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Cooking with Myra: Winners of recipe contest announced

Sept. 27, 2011 at 4:27 a.m.

Healthy recipe contest finalists, from left, are Annie Banda, Garden Chicken Pizza; Jenny Smith, Gram's Burrito Pie; and winner Emily Malinovski, Popeye's Sauce with Chicken and Pasta.

Popeye Sauce with Chicken and Pasta

4 medium red tomatoes, peeled, cut in quarters

1 (5-oz.) pkg. fresh spinach

1/2 c. chopped onion

1 (6-oz.) can tomato paste

1 tsp. oregano

2 tsp. basil leaves

1 tsp. salt

1 tbs. dried parsley flakes

1 (7-oz.) can mushrooms

6 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut in bite-size pieces, seasoned with salt and pepper

Put tomatoes, spinach, and onion in blender. Puree for three minutes. Pour into a 2-quart pot. Add tomato paste, seasonings, and mushrooms, stir until combined. Bring to a boil over medium heat. Then turn heat to low. Cover with a lid. Simmer for 15 minutes. Heat olive oil in large pan and stir fry chicken pieces until cooked thoroughly. Add chicken to sauce and continue simmering for 15 minutes. Serve over your favorite pasta. Serves 6.

Submitted By Emily Malinovsky

Garden Chicken Pizza

11/2chicken breast

5 slices cooked bacon, crumbled (optional)

1 large tomato, chopped

1 cup spinach

1 cup mushrooms

12 oz. mozzarella cheese

1 (8-oz.) can pizza sauce

Pillsbury Pizza Dough

1/2 small red onion, sliced

1/2 red bell pepper, sliced

1/2 green bell pepper, sliced

1 tsp. crushed red pepper

1 Tbsp. minced garlic

2 Tbsp. olive oil

Heat olive oil saute minced garlic and crushed red pepper, lightly brown garlic. Add diced chicken breast, season with salt and pepper; cook thoroughly. Turn off chicken, Add sliced red onion, and strips of red/green peppers; Allow steam to soften vegetables. Prepare Pizza dough as instructed on pizza pan.

Pre-bake dough 7 minutes at 425 degrees for crispier crust. Spread pizza sauce evenly on pre-baked crust. Add mozzarella over sauce, arrange sliced tomato rounds and spinach over pizza. Add cooked chicken with vegetables, mushrooms and bacon to pizza. Bake at 425 F for 10 min.

Submitted by Annie Banda

Gram's Burrito Pie (spicy)

1/2 rotisserie chicken (use rest for casserole, salad or soup). May use 2-3 chicken breasts, cooked and shredded

1 Tbsp olive oil

1 small onion

1 (6- to 7-oz.) bottle taco sauce

1 can diced tomatoes with green chilies, undrained

4 oz. mushrooms (I use 1/2 of an 8-oz. bag)

3 flour tortillas, halved

2 cups shredded Colby Jack cheese

1 box chopped spinach, thawed

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a large skillet, saute onion and mushrooms in 1 Tbsp. olive oil. Stir in taco sauce, tomatoes, and spinach. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer uncovered for 20 min. Meanwhile, spray an 8-9 inch casserole with nonstick cooking spray. Shred chicken and spread 1/2 over bottom of dish. Layer with 3 tortilla halves, 1/2 spinach mixture, and 1 cup cheese. Repeat layers. Cover and bake for 15 minutes. Uncover and bake for 10 minutes longer.

Serve with a salad and extra tortillas. Serves 4.

Submitted by Jenny Smith

By Myra StarkeyLast week, we chose a winner for the Healthy Recipe contest. The winner is Emily Malinovsky. Thanks to all who sent recipes. The finalists were Annie Banda and Jenny Smith, and these recipes are printed below.

The finalists will be recognized by Kevin Roberts at the Victoria College Lyceum series, "How to Survive College by Staying Healthy." They will also receive a signed copy of Roberts' cookbook.

Don't forget to get your tickets at Victoria College for the Lyceum Series presentation by Roberts.

The event is being presented by the Victoria College Lyceum series.

Tickets are required for this event.

For more information, please call 361-582-2417, or email darin.kazmir@victoriacollege.edu.

LIVE YOUR LIFE THE RIGHT WAY EVERY DAY

One of the great joys of being empty-nester parents is that we can do anything we want on the weekends. We have no commitments. We don't have any grandkids to spoil or hug on. We look forward greatly to that part of our lives. But for now, we are as free as the wind.

Last Wednesday, Taylor said, "Let's go see Spencer. We haven't seen him in awhile." Spencer is our youngest son and is a junior at Baylor. He didn't call and ask us to visit because he usually has his weekends planned out with parties, hanging out with friends, sports, going to the gym and perhaps a small amount of studying. Anyway, when we called to say we would be coming to visit, he didn't seem to mind, and so maybe, he was missing us a little. Or perhaps he just knew that it might mean some shopping on our credit card and a few good restaurant meals. Either way, we thought it would be fun to go for the visit and we would be able to watch the mighty Baylor Bears play Rice in football.

I miss Spencer and welcome any opportunity to see him. I know that he likes for me to bring him food, so I packed a box with all his favorites, spicy pretzels, cornflake peanut butter bars, wasabi peas, dry roasted peanuts and "Myra Meals." The latter became popular with my oldest son, Miles, who wanted homemade food, and asked if I could just freeze leftovers and bring them when we visited. He named these "Myra Meals." I ordered disposable containers and regularly filled them with leftovers similar to a "frozen dinner" concept. Spencer reminded me that I hadn't brought him any of these for awhile, and so I prepared a few of those, so he could feel like he was having some real home cooking. Actually, I made four, but the dogs got up on the counter and ate one, so I was only able to take three.Spencer is always a joy for us to be around. He seems to be settling down and maturing since he is in his third year of college. In fact, I think he has a girlfriend. He usually likes to have the attention of multiple girls, but he was telling us about this one who he seems to have special affections for. He says that they have been seeing a lot of each other for almost two weeks. I guess we'll see how that works out.

We actually didn't go to Waco until Saturday because Taylor had an opportunity to go dove hunting with his friends, Ted and Darrell, on Friday evening at a ranch west of town. He said it was one of the most incredible hunts of his life with the dove flying in low from every direction and in great numbers. We arrived in Waco for lunch and ate and then shopped for a winter coat for Spencer. We hung out at his apartment and visited, and then went to the game that evening and followed that with a late sushi meal at a local Chinese restaurant. We dropped Spencer off at his apartment because it was approaching 11 p.m., and we knew he had multiple parties that he still planned to attend. Only adults would consider such a late hour to be time for bed.

We got up the next morning and picked him up for breakfast at a local bakery and then went to church at the place he has been going for the past two years. It is the same church that I went to when I was at Baylor about 30 years ago. The music was really enjoyable, and we were getting a lot out of the service until the preacher made his way to the pulpit and talked about how he had appreciated his last four years at the church and that lots of good things had happened, but that he was resigning effective immediately over some bad life choices he had recently made that did not involve another woman, and he hoped that everyone would respect his family's privacy as they tried to work through it. During the final prayer when all heads were bowed, he and his family slipped quietly out the side door of the church leaving an empty pew at the front right.

There are things kids learn at college, and they are not always in the classroom, and some of these things are not easily understood. I shared with Spencer that preachers are just people, and that they are not perfect. They are subject to straying from the path just like the rest of us. I told him that it is important to keep balance in his life or he could lose his way also, that it isn't just about gaining knowledge in school or making lots of money or being a big success in business or having the perfect family. Life doesn't usually work out like that. Rather, what he needed to do each day for as long as he lived was to just do the right thing each day, to do right by his family, his friends and those he worked with. I said that others depend on each of us in some way and that it isn't good to have to leave life out the side door.

I hope that as a mother I can be there for my kids. I can't always be physically present because none of them live in Victoria.

I'm as close as a phone call or only a few hours away by car. I still miss them every day.

Myra Starkey lives in Victoria. Write her in care of the Advocate, P.O. Box 1518, Victoria, TX 77901, or email myra@vicad.com.

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