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Mary’s Memo – May 12th


With hundreds of recipes for sumptuously mouth-watering candies, chocolates, pralines, crèmes, fudges, toffee and holiday treats, 300 Best Homemade Candy Recipes by Jane Sharrock, this candy bible covers everything from the traditional to the exotic. Complete with easy-to-follow instructions and step-by-step photos, it’s a treasure trove of information and inspiring recipes. Most of us are intimidated by the thought of making our own candies, but the author shows us how to master a few basic principles that every candy maker should know.

Jane Sharrock is a third-generation candy-maker who grew up surrounded by good cooks, great food and delicious homemade candies. Her mother and her aunts made cooking look so effortless that it never occurred to Jane that others might struggle in the kitchen. Eventually Jane realized that she had unique training  and not everyone had a Home Economics professor, old fashioned country cook, farmer’s wife and second-generation candy maker as a mother and mentor. Armed with a sizeable collection of old fashioned candy recipes and decades of kitchen wisdom passed from generation to generation, Jane wrote a candy cookbook in hopes of inspiring a new generation of candy makers. Jane lives in Oklahoma and works for the Federal contracting industry. In her free time she enjoys cooking with friends and family.

Because I happen to like layered peppermint bark, that’s the recipe we’re sharing, even though it’s more likely to be served at Christmastime. Dare to be different and make it now!


• 8-ounces chocolate candy coating
• 2/3 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips or chopped semisweet chocolate
• 2 teaspoons peppermint extract, divided
• 12-ounces white chocolate candy coating
• 3/4 cup crushed candy canes

In the top pan of double boiler over hot but not boiling water, melt the dark chocolate candy coating and chocolate chips, stirring until smooth. Remove from the heat. Stir in 1 teaspoon peppermint extract until well blended. Pour the chocolate mixture onto baking sheet lined with waxed paper, spreading into a thin, even layer. Cool 20 minutes or until chocolate is firm. In top of a clean double boiler over hot but not boiling water, melt the white chocolate coating, stirring until smooth. Remove from heat. Stir in remaining peppermint extract until well blended. Pour the white chocolate on top of the dark chocolate layer, spreading evenly. Sprinkle with the crushed peppermint candy canes. Cool and break into pieces. Store in airtight container.
Source:, Toronto, ON, May 2014, $24.95/softback.


A pair of discoveries, reported in PLOS One, may lead to better broccoli in the produce aisle. University of Illinois researchers, seeking to boost levels of anti-cancer glucosinolate compounds found broccoli and similar vegetables, sprayed the plants shortly before harvest with methyl jasmonate. That natural, non-toxic plant signal chemical tells genes in the broccoli to produce the anti-cancer agents. Unfortunately, testing showed it also accelerated the production of ethylene, which causes plants to decay. Spraying a second chemical recently discovered in plants, 1-methlycyclopropene, was found to block ethylene and prolonged shelf life. The one-two punch, scientists hope, will help protect against cancer while also protecting the broccoli in your fridge.
Source: Tufts Health & Nutrition Letter, May, 2014.


It will be awhile before we have home grown tomatoes but in the meantime, Baked Tomato Casserole, is an excellent side dish to serve with grilled meats and fish year round!


• 1/4 cup butter (1/2 stick)
• 1 large Vidalia onion, chopped
• 1 (28-ounce) can diced tomatoes, drained
• 1/2 teaspoon salt
• 1/4 teaspoon pepper
• 1/2 teaspoon oregano
• 1 tablespoon packed brown sugar
• 1-1/2 cups Pepperidge Farm Stuffing Mix
• 1/4 cup butter

Sauté chopped onions in 1/4 cup butter. Mix drained tomatoes, sautéed onions, salt, pepper, oregano and brown sugar together. Spoon into 9x9x2-inch glass baking dish. Sauté stuffing mix in 1/4 cup butter and sprinkle evenly over tomato mixture. Bake in 250ºF oven for 1-1/4 hours. Recipe makes 4 to 5 servings.

An excellent relish at barbecues is Dilled Carrot Sticks. I happen to think that regular carrots have a better flavor than mini carrots.


• 1 pound medium-sized carrots
• 1 cup cider vinegar
• 1 cup water
• 3/4 to 1 cup sugar
• 1 tablespoon mustard seed
• 1/2 teaspoon dill weed

Peel carrots into 3-inch lengths. Cook in boiling water until almost tender but not overcooked. Drain; cut carrots lengthwise into quarters. In saucepan, combine vinegar, water, sugar, mustard seed and dill weed. Simmer mixture 10 minutes. Add carrot sticks and simmer 1 minute longer. Cover and refrigerate 8 hours or overnight. Drain carrots thoroughly before serving. Recipe makes 3 cups.

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Mary’s Memo – May 5th


According to Wikipedia, Cinco de Mayo, Spanish for fifth of May, commemorates the Mexican Army’s unlikely victory over French forces at the Battle of Pueblo on May 5, 1862. Not to be confused with Mexican Independence Day September 16, Cinco de Mayo is observed mostly by Mexican Americans in the United States as a celebration of Mexican heritage and pride. More than ever before, Americans are embracing the food of other nationalities including our neighbor, Mexico. Celebrate the day with Slow Cooker Posole with Pork and Chicken. PS: It freezes well!


• 1 canned chipotle pepper in adobo sauce
• 1/4 cup water
• 1/2 pound boneless pork loin roast
• 1/2 pound skinless, boneless chicken breast halves
• 1 (15.5-ounce) can hominy, drained
• 1 (4-ounce) can chopped green chilies
• 1 medium onion, chopped
• 1 clove garlic, minced
• 2 (14.5-ounce) cans fat-free chicken broth (I use Swanson’s)
• 1 teaspoon dried oregano
• 1 teaspoon cumin
• 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper to taste
• 1 bay leaf

Place chipotle pepper and water into a blender and puree until smooth. Pour into slow cooker. Add the pork, chicken, hominy, green chilies, onion, garlic and chicken broth. Season with oregano, cumin, pepper and the bay leaf. Cover and cook on low 6 to 7 hours until meats are tender. Remove bay leaf before serving. Recipe makes 6 servings.
Source:, the world’s favorite recipe web site.


The creators of the Paleo diet claim the diet is best suited for our bodies because it is the “unique diet to which our species is genetically adapted through evolution and natural selection.” It is also referred to as the “caveman diet” or the Stone Age diet.” The Paleo diet is said to be based on the diets of our preagricultural, hunter-gatherer ancestors who lived more than 10,000 years ago. The diet is low in carbohydrates and high in protein and unlimited amounts of fruits and vegetables. It also emphasizes meat, poultry, seafood, eggs, nuts and seeds plus “healthful fats” from plants including oils from olives, walnuts, flaxseed, coconuts, avocados and macadamia nuts. It excludes refined sugar, dairy, legumes including peanuts, grains, processed foods, salt and refined vegetable oils such as canola, peanut, soybean and corn oils.

The Paleo diet is high in fiber due to high intake of fruits and vegetables, and it’s high in omega-3 fatty acids from seafood, nuts, and flaxseed and walnut oils. However, unlike the Mediterranean diet, it omits dairy, grains and legumes which can be part of a healthy diet. Omitting these food groups may cause a deficiency in certain nutrients including calcium and vitamin D. Also, since the Paleo diet emphasizes animal sources of protein , it can be high in saturated fat if you don’t limit yourself to lean meat and skinless poultry. Science has shown that the diets of Paleolithic ancestors actually varied widely, based upon the geography and climate of their location, so there is no single “best” diet that creators of the Paleo diet claim. The Paleo diet emphasizes some important points that can be incorporated into your diet: eating less processed foods and refined sugars and more fruits and vegetables; however, the Mediterranean diet is a better choice because it is lower in saturated fat and it doesn’t exclude good sources of fiber, such as grains and legumes.
Source: Weill Cornell Women’s Nutrition Connection, May 2014.


Scientists have known for decades that a fiber-rich diet protects against obesity and diabetes, but recently a French-Swedish team of researchers discovered one of the mechanism for that protection. The authors expect the findings to influence new nutritional guidelines geared to preventing obesity and diabetes. Simply put, the bottom line is to “encourage people to eat fruits and vegetables, especially those rich in soluble fiber,” says Giles Mithieux, lead study author and researcher at the French Institute of Health and Medical Research. The research team found that soluble fibers in fruits and vegetables are fermented by intestinal bacteria into short-chain fatty acids, which can be assimilated by the body. These acids confer a protective effect… for example, animals fed a fiber-rich diet are less fat than animals fed a fiber-free diet. This protective mechanism seems to come from the ability of the intestine to produce glucose and release it into the blood between meals and at night. Glucose is detected by the nerves in the walls of the portal vein, which collects blood coming from the intestine and sends a nerve signal to the brain. The brain then triggers certain functions that are diabetes- and obesity-protective. Foods high in soluble fiber include oat bran, oatmeal, apples, pears, oranges, grapefruit, cabbage, green peas, corn and legumes including dried beans, lentils or peas.
Source: Duke Medicine Health News, May 2014.

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Mary’s Memo – April 28th


28 Days to Younger Skin (, Toronto Ontario, 2014; $24.95/softback) is a fast-track program designed for people who have a special occasion coming up, such as a wedding, a holiday or any date by which you want to look your best. It can be used to complement your current beauty regime or, if you are having a cosmetic procedure, you can use this program to supply the nutrients in your diet needed to speed up your recovery and enhance your results. It is a 28-day program because it takes that long for your body to produce new cells in the deeper skin, so it’s literally the beginning of a new you by day 28. It also takes about 21 days to form new habits, so by the end of the program you might automatically continue some of your healthy new habits. The program is designed to boost metabolism and supply all the nutrients needed for skin repair, renewal and maintenance. It can also improve your energy and feelings of well-being, and it’s healthy for the whole body. Keep in mind that 28 days is a very short period of time and this program is designed to work fast, so you will have to do some work every day during the 28 days. But the results will be well worth it. Book also includes 50 recipes.

Karen Fisher is an award-winning author, former model and nutritionist. An avid health researcher, she has a passion for finding new, science-based ways to create beautiful skin. Karen believes that the skin’s appearance is one of the main indicators of overall health. For the last decade she has helped hundreds of patients gain beautiful skin and has made it her goal to make nutrition and health interesting and accessible to everyone. The Healthy Skin Diet (Australian edition) was awarded ‘Best Health, Nutrition or Specific Diet Book’ at the Australian Food Media Awards. She is also the author of the 8-week Healthy Skin Diet and The Eczema Diet. Karen lives in Australia.


Organic food as a rule costs more than conventional food but is it worth the extra money? The priority level is highest for fruit and vegetables, according to Urvashi Rangan, PhD., executive director of Consumer Reports’ Food safety and Sustainability Center. Rangan says that rinsing conventional fruit and vegetables doesn’t effectively reduce pesticide residue that are left behind. But organic produce isn’t treated with synthetic fertilizers or most synthetic pesticides in the first place.
Source: Consumer Reports on Health, April 2014.


Daughter Mary Ann loves this recipe. Leftovers freeze well for future meals. Quinoa (pronounced KEEN-wa) is relatively new to American supermarkets but the 4th Edition of the Food Lover’s Companion reports it being a staple of the ancient Incas who called it “the mother grain.” It’s considered a complete protein because it contains all essential amino acids. Quinoa is also higher in unsaturated fats and lower in carbohydrates than most grains and provides a rich, balanced source of vital nutrients. It cooks like regular rice but takes half the time. That said, here is the recipe from a blog at

• 2 tablespoons oil (canola, safflower or olive oil)
• 1 medium onion, chopped
• 3 cloves garlic, minced
• 1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger
• 1 carrot, cut into 1/2-inch half-moons
• 1 small head of cauliflower, broken into small florets
• 1/4 teaspoon salt or more to taste
• 5 teaspoons curry powder
• 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
• 1 cup water
• 1 cup frozen peas
• 1 cup quinoa (red quinoa recommended but white would be fine, too)
• Plain non-fat yogurt

Heat the olive oil in a large skillet. Add the onion, garlic and carrot over medium heat for 5 minutes. Add the cauliflower, spices and salt and cook for another minute. Add 1 cup water, then cover and simmer 12 to 15 minutes until vegetables are tender. Add the peas during the last minute of cooking. Meanwhile, cook the quinoa according to package directions. Mix the curried vegetables into the quinoa and serve. Top with nonfat yogurt and toasted slivered almonds.

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Mary’s Memo – April 21st


If a juicy steak is not in your budget, Chief’s ground beef, the leaner the better, has endless possibilities including the Beef Council’s recipe for Korean Beef Skillet.


• 1 pound 93% lean ground beef
• 2 cups bok choy cut into 1-inch pieces
• 3 cloves garlic, minced
• 1/2 cup Korean barbecue sauce (or your preferred brand)
• 1/4 cup water
• 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
• 1 cup thinly sliced red cabbage
• 1/2 cup fresh bean sprouts
• 1/2 cup thinly sliced green onions
• Hot cooked brown rice or La Choy Chow Mein Noodles Topping (optional):
• Thinly sliced radishes

Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium heat until hot. Add ground beef, bok choy and garlic; cook 8 to 10 minutes, breaking into small crumbles and stirring occasionally. Stir in barbecue sauce, water, red pepper; cook 1 to 2 minutes or until heated through, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat. Stir in cabbage, bean sprouts and green onion. Let stand 5 minutes. Serve mixture over rice or La Choy Chow Mein Noodles. Recipe makes 4 servings. Note: Be sure ground beef is thoroughly cooked to an internal temperature of 150ºF. Color is not a reliable indicator of doneness.
Source: Adapted from Beef Council recipe.


Too much caffeine may make your heart race, but it’s not likely to cause atrial fibrillation (afib). Rather, regular caffeine intake may lower your risk of afib. In a meta-analysis of six U .S. and Scandinavian studies involving more than 228,500 participants, regular consumption of caffeine in coffee, tea, cola, cocoa or chocolate lowered the incidence of afib by 11-16 percent. The more caffeine that was consumed, the lower the risk, with the incidence of afib dropping 6 percent for every additional 300 mg of caffeine consumed per day. Afib risk increases the presence of atrial fibrosis. The authors of the study, published online January 6, 2014, in the Canadian Journal of Cardiology, suggested that caffeine‘s protective qualities may be due to its antifibrotic properties.
Sourc e: Duke Medicine Health News, April 2014.


I could not resist investing in the new stove top 10.25-inch Skinny Grill from Le Creuset, especially since shipping was free at the time of my purchase. Best of all, the regular price for the Skinny Grill is $145.00, but I bought it from Sur la Table’s latest catalog for $79.00. It’s available in several colors including rosemary, Le Creuset’s newest green color that blends well with previous light green pieces. I used it for the first time last night and it cooked a 1-inch thick boneless loin pork chop in less time than it would take had I used my oven broiler or cooked it outside on the grill by indirect heat. Before the pork chop had finished cooking, I added 6 asparagus stalks and they were done in minutes. I mistakenly thought the grill itself had a nonstick finish but it doesn’t. Skinny Grill should also be greased before adding food. Burner temperature should be no higher than medium heat for any grilling. The only negative thing I have to say is the card that came with the grill didn’t have the information about greasing the grill or what the burner temperature should be. This information came from a customer service representative at toll free 1-877-418-5547. Le Creuset products are made in France.


Any recipe that is meatless gets my attention during Lent. Original recipe from the Mushroom Council called for 1-1/2 pounds sliced button mushrooms and 8 ounces of fresh shitake mushrooms, sliced. The latter would have made a soup that only yields 6 cups prohibitive. To keep the price more reasonable, shitake were replaced with 8-ounces of baby bella mushrooms, sliced.


• 2 tablespoons canola oil
• 1 cup chopped sweet onion
• 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
• 2 tablespoons chili powder
• 1 teaspoon ground cumin
• 1-1/2 pounds fresh button mushrooms, sliced
• 8-ounces baby bella mushrooms, sliced
• 1 (14.5-ounce) can stewed tomatoes
• 1 (15.5-ounce) can white kidney beans, rinsed and drained (I prefer Bush brand)
• 1/2 cup sliced ripe olives
• 1/2 cup water

In large saucepan heat oil until hot; add onion. Cook, stirring frequently, until onion is tender, about 5 minutes. Stir in garlic powder, chili powder and cumin; cook until fragrant about 39 seconds. Add button and baby bella mushrooms; cook, stirring occasionally, until mushrooms are crisp-tender, 6 to 8 minutes. Add stewed tomatoes, beans, olives and water. Simmer uncovered, to blend flavors, about 10 minutes. If desired, garnish with chopped lettuce, chopped green onions and reduced-fat shredded sharp Cheddar cheese. Makes 4 servings.
Source: Adapted from Mushroom Council recipe

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Mary’s Memo – April 14th


The product Nutella has been around for ages but now comes Jif’s Salted Caramel Flavored Hazelnut Spread and Hershey Spreads including Chocolate with Hazelnut. Spread on bread or toast, crackers or as a dip for fresh fruit. Yummy! Because I love the salt and sweet combination, I’m partial to the Jif spread. Daughter Mary Ann preferred Hershey because it tasted natural while Jif did not.

One of the newer Dole salad mixes (at least to me) is Very Veggie. Sweet carrots, zesty radishes and pea pods add color and crunch to mild and crispy iceberg and romaine.

Chief’s already large assortment of cheese now includes Wexford Mature Irish Cheddar, a product of Ireland. It may be a getit-while-it-lasts cheese introduced for St. Patrick’s Day but surely worth trying!


It’s not just the recession that’s led to improvements in the US diet, according to a new analysis in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. Beyond merely cutting back for pocketbook reasons, Americans are choosing to consume fewer calories and obesity rates are leveling off. The study used sophisticated statistical tools to control for changing economic conditions over the past decade, including unemployment rate and food prices. Calories declined more in beverages than food choices, the study found, and healthier eating trends actually accelerated during the worst of the recession. The new findings align themselves with another recent study by the USDA researchers that found average daily calorie intake among working Americans had dropped 78 calories between 2005 and 2010. That report also showed people using nutrition labels more, eating better at home and eating out less.
Source: Tufts Health & Nutrition Letter, April 2014.


Finding ways to strengthen or compensate for shortened attention span can help cut down on frustrating memory lapses. Begin by removing barriers to concentration. It’s more difficult to commit information to memory when you’re stressed, emotionally upset, bored or in a negative mood. Physical annoyances, such as uncomfortable temperatures, noise and distractions also make the act of remembering more challenging. When trying to remember something, make an effort to focus and take in more details. Lend meaning to information by thinking about why it is important, organizing it or using visualization, association or mnemonic tricks such as rhymes, acronyms or stories to help retain it. You can also strengthen your powers of attention with games and activities. Play cards, read an article …. then test yourself on the contents or try to remember what you and your friends wore to recent party or luncheon. You can also change your habit patterns. Sit in a different chair to watch TV; take a new route home; rearrange the furniture; try a new restaurant. The trick is to keep your brain active and engaged.
Source: Duke Medicine Health News, April 2014.


The USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging at Tufts University has ranked blueberries as the greatest antioxidant powerhouse out of 40 fresh fruits and vegetables tested. Because of this you should never be without blueberries in some form at home.

Among my cookbook collection is one called The Joy of Blueberries by Theresa Millang published by Adventure Publications in 2003. It is still available from as are Joy of Rhubarb, Cranberries, Raspberries, Strawberries, Apples and Pumpkin! Joy of Blueberries features 200 recipes ranging from bars to soups to ice cream. Trust me, this cookbook is worth buying! So it shouldn’t come as a surprise that this week’s recipe is for Food Network Patrick and Gina Neely’s Blueberry Crisp. I did add an additional 1/2 tablespoon of cornstarch to the recipe so blueberries would be less runny. A few tasters at the Bryan Chief asked if Minute Tapioca could replace cornstarch and I said yes. At home I added a small scoop of Edy’s reduced-fat ice cream.


• 6 cups fresh blueberries, cleaned and air-dried
• 1-1/2 tablespoons cornstarch or 1-1/2 tablespoons Minute


• 1/4 cup sugar
• 1/8 teaspoon salt

Topping Mixture:

• 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
• 1/2 cup quick cooking oats
• 1/4 cup packed light brown sugar
• 1/4 cup granulated sugar
• 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
• 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
• 3/4 cup chopped pecan
• 1/2 stick room temperature unsalted butter (1/4 cup)

Preheat oven to 375ºF. Toss blueberries, cornstarch or tapioca, sugar and salt together in a bowl. Set aside. To make the topping combine flour, oats, sugars, spices and pecans. Add butter and pinch into chunks or use a pastry blender until crumbly. Add blueberries to a 2-quart oblong baking dish. Top evenly with crumb mixture. Bake for 40 minutes. Serve with a dollop of vanilla ice cream.
Source: Adapted from Patrick and Gina Neely’s recipe.

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Mary’s Memo – April 7th


As we get closer to Easter be looking for savings on foods of the season. I already purchased a center cut boneless pork loin when it was on sale. Some members don’t eat ham, so pork loin it is for my family. Ham will surely be on sale. I did notice a Smithfield ham in someone’s cart this past weekend. Smithfield has a distinctive taste. Unfortunately, to me at least, the Smithfield brand that originated in Smithfield, Virginia, was purchased by the Chinese in 2013. Other foods likely to be on sale are eggs and baked goods ingredients for items like hot cross buns. If you don’t want to make them yourself, look for this traditional Holy Week bread at Chief.  Note that I always plan menus around sale items …. did it when we were a family of 6 and continue to do it today.


I can tell when a recipe is a success when Bryan Chief shoppers buy the ingredients before they leave the store. Some mentioned that it would be a good dessert for Easter brunch or dinner. I agree.


• 1 cup unsifted all-purpose flour
• 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
• 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
• 1/4 teaspoon salt
• 1/2 stick (1/4 cup) unsalted butter, softened
• 2/3 cup sugar plus 1-1/2 tablespoons sugar, divided
• 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
• 1 large egg
• 1/2 cup well-shaken buttermilk
• 1 cup fresh raspberries, cleaned and air dried

Preheat oven to 400ºF with rack in the middle. Butter and flour a deep 9-inch cake pan. Whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Beat butter and 2/3 cup sugar with an electric mixer at medium high speed until pale and fluffy, about 2 minutes, and beat in vanilla. Add egg and beat well. At low speed, add flour mixture in 3 batches. Begin and end with flour mixture, alternating with buttermilk. Spoon batter into prepared cake pan, smoothing top. Scatter red raspberries evenly over top and sprinkle with remaining 1-1/2 tablespoons sugar. Bake until cake is golden and a wooden toothpick inserted in center comes out clean, about 25 to 30 minutes (mine took 25 minutes). Cool in pan on rack for 10 minutes, then turn out on rack and cool 10 to 15 minutes more. Invert onto cake plate. Recipe makes 6 servings.


I can’t tell you how many people ask me what to do with leftover buttermilk saying they end up throwing it away. Because I have had the same problem in the past, use it in mashed potatoes and twice baked potatoes instead of milk. It also makes excellent biscuits, both drop and cut-out ones. Since buttermilk lightens any baked goods, use it for pancakes or recipes such as the Red Raspberry Buttermilk Cake. Another question that you have asked is whether or not it can be frozen. People who drink it won’t like it after it’s thawed but its okay for cooking and baking. Finally we all ask dairy companies why they don’t sell it in pints instead of quart containers and none of us would have a problem as to what to do with leftover buttermilk!


Although this soup calls for chicken broth, it can be replaced with vegetable broth during Lent because the other ingredients give it plenty of zip. Add a small swirl of basil pesto and a sprinkle of Parmesan cheese to each bowl for an Italian twist.


• 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
• 1 medium onion, chopped
• 2 ribs celery, sliced
• 2 medium carrots, sliced
• 1 (32-ounce) container vegetable broth
• 1 (28-ounce) can crushed tomatoes or 1 (26-ounce) jar marinara sauce
• 1 pound russet potatoes, peeled and cubed
• 2 teaspoons dried basil
• Garlic salt and ground pepper to taste
• 3 cups fresh spinach, coarsely chopped

Heat oil in a large saucepan; add onion, celery and carrots and cook 5 minutes to lightly brown. Stir in stick, tomatoes, potatoes and basil. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer, covered, for 30 minutes. Let cool slightly, then puree in a blender, food processor or emersion stick blender until smooth. Pour back into saucepan and stir in spinach. Cook for a minute or 2 more to wilt the spinach.
Source: Adapted recipe from Potatoes, Goodness Unearthed! (National Potato Council)

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March 31st – Mary’s Memo


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


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

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


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


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


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

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


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

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Mary’s Memo – March 24th


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


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

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


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


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


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


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

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

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Mary’s Memo – March 17th


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

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


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

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


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


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

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


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


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

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

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Mary’s Memo – March 10th


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


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


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


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

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


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


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

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