Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Farewell, faithful friend

Our 19 1/2 year old cat, Belle, passed away during the night.  It wasn't completely unexpected-last night it was obvious we didn't have much longer with him-but I am so thankful that we all had a chance to say goodbye.  In fact, we've had four bonus years with him that almost didn't happen, which I am very grateful to have had.

So many memories run through your mind-how he'd come and sit on my feet when I sat down in the living room...the way he'd lay down and nap on the back of the girls' legs whenever they laid on the floor while we were doing school...how much we'd laugh at our algebra-loving cat because he'd sit with the girls and seem to watch their algebra video with them-we just knew he enjoyed, and understood, their algebra lessons...the way he'd meow so loudly in the middle of the night if he ran out of food or water-or if we'd had the nerve to leave him home alone while we went out of town...the not-so-subtle hints that he wanted us to start a fire in the woodstove because he liked it toasty.

He was the best of cats.  We will miss him.
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Sunday, December 9, 2012

Pinterest inspired wedding gift

My niece, Lauren, got married last weekend.  Although our standard wedding gift is a check, I decided to add something to unwrap for this, my first niece to get married.

I saw this idea back in August, which was just in time for the wedding, scheduled for September.  Unfortunately, the poor groom ended up in Texas for mandatory training when he was supposed to be getting married.

I was anxious to see what the new date was going to be.  I was constantly looking for new numbers, trying to assure I'd have the digits I needed once I knew the revised date.

 I was very relieved to find exactly the house numbers I needed but even more delighted that the happy couple finally got to enjoy their special day and begin their new life together.

We love you, Lauren and Brian, and wish you a lifetime of love and happiness together!
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Friday, December 7, 2012

Bacon Blue Cheese Mac & Cheese

I thought about titling this "Love it or Hate it Mac-N-Cheese" because I'm sure the common reaction to this is one or the other.

I suspect this is not a kid-friendly recipe in most households but my girls love it.  Then again, they don't eat the stuff in the blue box at all.

Earl and Kathy gave me some fantastic smoked blue cheese recently, which prompted me to tell them about this dish with the promise to blog it so they, too, could try it.

I got this recipe from a Better Homes and Gardens year end cookbook that I picked up used.  I don't follow the recipe exactly (no surprise there) so I'll post the recipe as I make it.

Bacon Blue Cheese Macaroni and Cheese

4 slices bacon
2 large onions, thinly sliced
6-8 ounces dried macaroni or other medium sized pasta
4 ounces (1 cup) shredded mozzarella cheese
2 ounces (1/2 cup) blue cheese
1 cup half-and-half (or milk)
1/8 teaspoon black pepper

In a large skillet, cook bacon until crisp, over medium heat.  Remove to paper towel, crumble and set aside.

In reserved bacon drippings, cook onion until tender and golden brown.  (The original recipe says "5-8 minutes".  I cook my onions low and slow-over an hour and a half this time-because I like to caramelize them if I have that much time.)  Set aside.

Preheat oven to 350ยบ.  Cook pasta according to package directions.  Drain and place in greased 1 1/2 quart casserole dish.  Add the crumbled bacon, onion, mozzarella, blue cheese, half-and-half, and pepper.  Toss gently to combine.

Bake, uncovered, for 20 minutes.  Stir gently and top with additional mozzarella, if desired.  Bake for 10 minutes more, or until top is brown and bubbly.  Let stand 10 minutes before serving.

There you have it.  Are you a "love it" or "hate it" person when it comes to blue cheese?
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