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Sherrie Norris Lovin’ Spoonful Cooking Column: Spring Schedules and Quick Meals On The Horizon For Many Families

The outdoor tracks, baseball fields and walking trails are showing signs of increased activity these days as the calendar is preparing to turn over its third page of the new year. Who can believe that spring and all its activities are upon us once again?

As one of the few snow lovers in my circle, I am still waiting for the “big one.” Or even a small one. I had a long honey-do list that I hoped would be accomplished inside while the heavy snow fell and inches – even feet – covered the ground around our home.

 I was really counting on the old wives’ tales this year — the multiple fogs in August that usually (maybe?) result in equal numbers of snowfalls, the squirrels gathering in nuts in late autumn, snow following thunder in 10 days — and last but not least, the ever-popular woolly worm forecast. But, here we are in the last days of February. I’m still waiting. We’ve had a scant ground covering in the eastern part of Watauga County maybe twice this winter, which includes a bit of sleet when we were expecting a foot of snow. I was envious at the western end’s social media pictures that proved snowfall was real in the High Country. And those lovely scenes from Beech Mountain — be still my heart!

My husband reminds me that historically, local snowfalls and blizzards have occurred in the month of March. I should know that, since I was born in Avery County’s epic 1960 snowstorm that people still talk about.

So, for now, let’s backtrack and get some family-friendly meals on the table before afternoon/evening sports practices turn into games and the drive-through is considered the best available option for a weekday meal.

I’ll hang on a little longer to share a few fun snowy-day recipes if the “s” word appears in the forecast.

White Chicken Enchiladas

10 soft taco shells

2 cups cooked, shredded chicken

2 cups shredded Monterey Jack cheese ( I like the Kraft Tex Mex)

3 Tbsp. butter

3 Tbsp. flour

2 cups chicken broth

1 cup sour cream or Greek yogurt

1 (4 oz.) can diced green chilis

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9×13 pan. Mix chicken and 1 cup cheese. Roll up in tortillas and place in pan.

In a sauce pan, melt butter, stir in flour and cook 1 minute. Add broth and whisk until smooth. Heat over medium heat until thick and bubbly. Stir in sour cream and chilies. Do not bring to boil, you don’t want curdled sour cream. Pour over enchiladas and top with remaining cheese. Bake 22 minutes and then under broil for 2 minutes to lightly brown the cheese. Cool; wrap tightly in plastic and foil to freeze. When ready to eat, thaw in refrigerator and heat through before serving.

Beefy Mac and Cheese  Casserole

8 oz. macaroni, cooked and drained

1 cup chopped onion

1 lb. lean ground beef

1 Tbsp. oil

2 cans (14.5 ounces each) tomatoes

Salt and pepper to taste

1 tsp. chili powder

1 cup shredded Cheddar cheese, divided

1 cup buttered bread crumbs

Heat oven to 350. In a heavy skillet, heat vegetable oil over medium heat; brown ground beef and onion. Add tomatoes, salt, and pepper and chili powder. Reduce heat; simmer for 25 to 30 minutes. In a lightly greased baking dish, combine meat mixture with cooked macaroni. Stir in 1/2 cup of the shredded cheese. Top with 1 cup buttered bread crumbs and remaining 1/2 cup shredded cheese. Bake, uncovered, for 35-45 minutes, or until hot and top is lightly browned. Cool, wrap well and freeze until ready to use.

Veggie Lasagna

1 Tbs. extra virgin olive oil

2 (10 oz.) pkg. frozen chopped spinach

½ onion, chopped

½ tsp. dried oregano

½ tsp. dried basil

2 cloves garlic, crushed

1 (32 oz.) jar spaghetti sauce

1½ cups water

2 cups non-fat cottage cheese

1 (8 oz.) pkg. part-skim mozzarella cheese, shredded

¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese

½ cup chopped fresh parsley

1 tsp. salt

1/8 tsp. black pepper

1 egg

8 oz. lasagna noodles

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).

In large pot over medium heat, saute spinach, onion, oregano, basil and garlic in olive oil. Pour in spaghetti sauce and water; simmer 20 minutes. In large bowl, mix cottage cheese, mozzarella cheese, Parmesan cheese, parsley, salt, pepper and egg.

Place small amount of sauce in bottom of lasagna pan; place 4 uncooked noodles on top of sauce and top with layer of sauce. Add 4 more noodles and layer with ½ sauce and ½ cheese mixture, noodles and repeat until all is layered, finishing with sauce.

Cover with foil and bake in preheated oven for 55 minutes. Remove foil and bake another 15 minutes. Let set 10 minutes before serving.

Pizza Casserole:

1 (16 oz.) pkg. uncooked rotini pasta

1 lb. ground Italian sausage

1 (24 oz.) jar pasta sauce

1 (16 oz.) container cottage cheese

1 (2 ¼ oz.) can sliced black olives, drained (optional)

1 (4 oz.) can mushrooms, drained

12 oz. shredded mozzarella cheese

2 (3 oz.) pkgs. sliced pepperoni

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease a 9X13 casserole dish.

Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Place pasta in the pot, cook for 8 to 10 minutes, until al dente, and drain.

In a skillet over medium heat, cook the sausage until evenly brown, drain grease. Mix in the cooked pasta and pasta sauce. Pour into prepared casserole dish.

In a bowl, mix the cottage cheese, olives, mushrooms and mozzarella cheese.

Spoon the cheese mixture over the sausage and pasta mixture. Top with pepperoni slices.

Bake 25 minutes in the preheated oven, until bubbly and lightly browned.

Chocolate in a Crockpot

1 box Betty Crocker fudge brownie mix

½ cup butter, melted.

4 eggs

1 pouch Betty Crocker chocolate chip cookie mix

Mix it all together and place inside crockpot. Cook about 3 hours on low.

Top with vanilla ice cream.