and Winter is here – I think


Our promise of 100% ‘wintry mix’ came to pass – all day I kept hearing tiny little balls of hail hit the windows and our temps dropped into the 30’s. Luckily, the roads are clear, and there’s just a thin sheet of ice on the car windows & sidewalks. Both sons had to go to work today, so I’ve been praying they’d be safe driving (one’s riding a garbage truck so I pray for his safety there, too).

The holiday dinner fixin’s have dwindled down to just ‘snack material’ now – lots of leftover turkey, a small bowl of stuffing, some gravy, rolls and a bit of the cran-raspberry Jello (and maybe 5 pieces of cheesecake). That means I’ll have to figure out something to fix for dinner tonight! Am leaning towards Polish sausage & mac & cheese – two favorites (which are also quick fixes!). There’s still a TON of cookies – I’ve taken to looking the other way when going through the dining room, as the big plate ‘o cookies is still there (with lots more in the basement fridge). I’d pitch them (if it were just me) but I know that husband will eat ANY cookie – stale or fresh, so they won’t go to waste/waist? hehehe


Spinach/Sausage/Cheese Manicotti

1 (15 oz) tub ricotta cheese
1 (10 oz) pkg. frozen chopped spinach,
thawed/squeezed dry
1/2 lb. ground Italian sausage
1/4 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
2 tsp. garlic, minced
1/2 C. minced onion
1 egg
1 tsp. dry parsley
1 tsp. dry basil
1/2 tsp. ground pepper
1/4 tsp. garlic powder
1/4 tsp. onion powder
2 C. shredded Italian cheese,
2 (26 oz, ea) jars spaghetti sauce
(or about 5-6 C. homemade)
1 1/2 C. water
1 (8 oz) pkg. manicotti shells

Preheat oven 350 degrees F.
In large skillet over medium-high heat
brown Ital. sausage with minced garlic,
& red pepper flakes; drain &
return to pan. In large bowl combine
ricotta, spinach, onion & egg; season
with parsley, basil, pepper, garlic powder
& onion powder – add cooled sausage
mixture & mix in 1 1/4 C. cheese.
In separate bowl stir spaghetti sauce &
water. Spread 1 C. sauce in bottom of
9 X 13″ pan. Using a spoon or piping
bag, stuff shells with ricotta mixture;
arrange in a single layer in dish. Cover
with remaining sauce. (If preparing
in advance, cover with foil & refrigerate-
remove from fridge 30 minutes before
baking or go straight from fridge to oven
but add additional baking time.)
Bake, uncovered, 45-55 minutes or until
noodles are soft & sauce is bubbly. Top
with remaining cheese during last 15
minutes of baking time. Serves 6


Easy Mayo Dinner Rolls

2 C. self-rising flour
1 C. WHOLE milk*
4 T. mayonnaise
1 T. sugar

Preheat oven 450 degrees F.
In large bowl stir all ingredients
to form a soft dough. Spoon into
a 12-cup muffin pan sprayed
with nonstick spray; distribute
evenly. Bake 10-12 minutes until
golden. Makes 12 rolls

*be sure to use WHOLE milk ONLY


Northend Skillet Chicken

1 envelope onion soup  mix
1/4 C. vegetable or olive oil
1/4 C. water
1 T. fresh lemon or lime juice
1/8 tsp. cayenne pepper
1 tsp. Italian seasoning
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
1 lb. skinless, boneless chicken
breast halves, cut into thin strips
1 (16 oz) pkg. frozen assorted
vegetables, thawed/drained

In large skillet blend onion soup
mix, oil, water, lime/lemon juice,
cayenne pepper, Ital. seasoning &
garlic powder; let stand 5 minutes.
Bring mixture to boil & stir in
chicken & veggies. Cook, uncovered,
8-10 minutes until chicken is done &
no pink remains, stirring frequently.
Serves 3


Cinnamon Roll French Toast

3/4 C. chopped pecans
2/3 C. packed brown sugar
1/2 C. melted butter
1/2 C. plain Greek  yogurt
1 tsp. vanilla
2 (12 oz, ea) tubes Pillsbury cinnamon
rolls, each roll cut into quarters

Combine all ingredients except rolls
in a large bowl. Toss quartered rolls
in mixture (reserve icing pkts). Spray
insides of crockpot with nonstick spray.
Place mixture into crockpot, cover &
cook on Low 2 1/2 – 3 hours until sides
are golden brown & rolls are set. Drizzle
icing packets on top & serve. Serves 6-8


Tuscan Chicken & Bean Soup

2 boneless, skinless chicken breast
1 (32 oz) carton chicken broth
1 tsp. dry oregano
1/4 C. diced onion
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 tsp. black pepper
1 (15.5 oz) can cennellini beans,
1 (14.4 oz) can diced tomatoes
1 (7.75 oz) can garbanzo beans,
1 C. fresh kale leaves, thick stem
removed & thinly sliced
1/4 C. fresh grated Parmesan cheese
(plus more for garnish)

Place first 6 ingredients in crockpot &
cook 1-2 hours on High until chicken is
cooked through. Remove chicken from pot &
break into bite-sized pieces – return
to crockpot & add remaining 5
ingredients. Cook on High 1 hour until
ingredients are heated through. Serve
soup with extra grated Parm. cheese on
top. Serves 6


Banana Cake

1/2 C. butter, softened
1 C. sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla
2 C. flour
2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1 1/2 C. mashed ripe bananas
(about 3 medium)
1 C. sour cream (8 oz)

Coffee Frosting:
1/3 C. butter, softened
2 1/2 C. powdered sugar
2 tsp. instant coffee granules
2-3 T. milk

Preheat oven 350 degrees F.
In large bowl cream butter & sugar
until light & fluffy. Add eggs, one at
a time, beating well after each.
Stir in vanilla; combine flour,
baking soda & salt; add to creamed
mixture alternately with bananas &
sour cream. Beat well after each addition.
Pour into greased 9 X 13 pan. Bake
35-40 minutes until toothpick inserted
into center comes out clean. Cool
on wire rack.
In small bowl beat butter & powdered
sugar until smooth. Dissolve coffee
granules in milk; add to butter
mixture & beat until smooth. Spread
over cake. Serves 12-15.



Velveeta Potato Bites

2 lb. baking potatoes (about 6)
peeled, cut into chunks
2 green onions, thinly sliced
1 egg, beaten
1/4 tsp. black pepper
1/4 lb. Velveeta (4 oz) cut into
24 cubes
1 pkg. Shake & Bake extra crispy
seasoned coating mix
1 1/2 C. thick/chunky salsa

Cook potatoes in boiling water in
large pot 15-20 minutes until tender;
drain. Cool 10 minutes then mash
until smooth. Add onions, egg &
pepper; mix just until blended.
Preheat oven 400 degrees F.
Empty Shake & Bake into a pie plate.
Roll potato mixture into 24 balls,
using about 2 T. per ball. Insert
1 Velveeta cheese cube into center
of each ball, completely enclosing
cheese. Roll, one-at-a-time, in
coating mix – turn to evenly coat.
Place on rimmed baking sheet sprayed
with nonstick spray. Bake 14-16
minutes until heated through. Serve
with salsa. Makes 24


Cracked Pepper/Parmesan Crisps

3/4 C. shredded Parmesan cheese
1/4 C. grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 tsp. coarsely ground black pepper

Preheat oven 350 degrees F.
Combine cheeses; spoon into 14
mounds, 2 inches apart on baking
sheet (using about 1 T. mixture for
each mound). Flatten mounds slightly &
sprinkle tops with pepper. Bake 6
minutes until golden brown, rotating
baking sheet after 3 minutes. Transfer
immediately to wire racks; cool
completely. Makes 14 servings.



Spicy Fried Cheeseballs

8 oz. grated cheese (your choice)
1 C. flour
2 C. bread crumbs
2 eggs
1 T. water
1 tsp. chili powder
1 tsp. garlic powder
salt/pepper, to taste
oil for frying

Mix grated cheese with 1/2 tsp.
chili powder – take 1 tsp. of mixture
& form a ball; repeat with rest of mix.
Roll all balls in flour. Mix egg & water;
beat well. Mix bread crumbs with
remaining chili powder. Dip balls in egg,
one-at-a-time, then roll in flour and
again back in egg. Last-roll balls in
bread crumbs to nicely coat whole ball.
When all balls are coated, heat oil in
a skillet. Cook balls until golden; remove
to paper towel. Stick a toothpick in each
ball & serve.

(recipe: the seaman mom)

Waldorf Salad

3 crisp red apples (Pink Lady, Fuji or Gala)
3 crisp Granny Smith apples
1 T. lemon juice
2 C. red grapes, halved
1 C. celery, chopped (about 3 stalks)
1 C. walnut halves
3/4 c. mayonnaise or plain yogurt

green leaf lettuce or mixed greens

Slice apples then chop into bite-sized
pieces. Place apple chunks in a bowl &
toss with lemon juice. Mix celery, grapes
& nuts in with apples. Stir in mayo or
yogurt until all are well-coated. Refrigerate
until ready to serve. Serve on bed of lettuce
or mixed greens. Serves 10-12 (depending
on serving size).



You know you’ve been in a kind of daze
when you wake up and realize that you
only have a few days to do two things:
(a) go on and order some
clothes for middle son’s birthday coming
up FAST this coming Monday and (b)
get moving on creating the next news-
letter for the special needs group –
it’s due BEFORE next Weds! Ugh –
my mind likes to take little mini-
vacations, sometimes and I tend to
forget there’s the REAL WORLD stuff
that needs doing! Ever do that?

I spent yesterday happily snuggled
up in a blanket while reading an
entire book; book was good (not
spectacular, but I was bored). I
sort of looked at some yarn but
without a real feeling of
commitment to a new project,
so I just put it back. I know the
‘inspiration’ will return; maybe
later on today I’ll sort through
my ‘stash’ – we’ll see where that

Now that we’re back in the
old routine (instead of holiday
mode), hope things are falling
back in place for you. I don’t
know about you, but I’m a
definite procrastinator when it
comes to putting up/taking down
Christmas decorations – mine will
stay up until probably the week
after New Years – it’s such a chore
to do, I tend to ignore it (I’m bad
like that!). Still have a good 15
“Thank You” cards to write/send –
haven’t done that, either. It will
all come around – ‘when’ is the
question of the day, I guess!

Enjoy your day – stay WARM
(if you’re in a cold climate, that
is) and try to do something
you ENJOY this day!





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