Eat Well – Baked Stuffed Tomato alla Virgina

Breakfast, lunch or dinner, TMC Executive Chef Jason Ricciardelli’s baked stuffed tomato can play a role. Want to enjoy this package of protein and vegetable in the morning? Prepare the day before for quick preparation in the morning. Serve as the main feature of dinner add a side steamed green beans.
  • 12 small round tomatoes
  • 6 large eggs
  • ¾ cup part-skim mozzarella
  • 1 cup fresh spinach leaves / blanched
  • 3 Tbsp 2% milk
  • 1Tbsp olive oil
  • Salt and pepper
  1. Wash off tomatoes and core out center
  2. Spray muffin tin with non-stick spray
  3. Place tomatoes directly in tin as you would a muffin
  4. Crack eggs in bowl and scramble with the milk, the spinach, and ½ the cheese
  5. Add salt and pepper al gusto
  6. Fill tomatoes with egg, spinach and cheese mixture.
  7. Top with remaining cheese
  8. Bake at 375 for 28-32 minutes
  9. Serve warm or at room temperature
Nutrition per baked tomato:
Calories – 110
Protein – 6g
Fat – 5g
Carbohydrates – 5g
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Eat Well – A Club Med Couscous Salad from TMC Executive Chef Jason Ricciardelli

On a really hot summer afternoon around dinner time, do you find yourself in the kitchen not in the mood for anything, or at least nothing heavy? Me either!

Here is a great summer salad recipe that can be easily turned into a quick, full meal. I’ve never been to a Club Med, but if I did, I’d be eating this! It’s perfect also as a side for your July 4th celebrations.

Chef Jason Ricciardelli

Club Med Couscous Salad

Serves  4 as main, 8 as side.


1 cup dry couscous

1 cup water

1 ½ cup diced cucumber (seeding optional)

1 ½ cup  tomato (seeded and diced)

1/3 cup minced red onion (optional)

1 cup garbanzo bean (drained and rinsed)

1 cup diced red or yellow pepper

¼  cup minced fresh Italian flat leaf parsley

1 tbsp minced fresh mint (optional)

3 tbsp good olive oil (or bad olive oil if that’s what you’ve got)

3 tbsp fresh lemon juice

1 ½  tsp salt


Make couscous: In small sauce pan add water, 1 tbsp olive oil and ½ tsp salt and bring to a boil. Stir in couscous, cover, and remove from heat. Make sure it’s 1:1 ratio of water to couscous. Wait 8-10 minutes. Fluff with a fork and cool.

Place diced vegetables and beans in large mixing bowl.  Add mint and parsley and incorporate.

Add olive oil, lemon juice and salt and toss until well coated.

Fold in couscous.

You can serve at immediately or chilled. This is a vegan base recipe.

Feel free to add feta cheese or additional protein (chicken, salmon) for an even more complete meal.


Eat Well this July 4th – Grilled Peaches

It’s one of our favorite seasons…peach season! Walk into any grocery store right now and you stand a good chance of being overwhelmed with that juicy sweet fragrance enticing you to buy, buy, buy!

Peaches are, of course, perfect to eat fresh while leaning over the sink or with a bib, but this Fourth of July we’re adding them to the grill for the perfect dessert for our celebrations. Those fuzzy fruits are a great source of fiber, potassium and vitamins A and C.

If you haven’t ventured into the grilled fruit territory, grilled peaches are a delectable introduction.

Even without adding herbs and spices, grilling turns fruit and vegetables into amazing little bites. Grilled fruit can be added to salads, served as a garnish for meat, and it makes a luscious dessert, especially when served over a modest serving of ice cream.

grilled peaches

Grilled Peaches

One peach per person (freestone)

Olive oil or grapeseed oil

Balsamic Glaze


  1. Slice peaches in half. Once halved, pit the peach. Generally the peaches we find in the store are freestone peaches which allow the stone to be pitted easily.
  2. Lightly brush the cut surface of the peaches with oil. Just enough to prevent it sticking to the grill.
  3. Turn grill to medium heat.
  4. Grill peaches cut side down for 3-5 minutes, then flip and grill for an additional 4-5 minutes more. Your peaches should be soft to the touch.
  5. Serve with a drizzle of balsamic glaze or some vanilla ice cream.

If you are new to grilling fruits, here are some tips to get you started:

  1. Heat your grill to medium or medium-high. If the heat is too high, the food can burn on the outside while remaining raw inside. The delicate skins of most fruit are especially susceptible to damage from very high heat.
  2. Unless you plan to grill entire apples, carrots, peppers or other large vegetables, use a grill basket to keep items from falling through the grate.
  3. Brush or toss vegetables with olive oil to add flavor and keep them from sticking. With fruit you might want to use a neutral-flavored oil, such as safflower or grapeseed.
  4. Add more flavor with herbs, spices, lemon (juice or peel) or a marinade. Black pepper or ginger adds a little kick to the fuzzy delight of peaches you might want to try.
  5. Keep an eye on that grill! Some items cook in as little as four minutes, so you don’t want to walk away and let them turn into charred nuggets.
  6. To test for doneness, stab them with a skewer or fork. They’re done when you feel the texture you like.

Hope you have a pleasant grilling adventure.

Laurie Ledford

Laurie Ledford RDLaurie Ledford is our very own Georgia peach, a registered dietitian from Atlanta, Georgia, the land of grits, collard greens and super-sweet iced tea. She now works as a registered dietitian  in the Tucson Medical Center Wellness Department. She enjoys helping people improve their health through sustainable dietary changes while still relishing occasional indulgences. In her off hours, Laurie engages in foodie pursuits such as sampling unusual flavor combinations (olive oil and basil ice cream was a good one) as well as hiking and cycling.


TMC executive chef shares can’t-fail rib recipe for grill-ready days

Cooking Tutorial YouTube ThumbnailI’d love to grill and BBQ every day – especially at this time of year – but with our busy lives, it’s just not realistic. On my days off, I always prepare several items that my family can enjoy later in the week, when the prospect of cooking after a long day of work has lost its luster.

One of them is BBQ Ribs. The fact is that I like mine smoked several hours over hickory;  but most weekends, that’s not happening.

The following recipe is a fool proof way to get solid BBQ Ribs, with just an oven (and a grill if you’d like.) There’s also an option to do the first step on the weekend, and finish them in 30 minutes on any night of the week.

BBQ Ribs without a smoker

2   2 ½ – 3 ½ lb  rack pork rib (baby back)

2 tbsp salt

2 tbsp coarse ground pepper

1 cup dry rub (Recipe to follow)

1 cup of any BBQ sauce you’d like

½ cup apple cider vinegar

1 lager beer or 1 cup water

Dry Rub Recipe

1/2 cup chili powder

2 tbsp  granulated garlic

2 tbsp  cumin

2 tbsp paprika

½ tsp cayenne pepper

1 tbsp brown sugar

1 tsp cinnamon

1 tsp salt

The ratios are about right, so you can double or triple the recipe and store in a sealed container.


Pull the ribs out of the fridge and place them on a cutting board. Cut each rack in half. This will make it easier to arrange on a sheet or roasting pan.

Salt and pepper both sides of the ribs.

Then liberally massage in the dry rub. If you’re dirty and are making a mess, you’re doing it right.

Set ribs on sheet pan or shallow roasting pan. (1 Layer)

In corner of roasting pan , pour in apple cider vinegar. Not over the pork, under the pork.

Open the beer and pour in half the same way. The rest is for you. (My wife just loves when I make ribs at 10 a.m. on a Saturday. All downhill from there.) Or use water.

Cover tightly with aluminum foil. They need to steam.


Preheat oven to 325F. Roast for 2 hours 15 minutes.

Remove and let sit 15 minutes, then uncover.


Now, you can continue the cooking process, or you can let cool to touch,  wrap tightly and place in the refrigerator for later use. The ribs are thin, so they will cool quickly enough in a standard refrigerator. They can be stored up to 5 days.

To continue cooking, either preheat a grill to high, or your oven broiler. Slather sauce on meat side of ribs. Grill for 5 minutes or broil 2 minutes meat side up. Flip and do the other side. Make sure the sauce bubbles up off the meat. The sugars in the sauce are caramelizing. Remove. Try not to eat them all.

If you’re reheating the next day or later, preheat oven to 350F. Wrap ribs tightly in foil, and let rest at room temperature for 20 minutes. Then follow the above step.

You see? Tuesday night all of a sudden looks like Rib Night – and all in half an hour.

Chef Jason Ricciardelli


Editor’s note: Sometimes, mere mortals may be skeptical when a chef calls a recipe “foolproof” so, dear readers, we can attest that members of the TMC Communications team, who have no particular culinary expertise to speak of, were able to successfully make these for a dinner party. They turned out fabulous. No one knows what happened to that other half of a beer. 

A snack to hike with – Brenda’s Power Bites

Brenda's power bitesNeed a portable source of fuel for a long hike or bike ride? Want a trail snack that isn’t simply candy in disguise? Brenda’s Power Bites are your solution! Recipe courtesy of Brenda Andreasen, instructor for TMC Wellness.


3 c oats (regular or quick cooking)
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 c unsweetened flaked or shredded coconut (optional)
1/4 c roasted, salted sunflower seeds
2/3 c dried dates, finely chopped
2/3 c dried apricots, finely chopped
2/3 c dried cherries
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 c almond butter (or any nut butter)
1/2 c agave nectar (or honey)

Note:  Feel free to use any combination of dried fruit and nuts or seeds of your preference.


  1. In a large bowl, combine oats and cinnamon.
  2. Use a food processor to chop the sunflower seeds and coconut. Add to the dry ingredients.
  3. Combine dried fruits and vanilla extract in the bowl of the food processor. Coarsely chop the fruit. (The extract will aid the blades in the chopping process.) Add fruit to dry ingredients.
  4. Add nut butter and agave nectar to the rest of the mixture. Combine well until mixture begins to stick together.
  5. Form mixture into 1 inch balls.
  6. Place balls in an air-tight container, separating layers with wax paper.
  7. Refrigerate at least 4 hours or overnight to allow oats to absorb moisture.

Makes about 60  ½-ounce balls

Nutrition Information (per 2-bite serving)

Calories:  130
Total Fat:  6g
Saturated Fat:  1g
Protein:  3g
Potassium:  175mg
Sodium:  85mg
Carbohydrate:  16g
Fiber:  2.5g

Bean spread – Packing a protein punch in an inexpensive and quick way

not hummus, cheap, quick bean dips for a protein punchHummus is available in almost any grocery store, and you can find it in a variety of flavors. However, not everyone is a fan of garbanzo beans or tahini or some of the other common hummus ingredients. Making your own bean spread allows you to customize it to your preferences, and it saves a little money.
You can spread it on pita triangles as a snack; use it in a sandwich for additional protein and flavor; or use it as a dip with raw veggies or tortilla chips.
If you don’t have a food processor, you can do this in a blender by adding more water to the recipe. The result will be a little runnier, which makes for a better dip than a spread.

Basic Ingredients

1 can of beans (such as pinto, kidney, cannellini, black or garbanzo)

1 Tbsp lemon juice

2 Tbsp good quality olive oil water, as needed


Choose one or more of the following ingredients to personalize your bean spread:

  • garlic
  • fresh basil, parsley or cilantro
  • spices, such as cumin, paprika or cayenne pepper
  • baby spinach
  • artichoke hearts
  • sundried tomatoes, soaked in warm water for about 20 minutes and drained
  • roasted red peppers
  • jalapeño  or other hot pepper


1. Rinse and drain beans thoroughly.

2. If using fresh garlic, peel it and process in the food processor until finely chopped.

3. Add beans and lemon juice to the food processor. Drizzle olive oil over the beans.

4. Process until beans are coarsely chopped; then add your special ingredients.

5. Continue processing until the mixture reaches your preferred consistency. You may need to add a few tablespoons of water to make it smoother.

6. Serve or chill immediately.

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TMC’s executive chef shares his take on traditional holiday feasts

jason-executive-chef-002For many of us, the best part of the holiday season is sharing a special meal with the people we love. Although the planning and preparation can be daunting, the payoff is well worth it.

Jason Ricciardelli, TMC executive chef and manager of retail and food operations is an expert at feeding a crowd, overseeing meals for roughly 3,000 patients, visitors and employees every day, as well as about 75 catering orders a month. Who better to give us a few tips for putting together a memorable meal?

Jason’s tips for successful holiday meal preparation:

  • “I can’t stress this enough: Have lots of foil – aluminum foil is what separates a successful holiday from a stressful one.”
  • “You have to rest your proteins. The turkey should come out of the oven, get covered with foil and left alone for about 30 to 45 minutes so that the juices can redistribute.”
  • “Plan ahead and do as much prep as possible – once that turkey comes out of the oven, everything else should be ready to go in.”
  • “Chafing dishes are the best way to serve a crowd. The best places to find them at a good price are actually Party City or the Dollar Store.”

Jason prepares two traditional holiday meals. The first? A late-night dinner before midnight mass in Mexico with his wife’s family. That is followed by an Italian tradition for his family, the Feast of Seven Fishes, here in Tucson.

The meal in Mexico is served as an Open House style buffet. His menu consists of a leg of pork, mashed potatoes, roasted sweet potatoes, a green salad and green beans or broccoli. The final touch is a “very easy berry cobbler that I can throw together on the fly.”

The Feast of Seven Fishes consists of linguine with white clams, calamari – in a salad or lightly fried, grilled shrimp, seared scallops, Baccala (salt cod), halibut with a simple lemon butter and grilled oysters. The seafood is served with a nice pasta – preferably Granoro from Naples, roasted broccolini with lemon and a simple salad of greens, cucumber, onion, tomato, oil and vinegar.


“The main dish for the holiday meal in Mexico varies between roasted leg of pork, traditionally prepared ham and turkey. It really depends on what I find – I arrive on December 23, so I only have one day to gather my ingredients.”

Pierna de Puerco (Roasted Leg of Pork)

1 (15 – 18 pound) pork leg
1 cup orange juice
1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
1 tablespoon dried oregano
2 tablespoons kosher salt
1/2 cup lime juice
2 teaspoons ground cumin
2 teaspoons ground black pepper
20 garlic cloves, 10 whole, 10 minced
Roasting pan and rack

Trim any serious fat or thick skin off the roast
Score fat in an “X” pattern, about a 1/4 inch deep
Cut 10 small holes with paring knife evenly in roast, about 2 inches deep
Place whole garlic cloves in holes
Place pork in roasting pan
Combine all other ingredients in a separate bowl, except for salt
Pour over pork and refrigerate overnight, turning once
Remove pork from marinade and set aside
Place rack inside roasting pan
Rub pork with salt, working it into the meat
Preheat oven to 325 degrees
Place pierna back on rack inside pan
Roast for roughly 4 1/2 hours, (17 min per pound), until internal temperature reaches 155 degrees
Remove, cover with foil, and let rest 30 – 40 minutes
Carve and enjoy

“Broccolini is not broccoli at all but a cross between broccoli and gai-lan or Chinese broccoli. I find it versatile, tasty and nutritious. Great holiday green!”

Roasted Broccolini
Serves 6

2 bunches broccolini, about 1 1/4 pound
6 cloves of garlic, minced
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 lemon, halved
Cooking spray

Pre-heat oven to 475 degrees
Spray sheet pan with cooking spray
Arrange broccolini in a thin even layer
Season with salt and pepper
Roast for six minutes
Remove and add garlic
Roast another five minutes, the broccolini will be a bit charred, this is intentional
Squeeze fresh lemon juice on top
Serve warm or at room temperature

“I don’t consider myself much of a baker, but this one is easy and tasty, and you can dump vanilla ice cream on it. Any vehicle for ice cream is OK in my book.”

Berry Cobbler
Serves 6 – 8

4 cups fresh berries
1 egg
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup sugar
6 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon lemon juice
Cooking spray

Preheat oven to 375 degrees
Spray the inside of an 8 x 8 glass or metal baking dish with the cooking spray
Sample berries and adjust sugar to taste
Arrange berries on the bottom
Sprinkle with lemon juice and stir to combine
Mix flour, sugar and egg in a separate bowl until a crumbly dough forms, sprinkle over berries
Melt butter, pour over evenly
Bake 35 minutes until crumble is browned and berry mix is bubbly
Serve warm or cold with vanilla ice cream if desired

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