And sometimes we change things


Today we’re in a ‘waiting for another weather change’ holding pattern; it’s chilly, gray with a 100% chance of a wintry/breezy freezing rain & sleet due tonight – oh joy . . .  Can’t complain, though, we’ve had nice clear weather for weeks now (and no snow) – it being Michigan, that’s kind of what we’re known for – BIG winters. I’ll bet the grocery & hard ware stores are really busy today – that seems to be the ‘norm’ when we’re told to brace for a storm: gotta buy groceries, bottled water, batteries, and snow shovels/generators, etc. Me? I’m just going to ‘sit it out’ – been there/done that many times before – we’ll be fine. (she said, hoping she wouldn’t regret/eat her words tomorrow!).

On the ‘change’ band wagon’ I made an ‘executive decision’ last night when attempting to get the last baby afghan done – decision was: It’s been a PAIN and it’s not getting any easier – I’M DONE! Haven’t decided whether to rip it all out & re-use the yarn or just give the entire pkg., directions/needles & all to the senior center & let THEM finish it! We’ll see (don’t worry – have lots of extra needles & yarn). Been working on a few baby hats, just to have some knitting to do. Right now I’m kind of in a knitting ‘funk’ – I know that Crisis Pregnancy Center needs baby blankets to give to those mothers who decide to KEEP their babies; I know that the local hospital is happy to receive baby hats and the homeless shelter knitting is needed, too . . . it’s just that sometimes I get to feeling overwhelmed. I almost feel like they count on me and I don’t want to let them down. (Yes, most places also have other people who knit & crochet for them and I’m not the ONLY one – but it feels like that.) Sorry – I’m whining! Later I’m going to go through my yarns and maybe then I’ll make some sort of decision on what to knit next – I might even CROCHET! Who knows!?

Since this is the week between ‘eating’ holidays, I’ve been attempting to collect some PARTY foods for those of you who might have a party or gathering on New Years Eve.


Honey-Mustard Kielbasa Bites

1 (14 oz) pkg. kielbasa, sliced
1/3 C. yellow mustard
3 T. honey
1 garlic clove, minced
1/4 tsp. black pepper

toothpicks, for serving

Mix mustard, honey, garlic & pepper
in small bowl. Add mixture and
sliced kielbasa to crockpot. Cover
& cook on High 1 1/2 hours, stirring
occasionally. Turn heat down to
warm before serving.  Serves 5

Recipe can be doubled or tripled
for a large party – you can also brown
the kielbasa in a pan stove-top before
adding to crockpot

7-Layer Chili Cheese Dip

2 (15 oz, ea) cans thick chili
1 (16 oz) tub sour cream
1 (8 oz) pkg. sharp Cheddar cheese,
1 (2.25 oz) can black olives, drained
1/4 C. sliced jalapenos (ones in a jar)
2 Roma tomatoes, cut in half, remove
seeds & juice, then dice
1/4 C. sliced green onions

party sized bag of large Fritos Scoops

Spray insides of 6 qt. crockpot with
nonstick spray. Spread chili on bottom,
then sour cream*. Sprinkle grated
cheese on top. Cover & cook on High
2 hours. Add olives, jalapenos, tomatoes
& green onions. Serve with Fritos Scoops
Serves 8

*Easiest way to add sour cream is by
adding spoonfuls all over top of chili,
then spreading evenly with a spatula

(crockpot) Shredded Beef Sheet
Tray Nachos

3 lb. chuck roast
2 T. flour
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper
1/4 tsp. onion powder
2 T. cooking oil
2 (10 oz, ea) cans Ro*Tel (tomatoes
& chilies)
1/2 C. diced white or yellow onion
1 (1.25 oz) pkg. taco seasoning

1 large bag tortilla chips
1 lb. Monterrey Jack cheese shredded
2 avocados, diced
1 (4 oz) can black olives, drained
sour cream – for serving
salsa – for serving

In small bowl combine flour, salt/pepper
& onion powder – pat mixture onto roast.
Heat large skillet on medium-high heat;
when pan is hot, add cooking oil & brown
roast on all sides – transfer to a 6 qt. crockpot.
Add Ro*tel, onions & taco seasoning on top
of roast. Cover & cook on High 6 hours or
Low 8 hours, without opening lid during
cooking time. When meat is done:
Set oven temp. to BROIL
Shred meat using 2 forks, discarding any
fatty pieces. Add entire bag of chips to a
sheet pan. Place shredded beef over chips
in an even layer, then sprinkle on cheese.
Place in oven & broil (about 5 minutes-
watch to make sure it doesn’t burn). Remove
from oven; top with diced avodaco & olives.
Serve with sour cream & salsa. Serves 8

Crockpot Beer Brats

2 (14 oz) pkgs. smoked bratwursts
1 large white onion, sliced
2 bell peppers, sliced
1-2 minced garlic cloves
1/2 tsp. pepper
1 (12 oz) can beer

buns for serving plus condiments

In large skillet over medium-high heat
add enough oil to cover bottom of
pan. Add brats & brown on all sides
(poster does this in 2 batches). While
they are cooking add onion, bell
peppers, garlic & black pepper to
crockpot. Add browned brats on
top & pour beer over all. Cover &
cook on High 3 hours. Serves 12

3-Cheese Baked Ziti w/Meatballs &

1 T. olive oil
1 pkg. (Johnsonville) fully cooked
Italian sausage slices (OR) 1 1/2 lb.
(uncooked) Johnsonville) Sweet
Italian sausage links
2 T. olive oil
3/4 lb. yellow onion, diced
3/4 lb. green bell pepper, diced
4 oz. button mushrooms, sliced
1 lb. dry rigatoni pasta
5 C. tomato sauce (plus more
for serving, heated)
1 lb. sliced Fontina cheese
1 C. freshly grated Parmesan
cheese (plus more for serving)
1 (24 oz) bag (Johnsonville) fully
cooked 3 cheese Italian-style
meatballs, heated in mocrowave
until hot
2 C. shredded mozzarella cheese

If using Sweet Italian Sausage Links:
In large skillet over medium heat heat
1 T. olive oil & cook sausage links until
browned & cooked through, about 5
minutes. Remove from pan, cool &
slice into 1″ links.
If using fully cooked Ital. sausage:
Omit olive oil & cook like uncooked,
In same skillet, heat 2 T. oil over
medium-high heat; add onion, peppers
& mushrooms – cook until onions are
tender, 5 minutes. Add sausage slices-
heat just to hot, remove from heat.
Bring large salted pot of water to boil &
cook rigatoni to just under al dente (they
should still be chewy) – drain.
Preheat oven 350 degrees F.
Spray 9 X 13″ baking dish with nonstick
spray. Layer 1 C. hot tomato sauce on bottom,
mix 2 C. tomato sauce with drained pasta &
pour 1/3 into prepared pan, reserving rest
for other layers. Layer half Fontina cheese
over pasta; layer all of sausage/pepper
mixture over Fontina. Sprinkle half Parm
over sausages. Layer another 1/3 pasta
& top with remaining Fontina. Layer
entire bag of meatballs over Fontina &
top with 1 C. tomato sauce. Layer final
1/3 pasta & top with last 1 C. tomato
sauce, remaining Parm. cheese, letting
some of meatballs poke through from
previous layer. Top with mozzarella &
bake, uncovered, 30 minutes until hot
& bubbly, just starting to brown on top.
Serve hot with additional tomato sauce &
Parm. cheese. Serves 8-10


Tomato-Tortellini Soup

1 (9 oz) pkg. refrigerated cheese
2 (10 3/4 oz, ea) cans condensed
tomato soup, undiluted
2 C. vegetable broth
2 C. milk
2 c. Half & Half
1/2 C. chopped oil-packed
sun-dried tomatoes
1 tsp. onion powder
1 tsp. garlic powder
1 tsp. dried basil
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 C. shredded Parmesan cheese

additional shredded Parm. cheese,

Cook tortellini accordg. to pkg.
directions. In Dutch oven combine
soup, broth, milk, Half & Half,
tomatoes & seasonings – heat
through, stirring frequently. Drain
tortellini & carefully add to soup.
Stir in cheese; sprinkle each serving
with additional cheese, if desired.
Makes 10 servings (2 1/2 qts)


Caramel Apple Crumb Bars

1 1/2 C. flour
1/2 C. cornstarch
1 C. powdered sugar
1/2 tsp. salt
1 C. butter (2 sticks), very cold &
cut into small pieces
1 tsp. vanilla

Caramel Apple Filling:
2 Granny Smith apples, peeled/cored
thinly sliced
2 Pink Lady apples, peeled/cored
thinly sliced
4 T. flour
2 T. brown sugar
2 T. granulated sugar
2 tsp. Apple Pie spice*
1/3 C. (Smuckers) Salted Caramel sauce

Crumb Topping:
1 C. flour
2/3 C. brown sugar, firmly packed
1/3 C. granulated sugar
1/2 C. oats
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
8 T. butter, very cold, cut into small

Preheat oven 350 degrees F.
Line a 9 X 13″ baking dish with foil,
making sure foil overlaps the edges
of the pan-this will help remove the
bars from the pan. Spray foil with
nonstick spray.
In medium bowl combine flour,
cornstarch, powdered sugar & salt –
using a pastry blender or two forks,
cut in cold butter pieces. Add vanilla &
press mixture into prepared pan using
your fingers to press firmly, forming
an even layer. Bake 22-25 minutes
until set but not yet golden brown.
Caramel Filling:
Place sliced apples in a bowl. In a
separate bowl combine flour, brown
sugar, gran. sugar & apple pie spice;
stir well. Toss apples with mixture to
Crumb Mixture:
In a bowl combine flour, brown sugar,
gran. sugar, oats & cinnamon. Cut in
butter using a pastry cutter or two
forks (or your hands) until it resembles
a wet sand/crumb mixture.
Layer apple mixture on top of hot
shortbread crust & drizzle with
caramel sauce. Top that with crumb
topping & bake 40-45 minutes. Allow
bars to cool completely then chill at
least 2 hours before cutting into bars.
Drizzle top with additional caramel
before serving. Makes 16 large bars.

Apple Pie Spice recipe:
1 T. ground cinnamon
1 tsp. ground nutmeg
1 tsp. allspice
dash cardamom (optional)

Mix all ingredients together – use
as much as needed for recipe

(recipe for Apple Pie spice:
(recipe for bars:

Mother-in-Laws Paella

2 T. olive oil
1/2 lb. chorizo sausage, cut into
1/4″ slices
1 C. chicken broth (plus more
as needed)
2 1/4 C. frozen chopped pepper
& onion blend
1 (9 oz) pkg. frozen peas
1 lb. frozen shrimp, peeled/
deveined with tails removed,
1 1/2 tsp. papri
1 tsp. kosher salt

8 C. cooked yellow or long-grain
white rice

In large nonstick skillet over medium-
high heat, heat olive oil. Add sausage;
cook until browned on both sides;
transfer to a plate. In same skillet add
1 C. broth; bring to simmer. Add pepper/
onion mixture & peas – cook 4-6 minutes
until heated through, stirring occasionally.
Add shrimp, cook 2-4 minutes until pink.
Stir in paprika, salt, rice & cooked sausage.
Reduce heat to medium, add additional
chicken broth, as needed, to achieve
desired consistency. Cook until heated
through; serve immediately. Serves 4


Oh Joy! Brownies

1 egg
1 box (Duncan Hines)
dark chocolate
premium brownie mix
1 T. flour
1 C. sweetened coconut
1/2 C. chopped nuts
1 small can sweetened condensed

Preheat oven 350 degrees F.
Mix brownies accordg. to pkg.
directions. Pour half of batter into
greased pan. Mix together coconut,
sweet/con milk, 1 T. flour, 1 egg &
nuts; spread mixture over first layer
of brownies. Spread remaining brownie
dough over top & bake 35-40 minutes
until firm in center. Allow to cool; cut
into squares.

NOTE: do not grease sides of a brownie
pan, only grease the bottom



Things are quiet around here after all
the hustle & bustle of the past week’s
preparations for the holiday. I don’t
really have any particular plans for
the day (I probably should get to the
library & check out a few more books
BEFORE the winter/storm thing hits).
It’s been kinda nice to have already
cooked dinner ingredients in the
fridge (ran out of mashed potatoes
last night – those are always the first
to go). Still have lots of turkey, some
green bean casserole & stuffing &
rolls (plus more cheesecake – the
Happy Birthday, Jesus cake is almost
gone – 1 piece left!). Lots of the cran-
raspberry jello stuff; since that was an
experiment (first time made this year),
I’d rate it OK – more like a dessert than
a relish side dish; kinda sweet (I added
2 bags of unsweetened frozen raspberries
when the recipe called for 1 – I LOVE
raspberries.) This dish would probably
be good served with Cool Whip or
whipped cream – it made a 9 X 9″
pan – more than I thought it would.
Will I make it again? Probably not – not
that there’s anything wrong with the
recipe, it just wasn’t what I was looking
for as a cranberry relish-type side.
(recipe was posted in a previous blog

Hope you are recovering from the
holiday and are sort of ‘back on track’;
the New Years Eve is fast approaching.
Our plans for that? Stay home, probably
make some sort of appetizers, watch
TV & crash before midnight. It’s not a
big deal in our household (when we
were YOUNG, that’s a different story!
but not now). The boys will all probably
have somewhere to go – oldest will
probably throw a big party at his
house (he loves to entertain, and being
a chef, he does it very well).

Enjoy your day – stay warm & cozy –



PS: Oh! Almost forgot! Gas prices are
coming down a little: they were, just
before Christmas, $1.96/9 now they’re
sitting at $1.84/9.


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One CommentLeave a comment

  1. well it is 3:09 pm on the 28th and the snow is really coming down. Am I going any where? Nope and I will be at home on New Years too,

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