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

Don’t miss the chance to participate in the Atascadero Downtown Holiday Lighting Ceremony this weekend, Friday, Dec. 3. Activities begin at 5:30 p.m. in the Sunken Gardens. Children can enjoy a visit with Santa following the lighting, as well as enjoy complimentary hayrides, fire engine rides, community entertainment, tours of Historic City Hall, and hot chocolate!

On Saturday. Dec. 4, join in the Holiday Musical Walk Around the Lake from 5:30 to 9:30 p.m. 

The signature holiday event, Winter Wonderland, will take place in downtown Atascadero on Dec. 10, from 5-9 p.m. There will be food, rides, music, craft vendors, Santa Claus, and plenty of SNOW! Organizers plan to grind approximately 50 plus tons of food-grade ice into the fresh, powdery snow. They will form it into play piles and huge snow slides.

On Dec. 18, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., you can celebrate the holiday season with your friends at the Charles Paddock Zoo. The animals will be receiving holiday gifts that have been crafted with care by zookeepers and some very special elves. Come and watch the animals as they rip, claw and tear open their presents.

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If you are 50+ years of age and want to have fun, consider joining the Atascadero Fun Club, sponsored by the City of Atascadero’s Recreation Division.

For details about the “fun” activities, classes, or events, contact atascaderofunclub@charter.net.

I hope you enjoyed “something pumpkin” this fall. I prepared the Creamy Frozen Pumpkin Pie for Thanksgiving, not realizing that I could make two pies from that recipe. Consequently, I still have a pie in the freezer that I can serve during the Christmas holidays. Lucky me!

I made a topping for the pie with butter, sugar, crushed cinnamon graham crackers, and chopped nuts. I mixed the ingredients together and baked it for a few minutes. After removing it from the oven, I broke it up to crumble on each serving. The topping is good enough to eat alone by the spoonful!

Now it’s time to think “Christmastime” foods to give as gifts to family and friends. This recipe for a homemade bread is sure to please.

Cheesy Pepper Bread

Ingredients:
1 package (8 ounces) cream cheese, softened
2 tablespoons butter or margarine, softened
2 eggs
½ cup milk
1½ cups shredded Monterey Jack cheese with jalapeňo peppers
1 jar (2 ounces) chopped pimiento, drained
1 tablespoon chopped green onion
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powdered1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a medium bowl, combine cream cheese and butter; beat until fluffy. Add eggs and milk; beat until well blended. Beat in cheese, pimiento, and onion. In a large bowl, combine flour, baking powder, salt, and pepper. Add cream cheese mixture; stir just until blended. Spoon into a greased 5×9 inch loaf pan. Bake 50 to 55 minutes or until golden brown. Cool in pan 5 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack, remove from the pan and cool completely. Store in an airtight container. Serve warm or toasted.

Cheers!!