Mary’s Memo – March 27th


Family Circle publishes a yearbook of their recipes for $34.96 but before you pay full price, check Inside yearbook you’ll find hundreds of recipes for busy weeknights, preparation and cook times for smart meal planning, healthful and kid-friendly dinners and treats, nutrition information for planning a balanced diet and tantalizing color photographs throughout. A quiche fan, Spinach Sausage Pie jumped from the cookbook saying “try me!”


Pie Crust
• ½ pound crumbled sweet Italian sausage
• 10-ounce package frozen spinach, thawed
• 2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
• ½ pound seeded and diced plum tomatoes
• 6 eggs
• ½ cup milk
• ½ teaspoon salt
• ½ teaspoon onion powder
• ½ teaspoon dried oregano
• ¼ teaspoon black pepper

Heat oven to 350ºF. Fit a prepared pie crust into a 9-inch pie plate and line with foil, pressing down. Bake at 350º for 10 minutes. In a skillet, sauté sausage 5 minutes; stir in spinach and cook 2 minutes. Spread 1 cup mozzarella over crust; add sausage mixture and tomatoes. Sprinkle remaining mozzarella over tomatoes. Whisk eggs, milk, salt, onion powder, oregano and pepper. Pour over pie and bake at 350ºF for 1hour.
Source: Family Circle Annual Recipes 2016.


Energy drinks, energy bars, candy and processed snacks fill the grocery and convenience store shelves and promise to provide quick and delicious energy. The problem with many of these products is that the boost of energy relies on refined grains, sugar and caffeine. While these choices can provide a quick energy spike, they also lead to an eventual crash, which may leave you feeling lethargic and fatigued. Also, people who are sensitive to blood sugar spikes or caffeine may feel slightly nauseated, jittery or shaky. “Eating a lot of processed foods, such as sodas, juice drinks, crackers, cookies, or chips, can lead to a roller coaster of energy spikes and pits throughout the day. These foods also provide a lot of calories and sugar but lack important vitamins and minerals. These choices can eventually lead to overeating and weight gain,” says Jenna Rosenfeld, MS, RD, CNSC, a registered dietitian at New York-Presbyterian/Weil Cornell.

For sustained energy, it is wiser to choose foods that provide a balance of complex carbohydrates, proteins and fats. These foods break down more slowly, so instead of an energy spike followed by a crash, you can enjoy a continuous supply of energy. For example, old-fashioned oatmeal topped with ground flaxseed, chia seeds, almonds or walnuts and fresh fruit provides a good balance of whole grains, complex carbohydrates, fiber, protein and healthy fat. This meal will keep you feeling full and energetic many more hours than a slice of white bread with jam or a toaster pastry. “Choose high-fiber, complex carbohydrates like whole grains (oatmeal, quinoa and brown rice), as well as vegetables and fruits, for consistent energy,” says Rosenfeld. “It’s also important to balance carbohydrates with protein and healthy fats.”
Source: Weill Cornell Medicine Iris Cantor Women’s Health Center, March 2017.


One of my favorites from my cookbook is Peanut Butter Sundae Sauce It’s surprised me over the years that although you were generous enough to buy my cookbook, many haven’t tried the recipes. That includes this sundae sauce.


• 2 cups sugar
• ½ cup water
• 1 pound jar peanut butter (I use the original Jif)
• 1 cup half and half
• 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract (no imitation vanilla for me)

Place sugar and water in saucepan. Boil until sugar is dissolved and clear. With an electric mixer, blend syrup, peanut butter, half and half and vanilla. Serve at room temperature over vanilla ice cream. Recipe makes 4 cups sauce.


Yes. The original Uncle Ben was a black rice farmer who lived in Texas. His rice crop was renowned among rice millers in and around Houston for being of the highest quality. His rice was so good that other farmers proudly compared their rice to his, claiming it was “as good as Uncle Ben’s.”

In the late 1940s two of the founders of Converted Rice Inc. (forerunner of Uncle Ben’s Inc.) were having dinner in their favorite Chicago restaurant, discussing how to market their “converted” rice in the United States. They both were familiar with the Uncle Ben quality story and decided to call their product Uncle Ben’s Converted Brand Rice and manufacturer it in the rice-growing area around Houston, where Uncle Ben was said to have farmed.

The restaurant’s maître d’ was a close friend of the two men. They talked him into posing for the famous Uncle Ben portrait that is still on the company’s boxes today.
Source: The Book of Totally Useless Information by Don Voorhees.

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Mary’s Memo – March 20th


Happiness is receiving a new cookbook and for Christmas a friend sent me Anthony Bourdain’s Appetites Cookbook (HarperCollins Publishers, 2016, hardback/$37.50. My book came via

Bourdain is man of many appetites. And for many years, first as a chef, later as a world-traveling chronicler of food and culture on his CNN series, Parts Unknown, he has made a profession of understanding the appetites of others. These days, however, if he’s cooking for family and friends.

Appetites, his first cookbook in more than ten years, boils down thirty-plus years of professional cooking and globe-trotting to a repertoire of personal favorites, dishes that everyone should know how to cook. The result is a home-cooking, home entertaining cookbook like no other, with personal favorites from his own kitchen and from his travels, translated into an effective battle plan that will help you terrify your guests with your breathtaking efficiency.


A Cornell University professor developed this marinade and I received it via Renee Isaac of Bryan via The original recipe called for 3 tablespoons of table salt. Renee reduced it to 1 tablespoon. Grilled chicken is to be basted with the marinade but I elected not to do this to cut the sodium even more. My Calphalon Grill Pan held 6 spread out boneless, skinless thighs.


• 1 egg
• 1 cup vegetable oil
• 2 cups cider vinegar
• 1 tablespoon sea salt
• 1 tablespoon poultry seasoning
• 1 teaspoon ground black pepper

Crack the egg into a medium bowl and whisk in the vinegar, salt, poultry seasoning and pepper. Arrange spread out thighs in shallow baking dish and coat each with sauce. Cover and marinate in refrigerator for 24 hours.
Source: Adapted from Cornell Chicken Marinade recipe from via Renee Isaac.


It may surprise you but the nutcracker has other uses besides cracking nuts.

In my kitchen and even the bathroom, it’s responsible for opening containers it’s been used to open Lysol Toilet Bowl Cleaner that I can’t open any other way.


Since 2000, whole grain (WG) intake has been included among recommendations in the Dietary Guidelines for Americans. In the 2005 and 2010 Guidelines the message states, “Eat at least 3 one-ounce-equivalents of whole grains daily and at least half of all grains should be whole grain.”

Studies show that while both children and adults still fail to consume the recommended amounts, WG intake has improved greatly between 2002 and 2012, a period during which a significant study was conducted.

It’s with good reason that bread is called “the staff of life.” A diet rich in WGs is associated with lower mortality and death from cardiovascular disease (CVD), a broad category that includes stroke, atrial fibrillation, myocardial ischemia, cardiovascular death, coronary artery disease and myocardial infarction; all-cause mortality, and mortality from cancers, particularly colorectal cancer.

According to the American Heart Association (AHA), many whole grains are excellent sources of dietary fiber, along with other important nutrients. Dietary fiber of whole grains may help improve blood cholesterol, and linium, which is vital for a healthy immune and thyroid Hormone. WG food should include one of these on the ingredient list: whole wheat, graham flour, oatmeal, whole oats, brown rice, wild rice, whole grain corn, popcorn, whole-grain barley, whole-wheat bulgur, whole rye, millet, quinoa and sorghum.

Source: Duke Medicine Health News, March 2017.


One way to achieve a goal is to put your plan in writing. Choose the kind of lean protein you’ll be having each day: Fish, shellfish, chicken, turkey, lean cuts of meat including beef and pork and plant proteins such as beans and tofu are all healthy choices.

Choose Your Grain or Starchy Vegetable. For example if you choose pasta, make sure it is whole grain. For example, whole wheat pasta or brown rice.

Fill In the Blanks

Some guidelines for a healthy meal include a vegetable, a fruit and a serving of low-fat dairy, along with a protein and a grain, in each meal.

Make A Grocery List.

Once you get a week’s worth of healthy dinner ideas, take your list to the grocery store. Initially, creating healthy meal plans takes some time, but it will go more quickly once you get in the habit of doing it every week.
Best of all, you’ll be eating healthier.

Source: Weill Cornell Women’s Nutrition Connection, March 2017.

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Mary’s Memo – February 27th


My friend, Annie Watts, includes a recipe in her Christmas letter. One of her activities this past year was judging the 2016 Ultimate Grilled Cheese Contest. The winner was Andrew Kuehnert, Fort Wayne Indiana dairy farmer, for The Mousetrap.


• 1 to 2 tablespoons salted butter, softened
• 2 thick slices firm white bread (Texas toast-style)
• 1 thick slice medium Cheddar cheese
• 1 thick slice Havarti cheese
• 1 thick slice Colby-jack cheese

Preheat griddle or skillet to medium/high heat. Generously butter 1 side of each bread slice. Place 1 bread slice, butter side down, on griddle. Top with Cheddar, Havarti and Colby-jack cheese then second bread slice butter side up. Grill until golden brown and cheeses are melted, pressing down on sandwich and flipping as needed. Cover if needed to help melt the cheese. Remove from griddle and let stand 1 minute; cut in half and serve. Garnish if desired.
Source: Andrew Kuehnert, Fort Wayne Indiana.


Readers ranked Cabbage Patch Soup the one they liked best. Have you made it? Although our winter has been warmer than usual, a hearty homemade soup is always welcome.


• 1 pound ground chuck
• ½ cup celery
• 2 medium onions, chopped
• 1 small head cabbage, shredded
• 2 cups water
• 1 14.5-ounce cans diced tomatoes
• 1 15-ounce can ranch-style beans
• 1 tablespoon chili powder
• Salt and pepper to taste

Sauté meat and add drain fat. Add celery, onions, cabbage and water. Cook 15 minutes. Add tomatoes, beans, chili powder, salt and pepper. Cook 20 minutes longer. Recipe makes 6 servings.


Convenience foods are loaded with salt. That includes canned soups including Campbell Healthy Request cream of chicken and cream of mushroom that I’ve used to make casseroles.

The same can be said for sandwiches sold at fast food restaurants.

If you’re on a sodium-restricted diet, do try Mrs. Dash Onion and Herb is a good alternative. I had not realized that there are several flavors.

Fortunately many more salt-free foods are available including no-salt potato chips and tortilla chips. For someone who loves them as much as I do, they’re tasty.


Sixty percent of Americans don’t get enough of this vital vitamin. You may not hear much about vitamin E but it more than pulls its weight when it comes to your health. It’s an antioxidant that helps protect cells from the damaging unstable molecules that occur naturally in the body. It boosts immunity, reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease by decreasing inflammation, and inhibits excessive formation of platelets that contribute to blood clots. Vitamin E intake from foods has been linked with a decreased risk for Parkinson’s disease, and vitamin also supports eye health by helping to protect against cataracts and macular degeneration.

The recommended dietary allowance (RDA) for vitamin E is 15 milligrams per adult men and women. “There are many ways to get adequate vitamin E in your diet from foods,” confirms Jenna Rosenfeld, MS, RD, CDN, CNSC, a registered dietitian at New York-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell. Include almonds in your oatmeal in the morning, or add hazelnuts to your salad at lunch or dinnertime. Swap corn oil for sunflower oils when cooking to boost vitamin E intake. Pack sunflower seeds as an easy portable snack.

Vitamin E is a fat soluble vitamin meaning that the body needs fat to adequately absorb it. Almost all foods that are high in vitamin E are naturally high in fat, but don’t obsess over the calorie count as long as you don’t overdo it. “Some people may worry about the calories and fats in oils, nuts and seeds, says Rosenfeld. However, some fat is necessary for a healthy, balanced diet.”

It is better to obtain vitamin E from foods or a general multivitamin unless instructed to do otherwise by your healthcare provider, since vitamin E can interact with many medications. Rosenfeld adds that eating a balanced diet is vital for optimal health. “When you are consuming a variety of ‘real ‘foods, you are guaranteeing your intake of all vitamins and without having to calculate the dose or find a reputable brand supplement. Vitamin E foods include wheat germ, sunflower seeds, almonds, hazelnuts, peanut butter, avocado, peanuts, corn oil and spinach.
Source: Women’s Nutrition Connection, January 2017.

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Mary’s Memo – January 2nd



• 5½ cup Swanson Chicken Stock
• 1¾ pounds russet potatoes, peeled and quartered (5 to 6 medium)
• 2 cups chopped carrots (2 to 3 large ones
• 1 cup chopped dill pickles (small dice …. about 3large whole dills)
• ½ cup unsalted butter (1 stick)
• 1 cup reduced-fat Daisy brand sour cream
• 1/3 cup water
• 2 cups dill pickle juice
• 1½ teaspoons Old Bay seasoning
• ½ teaspoon sea salt
• ½ teaspoon coarsely ground pepper
• ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper

In large pot, combine stock, potatoes, carrots and butter. Bring to a boil and cook until potatoes are tender. Add pickles and continue to boil. In medium bowl, stir together flour, sour cream and water, making a paste. Vigorously whisk sour cream mixture, 2 tablespoons at a time, into soup. This will also break up some of the potatoes which is fine. You will see some initial little balls form, but between whisking and boiling al will disappear. Don’t panic! Add pickle juice, Old Bay, salt (*see below), pepper and cayenne. Cook 5 minutes more and remove from heat.Serve immediately.

*All pickle juice is not created equal so taste before you add salt. You may not need any.

Source: Recipe adapted from

Quick egg drop soup was another 2016 favorite. If you’re looking for a light, easy-to-digest soup, this is for you.


• 3 cups Swanson’s Chicken Stock
• 1 teaspoon sea salt
• 1/8 teaspoon white pepper
• 1 medium scallion (green onion)
• 2 large eggs, slightly beaten

Heat chicken stock, salt and white pepper to boiling. Stir scallion into eggs. Pour egg mixture slowly into stock, stirring constantly with fork or whisk to form shreds of egg. Recipe makes 4 servings.

Source: Adapted from my daily recipe.


• 1 sweet onion, sliced and separated into rings
• 1 5-pound Miller whole chicken
• 1 20-ounce jar Pace medium salsa
• ½ cup butter (1 stick)

It’s no secret that I use my 5-quart slow cooker to make a variety of dishes. It includes this 3-ingredient Slow Cooker Chicken and Salsa. Note: Onions are added for flavor but too fatty to eat.
For easy clean-up, line cooker with Our Family Slow Cooker bag. Spread onion rings in bottom of the cooker. Place chicken on top of onion layer breast side down. Pour salsa over the chicken. Cook on high until no longer pink at the bone and juices run clear, about 4½ hours. An instant read thermometer inserted in the thickest part of the thickest part of the thigh near bone should read 165ºF. Remove chicken from slow cooker, cover with a doubled sheet of aluminum foil and allow to rest in a warm area for 10 minutes before cutting.

Source: Used with permission of, the world’s favorite recipe web site.


• 1 20-ounce can pineapple chunks canned in juice, drained and juice reserved
• ¼ cup water
• 2 cups Minute Instant-Whole Grain Brown Rice
• 2 large red bell peppers, cut into 1½ chunks (about 2 cups)
• 3 cups fresh sugar snap peas
• ¾ cup La Choy Teriyaki Baste and Glaze Sauce
• 1 pound chicken tenders (you need 12 tenders so that each packet has 3 tenders).

Heat a gas or charcoal grill. Cut 4 18x2-inch sheets of heavy duty foil. Spray each with cooking spray. Pour reserved pineapple and water ln 4-cup measuring cup. Add brown rice; stir and let stand about 10 minutes or until almost all liquid is absorbed. Meanwhile, in large bowl, toss pineapple, bell pepper chunks, sugar snap peas and ½ cup teriyaki sauce until well blended. Place 3 chicken tenders on each foil sheet. Divide rice mixture and remaining liquid evenly over chicken and vegetables; stir gently. Spoon 1 tablespoon glaze; stir gently. Bring up 2 sides of foil so edges meet. Seal edges, and expansion. Fold other sides to seal. Place packs over medium heat. Cook for 12 to 14 minutes or until chicken is no longer pink in the center and vegetables are crisp-cooked. Remove packets from grill. Carefully fold back foil; open one end and spoon onto serving plates. Garnish with chopped parsley, if desired.

Source: Adapted from Pillsbury recipe.

Finally, our last best recipe of 2016 has to be Katharine Hepburn’s Brownie recipe, found among her belongings after she died.


• ½ cup butter (1 stick)
• 2 1-ounce squares unsweetened baking chocolate
• 1 cup sugar
• 2 large eggs
• ½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract
• ¼ cup all-purpose flour
• 1 cup chopped walnuts

Melt together butter and chocolate and take saucepan off the heat. Stir in sugar, eggs and vanilla and bet mixture well. Stir in flour, and walnuts. Spoon into greased and floured baking pan. Bake in preheated 325ºF oven for 35 to 40 minutes. Cut into squares and eat out of pan or arrange on serving dish. Yummy and moist.
Adapted from Bon Appetite recipe.

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Mary’s Memo – December 26th

The 12 days of Christmas are here in my world, ending with the Feast of Epiphany on January 8, 2017. Many of you will be celebrating on the 31st so were featuring appetizers for you to make. We’re also including non-alcoholic beverages, especially for designated drivers because we want it to be a safe holiday.


My all-time favorite vegetable dip was given to me by Mrs. Dale Rupp of Bryan.


• 1 cup light mayonnaise
• 2 tablespoons finely mince scallions
• 2 tablespoons milk
• 1 teaspoon ground ginger
• 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
• 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon light La Choy soy sauce (gluten free)

Whisk ingredients together. Store in the refrigerator. Dip keeps for several days. Serve with relishes.


• 114-ounce can artichokes, drained well and chopped
• 1 cup light mayonnaise
• 1 cup shredded Parmesan cheese

Combine in a small, oven-proof baking dish. Bake in 350ºF oven for 30 minutes or until bubbly.


• 3 pounds chicken wings
• ½ cup honey
• ¼ cup La Choy light soy sauce
• 2 tablespoons cornstarch
• ½ teaspoon dry mustard
• 1/8 teaspoon pepper
• 1/8 teaspoon McCormick California garlic powder

Cut through each chicken wing at 2 joints. Discard tip (or freeze to make chicken broth later). Arrange other sections in 8x12-inch glass baking dish. Set aside. Combine remaining ingredients in 2-cup glass measuring container. Microwave on high, uncovered, 2 to 2½ minutes or until mixture boils, stirring once. Spoon over chicken wings. Cover with waxed paper. Microwave on high for 10 minutes. Rearrange and turn chicken pieces. Recover with waxed paper and microwave on high an additional 10 to 12 minutes or until chicken is tender and glazed.


• 1 5-ounce can boned chicken
• 1 8-ounce package cream cheese, softened
• 1 tablespoon light mayonnaise
• 1 teaspoon minced onion
• ¼ teaspoon salt
• ¾ teaspoon reduced-sodium La Choy soy sauce
Mix ingredients together until well blended. Chill. Garnish with a sprig of parsley and serve with crackers. Note: Chicken can be replaced with same amount of canned tuna, if you prefer.


This punch was new to me when I moved to Bryan and so I refer to it as Bryan punch. A word of caution, be sure to make it with Canada Dry Ginger Ale, not Vernor's because it will not taste the same.


• 2 parts white grape juice, chilled
• 1 part Canada Dry ginger ale, chilled

Pour white grape juice into punch bowl. Slowly add ginger ale. Add ice ring made of white grape juice.


• 1 cup water
• 1 ½ cups plus 2 tablespoons red hots
• ½ cup sugar
• 2 46-ounce cans unsweetened pineapple juice
• 8 cups ginger ale, chilled
• 1 quart vanilla ice cream


Resolutions are apparently made to be broken because I resolve each year to waste as little food as possible by not buying foods that are on sale unless I know that they’ll be used within a few days. It isn’t a bargain if it spoils, not to mention the food value it loses in storage.


A few suggestions from Consumer Reports on Health are to turn down the thermostat a few degrees because cooler air is less likely to aggravate your itch. Bathe briefly and use tepid water because the hotter the water, the more skin oils you strip away. Moisturize after bathing, while you’re slightly damp, using a fragrance-free, hypoallergenic lotion for sensitive skin and stick to fragrance-free soaps.


• 3 pounds chicken wings
• ½ cup honey
• ¼ cup La Choy light soy sauce
• 2 tablespoons cornstarch
• ½ teaspoon dry mustard
• 1/8 teaspoon pepper
• 1/8 teaspoon McCormick California garlic powder

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Mary’s Memo – December 19th


Hopefully, your meal plans and grocery shopping is done. These past few weeks we’ve shared tips for making it less stressful. Years ago I was so tired by Christmas Eve that I could hardly stay awake at Midnight Mass. It was then that I realized that I needed to think more about the “reason for the season.” Make a list of daily “to do’s” and stick to it! Whether your family has a brunch, a buffet-type meal, planning early is the key. Mother had baked ham and macaroni and cheese on Christmas Eve. The Thaman’s has soup. As for Christmas day or any major holiday the Smith’s had roast turkey so it wasn’t a once-a-year meat. These are my Christmas memories. It is up to you to create memories for your family.

Soups we’ve made for Christmas Eve include Gumbo, Bay Scallop Chowder and Choucroute. All have been on Mary’s Memo but the Choucroute may be the least familiar. It’s from cookbook I bought in 2001 called Soup Makes the Meal by Ken Haedrich. The author adapted it from a soup he was served at Sandrine’s Restaurant in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Choucroute, pronounced shoo-KROOT, is French word meaning sauerkraut.


• 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
• 2 large onions, halved and thinly sliced into half moons
• 1 clove garlic, bruised
• 5 cups chicken stock
• ½ cup dry white wine
• 1 large carrot, peeled and grated
• 1 large all-purpose potato, peeled and grated
• 1 pound sauerkraut
• 1 bay leaf
• ¼ to ½ teaspoon salt, to your taste
• ¾ pound kielbasa or other fully cooked smoked sausage
• 1 tablespoon tomato paste
• 1 to 2 teaspoons sugar, to your taste
• Freshly ground black pepper to taste

Heat oil in a good-size heavy enameled soup pot over moderately low heat. Add the onions and garlic and cook, stirring until very soft, 12 to 15 minutes. Stir in stock, wine, carrot and potato, cover and simmer gently for 15 minutes. Drain the sauerkraut and squeeze it between your palms to express nearly all of the liquid. Add to the soup with the bay left and ¼ teaspoon salt. Cover and simmer gently for another 15 minutes. Slice the sausage into ½-inch rounds and cut the rounds in half. Add the sausage to the soup, then stir in the tomato paste and 1teaspoon of the sugar. Cover and simmer gently 15 minutes more, seasoning with pepper and adding more salt and sugar if necessary before serving. Note: If you’d rather, you can skip the wine. Just add stock in its place.
Makes 6 servings.

Haedrich serves the soup with Stollen Soda Bread. Although the dough is sticky, he advises cooks to keep your kneading surface well covered with flour.


• ¾ cup raisins
• ¾ cup pitted chopped dates
• ¾ cup diced figs or apricots
• Orange juice
• Cornmeal for dusting
• 4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
• ½ cup sugar plus a little to sprinkle on loaves
• 1½ teaspoons salt
• 2 teaspoons baking powder
• 1 teaspoon baking soda
• ¼ teaspoon ground cardamom
• 3 tablespoon cold unsalted butter, cut into ¼-inch pieces
• 1 large egg
• 1½ cups buttermilk
• Finely grated zest of 1 orange
• Finely grated zest of 1 lemon
• Milk, for brushing on loaves

Put the dried fruit in a medium-size bowl and add orange juice to just cover. Set aside to soak for 30 to 60 minutes. Preheat the oven to 375ºF when fruit is done soaking. Lightly oil a large baking sheet and dust with cornmeal. Sift flour, sugar, salt, baking powder, baking soda and spices together into a large bowl. Add the butter and cut into dry ingredients with a pastry blender or your fingers until mixture resembles fine crumbs. Set aside. Whisk the egg in a small bowl. Whisk in the buttermilk and citrus zests. Drain the fruit; discard the orange juice (or drink it for that matter; there’s nothing wrong with it). Add the fruit to the dry ingredients and toss well, to coat. Make a well in the center of the dry mixture, add the buttermilk mixture, and stir briskly with a wooden spoon, just until the dough pulls together in a shaggy mass. Let sit for 3 minutes.

Dust your hands and work surface with flour. Cut dough in half right in the bowl, then place on the floured surface. Knead very gently for 30 to 40 seconds. Either shape into a stubby football, or shape like a stolen; pat into a disk about 1inch thick, then fold half of it over the other half, but don’t cover the bottom half entirely; it should look almost like a pair of pouting lips, the bottom half stuck out further than the other. Before you make the fold, brush any flour off the surface, so it makes a good seal. Repeat for other half of the dough. Place on prepared baking sheet with some space between them. Lightly brush the loaves with milk and sprinkle generously with sugar. Bake loaves on the center rack for 30 minutes. Turn the sheet 180 degrees. Reduce oven temperature to 350ºF and bake another 20 minutes. When done, the loaves will be a very dark golden brown color and very crusty. Let cool on a wire rack; they should be lukewarm before slicing.

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Mary’s Memo – December 12th


Enjoy your party with guests by ordering ahead relish, cheese and/or meat trays in the deli. They’ll even arrange food on your own serving plates.


Is it okay to eat food that had fallen on the floor? Many people abide by the “5-second rule,” which says that anything is fair game if you pick it up within that frame that time frame. Some allow 10, 20, even 30 seconds to pass before relegating the food to the trash bin. But others argue that no dropped food is safe. Who’s right?

The 5-second rule has actually been put to scientific testing. In the latest study, published in Applied and Environmental Microbiology in September, researchers at Rutgers University dropped four foods (watermelon, plain bread, buttered bread and gummy candy) onto four surfaces (stainless steel, ceramic tile, wood and carpet) that were contaminated with bacteria. They let the foods stay in contact with the surface for four time periods …. Less than 1 second, 5 seconds and 300 seconds. Each scenario was tested 20times. Not surprisingly, watermelon, because it is so moist, became most contaminated at all time intervals, while the fewest bacteria transferred to the candy. Carpet had the lowest transfer rates.

The study’s conclusion: “Although we show that longer contact times result in more transfer, we also show that other factors including the nature of the food and the surface are of equal or greater importance. Some transfer takes place ‘instantaneously’ at times less than one second, disproving the 5-second rule.’

Bottom Line: Use common sense. Occasionally eating food that was briefly on the floor is likely to make you sick. But it depends on what you drop and where. There’s a big difference between picking up a cracker from a just cleaned kitchen floor versus the floor near the cat litter box. On the other hand, since it’s hard to judge how clean a floor is, you shouldn’t make eating off of it a habit. And if you’re immune-compromised or in frail health, it’s best to follow the “zero-second” rule. Keep in mind, too, that kitchen counters can be even more contaminated than the floor.
Source: University of California, Berkeley Wellness Letter, December, 2016.


Count it as one of your meals of the day, at least that’s what I do so additional calories are not added to the day’s total.


Folate, B12 and B6 (pyridoxine) are the nutrients that receive the most attention for improving brain health, due to their well-studied role in reducing homocysteine. Homocysteine is an amino acid, that in high levels is linked to brain shrinkage, Alzheimer’s disease, cognitive decline and coronary artery disease. However, the remaining B vitamins, thiamine (B1), riboflavin (B2), niacin (B3), pantothenic acid (B5) and biotin (B6), not only produce energy, but also reduce homocysteine levels. Deficiency in B vitamins can lead to fatigue, weakness, mood changes, cognitive impairment and emotional disturbances. “It’s important to eat a balanced diet for brain health, in particular for adequate amounts of B vitamins,” says Abigale Arday, RD, CDN, CNSC, dietitian at New York-Presbyterian Weill Cornell. B vitamins are found in a variety of food groups. Animal products like salmon, tuna eggs, meat, chicken and dairy products contain the highest amounts of riboflavin, niacin, vitamins B5, B6 and B12. Beans and nuts provide significant amounts of biotin, niacin and B6. A wide variety of whole foods is key to meeting all of your B vitamin needs.
Source: Weill Cornell Women’s Nutrition Connection, December 2016.


Children love Scotcharoos and the cook appreciates the ease of preparation.


• 1 cup granulated sugar
• 1 cup white corn syrup
• 1 cup peanut butter
• 6 cups Rice Krispies
• 6-ounces chocolate chips
• 6-ounces butterscotch chips

Source: Adapted from recipe.

Combine sugar and corn syrup in a saucepan. Bring to a boil while stirring. Remove from heat and add peanut butter. Stir well. Add to Rice Krispies in a large bowl. Spread evenly in a buttered 4-inch by 9-inch pan. Melt chocolate and butterscotch chips together over low heat, stirring constantly until blended. Spread evenly over top of Scotcharoos. When cool, cut into 2 by 2-inch squares.


• Grasshopper Ice is a light, refreshing dessert to serve with a holiday meal.
• 1 pint (2 cups) lime sherbet, softened
• 2 cups thawed Cool Whip
• 2 tablespoons Crème de Cocoa
• 2 tablespoons Crème de Menthe
• Combine softened sherbet with thawed Cool Whip. Add liqueurs and freeze.

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Mary’s Memo – December 5th

If there is a busier time of the year, I’m not aware of what it would be. At my age, I’m not into buying, gift-wrapping and sending gifts to relatives and friends. Gift cards are my choice for most everyone. Consider a Chief gift card in whatever amount you choose, or select from cards to other major chains, also at Chief. My grandchildren love the concept because they can use it as they like.

If you are parents of young children, our rule was to buy them something to wear, something educational and something for fun.

To steer your children toward science, technology, engineering and math, order the Purdue Engineering Gift Guide. The toys, games and books included in the guide are vetted by researchers and tested extensively by children throughout the community. View the complete list at Gift Guide.


Americans eat about 3 pounds of mushrooms a year, on average, a number that has been rising gradually. While many people use them sparingly, almost as a garnish, mushrooms are increasingly taking center stage in dishes. Mushrooms are fungi, neither plant nor animal, but they are commonly regarded as vegetables and count toward the USDA-recommended two to three cups of vegetables a day. Most popular in North America and Europe are white button mushrooms along with cremini, which when fully mature are called portabella. Specialty mushrooms including oyster, morel and shitake, for example are increasingly available and affordable, thanks to year-round cultivation. Many varieties are available dry.

Because of their dull color, mushrooms are often overlooked as a source of nutrients. Though their nutritional profile depends on the variety as well as where and how they are grown, mushrooms supply some B vitamins, potassium, magnesium, selenium, copper, and zinc. They also contain polyphenols and other bioactive compounds along with fiber and only 20 calories per cup. What’s more, cooking boosts the earthy and aromatic flavors of mushrooms.

Mushrooms have been used medicinally for centuries, particularly in Asia. Some have shown immune-boosting and anti-cancer effects in lab studies. Like many plant foods, mushrooms also contain compounds that have antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, blood-sugar-lowering and immune stimulating properties. Some of these effects may result from interaction of mushroom compounds with microbes in the intestines.
On the other hand, some wild mushrooms are poisonous and can cause liver failure and death. Poisonous mushrooms can look very similar to edible varieties. Unless you are an expert, don’t eat mushrooms you find in the wild.

While some mushrooms are still cultivated in caves and cellars, today most are grown in specially designed buildings in which all aspects of the environment can be controlled. As a result, cultivated versions of wild mushrooms, which were once considered a delicacy, are now affordable and widely available.

Leave pre-packaged mushrooms in their unopened package. Don’t prep mushrooms until immediately before use. Trim off any woody parts of the stem end, then clean either by wiping gently with a damp cloth, paper towel or soft brush or by rinsing quickly in water. Immediately after washing, gently dry with a paper or lightweight cloth towel. Don’t let mushrooms soak, since they are very absorbent.
We really like a fresh mushroom salad of Giada De Laurentiis of the Food Network. It keeps well in the refrigerator.


• 1 pound large button mushrooms, trimmed, cleaned and thinly sliced (I do this in my egg slicer)
• 1/3 cup flat leaf Italian parsley
• ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
• ¼ cup fresh squeezed lemon juice
• Sea salt and fresh ground pepper to taste
• 2-ounce piece of Parmesan cheese

In a medium bowl mix together the mushrooms and parsley. In a small bowl, whisk together the olive oil and lemon juice until smooth. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Add the oil mixture to the salad bowl and toss until all the ingredients are coated. Using vegetable peeler, shave the Parmesan on top and serve.

Recipe makes 4 servings.

Source: Adapted from Giada De Laurentiis recipe.


Our Christmas cookies this year include one we hadn’t made for years, Oatmeal Caramelitas from my sister, Ann Trentadue.

• 50 unwrapped Kraft caramels
• ½ cup evaporated milk
• 1¾ cups unsifted, all-purpose flour
• 2 cups quick oats
• 1½ cups packed light brown sugar
• 1 teaspoon baking soda
• ½ teaspoon salt
• 1 cup melted butter
• 1 cup chocolate chips
• 1 cup chopped pecans

Melt caramels with evaporated milk over low heat. Mix dry ingredients with melted butter. Press half of crumbs in a 9x13 inch baking pan sprayed with Pam. Bake in preheated 350ºF oven for 10 minutes. Remove from oven and sprinkle with chocolate chips and nuts. Carefully spread caramel mixture. Top with reserved crumbs and return to oven and bake 15 minutes longer. Chill for 1 to 2 hours, then cut into small squares.

Recipe makes 4 dozen.

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Mary’s Memo – November 28th


Since I’ve been there and done that, avoid burning the midnight oil baking and “cooking up a storm.” Do strive to get enough sleep and eat healthy. With that in mind, Curried Quinoa with Cauliflower is the perfect “go to entrée.”


• 2 tablespoons canola oil
• 1 medium onion, chopped
• 2 cloves garlic, minced
• 1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger
• 1 carrot, cut into ½ inch half moons
• 1 small head cauliflower, broken into small florets
• ¼ teaspoon salt, or more to taste
• 5 teaspoons curry powder
• ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
• 1 cup water
• 1 cup frozen peas
• 1 cup quinoa

Heat the oil in a large skillet. Add the onion, garlic and carrot and cook over medium heat for 5 minutes. Add cauliflower, spices and salt and cook for another minute. Add 1 cup water, then cover and simmer for 12 to 15 minutes until vegetables are tender. Add peas in the last minute of cooking. Meanwhile, cook quinoa according to package directions. Mix the curried vegetables into the quinoa and serve. Top with nonfat yogurt and toasted slivered almonds. Source: Adapted from what would Kathy via Mary Ann Thaman.
A second healthy entrée is Rat-A-Stewie. Although I’m not a vegetarian, this dish should please everyone!


• 2 tablespoons olive oil
• 1 large eggplant, peeled and diced into 1-inch pieces
• ½ sliced onion
• 2 cups chopped green and red bell peppers
• 1 pound zucchini, unpeeled, cut into bite-size pieces
• 1 pound zucchini, unpeeled, cut into bite size pieces (2 medium ones should do it)
• 1 15-ounce can tomato sauce
• ½ cup pitted green olives
• 1 tablespoon McCormick Herb Garden Seasoning Blend
• 1/8 teaspoon crushed red pepper

Heat oil in large pot over medium heat. Add eggplant, peppers and onion and cook until softened, about 10 minutes. Add zucchini, tomato sauce, olives, herb seasoning blend and crushed red pepper. Cook until vegetables are done to your liking, about 5 to 10 minutes. Serve as a stew or over angel hair pasta. Recipe makes 6 servings.
Source: Adapted from Penzeys One magazine recipe.

Frosted Mince Bars was featured on my first holiday recipe sheet in 1961.


• ¼ cup butter
• 1 cup sugar
• 2 eggs
• 1¾ cups plus 2 tablespoons unsifted, all-purpose flour
• 1½ teaspoons baking powder
• 1 teaspoon salt
• 1 cup prepared mincemeat
• 2 teaspoons orange zest
• ½ cup chopped pecans

Cream butter with sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in eggs. Mix together flour, baking powder and salt. Add flour mixture to creamed mixture to creamed mixture. Fold in mincemeat, orange zest and nuts. Spoon into buttered 1½ inch baking dish. Spread in buttered baking dish. Bake in preheated 325ºF oven for 30 to 35 minutes. When cool, frost with a simple powdered sugar glaze made my mixing powdered sugar and milk together until the right consistency to spread.

Years ago my sister won a prize for the next cookie, entered in a Lima recipe contest. I wrap each in plastic wrap and tie with narrow red and green paper ribbon.


• 1 cup dark chocolate chips
• 3 tablespoons light corn syrup
• ½ cup rum
• 2½ cups vanilla wafer crumbs
• ½ cup granulated sugar
• 1 cup finely chopped pecans

Melt chocolate pieces over hot but not boiling water. Remove from heat; add corn syrup and rum. Combine vanilla wafer crumbs, sugar and finely chopped nuts; add to chocolate mixture. Let stand about 30 minutes. Then form into balls and roll in granulated. Store rum balls in a covered container for several days. For Christmas sharing, wrap each ball in a square of clear plastic and tie with narrow red or green ribbon. Recipe makes 4½ dozen.

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Mary’s Memo – November 21st


Although I don’t have a cookbook to recommend, you never pay the full price when it is purchased via Providing you know the recipient doesn’t have it already, a cookbook is an excellent gift for someone who does a lot of cooking. If you know the kind of cooking or baking that she likes to do, focus on that. For example, if she likes to work with breads, there are many new ones that would make excellent gifts for the holidays.


According to a study of 183 overweight or obese people (ages 25 to 65) in the journal, Obesity, portion–controlled meals can help dieters lose weight. All recipients received nutrition and behavioral counseling to help them meet a weight-loss goal of at least 5 percent of their initial weight. Those who consumed packaged, portion-controlled frozen entrées for lunch and dinner (intervention group) lost more weight over 12 weeks than those in the control group, who ate a self-selected reduced calorie diet; 74 percent of the portion control group achieved the weight-loss goal, compared to 53 percent of the control group. The authors concluded that using portion-controlled meals might facilitate weight loss by simplifying the planning and preparation of meals. It also teaches dieters about appropriate serving sizes.
Source: University of California, Berkeley Wellness Letter, November 2016.


Substituting plant sources of protein (bread, pastas, nuts, beans, legumes) for animal sources (processed/unprocessed red meat, poultry, dairy products, fish, eggs) could increase your life span. Researchers writing in JAMA Internal Medicine, August 1, 2016, studied diet and health outcomes among more than 130,000 people, two-thirds of whom were women. They found that animal protein intake was linked to an eight percent greater risk for death in people who also had at least one other unhealthy lifestyle risk factor, such as smoking, heavy alcohol intake, being overweight or obese and physical inactivity. Plant protein intake was associated with a 10 percent lower risk of death.
Source: Weill Cornell Medicine Women’s Nutrition Connection, November 2016.


Daughter Mary Ann often makes this soup that includes lentils. It is a recipe she adapted from one of Rachael Ray’s.


• 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
• 1 onion, chopped
• 1 pound sausage, bulk or casing removed (can replace with sweet sausage, pork or turkey sausage)
• 2 ribs celery, chopped leafy tops reserved
• 1 large carrot, peeled and chopped
• 1 large russet potato, peeled and chopped into a small dice
• 1 sweet pepper, finely chopped
• 1 seeded and chopped jalapenos
• 2 sprigs fresh rosemary, leaves picked and finely chopped
• 2 large cloves garlic, chopped
• ½ tablespoon ground cumin (1½ teaspoons)
• Kosher salt and pepper to taste
• 1 bundle of curly leaf kale, stemmed and thinly sliced
• ¼ cup tomato paste
• 1 cup white wine
• Freshly grated nutmeg
• 1 cup lentils
• 4 cups chicken stock
• 2 cups water

In a soup pot or large Dutch oven, heat 1 tablespoon extra-virgin oil. Add sausage, breaking into small pieces and cook until lightly browned. Add onion, celery, carrots, potato, peppers, rosemary, garlic, cumin, salt and pepper and cook to soften, 8 to 10 minutes. Wilt kale and season the kale leaves with a little fresh nutmeg. Stir in tomato paste for 30 seconds, then add white wine. Cook to reduce by half and stir in lentils, stock and water. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to low, and simmer the soup until the lentils are tender, about 35 minutes. Serve immediately or cool, store and reheat. Serve immediately or cool, store and reheat. Serve with chopped celery greens to garnish. Makes 4 servings.
Source: Rachel Ray recipe adapted by Mary Ann Thaman.


Replace the green bean casserole with this colorful casserole.


• 2 tablespoons butter
• 8-ounces fresh mushrooms, cleaned and sliced
• 2 10-ounce packages frozen peas, thawed and drained but not cooked
• 114.5-ounce can bean sprouts, drained well
• 1 5-ounce can water chestnuts, well drained
• 1 can Campbell’s Healthy Request cream of mushroom soup
• 1 small can French’s Onion Rings

Sauté mushrooms in butter for 5minutes. Combine with peas, bean sprouts, water chestnuts and soup. Spoon into 1½-quart casserole. Bake in preheated 350ºF oven for 20 to 25 minutes or until bubbly. Turn off oven. Sprinkle top with onion rings and return to oven long enough to heat topping, about 5 minutes. Recipe makes 6 to 8 servings.

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