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Mary’s Memo – January 26th


It’s been my observation that nothing helps supermarkets’ business more than a winter storm warning. That said, there are essentials you should have on hand such as bottled water, toilet paper, a full propane tank (so you can cook on your gas grill), and a supply of different size batteries. After sitting in the dark when there wasn’t any power for an extended period of time I invested in the Spectrum/Rayovac Sportmen Area Lantern. It is far safer than burning candles. I bought mine at our local Ace Hardware but you can also purchase one at It lights up a room and is bright enough to read by. Just be sure batteries are dependable at all times. Years ago someone who lived on a farm told me to fill bathtubs with water so you have it to flush toilets. If there are infants in the family be sure you have plenty of baby formula and diapers. It amazed me during the blizzard of ‘78 that there were so many parents that didn’t! Our needs are not the same but just think about what your family can’t be without and be sure you have those provisions on hand when an emergency comes along.


Dagwood Bumstead, the comic-strip character, might want to check his blood pressure. A new analysis of national dietary data by USDA researchers reports that sandwiches account for one fifth of average sodium intake, a key contributor to hypertension. Previous studies underestimated sandwich consumption because of the challenges posed by sandwiches’ many different ingredients; those analyses pit sandwiches’ share of sodium at only 4%. By taking a novel approach to coding responses to dietary intake questionnaires, the new study was able to count multiple ingredients consumed as a sandwich, including both eating out, take out or at home. Nearly half of Americans were found to eat a sandwich on any given day, and sandwich consumers averaged 600 milligrams more daily sodium. For adults, sandwiches alone added up to 30% of the recommended 2,300 milligrams daily maximum of sodium, and 46% of the stricter 1,500 milligrams guideline for those over 50. Sandwich eaters also ate an average 300 more calories daily. Publishing their findings in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, researchers said the results “underscore the importance of making healthful choices of sandwich ingredients. Many sandwiches, such as burgers and franks, and common sandwiches made with yeast breads, cheese and cured meats, are among the top contributors not only to sodium but also energy in the diets of adult Americans.”
Source: Tufts Health & Nutrition Letter, January 2015.


Although one of the ingredients is chicken broth, using vegetable broth makes it vegetarian and a good Lenten recipe. I recall when I first made it that I was amazed at how good a soup it was without any added meat. The emphasis today is on more fruits and vegetables in our diet and this soup fills the bill!


• 1 tablespoon canola oil
• 1 large onion, chopped
• 2 large ribs celery, chopped
• 2½ teaspoons Italian seasoning
• ¾ teaspoon kosher salt
• ¼ teaspoon ground pepper
• 2 14.5-ounce cans Italian-style diced tomatoes
• 5 cups Swanson chicken or vegetable broth without MSG
• 2 large sweet potatoes, peeled and diced
• 2 large carrots, sliced thin
• 2 cups fresh cut green beans
• 2 cloves garlic, minced
• Parmesan cheese for garnish

Heat oil in a soup pot over medium-high heat. Sauté onion, celery, Italian seasoning, and salt and pepper until tender, about 5 minutes. Add remaining ingredients except Parmesan cheese. Bring to a boil; reduce heat to low and simmer, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are tender. Recipe makes 6 servings and soup is freezable.


Leafy greens are more expensive in wintertime and this year not the best quality due to California weather conditions. I never had an actual recipe for what Mother called “Combination Salad” but it is cheaper to make this time of year. The components include shredded cabbage, shredded carrots, chopped scallions, red or green bell pepper (or both for more colorful presentation), chopped seedless cucumber, halved grape tomatoes and dressed with fresh lemon juice and canola or olive oil. You can make as much or as little as you need, scaling up or down the amount of lemon juice and oil. Fresh lemon juice instead of cider vinegar in the dressing was Mother’s idea. A shortcut would be to use Cole slaw mix but Mother made this salad when no one knew there were salad mixes.

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Mary’s Memo – January 19th


Usually someone gives me a cookbook for Christmas but not in 2014. That being the case, I broke down and bought the 15th Anniversary Edition of The Complete America’s Test Kitchen TV Show Cookbook. A year ago I started subscribing to the magazine as well. What I like best about Cook’s Illustrated is that in addition to recipes there is detailed information about food and equipment that they test and recommend. Although I also get Consumer Reports, Cooks Illustrated has additional information that as a food writer is useful to me.

For example, I’m sharing a Cook’s Illustrated recipe for Glazed Salmon and how they present it. First, they explain their method of preparation followed by the recipe itself. Instead of broiling, the traditional method, Cooks Illustrated found that gently baking the fish was a better way to go. To insure the glaze stayed put, they rubbed the fish with a mixture of cornstarch, brown sugar and salt before searing.


• 1 teaspoon light brown sugar
• 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
• 1/4 teaspoon cornstarch
• 1 (1-1/2 to 2 pound) skin-on salmon fillet, about 1-1/2 inches thick
• Ground black pepper
• 1 teaspoon vegetable oil
• 1 recipe glaze

Adjust oven rack to the middle position and heat oven to 300ºF. Combine the brown sugar, salt and cornstarch in a small bowl. Use a sharp knife to remove any whitish fat from the belly of the salmon and cut the fillet into 4 equal pieces. Pat the fillets dry with paper towels and season with pepper. Sprinkle brown sugar mixture evenly over the top of the flesh side of the salmon, rubbing to distribute. Heat oil in a 1-inch oven safe nonstick skillet over medium-high heat until just smoking. Place the salmon, flesh side down, in the skillet and cook until well browned, about 1 minute. Using tongs, carefully flip the salmon and cook the salmon on the skin side 1 minute. Remove the skillet from the heat and spoon glaze evenly on the salmon fillets. Transfer the skillet to the oven and cook until the fillets register 125ºF on an instant read thermometer (for medium rare) and are still translucent when cut into with a paring knife, 7 to 10 minutes. Transfer the fillets to a platter or individual plates and serve.


• 2 tablespoons ketchup
• 2 tablespoons hoisin sauce
• 2 tablespoons rice vinegar
• 2 tablespoons brown sugar
• 1 tablespoon soy sauce
• 1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
• 2 teaspoons Asian chili-garlic sauce
• 1 teaspoon minced or grated fresh ginger

Whisk the ingredients together in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat; simmer until thickened, about 3 minutes. Remove from heat and keep warm.
Source: The Complete America’s Test Kitchen TV Show Cookbook, 2001 to 2015.


New Year’s brings a brief boost in popularity of black-eyed peas, the key ingredient in the traditional Southern celebratory dish if Hoppin’ John. But if you’re looking for a nutritional bargain, black-eyed peas (aka cowpeas) should be a year-round staple in your pantry. So should another lesser known legume, garbanzo beans (aka chickpeas). They’re the main ingredient in trendy hummus, which recently topped $1 billion in US sales. But garbanzos, like black-eyed peas, deserve a place in our healthy pantry, not just as a dip in your refrigerator. “Legumes are good sources of protein and fiber, while low in calories,” says Diane L. McKay, PhD, an assistant professor at Tufts’ Friedman School. “Both black eyed peas and garbanzo beans are tasty ways to get your phytochemicals as well as a variety of nutrients we may fall short on, including potassium, folate, magnesium and manganese.
Source: Tufts Health & Nutrition Letter, January 2015.


It is no secret that anything Buffalo wing flavored gets my attention (although the wings at a Buffalo Wing restaurant didn’t) so I made my version of Allrecipes’ Touchdown Pizza recently. A warning though: it’s spicy-hot and not for the “faint at heart!”
Try it before Super Bowl Sunday.


• 1 (14-ounce) pre-baked pizza crust (such as Boboli)
• 1 cup diced rotisserie chicken
• 3 tablespoons Buffalo wing sauce
• 1/2 cup Buffalo wing sauce
• 1 (4-ounce) package crumbled blue cheese
• 1 rib celery, thinly sliced
• 1 cup Sargento 6 Cheese Italian Blend

Preheat oven to 475ºF. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil. Place pizza crust on prepared baking sheet. Mix chicken with 3 tablespoons wing sauce. Spread half cup wing sauce on the pizza crust; top with blue cheese, chicken mixture and celery. Cover pizza with Italian blend cheese. Bake in preheated oven until pizza is cooked through and cheese is bubbling, about 12 minutes. Cool pizza about 5 minutes before cutting into wedges. Recipe makes 8 servings.
Source: Adapted from

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Mary’s Memo – January 12th


Maintaining an optimal acid-alkaline balance is integral to enjoying good health, yet our modern day diet often wreaks havoc with this delicate balance. Highly processed food acidify the body, as does a diet high in meat, dairy and sugar. Your body becomes overwhelmed with the acid imbalance and this leads to acidosis and this can lead to a host of problems from weight gain, gastrointestinal conditions to skin conditions, chronic fatigue and respiratory ailments. The pH Balance Health and Diet Guide for GERD, IBS & IBD by Dr. Fraser Smith, Susan Hannah and Dr. Daniel Richardson (; October 2014, $24.95/softback) will give you all the information you need to follow an acid-alkaline balanced diet and provides current information on common gastrointestinal conditions. Also included are 175 recipes to try.
The pH Balance Health and Diet Guide for GERD, IBS or IBD is available from or at your favorite book store.


Since I had too many recipes on the January 5 Memo, Creamy Loaded Mashed Potatoes had to be removed but is still one from 2014.


• 3 pounds russet potatoes, peeled and cubed
• 1-1/2 cups (6-ounces) reduced-fat sharp Cheddar cheese, divided
• 1 cup Hellmann’s Light Mayonnaise
• 1 cup reduced-fat Daisy Sour Cream
• 3 green onions, finely chopped
• 6 slices of bacon, crisp-cooked and crumbled

Preheat oven to 375ºF. Butter 2.5-quart baking dish. In 4-quart saucepan, cover potatoes with water; bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat to low and cook until tender; drain and mash with portable electric mixer. Stir in 1 cup cheese, mayonnaise, sour cream, green onions and half the bacon. Spoon into prepared casserole dish and bake 30 minutes or until bubbling. Top with reserved cheese and bacon. Bake an additional 5 minutes or until cheese is melted. Garnish with additional chopped green onions, if desired.
Note: All but topping can be made the night before and stored in the refrigerator until time to bake.
Source: Hellmann’s website via


My daughter-in-law, Kelly, had my name in our stocking gift exchange this past Christmas and she out-did herself with useful
items such as a non-mechanical ice cream dipper with a sealed in defrosting fluid. Ice cream can’t stick to it. It’s not a new gadget because her mother started married life with one. There’s a Company in the USA that makes “CRAZY BUT IT WORKS” gadgets including a Baggy Rack that holds storage bags open for easy filling and keeps your hands free to pour or fill. It adjusts to fit any size bag, has a non-slip grip on the bottom and folds flat for storage. Since has just about anything, I am sure both are available there.


Even though Campbell’s is probably responsible for declaring it, a bowl of hot soup is welcome treat on a cold, wintery day. I could live on a hearty soup, salad and serving of fruit. How about you?


• 2 tablespoons olive oil
• 1/4 head cabbage, shredded
• 1 red onion, cut in small dice
• 3 ribs celery, finely chopped
• 4 small Yukon Gold Potatoes, cut in 1/2-inch dice
• 2 large carrots, cut in 1-inch julienne strips
• 1 (14-ounce) cans chicken broth
• 2 (14-ounce) cans fire-roasted tomatoes with liquid
• 1 pound cut-up rotisserie chicken
• 2 teaspoons dried oregano and 6 sprigs for garnish

Add the olive oil to a large soup pot and heat over medium-high heat until oil is hot. Add cabbage, onion, celery and potatoes and sauté for 8 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the carrots, chicken broth, tomatoes and oregano. Cook 20 minutes or until vegetables are tender. Add chicken last. Serve in individual bowls garnished with sprig of oregano. Recipe makes 6 servings
Source: Kathy Thaman, Indianapolis, IN


One of the best gifts you can give your children or grandchildren is a record of your family’s medical tree. Putting all the information you have down on paper or a computer can also help you and your doctor evaluate your health risks, determine what steps you can take to reduce those risks and discuss whether you should have earlier and more frequent screening tests or pursue genetic testing. The medical tree should include your first-degree (parents, children, siblings) and second-degree (grandparents, aunts and uncles) relatives, listing their ages (or age at death) and the diseases they have or had (especially cause of death). If you were adopted or your parents used a sperm or egg donor, it may not be possible to obtain this information. Data on your grandparents may also be difficult to uncover because the cause of death might not have been known or misdiagnosed. State health departments can provide a copy of death certificates and if you go to site, they’ll help you create a family history portrait.
Source: Special Winter Issue 2014-15 University of California at Berkeley Wellness Letter.

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Mary’s Memo – January 5th


Traditionally, the first Memo of the New Year features what I consider the best from the previous ones. Hopefully, you agree! We’re starting with daughter Mary Ann’s Smoked Sausage Harvest recipe from the January 20th Memo.


• 2 tablespoons butter
• 5 cups chopped green cabbage
• 1 medium onion, cut in half and sliced
• 1 cup sliced carrots
• 1 (15.5-ounce) can red beans, drained
• 1 (10-ounce) can Original Rotel Tomatoes
• 1 tablespoon cider vinegar
• 1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
• 2 tablespoons flour
• Dash ground pepper
• 1 (19-ounce) package Chief Smokehouse sausage, cut into 12 pieces

Preheat oven to 350ºF. Melt butter in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add cabbage, onion and carrots and sauté for about 10 minutes. Stir in beans, tomatoes and vinegar. Add cheese, flour and pepper and mix together. Spoon into 2 quart oblong casserole dish. Arrange sausage pieces on top of cabbage mixture and push down partially. Cover and bake 40 minutes or until hot. Recipe makes 6 servings, about 350 calories each.

We discovered how good roasted Brussels sprouts are last year when we tried a recipe from the Penszeys catalog and they’ve been in my vegetable rotation ever since! Recipe was in the March 17th Memo.


• 1 pound Brussels sprouts
• 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
• 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
• 1/4 teaspoon cracked pepper
• 1/2 teaspoon oregano
• 1/2 teaspoon thyme
• Juice of a half lemon

Preheat oven to 350ºF. Clean sprouts, peeling off loose, outer leaves clinging to head. Cut off stems and slice in half. Reserving lemon juice, whisk oil, salt, pepper and herbs together. Toss sprout halves in mixture until all are coated. Arrange cut-side down on a jelly roll pan. Bake in preheated oven for 20 to 25 minutes (mine were done in 20 minutes). Serve immediately after squeezing with lemon juice. Recipe makes 4 servings. Sourc e: Adapted from Penszeys catalog recipe. The next recipe we’re including is a meatless mushroom chili from the April 21st Memo made with button and baby bella mushrooms that I sliced with my egg cutter. Original recipe called for shitake but baby bella made the recipe more affordable.


• 2 tablespoons canola oil
• 1 cup chopped sweet onion
• 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
• 2 tablespoons chili powder
• 1 teaspoon ground cumin
• 1-1/2 pounds button mushrooms, sliced
• 1 (14.5-ounce) can stewed tomatoes
• 1 (15.5-ounce) can white kidney beans, rinsed (I prefer Bush brand)
• 1/2 cup sliced ripe olives, drained
• 1/2 cup water

In large saucepan heat oil until hot; add onion. Cook, stirring frequently, until onion is tender, about 5 minutes. Stir in garlic powder, chili powder and cumin; cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add mushrooms; cook, stirring occasionally, until mushrooms are crisp-tender, 6 to 8 minutes. Add stewed tomatoes, beans, olives and water. Simmer, uncovered, to blend flavors, about 10 minutes. If desired, garnish with chopped lettuce, chopped green onions and reduced-fat sharp Cheddar cheese. Recipe makes 4 servings.
Source: Adapted from Mushroom Council recipe.

My large slow cooker gets a workout at least once a week and last year Slow Cooker Beef Stroganoff from the November 17th Memo was a “thumbs up” recipe.


• 1 pound beef stew meat (cut large pieces in half)
• 1 (10.75-ounce) can condensed Healthy Request Campbell’s Golden Mushroom Soup
• 1/2 cup chopped onion
• 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
• 1/4 cup water
• 4-ounces reduced-fat cream cheese

In a 5 to 6-quart slow cooker, combine meat, soup, onion, Worcestershire sauce and water. Cook on High setting for 1 hour; reduce setting to Low and cook an additional 7 hours. Stir in cream cheese just before serving. Recipe makes 4 servings. Not e: Reynolds Slow Cooker Liner bags make clean up a breeze!

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Mary’s Memo – December 29th


To be honest, I’m not into aromatherapy but knowing some memo readers are interested, The Complete Aromatherapy & Essential Oils Handbook for Everyday Wellness by Nerys Purchon and Lora Cantele (; October 15, 2014, $24.95/softback) deals with 109 essential oils and more than 450 remedies and uses. The best known way to employ oils is through massage, but as you will discover in this comprehensive book, there are so many ways to use them for everything from arthritis and asthma to high blood pressure and constipation. Essential oils are attracting more attention and emerging as scientifically proven and accepted remedies.

Nerys Purchon was one of Australia’s leading experts on aromatherapy and essential oils. Her books have sold more than 300,000 copies worldwide. Lora Cantele is a registered clinical aromatologist, certified Swiss reflect therapist, international lecturer and aromatherapy educator and writer. In 2009-2010, she brought her professional expertise to a pilot program aimed at providing a better quality of life to children with life-limiting diseases including cerebral palsy and muscular dystrophy.


At some point, you’ve probably heard that you shouldn’t eat eggs if you have high cholesterol or heart disease, However, in recent years, researchers have learned much about dietary cholesterol, as well as the many nutritional benefits of eggs. “Eggs offer a variety of nutrients, notably protein,” says clinical dietitian Stephan Torres, RD, CDN, with New York-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell Medical Center. “Eggs are a source of complete protein: They contain all nine essential amino acids in an adequate amount. In fact, eggs are the reference other foods are held to when assessing their protein profile.” Torres explains that studies suggest that, in people with heart disease, recommendations are slightly more stringent: no more than four to six eggs per week,” Torres says. One large egg contains about 187 milligrams (mg) of cholesterol. The American Heart Association recommends limiting dietary cholesterol to 300 mg per day for healthy Americans, and 200 mg for those with high cholesterol. If you want to have an egg each day, you need to pay attention to the cholesterol in other foods you eat. But it’s important to remember that cholesterol in not a dirty word. “Cholesterol is vital to the human body,” Torres says. “It makes various hormones, vitamin D, bile acids, and substances needed to build cell walls. The body synthesizes all of the cholesterol it needs via the liver. Excess cholesterol can cause plaque in blood vessel walls, leading to increased risk of a coronary event.” Only about 20 percent comes from the foods you eat. For many people, moderate amounts of dietary cholesterol can be metabolized by their bodies without unhealthy buildup occurring in their blood vessels. But dietary cholesterol affects each person differently. Your genes play a significant role in the way your body produces and metabolizes cholesterol. ”Fortunately, there are foods that can lower blood cholesterol, such as fruits and vegetables, and whole grains,” Torres says. “Exercise and weight loss if you are overweight also contribute to cholesterol reduction.”
Source: Weill Cornell Medical College Women’s Nutrition Connection, December 2014.


Mary Ann brought Babaganoush as an appetizer before our Thanksgiving dinner. Note: She added a pinch (1/8 teaspoon) smoked paprika to the original recipe.


• 1 large eggplant (about 1 pound)
• 1 clove garlic, minced
• 1/4 teaspoon salt
• 1/4 cup finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley, plus more for garnish
• 2 tablespoons tahini
• 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

Preheat oven to 450ºF. Prick eggplant with a fork and place on a cookie sheet lined with foil. Bake the eggplant until it is soft inside, about 20 minutes. Let the eggplant cool. Cut in half lengthwise, drain off liquid and scoop the pulp into a food processor. Process the eggplant until smooth and transfer to a medium bowl. On a cutting board, work garlic and 1/4 teaspoon salt together with the flat side of a knife, until it forms a paste. Add garlic-salt mixture to the eggplant. Stir in parsley, tahini and lemon juice. Season with more salt to taste and smoked paprika. Garnish with additional parsley.
Source: Adapted from Food Network’s Ellie Krieger’s recipe via Mary Ann Thaman.

The second dip, Spicy Pumpkin Hummus, is in Fran DeWine's Family Favorites, 12th Edition - 2014.


• 1 can chick peas (garbanzo beans)
• 2 cloves garlic, minced
• 1/4 cup lemon juice
• 1/4 cup water
• 3 tablespoons tahini or peanut butter
• 1/2 cup pumpkin, fresh cooked or canned
• 1 teaspoon cumin
• 3/4 teaspoon salt
• 1/4 teaspoon cayenne
• 1/4 cup olive oil

Mix thoroughly in food processor. Serve with pita bread or tortilla chips or veggies.


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Mary’s Memo – December 22nd


There isn’t time to order Ina Garten’s latest cookbook, Make It Ahead, but you should be able to get it at a book store before the 25th. Ina, also known as the Barefoot Contessa on the Food Network, is my favorite. The concept of being able to make something ahead to serve should appeal to every cook! Thanks to 20 years of running a specialty food store and fifteen years writing cookbooks, the #1 New York Times bestselling author has learned exactly which dishes you can prep, assemble or cook ahead of time. Whether you’re hosting a party, or simply making dinner on a hectic weekday, Ina gives you lots of amazing recipes that taste just as good or even better when made in advance. With beautiful photographs and hundreds of invaluable make-ahead tips, this is your new go-to guide for preparing stress-free yet fabulous meals.

Kale has emerged as one of the most nutritious vegetables of the 21st century. Ina shows us how to use it as a snack food with her recipe for Parmesan Kale Chips. Also an advantage, kale chips can be made ahead, wrapped tightly and stored at room temperature for 4 days.


• 1 large bunch flat-leaf kale
• Good olive oil
• Kosher salt
• Fresh grated Parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 350ºF. Line 2 sheet pans with parchment paper. With a sharp knife, remove and discard the hard rib from the center of each leaf, leaving the leaves as intact as possible. Place them on sheet pans, drizzle or brush them with olive oil, and toss to coat lightly. Sprinkle generously with salt and bake for 10 minutes. Sprinkle lightly with Parmesan cheese and bake another 5 minutes. Cool and serve. Recipe makes 6 servings. Source: Ina Garten Make It Ahead cookbook (Clarkson Potter October 2014, $35.00 hardback), available at bookstores and


For your information, there are only two Thank You, I am Glad You Liked It cookbooks left and they can be purchased at the Bryan Area Chamber of Commerce office on Lynn Street on the west side of the square in downtown Bryan. Many of you have asked if there will be another cookbook and at my age, the answer is no. However, I haven’t ruled out a supplement. Stay tuned.


A recent, seven-year follow-up study of almost a half-million people in China revealed good news for fruit lovers: Daily consumption of fresh fruit cut the risk of heart disease by 15 percent and for strokes caused by clots (the most common type) by 24 percent. In a separate analysis the researchers found that compared with those who never ate fruit, people who consumed about 1-1/2 servings-per-day lowered their risk for fatal coronary heart disease by 17 percent and for fatal strokes by 40 percent. One possible reason: Fruit eaters had significantly lower blood pressure.
Source: Consumer Reports on Health, December 2014.


The Smith meat-of-choice for major family events, Christmas included, was turkey, even in the middle of the summer. A Christmas Eve tradition was serving baked ham with a macaroni and cheese casserole. One of the grandchildren wanted the recipe for Mother’s mac and cheese but we’ve determined that she didn’t have one and I’ve checked through her old cookbooks to verify. This surprises me because she did follow recipes and wasn’t a bit-of-this-and-that kind of cook. She adapted to new techniques as well. When pressure cookers came on the scene, Mother immediately bought one to do non-acid vegetables. She also used a pastry cloth and cover for her rolling pin when they became available. But getting back to her macaroni and cheese, I wonder what she’d think about its popularity now. I can recall tomatoes in it although my siblings do not and it wasn’t in her Christmas Eve version. So where am I going with this: I’m recommending that you establish traditions of your own that your children will remember when you’re no longer here. Unlike Mother’s mac and cheese on Christmas Eve, the Thaman’s prefer soup and it isn’t always the same one: It may be Scallop Chowder, Shrimp Gumbo or another one we made for the first time like a 2014 five-ingredient soup (6 if you count the cilantro) that Bryan Chief tasters gave rave reviews!


• 1 pound reduced-fat Velveeta Cheese, cut in cubes
• 1 (15.25-ounce) can whole kernel corn, drained
• 1 (15-ounce) can black beans, rinsed and drained (I prefer Bush brand)
• 1 (10-ounce) container Rotel brand diced tomatoes
• 1 cup milk
• Fresh sprigs cilantro for garnish (or dried flakes)

In Dutch oven, mix all ingredients except cilantro. Cook over medium-low heat, stirring frequently, until cheese is melted and soup is hot. Garnish with cilantro. Recipe makes 4 servings. Source: Adapted from a Betty Crocker recipe.


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Mary’s Memo – December 15th


As you know, I haven’t met a tomato that I didn’t like and have one in some form every day of my life! That said I’m calling your attention to Savor the South cookbook “Tomatoes” by Miriam Rubin. Rubin gives this staple of southern gardens the attention it deserves, exploring the tomato’s rich history in southern culture and inspiring home cooks to fully enjoy them in ways you never thought possible. “Tomatoes” includes fifty kitchen-tested recipes as well as wisdom about how to choose tomatoes and which tomato is right for which dish. Commercially canned tomatoes are also used in some of the recipes. Miriam Rubin is a graduate of the Culinary Institute of America and was the first woman to work in the kitchen of the Four Seasons Restaurant in New York. Author of Grains, she writes the food and gardening column “Miriam’s Garden” for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. “Stand-over-the Sink Tomato Sandwiches” may be better in the summertime but also appealing with hydroponic tomatoes available now. On a visit to Chapel Hill, North Carolina, Rubin and friends dined at Crook’s Corner where they were served a platter of tomato sandwiches, crusts intact, and paved with an inch of Chef Bill Smith’s mayo of choice, Hellmann’s! (There is a homemade mayo recipe in the cookbook.)


• 2 to 3 large ripe, juicy tomatoes such as Cherokee Purple, Brandywine or your favorite slicer (about 1-1/2 pounds), peeled if you like
• Coarse sea salt or kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
• About 1/4 cup store-bought Hellmann’s Mayonnaise
• 4 slices white bread of your choice

Core tomatoes and cut into thick or medium-thick slices, discarding (okay eating) the ends. Sprinkle the tomatoes with salt and pepper to taste. Spread mayonnaise on the bread slices, as thick as you dare. Place tomato slices on 2 of the bread slices; place the other 2 slices on top. Cut the sandwiches into halves or quarters. Pick up one half or one quarter, lean over the sink and devour. Recipe makes 2 sandwiches.
Source: “Tomatoes” by Miriam Rubin, University of North Carolina Press, September 2014; $15.16/hardback.


Scary thought, isn’t it but don’t panic. Chief Supermarkets are ready to come to your rescue! Choose from gift cards in any denomination, fruit baskets in a variety of sizes or made-to-order ones. The bakery has fruitcakes, cookies and fudge. In the deli, choose from cheese and/or meat and cheese trays, cheese balls, dips etc. No matter what you want or need, your neighborhood Chief is ready and willing to accommodate you with name brand and store brand products!


Holiday snacks needn’t pile on the pounds, not when it’s popcorn. This fall, a friend told me that she was popping corn in a grocery sack in the microwave. The concept sounded worth trying except for using a grocery sack. Since the internet has answers for everything, that’s where I went for information about microwaving popcorn in a plain paper bag, actually a paper lunch bag. Chief carries lunch bags and I bought a package and shared them with my friend. To each lunch bag, add 1/4 cup of your favorite popcorn (I used Orville Redenbacher’s). Fold the top of the bag down three times, making sure to leave room inside the bag for the popped kernels. Microwave the bag on HIGH for 4 minutes but stay close by, depending on the power of your microwave, the popping may be done in as little as 2 minutes. Listen carefully and stop the microwave when the popping slows to about 2 seconds between pops. Pour the popcorn into a bowl and add salt and other seasonings. If you’re making more corn, use a new lunch bag. Like regular microwave corn, you will have some unpopped kernels. Spraying the popped corn with a little olive oil will help the salt or other seasonings such as Jolly Time White Cheddar Riffic stick to the kernels.
Source: Adapted from


If you’re responsible for bringing a side dish to a holiday potluck Creamy Loaded Mashed Potatoes will be a hit! All but the topping can be made the night before and stored in the refrigerator until time to bake. To cut fat calories, I replaced regular mayo with light and regular sour cream with reduced-fat kind.


• 3 pounds potatoes, peeled and cubed
• 1-1/2 cups reduced-fat Spartan shredded sharp Cheddar cheese, divided (6 ounces)
• 1 cup Hellmann’s Light Mayonnaise
• 1 cup reduced-fat Daisy Sour Cream
• 3 green onions, finely chopped
• 6 slices bacon, crisp cooked and crumbled, divided

Preheat oven to 375ºF. Butter a 2-1/2-quart baking dish. Cover potatoes with water in a 4-quart saucepan; bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat to low and cook until tender; drain and mash with a portable electric mixer. Stir in 1 cup cheese, mayonnaise, sour cream, green onions and 4 strips of crumbled bacon. Spoon mixture into prepared baking dish and bake 30 minutes or until bubbling. Top with reserved cheese and bacon. Bake an additional 5 minutes or until cheese is melted. Garnish if desired with additional chopped green onion.
Source: Adapted from Hellmann’s website via

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Mary’s Memo – Homemade for the Holidays!

Thank you to family and friends who provided recipes and taster-testers at the Bryan Chief. I couldn’t have done this without you!


• 5 to 6 ounces whipped cream cheese
• 1/4 cup crumbled blue cheese
• 1/4 cup crumbled cooked bacon
• 1 tablespoon Major Grey Chutney
• 15 to 16 large medjool dates, pitted and halved lengthwise
• Additional crumbled blue cheese and bacon, optional

Combine cream cheese, 1/4 cup blue cheese, 1/4 cup bacon and chutney in a small bowl; mix well. Stuff each date half with heaping spoonful of cheese mixture. Arrange on serving plate. Sprinkle with additional blue cheese and bacon if desired. Refrigerate until 30 minutes before serving.
Sourc e: Annie Watts Food Marketing Services LLC, Roachdale, IN.


• 1 box Crispix cereal
• 1 box Sunshine Cheez-It Baked Snack Crackers
• 3 cups dry roasted peanuts
• 3 cups Pepperidge Farm Cheese Goldfish Crackers
• 3 cups thin pretzel sticks
• 1 tablespoon Penzeys Ranch Dressing Mix (to order MSGfree dressing mix, call toll free 1-800-741-7787)
• 1/2 bottle O rville Redenbacher’s popcorn oil
• 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese

Put Crispix, crackers, peanuts, Goldfish Crackers and pretzel sticks in large enough bowl to mix thoroughly. Add ranch dressing mix, then oil and stir until ingredients are well coated. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese and toss again until mixture is coated with cheese.
Source: Ann Trentadue, Upper St. Clair, PA.


• 1 pound sliced bacon
• 1 (16-ounce) package miniature smoked sausage links
• 1 cup packed brown sugar

Cut each bacon strip in half widthwise. Wrap one piece of bacon around each sausage. Place in foil-lined 15x10x1-inch jelly roll pan. Sprinkle with brown sugar. Bake, uncovered, at 400ºF for 30 to 40 minutes or until bacon is crispy and sausage heated through. Recipe makes about 3-1/2 dozen.
Source: Teresa Appel, E dgerton, O H.


• 2 tablespoons seasoned dry bread crumbs
• 1 (8-ounce) container baby bella (cremini) mushrooms, sliced (I use an egg slicer to cut)
• 1/2 cup chopped onion
• 2 tablespoons olive oil or canola oil
• 1 (10-ounce) package frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
• 1 cup 2% milk
• 5 whole eggs
• 1/4 teaspoon salt
• 1/4 teaspoon pepper
• 1-1/4 cups shredded reduced-fat Mexican cheese blend, divided
• 1/3 cup Parmesan cheese

Coat a 9-inch glass pie plate with nonstick cooking spray. Sprinkle bottom and sides with bread crumbs; shake out the excess. Set pie plate aside. In nonstick skillet, sauté mushrooms and onion in oil for 12 to 14 minutes or until all of the liquid has evaporated. Remove from heat and stir in spinach. In bowl whisk together milk, eggs, salt and pepper. Stir in the spinach mixture, 1 cup Mexican cheese blend and Parmesan cheese. Pour into prepared pie plate. Bake in preheated 350ºF oven for 35 to 40 minutes or until a knife inserted near the center comes out clean (check at 35 minutes). Sprinkle remaining cheese around edge of tart. Let stand for 5 minutes before cutting into 6 servings.

Source: Adapted from recipe.


• 2 cups frozen shelled edamame
• 2 garlic cloves, peeled
• 1/2 cup fresh basil leaves
• 2 tablespoons pine nuts, toasted
• 2 tablespoons plain 2% reduced fat Greek yogurt
• 1/4 cup water
• 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
• 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
• 1/2 teaspoon grated lemon zest
• 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Combine edamame and garlic in a small saucepan; cover with water to 2 inches above edamame. Bring to a boil; cook until edamame is tender. Remove from heat; drain well. Combine edamame, garlic, basil, pine nuts and yogurt in a food processor; pulse 10 times or until coarsely ground. Add 1/4 cup water and remaining ingredients; process until smooth. Recipe makes 8 servings. Can be served with chips or crudités’ but raw seasonal vegetables are a healthier choice!
Sourc e: April 2014 Cooking Light recipe via Mary Ann Thaman.


• 12 cups dry bread cubes
• 1 stick butter
• 2 cups chopped celery
• 2 cups chopped onion
• 1 tablespoon beef-flavored Better Than Bouillon
• 3 cups water
• 2 teaspoons sage (or to taste)
• 2 teaspoons poultry seasoning (or to taste)
• Chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

Cook on HIGH butter, celery and onions in round 2-1/2-quart microwave-safe dish for 10 minutes, stirring after 5 minutes, until vegetables are tender. Whisk together Better Than Bouillon and water until well blended. Stir in sage and poultry seasoning. Add to dry bread cubes. Transfer to 5 to 6-1/2-quart slow cooker covered with nonstick spray or for fast, easy cleanup, lined with a Reynolds Slow Cooker Liner. Cook on High for 1-1/2 hours; reduce heat to Low and continue cooking for 7 additional hours. Keep hot on Warm setting. Just before serving, garnish with chopped flat leaf parsley. Dressing stays moist for hours in slow cooker!
Sourc e: My personal stuffing recipe adapted for slow cooker.


• 3/4 cup low-fat buttermilk
• 2 chicken breasts (about 1-pound), skinned
• 2 chicken drumsticks (about 1/2 pound), skinned
• 2 chicken thighs (about 1/2 pound), skinned
• 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
• 1 teaspoon salt
• 1/2 teaspoon ground red pepper
• 1/4 teaspoon white pepper
• 1/4 cup ground cumin
• Cooking spray

Combine 1st four ingredients in a large Ziploc bag; seal. Marinate in refrigerator 1 hour, stirring occasionally. Preheat oven to 450ºF. Combine flour, salt, peppers and cumin in a second large Ziploc bag. Remove chicken from first bag, discarding marinade. Add chicken, one piece at a time, to flour mixture, shaking bag to coat chicken. Remove chicken from bag, shaking off excess flour; lightly coat each piece with cooking spray. Return chicken, one piece at a time to flour mixture, shaking bag to coat chicken. Remove from bag, shaking off excess flour. Place chicken on baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Lightly coat chicken with cooking spray. Bake at 450ºF for 35 minutes or until done, turning after 20 minutes.
Source: My via Mary Ann Thaman


• 8 boneless, skinless thighs
• Cooking spray
• Garlic clove, minced
• 1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
• 1/8 teaspoon black pepper
• 1/8 teaspoon ground cumin
• 1 cup medium-hot salsa
• 1 cup shredded sharp Cheddar cheese

Preheat oven to 375ºF. Mix garlic, salt, pepper and ground cumin together. Rub on each thigh. Cook chicken until brown on both sides, 10 to 15 minutes. Transfer to oblong 9x13-inch glass baking dish. Top with salsa and cheese. Bake until cheese starts to brown, 15 to 20 minutes. Recipe makes 4 servings.
Sourc e: Recipe adapted from, the world’s favorite recipe web site.



• 2-1/2 cups Gold Medal all-purpose flour
• 1 teaspoon salt
• 2 teaspoons sugar
• 1 cup cold unsalted butter, cut into squares and chilled
• 4 to 8 tablespoons ice water (I used 6)


• 1 cup Gold Medal all-purpose flour
• 1 cup sugar
• 1/4 teaspoon salt
• 1/2 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
• 1/2 cup butter, softened

Pumpkin Filling

• 2 large eggs
• 1/2 cup sugar
• 1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
• 1 (15-ounce) can pumpkin (not pumpkin pie mix)
• 1 (12-ounce) can evaporated milk
• 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

In medium bowl, mix first 3 crust ingredients together with whisk. Add cold butter and toss to coat. U sing a pastry blender or your fingertips, cut in the butter, working until mixture looks like a coarse meal (I did in food processor, pulsing on and off). Add 4 tablespoons of the ice water. Stir with a wooden spoon. If it is still too dry, add more water, a tablespoon at a time, until dough comes together. Pat into a flat round. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes. Meanwhile heat oven to 350ºF. In a small bowl, make Streusel by stirring together first 4 ingredients, then rubbing butter into the mixture until it clumps together. Place in freezer. Roll crust dough into large rectangle. Place on foil-lined 15x10x1-inch jelly roll pan. Meanwhile, in a large bowl beat pumpkin filling ingredients with a whisk. Spread over crust. Sprinkle evenly with Streusel. Bake 35 to 45 minutes or until set (I baked for 45 minutes). Cut into 16 servings.
Source: Adapted from Betty Crocker recipe.


• 1/4 cup sugar
• 1 tablespoon corn syrup
• 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
• 1/4 teaspoon salt
• 3 large, slightly firm peeled peaches, chopped
• 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
• 1/3 cup heavy whipping cream

Combine first 5 ingredients in a medium saucepan over medium high heat; bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium and simmer 5 minutes or until peaches are very tender, stirring frequently. Place peach mixture and lemon juice in food processor; process until smooth. Refrigerate 1 hour. Stir in cream. Divide peach mixture among 8 (4-ounce) popsicle molds. Top with lid and insert a craft stick into center of each mold; freeze 6 hours or until thoroughly frozen. Note: I bought online Tovolo BPA-free popsicle molds, set of 6, for $12.99. E ach holds 6-ounces of mixture so my pops were bigger. If you don’t have popsicle molds of any kind, freeze mixture in paper cups and when mixture is slightly frozen, insert craft stick.
Source: August 2014 Cooking Light magazine.


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Mary’s Memo – December 8th


Trust me, anyone who likes to cook will appreciate a cookbook and I have several new ones for you to order from Amazon. com. You can also have them shipped directly to the recipient. The first one is Flourless, Recipes for Naturally Gluten-Free Desserts by Nicole Spiridakis (Chronicle Books, September 2014; Hardback/$27.95). Flourless is filled with more than 75 naturally gluten-free, decadent desserts. Nicole Spiridakis is a writer, recipe developer and wedding cake baker. She contributes regularly to NPR’s online column, Kitchen Window, and has written for the San Francisco Chronicle, New York Times, Washington Post and Backpacker magazine.

In Pork by Cree LeFavour (Chronicle Books, October 2014; Hardback/$27.50), more than 145 recipes demonstrate pork’s versatile character. These recipes feature all parts of the pig, from belly, chops, ribs and neck to larger cuts such as shanks, steaks and hams. Cree LeFavour grew up on a ranch in Idaho. She is a cookbook author of three books including Poulet and Fish (also published by Chronicle Books).

Greens + Grains, Recipes for Deliciously Healthful Meals (Chronicle Books, December 2014; Softback/$19.95) by Molly Watson features creative meals for all occasions that pair a green with a grain such as beets + barley, kale + faro and arugula + quinoa. If you aim to eat healthier and at the same time love a dinner that tastes amazing, looks sophisticated and comes together in an hour, this book is for you! And you don’t need to know how to cook greens or grains already; this book will teach you the best methods to use for each type. Molly Watson is a food editor and writer whose pieces regularly appear on the Local Foods site for, in Edible San Francisco, as well as Elle, The New York Times and the San Francisco Chronicle. She honed her serious recipe development at Sunset magazine. Greens + Grains is her first book.

To Cook is To Love as told to John Verlinden by Mami Aida (Langdon Street Press May 1, 2014; Softcover/$21.99) is about modern Cuban cuisine, interweaving healthier meals with Cuban history and culture. Traditional dishes like Arroz con Pollo are reinterpreted with attention to nutrition without sacrificing flavor. To Cook is To Love makes Latin food accessible to chefs of all levels, with 200 easy-to-follow recipes that are accompanied by information boxes about the ingredients, cooking methods and presentation. Readers will not want to leave Mami Aida’s table until they’ve heard her inspiring story and tasted every delicious dish!

The Cheesecake Bible by George Geary (, November 2014; Softback/$24.95) is a delicious cookbook of over 200 recipes from plain to intensely rich that can easily be made in your kitchen. Geary teaches baking and cooking classes at more than 100 schools across North America every year. He is a food journalist and the author of 5 cookbooks.



• 2-1/2 cups peanut butter sandwich cookie crumbs
• 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
• 1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted


• 4 (8-ounce) packages cream cheese, softened
• 1-1/4 cups granulated sugar
• 4 eggs
• 8-ounces bittersweet chocolate, melted and cooled
• 1 cup creamy peanut butter
• 3 tablespoons fresh squeezed lemon juice
• 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
• 2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chunks


• 1 cup sour cream
• 1/2 cup granulated sugar
• 1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
• 1 tablespoon fresh squeezed lemon juice
• 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
• 1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chunks

Crust: In bowl, combine cookie crumbs, flour and butter. Press into 13x9-inch baking pan lined with foil; freeze. Filling: In a mixer bowl fitted with paddle, beat cream cheese and sugar on medium-high speed until very smooth, for 3 minutes. Add eggs, one at a time, beating after each addition. With the mixer running, pour in melted chocolate in a steady stream. Mix in peanut butter, lemon juice and vanilla. Fold in chocolate chunks by hand. Pour over frozen crust, smoothing out to sides of pan. Bake in preheated oven until top is light brown and center has a slight jiggle to it, 35 to 40 minutes. Let cool on counter for 10 minutes (do not turn oven off). The cake will sink slightly.

Topping: In a bowl, combine sour cream, sugar, peanut butter, lemon juice and vanilla. Pour into center of cooled cake and spread out to edges. Sprinkle with chocolate chunks. Bake 5 minutes more. Let cool in pan on wire rack for 2 hours. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 6 hours before cutting into bars. Recipe makes 10 to 12 bars.
Source: The Cheesecake Bible by George Geary (, November 2014; Softback/$24.95.

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Mary’s Memo – December 1st


A gift that always pleases a cook, man or woman, is a cookbook and this week Food, Family and Traditions, Hungarian Kosher Family Recipes and Remembrances by Lynn Kirsche Shapiro celebrates the resilience and courage of holocaust survivors through food and stories. This book chronicles the story of one Hungarian-Czech Jewish family who survived the holocaust, then emigrated from Eastern Europe to the US, weaving new family traditions and stories, and celebrating the spirit of Eastern European Jewish traditions. Through telling the story of her father and mother, Sandor and Margot Kirsche (founders of Hungarian Kosher Foods, the largest all-kosher supermarket in the Midwest), and presenting their never-before-published family recipes, the voice of one family becomes the voice of many who lived in that time. In addition, this book also attempts to give a picture of the richness of Jewish life prior to the holocaust. Author Lynn Kirsche Shapiro loves to cook. She learned the art from her parents, passing that love on to her children and now grandchildren as well as sharing her family story for years at Jewish organizations. She has also played an integral role in her parent’s business in Skokie, IL.

Candied Carrots is traditionally served on Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year. The recipe follows:


• 1 tablespoon oil
• 1 pound carrots, peeled and thinly sliced horizontally
• 1/2 cup sugar
• 2 teaspoons flour
• 1 cup water
• Pinch of salt

Place oil in a 2-quart saucepan. Add carrots and sugar. Cover and cook slowly on very low heat, stirring frequently, until the liquid reduces, approximately 1 hour. Meanwhile, in a small separate bowl, stir flour into 1/4 cup water, mixing until smooth. Add the remaining water, stirring to mix. Add flour-water mixture slowly to cooked carrots, stirring; add the salt. Increase heat and bring to a boil. Decrease heat to low, stirring gently so as not to break carrots, and stir until the sauce thickens. Remove from heat. Serve warm or at room temperature. Recipe makes 4 to 6 servings. Source: Recipe from Food, Family and Tradition, Hungarian Kosher Recipes and Remembrances by Lynn Kirsche Shapiro (Cherry Press/August 2014; hardcover/$35.00).

Someone who formerly lived in Bryan referred to me as the “casserole queen” because I shared so many casserole recipes in Mary’s Memo. I’m guilty as charged and so excited about Sunday Casseroles, Complete Comfort in One Dish by Betty Rosbottom (Chronicle Books, fall, 2014; softback/$24.95). Casseroles conjure up images of hearty, comforting meals shared with family or friends. Every dish in this cookbook is designed to look as enticing as it tastes such as Baked Risotto with colorful chunks of butternut squash and prosciutto. Cooked in the oven, rice is as tender as classic risotto.


• 3 cups peeled diced butternut squash
• 3 tablespoons olive oil
• Kosher salt
• Freshly ground pepper
• 1-1/2 cups Arborio rice
• 3-3/4 reduced sodium chicken broth
• 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
• 1-1/2 ounces thinly sliced prosciutto, cut into strips about 1/4 inch by 3 inches
• 1 cup Parmesan cheese, preferably Parmigiano-Reggiano
• 1-1/2 tablespoons chopped fresh sage plus 3 or 4 springs for garnish

Arrange racks in the center and lower third of oven and preheat to 375ºF. Generously butter a shallow 2-quart baking dish and have 2 rimmed baking sheets ready. Spread squash in one of the baking sheets and toss with 2 tablespoons of the olive oil. Season with 1/2 teaspoon salt and several grinds of pepper. Spread the rice in the prepared baking dish and place the dish on the other baking sheet. Heat the chicken broth and butter in a large saucepan over medium high heat until the broth comes to a boil. Carefully pour the hot broth over the rice. Cover the baking dish tightly with foil. Place baking sheet with the rice on the middle oven rack and the one with the squash on the lower rack. Roast the squash, stirring every 10 minutes, until soft when pierced with a sharp knife and golden brown around the edge, about 35 minutes. At the same time, cook the rice until the liquid has been absorbed, about 40 minutes. While squash and rice are in the oven, heat remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil in a small frying pan over medium-high heat and sauté the prosciutto, stirring often, until crisp, about 2 minutes. Remove from pan and drain on paper towels. When done, remove the squash and the risotto from the oven. Carefully remove foil from baking dish and stir in a 1/2 cup of Parmesan cheese and chopped sage. Gently stir in roasted butternut squash. Season with salt and pepper if desired. Garnish the center of the risotto with the  sage sprigs and sprinkle with sautéed prosciutto. Serve with the remaining Parmesan cheese for sprinkling. Recipe serves 6 as a side dish and 4 as a main dish.

Betty Rosbottom has been a cooking teacher, syndicated columnist, and PBS host and cookbook author for two decades. She is the author of Sunday Brunch, Sunday Roasts, Sunday Soups, The Big Book of Backyard Cooking and Coffee (all published by Chronicle Books). She blogs at

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