8 ounces elbow macaroni
1/4 cup butter
1/4 cup WONDRA flour
FRESH ground sea salt and black pepper
1/4 teaspoon granulated garlic
1 cup half and half
1 cup WHOLE milk
4 ounces Velveeta
1/2 cup shredded Swiss cheese
2 cups medium sharp cheddar, divided 1 1/2 cups + 1/2 cup

  • Preheat oven to 375°.
  • Lightly grease baking dish or individual ramekins.
  • Prepare macaroni per package directions. Drain and set aside.
  • Melt butter in a large cast iron skillet over medium high heat.
  • Gradually whisk in flour until smooth for 2 minutes.
  • Stir in salt, pepper and granulated garlic.
  • Gradually together the half and half with the milk.
  • Whisk milk mixture into the flour mixture.
  • Cook, whisking constantly 8-10 minutes until thickened.
  • Stir in Velveeta until smooth.
  • Stir in Swiss cheese and 1 1/2 cups of the medium sharp cheese until smooth.
  • Remove from heat and fold in macaroni.
  • Pour into prepared baking dish and top with remaining cheese.
  • Bake 20-35 minutes. The longer you bake it, the crustier the top gets.


This is an old family recipe that was extremely common in the midwest amongst many a farmer’s wife back in the day. My great grans even made her own noodles and would drape them all over the dining room to dry. She also started with a chicken from the yard as well as veggies from her garden.This was a family favorite long before supermarkets.

I never thought to ask, just accepted that it was that way, but this dish was always served in our house over fluffy mashed potatoes with homemade butter, which is A LOT of carbs! But, I can’t think of serving it any other way! I admit I buy packaged noodles and butter, but the rest is all scratch made.

1 whole chicken, cut into pieces
2 carrots, rustic chopped
2 stalks celery, rustic chopped
1 LARGE Vidalia onion, quartered
3-4 cloves garlic, rough chopped
FRESH ground sea salt and black pepper, to taste
1/4 + 1/4 cup FRESH chopped flat leaf Italian parsley
1 pound wide egg noodles
1/4 cup WONDRA flour
2 carrots, sliced
2 stalks celery, sliced
1 LARGE shallot, chopped
Fluffy mashed potatoes

  • Place chicken pieces, 2 rustic chopped carrots, 2 rustic chopped celery stalks, 1/4 cup parsley and onion pieces into 4 quarts of salted water and bring to a boil.
  • Reduce to a simmer for 45 minutes.
  • Strain through a colander and reserve broth.
  • Pick the chicken pieces, discarding the debris.
  • In the reserved broth add the sliced carrots and celery with the diced shallot and remaining parsley. Simmer covered for 30 minutes until veggies are tender.
  • Increase heat slightly and add noodles and chicken pieces, simmer 10 minutes until noodles are done.
  • Whisk the flour into 1/2 cup water until well blended. Add to simmering broth, stirring to combine and simmer 5-10 minutes until broth thickens.
  • Season to taste and serve over fluffy mashed potatoes.


Substitute chuck roast for chicken.


1/2 cup FINELY chopped green onion
1/4 cup quick cooking oats
1/4 cup beaten eggs (about 2 LARGE)
1 tablespoon lemon zest
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
FRESH ground sea salt and black pepper, to taste
1 pound QUALITY ground beef

  • In a large bowl combine green onions, oats, eggs, red pepper, salt and pepper along with 2/3 of the lemon zest.
  • Add ground beef and mix well.
  • Form into 1 inch meatballs.
  • Lightly coat a large non-stick skillet with cooking spray or avocado oiland heat over medium high heat.
  • Brown meatballs on all sides, turning occasionally.

1/2 cup apricot jam
1/4 cup homemade chicken broth
2 tablespoons Bragg’s liquid aminos
Juice of 2 Meyer Lemons
FRESH ground sea salt and black pepper

  • Combine the jam, chicken broth, liquid aminos and lemon juice in a small sauce pan over medium heat.
  • Season to taste.
  • Bring to a simmer, cooking until slightly reduced and beginning to thicken.
  • Toss meatballs in glaze and serve over rice or pasta.


CONGRATULATIONS to the Super Bowl Champs and Jean as well as the rest the faithful Chief fans – it was a heck of a game! Be sure to join us for Happy Homemaker Monday and link up with our host, Sandra at Diary of a Stay at Home Mom

Today and tomorrow are supposed to at least be clear though cold and then the rain begins again in time for Valentine’s Day. As usual I’m wearing Levis, a mock turtleneck and a flannel with my favorite UGGs to stay warm. Temperatures will be in the high 40’s to low 50’s with night time lows in the 30’s this week.

I’m sorry I haven’t gotten as much visiting to blogs as I’d like, but hope to rectify that this week. It’s been a traumatic week or couple of months. My uncle who is also my godfather has been sick for awhile (a couple of years, but in and out of the hospital since November 9th) and passed last week on the 6th. He lives in Texas, my cousin lives in Kansas and I’m in the Pacific North West. We have been having multiple conversations for weeks about everything and taking care of things from a far. It is all still a work in process, but obviously weighing heavy on my mind as we prepare for all this entails.

Last week we kept waking up to odd puddles of water on the kitchen floor… they didn’t appear to be coming from the ceiling, but they also were in the middle of the room and not near a water source (evidently there is a slight slope to the floor)…long story short it turns out the 5 year in-line water filter behind the refrigerator developed a tiny pinhole leak (at 2 years 11 months and 3 weeks) and was spraying out water that took most of the day and night to recreate itself with gravity and then the roofer was here Saturday and I think (fingers crossed) that they have FINALLY solved the leak in the laundry room! Fortunately, it has all been warranty work on the new roof so no money spent! just after he left though the kitchen sink decided we needed something more to do 😀 and that’s still a work in progress isolating the problem – seems to have something to do with the original installation and when the dishwasher drains…

  • LAUNDRY & CLEANING We’ve been gone a lot so I need to get caught up on A LOT of things! The laundry is caught up, but I still have a pile of mending and ironing to do.
  • GROCERIES & ERRANDS I have an Endocrinologist appointment on Wednesday and a pedicure appointment of Friday when I’ll pick up a few groceries for dinner with neighbors on Friday night.
  • PAPERWORK, PHONE CALLS, PROJECTS & TRAVELS getting caught up on several things and planning an upcoming trip.
  • RECIPE RESEARCH & MENU PLANNING just this week is done for now.

  • AMAZON PRIME We’ve been watching GRIMM while waiting for the shows to return. Have really been too busy to watch much else.

BREAKFAST is always a work in progress for me – it will generally be hot water and a fruit yogurt 😀

 Filling in as the chef at the Eagles – so dinner is chef’s choice

It was a SUPER BUSY weekend with multiple events, but a friend snapped this fun picture for me. And yes I’m wearing cat ears 🙂 they were a gift from the band that night.

Our crazy bartenders were at it again too!

And WOW are my Christmas Cacti (I have 6 of them) going nuts still!


A New Beginning… and Lucky… and still going strong 13 years later… so 13 IS a lucky number…

13 years ago I’d been struggling with a way to get back into the swing of things here in blogland.

You see I’d been struck with those words that we all fear hearing from our doctor. You know, any phrase that includes the words cancer, chemotherapy, radiation or surgery. For me it was the worst Christmas present imaginable so I persevered and didn’t really let on to most of the family in the beginning – no sense ruining anyone else’s holidays since no further testing could be scheduled until after Christmas.  

You do truly go through the 5 stages of grief augmented with periods of disbelief and a lack of comprehension when you get news like that.  It doesn’t matter how well schooled you are or how intelligent you are, those words hit you like a ton of bricks.

Just before my diagnosis I had begun my food blog, Always Eat On The Good China, I developed the name after reading a letter that Erma Bombeck wrote when she knew she was dying from cancer.  I even put a quote from her on my side bar that I found extremely poignant. At the time I had no idea how apropos it would be. I have since combined the many blogs, but it worked to set my attitude.

It was around that same time that I had an appendicitis attack – I still had my appendix and it had been chronic since I was 9 years old.  Or at least I thought I was having an appendicitis attack.  We now know that I was having pain from my ovary that was growing into what was being described as a baseball to small cantaloupe sized mass.

Fortunately for me at my well woman exam that year the nurse practitioner noticed what she thought was an enlarged uterus and she ordered an ultrasound because she feared uterine cancer.

The ultrasound was on the Tuesday after Christmas. The words changed, but stayed the same, cancer was still in the phrase, but now it was ovarian cancer. To it they added terms like tumor and oncologist.

My brand new doctor (I’d never met him prior to the ultrasound tech calling him into the exam) in a brand new town thought I was in shock because I didn’t cry and react hysterically. He just didn’t know me well enough to know I was really okay.  But, I’m a fixer, so my next phrase is always, what next? 

What next turned out to be a referral to MD Anderson Cancer Center and a surgical oncologist, Dr. Diane Bodurka, whom I adore by the way! She and her team made it possible for me to stay both positive and see the light at the end of the tunnel. Their Motto is “making cancer history” which struck me as the right positive note for me.

The next 2 weeks and 5 days were a whirlwind of blood draws, X-rays, CT scans, MRI’s, chemical stress tests, consultations, clearances and…

I underwent surgery on February 1st knowing full well all the fine print, legal jargon and potential pitfalls of this diagnosis.  I also knew that because of the size, I would awake to only a possible pathology. Instead I awoke to hear things like “self-contained”, “experimental chemo pelvic wash and expensive shots”, ”no metastasis” and “surveillance” as well as that the cantaloupe was actually a volleyball with a balloon twist. 

While we waited for the final pathology I was home after a week in the hospital and catering to the whims of a 10 inch zipper through multiple layers of muscle that posed their own issues due to my Systemic Lupus and getting my energy back while regenerating the tissue.

Honestly when I was able to think straight again all I started hearing was dollar signs when I thought about what the insurance would and would not cover. I cannot tell you or ever express how thankful I am to have been in the right place at the right time, even if it was for a bad thing like the BIG C. MD Anderson went above and beyond to find benefactors to cover the experimental procedures that the insurance would not cover.

Because of my family history (maternal grams had breast cancer twice and her sister died of it 🙁 ) I did require more testing including the BRCA testing which at the time took a lot for the insurance to cover. Fortunately, the test was negative. I tell you I would have had the surgery in a heartbeat had the test been positive.

Before it was all over I had signed about a million forms (only a slight exaggeration) so that the tumor could be sliced up and sent to various research facilities as it was now classified as a “RARE and UNCOMMON” gynecological tumor.

With that I’ll leave you with this email story that crossed my desk a while back. True or not, it’s heart warming and endearing and worth the read. It struck me a bit close to home because I had my own Lucky back at home named Whiskey. My uncle said all she would do was lay on my bed and hang her head sadly.

I choose to believe in the bright and positive. I have had quite a few other health scares since that day, but it taught me NOT to take anything for granted! EVER!

Mary and her husband Jim had a dog named ‘Lucky.’

Lucky was a real character. Whenever Mary and Jim had company come for a weekend visit they would warn their friends to not leave their luggage open because Lucky would help himself to whatever struck his fancy. Inevitably, someone would forget and something would come up missing.

Mary or Jim would go to Lucky’s toy box in the basement and there the treasure would be, amid all of Lucky’s other favorite toys Lucky always stashed his finds in his toy box and he was very particular that his toys stay in the box.

It happened that Mary found out she had breast cancer. Something told her she was going to die of this disease….in fact; she was just sure it was fatal.

 She scheduled the double mastectomy, fear riding her shoulders. The night before she was to go to the hospital she cuddled with Lucky. A thought struck her…what would happen to Lucky? Although the three-year-old dog liked Jim, he was Mary’s dog through and through. If I die, Lucky will be abandoned, Mary thought. He won’t understand that I didn’t want to leave him! The thought made her sadder than thinking of her own death.

The double mastectomy was harder on Mary than her doctors had anticipated and Mary was hospitalized for over two weeks. Jim took Lucky for his evening walk faithfully, but the little dog just drooped, whining and miserable.

Finally the day came for Mary to leave the hospital. When she arrived home, Mary was so exhausted she couldn’t even make it up the steps to her bedroom. Jim made his wife comfortable on the couch and left her to nap. 

Lucky stood watching Mary but he didn’t come to her when she called. It made Mary sad, but sleep soon overcame her and she dozed.

When Mary woke for a second she couldn’t understand what was wrong. She couldn’t move her head and her body felt heavy and hot. But panic soon gave way to laughter when Mary realized the problem. She was covered, literally blanketed, with every treasure Lucky owned! While she had slept, the sorrowing dog had made trip after trip to the basement bringing his beloved mistress all his favorite things in life.
He had covered her with his love.

Mary forgot about dying. Instead she and Lucky began living again, walking further and further together every day. It’s been 12 years now and Mary is still cancer-free.

Lucky… He still steals treasures and stashes them in his toy box but Mary remains his greatest treasure.

Remember….live every day to the fullest. Each minute is a blessing from God. And never forget….the people who make a difference in our lives are not the ones with the most Credentials, the most money, or the most awards. They are the ones that care for us.

If you see someone without a smile today give them one of yours! Live simply. Love seriously. Care deeply. Speak kindly. Leave the rest to God.


If you are anything like me, you have a drawer or a box full of recipes from newspapers, magazines, old maiden aunts, grandmothers, friends and every potluck you ever went to and said I have to have that recipe! I remember one potluck at church several years back that I asked for a recipe and she instantly pulled it out of her pocket. Obviously I wasn’t the first to ask! Those are the recipes I like, the ones that bring a memory to mind like Lonnie handing me that recipe card.

Now while I kept her combination of spices and seasonings intact I did make changes that made it more palatable to my family. For example hubby doesn’t like cooked mushrooms so I either have to eliminate them or substitute for something else. but sometimes I’m a little sneaky and they’re in there, but just not so he can tell. One son doesn’t like tomato pieces, but loves tomato sauce, his old girlfriend won’t eat cooked carrots, and on and on! So I always keep a list of likes, dislikes and allergies and am constantly altering recipes to fly by the seat of my pants.

This recipe has been floating around so long in the box of scraps that I have no idea where it originated which based on all my changes doesn’t matter, but reminds me to keep that box. Some days I feel like an archaeologist, but come up with oldies that were favorites and will now be revived.

1/3 cup diced red bell pepper*
1/3 cup chopped fresh mushrooms
1 1/4 cup fresh baby spinach leaves**
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1/8 teaspoon white pepper
1 bunch green onions, minced
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 ounces Philadelphia cream cheese, softened or 2 ounces grated mozzarella
1 1/2 teaspoons flour
4 large boneless, skinless chicken breasts
2-3 slices sourdough bread, staled and crumbled
3 tablespoons Parmesan cheese
1+1 tablespoon butter
1 teaspoon olive oil
1 egg white, beaten

  • Preheat oven to 425°.
  • Melt 1 tablespoon butter add 1 teaspoon olive oil in skillet.
  • Saute’ garlic, bell pepper and mushrooms until tender, about 5 minutes.
  • Add in spinach and cooked until spinach is completely wilted. If using frozen stir until well blended.
  • Drain well.
  • Combine cream cheese, flour and spinach mix until well blended and set aside.
  • Between 2 sheets of wax paper flatten each chicken breast to 1/4 inch and set aside.
  • Combine bread crumbs and Parmesan cheese. Add 1 tablespoon melted butter and mix until crumbly.
  • Divide the spinach mixture equally between the chicken breasts.
  • Carefully roll each chicken breast.
  • Using a pastry brush coat each chicken bundle with the beaten egg and then roll in coating mixture.
  • Place seam side down on a small baking sheet or stoneware pan (I prefer the stoneware pan for a crisper, non-greasy chicken)
  • Bake for 30 minutes or until golden brown in color and juices are clear.


  • I like to make this recipe back to back on my weekly menu with Twisted Pepper Steak to make the red pepper usage more efficient, use jar (olive oil soaked) red peppers or I substitute a jar of pimentos in a pinch.
  • You can use frozen chopped spinach, but it must be drained well and then drained a few more times until dry!!



I have a friend with Celiac’s disease so I make quite a few things gluten free when she is involved. She always let’s not get crazy, just gluten free. 😀

1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons coconut flour
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
4 LARGE eggs
1/3 cup avocado oil
1/3 cup QUALITY honey or 1/2 cup agave nectar
1 tablespoon PURE vanilla extract

  • Preheat oven to 350°.
  • Line muffin tins with liners or grease well and then flour.
  • In a large bowl whisk together the flour, salt and baking soda.
  • In a separate bowl whisk together the eggs, oil, honey or nectar and vanilla extract.
  • Blend the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients with a mixer until well blended and thoroughly combined.
  • Add 1/4 cup of batter to each muffin cup.
  • Bake 18-22 minutes until cooked through until toothpick comes out clean.
  • Let cool in pan 1 hour before frosting.

3/4 cup heavy cream
8 ounces cream cheese, softened to room temperature
1/4 cup agave nectar

  • In a mixing bowl, whip cream until stiff peaks form.
  • In a separate bowl, whip together the cream cheese and agave nectar until smooth.
  • Gently fold whipped cream into the cream cheese mixture with a spatula.

NOTE: Add 1/4 cup cocoa for a chocolate version.


This sandwich was created in 1926 in Louisville Kentucky by Fred Schmidt of the Brown hotel as an alternative to ham and egg sandwiches for late night diners. It became their second signature sandwich. I’ve only ever heard it called as a Kentucky Hot Brown, but I have read that it is also known as a Louisville Hot Brown.

Traditionally this is served hot and open faced on a thick white bread toast and has turkey breast, bacon and creamy mornay sauce and a sprinkling of Parmesan cheese. Originally it was not served with the bacon, but added soon after. Variations can include ham, pimientos and tomatoes. It is then broiled a few minutes until the toast is crisp and sauce is bubbly and browning.

The Kentucky Hot Brown became a favorite choice of 95% of the Brown Hotel’s restaurant customers. It became a Louisville area specialty favorite sandwich and is popular throughout Kentucky as a whole long after the hotel shut its doors in 1971. The hotel reopened in 1985.

This sandwich was featured on a 2013 episode of Throwdown with Bobby Flay where he actually lost, but barely. 😀 Bobby competed against Joe and John Castro, brother chefs at the Brown Hotel.

There are also a few “oddball” variations out there. For a while there was a “cold brown” that was either sliced chicken or turkey with hard boiled egg, lettuce and tomato served open face on rye bread covered in thousand island dressing.

There are 2 other versions one being the Prosperity sandwich with origins in St. Louis at the Mayfair hotel also in the 1920’s and still served in the area today as well as the Turkey Devonshire served in the Pittsburg Pennsylvania area in the 1930’s.

I started making Kentucky Hot Brown sandwiches about 20 years ago, but had no idea of the extensive history at that time. Now fast forward to a magazine I found recently trying to update this to a slider version using King’s Hawaiian rolls. I have to admit I wasn’t sure about this recipe, but decided to try it anyway.

The recipe I found was okay, but I have to agree to disagree on these being a version of the original Hot Brown because the recipe used the sweet brown sugar, Worcestershire sauce and butter topping that just didn’t taste anywhere close to what this sandwich is about.

I have renamed this recipe AND adjusted the ingredients to try and keep them more traditional, ut yet an actual sandwich. The author used a “slice of cheese” to replace the Mornay sauce and there just isn’t any comparison to me.

1 tray King’s Hawaiian sweet rolls
2-3 tablespoons mayonnaise
6-8 slices thick sliced deli turkey
8 slices bacon, cooked crisp
2 heirloom tomatoes, sliced
6-8 slices Gruyere or Baby Swiss cheese, optional
1/4 cup FINELY grated Parmesan cheese

  • Preheat oven to broil.
  • Slice entire package of rolls in half horizontally. Do not individually slice rolls.
  • Arrange bottom half in a baking dish LIGHTY sprayed with non-stick cooking spray.
  • Spread mayonnaise on roll bottoms.
  • Arrange turkey on top evenly.
  • Arrange bacon slices on top of the turkey evenly.
  • Arrange a single layer of thick cut tomatoes on top of the bacon.
  • Arrange cheese slices next OR a layer of Mornay sauce.
  • Broil 2-3 minutes until toasted and cheese is bubbly.
  • Top if desired with sweet roll tops and eat as a messy sandwich or eat as intended with a knife and fork.

3 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons all purpose flour
1 ½ cups WHOLE milk
pinch FRESH ground nutmeg
FRESH ground salt and black pepper, to taste
2 ounces of a hard cheese, grated (Gruyère, Swiss, Cheddar, Parmesan)

  • Heat a medium sized saucepan over medium-high heat.
  • Melt butter.
  • Whisk in flour until golden.
  • Slowly add the milk while constantly whisking.
  • Bring the sauce to a SLOW boil and immediately reduce the heat to a simmer and continue cooking for 3 to 4 minutes, being careful not to let the sauce burn by whisking frequently.
  • Remove the pan from the heat and add the nutmeg, salt and pepper, stirring well. At this point you have a Bechamel sauce. Once you add the cheese it becomes your Mornay sauce.
  • Still off heat, add the grated cheese, whisking until all the cheese melts into the sauce making it thick and smooth.
  • Adjust seasoning to taste.

After all of this my favorite version is the casserole version I adapted from Damaris Phillips a few years ago.