Most every holiday buffet includes a beautiful baked ham.  While a boneless ham seems easier to carve, the shape and flavor of a bone-in ham is far more appealing. But let’s face it, you’re probably going to end up with some leftovers.  After you’ve cleaned the ham from the bone to make sandwiches, you might start to throw it in the trash.   Stop! Save  that ham bone.   There are so many ways to use it for economical, heart healthy meals.

Did you know that bone broth is one of the most nutritious foods? In addition to  providing collagen, it is a great source of magnesium, calcium,   and phosphorus. Full of amino acids , it heals the gut, promotes healthier joints, and boosts the immune system.     Simmer a ham bone with peas, beans or legumes, and you have a nutritional powerhouse that’s  insanely easy to prepare.   Beans and legumes are low in calories and fat, and a rich source of protein, fiber and B vitamins.

 And if you’re a frugal cook,  Split Pea Soup is one of the cheapest dishes you can serve.

Stop! Save That Ham Bone.
Trim all the fat from the ham bone before making Split Pea Soup

Before I start making this soup, I carefully scrape the ham bone, removing any visible fat.  This reduces the calories and makes the soup easier to digest for those who can’t handle much animal fat.  Then, I place the  ham bone  in a 4 quart saucepan.

Next, I  I open a bag of split peas, chop up some onion, throw in a couple cloves of garlic.  Now, I fill the pan almost to the brim with water, and add a bay leaf, carrots and celery.  The recipe may call for salt, but I don’t add any because the ham is salty enough to suit my taste. After simmering for a couple hours,  tender bits of ham can be pulled from the bone joint with a fork and mixed in with the soup.  I’ve made this soup  so often that I don’t need a recipe, but here’s one if this is your first time making split pea soup.

Split Pea Soup With Ham Bone


 1 package (16 ounces) dried green split peas

1 meaty ham bone

½  large onion, chopped

2 cloves garlic, chopped.

1 bay leaf

2 carrots, scraped and chopped

1 stalk celery , chopped.


Stop@ Save That Ham Bone. Use it for Old Fashioned Split Pea Soup
Old Fashioned Split Pea Soup made with a ham bone is delicious and nutritious

Combine all ingredients in 4 quart stock pot and cover with water up to within an inch of the brim.  Simmer, covered, for 1 ½ hours or until soup reaches desired thickness. When cool enough to handle, remove ham bone and remove meat from bone.  Discard bone, dice meat.  Return meat to soup. Discard bay leaf.  Reheat and serve.

1 cup: 202 calories. Makes about 10 servings.

For an extra treat, buy a box of Jiffy cornbread mix and make some muffins to serve with the soup.

Never underestimate the value of a ham bone!

Family Favorite Holiday Recipes

When your kids have been gone 30 years, and still ask you to make these delicious treats, you know they’re pretty good.  Something about homemade coffee cake and persimmon pudding brings back joyful memories of past holidays.   I’ve posted these traditional recipes before, but am sharing them again in case you missed them.   I hope your guests enjoy these family favorite holiday recipes.

Persimmon pulp is now available in most upscale grocery stores.  You can even order it over the internet.  It’s a bit pricey compared to the good old days, but it sure beats looking for a persimmon tree and spending all day making pulp.

A culinary deight
Rich, Spicy Persimmon Pudding

Not everyone likes persimmon pudding, but for those that do, it’s a rare treat, especially when served with whipped cream.  There are other persimmon recipes that give you a dessert with  the texture of a brownie or cake, so you might look those up on the internet if you think you would like that better.




2 cups persimmon pulp

½  cup melted butter

1 cup milk

1 cup half and half (it’s okay to use milk)

2 eggs

1 cup sugar

1 tsp. baking powder

½ tsp salt

½ tsp nutmeg

1  1/2 cups flour

1 tsp baking soda

1 tsp cinnamon

1 tsp  allspice


Mix pulp, eggs.  sugar, melted butter and milk.  Mix dry ingredients separately.  Then combine both mixtures. Stir well. Pour into greased 9 X 13 inch pan and bake for one hour at 325 degrees.  Stir several times while pudding is baking so that it won’t harden at edges of pan.


I first tasted this  rich, flaky, coffee cake roll while living in Chicago,  when a German  neighbor brought it to a kaffeeklatsch in our building.    I had always avoided recipes with yeast, because they required a lot of kneading and the problem was, you might either over knead or under knead, and that would ruin the whole thing.

easy coffee cake

But this  was so easy that I made it every year on Christmas and Easter for the next four decades.  Friends and family asked for the recipe, and soon, they were claiming it as their own.





1 package active dry yeast

¼ cup warm water

¾ cup warm milk

3 egg yolks

4 cups flour

2 sticks (1/2 cup) cold margarine

1 teaspoon salt

¼ cup sugar


1 stick margarine

1 cup powdered sugar

½ cup finely chopped walnuts


¾ cup powdered sugar

Enough milk to make a thin paste


In separate bowl: dissolve yeast in warm water according to package directions; add  egg yolks and warm milk.

In a large bowl, mix flour, salt, and sugar.  Using your hands, mix in margarine until you have pea-sized pieces ( as if you are making pie dough),

Combine all ingredients and stir until smooth. Do not knead. Cover dough and refrigerate overnight.

Turn dough onto lightly floured surface. Divide in half. Roll each portion into a 13 X 9 inch rectangle.  Stir filling  ingredients until fluffy.  Spread over rectangles. Roll up jell-roll style, starting with a long side.

Place rolls  seam side down at the edges of a 13 X 9 inch baking pan. Cover and let sit until doubled, about 3 hours. Bake at 350 for 30 minutes or until brown.  Make icing and frost the cakes while they are still warm..


If you have company coming for Thanksgiving, it’s going to be a long holiday.  You can’t eat turkey all weekend.  After the leftovers have been exhausted,  serve this festive  make-ahead recipe on Friday or Saturday night.  Wow ’em with Mexican Lasagna!

It’s going to be a long holiday weekend with company coming. Serve Mexican Lasagna on Saturday after Thanksgiving.


1 ½ pounds lean ground beef

1 medium onion, chopped

1 (15 oz) can enchilada sauce

1 (15 oz) can diced tomatoes

1  (2 ½ oz) can sliced ripe olives, drained

½ teaspoon salt

1 clove garlic, finely chopped or ¼ teaspoon garlic powder

¼ teaspoon pepper

1 cup small curd cottage cheese

1 egg

½ pound Monterey Jack cheese, thin sliced

8 (8 inch) , corn tortillas, halved

½ cup shredded cheddar cheese

Brown beef and onion in a large skillet. Drain. Stir in enchilada sauce, olives, tomatoes, salt, garlic and pepper. Simmer, uncovered,  for 20 minutes. Combine cottage cheese and egg in a small bowl; set aside. Spread one third of the meat sauce in a greased 13 in X 9 in X 2 in baking dish. Top with half the Monterey Jack cheese, half the cottage cheese mixture and half the tortillas. Repeat layers, ending with meat sauce. Sprinkle with cheddar cheese.  Cover with foil and bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes. Uncover and bake ten more minutes. Makes 6-8 servings.

This dish is much easier to prepare than Italian Lasagna.  Because you’re using tortillas, there are no noodles to boil and drain separately.  It really cuts down on a lot of time and messy pans.

You might offer to make this dish at home and bring it to an overworked relative or friend who is hosting the big Thanksgiving meal.   It will surely be appreciated!


If a woman had small children back  in the 1960’s, she was probably a stay at home mom.  At the time, I lived in a Chicago suburb,  surrounded by women who did not work outside the home.   They had coffee klatches and bridge parties, and entertained  on the weekends.  The mainstay of any dinner party was usually some type of make ahead casserole, never mind the calories. Now that the weather is turning cool,   you might want to try this nostalgic 60’S Chicken Divan recipe.

The recipe for Chicken Divan had two stages:  The day before, you stewed the bird,  cleaned it off the bone, chopped it up, and saved the broth. This procedure was described in the 1942 edition of the Woman’s Home Companion Cook Book:


Wash the the bird and place it whole in a heavy kettle.  Add cleaned giblets if desired. Cover with water (about 6 cups).  For flavor, add a small carrot, an onion, a stalk of celery.  A small amount of thyme or marjoram may be added, along with a bay leaf.

Cover and simmer gently over low heat 2 hours or until the chicken is tender and meat begins to loosen from the bones. Remove from heat & let it cool breast side down in the stock. While still lukewarm,  skim off fat and remove chicken. Discard skin and bones; slice or dice the meat.  StraIn the stock to use in gravy, sauces, etc. Store chicken and stock in the refrigerator until ready for use.

The next morning after stewing the chicken,   the  60’s housewife cleaned her house and polished her good silver.  Now she was ready to prepare the casserole for the dinner party that evening.  It could be made ahead and kept in the frig until baking after the guests arrived.


1 stewed chicken, cut in slices..

2  10 oz packages frozen broccoli

2  cans condensed cream of chicken soup

1 cup mayonnaise

1 teaspoon  curry powder

1 cup shredded cheese

1 cup bread crumbs

1 tablespoon melted margarine.

Cook and slice chicken. Cook broccoli until tender; drain. Arrange broccoli in 11 ½ X 7 l/2 X l 1/2 inch baking pan; place chicken on broccoli. Combine soup, mayonnaise, curry powder and cheese; pour over chicken. Combine bread crumbs and butter; sprinkle over casserole. Bake at 350 degrees for 25 to 30 minutes.  Makes 6 -8 servings.  If desired, a side dish of your favorite  rice makes a good accompaniment.

Or, if you’re planning to do it ahead,  put the casserole in the refrigerator  until ready to bake.. It may take a few minutes longer to cook before it reaches 160  degrees and is ready to serve.

If you’re a  21st century, working mom, you can simplify this recipe by  substituting  4  poached chicken breasts and cutting them into bite sized pieces. Or, you can use 3 cups of diced, leftover turkey or chicken.

Nostalgic Chicken Divan made with stewed chicken is  still one of the tastiest, easiest, least expensive  recipes you will find.  Stewed chicken also makes delicious chicken and noodles.


Don’t you love all the fresh tomatoes available at this time of year?  There’s nothing like a ripe, homegrown tomato.  My mouth waters just thinking of how yummy they are. My favorites are the yellow and orange varieties, which have a different flavor.  But no matter what the color, now is the time for easy peasy tomato pie.

Homegrown tomatoes are plentiful. It is time to make tomato pie.
Make this easy peasy tomato pie with luscious, homegrown tomatoes

Since l love yellow and my husband prefers red. I mix the two when I make this recipe, although most will probably just stick to red.  I’ve fooled around with two or three tomato pie recipes, and have come up with the combination that I like best. You can make your own pie crust. If that’s what you prefer.  But packaged pastry  from the supermarket Is much easier.



Pastry for a 1 crust pie, unbaked.

3 large ripe tomatoes

½ cup chopped onion

¼ teaspoon salt

1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil  or 1 teaspoon dried

½ cup  mayonnaise

1 garlic clove, chopped

½ cup grated Parmesan cheese

1 cup grated Cheddar cheese

¼ cup dry bread or cracker crumbs.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  To prepare the crust, line a 9 inch pie  pan with pastry.  Prick the side and bottom with a fork and bake until golden brown, about 20 minutes.  Remove to a rack, and leave the oven on.

Slice the tomatoes and overlap them in the pie shell. Sprinkle with onion, salt and basil. Stir mayonnaise, garlic, Parmesan and Cheddar together in a small bowl. Spread the mixture over the onions,  and sprinkle with bread or cracker crumbs.  Bake for 30 to 40 minutes or until  golden brown.  Allow pie to cool 10 minutes before serving.  Some prefer it served cold.

Makes 6 servings. About 400 calories per serving.


Having grown up in the post depression years, I was taught to eat what was set before me.  Money was scarce, and my parents struggled to put food on the table for their 4 children.  We learned to eat “variety meats” such as hearts, liver, and kidneys.  I still have a fondness for those meats, even though I wouldn’t dare serve them to anyone in my family. But, the times, they are a changing.  Vegans are  sprouting up everywhere, from ages 9 to 90. What should you do when they come to dinner? How to please a vegan?

First, you will have to find out what type of vegetarian you’re talking about.  Strict vegans eat nothing that comes from a mother—including butter, honey and cheese.  Those are the toughest to cook for if you don’t understand that basic rule.  Easier to please vegans are those who will eat eggs, cheese and fish. It’s important to know what their diet allows.

Balck bean, corn & avocado salad is a dish vegetarians enjoy
Black Bean, Corn & Avocado Salad will please vegans.

If you’re cooking for a strict vegan who lives with you, it means you’re going for the long term.  You will have to find ways of providing  plenty of good protein for growth and maintenance of body tissues.  These will come from grains, nuts and legumes. 

Now, what should we old folks do about all of this?  Our own parents would have been horrified at the idea of indulging a vegan child , grandchild., or even a friend coming to dinner.   But as a dietitian, I can’t adopt that attitude.  I know that a vegan diet is a healthy choice, which will lead to lower cholesterol and blood pressure. It won’t necessarily keep your weight down since  vegan diets include lots of carbohydrates in the form of fruits, breads, etc.  But I respect a vegan’s choices. After all,  they are taking responsibility for their own health..

I went on a vegan diet a few years ago, after visiting a cattle feed lot in Nebraska.   When I saw a cow lying dead  from heat exhaustion, I was nauseated with the thought of eating an animal. It was months before I could stand the sight of beef on my plate. But then, my old meat  addiction kicked in, and I started ordering steak at restaurants once again. However,  that experience gave me a new understanding of the vegetarian mindset.

I served this easy recipe at a family gathering that included just one strict vegan. But guess what?  Everyone at the table had seconds!


Black Bean, Corn and Avocado Salad



1 (15 1/2 oz.) can black beans, drained and rinsed

1 (8.75 oz) can whole kernel sweet corn

1 medium avocado, chopped

6 cherry tomatoes, sliced in half

1/4 cup chopped onion

juice of 1 lime

1 Tbsp. olive oil

1/8 tsp. each salt and pepper


Mix all ingredients together in a medium size bowl.  (The lime juice helps keep the avocado from turning brown) Refrigerate for 2 hours and serve.



This July was  a bummer for sweet corn in Indiana.     Just a couple years ago, there were farm stands all over the city, with piles of corn just picked that morning. You didn’t have to wonder if it was fresh, because you knew the guy who sold it, and trusted his college age kids who were bagging it and ringing up your sale.

It’s been a bad year for Hoosier farmers.   It rained so long and hard that they  weren’t able to plant corn in May.  Even at the first of June, the ground was still too wet.  They were finally  able to plant in the middle of June, but this was not good news for corn lovers.  The grocery stores had sweet corn over  the 4th of July,  but they imported  it from someplace else, and it was old and starchy.

Seet corn should be fresh picked and cooked for 10 minutes
Serving good sweet corn starts with choosing fresh ears, then cooking to perfection

Serving a delicious ear of corn  on the cob is a two step process.  First, and most important, is making sure that the corn you buy is fresh.  If it’s not, don’t even bother putting it in your basket. I’m always surprised at supermarkets that  sell sweet corn with dried husks and moldy tassels.  More surprisingly is that people will buy it.  Do they not know how good sweet corn should look, and taste?  You don’t just buy sweet corn, you choose it.  The husks should be green and almost damp to the touch, not dry, shriveled, or slightly yellow.

Fresh sweet corn is a heavenly treat, especially when cooked to perfection and slathered with honey butter.  Once you’ve purchased your ears of corn, you must know how to cook it. Over boiling will make it hard and starchy, so it pays to use a timer.  Boil  between 4 and 10 minutes.  

 Sweet corn on the cob is a perfect accompaniment to any entrée—especially salmon.  And it’s easy on the cook.  No peeling of potatoes or steaming of rice.  It’s one of the best things about summer.