Casey Mars (back right), cheers on Ole Miss with her family. Pictured are: (from left) daughter Mary Montgomery, husband Adam Mars, and children  Alex and Jax and Maddox.
Casey Mars (back right), cheers on Ole Miss with her family. Pictured are: (from left) daughter Mary Montgomery, husband Adam Mars, and children Alex and Jax and Maddox.

If you’ve driven through downtown Philadelphia on a regular basis, you’ve probably noticed a woman running. Sometimes you’ll see her coming up the hill, running under awnings with focused-forward eyes, usually wearing a ball cap and no earphones. She has run marathons, the Heart O’ Dixie Triathlon and a myriad of other events. Her running routes vary, but her attitude never does. She’ll sum it up for you in two words: Do Work.

Casey Mars lists her goals without hesitation when asked. She aims to run eight-minute miles at any distance. She never misses a baseball game or puts off a family trip. She works full time as a Medical Technologist at Laird Hospital, and has done so for 20 years now. And, she will continue to receive treatments for stage 4 metastatic breast cancer for the rest of her life.




Originally diagnosed in 2013, Casey continues a path of vigorous life under a simple fundamental assurance to herself that while cancer has taken many things from her, it will not take her will or ability to live life to the fullest with her children and husband, because “family is everything.”

With October being Breast Cancer Awareness month, it’s important to note that over 155,000 women (and men) in the U.S. currently live with metastatic breast cancer, sometimes called “mets.” Of early breast cancer cases, 20 to 30% go on to reach stage four, where the cancer has metastasized traveling to other areas of the body and requiring ongoing treatment for the rest of a patient’s life. Casey gives this advice to those who’ve just been diagnosed or struggling with the disease: “Do Work. Pain is something daily, but attitude is what drives me. You put your game face on and you don’t know how tough you are until you don’t have a choice.”

When she was first diagnosed, Casey hit the roads running every morning just as she had done before. She sought treatment in Meridian, rather than travel out of state. She is glad that she did because this allowed her to be closer to family and continue working a normal schedule.  These decisions, this remarkable attitude, has given her more time to be with her family of 6: husband Adam Mars, Mary Montgomery (14), Maddox(10), and the twins, Alex and Jax (8). 

Her daughter Mary Montgomery, who initially served as her hair design expert, later encouraged her mother to eschew wigs, embrace bright lipstick and large ear hoops because it made her look like a rock star. Her son Maddox plays travel baseball, and her twin 8 year-old sons Alex and Jax aren’t far off from a tough road schedule themselves.

Casey credits her husband of 18 years, Adam Mars, as a man of many talents, an amazing dad, and an excellent husband. When they met at East Central Community College, they had only lived about 15 miles apart their entire lives, but had never met each other. 

Casey’s active life leaves little time for culinary pursuits. When asked about cooking,  she says, “I don’t cook… we’re too busy!” But, then she adds, “we try to cook at least one family meal a week. On weekends we’re at the beach, we’re in Oxford. We’re too busy.”

Revisiting her take on life, Mars repeats, “family is everything. We have been hit by cancer really hard, but to this day, we’ve never missed a game, we’ve never put off a trip because I was sick. At the first of the year I didn’t know what September would bring, but September has come.” she says with the look of a rock star. “And, we haven’t missed a game.”

Her plans are to continue going to baseball games, Oxford and The Grove, running eight-minute miles, and spending time with her family and friends sharing her famous Corn Dip and other tailgate foods. In short, Casey Mars will continue to be too busy. She will continue to “Do Work.”



CORN DIP

INGREDIENTS

3 (11 oz) cans MexiCorn (sweet corn & diced red and green peppers), drained

1 (7 oz) can chopped green chiles

1 (6 oz)can chopped jalapeno peppers drained and liquid added to taste

1/2 cup green onion chopped

1 cup mayonnaise

1 cup sour cream

1 teaspoon pepper

1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

1 (16 ounce) package shredded sharp cheddar cheese

2-3 bags scoop-like corn or tortilla chips

INSTRUCTIONS

In a large bowl, mix all ingredients except chips.

Chill two hours to overnight. Serve with your favorite chips for scooping.



TOUCHDOWN 

BROWNIES

INGREDIENTS

12 tablespoons (1-1/2 sticks) unsalted butter

2-1/4 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips, divided

2 cups sugar

4 large eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 cup all-purpose flour

½ cup unsweetened cocoa powder

1 teaspoon baking powder

¼ teaspoon salt

1-1/4 cups caramel bits, divided

1 cup crushed pretzels

¾ cup chopped pecans, divided

1 (12-15 ounce) jar caramel sauce

35-40 mini pretzels (football shaped if you can find them), for decorating

INSTRUCTIONS

Preheat oven to 350°F. Line 9x13-inch baking dish with parchment paper and lightly grease with non-stick cooking spray.

In a large microwavable bowl, melt the butter and 1 cup chocolate chips in 30 seconds intervals until completely melted, about 2 minutes. Stir in the sugar then whisk in the eggs, one at a time, until well combined. Stir in the vanilla.

In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder and salt. 

Gently stir flour mixture into the wet ingredients until well incorporated.

Fold in 1 cup caramel bits, 1 cup crushed pretzels, 1 cup chocolate chips and ½ cup chopped pecans. Spread batter evenly into prepared baking dish. Bake for about 30 minutes until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Place on a wire rack and let cool for 30 minutes before spreading caramel sauce evenly over the top of the brownies. Place additional pretzels evenly over caramel and sprinkle with remaining ¼ cups of chocolate chips, caramel bits and chopped pecans. Let brownies cool for at least 30 more minutes before lifting out of baking dish with parchment paper. Cut into squares.



SPICY OVEN-BAKED WINGS

INGREDIENTS

2 1/2 lb. chicken wings

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

3/4 c. Frank's RedHot Sauce

1/2 c. (1 stick) unsalted butter

Blue Cheese Dip and celery sticks, for serving

Blue Cheese Dip

1/2 c. sour cream

1/2 c. crumbled blue cheese

1/4 c. buttermilk

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Sliced fresh chives

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DIRECTIONS

Preheat oven to 425°F. Place a wire rack in a rimmed baking sheet.

Make the wings: Prick wings all over with the tip of a paring knife; pat dry. Season with salt and pepper. Transfer to prepared pan and spread into a single layer. Bake, turning once, until cooked through and crispy, 50 to 55 minutes.

Meanwhile, melt hot sauce and butter in a large saucepan. Add chicken wings and toss to coat.

Serve wings with Blue Cheese Dip and celery sticks alongside.

Make the dip: Combine 1/2 cup sour cream, 1/2 cup crumbled blue cheese, 1/4 cup buttermilk, and salt and pepper in a bowl. Top with sliced fresh chives and cracked black pepper before serving. Makes 3/4 cup.



5-MINUTE CHEDDAR BACON RANCH DIP

This 5-Minute Cheddar Bacon Ranch Dip recipe is super easy to prepare with just 6 ingredients, save yourself some time!



INGREDIENTS:

8 strips cooked bacon, finely-diced

1 (8 ounce) block low-fat cream cheese, softened to room temperature

2 cups (8 ounces) shredded part-skim sharp cheddar cheese

1 cup plain Greek yogurt

1/2 cup thinly-sliced green onions (about 3-4 green onions)

3 Tablespoons Ranch seasoning mix, homemade or store-bought (equivalent to 1 packet)

Old Fashioned Kettle Potato Chips

DIRECTIONS:

Combine all ingredients in a large mixing bowl, and stir until combined.  Garnish with extra bacon and green onions, if desired.

Serve immediately with Old Fashioned Kettle Potato Chips for dipping.  Or refrigerate in a sealed container for up to 3 days.



ONE PAN TURKEY CHEESE MELT SLIDERS

INGREDIENTS

12 slider buns, split

24 thin turkey slices

8 thin Swiss cheese slices, ripped into 3–4 pieces each

2 1/2 – 3 cups coleslaw mix

4 ounces herbed chèvre cheese

Dijon mustard

1 tablespoon fresh parsley, minced

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

INSTRUCTIONS

Preheat oven to 350°F.

Place bottoms of slider buns in a 9X13 baking dish. Spread desired amount of dijon mustard on each bun.

Place 2 slices of turkey, and desired amount of Swiss cheese pieces on each each bun. Top with desired amount of coleslaw mix (I used about a 1/4 cup per slider).

Spread chèvre cheese on each cut side of the tops of the buns. Place on top of sandwiches.

Cover with foil and bake for 15 minutes.

While baking, melt the butter in a small pan over medium heat. Remove from heat. Add parsley, and a pinch of salt. Stir to combine, and set aside.

Remove foil from the pan. Brush each bun with butter mixture. Bake, uncovered, for another ten minutes, until tops are golden.