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Twelve for forty: Keep New Years resolutions alive with these healthful recipes

By January 18, 2011

Special to The Enterprise

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It\’s a pity that our inevitable New Year\’s resolutions to eat better, cook more and/or lose weight occur in winter. The cold weather makes us long for fat-rich, carbohydrate-heavy dishes, and the more limited fresh local produce choices make it a challenge to cook creatively.

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That doesn\’t translate to impossible, however, even on a budget! With just a little thought, we can come up with a healthful, simple and economical set of meals that focus on the fruits, vegetables and whole grains needed to keep our resolutions a little longer.

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The best bets for vegetables now are dark greens and root vegetables. Beets give us both in one neat package. Choose smaller beets, and make sure the greens look fresh. If beets aren\’t a favorite in your household, try golden beets instead of the more traditional red ones — the milder flavor and pretty color often make converts.

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Barley isn\’t used a lot in American cooking, which is a pity since it\’s high in fiber and protein, low in calories, and a bargain — the half cup called for here will cost you 32 cents in bulk, and yield 2 cups of cooked barley serving 10 grams of protein. When you add in the fact that barley absorbs other flavors beautifully, you\’d be hard pressed to find a grain that\’s a better deal. We use our barley in a soup, but it\’s also nice as a risotto.

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Planning is everything in sticking to a food budget, and we aim to help you with six days worth of menus, which should feed two adults dinner six nights a week for around $40. These menus assume you already have some cooking skills, and own a basic reference cook book.

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Below the menus items are tips for cooking, or for cooking ahead. If you see “In the fridge for future meals,” save those items from this meal for later in the week. That\’s been included in the shopping list.

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The menu

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Saturday

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Chili Burgers

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Beet and Citrus Salad

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In the fridge for future meals: beet greens; buns

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Tip: Reduce the meat, add fiber rich beans and serve open-faced for a much healthier burger.

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Sunday

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Veggie Pizza

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Green salad

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In the fridge for future meals: lettuce; bell pepper

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Tip: Make soup tonight, reheat tomorrow.

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Monday

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Vegetable Barley Soup

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Toasted buns

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In the fridge for future meals: Celery

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Tip: This soup is delicious without meat. You can use chicken or beef broth for that meaty flavor if you like.

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Tuesday

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Tuna Noodles

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Beet Greens

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In the fridge for future meals: sour cream

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Tip: Wash and chop beet greens. Cook a little garlic in some oil, then add damp greens and a shot of soy sauce. Cook, covered, until tender.

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Wednesday

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Sweet Potato Pancakes with Sour Cream

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Applesauce

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Tip: Peel and dice a couple of apples and cook them in a little water until tender. Drain and mash like potatoes. Add cinnamon, lemon rind or butter to taste.

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Thursday

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Un-Stuffing

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Green salad

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Tip: Use up the rest of the buns here. Vegetarian? Substitute veggie sausage or baked tofu.

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Shopping list

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Our shopping and recipes are scaled for two adults. Increase or decrease as needed to allow for your household. We shopped for the items on this list at the Davis Food Co-op on Saturday.

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We chose organic wherever affordable (marked “OG” on our list), and picked what we\’d use at home — the best value rather than the absolute cheapest. We also assumed you had a few things in the pantry, which were not included in the shopping total. Our total: $40.72

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In the pantry:

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oil

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vinegar

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soy sauce

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salad dressing

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prepared mustard

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garlic

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thyme, dried

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oregano, dried

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sage, dried

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smoked paprika, optional

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salt

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pepper

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Produce:

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onions, 3

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celery,1 bunch OG

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bell pepper, 1 OG

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lettuce, 1 head

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apples, 2 OG

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beets, 1 bunch with greens OG

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orange, 1

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mushrooms, 14

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carrots, 2 OG

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lime, 1

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sweet potatoes, 2 OG

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Yukon gold potatoes, 2 small OG

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Dairy and cheese:

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butter, 1 stick

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mozzarella, 8 ounces

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sour cream, 8 ounces

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egg, 1

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Grocery:

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chili beans, 1 can

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whole grain buns

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premade pizza crust

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tomato sauce, 1 can (15 ounces)

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tuna, 1 can

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Meat:

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ground beef, 6 ounces

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Co-op sausage, 1

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Bulk:

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vegetable broth powder

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flour, 2 ounces

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pasta, 6 ounces

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barley, pearled, 1⁄2 cup/4 ounces

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The recipes

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Chili Burgers

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Ingredients:

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6 ounces ground beef

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2 cups chili beans

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2 whole grain buns

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butter

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(chopped onion)

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(grated cheese)

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Putting it together:

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Cook burgers. Heat chili. Toast buns and butter if desired. Place burger on bottom bun and top with chili.

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If using cheese, put on top of chili and run under broiler to melt. Top with onions if desired, serve with other bun half.

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Beet & Citrus Salad

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Ingredients:

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4 to 5 small beets

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1 sweet orange

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2 tablespoons oil

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1 tablespoon vinegar

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pinch dried thyme

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1⁄4 teaspoon prepared mustard

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pinch salt

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Putting it together:

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Wash beets and cut off top and tail. Steam until tender. Let cool until you can slip off the skins, and slice. Peel and slice orange. Mix remaining ingredients and shake vigorously. Dress salad to taste.

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Pizza

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Ingredients:

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1 tablespoon oil

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1⁄2 an onion, diced

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2 cloves garlic, diced

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1 teaspoon dried oregano

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1 can (15 ounces) tomato sauce

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1⁄2 an onion, sliced

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8 mushrooms, sliced

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1⁄2 a bell pepper, sliced

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premade pizza crust

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2 cups grated mozzarella

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Putting it together:

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In heavy pan, heat oil. Add diced onions and sauté until soft, about 3 minutes. Add garlic and oregano and cook 1 minute. Add tomato sauce and cook gently 15 minutes. While sauce cooks, fry sliced onion, mushrooms and bell pepper 5 minutes. Top premade crust with sauce, cover with cheese and put vegetables on top. Bake

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according to crust instructions.

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Vegetable Barley Soup

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Ingredients:

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1 tablespoon oil

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1⁄2 medium onion, diced

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1⁄2 a bell pepper, diced

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2 cloves garlic, minced

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6 mushrooms, sliced

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1 cup celery, sliced

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2 carrots, diced

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1⁄2 cup pearled barley

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4 cups broth

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1 teaspoon soy sauce

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salt and pepper to taste

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Putting it together:

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In a large pot, sauté onion and

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peppers in oil 2-3 minutes. Add mushrooms and cook 5 minutes. Add garlic and cook 1 minute more. Add carrots and barley. Cover with broth, add 1 tablespoon soy sauce and bring to a boil. Cook gently until barley is tender, about an hour. Taste and

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correct salt, add pepper and serve.

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Tuna Noodles

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Ingredients:

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1 can tuna

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6 oz. uncooked pasta

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2 tablespoons butter

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1⁄2 an onion, diced

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1 cup celery, sliced thin

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1 cup broth

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1⁄2 cup sour cream

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1⁄2 teaspoon salt

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Putting it together:

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Drain tuna well. Cook pasta

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according to package directions. Melt butter in a large skillet and fry onion 3 minutes. Add celery and cook another 2 minutes. Add broth and cook until celery is tender and broth reduced by about half. Remove from heat and add sour cream. Stir in drained pasta and let rest 2 minutes, covered. Add tuna, stir to heat through and serve.

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Sweet Potato Latkes

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Ingredients:

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1⁄4 cup minced onion

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1 large egg, beaten

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1 tablespoon lime juice

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1⁄3 cup all-purpose flour

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1⁄2 teaspoon salt

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1⁄2 teaspoon smoked paprika, optional

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1⁄4 teaspoon freshly grated black pepper

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1 pound (approx. 2) sweet potatoes, peeled and grated

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2 small Yukon gold potatoes, peeled and grated

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oil for frying

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Putting it together:

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Mix everything except oil. Fill

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skillet with 1⁄4- to 1⁄2-inch oil and heat over medium heat. Working in batches, spoon about 2-3 tablespoons batter into oil for each latke. Tamp down lightly to flatten, and cook until golden, about 2-3 minutes on each side.

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Using a slotted spatula, transfer to drain on a paper-towel-lined

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platter. Serve immediately with sour cream, applesauce, or other favorite accompaniments.

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Un-Stuffing

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Ingredients:

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1 sweet Italian sausage

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2 tablespoons oil

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1⁄2 an onion, diced

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1 cup celery, sliced thin

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1 teaspoon dried sage

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1 teaspoon salt

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3 to 4 cups diced day old bread

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1⁄2 cup broth or milk

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Putting it together:

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Crumble and cook sausage. Reserve. In the same pan, sauté the onion and celery in oil two minutes. Add sage and salt. Turn heat very low and

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add the bread, tossing to coat with the oil.

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Add sufficient stock to moisten the dressing very lightly — you want the bread to soften and stick together just a little bit, but not to be gummy. Add sausage, mix, and place in greased casserole dish. Bake at 350 degrees for 20-30 minutes, until lightly browned and fragrant.

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Julie Cross

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