Friday, January 6, 2017

Ranch Cheesy Potato Bake AND SSS

Happy 2017! Here is the first Secret Subject Swap for the new year along with an easy side dish that is delicious any time of the day.
Ranch Cheesy Potato Bake
Half cup ranch dressing
1 tsp garlic and onion powder and paprika
1 tablespoon parsley flakes
Half tsp chili powder
Bag diced hash browns (frozen about 32 oz)
1 cup shredded cheese
Bake at 450 35 minutes
Mix all the ingredients except for the cheese. Bake for 25 minutes in a 13x9 pan, be sure to spray the pan first. Sprinkle the cheese on top and bake another 10 minutes.
Welcome to a Secret Subject Swap. This week 12 brave bloggers picked a secret subject for someone else and were assigned a secret subject to interpret in their own style. Today we are all simultaneously divulging our topics and submitting our posts. 

Late December with the snow falling faster than Michael Phelps can swim laps and wouldn't you know it, I could not see the road signs. Now sitting at an intersection the car lights dimmed and the engine shut off. Crap! Driving all night the storm and trying desperately to stay ON the road I had no paid attention to the fuel gauge. Out of gas. What a rookie thing to do and as a professional driver I knew better.
Trying in vain to see out in the night I decided to wait it out and pray for help. My cell phone had zero reception. I had an idea of where I was but with the slow progression through the night I could be off in my calculations but 50-60 miles.
I dozed off and woke with the morning light and the freezing temperature in the car. I grab my purse, flares, phone, blanket and donned my hat, gloves and scarf. Out of the car I stepped. OH DEAR LORD it was thigh deep and so freakin' cold I almost yelled.
I began to walk and thankfully only 20 minutes or so had passed when I smelled smoke. Scanning the sky I could see the smoke on the other side of the trees. Heading that direction I began to make out the shape of what appeared to be a cabin.
Quickening my step I could see lights! Hallelujah! 
I approached the door and knocked with my hurting red knuckles. Tap tap tap
The door creaked open and a face poked out.
This sweet little cherub face smudged with dirt wide eyed looking up at me like she was seeing an angel. I smiled and said "hi, is your mommy or daddy home?"
She nodded and opened the door running across the bare room to a bed by the fire. I could see the silhouette of two figures in the bed. The room was dank smelling, dark and bare of any personal belongings.
I walked in and shut the door. "Hi umm excuse me but my car ran out of gas and I have been waiting all night for the storm to stop so I could seek help... helllo?"
No response. Oh god what will I do if these people are dead I thought. I walked over to the bed. I could hear the worst raspy breathing and the smell. I gagged, stepped back and ran for the door where I quickly heaved up yesterdays meal. Wiping my mouth I left the door open but went back in. Dear God how long had they been this way??? This poor child staring at me begging for help with her eyes.
I managed a weak smile and asked if she could get me a rag and water. She quickly ran to a small corner and picked up a large jar, poured some liquid in a rag and brought it to me promptly.
I wiped the brow of her mom, then dad. Neither roused. They were burning up. I glanced around but saw no phone or electric outlets. Had I fallen through a rabbit hole? Was I dream? Delirious from the cold? WHO lived this way anymore?
I knew I was no help so I told the little one I would be back and headed for the door. She grabbed my hand and began to cry. I said "oh honey I know you're scared and you've done such a great job, stay with them. I promise I'll be back and bring help. Okay?" She nodded. I said "good brave girl" and out I went.
Looking around I saw my faint foot prints as the snow was still coming down. I began to move quickly toward the direction of my car. Just when I thought I must have gone the wrong way I heard voices, no a radio, CB ... HELP I began to run and scream with all my might.
Two officers came towards me, "what's wrong ma'am, are you alright? what's going on??" I quickly told them about my journey and what I had found. Officer Pendleton called it in on the radio and led me to the squad car. He said "sit here and warm up, help is on the way, ma'am if what you have told us is true, you may have saved three lives today, four if you include yourself. " he patted my shoulder, shut the door and walked away.
Exhausted and relieved I passed out in the back seat. Next thing I know the officer is gently shaking my shoulder. "ma'am we have your car gassed up and the roads have been somewhat cleared, if you are able, go to your car and follow the plow to the highway. My suggestion is next time do NOT try to drive during the night AND a snowstorm." Feeling relieved and a little peeved at his remarks I thanked him and headed for my car.
WAIT! I ran back, "officer, the family?! What happened ? Are they okay? Will they live? Where's the little girl?"
He looked at me with a look of concern. "Ma'am we found the cabin, but it's empty and filled with cobwebs. There was no family. I'd say that the cold and exhaustion had you delirious." He patted my shoulder and said "be careful and stop at the first motel for a long winters nap." he chuckled at his own comment and walked away.
What? No family? Empty? Cobwebs? Seriously?? I rubbed my forehead and got in my car. Okay, no more Little House on the Prairie marathons before a long trip, more coffee, more sleep and no winter trips. Sheez I'm loosing it.
Cranking the car I followed the snow plow to I-85, headed South and never looked back.

Here are links to all the sites now featuring Secret Subject Swap posts.  Sit back, grab a cup, and check them all out. See you there:
Baking In A Tornado                                   
Dinosaur Superhero Mommy
The Diary of an Alzheimer’s Caregiver
The Lieber Family Blog        
Confessions of a part time working mom  
Simply Shannon                        
Never Ever Give Up Hope       
The Bergham Chronicles                              
A Little Piece of Peace           
 Southern Belle Charm                 
Your “Secret Subject” is:
Your car has run off of the road in the middle of a snow storm. You decide to walk and you come upon a cabin with lights on. What do you find inside?


  1. that would make for a great book, talk about a suspenseful thriller/mystery. Will the ghost of the girl haunt her? Will she read an article about an historic murder?

  2. Oh fun! You should flesh this out some more, for sure!

  3. Ba ha ha ha, I love this story! And the recipe. A two-fer!

  4. You did such a great job! In the beginning I believed it was true. Glad it wasn't!

  5. You had me -- I thought it was true as well.

  6. What a great use of the prompt! I live by I 85! Might have passed right by me!

  7. I like that the story is open enough that the reader can interpret it any way they choose. Sure, it could have been a bit of delirium that lead the driver to see those things in the cabin, but it could have easily been something a little paranormal as well. Great job!

  8. Love this. Grabbed me and pulled me in~ Glad it's not true. That would be scary.