Treats for your family

Is it possible Mother Nature and Old Man Winter are having some kind of a contest? We get a few (very few) days that gives us the impression that maybe spring might come early and then we are plunged into the deep freezer. It looks like a you-know-what kind of contest between the two with us as the ones who don’t like it. Of course, this next week will be an entirely different kind of weather, so I guess we will just take what we get. I like sweaters better than shorts, anyway. The gas company loves this cold spell, but my bank account doesn’t. Just think how the pioneers felt when the weather was like this years and year ago. It is a wonder anyone even wanted to live in this climate. We can be so thankful we are in this century and didn’t get dumped in the “Stone Age.” Anytime you get to feeling sorry for yourself, just think about what you have that your ancestors didn’t even know about.

Here on the hilltop, there is a great solution for cold feet when ones goes to bed – a small dog that just loves to be under the covers. A doggie’s temperature is several degrees warmer than a human’s body temp, so they make the perfect “foot warmer.”. It surely beats the hot brick wrapped in a towel I remember from long ago. The only disadvantage to the “dog warmer” is when a cat walks across the bed in the middle of the night and the little dogs decide to chase it off the bed. It is probably no wonder that we often feel tired in the morning.

Always something going on in the Animal House.

January is a busy month for athletes and sports watchers with the Super Bowl just a week away and the school basketball season winding down. My favorite football players (the Manning brothers and Tebow) not playing in the big one this year leaves me with wondering if I would rather watch other teams or go shopping. Now, Husband Norm has other favorites he watches, so he is set, no matter which teams play. We do have three TVs in the house, so I can watch something else if I want to do so. If the granddaughters are here, they have their favorite programs, but there is still the kitchen TV for me. I think I will just move a rocking chair in there, so I am comfortable any time I want to watch something other than football, Sponge Bob, or a teenage drama. The kitchen is my room.

Did you watch the pageantry in Washington this past week? It is history in the making, whether we like what goes on or not. Sometimes, wouldn’t you just like to shake some of those we have elected to work for us and say, “Get to work.” and quit partying around? There is a saying about watching what you wish for because you just might get it. That goes for Washington, too, – watch what you vote for because you just might get what you don’t want.

Ash Wednesday is just a week and a half away. Since it falls the day before Valentine’s Day, I hope some guys don’t get the idea that they should not give that favorite gal candy (If she is trying to lose weight during Lent) or give her diamonds or flowers since it is a time of sacrifice. My solution – just celebrate Valentine’s Day the weekend before. Never throw away a chance to collect goodies from your guy. Of course, that means Easter is early this year and spring is getting close. Didn’t we just celebrate Thanksgiving and Christmas?.

Even though it is freezing now, we had better get our orders in for spring seeds, especially if we want to get some veggies started early. I have great plans – I should say “ideas” – as it isn’t certain that I will be planting much of a garden this year. Of course, there are always those tomatoes – and peppers and okra and lettuces and onions and squash – among others). Gardening is good exercise but one has to keep at it continuously without much away from home trips. The Evil One just waits to see the car leave the driveway so he can encourage the weeds to take over. Putting up produce is one of my hobbies but it does take a goodly amount of energy and taking additional vitamins doesn’t always help. We’ll see – day by day.

This coming Saturday is Groundhog Day. Can you believe it is almost February? It is fun to watch the “tall hats” rouse that poor sleeping groundhog, but I don’t give much credit to his forecasting abilities. I have an old recipe for groundhog – it used to be seen on the old farmers’ tables and many said they liked it. I have no intention of ever using that recipe. I think they are cute animals but they are destructive in a pasture as cows or horses can step into the hole where they live and break a leg.

Today’s recipes are for treats for your family, whether you are watching the Super Bowl or playing cards or just because the family likes a treat now and then. Veggies are as good as or better than chips, so you could say you are feeding them a healthy diet. We all need to eat more veggies and fruit anyway. With the chill outside, put that crockpot to use and keep some soup hot for when everyone comes in from the cold.

Think warm thoughts and bundle the kids up good so they stay warm. Keep the teapot on, too.



Four slices bacon

One (8-oz.) package cream cheese

One-and-one-half cups shredded sharp Cheddar cheese

One-fourth cup whipping cream

One-teaspoon Worcestershire sauce

One-fourth teaspoon dry mustard

One-eighth teaspoon onion powder

One-eighth teaspoon garlic powder

One-eighth teaspoon hot sauce

Fresh parsley sprig for garnish – optional

Microwave bacon until crisp – 3 1/2 to 4 1/2 minutes. Crumble and set aside. Place cream cheese in a microwave proof bowl and cook on HIGH for 1 minute or until melted. Stir in Cheddar cheese and next 6 ingredients. Microwave at 70 percent powder for 2 1/2 minutes or until cheese is melted and mixture is heated, stirring once or twice. Stir in crumbled bacon, reserving a tablespoon to sprinkle on top. Garnish with a parsley sprig. Try apple slices with this dip as well as crackers and veggies.



One pound fresh mushrooms, sliced

One clove garlic, minced

One-fourth cup butter, melted

Two-tablespoons dried parsley

One-tablespoon lemon juice

One-half teaspoon lemon zest

One-half teaspoon salt

One-fourth teaspoon pepper

One cup sour cream

Saute mushrooms and garlic in butter in a large skillet until just tender. Continue cooking, stirring constantly, until all liquid evaporates. Add parsley and remaining ingredients and cook over low heat, stirring constantly, until completely heated through. Serve warm with crackers.



One (6 1/2-oz.) can minced clams, undrained

One (8-oz.) package cream cheese, cubed

One tablespoon butter or margarine

One-fourth teaspoon Worcestershire sauce

One-eighth teaspoon hot sauce

Drain clams, reserving juice. Set clams aside. Combine clam juice and remaining ingredients in a saucepan and cook over low heat until cream cheese melts, stirring occasionally. Stir in clams and serve hot with crackers.



Large container sour cream

One package dry onion soup mix

One-half teaspoon Worcestershire sauce

One-fourth teaspoon garlic powder

Combine all ingredients. Adjust Worcestershire sauce and garlic powder to taste. Cover and refrigerate for several hours to blend flavors.



One small can minced clams

One-half teaspoon fresh lemon juice

Large container sour cream

One package dry onion soup mix

One-half teaspoon Worcestershire sauce

One-fourth teaspoon garlic powder

Drain clams, reserving juice. Combine all other ingredients. Add small amount of clam juice if it needs thinning. Cover and refrigerate several hours to blend flavors.



One-fourth cup green onions, chopped

One garlic clove, minced

One tablespoon butter

Eight ounce package cream cheese at room temperature

One-half cup sour cream

One-fourth cup light cream

Two-and-one- half ounces dried beef, chopped

Two tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped

One tablespoon prepared horseradish (NOT horseradish sauce)

One tablespoon fresh lemon juice

One-fourth to one-half teaspoon fresh lemon zest

Combine onion, garlic and butter. Microwave on high for 30 to 60 seconds, or until butter is melted. Add cream cheese and microwave on high for 1 to 1 1/2 minutes or until cream cheese softens. Mix in all remaining ingredients. Good to serve with crackers.

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