Mary’s Memo – May 23rd

HAPPINESS IS NOT ABOUT MONEY


The pursuit of happiness is an unalienable right according to the Declaration of Independence. And researchers have long associated happiness with good health and wealth. Is this true? From the 1920s to the 1950s, an era of depression and world war, as household income rose, there was an increase in people’s self-reported happiness. But more current research shows that money increases happiness only to a certain point. A December 2015 study published in The Lancet, Britain researchers who tracked 700,000 women in the United Kingdom, concluded that the reverse is true. Their surveys found that having better health in the first place makes people feel happier. Whether its happiness that influences health or the other way around it’s clear that good emotional states and good health go together. Studies by the Nobel laureate psychologist and economist Daniel Kahneman, PhD, showed that money increases happiness until a person or family earns about $75,000 annually. After that, emotional well-being doesn’t increase with additional income.
Source: University of California at Berkeley Wellness Letter, Spring 2016.

INCLUDE FRUIT AND VEGGIES AT EVERY MEAL!


Is the salad you had for dinner one or two servings? It depends on how big it was. Does lettuce and tomato on your turkey sandwich count? Yes! However, keeping track of servings turned something that should be enjoyable into a chore. It’s much easier to remember that every time you eat, whether it’s a meal or a snack, at least one fruit or vegetable should be in the menu. According to Sandra Proctor, PhD, RD, an assistant professor in the department of food, nutrition and health, at Kansas State University, “The nutrients, protective effects and satiety that we get from fruits and vegetables are unparalleled.” Proctor added: “There are so many benefits, but people just don’t get enough.” Ideally, produce should take up half your plate. If you’re opting for fruit, choose fresh or unsweetened frozen, rather than canned fruit in syrup or juice. For vegetables, there’s renewed emphasis on choosing those that are dark green, orange or red. Those bright colors are the result of powerful disease-fighting phytochemicals. Legumes, such as kidney beans and lentils, count as both a vegetable and a source of protein.

How to work it in: Toss veggies into grain or pasta dishes (or substitute spaghetti squash for noodles), soups and omelets. Make smoothies with greens, berries and avocado or Greek yogurt for a little creaminess. Including fruit, such as lemons, mangoes, oranges or berries in savory dishes creates a brightness that balances some of the heavier flavors.
Source: Consumer Reports on Health, May 2016.

ONE POTATO TWO POTATOES OR MORE


Because I love potato cakes made with leftover mashed potatoes, I purposely cook more than enough so I can make them for another meal. They’re even more flavor-enhanced with the addition of cheese (whatever kind you have on hand) plus minced chives, scallions, cooked chopped bacon or bits of chopped cooked ham or a combination of any of these.

GLORIFIED POTATO CAKES


• 1/2 cup prepared mashed potatoes
• 2 tablespoons shredded cheese
• 2 tablespoons minced chives, scallions, cooked chopped bacon, bits of chopped boiled ham or regular ham or a combination of two of these.
• 1 1/2 teaspoons butter plus 1 1/2 teaspoons Our Family extra virgin olive oil
• Reduced-fat sour cream
Mix mashed potatoes with cheese plus one of the other “ad-in’s.” Heat butter and olive oil in 8-inch non-stick skillet. Dredge potato cakes in flour. When butter and olive oil are hot, prepared potato cakes on both sides until golden brown. Serve immediately with a dollop of sour cream if using. Recipe makes 2 potato cakes. Serve with a fried egg.

A RECIPE REVISITED


Although my spouse never liked cold soup because soup should be hot, he never understood why I would promote one served cold because of an earlier statement saying hot foods are served hot and cold foods cold. Microwave Vichyssoise was a hit at my microwave classes in the 50s for the Bryan Parks and Recreation Department. Although I’m known for replacing whipping cream with evaporated milk in many dishes, 1 cup whipping cream is a must for vichyssoise.

MICROWAVE VICHYSSOISE


• 4 scallions (green onions), chopped
• 3 cups peeled, diced potatoes
• 3 cups boiling water
• 1 tablespoon butter
• 1 tablespoon MSG-free Better than Chicken Bouillon
• 1 cup whipping cream
• 1 cup milk (whatever kind you normally use)
• 1/2 teaspoon salt
• 1/4 teaspoon pepper
• 1 tablespoon chopped chives

Combine scallions, potatoes and water in 2 1/2 quart glass casserole. Cover and cook on high 15 minutes or until potatoes are tender. Stir in butter and Chicken Flavored Better than Bouillon. Process in a blender until smooth. Return mixture to casserole, stir in whipping cream, milk and seasonings. Cover and microwave on high an additional 3 minutes or until heated through. Chill thoroughly. Garnish with chopped chives. Recipe makes 8 servings.

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Mary’s Memo – May 16th

WEED IT OR EAT IT?


It’s up to you whether you dig purslane (PERS-lin) up or decided to eat the leaves stem and all! According to Sandra Mason, Horticulture Extension Educator, University of Illinois, Champaign-Urbana, it can be seen growing in your garden in June but not as an invited guest. Purslane is native to India and Persia but has spread throughout the world as an edible plant. Purslane has fleshy succulent leaves and stems with a yellow flower that is also edible. They look like a baby jade plant. The stems lay flat on the ground as they radiate from a single taproot sometimes forming large mats of leaves. Check out U of I’s Midwestern Turf Grass Weed identification website for some great pictures of purslane. Purslane, often called pigweed, is an annual reproducing from seeds and stem pieces. Seeds from purslane have been known to stay viable for 40 years in the soil. If you are trying to control purslane the number one rule is don’t let it go to seed. It grows just about anywhere from fertile garden soil to the poorest of soils. Its succulent characteristic makes it very drought tolerant. Purslane aficionados prefer eating fresh young plants, especially young leaves and tender stem tips. The taste is similar to watercress and spinach. If overcooked it tends to get a little slimy. You can also purchase purslane seeds for cultivated forms for better flavor and easier harvesting. Not only is purslane a good source of calcium, copper, iron, magnesium, manganese, niacin, phosphorus, potassium, riboflavin and vitamins A, B6, but it also contains more of the essential fatty acid Omega 3 than most other plants. Wash thoroughly before serving raw in salads, cooked briefly and used as a green or added to soup. For recipes go to http://www.prairielandcsa.org/recipes/ purslane.html.
Source: University of Illinois and Food Lover’s Companion, Fourth Edition.

LIGHT OR REGULAR?


Read labels. The regular product has fewer ingredients while lighter counterpart has many more added chemicals, at least that’s my observation.

CLUTTER AND CHAOS LINKED TO CALORIES AND COOKIES


Keeping your kitchen uncluttered and calm might help prevent you from munching empty calories. A recent Cornell University experiment, published in Environment and Behavior, compared snacking habits of 100 young women. Half were assigned to a clean kitchen where they completed a writing assignment without directions. The others were sent to a cluttered kitchen where they had to work while a researcher noisily attempted to clean up. Then all participants were presented cookies, crackers and baby carrots for what they thought was a taste test. Those in the clean, quiet kitchen consumed fewer calories than participants surrounded by clutter and noise, who ate more cookies. What was on the participants’ minds also mattered: Women asked to write about a time when they felt chaotic and out of control ate more cookies than those told to write about being organized and in control.

MY FRIEND THE SLOW COOKER


For soups, sandwich fillings and entrees, I would not be without a slow cooker whether it be a 4-quart one or bigger. A fan of Allrecipes.com, this slow cooker 3-ingredient Chicken and Salsa caught my attention. Recipe didn’t say what to do with the sliced onions when they’re cooked but I am thinking they’re to flavor the chicken since its baked breast-side down. In my opinion, onion slices are too fatty to eat. Also, recipe said to cook for about 5 hours. Having done that, chicken fell apart when I tried to lift it from the cooker. That said, my recommendation is to cook no more than 4½ hours or when temperature of thickest part of thigh reads 165o. Meat is super-moist. Use as an entrée, shredded in sandwiches or as a filling for tacos.

SLOW COOKER CHICKEN AND SALSA


• 1 sweet onion, sliced and separated into rings
• 1 5-pound Sanderson or Miller whole chicken
• 1 20-ounce jar medium salsa

For easier clean-up line cooker with an Our Family Slow Cooker Bag. Spread onion rings into the 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 thigh near the bone should read 1650. Remove chicken from the slow cooker, cover with a doubled sheet of aluminum foil, and allow to rest to rest in a warm area for 10 minutes before cutting.
Source: Used with permission of www.allrecipes.com, the world’s favorite recipe web site.

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Mary’s Memo – May 9th

BENEFITS OF A VEGETABLE GARDEN


More and more people are planting a vegetable garden. Since the space in mine is limited, I try to make the most of it. Helpful to me are items purchased from the Gardeners Supply Catalog at 1-800-427-3363. They include metal supports for tomatoes, a trellis to grow cucumbers and last year a bean tower for pole green beans. To protect the bean tower from “critters” a circular screen is wrapped around it. My favorite cherry tomato is the Black Cherry but two red grape tomatoes and an “early bird” tomato is included. Celebration is my tomato-of-choice. It isn’t too late for you to plant a garden and the health benefits are many!

NEW FROM McCORMICK


Herb Grinders are made with gently dried, large cut leaves that lock in natural oil. As jar is twisted these oils are released to deliver a fresher taste and aroma. Choose from oregano, parsley, basil and Italian.

BERRY GOOD FOR YOU!


Trying to include more fruit in your diet? From a health standpoint, berries are one of your best bets. Berries contain many important nutrients, including vitamin C, fiber and several minerals. They are also rich in antioxidants, the substances that protect us against free radicals (unstable molecules that can damage cells such as DNA). Berries contain two types of phytonutrients called polyphenols, the same substances found in tea, red wine and chocolate, that have been linked to cardiovascular benefits. Anthocyanins, the compounds that give berries their bright color, are antioxidants. They help strengthen the immune system, boost cardiovascular health, combat inflammation and help prevent conditions such as cancer, explains Tanya Freirich, RD, a dietitian at New York-Presbyterian/Weil Cornell. “Berries also contain ellagitannins and ellagicid, which has been linked to cancer prevention, decreased inflammation and cardiovascular benefits.” Raspberries and blackberries are highest in fiber (about 8 grams per cup). Strawberries are highest in vitamin C (84 milligrams per cup) and blueberries have the highest antioxidant content. Source: Weill Cornell Medical College Women’s Nutrition Connection, May 2016.

HOW DO YOU LIKE YOUR CRACKERS


If you like them on the spicy side you’ll want to make Alabama Fire Crackers from Sara Coe, Houston TX, via my sister Ann Trentadue. It’s important to thoroughly mix the spice mixture, oil and soda crackers together. As for the pepper flakes, adjust to your taste. Since I don’t use anything with monosodium glutamate, I replace the packages of ranch dressing mix with 2 ounces Penzeys MSG-free Ranch Dressing Mix. To order a Penzeys catalog call 1-800-741-7787.

ALABAMA FIRE CRACKERS


• 1 2/3 cup vegetable oil (like canola)
• 1 teaspoon garlic powder
• 1 teaspoon onion powder
• 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
• 2 1-ounce packages Ranch Dressing Mix or 2 ounces Penzeys Ranch Dressing Mix
• 1 to 3 tablespoons crushed red pepper flakes
• 1 pound box saltine crackers

Place vegetable oil, garlic and onion powders, ranch dressing mix and crushed red pepper flakes in 2 gallon Ziploc bag. Seal and mix thoroughly. Add crackers and swoosh carefully to cover crackers with seasoning mixture. Let bag set for an hour and swoosh again. Keep repeating for several hours and then overnight. Remove from bag and store in a canister or clean plastic bag.

Anything with lemon will get my attention like the Food Network’s recipe for Baked Lemon Chicken. Although their recipe called for a cut-up skin on chicken or 8 pieces, I replaced it with 8 bone-in Miller thighs, skinning them to reduce the calories.

BAKED LEMON CHICKEN


• 8 pieces chicken thighs, skin removed
• Kosher salt and pepper
• Flour for dredging
• 3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
• 1 large sweet onion, thinly sliced
• Zest of half a lemon
• 2 cloves garlic, minced
• 1 1/2 teaspoons chopped fresh rosemary
• 1 tablespoon Our Family honey
• 1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (not bottled)
• 1 cup low sodium chicken broth

Preheat oven to 4000F. Season thighs with salt and pepper. Dredge both sides in flour, shaking off excess. In a large nonstick skillet over medium heat, add 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Add chicken and sauté until golden on both sides, about 5 minutes per side. Don’t crowd in skillet. Set thighs aside and reserve. Discard the oil and wipe the skillet clean with a paper towel. Add remaining tablespoon of oil to skillet over medium low heat. Add the remaining 1 tablespoon oil and heat over medium-low heat. Add the onion and cook until golden, 10 to 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the lemon zest, garlic, and rosemary and cook for 2 minutes more. Whisk honey, lemon juice and broth. Increase the heat and bring to a simmer. Use a slotted spoon to transfer onions to a 9x13-inch glass oven-proof baking dish, spreading them out. Arrange thighs in a single layer on onions. Season to taste with additional salt and pepper. Pour the liquid mixture over chicken. Bake in preheated oven, basting every 15 minutes until thighs are cooked, about 40 minutes. Remove from the oven and serve. Note: Onion mixture is delicious on mashed potatoes.
Source: Adapted from Food Network recipe

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Mary’s Memo – May 2nd

RESTAURANT CALORIE BOMBS


Restaurant meals may contain more than a day’s worth of calories (without drinks, appetizers, sides and desserts), says a Tufts University analysis of 364 independent and small chain spots. The highest-calorie eateries were Italian (1,556 per meal, on average), Chinese (1,478) and those serving American style cheeseburgers and rib-eye steaks (1,451). Greek, Japanese and Vietnamese meals averaged 984 calories or fewer.
Source: Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics on line January 19, 2016 via Consumer Reports on Health, May 2016.

TEA AND COFFEE DRINKS ARE LOADED WITH SUGAR!


Research from the United Kingdom nutrition advocacy group “Action on Sugar” highlights the excessive sugar content of certain hot beverages sold in many U.S. coffee shops and fast-food chains. Of the 131 flavored hot drinks analyzed, 35 percent contained as much or more sugar than a can of Coca Cola. For example, Starbucks’ Venti (20-ounce size) white chocolate mocha with whipped cream contains about 18 teaspoons of sugar(about 288 calories from sugar alone), while chain’s Venti chai tea latte had about 13 teaspoons (about 208 calories from sugar). Choose the drinks as an occasional treat rather than a daily beverage.
Source: Weill Cornell Medical College Women’s Nutrition Connection, May 2016.

REGARDING LAST WEEK’S RECIPE FOR PORK CHOPS WITH CORN DRESSING


The original recipe called for a 15.25 ounce can of cream style corn. Since the current can size is 14.5 ounces, you need to reduce the amount of bread cubes from 6 to 5 cups.

DIETARY STRATEGIES THAT HELP PREVENT DIABETES


Exercise at least 30 minutes a day most days of the week; do moderate-intensity activities, such as brisk walking, swimming or tennis.

Talk with your doctor about weight-loss strategies if you are overweight; losing weight can help bring down your blood sugar levels. Work with a registered dietitian who is knowledgeable about diabetes prevention and management to create a healthier eating plan.
Source: Weill Cornell Medical College Women’s Nutrition Connection, May 2016.

A FAVORITE POUND CAKE


Cooking for one means that I can’t bake a cake unless company is coming so I made Bailey’s Irish Cream Pound Cake Siblings Day April 10 (page 89) of my cookbook, “Thank You, I’m Glad You Liked It.” Since the cookbook was published, I’ve made one change in the recipe and that is to use only 1 tablespoon of Bailey’s Irish Cream and 1/3 cup powdered sugar in the glaze instead of double the amount.

BAILEY’S IRISH CREAM POUND CAKE


• 1 2-layer Betty Crocker cake mix with pudding added
• 1 small package Hershey instant vanilla pudding mix
• 5 large room temperature eggs
• 1/2 cup canola oil
• 1 cup Bailey’s Irish Cream
• 1/2 cup chopped pecans
• Glaze

Preheat oven to 3500 or 3250 if Bundt pan has a dark interior. With an electric mixer at medium speed, beat cake mix, instant pudding, eggs, oil and Bailey’s Irish Cream for 4 minutes. Grease and flour baking pan making sure every part of pan is covered. Add chopped pecans to bottom of pan; spoon batter evenly on top. Bake for 40 to 55 minutes or until a cake tester comes out clean. Cool 8 minutes. Turn out onto cake plate. When cold, drizzle the glaze over top of cake. To make glaze, whisk together the Bailey’s and powdered sugar.
Source: “Thank You, I’m Glad You Liked It.”

TRIVIA WORTH TALKING ABOUT


The one hundred folds in a chef toque are said to represent the 100 different methods for cooking an egg. Source: Conversation Sparks by Ryan Chapman,Chronicle Books, 2015.

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Mary’s Memo – April 25th

FROM THE COOKBOOK SHELF


Not since the Greatest Generation marched off to war have Americans embraced home food gardening with such enthusiasm. With everyone from apartment dwellers to the First Family growing fresh, wholesome food, Seed to Supper, by John Tullock (Health Communications, Inc., March 29, 2016; paperback/$21.95) provides the perfect introduction to food gardening and cooking with home produce.

John Tullock is a lifelong gardener, self-taught gourmet cook and trained ecologist whose previous books have covered a range of topics including aquariums, hardy orchids, sustainable living and starting a small business. His natural Reef Aquariums sold 75,000 copies and is considered a “classic” in its subject area. Growing Hardy Orchids was named by the American Horticultural Society as one of the five best garden books of 2006. Pay Dirt released in 2010, sold over 10,000 copies during the first six months. The New American Homestead: Sustainable, Self-Sufficient Living in the Country or the City has inspired people all over the country to grow food at home. His most recent works are Idiot’s Guides: Vegetable Gardening and Idiot’s Guides: Straw Bale Gardening, both published by Alpha Books. He writes, cooks and gardens on his suburban homestead in Knoxville, Tennessee.

CREAM OF SPINACH SOUP


• 1 pound spinach leaves
• 2 tablespoons butter
• 1/4 cup finely minced onions
• 2 tablespoons flour
• 4 cups milk
• 1/4 teaspoon paprika
• Fresh nutmeg
• Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese or hard-cooked egg yolks for garnish
Wash spinach leaves and then dump them in boiling water. When the water returns to a boil, cook for 1 minute. Drain. Rinse under cold water to stop the cooking; drain thoroughly. Squeeze the spinach by handfuls to express some additional liquid. Place the spinach in a blender jar and reserve. Melt butter in a saucepan and sauté the onions until they are softened. Stir in flour until well combined. Add the milk slowly in a stream, stirring constantly. Continue to cook until the soup thickens slightly. Pour into blender jar with spinach; allow to cool for about 15 minutes. Puree the soup, return it to the pan and add the paprika along with a few gratings of fresh nutmeg. Heat soup until it is hot (do not allow to boil). Adjust seasonings if necessary. Serve garnished with freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese or minced hard-cooked egg yolk. Recipe makes 4 servings.
Source: Seed to Supper, Growing & Cooking Delicious Foods No Matter Where You Live by John Tullock (HCI, March 29, 2016; paperback/$21.95).

SHOULD VEGETABLE OIL BE REFRIGERATED?


It usually isn’t necessary. Natural antioxidants in vegetable oils help fight spoilage but all oils will eventually turn rancid, developing an off smell and taste, especially is exposed to air. While some oils have a shelf life of one or more years under normal conditions, natural or unrefined oils last only about four to six months. Refrigerated oils last longer. To keep oil fresh, store it away from heat, light and air and seal it tightly. Buy only what you will use within a few months; if you buy a larger size, you might want to refrigerate it. Flaxseed, walnut and sesame oils have a short shelf life so you’ll probably want to refrigerate them. If your oil smells or tastes rancid, it may not make you sick, but if consumed regularly, oxidized fats could have undesirable cardiovascular effects. It won’t be good anyway.
Source: University of California, Berkeley Wellness Letter, April 2016.

HOW MUCH PROTEIN DO YOU NEED?


The numbers can be confusing. The Institute of Medicine advises getting 0.36 grams per pound of body weight (54 grams for a 150 pound person, for example). But the RDA for protein is 46 grams for women and 56 grams for men, and the daily percentage used on nutrition labels is based on 50 grams. Source: Tufts Health & Nutrition Letter, April 2016.

RECIPE OF THE WEEK


Do make this entree when boneless pork loin chops are on sale. I have also made it with lean pork shoulder steak. This was a favorite when we were a family of 6.

PORK CHOPS WITH CORN DRESSING


• 6 boneless pork loin chops, cut I-inch thick and trimmed of as much fat as possible
• 1 tablespoon canola oil
• Salt and pepper to taste
• 1 medium onion, chopped fine
• 6 cups bread cubes
• 1 15-ounce can cream-style corn
• 1 teaspoon powdered sage
• 1/2 teaspoon salt or to taste

In large skillet brown chops on both sides in hot canola oil. Remove from pan and season with salt and pepper to taste. Add onion to pan drippings and cook until transparent. Add bread cubes, cream style corn, sage and salt. Spoon the stuffing mixture into a 9x13-inch baking dish. Arrange pork chops on top of stuffing, cover tightly with foil and bake in preheated 3250 oven for 30 to 35 minutes or until chops are done. Recipe makes 6 servings.

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Mary’s Memo – April 18th

FROM THE COOKBOOK SHELF


The spotlight this week is on Eating Appalachia by Darrin Nordahl (Chicago Review Press, 2015; hardback/$19.95). In Eating Appalachia, author Nordahl looks at the unique foods that are native to the region, including paw paws, ramps, hickory nuts, American persimmons and elk and offers delicious and award winning recipes for each ingredient.Nordahl shares twenty-three recipes and also examines some of the business, governmental and ecological issues that keep the wild and arguably tastier foods from reaching our tables. Eating Appalachia profiles local chefs, hunters and locavores who champion these native ingredients and describe food festivals like the Paw Paw Festival in Albany Ohio, the Feast of the Ransome in Richwood, Virginia and Elk Night at Jenny Wiley State Park in Kentucky. Darrin Nordahl is the author of Public Produce and Cultivating Our Parks, Plazas and Streets for Healthier Cities. He blogs daily about food at 365wholefoods.com and has written for CNN, the Huffington Post and Grist.org. He lives in Oakland, California.

YOU ASKED


What is crème fraiche?
This matured, thickened cream has a slightly nutty flavor and a velvety texture. The thickness of crème fraiche can range from that of commercial sour cream to as solid as room temperature margarine. In France, where crème is a specialty, the cream is unpasteurized and therefore contains the bacteria necessary to thicken it naturally. In America, where all commercial milk is pasteurized, the fermenting agents necessary for crème fraiche can be obtained by adding buttermilk or sour cream. A very expensive American facsimile is sold in some gourmet markets but it is so easy to make at home. To do so, combine 1 cup of whipping cream and 2 tablespoons buttermilk in glass container. Cover and let stand at room temperature (about 700F) from 8 to 24 hours or until very thick. Stir well before covering and refrigerate up to 10 days. Crème fraiche is an ideal addition to sauces or soups because it can be boiled without curdling. Spoon it over fresh fruit or other desserts such as warm cobblers or pudding. Source: The New Food Lover’s Companion, 4th Edition, by
Sharon Tyler Herbst and Ron Herbst (Barron’s Education Series, Inc.).

What is the difference between a dark raisin and a golden one?
About half of the world’s raisin supply comes from California.Both dark and golden raisins can be made from Thompson seedless grapes. The difference is that dark raisins are sundried for several weeks, thereby producing their shriveled appearance and dark color. Golden raisins have been treated with sulfur dioxide to prevent their color from darkening.

A FEW OF MY FAVORITE FOODS


Observant Mary’s Memo readers know that my mayonnaise of choice is Hellmann’s Light. Our Family also makes a light mayonnaise so I decided to put it to the test. Our Family Light has a good flavor but Hellmann’s flavor is a tad more intense. Table of contents is almost identical with 1 tablespoon of each having 35 calories including 30 from fat. Hellmann’s more intense flavor may be due to 120 milligrams of sodium per tablespoon while a tablespoon of Our Family’s has 110 milligrams. Our Family is much cheaper of the two. It’s your choice. Although I’ll still buy Hellmann’s Light, there won’t be a problem using the Our Family brand.

Folger’s is still my favorite coffee so I take advantage of sales on Folger’s Medium Roast in Keurig cups although this winter when I was on an antibiotic I drank Folger’s Gourmet Lively Columbian Decaffeinated and found it had a robust flavor. Eight O’Clock Columbian Peaks also has an excellent taste. For a low calorie, low sodium popcorn, try a bag of Skinny Pop, available at Chief.

YOU CAN’T BEAT THIS SALAD


My daughter-in-law, Kelly, brought a beet salad to our Easter dinner. I love red beets, either fresh or canned, and eat them a couple times a week. Kelly made it with goat cheese although original recipe called for feta because she preferred it. Feel free to use either.

BEETROOT AND GOAT CHEESE SALAD


For salad:
• 4 medium beetroots
• 1/3 cup cubed goat cheese (or feta)
• 2 tablespoons roughly chopped cilantro
• Lemon vinaigrette

For lemon vinaigrette:
• 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
• 3 tablespoons olive oil
• 2 garlic cloves, minced
• 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
• 1/2 teaspoon salt (or to taste)

Boil the beetroots on medium heat for 45 minutes or until they can be easily pierced through with a knife. The skin will peel off easily. After removing the skin of the beetroots, chop into cubes and do the same with goat cheese. Roughly chop cilantro. Combine with vinaigrette and serve. For lemon vinaigrette, mix all ingredients together and whisk slightly. Recipe makes 6 servings. Source Adapted from internet Scrambled Chefs recipe

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Mary’s Memo – April 11th

A CONVERSATION WITH BETTY CROCKER


You’ve been encouraged before to call food company tollfree numbers. Cleaning out a kitchen cupboard, I had several boxes of cake mix and not knowing which ones to keep I called the Betty Crocker toll-free number. Of the 4 boxes I had only one was still usable. But that wasn’t all that I learned from talking to a General Mills spokesperson. She advised me to check the expiration date on the package because they will not be the same and pick the box with the latest expiration date.

NO ASSOCIATION BETWEEN CAFFEINE AND EXTRA HEART BEATS


An accompanying editorial by cardiologists from the Atlanta VA Medical Center and Emory University focused on coffee, the major source of caffeine in the US Diet: Recently published studies, including prospective cohorts, clinical investigations and meta-analysis, generally show coffee consumption is safe for the heart. Concerning cardiovascular risk factors, there is little evidence that chronic coffee intake raises blood pressure. “Boiled coffee brewing (e.g. French press) may raise atherogenic lipid levels and other brewing method do not appear to have this effect,” Peter W.F. Wilson, and Heather L. Bloom, MD, continued. “Finally, there is little risk for atrial or ventricular arrhythmia at most of the levels of caffeine consumption in our society.” Dr. Marcus noted that some evidence even suggests caffeine might be associated with lower risk of atrial fibrillation. None of this means you should start consuming caffeine if you don’t already or that you shouldn’t avoid it if it makes you jittery or keeps you from sleeping. But if a little caffeine from coffee or tea helps you get going in the morning or picks you up in mid-afternoon or you just plain enjoy the flavor, you can go ahead without worrying it will make your heart skip a beat. Source: Tufts Diet & Nutrition News Letter, April 2016.

EIGHT POWER FOODS FOR THE BRAIN


People who followed the MIND diet only some of the time still had a 35% lower risk of disease. Chances are, you purposely ate something today that you knew was heart healthy, but you probably didn’t give thought to feeding your brain. Only recently have researchers begun to study the link between diet and cognitive function, and the findings are promising. “You can’t control your genes, which are mostly responsible for any decline in brain function as we age, but with diet, there’s the potential to do something.” says Lon S Schneider, M.D. a professor of psychiatry, neurology and gerontology at the University of Southern California. But it takes more than eating familiar “brain” foods such as fish and blueberries once in a while. ”It is what we eat as a whole, says Martha Clare Morris, Sc.D., director of nutrition and nutritional epidemiology at the Rush Medical Center. Research by Morris and her colleagues shows that following a diet that includes the right foods in the right combination can take years off your brain. The MIND diet is a hybrid of the heart-healthy Mediterranean-DASH diets. (MIND stands for Mediterranean-Dash Intervention for Neurodegenerative Delay.) It limits red meat, butter and stick margarine, pastries and sweets, fried fast food and cheese. The Rush team studied the diets of almost 1,000 elderly adults, who were followed for an average of 4 1/2 years. People whose diets were most strongly in line with the MIND diet had brains that functioned as if they were 7 1/2 years younger than those whose diets least resembled this eating style. A follow up study showed that they also cut their risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease in half, People who followed the plan only some of the time still had a 35 percent lower risk. Working these foods into your diet can help keep your mind sharp and your entire body healthy. Source: Consumer Reports on Health, April 2016.

RECIPE DEVELOPMENT


My brother-in-law, Sam Trentadue, calls what I do to a recipe as “Maryanizing” it. That would be the case with Betty Crocker’s Smothered Chicken Casserole. Instead of regular angel hair pasta, I used Our Family Whole Wheat. I replaced regular Campbell’s Cream of Chicken Soup with their Healthy Request kind and opted for a can of evaporated milk when the original recipe called for half and half. It proved to be a good idea as pasta needed the extra moisture. I also skipped 3 slices of cooked and crumbled bacon and garnished with chopped parsley.

SMOTHERED CHICKEN CASSEROLE


• 1 TB olive oil
• 4 boneless, skinless thighs
• 1/2 tsp McCormick Garlic Salt from California
• 1/4 tsp pepper
• 6 oz Our Family Whole Wheat angel hair pasta
• 1 can Campbell’s Healthy Request Cream of Chicken
• 1 can evaporated milk
• 1/2 tsp smoked paprika
• 2 cups Green Giant Steamers frozen broccoli florets, cut in smaller pieces

Heat oven to 3500F. Spray a 2½ quart casserole with cooking spray. In 10-inch skillet , heat olive oil over medium high heat. Add chicken thighs, sprinkle with garlic salt and pepper. Cook chicken 8 to 10 minutes, turning once, until golden brown and juice of chicken runs clear. Cook pasta according to package directions; drain. In large bowl, mix soup, evaporated milk and paprika; reserve ¾ cup sauce mixture. Stir in cooked pasta and frozen broccoli. Spoon pasta mixture into casserole; top with thighs. Spoon reserved sauce over chicken thighs. Cover and bake 20 minutes; uncover and bake 10 to 15 minutes or until sauce bubbles. Before serving, garnish with chopped parsley.

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Mary’s Memo – April 4th

TO PEEL OR NOT TO PEEL


The skins of fruits and vegetables are full of nutrients. However, peeling off skin does not necessarily mean you are missing out on valuable nutrients, it depends on the food. For example, the red color in tomatoes and red peppers and the orange color in oranges are phytochemicals that act as antioxidants, which helps protect you from cell damage that may lead to cancers. These pigments and antioxidants are available throughout the fruits and vegetables. On the other hand, peeling other produce, like apples and potatoes, does result in some nutrient loss. For instance, the amount of vitamin C in unpeeled and peeled apples is similar, about 8 milligrams (mg) in apples with skin and 6 mg in apples without the skin. However, about 50 percent of the apple’s fiber is lost. When you peel a potato, you are losing fiber as well as potassium, folate, vitamin C and other important vitamins and minerals. When consuming fruits and vegetables, wash them thoroughly and eat the skins for maximum fiber and antioxidant benefits. Source: Weill Cornell Medical College Women’s Nutrition Connection, April 2016.

EAT MORE RASPBERRIES!


Raspberries have a number of heart and brain-health protective essential nutrients, according to a review of scientific literature published in the January 2016 issue of Advances in Nutrition. Components in raspberries contain anthocyanins, which are known to suppress inflammation, while their high polyphenol content may also help prevent platelet buildup and reduce blood pressure. Raspberries have “potential to help reduce factors contributing to metabolic syndrome, which has implications for diabetes development and overall cardiovascular and brain health,” says lead author Britt M. Burton-Freeman, PhD, MS, Institute for Food Safety & Health, Illinois Institute of Technology. Source: Duke Medicine, April 2016.

TOO MUCH OF A GOOD THING?


Regarding Folic Acid and Folate, the Institute of Medicine (IOM) recommends that most adults consume 400 micro milligrams (mcg) of folic acid per day, a vitamin you’ll find in dark leafy greens, fruit, beans and eggs. But don’t get more than 1000 mcg of folic acid per day, a form of folate used in dietary supplements and fortified foods. Too much can mask vitamin B 12 deficiency, most likely to be seen among people over 50 and older and vegetarians. “Untreated, that can lead to nerve damage, cognitive trouble and even psychiatric problems,” says Consumer Reports ”medical director, Orly Avtzur, MD. Research suggests that daily folic acid supplements of 300 to 800 mcg per day was associated with cognitive decline. Many manufacturers add folic acid to such products as enriched bread, cereal, flour, pasta and rice.
Source: Consumer Reports on Health, April 2016.

ANYTHING LEMON SOUNDS GOOD FOR SPRING!


Betty Crocker’s Luscious Lemon Squares are perfect for a neighborhood coffee or for dessert. Be sure you use fresh lemon juice, not bottled. There’s a lot of difference in flavor!

LUSCIOUS LEMON SQUARES


• 1 cup Gold Medal all-purpose flour
• 1/2 cup butter, softened
• 1/4 cup powdered sugar
• 1 cup granulated sugar
• 2 teaspoons fresh grated lemon peel (zest)
• 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
• 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
• 1/4 teaspoon salt
• 2 eggs
• Powdered sugar

Preheat oven to 3500F. Mix flour, butter and powdered sugar. Press in ungreased 8x8x2 or 9x9x2 inches, building up 1/2 inch edges. Bake crust 20 minutes. Beat granulated sugar, lemon zest, lemon juice, baking powder, salt and eggs with electric mixer on high speed about 3 minutes or until light and fluffy. Pour over hot crust. Bake 25 to 30 minutes or until no indentation remains when touched lightly in center. Cool; dust with powdered sugar. Cut into ½ inch squares.
Source: Betty Crocker recipe.

BEST LEMON CURD RECIPE EVER!


Chief Supermarkets carry a quality lemon curd and so does Williams Sonoma but neither compare to one shared by a Bryan lady originally from Wales. Of all the cookies we make at Christmas. Lemon Curd Tarts are the first ones eaten. I make homemade pie crust shells in miniature muffin pans but this year daughter Mary Ann used Pillsbury refrigerated pie crusts for her homemade curd.

LEMON CURD (An English Recipe)


• 1/2 cup butter
• 1 1/2 cups sugar
• 1 1/4 cups strained fresh lemon juice
• 4 large eggs
• 2 tablespoons lemon zest

Melt butter in top of a stainless steel double boiler over simmering water. Add remaining ingredients and blend well. Continue cooking, stirring frequently until thick and smooth, about 25 to 30 minutes. Cool, then store in the refrigerator. To serve, fill miniature tart shells, Curd is also good on English muffins.

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Mary’s Memo – March 28th

REDUCE YOUR RISK OF HEART DISEASE


Eat a heart-healthy diet that contains plenty of fruits and vegetables, whole grains rather than refined grains and lean protein from seafood, skinless poultry and plant foods including beans, nuts and seeds. Limit foods high in saturated fat (full-fat dairy products, red and processed meats) and processed foods that contain a lot of sugar and/or sodium. Get at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity at least 5 days a week; if 30 minutes at once is too much, break it down into 10 minute increments. At your annual exam, ask what your blood pressure, cholesterol and blood glucose numbers are; if any are outside the normal range, ask what you can do to get them under control.
Source: Weil Cornell Women’s Health Advisor, March 2016.

COFFEE LINKED WITH BETTER LIVER HEALTH


Prior research has indicated that drinking coffee may reduce the incidence of liver disease, and a recent study (Alimentary Pharmacology & Therapeutics, January 25, 2016) suggests that a protective effect is more significant than previously believed. Researchers who studied data on nearly half a million men and women found that drinking two extra cups of coffee per day is linked with a 44 percent lower risk of developing liver cirrhosis and a nearly 50 percent lower risk of death from the disease. Cirrhosis of the liver is typically caused by excessive alcohol consumption or viruses such as hepatitis C. An estimated 633,000 Americans are thought to have liver cirrhosis and 69 percent of them are unaware of their condition. Source: Weill Cornell Medical College Women’s Nutrition Connection, April 2016.

RECIPE TESTING


It amazes me that so many internet recipe directions need additional clarification. I found that to be the case with www.mydailymoment.com’s Creole Pork Casserole. Hopefully, my adapted recipe does the trick. That said, it’s a tasty entrée for a family and economical to make.

CREOLE PORK CHOP CASSEROLE


• 3 medium size russet potatoes, thinly sliced
• 1 pound package Birdseye frozen green beans
• 2 medium size sweet onions, thinly sliced
• 6 1/2-inch thick pork chops
• 1 green bell pepper cut into thin slices
• 1 clove minced garlic
• 2 Roma tomatoes, chopped
• 1/2 teaspoon thyme
• 1 bay leaf
• 1/4 cup chopped Italian flat leaf parsley
• Salt and pepper to taste between layers

Spray bottom of 9x13-inch baking dish with nonstick coating. Evenly arrange potato slices in baking dish and season with a little salt to taste. Spread unthawed green beans over potatoes. Spread half the onions over vegetables and sprinkle with pepper to taste. Spread the pork chops over onions and cover with remaining onions, green bell pepper, garlic, tomatoes, thyme, bay leaf parsley and sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste. Cover tightly with heavy duty foil and bake in preheated 3750F oven for 1½ hours or until chops are tender. Remove bay leaf. Recipe makes 6 servings.
Source: Recipe adapted from My Daily Moment internet site.

TIPS AND TRICKS


In my continuing effort to keep from throwing things away before the expiration date, the Pioneer Woman on the Food Network, Ree Drummond, suggested moving these cans to the front of the shelf where you are more apt to use them. If you’ve noticed, the Chief produce department stands the stems of fresh asparagus in water. I do the same at home by removing the rubber bands and standing it in a wide mouthed 16-ounce mug, uncovered, in the refrigerator where it keeps much longer than it would in the fruit and vegetable bin.

When a recipe calls for shredded Cheddar cheese, my preference is always reduced fat sharp Cheddar because it lends more flavor than milder cheese.

Last week we shared a recipe for Rice Krispies eaten from a mug. This week it’s Western Omelet in a Mug that serves 1.

WESTERN OMELET IN A MUG


• 2 large eggs
• 1 TB milk
• 1 TB chopped onion
• 2 TB chopped bell pepper
• 2 slices deli ham, chopped
• 1 TB reduced fat shredded sharp Cheddar cheese
• Salt and pepper to taste

Coat the inside of 16-ounce mug with cooking spray. Crack eggs into the mug and whisk until completely combined. Whisk in milk, onion, bell pepper, ham and season with salt and pepper to taste. Microwave on high for 1minute. Stir the eggs, top with cheese and cook another 30 to 60 seconds on high until eggs are completely set. Remove from the microwave and serve immediately. Cook time will vary slightly from microwave to microwave. Recipe makes 1 serving.
Source: Adapted from The Kitchn, an internet site.

DID YOU KNOW?


The word “dinner” comes from Old French disner, which means breakfast.

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Mary’s Memo – March 21st

FROM THE COOKBOOK SHELF


Mary Pietrantonio Cooney is a first generation Italian-American who lives in Kettering, Ohio. She is the author of Mary’s Kitchen, available at Dorothy Lane Market Culinary Center where the author teaches and shares her passion for Italian cooking and baking. She also believes that dining together as a family is good bonding time and I heartily agree! Pietrantonio Cooney’s Bow Tie Pasta with Sun Dried Tomatoes and Spinach is a good Lenten choice for those of us who abstain from meat on Friday.

BOW TIE PASTA WITH SUN DRIED TOMATOES & SPINACH


• 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
• 1 extra large onion, cut in half and thinly sliced
• 2 cloves garlic, finely minced
• 1 pound baby bella mushrooms, sliced
• 3.5-ounces sun dried tomatoes, julienne cut
• 10 ounces fresh baby spinach
• 1 cup heavy cream
• Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
• 1 pound bow tie pasta
• 1/2 cup pine nuts, toasted
• Freshly grated parmesan cheese

While water is heating, pour olive oil in a 12-inch pan and place over high heat. Once oil is hot, add onions and cook until they begin to soften (about 5 minutes). Add mushrooms and continue to stir fry over high heat until mushrooms are golden. Add the garlic, sun dried tomatoes and spinach and stir for a couple minutes until spinach starts to wilt. Pour in cream and allow cream to bubble. Remove from heat and add salt and pepper to taste. Cook pasta according to package for “al dente” in salted boiling water. Once pasta is finished cooking, drain the water and pour into a serving dish with the cooked vegetables. Mix all together until incorporated. Garnish with pine nuts and pour into serving dish with cooked vegetables and parmesan cheese. Serves 8. Source: Mary’s Kitchen by Mary Pietrantonio Cooney. Purchase by calling Dorothy Lane at 866-748-1391 or order from Amazon.com.

WHAT’S NEW IN THE GADGET WORLD


It’s been around for a few years but I didn’t have it until daughter Mary Ann included one in my Christmas stocking in 2015. Called Spread That, it’s made from heat conducting technology that transfers body heat to easily carve and spread cold butter. Spread That is dishwasher safe (let it cool off in dishwasher for at least 20 minutes, after dishwasher cycle is completed). It’s made with titanium coated copper alloy and silicone. It does not replace a knife because it has no sharp edges.

New on the market is the Chef’n Hullster, available at Williams Sonoma, that easily removes core of tomato. Push a button to extend a stainless steel claw, insert it around core, release button and twist to remove core. Serrated blades remove core cleanly. Hullster is top-of-the-rack dishwasher safe. Order from Amazon.com or Williams Sonoma at 1-800-541-2233.

BORED WITH YOUR EXERCISE ROUTINE?


Yoga can help boost bone strength and improve balance and flexibility. Yoga is an option for most people, because a routine can be specifically matched to your age, fitness level and overall health. And if you’re not especially active now, recovering from surgery or coping with an illness, you can start a yoga program, says orthopedic specialist Cara Ann Senicola, PT, DPT, with Weill Cornell-affiliated Hospital for Special surgery. ”Research shows that sedentary people who practice yoga have increased static (still) balance as well as dynamic (movement) balance,” she explains. “Yoga also increases flexibility, and it can be the perfect adjunct to rehabilitating and orthopedic injury.” Studies also have found that people with depression see improvements in their condition after participation in yoga classes, Senicola adds.

ANOTHER OF MY FAVORITE THINGS


Anything with the taste of the famous Buffalo Wings is a winner with me. Spicy Hot Chicken Legs are delicious, so good that I originally planned to reserve the recipe for the annual Christmas sheet. However, because drumsticks are frequently on sale at Chief and I encourage you to plan your meals around sale priced items, we’re sharing the recipe sooner!

SPICY HOT CHICKEN LEGS (A SLOW COOKER RECIPE)


• 12 chicken drumsticks
• 1 5-ounce bottle Frank’s Hot Red Pepper Sauce
• 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter, cubed
• McCormick California Garlic Powder
• 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
• Salt and pepper to taste
• 1 1/2 cups blue cheese dressing (I use Marzetti brand in the produce department)

Arrange drumsticks, single layered, in 5 to 6 quart slow cooker. Sprinkle with pieces of butter. Pour hot sauce over chicken, then season with garlic powder, onion powder, salt and pepper. Cover and cook on high for 3 hours or until tender. For crispier chicken, bake in a 4000F oven for final 30 minutes. Recipe makes 6 servings, 2 drumsticks per person. Serve with blue cheese dressing on the side.
Source: Adapted from Allrecipes.com.

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