Baby, It’s COLD outside!


Here we are in an Artic Freeze (my term) – our temperatures are in the teens & lower. Went to Knit Night last night, it was 5 degrees F. out – I was happily amazed to see 14 ladies came out in the cold to knit/crochet together! None seemed the least bit surprised that others came, either.  I spent a little over 2 hours yesterday phoning all of my special needs students & their group homes, telling them we’re cancelling our Wednesday meeting (tonight) due to the cold. We have, probably, about 8 students in wheelchairs, or using walkers and when it’s this cold, they really suffer because it takes them longer to get from a van/car to inside the building (even if their caregiver is a fast wheelchair pusher!).  That means that I have a FREE night tonight! Today, also, is my dear husband’s 61st birthday! I’m making him a banana cake with cream cheese frosting later on today. I asked him if he would like his favorite dinner (Meat & Potato Pie) but he seemed rather non-plused about it – “I don’t know – I’m not real excited about it being my birthday” (but that’s ‘him’ – he doesn’t get excited about anything very often.) I had no clue what to buy him for a present, so I located some books I thought he’d enjoy: 2 Clive Custler’s we don’t have and a used book from the library “Hidden Treasures of the World” – one of those photo books about various antiques/places, etc. – I’m pretty sure he’ll like that one.

Delivered the 50 baby hats on Monday; I’m averaging about 50 every 2 months, so that’s a pretty good output. Have 2 chemo caps done (using the brown & pink yarn) and working on one more – hoping to deliver them next Tuesday after Bible study (our church is just down the road from the cancer center – makes sense to drive there afterwards, to save gas – it’s about a 20 minute drive from our house). It was interesting last night observing the various projects some of my ladies are working on; one of the new ladies was knitting an Entrelac scarf (NOT an easy pattern, for sure!):


It’s knitting in two directions, making the stitching look weaved – it’s one I have in my “perhaps I’ll try one day” pile – definitely NOT for a beginner! Several were knitting various scarves in several different patterns. One was finishing up another of those ‘lace yarn’ scarves (like I knit). I love going to Knit Night because I can see other patterns/ideas/projects I might not even attempt and ALSO there are the people who are working on them to gather information from! One of our members who hasn’t been to a meeting in a good 2-3 years, now works for JoAnn fabrics and was telling us that if we had anything we’d like help on, she’d be more than willing to teach us – GREAT! She helped another of our members get the ‘knack’ of how to knit the lace yarn by sitting her down and giving her the scarf she’d been working on: “Here – you take it and I’ll show you how to begin!” Pretty neat, eh?

Well, now that we’re definitely into the COLD months, I’ve got quite a few great soups, stews & casserole recipes for you:


Remember that these are NOT my personal recipes, I glean them from various sources and note the donor/site at the bottom of each recipe.


Zesty Minestrone

1/4 C. Zesty Italian salad dressing
1 onion, chopped
1 stalk celery, chopped
1 carrot, peeled & chopped
1 (14.5 oz) can diced tomatoes,
1 (19 oz) can red kidney beans*, rinsed
2 (14 oz, ea) cans vegetable broth
2 C. water
1 tsp. Italian seasoning
1 1/2 C. small pasta shells, uncooked
1/2 C. grated Parmesan cheese

Heat salad dressing in large nonstick

skillet on medium-high heat. Add onions,

celery & carrots; cook 2 minutes or until

crisp-tender, stirring occasionally. Pour
into crockpot. Add tomatoes, beans,
broth, water & seasoning; stir & cover.
Cook on Low 6 hours (or High 3 hours)
Stir in macaroni, cook 10-15 minutes or
until macaroni is tender. Top with
cheese just before serving. Serves 8,
about 1 C. each)

*can also use canned white beans or
chickpeas (garbanzo beans)

(recipe: Kraft foods)

Crockpot Pork Stew & Dumplings

2 lb. pork tenderloin, cut into 1
inch pieces 2 large carrots, peeled, cut into
3/4 inch slices
2 stalks celery, cut into bite-sized
2 onions, chopped
2 1/2 C. chicken broth
2 bay leaves
2 eggs
1 (6 oz) pkg. Stove Top stuffing
mix for chicken
1 C. warm water
1 (8 oz) tub Kraft Philadelphia
Chive & Onion cream cheese spread
1/4 C. chopped fresh chives

Combine first 6 ingredients in crockpot;
cover with lid. Cook on Low 8-10 hours
or High 4 hours. Discard bay leaves.
Mix eggs, stuffing mix & water; shape
into 8 balls. Add cream cheese spread
to crockpot, stir until melted. Gently
stir in stuffing balls; cook, covered,
oh High 30 minutes. Turn off crockpot.
Let stand 15 minutes. Serve stew &
dumplings topped with chives.
Serves 8 (1 1/2 C. each)

Shaping the stuffing balls:
Use moistened hands to shape the
stuffing balls; it helps prevent the
stuffing from sticking to your hands.

(recipe: Kraft foods)

Chicken ‘n Dumplings Casserole

1/4 C. butter or margarine
1/4 C. chopped onion
1/2 C. chopped celery
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 C. flour
2 tsp. sugar
1 tsp. dried basil
1/2 tsp. ground black pepper
4 C. chicken broth
1 (10 oz) pkg. frozen peas
4 C. cubed, cooked chicken
2 C. Bisquick
2 tsp. dried basil
2/3 C. milk

Preheat oven 350 degrees F.
In large saucepan, saute onion, celery

& garlic in butter until tender. Add flour,
sugar, salt, basil, pepper & broth; bring
to a boil. Cook & stir 1 minute; reduce
heat. Add peas; cook 5 minutes, stirring
constantly. Stir in chicken & pour into
a greased 9 X 13 baking pan.

To Make Dumplings:

Combine Bisquick & basil in a bowl. Stir
in milk with a fork until moistened. Drop
by tablespoonfuls onto casserole. (12
dumplings). Bake, uncovered, 30 minutes.
Cover & bake 10 minutes more or until
dumplings are done.


Cauliflower Broccoli Casserole

1 bunch fresh cauliflower, cut into
bite-sized pieces
1 bunch fresh broccoli, cut into
bite-sized pieces
1 stick margarine, melted
2 (8 oz, ea) pkgs cream cheese, softened
2 cans cream of celery soup
(paprika – for garnish)

Preheat oven 350 degrees F.
Cook first 2 ingredients (either in pot with
some water added, or steamed or
microwaved) until vegetables are NOT
cooked until they’re soft – just cook
about 5 minutes). Drain vegetables
well & cool. Place in a buttered 9 X 13

baking dish. Mix together next 3 ingredients;
pour over vegetables then sprinkle top
with paprika. Bake, uncovered, 35 minutes.


Butternut Squash Risotto

2 T. olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped

2 t. fresh sage, chopped
1 small butternut squash, peeled,
seeded & grated or finely chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1 1/2 C. arborio rice
1 C water
salt & pepper to taste
1/2 C. Parmesan cheese, grated
4 C. chicken stock

Heat oil in deep skillet or pot over
medium heat. Add onion, salt &
pepper; saute 4 minutes until onion
is softened but not browned. Add
sage & cook 1 minute. Add squash
& garlic; cook 3 minutes. Heat
chicken stock in a saucepan; keep
simmering. Add rice to vegetables &
cook 3 minutes until rice kernals become
chalky. This helps release the starch in
the rice & is an important step in the
creaminess of the risotto. Add water
to deglaze pan; cook 3 minutes. Add
one ladleful of hot stock at a time to
the rice mixture while stirring. Do not
add any more stock to rice until the
liquid is evaporated. Continue doing
this until all of the stock is absorbed.
This is a slow process, do not rush it.
when all stock is incorporated, remove
from heat and add Parmesan cheese.
Serves 4


Warm Peanut Butter Pudding

1 (3.9 oz) pkg. chocolate instant pudding
2 C. cold milk
1/4 C. creamy peanut butter
1/4 C. thawed Cool Whip

Beat pudding mix & milk with whisk 2 minutes.
Spoon into 4 microwaveable dessert dishes;
top with peanut butter. Microwave on High
30 seconds or until peanut butter begins to
melt & pudding is heated through. Top
with Cool Whip. Serves 4

Suggestion: For best results, microwave 1-2
servings at a time. Pudding may also be
served cold.

(recipe: Kraft foods)

Hobo Skillet Pork Chops

6 loin pork chops
1/2 C. flour
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. dry mustard
2 tsp. ground sage
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
1 T. butter
1 (10.75 oz) can chicken & rice soup

Mix together flour, salt, dry mustard, sage &
garlic powder in shallow dish. Dredge pork chops
in mixture on both sides. On medium heat, melt
butter in skillet & brown chops. Turn heat to
low & add soup; cover & simmer 1 hour.

(recipe: Peg-Marys Recipe Exchange)

Irish Ham & Potato Pie

1/2 C. green onions, chopped
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. black pepper
3 C. cooked, diced potatoes
1 1/2 C. (6 oz) shredded Swiss cheese
1 C. diced, cooked ham
1/2 c. finely chopped green bell pepper
1/2 C. Half & Half

Preheat oven 350 degrees F.
Generously butter 9 inch pie plate. Whisk
eggs, onions, salt & pepper in large bowl. Add
potatoes, cheese, ham, bell pepper & Half & Half.
Stir to blend & pour into prepared dish. Bake
1 hour 20 minutes or until tested down when a
knife inserted into center comes out clean. Cut
into wedges to serve. Makes 4-6 servings.

(recipe: Peg – Marys Recipe Exchange)

Mandarin Tuna Casserole

1 T. butter
1/4 C. chopped green onion
1 C. sliced celery
1 (10.75 oz) can cream of mushroom soup,
2 C. chow mein noodles, divided
1 (7 oz) can tuna, drained
1/2 c. cashews, toasted
1/4 C. water
1 (11 oz) can Mandarin orange sections, drained

Preheat ove 350 degrees F.
In heated pan, melt butter over medium heat; saute
green onions 1 minute. Add celery & continue sauteeing
3 minutes. Add soup, half of chow mein noodles, tuna,
cashews & water; mix well. Spoon into a 8 inch baking
dish; sprinkle remaining noodles on top. Bake 15 minutes
or until bubbly. Garnish top with Mandarin orange ssections.
Serves 4.

(recipe: Rhonda G-Marys Recipe Exchange)

Garlic-Lemon Chicken

1 (3 lb.) chicken, skinned & cut up (do not debone)
1/2 C. lemon juice
1/2 C. minced garlic
1 tsp. seasoned salt
1 1/4 tsp. poultry seasoning
3 dashes hot pepper sauce (Tabasco)
1 C. white wine

Combine all ingredients in crockpot. Cover & cook
on Low 8-10 hours. Serve over hot cooked rice.

(recipe: carolsrecipes77-Slowcooker digest)

Apple Stuffed Chicken Breast

2 skinless, boneless chicken breasts
1/2 C. chopped apple
2 T. shredded Cheddar cheese

1 T. Italian-style dried bread crumbs
1 T. butter or margarine
1/4 C. water
1/2 tsp. cornstarch
1 T. chopped fresh parsley (garnish)

Combine apple, cheese & bread crumbs; set
aside. Flatten chicken breasts between sheets of
waxed paper, to 1/4 inch thickness. Divide
apple mixture between chicken breasts; roll up
each breast & secure with toothpicks.
Melt butter or margarine in large skillet over
medium heat. Brown stuffed chicken breasts.
Add water, cover & simmer 15-20 minutes,

until chicken is no longer pink. Transfer chicken
to a serving platter. Combine 1 T. water & cornstarch,
stir into chicken juices in pan. Cook & stir until
thickened. Pour over chicken, garnish & serve.
Serves 4.


Pineapple Cranberry Zucchini Bread

3 eggs
2 C. shredded zucchini
1 C. vegetable oil
1 (8 oz) can crushed pineapple, drained
2 tsp. vanilla
3 C. flour
1 3/4 C. sugar
2 tsp. baking soda
1 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. salt
 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1 C. chopped nuts
1/2 C. dried cranberries
1/2 C. coconut (optional)

Preheat oven 350 degrees F. In a large bowl, combine eggs, zucchini,
oil, pineapple & vanilla. In a separate
bowl, combine dry ingredients; mix well
then ad dry to wet ingredients. Fold in nuts, cranberries & coconut (if desired).
Pour into 2 greased 8 X 4″ loaf pans or
3 small loaf pans. Bake larger pans 50-55
minutes. Smaller pans: 35-40 minutes or
until golden brown and toothpick inserted
into center comes out clean. Cool 10
minutes before removing from pans to
wire racks


That’s the news from a cold, breezy Michigan; hope you’re WARM and enjoying your day. I’m currently amusing myself with a book I picked up at the library: “Cranford” by Elizabeth Gaskell. I learned of this book from a knitting site; it’s a fiction story of a English country town in mid nineteenth century. It’s a bit of a struggle reading it, as the wording is not exactly ‘as we speak these days’, but I’ve decided to plow through it anyway. There is also a connecting video: “Return to Cranford”-this features Dame Judith Dench, Jonathan Pryce and several others – as per the back cover: “an all-star cast re-unite in this heart-warming 2 part sequel to the Emmy-winning BBC/PBS mini-series.” Haven’t watched the video yet, hopefully it will be a little easier to follow than the book. I DO enjoy period pieces (even though this book is a bit to plow through), so we’ll see . . .

Just checked our local weather forecast for the next few days: today High 18, low 9/Thurs high 20, low 14/Friday high 23, low 17 (oh, and periodic snow fluries for those days, too ). Right now they’re saying it’s a balmy 10 degrees F. out there – it’s SUNNY! YAY! Am planning on stopping at the grocery store after dropping youngest at work at around 3:45, purchasing the ingredients to make the Meat & Potato Pie.

Have a GREAT day (stay warm!)




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