Monthly Archives: June 2014

No-Bake Cheesecake Parfaits

How is it that the 4th of July is already this week? Where is this summer going??! Time to roll out those favorite red, white, and blue recipes... Brownie Berry Pizza, Red, White, & Blue Pasta Salad, or the good ole' classic Flag Cake. If you're looking for a simple and easy make ahead dessert (or snack) to add to your spread, these No-Bake Cheesecake Parfaits are perfect! A simple graham cracker crust is topped with a whipped yogurt cheesecake filling, and then your choice of fresh blueberry or fresh strawberry topping. These are even pretty healthy... enough so that we've been enjoying them for snacks. (And maybe breakfast...) I served them in some 4-oz glass jars, which I thought were super cute. You could also use little plastic punch cups or small bowls or ramekins. IMG_7127 Start with your fruit toppings. For the strawberry, combine some diced strawberries with a bit of sugar. Let them sit about 1 hour until macerated and juicy. For the blueberry, combine some blueberries with sugar and cook over medium heat until they release their juice. Add a little cornstarch mixed with water to thicken it up. (If you want to make it even easier and buy canned fruit topping, I won't tell anyone...) For the graham cracker crust, mix up your graham cracker crumbs, sugar, and a little melted butter. Press into the bottom of each jar and set aside. IMG_7117 For the cheesecake filling, beat  cream cheese until smooth. Add some Greek yogurt, powdered sugar, and a little vanilla extract. That's it! Scoop it over the graham cracker crust into your jars. IMG_7119 Then, just top with the fruit topping! Easy peasy. IMG_7123 Happy Independence Day! ---

No-Bake Cheesecake Parfaits

Yield: 12 servings

For the strawberry topping:

  • cups diced strawberries
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
For the blueberry topping:
  • 1 cup fresh blueberries
  • 3 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 2 teaspoons cornstarch
  • 2 teaspoons water
For the graham cracker crust:
  • ¾ cup graham cracker crumbs
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • tablespoons butter, melted
For the no-bake cheesecake:
  • 8-oz cream cheese, softened
  • 2 cups plain Greek yogurt
  • cups powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Method

1. To prepare strawberry topping, combine diced strawberries and sugar in a small bowl. Set aside and let macerate 1 hour; then mash to release juices.

2. To prepare blueberry topping, combine blueberries with sugar in a small saucepan. Heat over medium heat 4-5 minutes until blueberries release their juices. In small bowl, combine cornstarch with water. Add mixture to blueberries; continue cooking and stir until thickened.

3. For the graham cracker base, combine graham cracker crumbs, sugar, and butter. Pour a spoonful into the bottom of 12 individual 4-oz flat-bottomed jars or other small ramekin. Pat down with your fingers or a small glass.

4. For the cheesecake layer, beat cream cheese and Greek yogurt until smooth. Mix in powdered sugar and vanilla extract; beat until smooth. Scoop about 1/3-1/2 cup into each jar over the graham cracker crust. Top with strawberry topping and/or blueberry topping. Store in refrigerator until serving.

Source: adapted from Annie's Eats

Mary’s Memo – June 30th

FROM THE COOKBOOK SHELF


You don’t need to be a vegan to enjoy recipes from Straight from the Earth Recipes for Everyone by Myra and Marea Goodman with colored photographs by Sara Remington. The book’s diverse and delectable collection of recipes takes you from breakfast and lunch to dinner and dessert. Each recipe comes from either Myra or Marea and their unique voices and styles add a personal, conversational element to this collaborative project. Marea, for instance, has long enjoyed a vegan diet, while Myra, her mother, has not; for Myra, writing the book has transformed the way she eats. She and her husband Drew founded Earthbound Farm on their 2.5 acre raspberry farm. It has since become the largest producer of organic produce in North America. Marea grew up on the farm and learned to cook surrounded by an abundance of fresh organic produce. Myra and her husband live on their original farm in Carmel Valley, California. Daughter Marea lives in Oakland, California.

Since roasted vegetables are a favorite of mine, Cumin-Roasted Cauliflower and Carrots is an excellent side dish year round.

CUMIN-ROASTED CAULIFLOWER AND CARROTS


• 1 large head cauliflower, cut into bite-size pieces
• 2 large carrots cut into 1/3 to 1/2 inch slices
• 3 tablespoons olive oil
• 1 tablespoon ground cumin
• 1 teaspoon ground coriander
• 1/2 teaspoon salt
• Pinch of cayenne pepper

Preheat oven to 400ºF. Spread the cauliflower and carrots in a large rimmed roasting pan. Drizzle the oil over them and toss with your hands until they are coated. In small bowl, blend cumin, coriander, salt and cayenne together with a fork. Sprinkle the spices evenly over the vegetables and toss with your hands until vegetables are evenly coated. Make sure vegetables are spread out in pan and not touching each other if possible. Roast vegetables for 45 minutes, stirring after 15 minutes, then twice more at 10 minute intervals, making sure they remain spread out in pan. The vegetables are done when they are firm but easily pierced with a fork and beginning to turn golden brown. If they need more time in the oven after the initial 45 minutes, keep a close eye on them, stirring every 5 minutes. Serve vegetables warm or at room temperature. Recipe makes 4 servings.
Source: Straight from the Earth by Myra and Marea Goodman (Chronicle Books, April 2014, $27.50/softback).

AVOID FRUIT-FLAVORED YOGURTS


Tufts Diet & Nutrition Letter Editor Irwin H. Rosenberg, MD, says he enjoys “traditional” Greek yogurt made with whole milk. “First of all, ‘traditional’ or ‘authentic’ yogurt made with traditional cultures with a long history may sometimes be richer in probiotic content,” he says. “These traditional yogurts also generally use less sugar or other sweeteners. ‘Greek’ yogurt means that it has been strained, so that it is more firm and contains less whey. Keep an eye on what’s added to your yogurt, however it’s made; if the ingredients list reads like a sundae, those additions will likely outweigh any health benefits from the yogurt itself. ‘Traditional’ yogurt is usually made with whole milk, and there is no evidence that low-fat yogurt is healthier per se.” Source: Tufts Health & Nutrition Letter, June 2014.

WEIGHT WATCHER’S DIET


Of all the diet regimens on the market, Weight Watcher’s in my opinion is the best! This past year my Mary Ann and niece Gina have both lost a significant amount of weight on the diet without sacrificing good-tasting food. Another advantage to Weight Watcher’s is that fresh fruits and vegetables are free and good in-between-meal snacks. Recently, Gina had a recipe for Parmesan Tomato Bites on her Facebook page; I’m sure one that suits her diet regimen.

PARMESAN TOMATO BITES


• 2 tomatoes, sliced
• 1-1/2 ounces Parmesan cheese
• 1 teaspoon fresh oregano
• Dash salt (1/8 teaspoon)
• Dash pepper (1/8 teaspoon)
• 1 tablespoon olive oil

Preheat oven to 450ºF. Cut tomatoes lengthwise into approximately 1/3 inch slices. Place on a baking sheet. Top with shredded Parmesan, cheese, oregano, salt and fresh ground pepper (or according to taste). Drizzle with olive oil and bake until center is hot and cheese is melted, about 10 to 15 minutes.
Source: Gina Decker, Greensboro NC.

HOMEMADE PUDDING VERSUS “STORE-BOUGHT”


Many shoppers buy pudding in cups, especially when it’s on sale. If they knew how good homemade puddings tasted, a lot would opt to make their own. This is especially true of chocolate and butterscotch flavored puddings thickened with cornstarch although arrowroot or flour may be substituted for cornstarch.

CHOCOLATE PUDDING


• 1/3 cup cocoa (I used Hershey's Special Dark Cocoa)
• 3 tablespoons cornstarch
• 1/2 cup sugar
• 2-1/4 cups milk, scalded
• 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Mix cocoa with cornstarch and sugar; gradually whisk in scalded milk. Cook in double boiler, stirring until thick; cover and cook 15 to 20 minutes. Add vanilla extract. Pour into custard cups; chill until firm. Recipe makes 5 to 6 servings.
Source: Adapted from Better Homes & Gardens recipe.

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Hawaiian Pulled Pork [Nachos]

Earlier this spring, I had the privilege of taking an awesome vacation to Hawaii. It was probably the best vacation of my life! Beautiful scenery, beautiful weather, and amazing food. I'm bringing a taste of Hawaii to Ohio today with this Hawaiian Pulled Pork. It's got a bit of  sweetness to it (from pineapple), which was a nice little change from your typical pulled pork. We enjoyed it several ways - on sandwiches, in salads, and as Hawaiian nachos. I'd say the nachos were definitely the best! Tortilla chips were layered with pork, barbecue sauce, co-jack cheese, and then topped with more pineapple and cilantro. The pork itself is really simple to make. Just combine a pork shoulder roast with some garlic powder, a can of pineapple (with juice), a sliced onion, and about 3/4 cup of your favorite barbecue sauce. Let it cook 7-9 hours on low, then shred it with a fork. IMG_6920 The nachos are pretty easy, too. Layer your favorite tortilla chips on a pan, then top with pieces of pork. Drizzle with additional barbecue sauce; then cover with your favorite cheese. (I used colby jack, but a mixture of cheddar and mozzarella would be good, too.) IMG_6921 Bake at 425*F for 4-6 minutes until the cheese melts. Once it comes out of the oven, top with additional pineapple and cilantro. Such an easy, fun dinner. IMG_6923 ---

Hawaiian Pulled Pork

Yield: 6-8 servings

  • 3-4 lb. pork shoulder or butt roast
  • 2 tablespoons garlic salt
  • 15-oz can chopped pineapple in juice
  • ½-¾ cup barbecue sauce
  • 1 large sweet onion, thinly sliced

Method

Rub pork roast all over with garlic salt. Place in slow cooker with barbecue sauce, pineapple (with juice), and onion. Cook on low for 7-9 hours, until meat shreds easily. Shred and serve on buns with additional barbecue sauce, or make Hawaiian nachos.

Hawaiian Nachos

Yield: as many servings as you make!

  • tortilla chips
  • Hawaiian pulled pork
  • barbecue sauce
  • shredded co-jack cheese
  • diced pineapple
  • chopped cilantro

Method

Preheat oven to 425*F. Layer tortilla chips on a baking sheet. (Use about 15-20 chips per person.) Top with pieces of pulled pork; then drizzle with barbecue sauce. Cover with shredded cheese. Bake about 4-6 minutes until cheese is melted. Top with pineapple and cilantro, and serve!

Source: adapted from Iowa Girl Eats

Mary’s Memo – June 23rd

FROM THE COOKBOOK SHELF


In case you hadn’t noticed, the egg has been elevated to entrée status or at the very least, showing up on top of a variety of foods. Eggs on Top, Recipes Elevated by an Egg by Andrea Slonecker and photographs by David Reamer is a gem of a cookbook! With two distinct sections, this primer teaches first the classic techniques for cooking the humble egg. From perfectly poached to softly scrambled, each method is clearly conveyed to ensure egg cooking success. Skills mastered, you’ll find you can add an egg to nearly any recipe. Andrea Slonecker’s writing has appeared in the Oregonian’s MIX magazine and Northwest Palate magazine. She has served as executive director of the Portland Culinary Alliance and a chef instructor at the International Culinary School at the Art Institute in Portland, and she's the author of Pretzel Making at Home, also from Chronicle Books. David Reamer is a food and lifestyle photographer whose images have appeared in Bon Appetit, Food & Wine and GQ. David cooked for thirteen years before finally trading in his chef’s knife for a camera.

Have you ever poached eggs in milk? Now you can with a recipe from the cookbook. Slonecker likes them on a slice of buttered toast but they can be served on other entrees as well.

MILK-POACHED EGGS


• 1 cup milk
• Salt
• 2 farm-fresh eggs

Warm milk with a pinch of salt over medium-high heat. (Don’t be tempted to add vinegar to the eggs, as you would for water poaching because it will make the milk curdle.) Crack eggs into separate bowls. When the milk is foamy on top and you can see little bubbles starting to break the surface, gently slip the eggs in, one by one, on opposite sides of the pan. If the yolks aren’t quite submerged, use a spoon to delicately baste them with the hot milk. Adjust the heat as needed to keep the milk from boiling; it should be steaming and foamy, but not bubbling. Poach the eggs 2 to 3 minutes, depending on their size. To see if they are done, lift an egg from the milk with a slotted spoon and gently feel around the edges of the yolk. The yolk should jiggle and the white should feel set yet tender. Strain the eggs from the milk using the slotted spoon, and place them on the dish they are destined for.
Source: Eggs on Top by Andrea Slonecker (Chronicle Books, 2014, $24.95/softback).

WHY TRANS FATS ARE WORSE THAN OTHER TYPES OF FAT


Trans fats, which are made by adding extra hydrogen to vegetable oils, originally seemed like a promising alternative to butter because they provided a similar taste without saturated fat and cholesterol, but they turned out to be even worse for our health than saturated fat. Not only do they raise LDL (bad) cholesterol but they lower HDL (good) cholesterol and might contribute to inflammation. You can avoid them by steering clear of products that list “partially hydrogenated oil” as an ingredient. Some recent evidence suggests that saturated fat might not be as dangerous as once thought, but more research is needed to confirm this.
Source: ConsumerReports on Health, June 2014.

MARRIED PEOPLE HEART HEALTHIER


The largest study of its kind reports that married people are less likely to suffer from a range of cardiovascular problems, from heart disease to circulatory issues. In an analysis of data on more than 3.5 million Americans, average age 64, who’d undergone health screenings by a private company, married people were 5 percent less likely to have cardiovascular problems than singles. Compared to married participants, widowed people were at 3 percent greater risks and divorced people at 5 percent more risk. The correlation between marital status and cardiovascular health was strongest for those under age 50. The findings were presented at the American College of Cardiology annual meeting.
Source: Tufts Health & Nutrition Letter, June 2014.

WHAT COULD BE EASIER THAN THIS TO MAKE!


When the recipe was tested I used a cake mix (Duncan Hines) that weighed more. When I make it again I’ll use a cake mix like Betty Crocker that weighs about 4 ounces less. Knowing memo readers are attracted to recipes with a few ingredients, you’re going to love this dessert!

RHUBARB DUMP CAKE


• 4 cups cut-up rhubarb
• 1 cup sugar
• 1 (3-ounce) package strawberry gelatin
• 1 yellow cake mix
• 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter, melted
• 1 cup water

In a 9x13-inch glass baking dish layer rhubarb, sugar, gelatin and cake mix. DO NOT MIX OR STIR! Evenly pour butter and water over all. Bake in preheated 350ºF oven for 45 minutes or until rhubarb is cooked and top is golden brown. Recipe makes 16 servings.

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Grilled Steaks with Blackberry Reduction Sauce

It's the summer of grilling, and today I'm featuring a classic - steak! Chief offers a wide variety of steak options... if you can't find your favorite, simply ask the butcher to cut your meat to order. They are also more than willing to answer any questions and provide tips and hints to the best cuts. IMG_6942 One of my favorite parts about eating steak in a fancy restaurant is the fancy reduction sauce that is usually served on the side. (For an extra charge, of course.) I decided that it would be nice to be able to make a sauce like that at home, and it was much simpler than I thought! I went with a Blackberry Reduction Sauce, which was made up of a mixture of mushrooms, shallots, reduced red wine, and fresh blackberries. The flavors went wonderfully with the steaks, and we even topped it all off with a bit of gorgonzola cheese. Might I say it was even better than the steakhouse? And we have leftovers! (I'm thinking it might be delicious over some grilled chicken as well.) To start the sauce, heat some olive oil in a large stockpot over high heat. Once it's almost smoking, add some sliced shallots, sliced mushrooms, and some freshly ground black pepper. Reduce the heat to medium, and let them cook about 5 minutes until browned bits have formed on the bottom of the pan. (Those are the best parts!) PicMonkey Collage.jpg Add a bit of brown sugar and your favorite dry red wine. (Cabernet is a great option.) Scrape up those little brown bits on the bottom of the pan, and let it simmer and reduce about 40 minutes, until there's only about 11/2 cups left. IMG_6939 Add about 2 cups of beef stock, and simmer another 15 minutes. Add in a few sprigs of thyme and some fresh blackberries, and let it simmer until your steaks are ready. To grill the steaks, simply season them with salt and pepper, and grill over high heat about 4-5 minutes on each side until your desired doneness. Serve the steaks topped with the sauce and gorgonzola cheese. IMG_6942

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Grilled Steaks with Blackberry Reduction Sauce

Yield: 2 cups sauce

For the sauce

  • 1-2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 medium shallots, sliced
  • 1 package sliced baby bella mushrooms
  • 1-2 teaspoons ground black pepper
  • ¼ cup brown sugar
  • 1 bottle dry red wine, (about 4 cups)
  • 2 cups beef stock
  • 3-4 sprigs thyme
  • 1 pint fresh blackberries
For the steaks
  • 1½-2 lbs sirloin steak
  • salt & freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • gorgonzola cheese, for serving

Method

1. To make the sauce, heat olive oil over high heat in a large nonreactive stockpot. Once it heats up, add shallots, mushrooms, and boac pepper. Reduce the heat to medium and cook vegetables until brown bits form on the bottom of the pan, about 5 minutes.

2. Add the brown sugar and red wine, and deglaze the pan, scraping the brown bits up off the bottom. Let simmer 30-40 minutes until reduced to about 11/2 cups. Add beef stock and cook about 15 minutes more, until it has reduced to about 11/2 cups.

3. About 10-15 minutes before serving, add thyme sprigs and fresh blackberries.

4. While sauce is reducing, prepare the grill. Heat grill to high heat. Season steaks with salt & pepper. Grill steaks about 4-5 minutes on each side, until your desired doneness. Serve topped with reduction sauce and gorgonzola cheese.

Source: adapted from Food Network Magazine

Mary’s Memo – June 16th

FROM THE COOKBOOK SHELF


The Complete Autism Spectrum Disorder Health & Diet Guide by Dr. R. Garth Smith, Susan Hannah and Elke Sengmueller (www.robertrose.ca; May 2014, $24.95/softback) includes 175 gluten free and casein-free recipes. In May 2013, the American Psychiatric Association provided new diagnostic criteria for autism spectrum disorder (ASD), a term that incorporates diagnoses previously described as separate: autistic disorder, Asperger‘s disorder, childhood disintegrative disorder and pervasive developmental disorder not otherwise specified. This comprehensive book on ASD will be an invaluable resource for parents, caregivers and health professionals alike, since it combines the expertise of an outstanding author team with years of experience and a range of skills. Autism is making headlines in the news today. The authors clearly explain ASD …. its symptoms, possible causes, promising therapies and available resources that can improve children’s quality of life and help them reach their full potential. One of the diet therapies that families often try is the gluten-free casein-free (GFCF) diet. Although research is still somewhat divided, some families who try the GFCF recipes report reduced ASD-associated symptoms in children with milk and/or wheat allergies, suspected food sensitivities or gastrointestinal symptoms.

Dr. R. Garth Smith is a medical advisor for ASD. Susan Hannah is a respected health author and a former research associate at the Department of Family Medicine, Queen’s University. Elke Sengmuelle, B.A.Sc., RD, is a clinical dietitian at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health. She runs a private practice, Family Nutrition Counseling and reviewed the dietary information in this book.

THE “EYES” HAVE IT: EAT TO PROTECT YOUR VISION


Generations of parents told their children that eating carrots would improve their vision. But those well-meaning moms and dads probably should have said the same about a variety of colorful fruits and vegetables, since they contain the key nutrients that support eye health. “Certain antioxidants, such as beta carotene and vitamin C and E, may play a role against two common causes of vision loss, age-related macular degeneration (AMD) and cataracts,” says Jessica Ciralsky, MD, with Weill Cornell Eye Associates. The nutrients lutein and zeaxanthin also have been shown to influence the health of the macula, the part of the retina responsible for clear central vision. Dr. Ciralsky recommends regular consumption of dark leafy vegetables which contain high levels of lutein and also trace amounts of zeaxanthin. Additional sources of zeaxanthin include corn and kiwifruit and egg yolks. While the yolks contain all the cholesterol in eggs, recent research suggest that eating eggs may have little impact on the levels of LDL “bad” cholesterol in your body. For vitamin C, consider adding more strawberries and citrus to your diet. Good sources of vitamin E include nuts and seeds, which also contain zinc, a mineral that is found in large concentrations in the retina and is thought to help bring vitamin A to the eye, Dr. Ciralsky explains. Beta carotene, which is converted to vitamin A in your body, is most plentiful in dark green and orange vegetables and fruits. Source: Weill Cornell Medical College Women’s Nutrition Connection, June 2014.

WHY RED BEETS ARE CALLED HARVARD


When I recently served Mother’s Harvard Beets from my cookbook at the Bryan Chief, a taster asked why they were called “Harvard.” Not knowing the answer, I went to the internet for information. There is only speculation about the origin but in the Encyclopedia of American Food and Drink food historians had a couple theories. One was that the crimson color of the beets is the same color as the jerseys of Harvard football players. Another story is that a Russian immigrant settled in Boston and opened a restaurant called Hardwood’s but his Russian accent made it sound like Harvard and the name stuck.

MAKE DOUBLE-CHOCOLATE SNACK CAKE FOR DAD


Isn’t everyone looking for easy desserts to make in the summertime? This week’s recipe from Pillsbury is perfect for the fatherin-your-life, especially if he’s a chocoholic. A single serving has 230 calories with only 80 from fat. The only change I made was replacing regular cocoa powder with Hershey Special Dark but if you prefer, use regular.

DOUBLE-CHOCOLATE SNACK CAKE


• 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
• 1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
• 2 tablespoons Hershey Special Dark cocoa powder
• 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
• 1/4 teaspoon salt
• 1/2 cup water
• 3 tablespoons canola oil
• 1/2 teaspoon white vinegar
• 1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
• 1/4 cup semisweet chocolate chips
• Powdered sugar for topping

Preheat oven to 350ºF. In an ungreased 9x5-inch loaf pan, mix flour, brown sugar, cocoa, baking soda and salt with a fork. Stir in remaining ingredients except chocolate chips and powdered sugar. Sprinkle chocolate chips over batter. Bake 25 to 30 minutes or until a tooth pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in pan for 30 minutes. Sprinkle lightly with powdered sugar. Cut into 6 servings. Source: Pillsbury internet recipe.

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20-Minute Chicken Florentine Pasta

Everybody loves a quick & easy dinner, right? I was watching an episode of the Pioneer Woman on Food Network a few weeks ago, and she had an episode devoted to 16-minute meals. 16 minutes?? Really? This Chicken Florentine Pasta was one of them, so I decided to give it a go. It's a light pasta dish filled with tender chicken pieces, fresh spinach and tomatoes, and dressed with a light sauce of white wine, butter, and Parmesan cheese. It really hit the spot on a warmer summer day. IMG_6878 Now, I'll be honest... it took me closer to 25 minutes start to finish. However, I was also cooking up a homemade ice cream base and garlic bread at the same time. (Multi-tasking at its finest!) So, I will compromise and call it a 20-minute meal. The meal goes so fast because you do multiple things at once. Start cooking the pasta at the same time you start browning the chicken pieces. Once the chicken pieces are brown on both sides and cooked through, add garlic to the pan. Let it cook about 30 seconds; then add the chicken stock and white wine to deglaze the pan. IMG_6875   IMG_6876 [A little tip about cooking with wine: definitely pick a wine you also like to drink! Or else what are you going to do with the rest of the bottle? You do, however, want to pick a dryer white wine for this recipe. Chief has a great system in their wine section, where the wines are labeled based on sweetness. 1 (very dry) to 5 (very sweet). I would choose either a 1 or 2 for this recipe. We went with a solid Chardonnay.] IMG_6877 Once the sauce is reduced by half, combine the cooked pasta, chicken pieces, spinach, tomatoes, and sauce. Let is sit a minute or two until the spinach wilts; then stir in the Parmesan and heavy cream. Serve with additional Parmesan and garlic bread, of course! IMG_6879 ---

Chicken Florentine Pasta

Servings/Yield: 4-6 servings

  • 12-oz penne pasta
  • 1-lb boneless skinless chicken breast, diced into chunks
  • salt & fresh ground pepper pepper, to taste
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1-2 tablespoons minced garlic
  • ¾ cup chicken broth
  • ¾ cup dry white wine
  • 6-oz bag baby spinach
  • 1-2 pints halved grape or cherry tomatoes, (optional: roasted)
  • 1 cup shaved Parmesan cheese, plus more for serving
  • ¼ cup heavy cream

Method

1. Cook the pasta al dente according to package directions. Drain and set aside.

2. In a large skillet, heat olive oil and butter over medium heat. Season chicken liberally with salt and pepper. Add to skillet and brown for 4-5 minutes on each side, until cooked through. Remove to a plate.

3. Add garlic to skillet; cook 30 seconds until fragrant. Add chicken broth and white wine to deglaze the pan. Simmer until reduced by half.

4. In a large bowl, combine cooked pasta, spinach, tomatoes, chicken pieces, and sauce. Let sit until spinach wilts. Add Parmesan cheese and heavy cream; mix thoroughly. Serve with additional grated Parmesan.

Source: adapted from the Pioneer Woman

Mary’s Memo – June 9th

FROM THE COOKBOOK SHELF


There’s no reason to settle for leftovers or a hastily thrown together meal when you could be cooking with sumptuous recipes specifically designed for one or two people. They can also be easily scaled up if you’re entertaining. Delicious Diabetes Cooking for One or Two People by Michelle Berriedale-Johnson comes to the rescue with wonderful recipes plus a wealth of diabetes-related information, everything from symptoms, diagnosis and blood sugar control to alternative sweetener information and nutritional therapy. None of the recipes are long or complicated and many are even suitable for those managing other dietary restrictions such as gluten or dairy allergies. Berriedale-Johnson is a bestselling author and the founder of the Free From Food Award (food allergy/intolerance). She lives in the United Kingdom.
We selected Whole Wheat Blueberry Muffins to share.

WHOLE WHEAT BLUEBERRY MUFFINS


• 2 tablespoons Demerara sugar (this is raw sugar and is available at Chief)
• 2 tablespoons butter, softened
• 1 small egg (or 2 tablespoons beaten eggs)
• 1/4 cup milk or buttermilk
• 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
• 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
• Pinch salt
• 1/3 cup blueberries

Line a muffin tin with paper liners or grease. In a large bowl, using an electric mixer or wooden spoon, beat the sugar, butter, egg and milk. In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt. Gradually beat the flour mixture into the liquid mixture. Fold in the blueberries. Spoon batter into prepared muffin cups. Fill empty cups with water. Bake in preheated 350ºF oven for 20 minutes or until a tester inserted in the center of a muffin comes out clean. Remove the muffins from the oven and let them cool slightly on a wire cooling rack. Serve warm or transfer to wire rack to cool completely. Recipe makes 3 to 4 small muffins.
Source: Delicious Diabetes Cooking for One or Two People by Michelle Berriedale-Johnson (www.robertrose.ca; May 2014, $19.95/softback).

TO IMPROVE YOUR MOOD, SMILE!


The old adage “grin and bear it” has some proven value, as indicated in a 2012 study in Psychological Science. University students who simulated different types of smiles while performing stressful tasks had lower heart rates than students who donned neutral expressions. And a classic study from 1988 found that activating smile muscles made people rate cartoons as funnier. In contrast, just lowering the eyebrows (in effect, frowning) had an immediate negative effect on mood in a 2012 study in the journal Emotion.
Source: University of California, Berkeley Wellness Letter, June 2014.

THE RAIN DIDN’T HURT THE RHUBARB


I don’t know if it was the bag of 10-10-10 that I applied where the rhubarb grows in early March but I have the best rhubarb I’ve had in several years! If you have a bumper crop and like easy recipes, you must make Five Ingredient Rhubarb Squares. Before blending the cold butter with the cake mix, be sure butter is cut into many small pieces. Mine should have been smaller when I tested the recipe.

FIVE- INGREDIENT RHUBARB SQUARES


• 1 box Betty Crocker SuperMoist yellow cake mix
• 3/4 cup cold butter, cut into small pieces
• 1-3/4 cups sugar
• 3 eggs
• 4 cups sliced rhubarb

Heat oven to 350ºF (325ºF for dark or nonstick pan). Reserve 2 tablespoons of the cake mix. In large bowl, cut butter into remaining cake mix, using pastry blender (or pulling 2 table knives through ingredients in opposite directions), blend until crumbly. In bottom of ungreased 13x9-inch pan, pat 2 cups of the mixture. Reserve remaining crumbly mixture for topping. Bake 13 minutes. In large bowl, beat reserved 2 tablespoons cake mix, sugar and eggs with electric mixer at medium speed until creamy. Stir in rhubarb. Pour over partially baked crust. Sprinkle remaining crumbly mixture over top. Bake 45 to 50 minutes longer or until golden brown and center is set. Cool slightly before serving. Serve warm or cold. Store in the refrigerator. Recipe makes 16 servings (290 calories, 100 from fat).
Source: Betty Crocker recipe.

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Build-your-own Brat Bar

Have you ever tried the Chief Smokehouse Brats? If not, then what are you waiting for??! Get yourself to the nearest Chief store and pick up a package. PicMonkey Collage.jpg To be honest, I was a brat-hater until last summer. We had people over for a cook-out, and I decided to pick up some brats to go along with the burgers. I managed to take a taste, and I was converted! The Chief Smokehouse brats are like no other. Juicy & crisp, they are handmade with hand-cut premium beef, pork and poultry in a smokehouse in Celina. They're delivered fresh to each store within 24 hours of being made. Smokehouse_Logo2012 They cook up super quickly on the grill, making them a great weeknight dinner option. I've got a couple ways to jazz up the basic brat today - wouldn't it be fun to have a build-your-own-brat bar for your next cook-out or gathering? Option 1: Fried Peppers & Onions I was first introduced to this brat topping by my husband's family. It's the only way they eat brats! Simply fry up some sliced green peppers & onions in some olive oil until they're tender. IMG_6861 IMG_6864 Option 2: Guacamole Creamy guacamole with the snappy casing of the brat makes an excellent combination. You can pick up a tub of ready-made guacamole in the deli section, or make a 'lazy man's' guacamole. I simply mashed up an avocado with a bit of lime juice, salt, and fresh ground pepper. (If you're feeling domestic, you could even make up a batch of Mango Guacamole.) IMG_6859 IMG_6868 Option 3: Apple Slaw I've seen lots of variations of coleslaw-topped burgers and pulled pork sandwiches, so I thought, "why wouldn't it work with a brat?" And it did! Of course, you could pick up a pint of deli-made coleslaw, but I decided to whip up a quick batch myself. This version is a vinegar-based coleslaw, with the addition of crisp, sweet apple slices. IMG_6860 First, whip together the dressing - Miracle Whip, olive oil, apple cider vinegar, lemon juice, and salt & pepper to taste. Then pour the dressing over a bowl of cabbage mix, julienned apple slices, and diced green onions. Let it sit in the fridge for an hour or two before serving. Bonus part about this recipe - now you have a side dish as well! IMG_6866 While the brats are great with any of the above toppings, sometimes you can't beat a good ole' classic - lots and lots of ketchup! IMG_6869 ---

Fried Peppers & Onions

Yield: tops 4-5 brats

  • 1 green bell pepper, sliced
  • 1 Vidalia onion, sliced
  • 1-2 tablespoons olive oil

Heat olive oil in a saucepan over medium heat. Add pepper and onion slices; fry 10-15 minutes until golden brown and tender.

 

Lazy Man's Guacamole

Yield: tops 4-5 brats

  • 1 ripe avocado
  • juice from 1 lime
  • salt & pepper, to taste

Mash avocado in a bowl, mixing in lime juice and salt & pepper.

 

Apple Slaw

Yield: 6-8 servings

  • 1 bag coleslaw mix
  • 3 sliced green onions
  • 1 julienned crisp apple
For the dressing
  • 2 tablespoons Miracle Whip
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  • juice from 1 lemon
  • salt & pepper, to taste

Whisk together dressing ingredients in a small bowl. Combine coleslaw mix, green onions, and apple pieces in a large bowl. Pour dressing over top; mix thoroughly. Chill 1-2 hours before serving.

Mary’s Memo – June 2nd

FROM THE COOKBOOK SHELF


Juicing machines are a top-selling kitchen appliance. Home juicing, which ten years ago was just a fad among health food enthusiasts, has entered the mainstream kitchen in a big way. Best 100 Juices for Kids by Jessica Fisher brings this revolution home for the kids or grandchildren in the family.

Every parent knows that pediatricians and kids’ dentists decry the effects on children, from bad teeth and sleepless nights to obesity and the risk of diabetes from drinks loaded with sugar and high fructose corn syrup. But what to do? Most children want something more interesting than plain water and something sweeter than a glass of milk.

Cookbook author and blogger, Fisher, mom of six, discovered the answer shortly after she brought home a juicing machine. She experimented with hundreds of flavor combinations and discovered a wealth of recipes that could pass the rigorous six-children-test in her home. In Best 100 Juices for Kids, Fisher shares the tasty, sparkling results. Seventy recipes are for juices, 45 fruit-based and 25 vegetable based. The remaining 30 feature luscious smoothies, including several dairy-free recipes, and “sparklies,” which are club soda-based carbonated drinks, great replacements for artificially flavored and sugary soda pop. For the hot months there are recipes for icy slushes and refreshing juice-based ice pops. Jessica Fisher lives in the San Diego area with her husband and six children that she home schools with plenty of breaks for healthy beverages. Her bestselling first book, Not Your Mother’s Make Ahead and Freeze Cookbook, added to her reputation as an author with a lot of clever ideas for feeding a family cheaply and nutritiously.

These days everyone’s favorite condiment is salsa and Gazpacho Juice tastes just like salsa in a glass. Feel free to add a few dashes of hot pepper sauce for those who like a little kick. You may also crave a few tortilla chips with your drink.

GAZPACHO JUICE


• 2 medium tomatoes
• 1 medium cucumber
• 1 large red bell pepper
• 1 medium lime
• 1/2 small red onion
• 2 handfuls fresh cilantro

Core tomatoes. Trim the cucumber. Core and seed the pepper. Peel the lime if desired. Juice the tomatoes, cucumber, bell pepper, lime, onion and cilantro according to your juicing machine. Whisk to combine. Add water to taste if you or your children prefer a milder juice. Recipe makes 15 to 20-ounces.
Source: 100 Best Juices for Kids (Harvard Common Press, April 2014, 16.95/softback.

SAY GOODNIGHT TO YOUR SMART PHONE


In two studies out of Michigan State University, managers and employees who checked their smart phones after 9 p.m. were more tired the next morning and less engaged at work the following day than those who didn’t use their phones during that time. The phones keep us mentally engaged, one of the authors said, and “make it hard to detach from work so they can relax and fall asleep.”
SOURCE: Consumer Reports on Health, May 2014.

CANNED FRUITS & VEGGIES – NUTRITIOUS & AFFORDABLE


Research suggests that canned fruits and vegetables are on a par nutritionally with fresh and frozen, and can be an affordable way of helping boost your intake of produce. The review, published February 27, 2014, in the American Journal of Lifestyle Medicine, analyzed more than 40 studies comparing canned fruits and vegetables to fresh and frozen varieties based on nutrition and cost. The researchers found that canned vegetables often cost 20 to 50 percent less than fresh and frozen varieties, with virtually no sacrifices in nutritional quality. One caveat: Canned foods are often high in salt, so choose sodium-free products or rinse vegetables thoroughly before consuming them. Also, rinse fruit if it is canned in syrup.
Source: Weill Cornell Medical College Women’s Nutrition Connection, May 2014.

CRISPS AND COBBLERS


Crisps and cobblers are mainly different in their use of toppings. Cobblers have biscuit dough dropped on top of fruit so it looks like a cobbled street when baked. Crisps have a topping made by combining butter with flour, sugar (either white or brown) and sometimes oatmeal until crumbly. Both are made with a variety of fresh fruits but usually not citrus because of its water content. Thickening in crisps and cobblers is usually flour or cornstarch. This week’s recipe for Peach Crisp was shared by Sister Regina Smith, our retired pastoral assistant at St. Patrick’s Church in Bryan.

PEACH CRISP


• 3 to 4 cups sliced fresh peaches (other fruits can be used)
• 1 tablespoon flour
• 1/2 cup sugar
• 1 teaspoon cinnamon
• 1/8 teaspoon ginger
• Pinch of salt (1/8 teaspoon)
• 1 tablespoon water
• 1 cup quick oatmeal
• 1/2 cup flour
• 1 cup packed brown sugar
• 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter

Mix first 7 ingredients together. Pour into a 9x9x2-inch baking dish. In separate bowl mix together last 4 ingredients for the topping. Sprinkle over fresh fruit mixture. Bake in preheated 350ºF oven for 45 minutes.
Source: Sister Regina Smith, Perrysburg, OH.

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