BLOGMAS 2020 ~ DAY 14 ~ NEIGHBOR PLATES & GIFTS / DELIVERY DRIVERS

I have a station set up just outside the front door in the alcove for delivery drivers with a nice variety of drinks and snacks for them to choose from.  They all seem to enjoy it and our regular drivers have come to know it will always be there. I normally do this, but tried for a bit nicer variety this year so they realize just how much they have become essential in this day and age.

I usually do a large plate of goodies for my neighbors and regular delivery people. But, this year with smaller gatherings and everyone having been home so much and already snacking too much probably, I’m changing it up to make it easier on me, more cost effective for me and more fun too since I’m sans my munchkin baking crew this year because of social distancing.

So, I’m doing gift jars for brownie mixes that can be used whenever they want instead of a plate of goodies that may go bad before they eat them all.

PEANUT BUTTER* BROWNIE MIX
1 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup sugar
1/3 cup baking cocoa
1 cup peanut butter chips*
1 cup all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup FINELY chopped walnuts

  • In a quart size mason jar, layer the ingredients in the order listed, packing down well between each layer. This is an important step s these ingredients literally fill the jar!
  • Cover tightly. Store in a cool, DRY place up to 6 months.

Include a cute little square of Christmas fabric, some ribbon and tag with the following instructions:
ADDITIONAL INGREDIENTS
2 LARGE eggs at room temperature
1/2 cup butter, melted
1 teaspoon PURE vanilla extract
Powdered sugar for dusting (optional)

  • Preheat oven to 350°.
  • In a bowl combine eggs, butter and vanilla with the brownie mix, folding together in as few strokes as possible.
  • Spread into a greased 8×8 baking pan.
  • Bake 25-30 minutes until set.
  • Cool on wire rack.
  • Dust with powdered sugar if desired.
  • Cut into squares.

NOTE: It is easy to change up this flavor by just changing the flavor of chips you use. I’m posting my peanut butter recipe, but you’ll notice the picture is of the jars I made with mint chocolate chips.  This batch of 12 had a variety of peanut butter chips, butterscotch chips, caramel chips and mint chocolate chips, LOL 😀 NOT all together  of course!

CHICKEN & PEANUT STEW

CHICKEN & PEANUT STEW
2 tablespoons butter
3 cups chopped rotisserie chicken
FRESH ground sea salt and black pepper
1 tablespoon chopped FRESH thyme
1 Vidalia onion, chopped
2 large carrots, peeled and chopped
2 stalks celery, halved and chopped
2 turnips, peeled and chopped (see notes)
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons grated ginger
3 tablespoons tomato paste
1/2 cup JIF creamy peanut butter
3 cups chicken broth
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
Juice of 1 LARGE lemon
Chopped peanuts for garnish
Chopped Italian parsley, for garnish

  • Melt butter in large dutch oven.
  • Add parsnips, sauteing for 2-3 minutes.
  • Add carrots, turnips and onions, sauteing 3-5 minutes more.
  • Add onions, thyme leaves and FRESH ground sea salt and black pepper.
  • Stir in chicken broth, tomato paste, ginger, garlic and crushed red pepper, simmering 30-40 minutes.
  • Stir in peanut butter and lemon juice, simmering another 15-20 minutes.
  • Adjust seasoning.
  • Garnish with chopped Italian parsley and chopped peanuts.

NOTES:  Butternut squash is a great substitute fr a different flavor profile.

BLOGMAS 2020 ~ DAY 13 ~ ADVENT

There are literally thousands of different advent calendars. These days most are promotional items and come in every form from daily chocolates to beers. You can make your own, find them on ETSY, EBAY… but what do they stand for? What is advent?

Advent itself is Christian followers remembering the birth of Christ in celebration of His birth and the anticipation of His return. Advent originates from Latin meaning “coming” or “arrival. Advent begins on the 4th Sunday before Christmas.

This year the first Sunday was November 29th, the second was December 6th and the third one is today. The third one is also known as Gaudette Sunday and is a time of rejoicing that the fast is almost over.

Advent calendars are a cute little way to help kids not only countdown to Christmas, but also learn along the way. Many families offer up a daily scripture or devotional reading to go along with the chocolate treat as a way to stay focused on the reason for the season.

Many families also use an Advent Wreath, burning the candles as they countdown to Christmas. Each week features a different liturgical theme. Traditionally the first week features hope and expectation of the Jewish people as they await the Saviour’s arrival and reminding Christian believers to wait for Jesus’ second coming. The second week focuses on preparation and the third week celebrates the coming of the Messiah while the final week celebrates God’s peace and love.

Both royal purple and Sarum blue are used to symbolize the preparation, penitence and royalty to welcome the new king at Christmas time while purple is also used as the color of suffering during the week of Lent and Holy Week. Most churches have shifted their emphasis to the Sarum blue for Advent and reserving the royal purple for the Easter season. Pink replaces the blue in week 4 as a shift happens to lessen the emphasis of penitence and turn the attention to the celebration of the season.

Red and green derive from old European practices using evergreens and holly to symbolize the ongoing life and hope that Christ’s birth brings to the world. Red and green are NOT actually liturgical colors for the season.

BLOGMAS 2020 ~ DAY 12 ~ Favorite Christmas Memories

WOW there are so many! One of my earliest favorites was when I was 5 and I got my tea table and chairs – my uncle sure looked silly sitting at that table drinking tea with me 😀

Then when  I was 9 my aunt came to visit from Texas for Christmas and was sitting on the floor in a leather dress playing Barrel of Monkeys with the younger kids.

My grandfather worked for General Electric as an X-ray technician of sorts (he oversaw the installation and calibration of X-ray equipment) and one year he brought home a GE Snow tree and ornaments (I still don’t know the correlation between between being an X-ray technician and Christmas trees). Anyway this tree had a HUGE cardboard base and once the tree was up and decorated you filled this base with thousands of tiny Styrofoam balls and when you turned the switch on, the tree would make it’s own snow.  As a kid I thought it was pretty cool, but as an adult I look back and realize what a MESS it made!! Especially when the wind was blowing and static electricity was high – those damn balls stuck to EVERYTHING!

But wait, that is not my favorite memory.  It turns out that my favorite memory is of trying to stump my dad each year with his gift – it became a mission of sorts to be the first to stump him.  I swear the man was Carnac The Magnificient when it came to knowing what was inside a box. We tried EVERY year to stump him and I don’t remember ever being able to do it.  We tried adding bricks, taping a silver dollar with duct tape to the bottom so it would flip back and forth to make noise when you shook it, adding a pair of shoes… but he ALWAYS guessed!  I don’t know how he did it.

More recent years there was an arctic storm a few years back that blew in and all of a sudden everything turned white. This was our first snowstorm of the season, and just before Christmas.

Hubby made this for me to wake up to in the back yard before the snow got too bad.  The house across the street usually looked horrible, but NOT when it was under a blanket of snow.
Unfortunately, being in a cul-de-sac, delivery trucks leave MANY tire tracks at this time of year to mar the beautiful snow cover.
The first day after he storm was absolutely gorgeous though!
The duck pond behind the neighborhood was truly a work of art.
Obviously we hadn’t gone anywhere – no tire tracks!
The fish ladder was like glass with the cold and ice.

GARLIC HERB HONEY GLAZED PORK TENDERLOIN

GARLIC HERB HONEY GLAZED PORK TENDERLOIN

1 1/2-2 pound pork tenderloin
1/4 cup QUALITY raw honey
2 tablespoons FRESH lemon juice
1 teaspoon ancho OR chipotle chile powder
1 tablespoon garlic powder
1 tablespoon butter
FRESH ground sea salt and black pepper

  • Preheat the oven to 450°.
  • Combine the honey, garlic herb seasoning, lemon juice, and garlic powder in a mixing bowl and stir well.
  • Pat the tenderloin dry with some paper towels and generously season on both sides with FRESH ground sea salt and black pepper.
  • Heat skillet over medium high heat and melt butter.
  • Sear the tenderloin for 2-3 minutes per side until brown all over.
  • Reduce flame to low and add the honey mixture.
  • Toss the tenderloin until completely covered in the glaze.
  • Transfer the skillet to the oven.Or place on a foil lined baking sheet.
  • Roast the tenderloin for 10-12 minutes, flipping it halfway through, until internal temperature reaches 145°.
  • Allow the roast to rest undisturbed on a cutting board for 5 minutes before carving.
  • Serve with any remaining glaze and enjoy!

NOTES:

  • This recipe works really well on boneless pork chops.
  • A GREAT flavor alternative is ANCHO or CHIPOTLE honey glazed  pork. Substitute 1 teaspoon ancho OR chipotle chile powder for the garlic herb seasoning.

Ancho chilies are fairly mild 1,000-1,500 on the Scoville scale and are considered one of the main peppers used in Mexican moles while Chipotles are smoked and dried jalapeño peppers that are a bit hotter, 2,500-8,000 on the Scoville scale.

TO MAKE YOUR OWN CHILE POWDER

  • Cut the chiles in half.
  • Remove the stems and seeds.
  • Add the chiles to a dry skillet and toast over low heat, flipping occasionally, until the peppers are blistered and fragrant.
  • Transfer to a food processor or spice grinder, mixing to a fine powder.
  • Store in an air tight container.

ITALIAN WEDDING CASSEROLE

ITALIAN WEDDING CASSEROLE adapted from Ree Drummond

CASSEROLE
2 cups (dry) bowtie pasta
2 tablespoons butter 
2 tablespoons avocado oil 
1 cup diced celery 
2 tablespoons chopped FRESH oregano 
1 tablespoon FRESH chopped thyme
1 tablespoon FRESH chopped Italian Parsley
1 teaspoon FRESH chopped rosemary
3 cloves garlic, minced 
2 carrots, diced 
1 onion, diced 
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour 
4 cups chicken broth
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper 
1 1/2 pounds of homemade meatballs OR a 26-ounce bag frozen Italian meatballs 
2-3 cups chopped baby spinach *SEE NOTES
1/2 cup grated Parmesan or Asiago cheese

  • Preheat the oven to 375°.
  • Cook the pasta in a large pot of boiling water until less than al dente; set aside.
  • Melt butter and avocado oil in a large skillet over medium heat.
  • Add celery, carrots and onion, cooking until the onions are translucent, about 5 minutes.
  • Add oregano and garlic, sautéing until fragrant.
  • Sprinkle with the flour, stirring and cooking for an additional minute.
  • While whisking constantly, slowly add chicken broth. Bring to a simmer and allow the sauce to thicken, about 2 minutes.
  • Adjust seasoning with salt and pepper.
  • Add the meatballs, spinach, Parmesan, stirring to combine.
  • Fold in pasta.
  • Transfer to 9×13-inch baking dish.

TOPPING
1  cup PANKO breadcrumbs
1/4 cup FRESH grated Parmesan cheese
3 tablespoons salted butter, melted
2 tablespoons chopped FRESH parsley 
2 tablespoons chopped FRESH oregano 

  • Mix together the breadcrumbs, Parmesan, butter, parsley and oregano in a bowl until well combined.
  • Sprinkle the breadcrumb topping over the casserole.
  • Bake until golden and bubbly, about 20 minutes.
  • Allow the casserole to rest for 10 minutes before serving.

NOTES:  Baby spinach can be easily replaced with broccoli or green beans, but both of those need to be added during the saute’ process.

BLOGMAS 2020 ~ DAY 11 ~ FAVORITE CHRISTMAS COOKIE(S) & TREAT RECIPES

Remembering back to being a kid always seems the same to me.  Dad would buy all sorts of nuts by the pound during the holidays and bring out the nutcrackers. There was always a box (or 2 OR 3) of See’s candies (I just love the milk chocolate Bordeauxs and since there were only 1 or 2 to the box I always tried to be the first to find them) and the tins and tins of butter cookies, snickerdoodles, peanut butter fudge, chocolate fudge as well as the sugar cookies that us kids iced and decorated.

One of our new favorites here for Christmas GOOEY CARAMEL TOPPED GINGERSNAPS.  This year though I will probably get around to making sugar cookies, but with no where to go and no one to visit, the remaining recipes just aren’t going to happen. 🙁

Whether you use homemade or store bought these cookies turn out swoon worthy of ANY holiday goodie platter. They are sooooo simple, but look and taste sooooo decadent.

GOOEY CARAMEL TOPPED GINGERSNAPS
42 gingersnap cookies, (homemade or store bought)
14 ounces KRAFT caramels
1/4 cup heavy whipping cream
1 cup + 1/4 cup finely chopped honey roasted peanuts
12 ounces combination of white and dark chocolate
Sprinkles of choice (I like chocolate for the holidays)

  • Arrange cookies on cooling rack line baking sheet.**
  • In a microwave melt the caramels with the heavy cream, stirring until smooth.
  • Stir in peanuts.
  • Spoon about a teaspoon over each cookie.
  • Refrigerate until set.
  • Alternately melt white and dark chocolates.
  • Coat each cookie halfway with one of the chocolates, return to the rack allowing the excess to drip off.
  • Sprinkle with sprinkles and/or crushed peanuts.
  • Refrigerate until set.

NOTE** Wax paper or parchment paper works well also.

GINGERSNAPS
3/4 cup butter
3/4 cup CRISCO
2 cups sugar
1/2 cup molasses
4 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 teaspoons cinnamon
2 teaspoons ginger
1 teaspoons ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon fresh grated nutmeg
sugar for rolling

  • Sift together flour, baking soda, cinnamon, salt, ginger, nutmeg and ground cloves. Set aside.
  • Cream butter and crisco together until smooth.
  • Add sugar and molasses, blending until smooth.
  • Add flour mixture gradually until well blended.
  • Chill dough for at least 1 hour.
  • Preheat oven to 375°.
  • Roll dough into small balls
  • Roll balls in sugar and place on cookie sheet.
  • Bake 8 minutes for soft chewy cookies and 12 minutes for crisp cookies.

AND the other is this wonderful no bake recipe:

CHOCOLATE PRETZEL PB SQUARES
2 cups pretzels, crushed into crumbs
1 ½ cups powdered sugar
1 ¼ cups peanut butter
¾ cup butter, melted
1 ½ cups milk chocolate chips
½ cup Heath bit pieces

  • Spray 13×9 baking dish with non-stick cooking spray!
  • In a large bowl mix together the pretzel crumbs and powdered sugar until well blended.
  • Mix in melted butter and 1 cup of the peanut butter.
  • Press mixture evenly into the bottom of the baking dish.
  • Sprinkle evenly with Heath Bit pieces.
  • In a microwave safe bowl melt combine the remaining peanut butter with the milk chocolate chips. Heat at 30 second intervals, stirring after each until melted and smooth.
  • Spread over the layer in the baking dish.
  • Garnish with Heath bit pieces and broken pretzel bits.
  • Chill at least 1 hour before cutting.
  • Store in airtight container  in the refrigerator.

Then there are the tried and true favorites of the past!

PEANUT BUTTER FUDGE DROPS
2/3 cup HOT water
10 ounces Land of Lakes cocoa mix
2 cups JIF creamy peanut butter
1/2 cup light corn syrup
3 cups C&H powdered sugar, divided 2cups + 1 cup
2 cups crushed vanilla wafers
2 cups crushed ginger snaps
72 Hershey Kisses (I like the cherry cordials)

  • Whisk together the hot water and cocoa mix until smooth.
  • Add peanut butter and corn syrup. Blend until smooth.
  • Add 2 cups powdered sugar and stir until well blended.
  • Stir in cookie crumbs until well blended.
  • Spray wax paper with PURE (these will be sticky so don’t forget this step).
  • Drop heaping teaspoonfuls of dough onto the wax paper.
  • Place the remaining 1 cup of powdered sugar in a shallow bowl.
  • Roll each piece of dough into a ball and dredge in powdered sugar.
  • Press your thumb into the center and fill with a Hershey’s kiss.

My great aunt’s corn flake wreaths are not technically cookies, but they are a treat that I try to make often. My great aunt who I only got to see a couple times a year used to make these every year special for me.  My cousins and I would wait out on the front steps for her arrive just to see them, the wreaths that is. She always made them soooooooooo pretty and perfect!  Aunt Louise was just plain crazy it seemed to me.  I can’t pinpoint any one thing that made me think that, but as the years wore she continually proved it.  Let’s just say if the made a movie of her life, Shirley MacLaine would play her part.  Aunt Louise reminds me of Shirley’s character Ouiser Boudreaux in Steel Magnolias.

CRAZY AUNT LOUISE’S HOLIDAY WREATHS  (these are better when they are made a few days ahead)
30 LARGE marshmallows (or 1 jar marshmallow cream)
1/2 cup butter
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 teaspoon green food color
3 1/2 cups cornflakes
Red Hots

  • Combine marshmallows, butter, vanilla and food color in top of double boiler. Heat and stir frequently until well blended.
  • Gradually stir in cornflakes until well blended.
  • Drop onto wax paper and arrange into wreath shapes. I plop them onto the wax paper and then push out from the center to form the wreaths.
  • Decorate with red hots.
  • Let cool.
  • If your house is warm – chill in refrigerator until set.

Another fun recipe that can be dressed up with colored sanding sugar are SEA SALT & CARAMEL RICE KRISPY TREATS.

SEA SALT & CARAMEL RICE KRISPY TREATS
8 cups Rice Krispies 
50 Kraft caramels  
1 can sweetened condensed milk 
1/4 cup + 1/4 cup unsalted butter 
1 bag mini marshmallows 
1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract  
3 teaspoons sea salt flakes
  • In a medium sauce pan over  a low-medium heat stir together the sweetened condensed milk, the caramels and 1/4 cup unsalted butter until smooth.
  • Remove from heat.
  • Line a 9×13 baking dish with foil, extending over the edge.  
  • Spray with non-stick PURE or PAM.
  • Melt butter in large sauce pan.
  • Add marshmallows and stir  until just melted.
  • Add vanilla, 1 teaspoon of salt and 1 cup of caramel sauce and stir until smooth.
  • Remove from heat.
  • Stir in rice krispies until evenly coated.
  • Press into pan**.
  • Cool completely.
  • Pour remaining caramel over rice kripy treats and spread even with a spatula.
  • Sprinkle remaining sea salt over top.
  • Enjoy!
  • Store in an airtight container.

NOTES:  **I use a stainless steel spatula that has been sprayed with PURE to keep it from sticking.  It helps to press down firmly to get an even level.

SCALLOPED SWEET CORN CASSEROLE

This is one of those recipes that was immediately altered (because I ended up not having the ingredients on hand that I thought I did so I substituted 😀 ) and was such a hit that we’ll never go back and make it the way the recipe directed.

SCALLOPED SWEET CORN CASSEROLE
4 teaspoons cornstarch
2/3 cup water
1/4 cup butter
1 can Green Giant white shoepeg corn
3 green onions, sliced thin
2 cups frozen corn
FRESH ground sea salt and black pepper
1 tablespoon FRESH chopped thyme leaves
1 tablespoon sugar
3 LARGE eggs
2/3 + 3/4 cups WHOLE milk, divided
3 cups bread cubes (I used a buttermilk)
1 1/2 cups Crispix cereal (or rice Krispies), crushed
3 tablespoons butter, melted

  • Preheat oven to 350°.
  • In a small bowl whisk together the cornstarch and water until smooth.
  • In a large skillet melt butter over medium heat.
  • Add corn, green onions, 2/3 cup milk, thyme leaves, FRESH ground sea salt and black pepper, stirring to blend. Bring to a SLOW boil.
  • Stir in cornstarch mixture and reduce heat, simmering until the moisture is absorbed and the sauce thickens. Remove from heat and cool slightly.
  • While the corn portion is cooling, whisk the eggs together with the 3/4 cup milk.
  • Fold in bread cubes, stirring to absorb the egg mixture.
  • Fold in corn mixture.
  • Transfer to prepared 8×8 baking dish.
  • Bake, uncovered, 30-35 minutes.
  • In a small bowl melt butter.
  • Fold in cereal pieces to form a crumbly mixture.
  • Spread evenly over top of the casserole and return to the oven for 10 minutes until golden brown.

BLOGMAS 2020 ~ DAY 10 ~ STOCKING STUFFER IDEAS & CHRISTMAS WISHES

This is one of my favorite fun categories! Hubby and I do stockings for each other full of things we each like and are always looking for new ways to surprise each other.  I’m always on the look out for special little items that I tuck away all year long waiting for just this day.  Since the kids are grown hubby gets my FULL attention and he hates it (sort of) because he says he isn’t as good at reciprocating the stocking process.  But, he tries hard and is getting better at it every year.  EVERY year though he complains about having to actually make things ‘fit’ into something stocking shaped. We usually find a way to sneak in a handful of lottery scratchers.

Bailey, our NISSE is watching over the stocking to keep hubby from peeking. 😀 but, here’s a sneak peek of hubby’s stocking for this year. It will have some of his favorite jerky, a few fun bottles of his favorite spirits, some “coal” whiskey stones, a pickle fork, new military themes “masks” as well as a FUN BAH HUMBURG mask for the holiday, various candies, some camo coasters for his drinks…

We also both have “wish” lists, but they are really small as we really don’t need anything so once again we are always looking for the special item that will surprise the other. 😀 My list for this year hasn’t changed much since this last year has been so full of pandemic drama and unanswered questions.

FLOATING CRUST CHICKEN POT PIE


FLOATING CRUST CHICKEN POT PIE
1 pie crust OR a pre-made PILLSBURY pie crust
1 egg
4 tablespoon butter
1 LARGE shallot, diced
2 LARGE carrots, peeled and diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
3 tablespoons WONDRA flour
1 1/2 cups homemade chicken broth
1 1/2 cups WHOLE milk
FRESH ground sea salt and black pepper
1 tablespoon FRESH chopped thyme pieces
3 cups chopped cooked chicken *see notes
1 can LeSeur Peas, drained WELL

  • Preheat oven to 400°.
  • Roll the crust to 1 inch larger between two sheets of parchment paper.
  • Remove the top parchment paper.
  • Fold and crimp the outer edge to decorate the crust.
  • Arrange parchment on baking sheet.
  • Refrigerate 15 minutes.
  • Beat egg with 1 tablespoon water and brush crust. Save remainder for later.
  • Bake 10-12 minutes until LIGHT-MEDIUM golden brown.
  • Remove from oven to cool, but leave oven on.
  • In large skillet melt butter.
  • Add carrots and shallots, sauteing and cooking 8-10 minutes until carrots have softened.
  • Add garlic, sauteing 30 seconds more.
  • Add flour, stirring to blend.
  • Add chicken broth and milk, stirring regularly, until sauce thickens.
  • Add thyme, FRESH ground sea salt and black pepper.
  • Fold in the chicken pieces and peas.
  • Arrange crust on top.
  • Lightly brush with another layer of beaten egg.
  • Place pan in oven baking 10-15 minutes until crust is golden and filling is bubbly.

NOTES:

  • To make this recipe easier I use COSTCO rotisserie chicken pieces.
  • You can also use frozen peas, but I find the canned Le Seur peas are much more tender.

BLOGMAS 2020 ~ DAY 9 ~ CHRISTMAS PAST

Christmas Past is a COMPLETELY subjective category. LOL 😀 I keep seeing the ghost of Christmas Past from A Christmas Carol roaming through my head.

The older I get, the more I realize that it’s the traditions and the memories that weave our holidays together. It’s little things like the who puts the lights on the tree or the angel on top of it. It’s the favorite recipes that you only make at Christmas time. It’s the laughter of the munchkins each morning as they discover what mischief the Elf has gotten into. It’s a baking day with the munchkins making your favorite traditional recipes to share on Giving plates to the neighbors…

3 years ago was a VERY unusual Christmas for us with my surgery and it’s life altering outcome, but we did follow many of our normal traditions like putting up the tree, Christmas Eve service with our neighbor who attended the same church and Christmas Eve dinner at a friends (even if I couldn’t eat anything 😀 ). Two years was a little more “normal”, whatever that is. And last year I felt like I was getting my “normal” back and looked forward to the traditions and even the stresses of the holiday.  Then there is this year during the pandemic that is changing EVERYTHING! It is also making the PAST seem like a cake walk.

This category for me is also subjective based on where we are living at the time. We are in the cold of the Pacific Northwest, but it’s kinda dry this year.  A couple of my favorite Christmases were when we were in Upper Peninsula, Michigan.  Maybe it was the trees, the water and the snow, but for me it was also the old churches.  There is so much history there. 

These are 2 of my favorite country churches from Michigan.  I took these pictures in 2011 at Christmas time ON THE SAME DAY, just minutes apart. That’s how fast weather changes with lake effect snow!

I JUST LOVE OLD CHURCHES! The bottom 3 pictures are from a REALLY neat old stone church in the middle of town.
But, my favorite country church is from a teeny tiny little town called Mansfield. It was once a growing little town until there was a mine disaster.  Now all that exists is the monument to the disaster, the church and a few random homes.

PIZZA CASSEROLE

Not the prettiest looking casserole, but after you dig into it, the flavor makes you forget how it looks!
ITALIAN PIZZA CASSEROLE
4 servings spaghetti or fettuccine
2 sweet Italian sausages, casings removed
1 LARGE shallot halved and sliced thin
1/2 of a LARGE red pepper, diced
2 cups spaghetti sauce
1 cup chopped pepperoni pieces*
1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
1/2 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons FRESH chopped herbs (Italian Parsley, Rosemary and Thyme), divided

  • Preheat oven to 350°.
  • Spray 2 quart baking dish with non-stick spray.
  • Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain and set aside.
  • In a small skillet heat avocado oil.
  • Add Italian sausage, cooking until crumbly and shallots are caramelized.
  • Add red peppers, cooking a few minutes more peppers are tender and juicy. Drain sausage mixture of excess grease.
  • In a mixing bowl combine sauce, two-thirds of the chopped herbs, pepperoni pieces and sausage mixture until well blended.
  • Add half of each cheese, blending well.
  • Fold in pasta.
  • Arrange mixture into baking dish.
  • Sprinkle remaining cheese evenly on top.
  • Sprinkle remaining herbs over cheese.
  • Bake 25-30 minutes until heated through.

NOTE: I buy the mini pepperoni bites so there is no chopping involved.