Barbie Butz is an independent columnist for The Atascadero News and Paso Robles Press; you can email her at barbiewb@hotmail.com

I’m happy to report that a group of community-minded citizens here in the North County, under the leadership of Erik Gorham, have organized a collection of warm coats, jackets, sweaters, and sweatshirts for Coats for Kids and adults. The drive began on Jan. 25 and will end on the 31.

Erik knew that we had needed to change our collection and distribution style this past December due to COVID-19. Since we still have cold days ahead, he offered to help collect more items so we could continue to give out warm coats to those in need.

Here are the drop-off locations around North County: Madrone Landscapes at 8045 Morro Road in Atascadero, Atascadero Jewelry and Loan at 5550 El Camino Real in Atascadero, Nature’s Touch Nursery, and Harvest at 225 Main Street in Templeton, Paso Market Walk at 1803 Spring Street in Paso Robles, and New Day Church at 1228 11th Street, Suites 101 and 102 in Paso Robles. The businesses will have drop-off boxes.

Items should be new or gently used and clean. If they need to be refreshed, our north county cleaners will clean them free of charge. Just mention that they are for Coats for Kids. A CFK committee member will pick the items up when ready.

Participating cleaners include Plaza Cleaners in Atascadero and Paso Robles, Fashion Dry Cleaners and Laundry in Atascadero, and Paso Robles Cleaners and Laundry in Paso Robles.

To make a tax-deductible monetary donation, please visit our website at coatsforkidsslocounty.org. Funds will be used to purchase new items in children’s sizes and to help cover storage costs.

Coats for Kids is an annual event that has been ongoing for 33 warm, wonderful years. Every year, volunteers gather, sort, and distribute new and gently used warm items to help families in need. The project serves approximately 800 families here in the north county.

Thank you to the County Board of Supervisors, local businesses, and generous supporters who donate to CFK 

every year. Those who serve on the CFK committee appreciate your help with keeping our families warm!

Well, we finally know who will be competing in the Superbowl on Feb. 7. You now have plenty of time to prepare a menu of “football food.” To help you kick-off your menu, here are some ideas. My husband always says, “Don’t forget the onion dip!” 

Creamy Feta and Sun-Dried Tomato Spread

Ingredients:

  • 1 package (8 ounces) cream cheese, softened
  • 1 package crumbled Feta Cheese
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
  • 2 tablespoons chopped sun-dried tomatoes

Directions:

Mix all ingredients. Refrigerate. Serve with crackers or fresh vegetables.

Roasted Red Pepper Dip

Ingredients:

  • 1 (8 ounces) container sour cream
  • 1 (7 ounces) jar roasted red peppers, drained
  • 4 ounces cream cheese
  • ½ teaspoon chopped fresh or frozen chives

Directions:

Blend sour cream, peppers, cream cheese, and chopped chives with an electric mixer until well mixed. Spoon into a bowl; refrigerate for at least 1 hour. Garnish with extra chopped chives if desired. Serve as a dip with snack crackers.

Nutty Broccoli Spread

Ingredients:

  • 1 box (10 ounces) frozen chopped broccoli
  • 4 ounces cream cheese
  • ¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil
  • ¼ cup walnuts
  • 1 loaf frozen garlic bread

Directions:

Cook broccoli according to package directions; drain well. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Place broccoli, cream cheese, Parmesan cheese, and basil in a food processor or blender; process until ingredients are mixed. (Do not over-mix.) add walnuts; process 3 to 5 seconds. Split garlic bread lengthwise. Spread broccoli mixture evenly over bread. Bake 10 to 15 minutes or until bread is toasted and broccoli mixture is heated through. Cut bread into bite-size pieces; serve hot.

Spicy Marinated Shrimp

Ingredients:

  • 1 green onion, finely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons prepared horseradish
  • 2 tablespoons ketchup
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped chives
  • 1 teaspoon Tabasco brand pepper Sauce
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • Salt to tast
  • 2 pounds medium shrimp, cooked, peeled, and deveined

Directions:

Combine all ingredients except shrimp in a large bowl. Add shrimp and toss to coat.

Cover and refrigerate 4 to 6 hours or overnight—transfer shrimp mixture to serving bowl and serve with toothpicks.

Enjoy the weekend. Enjoy the weather—- hot, cold, or somewhere in-between.

Cheers!

Getting through this together, Paso Robles