Easy Easter Elegance – Week 3

The Lemon Tart!  Wow, what can I say, this is a great flavored tart with spunk!  It is classic Barefoot Contessa, great flavor, intense color, and EASY.  Be sure to read the tips on this page before going to this “Recipes” tab and making the tart. I have made many a task more difficult by not ready the ‘sidebar’ information. Use a microplan, a grater, or a thin sharp knife to scrape the zest off of the lemon, and do so before halving and squeezing the lemon. (Note: Thin, smooth skinned lemons at room temperature yield the most juice and thick, bumpy textured cold lemons give the maximum amount of zest.) Butter makes the crust more luscious but not too much, and adding butter to the curd makes the filling fool proof and creamy!

When you add the ingredients for the filling it will look like something curdled and gone bad. NO worries.  Just be sure to cook it on top of the stove, stirring constantly until thickened, but don’t let it boil.  Remove from the heat, pour it in a bowl, and cool.  I always make this part first, then the crust and meringue.

As for the crust, use a flat bottom measuring cup to flatten it out.  Then, cover it with a piece of parchment paper and place a pound of dry beans on top.  Bake, and then cool.

Grocery List for Entire Meal:

Produce: Dairy & Meats:
1 large onion 4 oz. crumbled feta
1 head of romaine hearts 3 sticks unsalted butter
¼ C dried apricots, diced 9 eggs
2 tbsp. garlic ½ cup Parmesan, grated
1 red pepper 1 pkg. Boursin cheese (any flavor)
3 lbs. Yukon gold potatoes 1 pint buttermilk
2 lbs Asparagus 2 cups Greek style plain yogurt
½ cup minced herbs 1 cup white cheddar cheese
½ cup minced red onion 5 lb. spiral sliced ham
Grains/Frozen: Misc.:
1 pkg. phyllo tart shells ¼ tsp. nutmeg
10 oz. pkg. spinach 2 tbsp olive oil
16 oz. frozen bread dough 4 cups sugar
  2 cup clover honey
  2/3 cup bourbon
  1/2 cup orange marmalade (100% fruit)
  1/3 cup molasses
  1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
  ¼ teaspoon ground cloves,
  2 tsp pepper


The approximate cost of this meal is $10/person and it will feed 6-8 people.  So, I hope you have enjoyed my first holiday series along with the recipes, grocery list and approximate food cost.  Let me know what you think and what you want to see! I have lots of ideas, but I want to know what your next big event is and I’ll do my best to make it easier, festive and fun!  Have a wonderful holiday weekend, and I will meet you back at the table very soon to help your family use dairy creatively and tastefully in new and delicious recipes.

Fuel Up and Play Hard

Low fat milk, yogurt, and fruits are great sources of carbohydrates to help refuel your body after exercise.

Nutrition is critical while training for a mini marathon, a full marathon, or any kind of athletic event. But what are you supposed to eat? There are a million different tips and tricks people try in order to increase their performance.  You don’t need to spend tons of money buying the newest product on the shelf. Believe it or not, you can (and should) eat REAL food like fruit, vegetables, milk, whole grains, and lean meats.

When you are thinking about what to eat while training, the word carbohydrate should pop into your mind. We hear people talk about carbohydrate loading and eating plates full of pasta before an event, but why? The answer: Carbohydrates are needed to fuel your muscles. No matter what your athletic ability–from spectator to elite runner–you should nourish yourself with a nutrient rich diet high in carbohydrates, adequate protein, and low in fat. Carbohydrates are important for not only endurance athletes but also those who train hard day after day and want to maintain high energy.

The amount of calories you need varies from person to person and depends on your age, sex, weight, height, and activity level. During training, you will need to add 100 calories per mile you will be running. The following gives you an idea of where your calories should be coming from for optimal results:

  •  60-65% of your calories should come from carbohydrates, particularly complex carbohydrates. If you eat a low-carbohydrate diet, your muscles will feel chronically fatigued. You’ll train, but not at your best.
  •  10-15% should come from protein (you need 0.5 to .075 grams per pound of your body weight each day)
  •  20-25% of your total calories should come from fats

 If you are a first time Mini-Marathon runner, you may be looking at these amounts and feeling overwhelmed. Basically, you want to eat your meals high in carbohydrates while adding lean protein and healthy fats.

 Here is a sample dinner that would be great while training. (mayoclinic.com)

Food Item                                                                                         Carbs    Calories        

Salmon, baked (3 ounces)            0        175
Brown rice (1 cup)           45        216
Broccoli, steamed (1 cup)                                                                          11          54
Milk, fat-free (8 ounces)           12          86
Lettuce salad with tomatoes and carrots (1 1/4 cups)              3          16
Fat-free Italian salad dressing (2 tablespoons)            2          14
Walnuts (1/4 cup)            4         191

Total                                                                                                              77          752

Some foods are great sources of protein and others are great sources of carbohydrates. Some contain both, such as milk and yogurt. To give you a better idea what you should be eating see the foods listed below:

 Good Carbohydrate Sources:

Potatoes, yams, beans, peas, wheat bread, bananas, low fat milk, yogurt, macaroni, spaghetti, cereal, raisins, apples, bagels, syrup, brown rice, corn, apples, carrots, root vegetables

 Good Protein Sources:

Low fat milk, beans, green peas, lean beef, chicken, fish, eggs, cheese, yogurt, nuts, peanut butter, cottage cheese, tofu and soy products

Carbs, carbs, and more carbs! Carbohydrates provide the fuel for runners–so load up!

Make sure to read the blog next week to see how to fuel your body right before and after the event (Indy Mini). Click here for more information on the Indy Mini Marathon  and for proper shoes and accessories.  Good Luck on your training!

Easy Easter Elegance – Week 2

Last week I gave you the menu and first set of recipes to prepare for a great Easter meal.  This week we’ll work on the Stuffed Dinner Rolls, Chilled Asparagus, 3-D Mashed Potatoes, Bourbon Ham, and Stuffed Lamb Steaks.  All of these recipes are listed on the “Recipes” tab of this page, but if you keep reading here, you will find the recipe tips.  However, with all of this good food awaiting you and your family, I don’t see why we should waste any more time.  So, let’s begin by practicing the stuffing of the dinner rolls because they can be a bit tricky. If you’re like me, you’ll want to overfill them, but remember less is more. Also, be sure to brush melted butter with a little of onion, garlic, and oregano seasonings on them.

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Today is National Chip and Dip Day!

To celebrate here are three quick and easy recipes! Let us know which one is your favorite!  

Baked Spinach Artichoke Yogurt Dip 

Makes 8 Servings
Prep Time: 10 min
Cook Time: 20 min


  • 1 (14-ounce) can artichoke hearts, drained and chopped
  • 1 (10-ounce) package frozen chopped spinach, thawed and drained
  • 1 (8-ounce) container low-fat plain yogurt
  • 1 cup shredded part-skim, low-moisture Mozzarella cheese
  • 1/4 cup chopped green onion
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 2 tablespoons chopped red pepper

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Dairy Farming – MY American Dream

I introduced Leontien Van de Laar to you in my last post. For those of you that might not have had the chance to read it talks about her struggle overcoming cancer in a new country. I promised I would have more of Leontien’s amazing story so here it is!

Imagine a little blond girl, on her little pony with red wheels, cruising thru the kitchen. A strange man comes in and tells her about a spider. She has NO clue what he is talking about because she is Dutch… and Dutch people do not speak English. But she just KNOWS it is a scary thing, a big problem! This was the very first word she learned in the English language.

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Easy Easter Elegance

I, Michelle Plummer, am a Register Dietitian and Professional Cook.  I have been cooking professionally in Indiana since 1989.  My art is making difficult concepts less complicated and cooking more fun for the whole family.  The more people in my kitchen stirring and cooking, the happier I am.  I hope that you come and join the fun.

Calling all cooking novices and culinarians, it has been a long and cold winter this year, regardless of where you live.  So let’s celebrate Spring with a delicious and dairy laced Sunday dinner.  As you have learned, I have cooked and enjoyed cooking for more than 30 years.  Not all creations have been successes, but each has been a lesson in flavor, color and texture to get the body and mind excited about cooking and food.  So let me try to explain what I hope to do over the next few weeks to help you make the perfect Easter dinner.  From the menu to the shopping to the mise-en-place, my goal is to make you look like the Super Bunny of Easter! 

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Train Your Body – Quench Your Thirst

Hydration is vital during exercise.

In an effort to challenge yourself and/or to be healthy, you have decided to run the Mini Marathon or a long race for the first time – now what?  I have to admit, I once attempted to run the Indy Mini Marathon and did not train properly – in fact, I didn’t train at all. After 13.1 miles, my feet were bleeding, I was limping, and I had to walk to my car without shoes on. The next morning I was not sure if I could even walk. Learn from my mistake–it is imperative to properly train and prepare your body so you do not harm yourself!

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