Tis’ the Season of Giving


1 xmas 6Well, THE holiday season will soon be upon us. You know the one.

‘THE’ season being the winter holidays of Thanksgiving, Advent, Bodhi Day, Winter Solstice, Soyal, Yalda, Mōdraniht, Saturnalia, Pancha Ganapati, Christmas Eve, Christmas, Yule, Malkh, Boxing Day, Kwanzaa,  Watch Night, New Year’s Eve, Hogmanay, and Hanukkah.

I think that is everything and everybody. You know, all of the holidays celebrating giving, sharing, love, peace, joy and the return of the spring equinox. Or as I, your Happy Food Blogger, call it, all of the holidays before Martin Luther King Day, the Super Bowl and Valentines’ Day.

If I forgot, do not know, or don’t care about and thus left anyone or any celebration big or small off of my list, I apologize unreservedly.



All joking and funning aside, one of the hallmarks of this season and the multitude of ways to celebrate it is that of giving and sharing our largess with others.

The one thing all of the holidays above have in common is giving to and sharing with others. Americans and people world1 a donations wide are generous and truly wish to share their riches in any way or manner they can with others.

But sadly, that also brings out the charlatans, the thieves, and the robbers. As the gods often say, “No good deed goes unpunished,”

This time of year many philanthropic organizations send out requests for donations, call your home during the dinner hour,  or solicit in street corners and in malls. How do we know which organizations are honest and worthy of our support? How do we know that our contribution, our money is used for the right purpose? How do we know the money will go to the cause and not to overhead or worse to line the pockets of officers and staffs of these organizations?

1 a vets


I use the following organization to help me maneuver the mine field of charitable organizations: American Institute of Philanthropy (AIP), also known as Charity Watch.

And thanks to the magic of the internets you can access Charity Watch from the warmth and comfort of your own home. On this site you can get a rigorous analysis of how money is spent on over six-hundred charitable organizations. As AIP says:



Because many factors determine a worthy charity, we at Charity Watch suggest that you use the ratings on this page not as the sole determining factor in your decision, but rather as an aid.

Below are a few of the praises for Charity Watch

Charity Watch “is the pit bull of watchdogs. Its staff members dig deeper than most other overseers, going to state and federal records to get information that charities do not volunteer, honing in on program efficiency and exposing abuses.”

The New York Times

CharityWatch “rates fewer charities than Charity Navigator but provides a far more detailed look at the finances of those that it does rate.”

Los Angeles Times


The website has more than just rankings. At their site you will also find Hot Topics from today’s news such as ‘charities’ that were recently closed down. There is an Articles section that includes topics like, “Think! Before You Just Give.”  There is a Tips feature including a section on reducing unwanted mail and phone appeals. And who doesn’t want to do that?

You can get the list of “A” and “B” charities for free on their web site – see link above.  If you wish to get the failing charities you will have to join the organization.

All in all, I think AIP is a great source of good information for you.

And best of all, now you will be able to enjoy today’s Featured Recipe without interruption from a robo call for donations to a worthy cause.

 Featured Recipe    Un-Stuffed Pepper Casserole


Stuffed peppers are delectable.

However, many people are intimidated by cleaning out a pepper and stuffing it.

So today I share a really easy casserole where I use the stuffing’s from stuffed peppers and chop the pepper up and mix it into the stuffing. Then I bake it a bit and voilà, Un-Stuffed Peppers Casserole.

I normally use meat loaf mix (two-thirds ground beef or chuck and one-third ground sausage) in this dish but today the grocery store did not cooperate!

Never fear! I have three or four other ways to make Un-Stuffed Pepper Casserole.

You know me. I like to play with my food.. Sometimes I make it Mexican by using Mexican spices and using one of the many shredded Mexican cheese mixes. Sometimes I just make the stuffing from my Greek version of Stuffed Pepper.

You can play around with the ingredients in many ways. Instead of regular stewed tomatoes you can use one of the many flavored stewed tomatoes. You can also use tomatoes with chilies for really hot Mexican U-Stuffed Pepper Casserole.

Today I decided to make it with sweet Italian sausage.

This recipe is quick and easy, busy weeknight friendly, child friendly, inexpensive, and delicious to boot.

What’s not to like?

This is what you will need for 4-6 people:

1 pound Sweet Italian Sausage

1 medium onion

1 – 14 oz. can stewed tomatoes

1 medium green pepper

½ cup uncooked basmati rice

¼ cup water

2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce

1 cup shredded Mozzarella cheese

Salt and pepper to taste


Here is what you do:

Set the oven to 350 degrees F.

Chop the onion. Wash the pepper. Cut the pepper into fourths and remove the membranes. Cut each fourth into four or five strips and then chop into squares.


Pour stewed tomatoes in a bowl and with a cooking sheer cut the tomatoes into smaller chunks.


Brown the sausage in a hot skillet or casseroles and break up into small pieces.


When the sausage is mostly browned add the onion and stir in and sauté until soft and the sausage is cooked through.



NOTE: If you are using ground beef, drain any excess fat from the pan.

Add all other ingredients, except the cheese,  and mix together well.



Cover and bake at 350 degrees for about 30-45 minutes or until rice is tender.


I check every 15 minutes adding a tablespoon or more of water if the casserole looks too dry, as I did here.


The rice was cooked today at the 30 minute mark.


Sprinkle with the cheese. Return to oven until cheese melts, about 5 minutes.


Hot out of the oven.


You can serve with a salad and/or a vegetable.


Bon appétit!!!


1 pound Sweet Italian Sausage                   $3.29

1 medium onion                                         $0.13

1 – 14 oz. can stewed tomatoes                   $1.50

1 medium green pepper                              $0.69

½ cup uncooked basmati rice                       $0.72

¼ cup water                                               $——

2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce                $0.08

1 cup shredded Mozzarella cheese                $2.99

Salt and pepper to taste

Total cost = $9.32
Cost per person 4 = $2.33
Cost per person 6 = $1.55

Quote of the Day

Love is not patronizing and charity isn’t about pity, it is about love. Charity and love are the same — with charity you give love, so don’t just give money but reach out your hand instead.

Mother Teresa


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8 comments to Tis’ the Season of Giving

  • Cheryl

    Looks yummy. Goes in the keeper – try folder!

    • Roberta

      You must have a gazillon recipes in there by now. 🙂 TY for having so many of mine in there. *Blows Kisses*

  • Thank you for that useful link to Charity Watch.

    Having seen at first hand some of the harmful and counter productive activities in Africa financed by well intentioned but often naive Western donors, I have been somewhat cynical about many of the big name charities. I also share the concern of many others that fundraising by big charities frequently benefits the fund raisers, advertisers and office holders much more than the intended recipients.

    During the chaos of the farm invasions in Zimbabwe, we were visited by a gang of political thugs in a pickup truck emblazoned with the name of a major charity and with the message “Donated to the Government of Zimbabwe for AIDS Awareness”. I accept that the truck had been hijacked by the government for this purpose, but when the local office of that charity were informed, they were totally disinterested and continued to provide the Zimbabwe government with material assistance.

    It was a USA based charity, rated B+ on Charity Watch’s list. If I had relatives in the USA at the time(I did not) who had donated to this charity it could have been possible for their donation to have financed my intimidation (or worse).

    Now I think very carefully before donating and prefer to support those charities helping people and animals close to home.

    • Roberta

      Unfortunately nothing is perfect. What year was this? Recently? Now? You might consider contacting them and telling them of your experience. Me? I seldom if ever donate and when I do it is usually through Catholic or Lutheran Charities.

  • Oooh, love the unstuffed pepper recipe. What a great idea!
    Charities— I am extremely careful, very selective. Most people don’t realize the majority of any donation goes, at best to administration and paperwork, at worst to corrupt governments/organizations. The people most in need receive nothing.
    Great post sweetie.

    • Roberta

      Glad you like the Un Stuffed Peppers. 🙂

      I seldom if ever donate either, and when I do it is usually through Catholic or Lutheran Charities. Low over head and most monies goes to people or cause. I do this even though I am a fallen away Catholic.

  • I’ve heard of Charity Watch but I’ve never visited until now.

    Your unstuffed peppers warms my heart! Perfect comfort food and I would really enjoy it with the sausage.