Last week, the cold weather just about done me in. I was longing for those hot, summertime temperatures. I will complain about those, too. For right now, however, they seem better than what experienced last week and the recent cold snap.

Just the sights of the cold weather in other areas of the country have made me shiver. One town had a wind chill factor of minus 77 degrees. I honestly believe I would never leave the house.

You ask how cold is it? Well, let me just tell you:

• It is so cold I had to break the smoke off my chimney.

• It is so cold that I had to open the refrigerator to heat the house.

• It is so cold that Lady Liberty put the torch inside her dress.

• It is so cold that chickens are rushing to KFC and begging to use the pressure cooker.

• It is so cold that I chipped a tooth on my soup.

• It is so cold that Dunkin’ Donuts is serving coffee on a stick.

• It is so cold that we pulled everything out of the freezer and huddled inside to keep warm.

• It is so cold that ice cubes are coming out of the water faucet.

• It is so cold that people are drinking hot sauce instead of coffee.

• It is so cold that Jack Frost wants to warm up.

• It is so cold that I had to chisel a dog off a fire hydrant.

• It is so cold that the trees are chopping themselves for firewood.

• It is so cold that the rock rattling around in your shoe is your toe.

• It is so cold that your false teeth are chattering, and they are still in the glass.

• It is so cold that people look forward to getting a fever.

• It is so cold that mailmen are watching out for dogs and polar bears.

• It is so cold the even Elsa from “Frozen” is bothered by it.

Stay warm; spring is just around the corner. Hope you will give this week’s recipes a try. Thanks for reading.

CHILI SPAGHETTI CASSEROLE

1 (16-ounce) package vermicelli pasta, cooked and drained

1½ pounds ground beef

2 tablespoons dried minced onion flakes

2 teaspoons chili powder

¼ teaspoon garlic powder

1 (15-ounce) can chili without beans

1 (15-ounce) can diced tomatoes

1 (8-ounce) container sour cream

1½ cups shredded cheddar cheese

1 (2.8-ounce) can French fried onions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly spray a 9-by-13-inch casserole dish and set aside. Cook ground beef until browned, and drain fat. In a large bowl, combine cooked beef, onion flakes, chili powder, garlic powder, chili, diced tomatoes, sour cream and pasta. Transfer mixture to prepared pan. Top with cheese and onions. Bake for 45 to 50 minutes or until bubbly.

PEPPER JACK POTATO CASSEROLE

1 (30-ounce) package frozen, shredded hash browns

1 can cream of chicken soup

2 cups shredded pepper jack cheese

1½ cups heavy whipping cream

½ cup melted butter

½ cup sour cream

1 cup grated Parmesan cheese, divided

½ teaspoon onion powder

¼ teaspoon garlic powder

Salt and pepper to taste

1 sleeve Ritz crackers, crushed

½ cup cooked chopped bacon

1 teaspoon paprika

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Lightly spray a 9-by-13-inch baking dish with cooking spray. In a large bowl, combine hash browns, soup, pepper jack cheese, heavy cream, butter, sour cream, ¼ cup Parmesan cheese, onion powder, garlic powder, salt and pepper. Spoon mixture into prepared pan. Combine crushed crackers, bacon, remaining grated Parmesan cheese and paprika. Sprinkle over potatoes. Bake uncovered for 45 minutes.

CHOCOLATE POUND CAKE

2 sticks butter, room temperature

3 cups plain flour

½ teaspoon baking powder

½ teaspoon salt

½ cup cocoa

½ cup vegetable shortening

3 cups sugar

5 large eggs, room temperature

1 cup milk

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 10-inch bundt cake pan. Sift the flour, baking powder, salt and cocoa together, and set aside. With an electric mixer, cream the butter, shortening and sugar until fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each. Add the flour mixture alternately with the milk, beginning and ending with flour. Add the vanilla, and pour mixture into prepared pan. Bake for one hour, and check for doneness with a toothpick.

Cool in pan for 30 minutes before turning onto a wire rack to cool completely.

Contact Lee Ann Flemming at lafkitchen@hughes.net.

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