a99kitten's Musings

I blog about a WHOLE LOT of stuff :)

I haven’t made homemade mac and cheese in a very long time so I decided it was time! I found this recipe a few years ago in the Macaroni & Cheese cookbook put together by Joan Schwartz (easily obtained on Amazon!) I like this one because it has some spice!


  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups milk
  • 2 cups salsa – I used Frontera (Rick Bayless) Chipotle salsa
  • 3 cups shredded cheddar cheese
  • Salt
  • 1 lb dried pasta (I used elbow macaroni but can also try cork-screw cavatappi or the spiral rotini or fusilli)


Pour 4 quarts of water into a large pot, cover and set over high heat.

In a medium-size saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat, then stir in the flour and whisk until the mixture turns a deep golden, about 2 minutes.

In a small saucepan over medium heat (or in a glass measuring cup or bowl in the microwave), warm milk for about 1 minute.

Add the warm milk and continue to whisk constantly until the mixture thickens and comes to a full boil, 4 or 5 minutes. (Whisk diligently and there will be no lumps.) Stir in the salsa, remove from the heat, then stir in cheese. Continue stirring until all the cheese has melted. Taste and season generously with salt, usually 1 1/2 teaspoons. Cover to keep warm until the pasta is done.

When the water has come to a boil, add the dried pasta. Stir well to keep the pasta from sticking together and boil until the pasta is al dente, about 10 minutes. Drain thoroughly and add the pasta to the sauce. Stir until all the pasta is covered in the salsa cheese sauce.

You can eat it this way. But I decided to put the mac and cheese in a baking dish and top with some fried onions (or buttery bread crumbs could work as well) and bake in a preheated 375 oven for 10-15 minutes, until browned and crisp on top.




I love Buffalo Chicken Wings (prefer boneless though.) I love Buffalo chicken pretty much anything. I hate when people call anything spicy “Buffalo” but whatever. Use Frank’s and you are pretty good :)

2 (10 ounce) cans chicken breast
1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup Frank’s Red Hot original cayenne pepper sauce
1/2 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
1/4 cup ranch dressing
1/4 cup Greek yogurt (Fage)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Place cream cheese in a medium bowl and stir until smooth. Mix in Frank’s Red Hot, mozzarella cheese, ranch dressing, and yogurt. Stir in chicken until thoroughly combined. Spoon mixture evenly into a deep 8-inch by 8-inch baking dish.

Bake in the oven for 20 minutes, or until mixture is heated through. I serve with pita chips and sliced cucumbers (also carrots and celery but yuck.) :)



TOTAL last minute party. Decided on some favorites of mine that would also be kind of easy to make Sunday AM. #1 is a dip I had at a cooking class called Bubbles and Bites. It was actually already made when we arrived for the class (so I’ve never tried making it) and we got the recipe to try at home. I did change it a bit for me (noted). This is my first time not just using Lipton for my sour cream dip!

Caramelized Shallot and Bacon Dip aka A More Time Consuming Onion Dip So You Can Feel Better About Not Using A Processed Packet (that is still delicious, don’t get me wrong) :)



  • 1 tablespoon olive oil (original recipe is for vegetable oil)
  • 1 cup chopped shallots (original recipe called for 1.5 cups)
  • 1 teaspoon coarse salt(I added this)
  • 1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
  • 5 strips thick sliced, cooked bacon, crumbled (make sure cooled before stirring in) (original recipe is for 4 but MOAR BACON)
  • 1 cup mayonnaise (original recipe is for 3/4 cup)
  •  1 cup sour cream (original recipe called for 3/4 cup)


  • Heat a large skillet over low-medium heat. Add the olive oil. When it shimmers, add the shallots, cover and cook for 10 minutes and then add balsamic vinegar and salt. Continue to cook (covered) until the shallots are deep golden brown in color, stirring to make sure not burning, about 20 minutes or so. Let cool.
  • Whisk together the mayonnaise and sour cream in a medium bowl to blend. Add shallots and bacon. Season dip to taste with salt and pepper.
  • Cover dip and refrigerate until flavors blend, about 2 hours, or even overnight (I did mine early in the AM of Superbowl Sunday.)
  • Serve with thick potato chips (YAY!) or veggies (for that 1 weird healthy-eating person at every SB party.)



    I have been hosting a Superbowl party for about 10+ years? I used to go to parties but then noticed that I had less and less football loving friends. What. The. Heck?

    I love being a hostess even though I fly around like a crazed bird the day of getting ready. And this morning is no different…

    So…what is the deal with a helium shortage?? I LOVE balloons!! Someone better get on that. Hello Mr. President? You have to chime in on a host of things you really have no business being involved in (plus pretty sure there are things you SHOULD be focusing on…but I digress…) so get on THIS!!

    Anyway, I scored the LAST of the red and gold balloons at my local store. And the last of their helium. The lady said she would add Hi-Float to them to get them to stay up longer but if I didn’t take them yesterday, the helium and probably the balloons would be gone. OK. Well…this morning they are pretty much all dead :( My 49ers balloons are fine but about 20 of the red and all 24 of the gold are floating…on the floor. :( :(

    Called around to all the other stores on the coast first thing this AM – no helium. At all. What the F^($@(#$&(@#$. Oh well. I’ll get creative with the red and gold that I have.

    Was hoping I’d get some love from all-powerful Balloon God but no such luck. Well..he (or she) better be giving all of their God-like karma and energy to the 49ers to win today. Then it’s OK :)

    Then..apparently my washing machine is leaking a little. I think it’s just a little anyway. Small puddle in laundry room after I did a load of towels last night. So I’m trying another small load this AM to see. Fingers crossed. I need the washing machine to wash Storm’s beds and towels. He is having a little incontinence issue while he sleeps. Just a little but enough to where you need to wash everything. It started yesterday. So I am very stressed although supposedly it’s not uncommon in older dogs. But this makes a husky mom very stressed. At least we have hard wood and stone floors everywhere so it’s just towels and doggie beds to wash. Storm just said “thanks for sharing that with people mom..”

    Pre-heating the oven now to start the mac and cheese which I will then move to the slow cooker to keep warm for the game.

    Then I need to make the sour cream and onion dip because ALL football parties requires sour cream and onion dip with Ruffles. Also, need to go buy more Ruffles as a 1/2 bag went mysteriously missing last night….damn gnomes.

    Need to get ice so I can chill the bottles of bubbly and sodas. Water is in the fridge. And milk. I’ll put on coffee for you and I think I even have some tea laying around. But if people want beer then it’s BYOB. I don’t drink beer so there is no sense is trying to have me pick any out.

    Then I have to prepare the shrimp and sausage for the jambalaya. I’ll make close to game time and let simmer on super low for half time enjoyment. I’ve never made jambalaya so let’s see how this goes. But it seemed right since the game is in NO :)

    A friend is picking up my boneless Buffalo wings because you can’t make those at home. And I don’t like bones. And frankly, Chili’s has some of the best boneless wings EVER. And I haven’t had them in 3 years or longer. So I ordered 2 party trays of those!!! YUMYUMYUM. Apparently boneless wings are made from leftover breast meat (and not the butt meat that Bud(?) commercial told us they were years ago!)

    And then right before kick-off I will add some browned pine nuts, sesame seeds and red pepper to my poke which has been marinating in the fridge all night. I was trying to think of a San Francisco food and all I could come up with was Rice A Roni (which I LOVE) but seemed silly since I had jambalaya already! So I thought fresh fish (even though a Hawaiian dish) would have to work.

    Oh well..I’ll drink NorCal sparkling from Chandon or Ferrar :) (but a bottle of Dom is chilling in case we win!)

    I’ve put out my Niners blanket. Moved my Montana signed football down to the living room. Bought all 49ers, red and gold tableware. Have my Niners gnome out and ready to cheer since he always went to all of the games with me :)

    This is a big deal. I’ve read a lot of whining (in comments sections for news stories made by fans of LOSING teams) how this SuperBowl is soooo boring. Whatever. The 49ers are one of the premiere teams in the league who lost their mojo but came back strong last year and again this year. Get over it. I still have parties and enjoy the game when my team isn’t in it. If you are whining, then you are not really a football fan are you? Plus the Harbowl adds some fun story to it. And Ray Lewis…well…I don’t necessarily like or dislike the guy but come on dude….you do play on a TEAM. Oh well…

    GO NINERS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! (turning on NFL Channel for ALL DAY coverage right now!)

    Ok, party is tomorrow!! Oh yeah – so is the Superbowl :) Kinda sad really…it’s that same feeling that I get on December 24th. Loving Christmas so, so much but knowing it will all be over soon. Same thing with football season.

    But oh fiddle-dee-dee, I’ll be Scarlett and think about that tomorrow! Menu will be:

    Today’s Macaroni and Cheese (Rick Bayless recipe)
    Jambalaya (scoured Internet for recipe – found on that sounds good on Food Network)
    Hogs in a Blanket with cheesy dipping sauce
    Buffalo Chicken Hot Wing Dip (Hungry Girl’s healthier version!)
    Chips and Salsa
    Ruffles with sour cream dip – always the first thing to be demolished no matter what
    Various cheeses and crackers (courtesy of @missmelon)
    Veggies (have to offer them even tho always the LAST thing to go no matter what!)
    Homemade brownies (courtesy of @sonya415)
    Beer (husband’s one job since I don’t drink beer)
    And of course bubbly for me :)

    People will bring stuff I imagine so I have no idea what else will be added to this but this is what I am making or know will be brought. I just need to figure out timing on making everything though…

    Making Cipiriani’s pea risotto tonight with some chicken for dinner. I ate very little yesterday and won’t eat much today in preparation for dinner and tomorrow’s food fest. Yikes….my stepper will be my friend next week I guess.

    I like both teams. And would be happy for either team to win. I need a high-scoring game to win our office pool but doesn’t actually matter which teams wins – just lots and lots of points on the board! But Peyton Manning is my QB1 so I’m rooting for the Colts to win. And will be wearing my #18 jersey tomorrow!

    I hope for a good game played by both teams. No blow outs. And of course looking forward to some good commercials. I always tear up at the National Anthem because I’m a goofball. But I hush everyone up for that and always stand for it – even in my living room. The half time show? Well…I’ll watch it I guess. I think I know a song or 2 by The Who. I think? I must, right?

    Storm is quite excited for the Superbowl as well. He is strategizing his food stealing knowing that tomorrow’s guests will be easy targets :)

    What are you doing for the Superbowl??