Monthly Archives: March 2014

Pepperoni Pizza Knots

March  Madness is in full swing, and the final basketball games are nearing! I'm not much of a basketball watcher... (though I was a basketball cheerleader for a few years in high school. Does that count?) However, I won't pass up a chance to munch on some appetizers and spend some time with friends while 'watching' the game. IMG_6375 These Pepperoni Pizza Knots take all the goodness of a hot & cheesy pepperoni pizza and wrap it up into individual servings. They were irresistibly cheesy, and the pepperoni (the best part!) seemed to find itself in every nook & cranny of the rolls. Dare I say that I enjoyed these better than a homemade pepperoni pizza? The great thing about this recipe is it can be put together with just 4 ingredients, and about 15 minutes of prep time. Start with your pizza dough - you can use canned refrigerated dough or frozen bread dough that has been thawed. (Of course, you are more than welcome to make your pizza dough from scratch as well.) Roll it out to a large rectangle, about 12x18-inches. Spread your favorite pizza sauce over half the dough; then, top with cheese and pepperoni. Fold everything in half and pinch the edges to seal. PicMonkey Collage.jpg The next part is a bit messy. Cut the folded dough into 8 strips. Then, take each strip, twist it several times (to keep the toppings from falling out), and tie it in a knot. Place it on a baking sheet that has been lined with parchment or sprayed with cooking spray. Repeat with all the strips, and sprinkle all the knots with a little more cheese. PicMonkey Collage 2.jpg IMG_6373 Bake at 500*F for about 10-12 minutes until golden brown and bubbly. Serve with additional warmed pizza sauce for dipping.

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These also could be totally customizable! Not a pepperoni fan? Add some sausage, ham, or bacon. Vegetarian? Go crazy with vegetables! Though I will say, I am quite partial to the classic pepperoni version. ---

Pepperoni Pizza Knots

Yield: 8 pizza knots
  • 1 package refrigerated pizza crust, or 1 loaf frozen bread dough (thawed)
  • ½ cup pizza sauce
  • 1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese, plus more for topping
  • 15-20 slices pepperoni
Method 1. Preheat oven to 500*F. Roll out dough to a large rectangle, about 12x18-inches. Spread pizza sauce over one half. Top with cheese and pepperoni. Fold dough over, sealing edges. 2. Cut into 8 strips. Twist each strip and then roll it into a knot. Place on a parchment-lined or greased baking sheet. Repeat with remaining strips. Sprinkle each with additional mozzarella cheese. 3. Bake in preheated oven for 10-12 minutes until golden brown and cheese is melted. Serve with additional warmed pizza sauce. Source: adapted from Lauren's Latest  

March 31st – Mary’s Memo

FROM THE COOKBOOK SHELF


Although 150 Best Grilled Cheese Sandwiches by Alison Lewis is a 2012 cookbook, it is still a go to cookbook, especially during Lent. I can’t tell you how many times a grilled cheese sandwich served with tomato soup was a Friday favorite when we were a family of six. It’s still a winning combination for me! As you know, I usually work at the Bryan Chief on Friday and Saturday and when I get home I’m hungry but in no mood to cook but I can muster enough energy to make a grilled cheese sandwich paired with (yes, I admit it) a bowl of Campbell’s Healthy Request Soup or a mug of hot V-8 juice. Chief’s cheese selection is impressive in both the deli and the dairy department. Price usually determines which department I buy it from but not always. I “jazz up” canned tomato soup with a frozen cube (about 2 tablespoons) of pesto (addition makes it seem more homemade).
Classic Grilled Two Cheese is an excellent choice for Lenten Fridays. Make in Panini grill or large skillet.

CLASSIC GRILLED TWO CHEESE


• 8 slices white or whole grain bread (1/2-inch slices)
• 2 tablespoons butter, softened
• 4-ounces Muenster cheese, thinly sliced
• 4-ounces Cheddar cheese, thinly sliced

Brush one side of 4 bread slices with butter. Place on a work surface, buttered sides down. Top bread slices equally with Muenster and Cheddar cheeses. Cover with remaining bread slices, buttered side up, and press gently. Place sandwiches on preheated panini grill or in a large skillet over medium heat and cook, turning once if using a skillet, for 3 to 4 minutes or until golden brown and cheese is melted. Serve immediately.
Source: Robert Rose (www.robertrose.ca); 2012, $24.95/softback. Order from Amazon.com.

IT’S OKAY TO BE IN A PICKLE


The gut is the largest component of the immune system and there is evidence that gut heath can affect inflammation, allergies and autoimmune disorders in the whole body. Fermented foods have been part of the human diet for centuries, derived mainly for the purposes of preserving foods in days when there was no refrigeration. In fermentation, bacteria or yeast feed on the natural sugars in foods, and create compounds such as lactic acid or alcohol, which helps preserve the foods. The end product is filled with “friendly” bacteria (think probiotics) and gut-friendly enzymes. The bacteria predigest certain food components, which make it easier for your gut to handle and for nutrients to be absorbed when you eat them. Common fermented foods include yogurt, especially Greek yogurt, kefir, pickles, sauerkraut, kimchi, miso, soy sauce and tempeh. Just be sure to check the sodium content of the fermented foods you purchase.
Source: Duke Medicine Health News, April 2014.

ANOTHER MEATLESS RECIPE FOR LENT


I have never tasted a Betty Crocker impossible pie that I didn’t like and Impossible Easy Spinach-Parmesan Pie is no exception! NOTE: I only use Birdseye or Freshlike frozen chopped spinach because it’s grown and frozen in the USA.

IMPOSSIBLY EASY SPINACH-PARMESAN PIE


• 1 tablespoon butter
• 4 green onions, sliced
• 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
• 1 (10-ounce) package Birdseye chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed to drain
• 1/2 cup small curd cottage cheese
• 1/2 cup Heart Smart Bisquick mix
• 1 cup milk (whatever kind you use)
• 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
• 1/4 teaspoon pepper
• 3 eggs
• 3 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
• 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

Preheat oven to 350ºF. Grease 9-inch pie plate. Melt butter in 10-inch skillet over medium heat. Cook onions and garlic in butter 2 to 3 minutes or until onions are tender. Stir in spinach; spread mixture in pie plate. Spread on cottage cheese. Stir Bisquick mix, milk, lemon juice, pepper and eggs until blended. Pour into pie plate; sprinkle with additional Parmesan cheese if desired.
Source: Betty Crocker recipe.

ABOUT SPARTAN PRODUCTS


Until St. Patrick’s Day, I have not purchased any Spartan meats except bacon when it’s been on sale. But their corned beef was specially priced before March 17th and I did buy it. The cut was very tender and as lean as any corned beef I have ever eaten. That said, I do prefer Chief’s meat but did feel I should share the experience I had about Spartan corned beef. Generally speaking, it is worthwhile to try store products before you pass judgment on them. You will like some that I don’t and vice versa. For example, I will always buy such foods as Arps milk, Bush beans, Campbell’s Healthy Request soups, V-8 juice, 50 percent less sugar Tropicana orange juice, Folgers coffee and Red Gold tomato products over Spartan no matter how much the savings by choosing the store brand. It’s all about customer choice.

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Mango Guacamole

I am blogging this week from the sunny state of Arizona! My husband has a work conference so I decided to tag along. Sure, force me to lay by the pool all day in the 80-degree weather... (Feel free to hate me, it's ok.)

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It's quite fitting that I'm sharing a recipe for Mango Guacamole - because avocados are everywhere down here! They are definitely a southwestern staple. This guacamole is a nice twist on the classic, full of flavor from lime juice, cilantro, mangoes, and a bit of jalapeno. It's actually become my go-to guacamole recipe. (It's that good!) The hardest part of making it is dicing the mango. It's so slimy and hard to peel. Forget peeling it! All you need to do is cut right down, almost through the center, and you'll end up with two flat ovals of mango. Just score them in a crosshatch pattern with your knife, and then you can easily dice little chunks! IMG_6329 IMG_6330 For the actual guacamole, simply mash together some ripe avocados, a little red onion, a diced jalapeno, salt, pepper, fresh lime juice, and some diced cilantro. And of course, the mango! Serve it up with your favorite tortilla chips and you won't be able to stop eating it. ---

Mango Guacamole

Yield: : 3-4 cups
  • 4 ripe avocados
  • 2 ripe mangoes, chopped
  • cup chopped red onion
  • 1 small jalapeno , seeded & chopped
  • ½ teaspoon sea salt
  • ¼ teaspoon pepper
  • juice from 2 limes
  • ½ cup diced cilantro
Method Mash avocado meat in a bowl. Stir in mango, red onion, jalapeno, salt, pepper, lime juice, and cilantro. Mash until it reaches your desired consistency. Serve with tortilla chips. Source: adapted from How Sweet It Is

Mary’s Memo – March 24th

EMPHASIS IS ON VEGETABLES WITH MEAT, NOT MEAT WITH VEGETABLES


According to leading health authorities, we should be thinking about meat as an additive, not the principle part of the meal. Examples include chicken or beef and noodles, pot pies, quiches, stews and soups like Hearty Lentil and Sausage Soup made with only 1/2 pound of meat in a soup that serves 10!

HEARTY LENTIL AND SAUSAGE SOUP


• 1/2 pound bulk sausage
• 8 cups water
• 2 (14.5-ounce) cans Swanson chicken broth
• 1 (16-ounce) package dry lentils, rinsed
• 1 large onion, chopped
• 1 rib celery, finely chopped
• 1 cup shredded carrot
• 1 teaspoon garlic powder
• 1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
• 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
• 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
• 1/2 teaspoon dried basil
• 1/4 teaspoon dried rosemary
• 1-1/2 cups diced cabbage
• 1 (28-ounce) can diced tomatoes
• Kosher sea salt, to taste

Heat a large pot over medium-high heat. Break sausage into chunks and put in pot; cook and stir until browned, about 5 to 7 minutes. With a slotted spoon transfer sausage to 5 to 6-quart slow cooker. Add water, chicken broth, lentils, onion, celery and carrot. Season with garlic powder, parsley, oregano, pepper, basil and rosemary. Cook on low heat until lentils are soft, about 4 hours. Only when the lentils are softened, add cabbage and diced tomatoes and continue cooking until cabbage is tender. Season with kosher or sea salt to taste. Recipe makes 10 servings. Source: Adapted from an allrecipes.com recipe.

LOWER CARDIOVASCULAR RISKS WITH DIET AND LIFESTYLE


Eating a diet rich in fruits and vegetables, along with exercising 40 minutes a day, are key guidelines issued recently to help reduce cardiovascular disease (CVD). Dietary improvements are at the heart of the new guidelines, which specifically suggest an eating plan such as DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) diet. The DASH diet focuses on increasing the consumption of low-fat dairy, vegetables and fruits, nuts, seeds, legumes and whole grains, while limiting meats, fat and added sugars. “By changing to the DASH diet, you can increase your intake of foods high in potassium, magnesium and calcium, which may help lower blood pressure,” says clinical dietitian Tanya Freirich, MS, R D, with the C ardiac and Medicine Service at New York-Presbyterian Hospital/Weill-Cornell. “With the right approach, the DASH diet can be a very reasonable eating plan for women. You don’t need special protein bars or juice cleanses to follow the DASH diet. The components of the diet are the foods that you would find at any grocery store.
Source: Weill Cornell Medical College Women’s Nutrition Connection, April 2014.

ATTENTION GOLFERS WITH SLEEP APNEA


Treating the condition may improve your game, according to a small new study in the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine. It looked at middle-aged male golfers with moderate to severe sleep apnea who began C PAP (continuous positive airway pressure) therapy. Within 6 months, they reported significant improvements in sleep quality and daytime sleepiness, along with a big drop in their handicap (lower is better). The greatest golf improvement was in better players, attributed to enhanced cognitive function from CPAP. Sleep apnea, characterized by frequent stopping of breathing during sleep, increases the risk of high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke and premature death. The gold standard treatment is C PAP, which pumps air through a mask to keep nasal airways open but is notoriously hard to stick with. In this study, compliance was unusually high, suggesting that just the possibility of improving performance may be enough to motivate people to use it.
Source: University of California, Berkeley Wellness Letter, April 2014.

THINK POTATO AND EGGS FOR A LENTEN MEAL


In 45 minutes you can have a nutritious and delicious meatless meal on the table for about $1.62 per serving! E at your heart out fast food restaurants!

POTATO AND EGG DINNER BAKE


• 3/4 pound red potatoes cut into 1/2-inch cubes
• 1/2 cup each: chopped red pepper and zucchini
• 1/4 cup green onions
• 2 cups coarsely shredded 2% reduced-fat sharp Cheddar cheese
• 8 eggs
• 3 tablespoons flour
• 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
• 1 teaspoon garlic salt
• 1 cup low-fat cottage cheese

Preheat oven to 350ºF. C oat an 11x7-inch casserole dish with nonstick cooking spray. Spread potatoes, pepper, zucchini, green onions and C heddar cheese. Whisk together eggs, flour, baking powder and garlic salt. Stir in cottage cheese and pour into prepared dish; stir lightly. Bake for 45 minutes or until eggs are puffed, golden brown and set in the center.
Source: Potatoes Goodness U nearthed (www.potatogoodness.com).

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Guinness Shepherd’s Pie

Happy St. Patrick's Day! It might be a little holiday, but I think St. Patrick's Day is a lot of fun. When else can you dress head-to-toe in bright green without getting any strange looks? (Well, you might even get some strange looks on St. Patricks' Day...) Last year I shared a Corned Beef Blarney Sandwich on the blog... this year we're going with another traditional Irish dish with a twist - Guinness Shepherd's Pie. Ground beef is sautéed with vegetables with a rich gravy, flavored with thyme and Guinness stout beer. It's then topped with a layer of mashed potatoes and baked until golden brown. I'm not  a big meat & potatoes person, so my husband was very excited when he saw this on the dinner table. This dish is a little bit of work, but it makes a lot! Great for having company over, or freezing a portion for later. Start with the beef mixture. Sauté diced onions and carrots in some butter until golden and softened. Then, add the ground beef and cook until browned. Add a little flour and tomato paste; cook about 1 minute. (This will thicken up the gravy.) Then, add the Guinness, some beef stock, heavy cream, and a few other seasonings. Let it simmer 20-25 minutes until it's thick and saucy. PicMonkey Collage.jpg While the beef mixture is cooking, prepare the mashed potatoes. Just boil some peeled & diced potatoes until tender, and mash them up with some butter, heavy cream, and salt & pepper! (Instant mashed potatoes would work in a pinch.) IMG_6273 When the beef mixture is finished, spread it into a 9x13-inch pan. (Or, two 8x8-inch pans. I made one pan for the freezer.) IMG_6279 Spread the mashed potatoes over the top. Brush with a beaten egg, and run a fork through the potatoes to make it look fancy. Bake at 375*F about 15 minutes; and then broil another 3-5 minutes until golden brown. IMG_6280 Definitely some great Irish comfort food here! I served it up with a loaf of Irish Soda Bread... perfect combination. IMG_6288 ---

Guinness Shepherd's Pie

Yield: One 9x13-inch pan
  • For the filling:
    • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
    • 1 large onion, finely diced
    • 10-12 baby carrots, finely diced
    • 2-lb lean ground beef
    • ½ teaspoon salt
    • ½ teaspoon pepper
    • 5 tablespoons all-purpose flour
    • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
    • ¼ cup heavy cream
    • cups beef stock
    • ¾ cup Guinness stout beer
    • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
    • 2 teaspoons minced fresh thyme leaves
    • 1 cup frozen peas
  • For the topping:
    • lbs potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks
    • ½ teaspoon salt
    • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
    • cup heavy cream
    • salt & pepper, to taste
    • 1 large egg , beaten
Method For the filling, melt butter in large skillet over medium heat. Add onion and carrots and cook until soft, about 8 minutes. Add ground beef, salt, and pepper; cook, breaking up the meat until browned. Add flour and tomato paste and cook until it begins to darken, about 1 minute. Add the heavy cream and cook 1 minute more. Add stock, beer, soy sauce, and thyme; simmer over medium heat, stirring frequently, until thick but still saucy, about 20-25 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in peas. For the topping, place potatoes along with 1/2 teaspoon salt in a large pot of water. Bring to a boil; cover and reduce to a simmer. Simmer on medium-low until potatoes are tender, about 15-20 minutes. Drain potatoes; return to pot. Mash with butter, heavy cream, and additional salt & pepper to taste. To assemble the shepherd’s pie, place filling mixture in a 9x13-inch pan. Spread the mashed potatoes over the top of the filling, using a spatula to make it smooth. Brush with beaten egg and drag a fork across the top to make ridges. Bake at 375*F until filling is bubbling, about 15 minutes. Turn on broiler and cook 3-5 more minutes until top is golden brown. Source: adapted from Sweet Pea's Kitchen

Mary’s Memo – March 17th

FROM THE COOKBOOK SHELF


Definitions of healthy eating have changed quite dramatically since Judith Finlayson’s The Healthy Slow Cooker was published in 2006. In those days, it was one size fits all …. low fat, low calorie and no saturated fat. Since then there’s been a shift in thinking. Many leading experts now feel that modern diseases are directly associated with the consumption of wheat and advocate reducing carbohydrates. Another significant development is that the evidence against saturated fat has been gradually diminishing.

All the recipes are delicious, nutrient-dense and have a balanced approach that will suit a wide variety of people. An incredibly healthy meal prepared in a slow cooker is an unbeatable combination! Judith Finlayson is a bestselling author whose lifelong love of food and passion for cooking has translated into sales of over 1 million cookbooks. She lives in Toronto, ON. Since old man winter insists on hanging around even though spring is tapping on the door, we’re featuring the author’s New World Leek and Potato Soup.

NEW WORLD LEEK AND POTATO SOUP


• 1 tablespoon olive oil
• 4 large leeks, white part with just a bit of green, cleaned
and thinly sliced
• 3 cloves garlic, minced
• 1 tablespoon ground cumin
• 1 tablespoon cracked black peppercorns
• 6 cups vegetable or chicken broth
• 2 pounds sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes (about 3 potatoes)
• 2 green bell peppers, diced
• 1 long chile pepper, minced (optional)
• Sea salt (optional)
• 1/2 cup whipping cream or alternative (I always replace heavy cream with evaporated milk)
• Roasted red pepper strips (optional)
• Finely snipped chives

In a skillet, heat oil over medium heat. Add leeks and cook, stirring until softened, about 5 minutes. Add garlic, cumin and peppercorns and cook, stirring for 1 minute. Transfer to 5 or 6-quart slow cooker stoneware. Add vegetable stock. Add sweet potatoes. Cover and cook on Low for 6 hours or 3 hours on HIGH, until potatoes are tender. Add green pepper and chile pepper if using. Cover and cook on high for 20 to 30 minutes until peppers are tender. Season to taste with sea salt if using. Working in batches, puree soup in a food processor or blender. If you have an immersion blender, you can puree in the stoneware. To serve, ladle soup into bowls, drizzle with cream and garnish with roasted red pepper strips, if using, and chives.
Source: The Healthy Slow Cooker, 2nd E dition by Judith Finlayson (www.robertrose.ca, March 2014, $24.95).

A WINNER!


Some of us love Brussels sprouts and this recipe from a recent Penszeys catalog caught my attention while I was on vacation. The recipe is “annual Christmas sheet” quality but too good to save until then!

ROASTED BRUSSELS SPROUTS


• 1 pound Brussels sprouts
• 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
• 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
• 1/4 teaspoon cracked pepper
• 1/2 teaspoon oregano
• 1/2 teaspoon thyme
• Juice of half lemon

Preheat oven to 350ºF. Clean sprouts, peeling off loose, outer leaves until you have tightly wrapped leaves clinging to the head. Cut off stems and slice in half. Reserving lemon juice, whisk olive oil, salt, pepper and herbs together. Toss sprout halves in mixture until all are coated. Arrange cut-side down on a jelly roll pan. Bake in preheated oven 20 to 25 minutes (mine were tender at 20 minutes). Serve immediately after squeezing with lemon juice. Recipe makes 4 servings.
Source: Adapted from a Penzeys recipe.

PIECE DE RESISTANCE


For our youngest son, Chris, baked custard was his favorite dessert and it wasn’t above me to pair it with a vegetable he didn’t like so he’d eat the required spoonful beforehand. Today’s child psychologists would never approve of my strategy but it worked for me. I used the recipe in the first Better Homes and Garden’s Cookbook, published in 1941 and in its 10th printing at the time I gave it to Mother in 1949. The old cookbook is in my possession now and when I make baked custard I remember how much Chris liked it!

BAKED CUSTARD


• 3 slightly beaten eggs
• 1/4 cup sugar
• 1/4 teaspoon salt
• 2 cups milk, scalded (whatever kind you have in the fridge)
• 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Combine eggs, sugar and salt; slowly add milk and vanilla extract. Pour into 6-ounce custard cups; sprinkle with nutmeg. Bake in pan of hot water in preheated 325ºF oven until mixture doesn’t adhere to knife, about 30 to 40 minutes. Serve warm or cold.
Source: Better Homes and Gardens recipe.

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Parmesan Pesto Tilapia

Meatless meals during Lent can sometimes be tricky. It's easy to fall into the rut of grilled cheese, fish sticks, and cheese pizza. Even if you don't observe Lent, it can be beneficial to eat fish a couple times a week. Eating just 7-oz of fish per week can reduce your risk of heart disease! (source) I will admit, my husband and I are not the best at eating fish. Don't get me wrong, I love fish and seafood (mmm, crab cakes!), I just don't think to pick it up at the store or work it into the weekly meal plan. Also, fish can be intimidating! The last thing I want to do is spend $20 on a salmon fillet and have it come out like sawdust.

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Tilapia is a good fish to start with - it's mild, affordable, and pretty adaptable flavor-wise. I went a semi-Italian route with Parmesan Pesto Tilapia. Flaky tilapia fillets are topped with Parmesan cheese and broiled, then topped with basil pesto and tender roasted tomatoes. This meal was SO fresh-tasting! So perfect for the spring weather. (Which is supposedly right around the corner.) This dish is really simple. Start with your roasted tomatoes. I have been obsessed with roasted tomatoes ever since the Great Greens Pasta a few weeks ago. (Click here to see how to make roasted tomatoes.) To prepare the fish, place the tilapia fillets on a greased foil-lined baking sheet. Pat them dry with paper towels and top with some freshly shredded Parmesan cheese.

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  Broil for 7-12 minutes, until the fish flakes easily with a fork. And that's pretty much it!

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Top each tilapia fillet with about a tablespoon of basil pesto and the roasted tomatoes. Garnish with additional Parmesan cheese.

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We kept it simple and served the tilapia with some green salads and fresh focaccia bread from the Chief bakery. And a glass of Chardonnay, of course. ;) ---

Parmesan Pesto Tilapia

Yield: 4 servings Fresh broiled tilapia topped with Parmesan cheese and roasted tomatoes. Perfect with a glass of Chardonnay.
  • 4 6-oz tilapia fillets
  • ¼ cup basil pesto
  • ½ cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 pint grape tomatoes, halved
  • 1-2 tablespoons olive oil
  • salt, to taste
  • pepper, to taste
  • pinch sugar
  • additional Parmesan, for garnish
To prepare the roasted tomatoes, combine halved tomatoes with olive oil, salt, pepper, and sugar. Roast at 350*F for 30 minutes. Set oven to broil and prepare fish. (Leave tomatoes in oven.) Place tilapia fillets on a greased foil-lined baking sheet. Pat dry. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese. Broil 7-12 minutes, until fish is cooked through and flakes easily with a fork. To serve, top each tilapia filet with about a tablespoon of basil pesto. Top with roasted tomatoes and additional Parmesan cheese. Source: adapted from Pinch of Yum

Mary’s Memo – March 10th

TOMATOES AND BREAST CANCER


Research suggests that postmenopausal women who include tomatoes in their diets may help reduce their risk of breast cancer by increasing their levels of a hormone that affects fat and may help with weight management. Tomatoes contain lycopene, an antioxidant that raises levels of adiponectin, a hormone that regulates fat. Low levels of adiponectin are linked to an increased risk for obesity and being overweight raises the risk of breast cancer. In the study, which appeared online January 1, 2014, in the Journal of Endocrinology and Metabolism, postmenopausal women who consumed 25 milligrams (mg) or more of lycopene per day from tomatoes showed a nine percent increase in adiponectin levels. Tomato products, including tomato sauce, tomato puree and tomato juice, have a much higher lycopene content than raw tomatoes. A one-half cup serving of tomato sauce provides 23.3 mg of lycopene and one cup of tomato juice provides 22 mg.
Source: Weill Cornell Medical College Women’s Connection, March 2014.

GOOD NEWS-BAD NEWS


Although the good news about turkey and chicken sausage is that it has half the fat as regular sausage, the bad news is that it’s loaded with sodium! I pay more for Campbell’s Healthy Request soups because it doesn’t have monosodium glutamate. That doesn’t mean it is low in sodium, either. A serving of Healthy Request Cream of Mushroom soup has 410 milligrams. I’ll continue to buy it for casserole dishes but I do think Campbell’s should reduce the amount of salt in a serving.

LOST AND FOUND!


I do empathize with readers when they lose a Mary’s Memo recipe because I lose them, also! I spent a lot of time last week looking for a slow cooker recipe for dressing made with rotisserie chicken. I knew I had made it within the past 5 years but I could not find it anywhere. Then lo and behold I located it accidently in a basket of recipes in the kitchen. I may have served it at Chief but I’m pretty certain it hasn’t been on a memo. It is so good, I should still have reserved it for the 2014 Christmas recipe sheet but didn’t. Yesterday I made it with frozen leftover rotisserie chicken and I can’t wait to have another serving for my main meal today! For family or guests, this is a winner!

SLOW COOKER ESCALLOPED CHICKEN


• 3 cups cubed rotisserie chicken
• 1 cup chopped celery
• 13 cups white bread cubes, baked in a large loaf pan in a 350ºF oven for 10 minutes
• 1 stick softened butter
• 1 teaspoon poultry seasoning
• 1/2 teaspoon dried sage
• 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt (or less if you choose)
• 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
• 1 (14.5-ounce) can Swanson chicken broth
• 1 can Campbell’s Healthy Request Cream of Mushroom Soup, undiluted

Combine cooked chicken, onion, celery, toasted bread cubes, softened butter, poultry seasoning, sage, salt and pepper. Blend chicken broth and mushroom soup together and stir into chicken mixture. Spray a 6-quart slow cooker with Pam. Spoon dressing mixture into cooker. Cover and bake on High for 1 hour; reduce heat to low and continue baking for an additional 4 hours (5 total). Recipe makes 6 to 8 servings.

NUTS AND PEANUTS, TOO, TO YOU!


I don’t know about you but I make a point of eating 1/4 cup of tree nuts or peanuts daily. According to a recent study conducted at Loma Linda University in California, tree nuts include almonds, Brazil nuts, cashews, hazelnuts, macadamias, pecans, pine nuts, pistachios and walnuts. Peanuts, also are included in this beneficial grouping, though technically, they are legumes. Researchers said a 1-ounce serving of tree nuts per week is associated with seven percent less risk of metabolic syndrome , while doubling this amount could potentially reduce metabolic syndrome risk by 14 percent. Metabolic syndrome is cluster of risk factors that increase risk for chronic diseases, such a cardiovascular diseases, type 2 diabetes and death. The five risk factors include having a large waistline, a high triglyceride level, low HDL (“good”) cholesterol level, high blood pressure and high fasting blood sugar level. Having three of these factors leads to a diagnosis of metabolic syndrome. Researchers found fewer obese people among high tree nut consumers compared to low tree nut consumers.
Source: Duke Medicine Health News, March 2014.

SHOULD GARLIC REST?


Health and nutrition experts believe that a beneficial substance is formed when garlic is cut or crushed and then allowed to rest before cooking. In the time the garlic is resting, a powerful phytochemical called allicin is formed. It is thought to be the compound in garlic that may prevent cancer cell growth.
Source: Weill Medical College Women’s Nutrition Connection, March 2014.

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Mardi Gras King Cake

Fat Tuesday is quickly approaching, which means the beginning of Lent is just around the corner! Many people choose to spend the 40 days of Lent in meditation and fasting, and Fat Tuesday is the last big hurrah. A traditional dessert served on Fat Tuesday is the Mardi Gras King Cake. The tradition actually began in France, and it is a continued celebration of the three Wise Men bearing gifts for the infant Jesus. The pastry is shaped in a ring to represent the circular paths the Wise Men traveled to see baby Jesus (in order to confuse King Herod and foil his plans to kill baby Jesus). Typically a small coin or plastic baby is hidden inside the cake (to represent baby Jesus), and whoever finds it in their piece of cake is promised good luck in the coming year. [source]

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I've personally never had a King Cake until this year. Every year, about this time, one of my close running buddies talks about making one and enjoying it with her family - it's a big family tradition. I decided I needed to get in on the action. This version is super simple, using canned biscuits and pantry staples to assemble the cake. Start by opening your can of biscuits, and laying them in two rows of four. Then, press the edges together and pinch to seal so you have one large rectangle of biscuit dough. (It doesn't have to be perfect.)

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Brush the biscuit dough with some melted butter, and sprinkle it generously with cinnamon-sugar.

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Roll it up cinnamon-roll style until you have a long tube; then, shape the tube into a circle. (It it falls apart a little, that's ok. Just try to pinch together any cracks.)

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Bake at 350*F about 22-28 minutes, until golden brown and the biscuits are cooked through. If it doesn't look the prettiest, no big deal! We are just going to cover it with frosting anyway.

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Once it cools, spread with your favorite cream cheese frosting, and decorate with purple, gold, and green decorating sugars. If you want to hide a baby in it, do so after it bakes by shoving it up the bottom somewhere.

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If you like cinnamon rolls, you will love this King Cake! Buttery and flaky, with just the right amount of cinnamon flavor. It makes a great breakfast as well as dessert. ;) ---

Mardi Gras King Cake

Serves 6-8. 16.3-oz can refrigerated biscuits 3-4 tablespoons melted butter 1/2 cup sugar 2 teaspoons cinnamon cream cheese frosting (canned or homemade) purple, gold, and green decorating sugars Preheat oven to 350*F. Place biscuits on parchment-lined or greased baking sheet in two rows of four. Pinch edges to seal and form one large rectangle of biscuit dough. Brush with melted butter. Mix sugar with cinnamon; sprinkle over butter. Roll the biscuit dough up, forming a long tube. Shape the tube into a circle. Bake in preheated oven for 22-28 minutes until golden brown. Let cool. Frost with cream cheese frosting and decorate with purple, gold, and green decorating sugars.

Mary’s Memo – March 3rd

ARSENIC IN FOOD: WHAT YOU MUST KNOW


The risks of arsenic in the food supply have been on our radar since tests in 2012 and 2011 found worrisome levels of the heavy metal in rice and apple juice. Now newer evidence released in the past year has increased our knowledge about possible long-term health risks of consuming arsenic. Last July researchers in the United Kingdom and India published the first study to show that frequently eating rice high in arsenic can lead to genetic damage in cells associated with cancer. (It’s not yet clear whether the findings will apply to people in the U.S., who have fewer nutritional problems than those in the study group.) Other new studies suggest that chronic exposure to the toxin, especially in utero or in early childhood, may increase the risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes and respiratory ailments. Inorganic arsenic is already known to cause cancer of the bladder, lung and skin cancer.

What to do:


Our Food Safety and Sustainability Center is pressing for federal limits on the amount of arsenic allowed in food and beverages.

To cut your risk:


Diversify your grain consumption to include grains other than rice.Rinse rice before cooking using a ratio of 6 cups water to 1 cup of rice to cook it, draining excess water afterwards. Limit children’s consumption of apple and grape juice. Children up to age 6 should have no more than 4 to 6-ounces a day. To learn more about our work on arsenic go to GreenerChoices.org/arsenic.
Source: Consumer Reports on Health, March 2014.

LIMIT FOODS THAT CAN SAP BONE STRENGTH


“High intakes of caffeine can cause calcium, as well as some of the other important bone nutrients to be lost via urine” according to Stephan Torres, RD, CDN, at New York-Presbyterian-Weill Cornell Medical Center. Excess sodium consumption also has been found to cause calcium loss via urine and sweat. Moderate alcohol consumption, up to two drinks per day for men and one for women and anyone over age 65, may help protect bone health, but more than that can increase bone loss, according to Torres. He recommends getting as much vitamin D, calcium and other bone-healthy nutrients as possible from foods, including low-fat or non-fat dairy products, soy products (tofu, soybeans, soy milk), salmon and sardines, leafy green vegetables, nuts, fruits and beans. Some foods that are commonly fortified with bone-building nutrients are breakfast cereals, orange juice and rice, almond and other plant-derived milks.
Source: Weill Cornell Medical College Women’s Nutrition Connection, March 2014.

THE HEALTHIEST SALMON


Some research suggests that farmed salmon may harbor higher mercury and pesticides residues and higher levels of possible carcinogens called PCBs. The risks depend on how the salmon was raised and what it was fed. So it makes sense to spring for wild salmon.
Source: Consumer Reports on Health, March 2014.

ARE YOUR SEASONINGS SAFE?


You can’t always tell by the package where a spice originated and what its production conditions were. To cut your risk, add spices before cooking when possible. Any bacteria are likely to be killed by the high heat. If you’re using seasonings in a dish that’s prepared cold, such as cilantro in guacamole or basil in pesto, consider buying fresh herbs. But wash them carefully in running water first: Even organic herbs can harbor bacteria such as E-coli and cyclosporine that could make you sick.
Source: Consumer Reports on Health, March 2014.

RAVE REVIEWS FOR THIS RECIPE!


Penne with Sausage and Fresh Asparagus was a big hit when I served it at the Bryan Chief in February.

PENNE WITH SAUSAGE AND FRESH ASPARAGUS


• 3/4 cup chopped sweet onion
• 1 red bell pepper, chopped
• 1 yellow bell pepper, chopped
• 1 tablespoon olive oil
• 4 of 5 links of Chief Smokehouse Sweet Italian Sausage
• 1 (14.5-ounce) can diced tomatoes, undrained
• 1/2 cup vermouth
• 1-1/2 teaspoons dried oregano
• 1/8 teaspoon black pepper
• 1/8 teaspoon crushed red pepper
• 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
• 1 lb. fresh asparagus, trimmed and diagonally sliced
• 3 level cups whole wheat penne, cooked according to package directions.

Sauté onions and peppers in olive oil in a large skillet until tender. Remove and set aside. In same skillet, brown sausage on all sides. Drain on paper towel and cut into thin slices. Add tomatoes and vermouth, stirring to dislodge any browned bits. Stir in onion-pepper mixture, sausage and seasonings. Simmer for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add asparagus and cook until asparagus is crisp-cooked, stirring occasionally. Fold in cooked pasta, sprinkle with Parmesan cheese and serve immediately. Recipe makes 6 servings.
Source: Adapted from Junior League of San Diego Cookbook recipe.

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