She feels at home in the kitchen

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SABATTUS- Donna Hopkins is a self-proclaimed homebody. “My husband, George, works a lot of hours and wants to stay home on the weekends, so we invite a lot of people over,” she said.

Hopkins enjoys planning and preparing an entire meal, from appetizers to dessert. “It became fun when we are having people over. I plan out the whole meal,” she said. “I make everything from scratch, including homemade bread.”

Hopkins helps out part-time at her dad’s business, Appliance Warehouse in Auburn, but spends much of her time as a stay-at-home mom who enjoys cooking for others.

“My mother was a stay-at-home mom, and she always cooked and tried to get us involved. My brother was the cook and I was the baker,” said Hopkins, who has a 15-year-old son, Jonathan.

She moved beyond baking when she met her husband and now enjoys making a wide variety of dishes. “I don’t like to cook the same thing twice, and the Internet makes this simple to do,” she said. “I am not afraid to try new things. If it flops, it flops. There have been some failures – then I just toss the recipe and look for another.”

The best part of cooking for Hopkins is watching others enjoy what she has prepared. “It’s a chaotic world to begin with. Most people find it [my cooking] soothing,” she said. “It’s really rewarding when I hear someone say this is really tasty. It makes me feel warm and fuzzy.”

Not one for sitting still, Hopkins also enjoys doing Pilates, bowling, downhill skiing, snowmobiling and walking her dog, Pepper.

Bacon dip

Ingredients:

8 ounces cream cheese, softened

1 cup mayonnaise

1 bundle of green onions

½ cup (or more) bacon bits

12 Ritz crackers, crumbled

2 cups Monterey Jack cheese, shredded

Method:

Mix cream cheese, mayonnaise, green onions and ¼ cup of the bacon bits until well blended. Top with remaining bacon bits and Ritz crackers. Microwave for 5 minutes or until hot. Serve with crackers.

what about Monterey Jack cheese???>>>>

Wheat germ yogurt bread

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Ingredients:

8 to 9 cups flour

¾ cup nonfat dry milk

5 teaspoons salt

1 package yeast, undissolved

2 ¾ cups water

1 cup plain yogurt

¼ cup honey

2 tablespoons butter

1 egg, beaten

1 cup wheat germ – plus a few tablespoons for sprinkling

Method:

In a large bowl, thoroughly mix 3½ cups flour, dry milk, salt and undissolved yeast. Combine water, yogurt, honey and butter in saucepan over low heat until it reaches 120 to 130 degrees. (Butter doesn’t have to melt.) Gradually add liquid to dry ingredients, beat 2 minutes at medium speed with mixer, scraping bowl. Add 1 cup flour and beat at high speed 2 minutes, scraping bowl. Stir in 1 cup of wheat germ and add another 4 cups of flour. Turn out onto floured surface, knead until smooth and elastic (about 8 to 10 minutes). When kneading if dough is sticky, add a little bit of flour. Place in greased bowl, turning once. Cover and let rise in warm place until doubled in size (about 2 hours). Punch down, divide in half. Divide each half into 3 equal parts. Shape each into a 16-inch rope. Braid 3 ropes together, and then pinch to seal ends. Place on greased baking sheet. Repeat with remaining ropes. Cover and let rise until doubled (about 1 hour). Brush with beaten egg and sprinkle with some wheat germ. Bake at 350 degrees for 35 minutes. Remove from sheets and cool on wire racks. Makes 2 loaves

White lasagna

Lasagna ingredients:

3 chicken breasts (with or without bone), halved

1¼ cups chicken broth

1 cup water

3 quarts water

1 tablespoon salt

¼ cup cooking oil

1 pound lasagna noodles

Chopped fresh parsley

¼ pound prosciutto ham, sliced

Sauce ingredients:

¾ cup butter

7½ tablespoons flour

2 cups milk (1 percent)

1½ cups heavy cream

1 cup chicken broth (reserved from lasagna recipe)

½ teaspoon tarragon

½ teaspoon

½ teaspoon salt

1 dash nutmeg

1½ cups grated Parmesan cheese

Method:

Cook chicken in large pan with broth and water. Bring to a boil and then reduce to a simmer. Cook for ½ hour or until tender. Cut from bone if needed and cut into small pieces. Set aside. Reserve 1 cup of broth for sauce. Bring 3 quarts of water to boil. Add salt, oil and noodles. Cook until done. Drain and put on towel to dry. Prepare sauce: melt butter in large saucepan. Blend in flour and cook, stirring constantly, over medium heat for 3 minutes. Add milk, cream and reserved broth, stirring constantly until mixture boils and begins to thicken. Add seasonings. Remove from heat and stir in cheese.

To assemble: Lightly butter 9- by 13-inch baking dish. Place a layer of noodles on bottom, then the sauce, chicken and ham. Repeat this once more. Finish off with a layer of noodles and sauce. Bake at 350 degrees for 20 to 25 minutes. Top with parsley.

Source: RSVP cookbook

what’s this???>>>

Donna’s note: Boneless chicken breasts can be used, but the bone-in breasts are more flavorful. Also, some steps in this recipe can be done ahead of time. If pressed for time, she cooks the chicken and the lasagna noodles a couple of days ahead and freezes them until she’s ready to cook the entire lasagna.

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