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Let Go Winter, Just Let Go

Winter just doesn’t want to let go. I can’t believe we woke up to a couple of inches in the middle of April. The morning of the snow, my dad brought our Harley up out of his nice toasty basement for riding season. That’s where we all keep our summer toys around here over the winter months. He ends up with about six motorcycles between all of us and one sweet blue car in his basement. (Thanks, Dad!) That same day we went to visit my mother and father-in-law. The snow had just started falling, and the flakes were big and fluffy. They were sticking to the trees, and it was absolutely gorgeous! Instead of Easter, it felt like Christmas. All of the sudden, I heard, “Happy Holidays (Happy Holidays), Happy Holidays (Happy Holidays) While the Merry Bells Keep Ringing, Happy Holidays, to youuuuu!” It was Andy Williams’ “Happy Holidays,” and I looked at my husband with a big smile.

“Is that what I think it is!?” I asked.

My mother-in-law, Marlene McElroy Rook, had turned on the Christmas station that is saved on her Bose speaker and sits at her kitchen counter. She thought it felt like Christmas with the snow instead of Easter, so why not!? I loved it! It was fitting with what we were looking at out her beautiful bay window that she has decorated so tastefully. Her home is always so charming and let me say, it always smells divine. Seriously, every room has a smell of its own. It’s amazing.

My kids come home from Grammy’s, and you know exactly where they have been because they smell just like her house. I like to get good sniffs of them when they get home, haha! (When Chris and I dated, I used to smell his coat in school and tell him that his house smelled good. No lie!)

Anyways, so my father-in-law, Bob Rook, who was sitting in his chair, also commented on the snow. “Just look at it coming down out there!” he said.

We just couldn’t believe it was snowing after Easter.

Listen, my readers know how much I love winter. I love the crisp air and beautiful snowfalls, but it knows its place! It’s not for April. I already had the tease of my first motorcycle ride and having the windows down in the car. I already started hanging sheets back on the line. I put the screens back in our bedroom windows to be able to hear the froggies at night singing gracefully up at our neighbor’s pond. Then it decides to snow? There is PA weather for ya.

Do you know what I am really looking forward to? Campfires. I just want a big ole toasty campfire with my friends gathered around. I want to throw our homemade grate that my hubby made over that fire with some nice coals that fits over our campfire ring at home and at the river lot. I then want to put some steaks on that grate and listen to the sizzle as soon as it hits that hot grate. I want Lindsay Mertes to bring her corn on the cob, and we will also put that over the grate with some baked taters. Then you know what I want to do? Sit back with some tunes playing in the background and a full belly while talking stories around that fire. In the meantime, I’ll be thinking about the smores we will be making that evening. Peanut butter, one crisp marshmallow, and a graham cracker. Mmmm!! No chocolate here. Peanut butter is my kind of s’more. Nothin’ like a fluffernutter on a graham cracker, guys, I’m tellin’ ya! This is what I am longing for, with many other things. As much as I hate humidity, summer gives us many fun things to look forward to. What is your favorite summer activity? What do you long for the most?

Winter gives us glorious comfort food, but summer gives us farmers’ markets with some amazing fresh produce! I long for the sweet summer fruits like watermelon, strawberries, and blueberries. Usually, the first week my kids are off school, we go pick a bunch of strawberries at the Green Berry Farm so I can make my homemade strawberry jelly and banana split jelly. I have to make sure our freezer is stocked with it so it lasts for the next twelve months until we can pick again. I know before I blink, it will be here, summer and winter all over again. So let’s soak up each and every month.

Chicken Cordon Bleu Pasta Casserole

This recipe should win an award, seriously……
• 1-1/2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese, divided
• 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, grated, divided
• 1/2 cup Butter
• 1 garlic clove, minced
• 2 cups heavy cream
• 1/4 teaspoon white pepper (you could also use black pepper)
• 16 ounces pasta, cooked and drained
• 3 seasoned chicken breast, cooked and diced into chunks
• 1 cup diced, cooked ham
• sliced swiss cheese

Melt the butter in a pot over medium heat. Add the white pepper, heavy cream and minced garlic. Bring the mixture to a simmer. Reduce heat to medium low. Add the Parmesan & Mozzarella, reserving about 1/3 of the mozzarella. Simmer on low till thick, it will take about 2 minutes.

Set the oven to broil. Coat a 9×13-inch baking dish with cooking spray. Add the cooked pasta, chicken, and ham. Pour Alfredo sauce over the top, and gently stir to combine everything. Bake in oven for 15 minutes at 350 uncovered. Then take back out and top with the swiss cheese first, then finish with reserved mozzarella.

Place the baking dish on the oven’s top rack. Broil for 2-3 minutes, or until the cheese bubbles and turns light brown. Watch closely, it doesn’t take long!