Casseroles: the Wisconsin comfort food. We, Wisconsinites, share a common remedy for winter’s dark days, icy streets, chilly houses and runny noses. We eat comfort foods. Comfort foods are those casseroles heavy in starches such as noodles, rice, and potatoes. In casseroles, robust, meaty sauces or rich, cheesy, cream sauces bind smatterings of chicken, tuna, or cheap cuts of beef to thawed-out vegetables. Requiring no cutting and little chewing, mouthfuls of casserole slide down our gullets warm and fast. They’ll sit in a stomach for hours and on hips for months. But no matter, these lead dishes give comfort. And comfort we need because with winter this long, who knows if we’ll live to spring. Better to eat hearty now. Comfort foods play a key role in our Wisconsin strategy of perseverance. (So don’t tease us when you see us in our swimsuits in July!)

An additional benefit of casseroles is their ability to disguise edible, but otherwise unwanted, left-overs. Any food is fair game for inclusion in a casserole. And the right sauce can render any suspicious ingredient unrecognizable. Wisconsinites know this. And now that our Wisconsin economy has flown south with the geese, we, Wisconsinites, are adding an extra-helping of frugality to our casserole cooking.  In this spirit of waste not, want not, I offer my own recipe for a dessert casserole that uses up left-overs and is scrumptiously festive for a winter party. Chocolate peppermint ice cream pie The recipe is extremely fast to make, provided of course that you have the left-overs. I call it pretty, chewy, gooey, chocolate-peppermint ice cream pie.

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