Friday, December 23, 2011

Layered Peppermint Cheesecake Cake and Expectation

Another overblown blog title. I promise there will be a killer recipe, with photos, at the end. 

SOOOOOOOO anywhoo, there are these women - Hollywood starlet-types - who profess to LOVING being with child so much that they would just be tickled to death to be pregnant all the time.  You've seen them interviewed.  I've heard them quoted before. 

What medications are they abusing?

Now these nine months have gone exceptionally well. God is good. But there's no way I would prefer to be in this state 24/7/365.  Your ankles swell to the size of Sequoias.  What used to be easy tasks (putting on socks, sitting down, standing up, moving in general, etc.) become Olympic events.

Two things make it all better:  pedicures and bubble baths.  They force me to be STILL and WITH my feet up, which helps greatly with the before-mentioned Redwood-Forest issue.

For readers concerned that Baby Boy Downey would have no where to lay his little head - we've progressed on the nursery.  And Curt has laid down hardwood floors in this "wing" of the house.  ("Wing" brings to mind images of a Gothic manse a la some Bronte novel, one in which the plucky heroine stumbles upon an abandoned suite of rooms, festooned with grime and gilt edges and prickles of ghosts. . . but I digress, horribly and predictably.)

But, as you can see, we're/I'm still not done.  But at least BBD won't be sleeping in the bathtub.

Oh! Wasn't there supposed to be something about a Layered Peppermint Cheesecake Cake in this post?  Well, folks, feast your eyes on this, which is actually MUCH simpler to execute than you would think.  Click on the link below for the recipe.

Their finished product is snazzier than mine, but I'm just humble enough to show you what our homespun kitchen produced.  It tasted good.

Merry Christmas to all!  May we remember that the reason we celebrate Christmas in the first place is because of our overwhelming joy that our SAVIOR, Christ the King, was born one night in Bethlehem, the same Savior about whom prophecies had spoken for centuries, the same Savior who died for our sins years later. . . the same Savior who gives abundant life, in this world and the next, to those who know Him!

Friday, November 11, 2011

Happy Veterans Day

This day should cause us all to consider our blessings as Americans and it should fill our hearts with gratitude for those who have served us in the United States military.

What have these men and women's sacrifices enabled me to do?  (I'm in a reflective mood, people.)

It's 7:30 a.m., and so far this morning I have done the following:

1.  woken up in a warm, comfortable home, where I feel safe and free from attack.  There are no mortar shells exploding over my head and no one is trying to mess with me.  I can pretty much do as I please today.

2.  walked out to the driveway to procure our newspaper.  Soldiers have died to ensure and protect our freedoms, one of which is freedom of the press.  Our nation's founders, those who crafted the documents that define our liberties, took great personal risks for my sake. Many of them were or became veterans.  Their sons and grandsons took up the cause of freedom and fought alongside others to defend our way of life, the one you and I enjoy today.

3.  turned on our sprinkler to water our lawn.  WHAT???? You mean, I have extraneous, clean water that I can just use to hydrate my petty camellias???  In many places in our world, people have no access to safe drinking water and I am using it on plants.  Our soldiers fight and die so that Americans can continue to prosper and thrive (to a ridiculous degree) without threat.

Thank you, veterans - past, present, and future - who courageously, selflessly, and sacrificially give their all.   Thank you to my Papaw, my father-in-law, my great uncle, and the thousands of others.  Thank you.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Hobo Dinners

What is it about fall that makes us all want to "nest?" 

Today was the first legitimately cool day of the season.  We are always inclined to make comfort foods - warm, hearty dishes that make us feel good - during this time of year.

Hobo Dinners are no exception.

My mother made these when I was growing up.  I am not sure why they are called "hobo dinners" but as a child I assumed that nomadic, train-hopping men with scruffy beards and overalls carried the ingredients for this dish around in their little bandanna bags tied on their sticks.  Whenever they "made camp," they would whip up this tasty little meal.  I supposed someone was there to document the event and record the recipe for posterity.

Now that I'm older and (presumably) wiser, I know that these are a great mid-week meal that you can make quickly and that kids enjoy because they get their own little individual packet of fun!  You can customize using any vegetables you have on hand.

Hobo Dinners

ground beef
potatoes, diced
onions, sliced
carrots, diced
any other vegetables
olive oil, Worcestershire sauce

1.  Form ground beef into patties, just as if you were making hamburgers.  I usually add some Worcestershire sauce and diced onion.

2.  Lay the patty onto a square of aluminum foil and top with chopped vegetables.  I almost always use carrots, potatoes, and onions and but will add whatever I happen to have in the fridge.  Tonight I threw in some chopped red and yellow peppers.  Mushrooms, squash, zucchini. . . anything would be good.

3.  Sprinkle generously with salt and pepper, garlic powder, some Worcestershire, and olive oil.  I add a pat or two of butter, also.  Can't hurt. 

4.  Fold foil to make a little "packet."  Isn't this the cutest little meal ever?  It's very Girl Scout-y.  Bake at 400 degrees until done. 

Open with caution - steam will escape and it will be hot!

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

We're having a BABY!!!

Come January, there will be a mini-Curt gurgling up formula and pooping in his little britches.  I hope Baby Boy Downey (let's just call him "BBD") will be just like his Daddy. 

Now is the time for the frenzy of baby preparations.  Or at least it should be. 

So many of my gifted and assiduous girlfriends find out they are preggo and then in a matter of mere days, the nursery is impeccably appointed, buzzing with readiness for the bundle of joy. The entire project, start-to-finish, is documented via Facebook for all to ga-ga- over. 

Needless to say, I do not have any cute nursery photographs to show because, er, the nursery isn't READY yet.  This would be because I am a a procrastinator. Every last friend I have is nodding their head.  Really, I am a "crock pot" kind of gal.  That is, I like to mull over a project or assignment or event for, say, months on end.  It's not like I'm not working on it in my brain. I am. But for my marvelous, no complaints, get-it-done-in-the-blink-of-an-eye Husbandator, it's probably frustrating.

I've heard it said that procrastinators tend to be perfectionists - which, on the surface at least, doesn't make any sense at all, but upon further reflection seems quite logical.  We want every detail to be so perfect that we have a difficult time "self-starting" (to use a popular term.)  See, I'm not so bad.  Or maybe I'm twice as bad now. Go figure. 

So here is my once-glorious closet that is now deserted - and will soon become BBD's domain.  Yes, I said closet.  Please do not report us to DHR.  This closet has it's own zip code.  We could have converted the guest room into a nursery, but what is the point of having a precious baby boy if not to have family and friends come to stay to visit him?

Fingers crossed, everyone, that BBD will come home to a finished nest.  It's gotta be perfect, you know.  :)

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Birthday Wishes and Cream Cheese Pound Cake

We just celebrated a 10-year-old birthday. Hard to believe! This girl is growing into a beautiful, poised, intelligent, loving, funny young lady.

She requested a "plain pound cake" for her birthday, which made her grandfather really happy because he loves it and was here to commemorate the event with us.

I made my old stand-by, Cream Cheese Pound Cake.  Pound cake may be the easiest dessert to make.  It's a great place for a novice baker to start because it's virtually fool-proof, even making it from scratch. 

This recipe came from  my mother or my Nana or my Mother Rene, but I'm not certain which one.  I've made it so many times and for so many years that I forget. 

Cream Cheese Pound Cake
1-1/2 cups butter (3 sticks), softened
8 ounces cream cheese, softened
3 cups granulated sugar
6 large eggs
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

In a sturdy mixer, cream butter, cream cheese, and sugar until fluffy.  Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add flour then vanilla extract.  Pour into a greased and floured 9" bundt pan. Bake at 300 degrees Fahrenheit for 2 hours, until golden brown.  Let sit for a few minutes in pan then invert onto rack for cooling.

Your slice of cream cheese pound cake may best be enjoyed after running through a sprinkler, especially given that autumn is right around the corner and you won't be able to do that much longer.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

There is no frigate like a book to take us lands away

Don't you just love Emily Dickinson?

I made a recent observation.  Looking up from my spot on the couch, I saw that all three of us sitting there had a nose in a book.  Minutes later, I spotted the other of our family of four reading a book while brushing his teeth.

Boy, we are some readin' rascals.

There's so much to do in our busy lives . . . so much zaps our time.  This is why seeing people enjoying reading brings me so much pleasure.

Reading is a personal habit.  As an English teacher, I can say without reservation that avid readers tend to be better writers, better communicators, and better students.  I'd be willing to suggest that this makes them better employees, citizens, and contributing members of families and society.

But enough with the sobering facts.  Sometimes, it's just fun, you know.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Nutty Oatmeal Chocolate Cookies

There are oatmeal cookie people, and there are chocolate chip cookie people.  This recipe bridges the gap between the two.

There are several adaptations/unexpected twists to the usual recipe:  instead of using chocolate chips, I used chopped Hershey bars.  Yum.  And though the recipe didn't call for it, I threw in some dried blueberries.  Finally, I used a cocktail mix for the nuts instead of just pecans - we needed to use up a can in the pantry.  Here's a post that explains my theory on "making do" with recipe ingredients instead of blowing a gasket. It made for an interesting texture and taste in the finished product.

Because you process the oats until they are ground, they are less "visible" and the cookie might be more appealing to those who don't like oatmeal.

Nutty Oatmeal Chocolate Cookies

1-1/8 cup uncooked regular oats
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, softened
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1 egg
1/2 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 (1.55 ounce) Hershey candy bars, chopped
3/4 cup coarsely chopped nuts (I used a cocktail mix for variety - peanuts, almonds, pecans, etc. - but you can simply use pecans or walnuts or whatever you have on hand)
1/2 cup dried blueberries

1.  Process oats in a blender or food processor until ground.

2.  Beat butter and sugars at medium speed in a mixer until fluffy.  Add egg and vanilla and blend.

3.  Combine ground oats, flour, and next three ingredients.  Add to butter mixture and beat.  Stir in chocolate and nuts.

4.  Drop dough by tablespoons (I use a medium ice cream scoop instead) onto baking sheets.

5.  Bake at 375 degrees for 8 to 10 minutes or until golden.  Remove to wire racks to cool.  Makes approximately 2-3 dozen.

Get your cold glass of milk ready!

Sunday, June 19, 2011

The Bliss of Summer Pops

Who doesn't like a frozen popsicle on a hot June day? 

Especially an easy-to-make, good-for-you, YUMMY homemade one?

You can use anything you have on hand...peanut butter, blueberries, peaches, etc. Just throw your ingredients into the blender, give it a spin, and pour your sweet goodness into one of those plastic pop-makers that you can freeze. Of course, you can always improvise with paper cups and straws. 

By the way, kids can't get enough of these.  You'll be the most popular person in the house.

Our "recipe" for today was:

strawberries, sliced
banana, sliced
1 small container yogurt (Greek-style is good for it's thickness and flavor, but any compatible fruit-flavored, plain, or vanilla yogurt you have in the fridge will do)
splash of vanilla extract
a few tablespoons of milk

You're basically making a smoothie and then freezing it.  EASY-PEASY.  Just experiment with amounts to give you that smoothie-like consistency.

Here we have some satisfied customers.  Never mind that one is eating Nutella on a banana.  Whoa, now - THAT would be really good in a frozen pop!

What ingredients would YOU use? 

Happy summer?

Friday, June 17, 2011

Caramel-Pecan-Coconut Cheesecake Bars

For. The. Sweet. Love.

Are you reading the title of this recipe?  Can you possibly add any other words to it to make it more alluring?

I suppose you could add "Jesus" and "diamonds." So these are "Caramel-Pecan-Coconut-Jesus-Diamonds Cheesecake Bars."

This is my halved recipe from the original, which I found in my trusty Southern Living Cookbook  (click for a link)  I have never, not once, made something from this cookbook that did NOT turn out delicious, by the way.  

These taste as good as they sound.  You could also make them into a traditional cheesecake, just assembling and baking in a 9" pie plate or springform pan.

I'd advise eating this after you've had a supper of, say, air - or after you've gone on a good, long walk.  The calories are hefty.  So enjoy several cute morsels, not a big, old, honkin' slab.   Or just go for it, really.

Caramel-Pecan-Coconut Cheesecake Bars
1 cup graham cracker crumbs
1/4 cup butter, melted
2 8-ounce packages cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
1/8 cup all-purpose flour
2 large eggs
2  teaspoons vanilla extract
Quick Coconut-Pecan Frosting (recipe below)

Stir together graham cracker crumbs and butter.  I simply break up the graham crackers into large pieces in the bowl of a food processor, give it a whir, and then add the melted butter while it is on.  SOOO easy.  Press into bottom of a lightly-greased 9"x7" (or 8"x8") pan.  Bake at 350 degrees for 8 minutes.  Remove from oven and cool on a wire rack.

Beat cream cheese at medium speed with an electric mixer until smooth.  Combine sugar and flour; gradually add to cream cheese, beating until just blended.

Add eggs, one at a time, beating until blended after each one. Stir in vanilla extract. Pour mixture over prepared crust, spreading evenly to edges of the pan.

Bake at 350 degrees for 40 minutes or until set. Remove to a wire rack to cool.

Pour warm Quick Coconut-Pecan Frosting over cheesecake, spreading to edge of pan.  Cover and chill 8 hours.  Cut into bars. 

Quick Coconut-Pecan Frosting
14-ounce can sweetened condensed milk
1/4 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1/4 cup butter (1/2 a stick)
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 cups sweetened flaked coconut
3/4 cups chopped pecans, toasted

Place first 4 ingredients in a heavy 3-quart saucepan. Bring to a boil, stirring over medium-low heat. Cook, stirring constantly, 3-5 minutes or until mixtures reaches pudding-like thickness. Remove from heat. Stir in coconut and pecans.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Cellular Technology and The Little House on the Prairie

Are you ready for this one?

This week I finally got a smartphone - but not in the traditional sense.  I did not purchase one through my own self-aware willpower.  One of my best friends said "Look, honey, you need to enter the 21st century.  Here - I'll SEND you a spare new Blackberry that I have."

(By the way, you know you have a "keeper" in the friend department when they are generous and painfully honest.) 

Are there any others out there like me?

I've had (maybe) five cell phones IN MY LIFE.  And that's counting "the brick" I had in the 1990's when cellular devices first appeared - the Zack-Morris-from-Saved-by-the-Bell phone that was the size of one of our modern-day cordless landline phones.    No wait, it was bigger than that. 

New gadgets and electronics don't wow me. Part of that is because I am a woman.  The other (larger) part is because, deep down, I am really just Laura Ingalls Wilder.  Farm girl, simple girl.  I'd probably do really well in a covered wagon heading to the Dakotas with provisions for a long winter. That is, until the coyotes show up and the lip gloss runs out. 

Now, before you write me off, I do (obviously) blog.  And I tweet.  So I'm not a total head case, kiddos.  It's just a matter of priorities.

I tend to like old things, too.  You know the old samurai warriors who get mercilessly gunned down by the "new guns" in The Last Samurai?  Yes, I cried streaming tears.  The old being replaced by the new.  I don't like it. 

Some things are better left unchanged.  Take the movie Gone with the Wind, for instance.  No one has remade this cinematic masterpiece into a hipper, terser, cleaner, smaller version.   A version that speaks to "today's generation," a version with more "apps."  Puh-leeze.

Take my old little flip-phone.  OK, maybe I'll concede on that one.   Typing a text message on its non-Qwerty keyboard took ten minutes. 

Now that I think about it, Laura Ingalls Wilder might have enjoyed the Blackberry. She could have de-friended Nellie Olsen on Facebook right from the comfort of her own phone.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Salmon with Spring Salsa

It's official.  Salmon is mmmm-mmmm good.  Baked, poached, broiled, grilled, in sushi, you name it.  And it's got all those tasty omega-3 what-nots that makes it so darn good for you.  We eat it regularly.

We had it tonight - roasted in the oven with a little olive oil, lemon juice, and salt and pepper. 

I found a yummy recipe for "Spring Salsa" from Southern Living that I modified a bit by adding some canned black beans - and it was perfect alongside/on top of the salmon.  So fresh, so easy to make. . . and it would be divine with just tortilla chips.  Oooh, you could add a bit of diced avocado to it, as well. I am already dreaming of variations.

Toss a little arugula with some vinaigrette and blue cheese and added a dinner roll and - voila!  The perfect May meal.

Try this!  You won't be sorry.

Spring Salsa   (adapted from Southern Living, May 2011)
1-1/2 cups tomatoes, seeded and chopped (cherry work well here)
1 cup frozen whole kernel corn, thawed
1/4 cup chopped red onion
2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
1 garlic clove, minced
2 tablespoons freshly-squeezed lime juice
1/2 - 1 cup canned black beans, rinsed and drained
salt and pepper to taste.

Combine all ingredients, cover, and chill until ready to serve.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

So what's with all this Royal Wedding hype?

Cynics and smart alecks (and lots of manly types, too) were muttering this on Friday.

I'll admit that I only DVRd the wedding and watched it a day later (horrors!) and that, unlike many of my friends, I was far from interested back in 1981 when Charles and Diana married.

But something hit me this weekend, as I was tearing up watching the pomp and pageantry of the wedding of the (now) Duke and Duchess of Cambridge.

I wondered. . . Why do billions of people respond the way they do to this event?   It may be because we love traditions, or because Kate and William seemed to happy and hopeful, or because we secretly harbor desires to "be British." 

I think it's something more.

As the Bishop of London delivered the sermon, he spoke of the marriage of a man and a woman being a reflection of the marriage of Christ and His church.   The husband and wife are to love and respect each other, and are to fulfill certain God-ordained roles within marriage - this is an earthly symbol of how our Savior loves us and gave Himself up for us and how we, the church, submit to and love Him.  It is also a picture of the relationship between God the Father and God the Son.

 Ephesians 5 22 Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord. 23 For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior. 24 Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything.
 25 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her 26 to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, 27 and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. 28 In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. 29 After all, no one ever hated their own body, but they feed and care for their body, just as Christ does the church— 30 for we are members of his body. 31 “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.” 32 This is a profound mystery—but I am talking about Christ and the church. 33 However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.

What hit me was this:  If a wedding is a reflection of these relationships, then THIS particular wedding is pretty much the best dog-gone attempt we will ever see on Earth to mirror this "mystery" as the Bible calls it.  We humans cannot put on a showier show than this - the royal wedding is our best, most beautiful effort at illustrating the covenant relationship between God Almighty and His people. . . our best effort at demonstrating, at least symbolically, and with earthly trappings, the true "Royal Wedding" of Jesus and us, His bride.  Whew.

I had another "a-ha" moment.  We emotionally respond to the Royal Wedding because there is something in us (namely the Spirit Himself, because we are made in His image) that responds to TRUTH, BEAUTY, and GOODNESS.  It's the same reason why we are moved when we hear a symphony, or read a classic work of literature, or see a child's innocent smile.  Now, we may not be able to verbalize (or even actually recognize) why were are moved, but these things are true, beautiful, and good, and they stir our hearts. 

And you may be a pessimist or a postmodernist or just simply a sourpuss and believe that nothing is beautiful - but somewhere deep down, it stirs you. 

Christian weddings are the same.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

A few of my current favorite things

Go ahead, cue the song from The Sound of Music. 

7.  blooming Confederate Jasmine

I'm pretty confident that this wouldn't smell so intoxicating if it were named "Yankee Jasmine."  Just sayin'. . .

6.  The Steve Harvey Morning Show

Apparently, Steve has found Jesus and cleaned up his act.  I wouldn't know because I was never a fan of his stand-up or movies.  But I faithfully listen to his morning radio program - and am usually laughing so hard that I am literally running off the road.  He calls it like it is.  I like people like that. 

5.  Mar Y Sol handbags
Does it get ANY cuter?  

4.  Masterpiece Theatre

If loving Masterpiece is wrong, I don't wanna be right.  It's the final bastion of civility on television.

3.  Ipod shuffle
It has NO bells and whistles and is so-very-last-decade.  It doesn't stream video or send emails or commune with extra-terrestrials. But my shuffle takes me through my afternoon walks, loaded up with Jamiroquai and Stevie Wonder and AC/DC.  I love you, little shuffy.


2.  U-pick strawberries


1.  my Darling, my Man

This won't be a "current" fave, but a lifetime one.  None of the usual cliches apply to him - he never leaves his socks on the floor, he does just as much housework as I do, and he always does what he says he will do. I still get giddy when I hear him mention my name.  How did I get so lucky?

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

The Squeal Heard 'Round the Neighborhood

Ahhhh, orchids. They require little care (just a bit of weekly watering) and their gorgeous flowers last for months.

I've bought them, already blooming. Then, when the prettiness disappears, I've tried to get them to re-bloom, but to no avail, usually because I'm too childish and impatient to continue feeding them for months on end while they "regather steam" to re-bloom.

But y'all, I stuck it out.  And last week, when I saw these three little green buds (and new little leaf) on my kitchen windowsill orchid, I SQUEALED!!!! 

My "green thumb" is more of a chartreuse shade, so you can understand how excited I was.  To me, this feat was akin to completing a 10K or baking a souffle. 

Please pardon the dirty dishes in the sink.  This is real life, people.

A precious thought ocurred to me.

We are like these little buds on the orchid.

If we are in Christ, we re-bud. Our blooms don't become spent and then we wither away.  We re-bud because He re-budded.  He was resurrected! The same mighty power that lifted Our Savior from the grave lives in me and you - the Holy Spirit. (Romans 8:11) Try wrapping your brain around that one. 

Oh, how lovely are Easter and orchids.

Hopefully, I'll have a fabulous post in a few weeks with photos of stunning blooms.  Keep your fingers crossed.  It'll be a first for me.

Friday, April 1, 2011


I just love everything about spring. 

I love that the outdoors begins to sing with color.  In the Wiregrass, camelias, azaleas, dogwoods, and wisteria are in full bloom.  I love to bring some of that cheer inside, pop it in a glass of water, and enjoy.

I love old-fashioned Easter "decor, " too.

But what I love MOST is that spring is a celebration of the rejuvenation we experience, not just in nature, but in Jesus Christ.

Yes, I am the vine, you are the branches.  Whoever lives in me and I in Him shall produce a large crop of fruit. For apart from me, you cannot do a thing. - John 15:5

Don't 'ya love the vine analogy? Especially in spring?

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Confessions of a Casserole-Maker

I have something to admit.

I bake and serve casseroles to my family. 

And not just any old casserole.  We're talkin' THROW BACK kinds.  Like the Tuna Macaroni Casserole pictured above. Oh yes. 

Above you will see the usual suspects of a throw-back casserole.  The ubiquitous cream-of-something soup, canned tuna, elbow macaroni (I could have at least used penne or something remotely 21st century - alas), and some string cheese.

Wait - did she say "string cheese?" 

Yes, in the Downey household, if you don't have an ingredient, you don't just make a mad dash out to the local grocer to retrieve it.  Ridiculous.  You just "make do" (love that phrase) with what you have.  So, we didn't have enough cheddar.  The string mozarella is fine.

Please notice this adorable recipe, taken from the Cotton Country cookbook.  Mrs. Charles W. Belt, I salute you. 

The dish is purported to be "a creamy and colorful" one. I can speak for the creamy part, but as for the "colorful," I'm not so sure.  This recipe pretty much falls into the category of "beige food," a culinary genre that my sister christened one family Thanksgiving.  We noticed that, like on many Southern tables, the majority of items offered in the repast set before us were "beige" - green bean casserole (beige on top), dressing (beige), turkey (beige), some other indistinguishable casserole with crushed Ritz crackers on top (beige), and, well, you get the drift.

That is indeed my scribbled note at the top of the recipe - I deemed this "delicious" and left a reminder to use cheddar and crushed crackers.  My progeny will thank me.

I am completely aware that casseroles are unhip.   After all, the Food Network is one of only two TV channels I watch, and the chefs are usually whipping up something fashionable like "Seared Ahi Tuna with Wasabi Chili Butter". . . which sounds pretty good to me.  They're not making much with things that come in a can, ya know. . . except for Paula Deen.  She never met a stick of butter or can of cream-o'-mushroom she didn't like.

So, in a nod to modernity, I added some minced garlic and chopped mushrooms to the onions and peppers when I sauted them, and I mixed in the cheese, too.  I topped it all off with some Asiago Wheat Bread crumbs (I had made some of this bread and had some of the loaf in the freezer) and a bit of butter.  Crunchy, yummy, goodness.

Can anything made from "Cotton Country Cooking" (the 25th anniversary edition, mind you) turn out badly?

Some may think "Why doesn't she just open a box of Tuna Helper?"  To you I say - How dare you?  In her wildest dreams, boxed Tuna Helper is only half as good as this. 


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