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Sherrie Norris Lovin’ Spoonful Cooking Column: Marching On Through the “Madness” of an Historic Month

By Sherrie Norris

The official “madness” of March has begun, right along with The Ides of March. And,  yes, the two can easily go hand-in-hand. However, those of who were born on that “fateful” date are certainly hoping for better days ahead. Again. (And don’t forget to go for the green on St. Patrick’s Day!)

Two years ago, March 15 fell on Sunday, and the day was dismal in itself; dreary was the word, and even more so as news began to spread about a highly infectious virus that had hit the High Country. Churches cancelled services and we sat around a computer screen trying to figure out just what was going on. It was my 60th birthday, and while the number itself didn’t trouble me, it was the uncertainty of the world’s atmosphere, in general, that I couldn’t shake.

 As we know, that day set the pace for the next two years, at least, and we’re still uncertain about so many things. While the virus itself seems to be waning, we are still shrouded in the after-effects, and the realization that life as we knew it two years ago, will never be the same. 

Many families have experienced serious illness, heartaches and great loss associated with the “pandemic” that we never imaged. Physical, emotional, mental, spiritual and financial problems have plagued us at every turn. 

Yet, here we are, still trudging along ,maybe a little weak for the wear. Hurting, yet hoping, healing and looking for glimmers of happiness amid the dark cloud that still hovers over us. Our focus has switched, somewhat, from masks to mayhem in Ukraine — with an element of fear for what it could mean for all of us in the long run.

Yes, I turned 62 on March 15, 2022. I’m blessed that the day was sprinkled with good wishes from near and far, special time with family and the opportunity to reflect upon life’s blessings. And, there are many. 

Life, in many respects, is making a run for “normal,” or as close to it as we might ever see. And, March Madness, a term that could encompass a lot in our lives right now, offers us a relief, of sorts, to change the channels from the news to the games that will heat up the headlines in coming days.

I go through all the above to get us to this: Surely, 68 basketball teams playing in seven rounds for a national championship in the next few weeks will be a great reprieve for many. It’s time to lighten up and have a little fun. So, whether you are  coaching from the couch, or are able to attend any of the games in real life,  it’s OK to get excited, have a little fun and relax. And, of course, with any big event, there needs to be plenty of food to get you through the day. So, here’s to munching through March Madness, one day at a time. 

Crockpot Chicken Chili

2 cans Great Northern or Navy beans

1 can (14.5 oz.) diced tomatoes with juice

2 tsp. chicken base or bouillon

1/2 tsp. garlic powder

1/2 tsp. ground cumin 

1 tsp. chili powder

1 can (4 oz.) chopped mild green chiles

1 cup corn kernels, optional

2 cups of cooked chicken

Combine all ingredients in crockpot. Cover and cook on low for 5 to 7 hours. Serve with corn bread or crackers

Easy Potato Skins

Baking Potatoes

Cheddar cheese, shredded

Bacon Bits

Sour Cream

Bake several potatoes in oven or microwave. Let cool about 30 minutes. Slice in half lengthwise. Hull out potatoes with a spoon or a scraper, leaving about ½-inch or less of potato skin.  Drop skin in deep fat fryer and fry until crisp. Drain on paper towels. Place on broiler rack in oven, topped with shredded cheese and bacon bits. Broil until cheese melts. Remove and top with more bacon bits and sour cream, or anything that suits your fancy.  You can skip the deep fat frying and go directly to broiler, though skill will not be as crisp.

Crock Pot Crustless Pizza

2 lbs. ground beef

Garlic salt pepper and dried minced onion to taste

2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese

14 oz. jar pizza sauce

2 cups shredded pizza blend cheese

Your favorite pizza toppings

Brown beef and seasonings in a skillet on the stove over medium/high heat; drain. In a bowl, mix together beef and mozzarella. Spray crock pot lightly with cooking spray. Spread beef mixture in crock pot.

Pour pizza sauce across the top and spread out evenly. Cover with pizza blend cheese and toppings.

Cover and cook on low for around 4 hours.

Frozen Orange Cream Dessert

2 cups graham cracker crumbs

¾  cup sugar

¾ cup butter, melted

½ gal. vanilla ice cream, softened

1 can (12 oz.) frozen orange juice concentrate, thawed

In a bowl, combine cracker crumbs and sugar; stir in butter. Set aside ½  cup for topping. Press remaining crumb mixture into 9 x 13-inch greased baking dish. Cover and freeze for at least 10 minutes.

In a large bowl, combine ice cream and orange juice concentrate until smooth. Spoon over crust. Freeze for 10 minutes or until partially firm.

Sprinkle with reserved crumb mixture; gently press down. Cover and freeze for up to 2 hours. Remove from the freezer 15 minutes before serving. 

“Crack” Snack (Addictive!) 

2 sticks (1 cup) salted butter

1 cup brown sugar

1 (12 oz.) box Crispix cereal (about 12 cups)

½ cup chopped pecans 

Preheat oven to 325. Line an extra-large baking sheet (or two smaller baking sheets) with foil and spray with cooking spray.

Spread cereal and pecans on prepared baking sheets. Set aside.

Mix butter and brown sugar in a saucepan. Boil for two minutes, stirring frequently. Pour caramel mixture over cereal and nuts; toss to coat.

Bake for 8 minutes. Remove from oven, stir, and bake for an additional 8 minutes. Allow to cool, breaking apart any large clumps with a wooden spoon or spatula.