’t in the Midwest, we tend to identify with Midwesterners. Food Network personality Amy Thiele’s first cookbook, The New Midwestern Table, features 200 recipes with focus on local harvest foods and generations of great country cooking. Thielen grew up in rural Minnesota. Her Food Network program, Amy’s Heartland Table, debuted September 14th at 10:30 PM (EDT). To order The New Midwestern Table, call 1-800-565-3663. Food Network price is $27.95 plus postage and handling.


Lisa Massini, a dietetic intern at Tufts’ Frances Stern Nutrition Center, answers: “Whole-grain pasta is naturally darker than refined pasta due to the bran (the hard, fibrous outer layer of a grain) that it contains. This color difference is not due to added colors. Whole-grain pasta contains a significantly larger amount of fiber than white pasta (6 grams per serving versus 2 grams serving). It is also richer in iron and magnesium; however, whole-grain pasta is not typically enriched with B vitamins such as thiamine, niacin, riboflavin and folate, as white pasta is. Those who choose whole grains may obtain these nutrients through a balanced intake of fruits, vegetables, meats and dairy products.”
Source: Tufts Health & Nutrition Letter, September 2013.


Buy beans, potatoes and corn. A recent study from the University of Washington compared 98 vegetables in terms of value and nutrition. While dark green vegetables, such as broccoli, scored highest in nutrient density, the study found that beans and starchy vegetables offer the best nutritional value for the money. Nutrient density was based on fiber, potassium, magnesium and vitamins A, C and K. Fresh, frozen and canned vegetables were found to provide comparable nutritional value. “Affordable nutrition” is especially important for the national school lunch program, according to the study, which appeared in the online journal PLOS ONE.
Source: University of California, Berkeley Wellness Letter, September 2013.


Cookouts are about other things besides hamburgers and hot dogs; side dishes should also be on the menu. A recipe I’ve used for years is Rice Consommé. Problem is that Campbell’s Beef Consommé contains monosodium glutamate and there is no Campbell’s Healthy Request version which doesn't contain it. So it’s been replaced with the same amount of good beef stock (Chief has several kinds available). Also, to reduce calories I sauté onions in a half stick of butter instead of a whole stick.


• 1/2 stick butter
• 1 medium onion, chopped
• 1 cup regular long grain rice
• 1 8-ounce can mushroom stems and pieces, drained
• 21.5-ounces rich canned beef stock

Sauté onions in melted butter. Add rice, mushrooms and beef stock. Spoon into 1.5-quart casserole sprayed with Pam. Bake in preheated 350ºF oven for about 45 minutes, stirring after 15 minutes. Continue baking until liquid is absorbed. Recipe serves 6 and partners well with poultry or beef.

Another side dish is Paula Dean’s Southern Cornbread Salad. Carlene Myres of Bryan, whose Crazy Crunch recipe is in my cookbook, recommends the recipe. To save time, instead of making the corn bread she buys it in the Chief bakery. You can also use a recipe of Jiffy Corn Muffin Mix made in an 8x8x2-inch baking dish. Paula Dean’s salad includes her homemade cornbread recipe but we’re making it like Carlene does and with particular brands I prefer.


• 1 batch baked cornbread, cut into 1-inch cubes
• 1 (14.5-ounce) can red kidney beans, rinsed and drained
• 1 (15-ounce) can niblet corn, drained
• 1 sweet onion, finely chopped
• 1 large green bell pepper, finely chopped
• 3 large tomatoes, chopped and drained
• 2 cups reduced-fat sharp Cheddar cheese
• 8-ounces of Marzetti Simply Dressed Ranch dressing (available in Chief produce department)
• Chopped flat leaf parsley leaves, for garnish

In bottom of a large salad bowl, place cornbread cubes. Layer beans, corn, onion, bell pepper, tomatoes and cheese on top of cornbread. Spread ranch dressing evenly over cheese. Cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours. Garnish with parsley. Recipe makes 6 servings.
Source: Adapted from Paula Dean recipe via Carlene Myres and Mary Thaman.


Land O'Lakes now has butter pre-measured in half stick amounts. When recipes call for a half stick of butter it’s a real time-saver and you’re assured of having the exact measurement. I keep a pound carton on hand for this purpose.

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Chipotle Chicken Kebabs with Avocado Cream Sauce

Grilling season is just about over, and I just have to share one of our favorite meals we discovered this summer before it's time to put the grill away for the winter. (I know, I know... some people grill all winter long. I am not one of those people. Maybe if I lived in the South.) Chipotle Chicken Kebabs with Avocado Cream Sauce are a unique twist on traditional grilled chicken. They feature a good mix of sweet and spice between the chipotle-lime marinade and the tangy, creamy avocado sauce. The chicken itself is tender and juicy, and who doesn't have fun eating kebabs?   IMG_4845   I served them up two ways - a more traditional serving, plated with spinach salad, and also as a pita sandwich. Both were fabulous. My husband was partial to the sandwich version, but that might be because it's quicker and easier to eat. Get started with your marinade. It's just a mix of oil, lime juice, chili powder, cumin, paprika, cayenne, garlic, brown sugar, and a minced chipotle in adobo sauce. The chipotle gives the dish its smokiness. (No worries, it's not spicy hot, just a little bit of smoky flavor.)  


  Let the chicken marinate 30 minutes or so; then, thread it onto skewers. If you are using wooden ones, just make sure you soak them in water for about 30 minutes before using them. This will prevent the wood from charring.  


  Grill the kebabs over medium-high heat about 10 minutes, until the chicken is cooked through. While the chicken is grilling, prepare the Avocado Cream Sauce. Just combine a ripe avocado, some plain Greek yogurt, lime juice, garlic, and salt & pepper in a food processor and let it whirl away until smooth. It tastes so decadent, but is actually really healthy. Avocado provides plenty of healthy fat, and the Greek yogurt gives a boost of protein.  


  When the chicken is done, it's time to serve up the meal. If you are going the traditional route, simply top the kebabs with minced cilantro and serve with the Avocado Cream Sauce for dipping.  



  To make a pita sandwich, spread the Avocado Cream Sauce onto the pita, and then top with the grilled chicken pieces. Top the sandwich with some freshly grated monterey jack cheese and minced cilantro.   IMG_4847   If you've got leftover Avocado Cream Sauce, it's also excellent as a dip for tortilla chips or pita chips. Or by the spoonful. ;) _______________________________________________________________________________________________________

Chipotle Chicken Kabobs with Avocado Cream Sauce

Servings/Yield: 4 servings
  • For the chicken
    • 1/4 cup lime juice
    • ½ cup vegetable oil
    • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
    • ¾ teaspoon chili powder
    • ¾ teaspoon paprika
    • ½ teaspoon cumin
    • ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
    • 2 teaspoons minced garlic
    • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
    • 1 chipotle in adobo, seeded and minced
    • 2 lbs. boneless skinless chicken breast tenders, cut into 1-inch chunks
    • minced fresh cilantro, for serving
  • For the avocado cream sauce
    • 1 avocado, split and pitted
    • ½ cup plain Greek yogurt
    • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
    • 2 tablespoons lime juice
    • salt & pepper, to taste
  • For sandwiches
    • 4 soft pitas
    • ½ cup shredded monterey jack cheese
Method In a medium baking dish or gallon-size ziploc bag, combine lime juice, vegetable oil, spices, garlic, brown sugar, and chipotle. Mix to combine. Add chicken breast pieces and mix well to thoroughly coat the chicken. Let marinate for 30-60 minutes. Once chicken has marinated, thread chicken pieces onto skewers for grilling. (If you are using wooden skewers, soak them in water first to prevent burning.) Heat a grill to medium-high heat. Grill kebabs 10-15 minutes, turning once, until all sides are slightly browned and chicken is done. While chicken is grilling, prepare the avocado cream sauce. Combine the avocado, yogurt, garlic, lime juice, salt, and pepper in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse until smooth. To serve kebabs, sprinkle with minced cilantro and serve with the avocado cream sauce for dipping. To make pita sandwiches, spread avocado cream sauce onto pitas. Remove chicken from skewers and place on bread; top with monterey jack cheese and additional cilantro. Source: adapted from Annie's Eats 

Mary’s Memo – September 9th


Even before I had a connection with Chief I planned meals around the weekly specials and still do! Also, I never drove from store to store to buy their bargains. If it was a seasonal item I knew that the store where I did the bulk of my shopping would have it soon, if not that particular week. And the idea that I would drive out of town to shop for food never entered my mind, then or now!

You may not pay attention to it but I like labels with a toll-free number that I can call if I have a question. Everyone doesn’t have a computer, especially older shoppers, to check for information on a web site. Even with a computer I prefer having a live person to help me and I stay on the line until I get one. When I can’t do this I wonder why they’re not available. Who wants to buy a “pig in a poke?” As for any “store brand,” you’ll like some but not all. I’m thankful that we still have a choice.


What’s the dirtiest place in your kitchen? If you guessed the microwave touchpad, as 20 suburban Michigan families did, but you might be surprised. When microbiologists at the nonprofit NSF International group swabbed the families’ kitchens for bacteria, yeast and mold, the microwave wasn’t bad but contaminants lurked in some unexpected places with the worst being refrigerator ice and water dispensers, spatulas, blender gaskets (the rubber seal at the base), can openers and meat and vegetable compartments in the refrigerator. Moist areas like ice and water dispensers were most prone to yeast and mold. Kitchen items that don’t get fully disassembled and cleaned (or like can openers, not cleaned at all before being put back in a drawer) were highest in E. coli, salmonella and other sources of foodborne illness.
Source: Tufts Health & Nutrition Letter, September 2013.


New crop Baumann Paula Red and Ginger Gold apples are now available at Chief supermarkets. Both are all-purpose type apples and prompted me to serve Apple Brown Betty at the Bryan Chief a couple weekends ago. “Bettys” date back to colonial time and although they can be made with other fruits such as peaches, the classic recipe is made with apples. A Betty isn’t as rich as apple crisp. Although there are many recipes for Apple Brown Betty, they have certain ingredients in common including dry bread crumbs, butter, apples and brown sugar. The one I served was also flavored with lemon zest, lemon juice and a tad of nutmeg. A double recipe can be baked in a 9x13 glass baking dish.


• 5 cups (5 medium) sliced peeled apples (potato peeler works well)
• 1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
• 1 teaspoon lemon zest
• 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
• 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
• 1 cup unseasoned plain dry bread crumbs (I used Progresso brand)
• 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, melted

Preheat oven to 375ºF. Grease an 8x8x2-inch baking dish. In large bowl, combine apples, brown sugar, lemon zest, lemon juice and nutmeg; mix well. In medium bowl, combine bread crumbs and butter; sprinkle half the breads crumb mixture into prepared baking dish. Spoon apple mixture overt crumb mixture; top with remaining crumbs. Cover with foil. Bake 45 minutes. Uncover; bake an additional 15 to 20 minutes or until the top is crisp and golden brown. Recipe makes 8 servings.
Source: Betty Crocker recipe.

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Luann’s Kale Salad

Kale. It's one of those crazy, green vegetables with lots of curly leaves that you have no idea what to do with. (At least I didn't!) I've probably picked up a bunch of kale 2-3 times in the past year or so, after reading the health benefits and deciding we have to try it. And then it sits in the fridge for a few weeks until I dump it into the trash on clean-out-the-fridge day. Not any longer! I finally tackled the kale dilemma and prepared a delicious tossed salad - Luann's Kale Salad. It's a great mix of flavors, including kale, crisp apple, tart dried cherries, roasted peanuts, and tangy red onion all in a sweet vinaigrette.   IMG_4796   Kale might just be one of the healthiest vegetables out there. It's full of fiber, iron, Vitamins A, C, & K, calcium, and antioxidants. It's practically a cancer-fighting machine! (Source: MindBodyGreen)  


  To make your salad, start with the kale. Kale is a green, leafy vegetable that can be tough or bitter when eaten raw. The key to making a delicious raw kale salad is to massage the leaves. (Yes, massage! And yes, you will feel strange.) After massaging for about 2-3 minutes, the cellulose structure breaks down, and basically wilts. The greens go from tough and bitter to soft and silky. The greens will actually darken in color and reduce in size by quite a bit.  


  Once you've massaged the kale, add in the fun toppings. Apple, dried cherries, peanuts, and red onion. This really is a superfood salad!  


  Then, whip up your vinaigrette. It's super simple, just a combination of olive oil, red wine vinegar, sugar, and pepper. Shake it all up in a little jar, pour it over the salad, and you're ready to dig in.  


  One of the great things about this kale salad is that it holds up really well in the fridge. Because kale is a more substantial green, it doesn't get soggy that other tossed salads might. You could make a big batch of kale salad on Sunday and take it everyday for lunch throughout the week. IMG_4794 _______________________________________________________________________________________________________

Luann's Kale Salad

Servings/Yield: 6-8 servings
  • 2-3 bunches kale
  • ½ cup minced red onion
  • 1 cup dried cherries
  • 2 apples, diced
  • ½ cup roasted peanuts, chopped
  • pinch salt
  • For the dressing
    • ¼ cup olive oil
    • 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
    • 1 teaspoon sugar
    • ¼-½ teaspoon cracked black pepper
Method Wash and tear kale leaves from stems. Pat dry, place in a large bowl, and sprinkle with a pinch of salt. Massage kale leaves about 2 minutes, until the leaves have turned dark green and have reduced in size. Add onion, dried cherries, apples, and peanuts; toss to combine. In a small bowl or jar, combine dressing ingredients; whisk or shake to combine. Pour over salad, toss, and serve. Source: adapted from Iowa Girl Eats

Mary’s Memo – September 2nd


Vegetarian diets, previously associated with a lower risk for several chronic diseases, also has been linked with lower death rates, according to a report in JAMA Internal Medicine. Researchers analyzed the diets of 73,308 people and categorized them into five groups: non-vegetarian, semi-vegetarian, pesco-vegetarian (includes seafood), lacto-ovo-vegetarian (includes dairy and egg products) and vegan (excludes all animal products). Vegetarians had a 12 percent lower risk of all-cause mortality compared to non-vegetarian, and pesco-vegetarians, vegans and lacto-ovovegetarians also had lower mortality rates.
Source: Weil Cornell Medical College Women’s Nutrition Connection, September 2013.


Certain antibiotics, including erythromycin, can increase the amount of alcohol that enters your blood stream. They speed up digestion, which leaves less time for alcohol to be broken down in the stomach before it reaches the intestines and blood. And mixing alcohol with metronidazole (Flagyl and generic) or tinidazole (Tindamax) can cause vomiting and flushing. Alcohol generally doesn’t make antibiotics less effective, but it might slow recovery. Since alcohol and most antibiotics are processed by the liver, why not give that organ a break?
Source: Consumer Reports on Health, September 2013.


In a small new study in Diabetes Care, sedentary people over 70 with pre-diabetes (mildly elevated fasting blood sugar) either walked for 15 minutes after breakfast, lunch and dinner or else walked 45 minutes in the morning or afternoon. The short, frequent walks were more effective in reducing three-hour post meal blood sugar levels. As an added plus, older adults may feel more comfortable with such a regimen, the researchers noted.
Source: University of California, Berkeley Wellness Letter, September 2013.


Because cucumbers are mostly water, they are refreshing and cooling. Once thought to be largely devoid of nutrients, food scientists have found that cucumbers do in fact have significant amounts of nutrients, especially in their skins. For starters, they contain vitamin C and A, folic acid, iron, potassium, manganese and silica. Silica works synergistically with calcium and vitamin D to increase collagen production, promoting healthy skin and connective  tissue, so go ahead and put those cucumber slices on your eyes like they did in the old movies. In addition, cucumbers are a good source of molybdenum which is vital for many brain functions, including memory. Finally, cucumbers are one of the very few vegetables that contain the amino acid tryptophan, which can convert into neurotransmitter serotonin, and may function as a natural mood-lifter and appetite curb. Cucumber skin contains large amounts of caffeic acid, an antioxidant that mops up free radicals and prevents cell damage.
Source: Secrets of a Seasonal Cook, The Land Connection Foundation, 7/29/13.

It should come as no surprise that we’re following with Gazpacho Salsa featuring an English seedless cucumber, home grown tomatoes if you have them, yellow bell pepper and red onion.


• 1 English seedless cucumber, diced
• 2 large homegrown tomatoes, seeded and diced
• 1 yellow bell pepper, diced
• 1/2 cup diced red onion
• 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
• 1 tablespoon olive oil (I prefer light)
• 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
• 1/4 teaspoon pepper (fresh ground if you have a grinder)

In medium bowl, combine tomatoes, bell pepper, cucumber, onion, vinegar, olive oil, salt and pepper. Refrigerate several hours to blend flavors. Serve with tortilla chips.


My sister, Ann, inspired me to repeat this recipe. It was missing an ingredient and no one ever called it to my attention first time around. Unlike a lot of zucchini bread recipes, this one is made with butter instead of oil and semisweet baking chocolate that gives it a rich chocolate taste.


• 1 cup Land O'Lakes butter (2 sticks)
• 4 (1-ounce) squares semisweet baking chocolate
• 1-1/2 cups sugar
• 1-1/2 cups shredded, unpeeled zucchini
• 4 large eggs, slightly beaten
• 1 teaspoon vanilla
• 3-3/4 cups unsifted all-purpose flour
• 1 teaspoon baking powder
• 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
• 1 teaspoon cinnamon
• 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
• 1/2 cup chopped walnuts

Preheat oven to 350ºF. Grease and flour 2 (8x4-inch) baking pans; set aside. In 2-quart saucepan melt butter and baking chocolate together, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat, stir in sugar, zucchini, eggs and vanilla until blended. Combine all remaining ingredients in a large bowl. Stir zucchini mixture into flour mixture just until moistened. Spoon the batter evenly into prepared pans. Bake 35 to 40 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes; remove from pans. Cool completely. Store in gallon freezer bags.
Source: Adapted from Land O'Lakes recipe.

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