Cheesy Pizza Casserole

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Last week we had our first glimpse of spring. I took my dog on a walk in cargo shorts and a T-shirt – my official warm weather uniform. I inspected the gas grill to make sure it would be ready for the copious amounts of meat that will be cooked on it in the coming months. I was thinking about the garden, getting a new bicycle and possibly creating a nice spot in the yard for a fire pit.

Then came the weekend with 60 mph winds, snow and a brutal reminder that it’s March in Northern Indiana. The up and down climate is like standing between two rooms and I’m not sure which one I should be in.

This feeling is the inspiration for the following recipe. It’s a pizza in all aspects except the bread is replaced with pasta, which makes it a casserole – I think. Can a dish be called pizza with no bread in the recipe? If so, this is a pasta pizza, if not, it’s a pizza casserole. It’s just as good warm or cold – just like pizza, but needs to be eaten with a fork - just like a casserole. I think I’ll call it “Dinner in March.”

I created this recipe with the intention of calling it a casserole, and believe that is really what it is - I brought up the pasta pizza thing just to stitch in the winter/spring weather thing for the newspaper version of the column. As I mentioned above, the weather is just crazy this time of year in Northern Indiana. Today it was in the 60s and yesterday and the day before the high was in the 30s. On warm days you think about what you’re going to grill and what improvements you can make to the landscaping in the yard. Then in a matter of hours the snow is flying and you’re stuck inside making comfort food and breathing the carbon exhaust emitted from the gas fireplace.

I think this weather is more conducive to making people sick than the freezing cold of January and February. Warm days followed by below freezing is hard on the body.

I will say this – I CANT WAIT FOR SUMMER! These nice days are teasing me. I can’t wait to open my camper at our family campground and throw a chunk of meat in my brick smoker. Warm days are on the way!

With the warm weather I can move much of my cooking outside and start using the grill extensively. I’m hoping that this is one of the last few comfort dishes I will be cooking as we transition into spring.

Eat well, Cook often ...

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