You’ll Never Live It Down

If you’ve been reading this blog for a while you know that my family is very close and more than a little strange. Another thing about them is that they, like so many families, love being able to tease about really dumb things we’ve done. I seem to have a real penchant for doing dumb things and my family loves to tell me, “You’ll never live it down!” Why the picture of the dime? Read on and I’ll explain.

Families never let you live down your embarrassing moments!

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Creamy Potatoes Au Gratin

My family is a meat and potatoes kind of bunch so I make several different kinds of Au Gratin potatoes. I think my personal favorite is my Creamy Potatoes Au Gratin because it’s so cheesy! The sauce is velvety and thick and it coats every bite of the potatoes. Just thinking about it nearly makes me weak in the knees!

Creamy Potaotes Au Gratin is a rich, delicious side dish your family will love!

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I Ran Out of Spoons

For those of you unfamiliar with The Spoon Theory it was the brainstorm of Christine Miserandino. It’s not actually a theory but a way of explaining to healthy people why those of us with chronic illness or chronic pain can’t always do everything we want to do.  You can read The Spoon Theory here. A couple of days ago I ran out of spoons.

Chronic illness cam make you run out of spoons.

Since I began this blog I made it a point to do a post each day. There were a couple of days I could only post that I wasn’t really up to posting anything. But at least I let you know I wasn’t going to do a “real” post. It was a matter of pride that I share recipes, tips, or even just some humorous anecdotes every day. Because I really appreciate the time you take to read what I write I don’t want to let you down.

But a couple of days ago I realized I was in trouble. I wasn’t able to walk and I could barely stand sitting in my wheelchair. It was frustrating because the weather hasn’t been really cold. In fact, for this time of year it’s been gorgeous. And I hadn’t done anything more than what I usually do so there’s not the ready-made excuse that I over-extended myself. Honestly, I don’t know what went wrong. But I ended up in bed feeling miserable and worthless.

I decided today that I had to at least let you know that I was taking a couple of days off. Yeah, I know. You already know I took yesterday off. And today really doesn’t count for much. Be nice. I’m giving it my best shot here!

You should know that I’m going to be posting a recipe for another kind of Au Gratin potatoes my family loves. And I’ve got some great Thanksgiving treats to share with you. These are so easy even I can’t mess them up!

So don’t run off. There’s a lot to come as soon as I stop being dead. Meanwhile practice saying things like “Doesn’t she look natural?” It’ll help remind me that if I don’t get moving someone is going to start digging a hole in the backyard!

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10 Cleaning Tricks You Should Try

I’m willing to be that if we found someone somewhere who has never had to clean anything in her entire life she wouldn’t have cleaning on her bucket list. It’s not the kind of thing people skip going to a movie to do. So anything that makes cleaning a little easier or faster is high on my list of must tries. These 10 Cleaning Tricks You Should Try may just make your life a little easier.

10 Cleaning Tricks you should definitely try!

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Macaroni & Cheese with 4 Cheeses!

I admit I’m a total carnivore. Sometimes people suggest I become a vegetarian and I tell them I’m already a vegetarian once removed; I eat animals that eat a vegetarian diet. Still, every once in a while I have a craving for good old macaroni & cheese. But I don’t always make it with cheddar cheese. You know…the “normal” way. Tonight it’s Macaroni & Cheese with 4 Cheeses!

Macaroni & Cheese with 4 Cheeses will become a family favorite!

There’s nothing wrong with macaroni and cheese with cheddar. I love the stuff. But lately I’ve been making a lot of dinners that include cheddar cheese and I wanted something different. I picked up a 5 lb. bag of Galbani Mozzarella, Provolone, and mild White Cheddar a few days ago so I decided to use that as the start of my mac and cheese.

Mozzarella, provolone, and mild white cheddar cheese make this macaroni and cheese special!

First I made the béchamel sauce. I melted 4 tablespoons of butter in a heavy, medium size saucepan over a low heat. I added the flour and cooked it, stirring constantly for 2 minutes. I increased the heat to medium and slowly whisked in half-and-half and milk.

I cooked the half-and-half mixture for about 4 minutes, stirring it frequently, until it was slightly thickened. Then I added a teaspoon of salt and 1/4 teaspoon of garlic powder and stirred it in.

Half-and-half makes this creamy cheese sauce really special!

The béchamel was covered and I set it aside. It was time to preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Next I filled a large pot with water and salted it to taste. I put it on the stove on a high heat and when it was boiling rapidly I added 1 pound of elbow macaroni. After the water had returned to a boil I reduced the heat so the macaroni was at a low boil. I cooked it 2 minutes less than the package directions (for only 5 minutes) because I wanted the macaroni very al dente. It finishes cooking in the oven and I hate, hate, hate mushy pasta!

While the macaroni was boiling I buttered a 9 x 13 casserole dish.

When the macaroni was done I drained it, returned it to the cooking pot and added 2 tablespoons of butter. I stirred it so the butter would melt and to coat the macaroni. I think we should all say a prayer of thanks for butter.

Then I poured about 1/2 the macaroni into the casserole dish. I topped it with the Galbani cheese blend and the Parmigiano cheese.

Mixed cheese blend crumbles make a smooth macaroni and cheese.

I spread the rest of the macaroni over the cheese layer and topped it with the remaining cheese blend but not the rest of the parmigiana.

I mixed the rest of the parmigiana with the breadcrumbs and spread that mixture over the macaroni and cheese. We like a lot of that crispy topping on top of lots of gooey cheese!

Macaroni & Cheese with 4 Cheeses ready to bake!

The macaroni and cheese went into the preheated oven for about 40 minutes. You’ll want the breadcrumbs golden brown.

Breadcrumbs combined with parmigiano cheese are the perfect topping for Macaroni & Cheese with 4 Cheeses!

I let the dish stand for a few minutes before serving.

Oh, the joy of stringy cheese and crispy breadcrumbs surrounding that flavorful béchamel and perfectly cooked macaroni! I think I heard angels singing. And I didn’t even care that there was no meat!

Lots of gooey cheese makes Macaroni & Cheese with 4 Cheeses amazing!

 

Macaroni & Cheese with 4 Cheeses

 

Ingredients:

 

6 tablespoons of butter + more to butter casserole dish

4 tablespoons all-purpose flour

2 cups half-and-half

1 cup milk

1 teaspoon salt, plus salt for pasta water

2 cups Galbani Mozzarella, Provolone, and mild White Cheddar Cheese blend

1 cup Parmigiano cheese, divided (the stuff in the shaker bottle works just fine but you can use shredded, too)

1 pound elbow macaroni

1/4 teaspoon garlic powder

4 ounces grated Cheddar cheese

2 cups fresh bread crumbs

 

Directions:

 

Melt 4 tablespoons of butter over a low heat in a heavy saucepan.

Add the flour and stir to combine.

While stirring constantly, cook the mixture for 2 minutes.

Increase the heat to medium and slowly whisk in the half-and-half and milk.

Cook for 4 – 5 minutes, stirring frequently until mixture is slightly thickened.

Add 1 teaspoon of salt and the garlic powder and stir to combine.

Cover the béchamel sauce and set aside.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Fill a large pot with water and add salt.

When water is boiling, add the macaroni noodles and return to a low boil.

Cook for 5 minutes (until very al dente).

Drain and return to cooking pot.

Add 2 tablespoons of butter and stir to melt and combine.

Pour 1/2 of the macaroni into a buttered 9 x 13 inch casserole dish.

Top with 2 cups of the Galbani cheese blend and 1 cup of the Parmigiano cheese.

Spread the remaining macaroni over the cheese and top this layer with the remaining cheese blend.

Mix the remaining 1 cup of Parmigiano with the bread crumbs and spread over the top of the macaroni and cheese.

Bake for 35 – 40 minutes until top is golden brown and cheese is bubbly.

Let stand for a few minutes after removing from oven.

 

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Rack of Pork

This is a delicious way to serve rack of pork and it is sure to impress your family and guests. This cut may also be labeled pork loin rib eye. Rack of pork is anatomically the same as a rack of lamb or beef prime rib roast. These cuts all come from the same part of the animals. But rack of pork is a far more economical roast and that’s why it’s perfect when you are entertaining.

Only six ingredients to create this impressive Rack of Pork!

 

I used reverse searing when making this roast. Reverse searing is a method in which you slow cook the roast to start and then really crank the heat up and brown it deeply at the end of the cooking time. The pork turns out tender and really juicy!

After allowing the roast to come to room temperature the oven was set to 300 degrees. This allows the meat to cook all the way through to the center without drying the outer parts of the roast.

I mixed the brown sugar, paprika, garlic powder, cayenne pepper, and salt.

With just 6 ingredients you can make a Rack of Pork that will really impress your guests!

Brown sugar gives it a little sweetness and cayenne pepper gives this Rack of Pork some heat.

I sprinkled this mixture all over the roast, patting it down on the surfaces. It will kind of melt but don’t let this worry you. It’s not going to drip all off. It was hard not to taste the brown sugar mixture but I reminded myself my fingers had touched raw pork.

Rack of Pork coated with only 5 ingredients will wow your guests!

The roast went on a rack in a roasting pan with the fat side up and into the oven for about 3 hours. I checked it faithfully every 10 minutes or so after it had roasted about 2 hours and 15 minutes. I don’t want it to overcook. When the roast reached 130 degrees in the center I took it out and allow it to rest for 15 – 20 minutes.

While the pork was resting I turned the oven up to 450 degrees. My oven tends to run hot so you may even want to go to 500 degrees.  When the pork had rested and the oven was screaming hot I put the roast back in for about 10 minutes to reverse sear it. This doesn’t take long and you should watch the roast so it doesn’t get too dark.

Once it was nice and brown and kind of crispy on the outside I removed the pork from the oven and allowed it to rest again.

Impress your guests with this delicious Rack of Pork!

Normally the rack of pork is carved into individual chops but I had my son carve it and wasn’t very clear with my directions. He actually removed the bones (thinking his father might have trouble with them) and carved it like a typical roast. It wasn’t as pretty on the plate but, boy, was it delicious!

Only 6 ingredients to make this juicy, tender Rack of Pork!

I served it with boiled potatoes with cream sauce and broccoli and cheese. Everyone agreed we could eat this several times a week!

Tender, juicy, and so delicious, this Rack of Pork is sure to impress!

 

 

Rack of Pork

Ingredients:

  • 1 (4 1/2 – 5 lb.) rack of pork (it may be labeled pork loin rib eye roast)
  • 2 teaspoons smoked paprika
  • 2 teaspoons garlic powder
  • Pinch cayenne pepper
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt

 

Directions:

  1. Allow pork to come to room temperature.
  2. Preheat oven to 300 degrees.
  3. Combine brown sugar, paprika, garlic powder, cayenne pepper, and salt.
  4. Sprinkle brown sugar mixture on surface of pork and pat it down. *It will be fairly thick on the pork
  5. Place pork, fat side up, on rack in roasting pan and pour a little water in the bottom.
  6. Roast pork at 300 degrees until internal temperature reaches 130 degrees (about 3 hours)
  7. Remove pork from oven and allow to rest for 15 – 20 minutes meanwhile turn the oven up to 450 degrees.
  8. Return pork to oven and sear for 10 – 15 minutes. Keep an eye on it as it may brown very quickly!
  9. When the roast is deep brown remove it from oven and allow it to rest for another 10 – 15 minutes.

 

 

 

 

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Whole Pecan Rub Roasted Chicken

We eat a lot of chicken. It’s still one of the less expensive proteins but finding ways to make it so it’s not the same old bird over and over can be a challenge. If you’ve been reading this blog for a while you know our youngest son, Pete and his girlfriend Andi live very nearby. And we generally treat both houses as one household. That means if we have something in our cupboards or pantries it’s fair game. And I found something that got me really excited today at their house; Georgia Brothers Pecan Rub. I grabbed the bottle and tonight I’m making Whole Pecan Rub Roasted Chicken.

Only 3 ingredients needed to make this juicy whole chicken!

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Stuffed Egg Salad

For special occasions I make stuffed deviled eggs based on the Paul Deen recipe. Everyone loves them. After all they have bacon in them! Since regular old egg salad can get a bit boring I decided to create Stuffed Egg Salad. It was a total hit! I take all the kudos give total credit to the bacon!

Stuffed Egg Salad is a delicious new way to make an old favorite!

I hard boiled a dozen eggs and, after they were cool enough to handle I peeled them.

Hard boiling eggs is the first step in making Stuffed Egg Salad!

Because my hands sometimes give me trouble holding a knife or fork I used my mushroom slicer to slice the eggs. I did it twice so the eggs were in little pieces. If some larger pieces got away I always cut them with the edge of the spoon when I start mixing the rest of the ingredients.

Making Stuffed Egg Salad is easy when you use a mushroom slicer!

Next I cooked 8 pieces of bacon until they were nice and crispy and chopped them up.

Bacon is my secret weapon in Stuffed Egg Salad!

I chopped some green onions (just a couple) and some celery because I refuse to eat egg salad without celery!

Stuffed egg salad gets a nice crunch from green onions and celery.

The most important part of this egg salad (after the bacon, of course) is the dressing. I mixed good mayonnaise, sour cream, and a little yellow mustard.

Stuffed Egg Salad gets it's creamy deliciousness from mayonnaise, sour cream, and mustard!

When the dressing ingredients were well combined I seasoned it with salt and pepper. Of course the bacon is salty so I didn’t need much salt.

Stuffed Egg Salad only needs salt and pepper for seasoning!

I folded the bacon into the eggs. I really had to restrain myself from eating all of  tasting the bacon

Crispy bacon is part of the stuffing for Stuffed Egg Salad!

Next I added the green onions and celery into the egg mixture.

Stuffed Egg Salad gets its crunch from green onions and celery.

Finally the dressing was added to the egg mixture. I mixed it all really well and tasted it in case the seasoning needed to be adjusted. And because I knew I’d get at least one bit of bacon in that bite.

Stuffed Egg Salad is a delicious combo of bacon, vegetables, and creamy dressing.

I served it on thin sliced Italian bread. There was bacon deliciousness in every bite and the dressing had just the right bite.

Stuffed Egg Salad is a great way to update an old favorite!

 

Stuffed Egg Salad

Ingredients:

  • 1 dozen eggs, hard boiled, peeled, and chopped fine
  • 8 slices bacon, cooked crisp and cooled
  • 3 green onions, chopped
  • 1 stalk celery, chopped
  • 1 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/4 cup sour cream
  • 1 teaspoon yellow mustard
  • Salt and pepper to taste

 

Directions:

  1. Combine mayonnaise, sour cream, mustard, and salt and pepper. Set aside.
  2. Fold bacon pieces into chopped eggs.
  3. Mix in green onions and celery.
  4. Fold dressing into egg mixture being sure to combine all ingredients well.
  5. Add salt and pepper if desired.
  6. Serve on your choice of bread.

 

 

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10 Thanksgiving Decorating Ideas

Okay, okay. These aren’t all decorating ideas and there are really a lot more than 10 but Thanksgiving can be hectic. Any help you can get to make the day more special for family and friends is great. From decorating to the kids’ table to sending your guests home with leftovers, you can look like the Hostess of the Year!

10 Thanksgiving Decorating Ideas to help you look like the Hostess of the Year!

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Separation Anxiety in Dogs

Mr. Comfortable and I are going to visit our older son and his family for Thanksgiving. We’re excited about it but Remy and Henry aren’t going to be thrilled. They’re staying home. Because Mr. C is retired and I’m a professional cripple the boys aren’t used to us being away for more than a few hours. This trip will be more than a day away. So I’m taking steps now to be sure they don’t suffer separation anxiety. If you’re going away for the holidays these tips for Separation Anxiety in Dogs may help your fur baby deal with it better.

Separation Anxiety in Dogs can be helped.

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