With our current weather of fluctuating temperatures, it's difficult to NOT get lured into believing that spring can't be that far off. But I'm not going to let that happen to me like it has before. The only exception is that I'm on the lookout for a big red Geranium to plant by our front door, and knowing that freezing tempts will kill it, the Mikester had a great idea - plant some silk ones until March arrives; I like his suggestion.We did enjoy entertaining some friends with a weekend brunch and a casual dinner the following evening. I'm including those recipes we liked. Keeping things simple makes others feel relaxed. We ate on very nice paper plates so that made the kitchen clean up very easy. I use real stainless flatware because I hate plastic ware, but that was no problem to rinse and load in the dishwasher. Even the breakfast casserole I cooked in aluminum and discarded after the meal.Thompson's Brunch Casserole• 6 eggs beaten• 1/2 cup grated jack cheese• 1/2 cup grated cheddar cheese• 1 pound sausage (We used Regular, Jimmy Dean.)• 1 teaspoon salt• 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper• 2 slices white bread-broken into small pieces• 2 cups whole milk 1. Beat eggs. 2. Combine cheeses. 3. Cook and drain sausage. 4. Combine eggs, half of the cheese, sausage, salt, pepper, bread pieces, and milk. 5. Pour into a greased casserole. (I used a 9 x 13, but it might of also worked in a smaller one.) Top with remaining cheese. Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes. This serves 6-8.Day Before Lemon CakeI have made this cake recipe many years ago and I like it for THREE reasons: It's delicious; easy to make; and you can make this the day before and it retains its tender and moist texture.• 1 package Duncan Hines Lemon cake mix• 1 small package lemon Jello• 3/4 cup Wesson oil• 3/4 cup water• 4 eggs 1. Blend the above ingredients together except for the eggs. 2. Last, add the eggs one at a time. 3. Beat 2 minutes. Pour into a greased and floured 9 x 13 inch pan. 4. Bake for 40-50 minutes It should be pulling away from edges of pan and done in the center. While cake is baking, prepare a glaze: 1. Combine 2 cups powdered sugar, and 1/2 cup bottled "Real Lemon" bottled lemon juice. 2. Punch holes in cake. 3. When it comes out of the oven, spoon the lemon glaze over the hot cake. Refrigerate it after it cools. This makes 15-20 servings. Note: I use the tines of a fork to make the holes in the hot cake.Dee Dee's Slow Cooking Chili and BeansI love making this because I can make it early in the day in my Crock-pot and then spend time with friends. It smells so good later in the afternoon. I served this with white rice that I made in our rice cooker, along with a simple lettuce and tomato salad.• 1 pound ground round (or can use lean ground chuck)• 1 Tablespoon vegetable oil• 1 cup chopped onion• 1 cup chopped green bell pepper• 2 large cloves garlic-chopped fine• Two (28 ounce) cans whole tomatoes-chopped• Two (8 ounce) cans tomato sauce• 1 Tablespoon chili powder• 1 teaspoon oregano• 2 teaspoons salt• 1 teaspoon sugar• 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper• 1/8 teaspoon paprika• 1 1/2 teaspoons cumin• One (15 and 1/2 ounce can) kidney OR pinto beans-drained (We prefer the pinto beans.)• Hot cooked rice• Grated cheddar cheese 1. Using a skillet, brown beef. Discard fat. 2. Add oil back to the skillet to sauté the onion, bell pepper, and chopped garlic. 3. Place all ingredients in slow cooker and cook 4-5 hours, stirring a couple of times. I taste, then adjust seasonings according to who is being served. We like it a little "hotter" but not if grandchildren are eating the chili.What my Grandmother never taught me:Baking soda is a chemical leavening agent that creates carbon dioxide and is used in conjunction with acidic ingredients such as buttermilk, sour cream, brown sugar, or fruit juices that causes the product to rise. If a recipe calls for soda, be sure and add it! There's a reason to use and NOT omit it. Tip of the Day:Invite a friend to brunch or lunch, someone who might enjoy getting out of their house for a little while.Have a good week in Parker County and try out some new recipes this week.