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February 2012

SCV Healthy Recipe Challenge


The Santa Clarita Sunrise Rotary Club is excited to organize the first SCV Healthy Recipe Challenge in conjunction with Circle of Hope’s 8th Annual Walking for Hope 5K which will be held on April 21, 2012 at Castaic Lake. 

Contestants of all ages will be submitting their potential winning recipes in the main dish, side dish, or dessert categories where winners will be selected in the Adult and Youth Divisions.  To submit your winning entry, please visit www.SantaClaritaSunriseRotary.com for all the details.
The Santa Clarita Sunrise Rotary Club has enlisted the help of a winning recipe chef, Merry Graham who will be our head judge.  In addition, we will have a special guest appearance from Tiffany Michelle, who is a contestant on the popular show “Worst Cooks in America”, which is currently airing on the Food Network.  

The Circle of Hope’s 8th Annual Walking for Hope 5K held at Castaic Lake has been the perfect place to encourage cancer patients and supporters of Circle of Hope to walk for the cause.  With the addition of the first SCV Healthy Recipe Challenge, it will bring better awareness and important revenue to this valuable non-profit organization whose mission is to provide emotional and financial assistance for uninsured & underinsured individuals undergoing breast cancer treatment that live, work and/or receive treatment in Santa Clarita, CA.


Merry Graham can commonly be found whipping up some new concoction in her Santa Clarita, California kitchen. Her passion for creating tasty dishes for recipe contests has rewarded her!  In 2010, she won the Oxnard Strawberry Festival cook-off and Ocean Spray’s Ultimate Cranberry Contest, to name a few. 

In 2011, Merry was crowned the Healthiest Chef in America from Aetna’s Healthy Food Fight where she was able to meet one of the judges, Bobby Flay.

This past year she also headed to Scotland after winning first place in Bob’s Red Mill “Spar for the Spurtle” recipe contest. When Merry is not busy cooking, she writes a monthly food column for The Signal newspaper and also a food blog called “My Merry Cooking”.  Her desire to see other home cooks enter recipe contests is evident through her encouraging Facebook page “Merry Cooking Contests” where she promotes the voting for many local residents as they compete in national recipe competitions.   Merry is married to her husband Rick, and is the mother of four children and one grandchild.  The Graham family loves to get involved in sampling Merry’s award winning recipes.



Tiffany Michelle will be appearing as a contestant on the hit show, “Worst Cooks In America”,  which began airing  February 12th on Food Network.  Whether acting, singing, songwriting, or cooking with Bobby Flay, Tiffany Michelle is a multi-talented performer and fearless competitor.  Her credits include 2009’s Amazing Race, Last Woman Standing, World Series of Poker, European Poker Tour, World Poker Tour, PokerNews, ER, Gilmore Girls, and American Dreams.  Born and raised in Santa Clarita, she has won the titles of Miss Teen Newhall, Miss Teen Santa Clarita Valley, as well as becoming a finalist in the Miss Teenage California pageant.

You can follow Tiffany’s progress on the Food Network’s Season 3 Premiere of “Worst Cooks in America” airing Sunday, February 12 at 9pm/8c.

The Better Chip Review



I recently had the opportunity to try The Better Chip; an all natural, gluten-free, cholesterol free, non-GMO ingredients tortilla chip and all I can say is YUM! These chips really live up to their name.

I received three varieties of The Better Chip including: Red Pepper with Salsa Fresco; Jalapeno with Sea Salt; and Sweet Onion with White Cheddar. 

The company also sent along a really cute cotton tee shirt with the words "Lip Burner" emblazoned across the chest.  This was a gift for taking time to try The Better Chip and write a review.

What I liked most about these chips is they were super fresh and crisp and had just the right amount of seasoning. I'm more of a naked chip kind of gal and prefer to dip my naked chips in salsa. The reason being, most flavored chips on the market have a coating of some manufactured powdery substance that leaves a nasty aftertaste. Or, there's so much seasoning that the taste hangs around in your mouth for hours. Not so with The Better Chip.

The Red Pepper with Salsa Fresco had big flavor packed inside the chip. Take a look for your self...


You can actually see the red pepper flakes baked into the chips.  Better yet, the Red Pepper with Salsa Fresco are perfect for those times when you don't have salsa around.  While these chips had plenty of flavor on their own I sampled them with some salsa just to see how the tortilla chip would hold up. Of the 10 chips I dipped, not one broke. That's because The Better Chip is thicker than most other brands.

While I enjoyed the Red Pepper chips, I really loved the Sweet Onion and White Cheddar. This really surprised me because I'm not a huge fan of any chips that add white cheddar. Again, it goes back to having too much of the powdered seasoning that usually doesn't even resemble the flavor of white cheddar.  Not so with The Better Chip.


These had a great balance of onion and white cheddar flavors. There was a light dusting of white cheddar cheese across the entire chip. Just enough so that when you lick your lips you get the final remnants of the saltiness of the cheese. Delicious!

Sadly, I was only able to eat half of the chips because I shared them with my husband. I served them as a side with BBQ Beef sandwiches and a pickle spear. They were a great addition to the meal and in fact, were the favorite part!

I am saving the Jalapeno with Sea Salt for our Mexican Dinner night this week. I'm thinking of turning them into a nacho dish, but these chips are so good on their own I might just serve them as a side.

Unfortunately, The Better Chip is not yet available in my state, but I'm hoping they arrive soon. The good news is they are available in states where I have friends and family so I've already placed orders.

Learn more about what makes The Better Chip better and see if they are available in your home town. If so, I highly recommend buying a few bags. You won't be disappointed.




Super Easy Pasta Salad

This super easy pasta salad is a favorite for any kind of gathering from Super Bowl parties to weddings and everything in between. The salad can be made with any kind of pasta, but I prefer to use penne. I've also tried it with elbow macaroni and medium size shells. One benefit of using shell pasta is it holds some of the dressing, so prefer extra dressing try using shells instead.

Although this pasta salad is easy to make it does require a bit of prep time to cut all the veggies. It is also best to chill it for at least 2 hours prior to serving.


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Serves: 12
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Chill Time: 2 hours


1 (16 ounce) box Penne Pasta
1 each Red, Yellow, and Green Bell Pepper, thinly sliced
1/2 Red Onion, thinly sliced
1 (6 ounce) can Whole Pitted Black Olives, drained
1/2 pint Whole Grape or Cherry Tomatoes, halved
1/2 bottle Italian Salad Dressing
Salt and Pepper, to taste


1. Prepare pasta according to package directions.
2. While pasta is cooking, thinly slice bell peppers and onion and cut cherry tomatoes in half.
3. When pasta is cooked, drain in a collander and rinse with cold water.
4. Transfer pasta to large bowl. Add peppers, onion, and cherry tomatoes.
5. Add 1/2 a bottle of Italian Salad Dressing. Season with salt and pepper, if desired.
6. Gently mix all ingredients together until well combined.
7. Cover bowl and chill for 2 hours prior to serving.