Mary’s Memo – July 4th


July is National Hot Dog Month, National Ice Cream Month, National Blueberry Month, National Anti-Boredom Month, also Chocolate Day on July 7th and Pecan Pie Day on July 12th!


2 tablespoons prepared mustard
2 8-ounce can tomato sauce
½ cup dark corn syrup
½ cup minced onion
2 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
½ teaspoon celery seed
2 pounds all beef hot dogs

In large skillet, blend mustard with small amount of tomato sauce; add remaining tomato sauce along with other ingredients except hot dogs. Cook over medium heat, stirring frequently until mixture comes to a boil; reduce heat and simmer gently for 30 minutes. Add hot dogs; cook until hot dogs are hot and plump. Serve in warm hot dog buns.


½ cup (1 stick) butter
½ cup slivered almonds
1 cup packed light brown sugar
1 cup flaked coconut
2½ cups Rice Chex, crushed fine
½ gallon softened vanilla ice cream

Melt butter in saucepan over low heat. Brown almonds in butter. Add brown sugar and stir until melted. Add coconut and crushed Rice Chex. Put half of the crumb mixture in the bottom of a 2-quart oblong dish. Spoon softened ice cream over crumbs. Sprinkle with remaining crumbs. Cover with foil and freeze. Recipe makes 12 servings. On National Pecan Pie Day July 12th, do make this pecan pie, a recipe from my microwave classes in the 70’s.


1 9-inch baked pie shell
¼ cup butter (1/2 stick)
3 large eggs
1 cup dark corn syrup
1/3 cup packed light brown sugar
1 tablespoons flour
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1½ cups pecan halves

Put butter in a large glass bowl. Microwave on high ½ to1 minute to melt butter. Add eggs; quickly beat with a fork to mix well. Blend in corn syrup, brown sugar, flour and vanilla. Stir in pecan halves. Pouf filling into baked crust. Microwave on 50 percent power 9 to 12 minutes or until top surface is dry and puffed. If center is not completely set, it will firm up as it cools. Let pie cool to room temperature before cutting.
On National Chocolate Day July 7th nothing beats Death by Chocolate Cake!


2-layer chocolate cake mix
¼ cup vegetable oil (like canola)
2 eggs
1 1/3 cup water
12-ounce package semi-sweet chocolate chips
12-ounce jar Smucker’s chocolate fudge topping
1 8-ounce container whipped topping, thawed
Chopped nuts, either pecans or walnuts (optional)

Pour oil into 9x13-inch baking pan. Whisk together cake mix, eggs and water until blended. Stir into oil. Sprinkle chocolate chips over top of the cake. Bake 30 to 35 minutes or until done in preheated 350ºF oven. Remove from oven and cool on rack for 5 minutes. With the handle of a wooden spoon, punch holes over surface of cake. Cool completely. Then carefully spread fudge topping over surface. Frost with whipped topping and sprinkle with nuts if using.
For National Blueberry Month do make a summer favorite, Blueberry Buckle.


½ cup butter, softened
¾ cup sugar
1 large egg
1¾ cup unsifted all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
½ cup milk (whatever kind you use)
2 cups (I pint) blueberries, sorted, cleaned and well drained
Crumb topping

Cream butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. Add egg and beat well. Add dry ingredients alternately with milk, beating until smooth. Gently fold in blueberries. Spoon into well buttered 9x9x2" baking pan. Sprinkle with crumbs. To make topping, blend together ¼ cup cold butter, ½ cup sugar, 1/3 cup flour and ½ teaspoon cinnamon. Bake in preheated 375ºF oven for 30 to 35 minutes. Note: Bake a double recipe in a 10x15-inch jelly roll pan.

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Mary’s Memo – June 27th


The 2016 Consumer Action Handbook from has a wealth of information about purchases, problems and complaints you might have with hundreds of companies, trade association, national consumer organizations and more. It is also available in Spanish. To order a free copy, contact and ask for publication 5131.


Sugar snap peas and snow peas are available at the Chief. Daughter Mary Ann shared a way she used shucking peas, and I improvised using frozen peas. To make, cut each of 4 cremini mushrooms into 4 slices. Sauté in butter until cooked and juice has evaporated. Cover with sherry (not cooking sherry). Add ½ cup of frozen peas and season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve as soon as peas are thawed and hot. Recipe makes I serving.

I love beet tops as well as the beets, but they’re not available this way in produce department. Instead, my options are whole beets minus tops or canned beets. Work beets into your menu plans. My cookbook includes my mother’s recipe for Harvard beets made with either fresh or canned beets.


1 tablespoon cornstarch
1/3 cup granulated sugar
¼ teaspoon salt
½ cup apple cider vinegar
1/3 cup water or canned beet juice
2 tablespoons butter
3 cups sliced, cooked beets (fresh or canned)

Mix cornstarch, sugar, salt, vinegar, liquid and butter together and cook until thickened, stirring constantly. Add sliced beets and heat thoroughly. Recipe makes 5 to 6 servings.
Source: “Thank You, I’m Glad You Liked It” cookbook.


We’ve been fortunate to have what my spouse called a couple “million dollar rains” in June. It certainly made my small “salad garden” come alive! While I anxiously wait for garden tomatoes to harvest, Baked Tomato Casserole is a delicious alternative! Even though the recipe makes 6 to 8 servings, it doesn’t make that many servings for me and reheats beautifully in the microwave. This is also one of the few times that soft white bread crumbs (made in the food processor) are preferred.


1 28-ounce can Our Family diced tomatoes, undrained
2 cups soft white bread crumbs
2 tablespoons packed light brown sugar
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1 teaspoon dried basil
¼ teaspoon Tabasco sauce
2 teaspoons butter

Combine tomatoes, soft bread crumbs, sugar, vinegar, basil and Tabasco sauce. Spoon into 1½-quart casserole. Dot with butter. Bake in preheated 400ºF oven for 35 to 40 minutes or until bubbly and lightly browned. Recipe (for some) makes 6 to 8 servings.
Source: Thank You, I’m Glad You Liked It cookbook.


Chief’s produce department has fresh asparagus, but if you’re fortunate to have you own supply, do try this Purdue recipe for Rhubarb Custard pie. Hopefully, you have an 8-inch glass pie plate to make it.


2 eggs
1 tablespoon melted butter
2 tablespoons flour
1 cup sugar
2 cups finely sliced rhubarb
Unbaked 8-inch pie crust

Beat eggs. Add melted butter. Mix flour and sugar together. Stir in rhubarb. Pour into 8-inch unbaked pie plate lined with pie crust. Bake in 450ºF oven for 10 minutes, then in moderate 350ºF oven for about 30 minutes. Note: I have had these recipes since graduating from Purdue in 1949.
Source: Family Size Recipes from “Home Economics Lunchroom Favorites.”

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Mary’s Memo – June 20th


Use sunscreen daily, reapply often, and cover up when you’re outside during the day to reduce the likelihood of skin-related problems. KEEP YOURSELF HYDRATED!
Sip nonalcoholic liquids throughout the day, even if you don’t feel thirsty.
Source: Consumer Reports on Health, June 2016.


Betty Crocker’s 3rd Place Winner Bisquick Recipe Contest 2010 was Buffalo Chicken Pie. Original recipe called for cooked chicken strips but I used meat from a Chief rotisserie chicken. Also, I replaced regular Bisquick with Heart Smart kind. Never tasted a Betty Crocker impossible pie that I didn’t like!


2 cups cubed rotisserie chicken
½ cup Buffalo Wing Sauce
1 cup Our Family shredded Sharp Cheddar cheese
½ cup crumbled blue cheese
1 cup chopped celery
1 cup Heart Smart Bisquick mix
½ cup cornmeal
½ cup milk (whatever kind you use)
1 large egg
2/3 cup blue cheese dressing
Preheat oven to 400ºF. In large bowl, toss chicken and Buffalo Wing Sauce until well coated. Stir in cheeses and celery until well coated. Pour into 9-inch pie plate. In medium bowl, mix Bisquick mix, corn meal, milk and egg. Pour over chicken mixture; spread to cover. Bake 25 to 30 minutes or until topping is golden brown. Cut into blue cheese dressing.
Source: Adapted from Betty Crocker recipe.


Leanne Stephens, a dietetic intern at Tufts’ Francis tern Nutrition Center, reports: “Although it may seem as if you are not getting enough potassium in your diet, you are probably consuming more than you think.” The Adequate (AI) for potassium suggests that adults need to aim for 4.7 grams of potassium per day in their diet. Data from a recent survey analyzing average potassium intake from food and beverages found that adult men are consuming 3.1 grams per day and adult women are consuming about 2.4 grams each day. The results of this survey are in line with other data suggesting that typical Western diet does not satisfy potassium requirements and may potentially lead to a slight potassium deficiency. “This does not mean that the only solution is to begin taking potassium supplements. In without feeling like you need fact, you should consume a potassium supplement only under the supervision of your physician. The body tightly regulates potassium, which can be just as dangerous as very low levels of potassium. The great news is that with planning, potassium needs can be met through diet without consuming oodles of bananas. While certain fruits and vegetables such as bananas and potatoes are known to be great sources of potassium, other food groups are also packed with this essential nutrient. Meat, legumes, nuts and dairy products contain ample amounts of potassium that can help you reach the AI of 4.7 grams per day. If you are concerned about your current potassium intake, you can meet with a registered dietitian to plan a healthy diet that will meet all of your micronutrient and macronutrient needs.”
Source: Tufts Health & Nutrition Letter, June 2016.


You already know I like anything Buffalo. Another favorite is anything Reuben flavored. Farm Journal published Snacks cookbook just before Christmas in 1977 and this week’s Reuben Sandwich Filling has been on my “so good” list ever since!


1 12 ounce can corned beef, shredded
8-ounces Our Family shredded Swiss cheese
1 16-ounce glass jar of Silver Floss Sauerkraut, drained and
¾ Cup Our Family Light Mayonnaise
3 tablespoons chili sauce
Rye bread
Combine corned beef, cheese, mayonnaise and chili sauce. Cover and store in the refrigerator. To serve, spread filling between rye bread slices. Butter outside of bread slices. Cook on sandwich grill or in skillet until cheese melts. Recipe makes 5 cups filing.
Source: Farm Journal Snacks cookbook, December 1977.

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Mary’s Memo – June 13th


Although not a cookbook, it is a timely publication for safe summer outdoor cooking. What’s Your BBQ IQ has all the information you need to insure that your food is cooked to the right temperature to kill germs. Learn more about food safety at For example, you might think that cleaning grates with a wire brush is the way to go but it isn’t because you run the risk of wire residue sticking to the grates and the food you’re cooking. Instead, clean grate with a wet soapy cloth.


Although some grillers cook outside year-round, my outdoor grilling season begins Memorial Day weekend. Several years ago I invested in a grilling basket from Williams Sonoma. They’re also available from Bed Bath & Beyond. With a basket there’s no chance of vegetables falling through the grates.
Too often, you see meats and poultry cooked over a flame but I choose to heat one side of the grill and cook on the opposite side to avoid any flame touching the surface of the meat which can be carcinogenic.


Our children were never curious about cleaning supplies stored in the cabinet under the sink. Just give them a pot or pan to clang with a spoon and they were happy campers. That said, if you have children or grandchildren who are attracted to what’s in that cupboard, you have a responsibility to keep these supplies under lock and key. I mention this because Tide Pods, manufactured in Canada, are a concentrated detergent that includes a stain remover and I’m a pod user. The only time I might have a problem is at Thanksgiving when my great grandson will be here. Critics of the Tide Pods are concerned that they could be deadly to children if eaten but so can a knife or fork cause harm. A word about any of the pods: Don’t attempt to clean a stain yourself; let whatever pod you’re using do it.


Honey has been used for centuries as a natural remedy, for everything from dressing wounds to treating intestinal diseases. Regarding flavor, honey gets its flavor and color from the nectar of different flowers visited by honey bees. The darker the color, the more phytochemicals it contains, but the levels in a teaspoon are minuscule compared to what’s in a serving of fruits and vegetables. Honey actually contains more calories per teaspoon (22) than table sugar (16), but because it tastes sweeter, you may end up using less. The bottom line: Honey may have a few potential medicinal uses. But don’t buy all the hype about its healthfulness. What’s more, remember that it is still a sweetener and all the criticisms and concerns about sugar apply to honey as well. Source: University of California, Berkeley Wellness Letter, May, 2016.


Labels can say “local” if a food was grown in your state or within 399 miles.
Source: Consumer Reports on Health, June 2016.

Jeanne P. Goldberg, PhD, professor at the Friedman School and Director of the Nutrition Communications Program, notes that the US Food and Drug Administration recommends against washing packaged produce items like mixed salad greens that are pre-washed and ready to eat. According to the FDA, “it is unlikely that consumers washing of such products will make the product cleaner compared to a commercial triple wash.” Moreover, the agency warns, “it is possible that additional handling may contaminate a product that is clean.”
Source: Tufts Health & Nutrition Letter, June 2016.


The origin of this recipe is the New York Times' web site. Daughter Mary Ann gave a “thumbs up” to Roasted Asparagus Frittata. We’re printing the entire recipe but she made half of it in a 6-inch skillet.


8 to 12 medium to fat asparagus spears, trimmed
Olive oil
Salt and black pepper
4 large eggs
¼ to ½ cup roughly chopped Italian parsley
½ cup shredded Parmesan cheese

Heat oven to 450ºF. Spread asparagus on a baking sheet and toss with olive oil, salt and pepper. Roast, shaking pan occasionally, until the asparagus is lightly charred and tender, about 12 minutes. Beat the eggs with salt, pepper, half the parsley and half the cheese. Cut the asparagus into 2-inch lengths and arrange in single layer

In a 10-inch nonstick skillet. Drizzle with more olive oil and set over medium heat. Pour the egg mixture over the asparagus. Use a spatula if necessary to make a round frittata. Cook until nearly set, tilting the pan and lifting the edge of the set egg to let the liquid egg flow underneath, about 4 minutes. When top is almost dry, flip frittata onto a plate, then slide it back into the pan. Let cook for just a few seconds, then flip onto a plate. Alternatively, use an ovenproof pan and put it in the oven or under the broiler for a few minutes. Sprinkle with remaining parsley and cheese. Serve hot, warm or at room temperature. Recipe makes 2 servings.
Source: Adapted from New York Times website recipe.

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Mary’s Memo – June 6th


Trading food is a practice as old as agriculture itself, and now this tradition has been reborn with a modern twist. Welcome to Food Swap, an event where home cooks, bakers, canners, gardeners and foragers get together to trade their homemade and homegrown food items - no money is allowed to change hands. From Emily Pastor, co-founder of the Chicago Food Swap, comes the book Food Swap; a perfect how-to guide for doing just that. With 80 artisanal recipes that are perfect for trading, readers will be fully prepared for their first swap. It’s filled with practical advice on topics like the ideal number of participants, the importance of following local regulations, getting the word out, finding a location and basic guidelines to ensure success. (Storey Publishing, May 2016, Paperback w/flaps, $19.95).

Compound Butter is butter that has been combined with flavorings such as herbs, spices and even sweeteners. These flavored butters are served in restaurants as an accompaniment to the bread basket. Beyond their use as a spread, compound butters are often used to flavor meats, seafood and steamed vegetables or added to sauces. To make, combine the unsalted butter and flavorings in the bowl of a standard mixer and mix on medium speed for several minutes until thoroughly combined. One combination is as follows:

Honey cinnamon
3 tablespoons honey
3 teaspoons cinnamon
Shallot and tarragon
¼ cup minced shallot
1 tablespoon minced tarragon
Bleu cheese and walnut
4 ounces softened bleu cheese
¼ cup finely chopped walnuts
¼ cup mixed herbs such as parsley, thyme and basil
Source: Food Swap: The Next Step in the DIY Kitchen Revolution by Emily Paster.


In a recent study in the Journal of the American Heart Association, 245 overweight or obese women (ages 22 to 72) were enrolled in a structured weight-loss program and assigned to one of three diets: lower fat/higher-carb; higher-fat/lower-carb; or walnut-rich higher fat/lower-carb; or walnut-rich higher-fat/lower-carb. The walnut group had the most favorable changes in blood cholesterol, including a small rise in HDL (good) cholesterol. Walnuts are the only nut supplying a significant amount of alpha-linolenic acid, a potentially heart-healthy omega-3 fat.
Source: University of California, Berkeley Wellness Letter, June 2016.


Kale has become synonymous with health so it’s no surprise that the produce aisle is packed with salad blends that boasts their kale content. But they may not be the best option if your goal is to work more into your diet. Although they all contain plenty of healthful greens, Consumer Reports on Health said bags didn’t contain much kale. Instead, to get kale’s benefits buy a bunch or package of kale alone and make your own salad blend.
Source: Consumer Reports on Health, June 2016.


Just so you know, Pace Picante Sauce is to use as a dip while Pace Salsa is a flavor booster for most recipes. Pace is also a favorite brand. Over the years, my taster tolerates medium strength.


My mini-salad garden includes asparagus and I have a bumper crop this year, picking it daily! One way it is used is in Asparagus Cheese Pie made with only four ingredients, asparagus, shredded sharp Cheddar cheese, light mayonnaise and fresh lemon juice. It also reheats nicely in the microwave on medium low heat.


3 cups asparagus but into small pieces
2 cups Our Family shredded sharp Cheddar cheese
1 cup Our Family light mayonnaise
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
1 9-inch unbaked pie crust
In mixing bowl combine asparagus, cheese, light mayonnaise and lemon juice. Mix thoroughly. Spread mixture evenly in prepared pie crust. Bake in preheated 350ºF oven for 45 minutes to 50 minutes (mine took 50 minutes). Let stand for 10 minutes before cutting. Serve warm. Recipe makes 6 servings.

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Mary’s Memo – May 30th


As you already know my slow cookers, are a favorite appliance. Not a week goes by that one of them isn’t used, either for myself or to test a recipe for Mary’s Memo. That said, I could not resist buying Fix-It and Forget-It Slow Cooker Recipes by Phyllis Good (Good Books, 2016, loose leaf bound/$24.99). Cookbook features 450 of her very best recipes from contributors. Contents include ways to cook meats, pasta, grains and vegetarian, soups, stews and chilies, vegetables and side dishes, breads, breakfasts and brunches, sweets and desserts, appetizers, snacks, spreads and beverages and every day from-scratch basics. In addition, Good shares hints for cooking with a slow cooker and information you won’t find in the manual. Phyllis Good is a New York Times bestselling author whose books have sold more than 12 million copies. Her commitment is to make it possible for everyone to cook who would like to, even if they have too little time or too little confidence. Good holds an MA in English from New York University, has authored many other cookbooks. Among them are Fix-It and Enjoy Healthy Cookbook (with nutritional expertise from Mayo Clinic). The Best of Amish Cooking and The Lancaster Central Market Cookbook. Leaping from the page was Fruit Medley, a recipe that can be made year round.


• 1 1/2 pounds mixed dry fruits
• 2 1/2 cups water
• 1cup sugar
• 1 tablespoon honey
• Peel of half lemon, cut into thin strips
• 1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
• 1 cinnamon stick
• 3 tablespoons cornstarch
• 1/4 cup cold water
• 1/4 cup Cointreau
Grease interior of slow cooker crock. Pour in water. Stir in sugar, honey, lemon peel, nutmeg and cinnamon. Cover and cook on Low 2-3 hours. Turn cooker to High. In small bowl, mix cornstarch into water until smooth. Stir into fruit mixture. Cook on High 10 minutes, or until thickened. Recipe makes 6 to 8 servings. Source: Fix-It and Forget-It by Phyllis Good.


The Department of Nutrition Science at Purdue University celebrated 110 years of foods and nutrition being part of the curriculum on May 6. For this occasion 110 “Diamonds” were honored including yours truly (Class of 1949). Needless to say, I’m blessed to have lived long enough to attend every event culminating with a banquet at the Purdue Memorial Union. One of the afternoon highlights was Snacks with Jan Buckles, Purdue Nutrition Science Alumni Society ( Jan proves that snacks can be healthy as well as flavorful! Trust me, the salmon spread is awesome!!!!


• 8-ounces cream cheese
• Juice from 1 lemon
• 2/3-ounce baby dill, chopped
• 1 jalapeno, minced
• 1 clove garlic, minced
• 1/2 pound (about 1 cup) hot smoked salmon (salmon should be cold. Hot smoked refers to cooking process)
• 1/4 cup cooked bacon ends and pieces
In bowl of standard mixer, cream together cream cheese and lemon juice on high speed for several minutes until well combined and fluffy. Scrape sides, then add dill, jalapeno and garlic and blend until well mixed. Add in salmon chunks and bacon and mix just until combined. The more you mix, the less salmon chunks you’ll have. Serve with crackers or crostini for an appetizer or spread on a bagel for breakfast. Makes 2 to 3 cups.


• 2 ounces cream cheese
• 1 teaspoon milk
• 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh basil
• 20 dried apricots
• 1 teaspoon mild tasting honey
Mix cream cheese, milk and basil together with a fork until well combined and spreadable. Spread 1/2 teaspoon cheese mixture on each apricot and top with an almond. Drizzle with honey before serving. Make one day ahead.


• 1 cup caramel bits
• 2 tablespoons heavy cream
• Handful of seedless green grapes
• 1 cup salted peanuts, crushed
• Toothpicks
In small pot over medium-low heat, combine the caramel bits and cream. Stir until melted. Reduce heat to lowest setting just to warm. Place the peanuts in a shallow dish and dip the grapes into caramel sauce and then roll in chopped nuts. Place on a plate to set. Repeat until all the grapes are used.


• 2 cups whole wheat flour
• 2 teaspoons baking powder
• 1 teaspoon baking soda
• 1 teaspoon cinnamon
• Salt
• 1/2 cup applesauce
• 1/4 cup olive oil
• 1/4 cup milk of choice
• 1 banana, mashed
• 1/4 cup honey
• 1 cup grated zucchini (about 1 large zucchini)
Preheat oven to 3500F. In large bowl, combine all dry ingredients. In a separate medium-size bowl, whisk together apple sauce, oil, milk, banana and honey. Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients and stir to combine. Fold in zucchini. Pour mixture into lightly greased muffin cups and bake for 15 to 20 minutes, or until tops have browned.

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Mary’s Memo – May 23rd


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.


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.


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.


• 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.


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.


• 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


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 purslane.html.
Source: University of Illinois and Food Lover’s Companion, Fourth Edition.


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


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.


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, 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.


• 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, the world’s favorite recipe web site.

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Mary’s Memo – May 9th


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!


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.


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.


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.


• 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.


• 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 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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


• 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.”


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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