Feast on Friday: Bacon Mac ‘n Cheese

Bacon Mac ‘n Cheese: what’s not to like? And when you add in a Fall day, pumpkin paper bakeware, and six old + new girlfriends–well, then–what’s not to love?



Feast on Friday: Bacon Mac 'n Cheese
Recipe type: Anytime
Cuisine: American (there's bacon, duh.)
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 5-6
I admit it. I served this for breakfast. Maybe it was the bacon. Not sure. Try it. Please. You won't regret it. My darling sister, Lynnel planted thyme in my front flower pots last Fall, and by accident, it was still thriving - thanks, Lynnel! So fun to cut fresh and at the ready.
  • kosher salt
  • 1 pound elbow macaroni
  • 4 cups milk
  • 2 or 3 sprigs thyme
  • 4 cloves garlic, smashed and divided
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 5½ cups shredded sharp white Cheddar
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • ¼ cup chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • 4 slices bacon, cut crosswise into thin strips
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 2 garlic cloves, smashed
  • Leaves from ¼ bunch fresh thyme
  1. Bring a pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the macaroni and cook for 8 to 9 minutes, until al dente. Drain.
  2. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees
  3. In a small saucepan heat the milk with the thyme sprigs and 2 garlic cloves.
  4. Melt the butter in a large, deep skillet over medium-high heat.
  5. Whisk in the flour and cook for about 1 minute, stirring constantly, to keep lumps from forming. Strain the solids out of the milk and whisk it into the butter and flour mixture.
  6. Continue to whisk vigorously, and cook until the mixture is nice and smooth.
  7. Stir in the 4 cups of the cheese and continue to cook and stir to melt the cheese.
  8. Season with salt and pepper.
  9. Add the cooked macaroni and the parsley and fold that all in to coat the macaroni with the cheese mixture.
  10. Scrape into a 3-quart baking dish and sprinkle with the remaining 1½ cups cheese.
  11. Bake for 30 minutes, or until hot and bubbly.
  12. While that bakes, heat a saute pan.
  13. Add the bacon, and cook until crispy.
  14. Add onion, garlic and thyme leaves and cook for about 5 minutes to soften the onion.
  15. Season with salt and pepper.
  16. To serve, scatter the bacon mixture over the mac and cheese. Use a big spoon to scoop out servings, making sure you get some of the smoking bacon mixture on each spoonful.


I baked these cute things about 20 minutes until slightly browned, then added the bacon and onion topping and returned them to the oven another 7 minutes or so.

A little heavy on the carbohydrates, but it was a party and sweet communion, besides. Thank You, Lord.


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Tuesday’s O, Taste & See: Roots and Wings


Roots and Wings.

No, not a hip restaurant specializing in potatoes, turnips, and chicken – spicy or otherwise.


Roots from 18 years of cultivation. Wings from 18 years of attaching; then, suddenly–out, flying solo, as far as I can see (or feel.) We just drove to Oregon for a quick parents weekend visit, football included.

Here’s Mary, 18, now an Oregon Duck, and a month-old college freshman. 



Wasn’t she just a month-old? Kids, now (sort of) adults cause a parent to wonder:

–Did I teach her enough?

–Will the roots hold?

–Should I have done it all differently?

–Will she be okay?

Now, when it’s too late; now, I’d like to ask my mom, “Did you feel the same way when you dropped me off at college? Did you second-guess your child-raising techniques? Would you do it all the same way again?” And, “How did you survive five?” (I know that answer. She answered it many-a-time: “One at a time.”)

One at a time, I’ve shoved the bird from the nest. More poignant, the last. I feel like it’s all too late. Too late for more advice and counsel. (They would say, “Yep. Way too late, Mom.”) Too late for do-over’s. Too late to change what’s gone before. Too late to strengthen those roots and wings.

So, I’ll rest in this: I did what I could. I’ll leave the rest to God.

We taste God’s goodness in the roots of His love. Paul wrote:

“…so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth,  and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.” Ephesians 3:17-19

We taste God’s goodness under the shadow of His wings. The Psalmist wrote:

“He will cover you with his pinions, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness is a shield and buckler.” Psalm 91:4

We walked a mile to the football stadium with the crowds under a canopy of sun and trees (pinions?) and no rain!  It was worth it — we did win.




IMG_0471See her? She’s in the college section – where’s she’s supposed to be. She’s the one wearing green. No? No worries. God does.

O, taste and see that God grows our roots deep into His marvelous love; blessed is the one who nests under the shadow of His wings–no matter how old, no matter how young. Selah. Today’s Psalm 34:8

Coffee today with Holley
Link up your taste of God’s goodness. Place this pretty button on your site and let’s celebrate our roots and His wings. Code on the right:


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I thought of Louis Zamperini when I read Paul’s words:

For He rescued us from the domain of darkness, and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son, in Whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins. Colossians 1:13, 14 (NASB)

To and from Oregon, Mark and I listened to the audio version of Unbroken, the story of the resilience and courage of Louis Zamparini, Olympic runner and WWII POW. We listened to 11 CD’s and wished there were more.

Powerful. Enthralling.  Inspiring. Nail-biting stories of sharks and gunfire and beatings. Always more beatings. How much could one man take? Mark’s conclusion: “Most would not survive.”

Louis survived. Why?

Was it only because he was tough and Italian and wouldn’t back down? Certainly, Louis had something to do with it. Most would give up. Many had no choice. Louis almost died many times.

But for God.

Out in a raft, starving, thirsty, depressed–he cried out to God, “If You save me I will serve You with my whole life.”

We call those “foxhole prayers”–
“Lord, get me out of this foxhole alive and I will be Yours.” Your version probably doesn’t include a hole, a fox or sharks. It may include a hole of your own making:

“Lord, if you help me out of this stupid mess, I will serve You forever.”

What’s your mess, your hole, your exigency, your disaster, your circling shark of sin? Would you promise your life if you got free?

Louie got rescued. Not as fast as I would’ve liked, but then where would the story be? A quick answer isn’t always the best answer. Unless you’re the one being starved, beaten, encircled.

Years later, after suffering from nightmares and bitterness and alcoholism, Louie made good on his promise. He met God at a Billy Graham revival and remembered his bargain. He didn’t look back. Real rescue commenced and life began — away from his inner captor; the Enemy of his soul finally vanquished.

I love how Boa writes this familiar passage, Colossians 1:13,  in the first person:

“For You have rescued me from dominion of darkness and brought me into the kingdom of Your beloved Son.” (Face to Face, Vol.II)

And in The Living Bible:

“For he has rescued us out of the darkness and gloom of Satan’s kingdom and brought us into the Kingdom of his dear Son.”

And in The Message:

“God rescued us from dead-end alleys and dark dungeons. He’s set us up in the kingdom of the Son he loves so much, the Son who got us out of the pit we were in, got rid of the sins we were doomed to keep repeating.”

Needing rescue? From sins we’re doomed to keep repeating? It’s yours for the asking; your life for the giving.

Unbroken, the movie, comes out Christmas day. Pray now for tender hearts to hear the message of redemption rescue.


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Feast on Friday: Curried Coconut and Red Lentil Soup

Curried Chicken and Red Lentil Soup
Recipe type: Main Dish on a Rainy Night
Cuisine: Delicious
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 4-6
Annie found this in a magazine and changed it because she could to make it easy for non-gourmets like myself. It is heavenly. Make it, rain or shine.
  • 1 T. olive oil
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 12 oz boneless, skinless chicken thighs, trimmed, cut into ½ inch pieces
  • 1 T. curry powder
  • 2 t. grated ginger
  • 1 t. turmeric
  • 1 clove garlic, grated
  • 2 cups chicken broth, plus more as needed
  • 1 cup split red lentils
  • 2 13 oz. cans unsweetened coconut milk
  • 2 T. lime or lemon juice
  • 2 t. coarse salt, or to taste
  • 1 cup packed cilantro leaves and stems
  • 2 t. minced jalapeño or to taste (definitely optional!)
  1. Heat oil in a Dutch oven and sizzle the onions.
  2. Lower heat and stir onions for 10 minutes, until golden
  3. Stir in chicken, cover, and cook five minutes
  4. Stir in curry powder, ginger, cumin, turmeric, and garlic
  5. Add broth and bring to a boil.
  6. Add lentils and cook, covered over medium heat 20-30 minutes
  7. Stir in ½ cup coconut milk, cilantro, jalapeño, and pinch of salt (Annie didn't use the jalapeño)
  8. Add remaining milk, lime juice, and salt to pot.
  9. Cover and keep warm over very low heat
  10. Thin with broth as needed.

Birthday girl, Acacia Bergin, ageless:


I happened to be in Chicago, the Ukrainian Village district, last Saturday for my niece, Acacia’s birthday dinner. Wow! A beautiful urban home filled with her great friends and wonderful mother-in-law, Annie Bergin who made two of the soups and the deadly chocolate torte. What fun to be with everyone! I enjoyed watching Acacia (all grown up now – weren’t you just 4??) being celebrated by her admiring friends and adoring mom-in-law – no small thing, as some of you may know.


Annie promised recipes and here’s my favorite to share with you – lucky ducks, all!


Note the drywall in the background; we aren’t the only ones who don’t let a silly remodel keep us from hospitality. We must be related!


Acacia made her mom’s famous homemade bread and gave out mini-loaves for favors. So clever, my niece.

IMG_0304We proclaimed just a bit of what we love about Acacia. Everyone needs to hear a solid list at least once a year. I hope you took notes, dear one. Read them on a blue day when you need soup and a reminder.

IMG_0316Aunties and the birthday girl. You can tell she’s acclimated – a tank top surrounded by two woolies. Such a beauty.

Need a birthday party idea? Don’t wait for someone else; make a soup or three, buy bread at Trader’s and invite your tribe. If you don’t want to ask everyone to say why they love you, call me and I’ll Skype. I can emcee anywhere.

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Repeat After Me


Last week at Women’s Bible Study, Beth Moore hit the mom-worry-nail in the booster when she led us in this “repeat-after-me” (soon to be) my mantra. Repeat after me – you’ll be glad you did:

I am not in control.

I cannot control all my people.

I cannot control all our situations.

Even when I want what is best, I cannot control the outcome.

I cannot make people behave.

I cannot make people be strong

Because I am not God.

He alone knows the end from the beginning.

He alone knows how this thing will turn out.

I hereby fire myself from His job and I agree to see my fight for control as what is really is: a screaming testament to my distrust.*

Whoa, baby. Duly convicted? Join the club. Lots of room here. Free coffee and chocolate and prayers to release us from a job already taken by the One most qualified. (Repeat after me–see above.)

Which line hits hardest? Mine is: Even when I want what is best . . . (Moms know best, don’tcha know?)


*Children of the Day, Beth Moore

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It’s Not Your Affair

Talking to myself (out loud? not sure,) I heard myself say:

“I just don’t have time to text that to her!”

Then I answered (out loud?):

“That’s good. It’s not your business. You’re not in control. Even if you had the time, you shouldn’t text her that bit of self-made wisdom. It’s not your affair.”

Wow. Who was listening, anyway?

Control or not (to be in) control? That should not be a question.

I may think I know what’s good for someone. I may be right. I’m old now. I’ve lived some. I’ve learned some. But only One really knows. Thankfully I don’t always have time to text. (Aren’t you relieved?)

Looking for the Right Way? Here’s a reminder — Psalm 18:30 in two versions:

This God—his way is perfect;
the word of the Lord proves true;
he is a shield for all those who take refuge in him. (ESV)

What a God! His road stretches straight and smooth.

Every God-direction is road-tested.
Everyone who runs toward him
Makes it. (The Message)


 His way is perfect (not mine.) His direction is road-tested (not yours.) God’s way is perfect. Our way is so-so.

Worried about someone you love? Me, too. I’ll pray more and text less. Everyone who runs toward Him makes it.

Coffee with Holley Gerth

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Feast on Friday: Spaghetti Cabonara (Americanized)

Here’s a deeply satisfying and sumptuous and EASY company dish – one you can make after church for unexpected guests. BTW, your guests never surprise Jesus, the Ultimate Host, so keep these simple ingredients on hand and you’ll be Ready-like-Freddie (Boy Scout, I’m sure.)

Feast on Friday: Spaghetti Cabonara (Americanized)
Recipe type: Main Dish
Cuisine: Italian
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 4
Warning: this is so delish you may find it difficult to succumb fully to the Fruit of the Spirit, namely Self-Control. Duly Warned. Great with garlic bread and green salad but not necessary.
  • 8-10 oz spaghetti
  • ½ lb. bacon, diced
  • ¼ lb. ham, diced
  • ½ c. oil
  • ½ diced onion
  • ¼ c. butter
  • ½ c. chicken broth
  • 2 eggs
  • ¼ c dry parsley
  • 1 cup mozzarella
  • ½ c. parmesan
  1. Cook spaghetti, drain, keep hot
  2. Brown bacon, drain
  3. Add in oil and sauté onion and ham
  4. Stir in butter and broth until melted.
  5. Add beaten eggs and stir til cooked.
  6. Stir in spaghetti and parsley
  7. Sprinkle and mix in cheeses - serve immediately!
  8. Exercise self-control



Find this and other amazingly simple recipes in my book, Come to My Table-God’s Hospitality and Yours- link on the right.

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Tasting on Tuesday: Good Advice from an Old/Young Married Woman


Facing marriage at 35, I wasn’t about to make a mistake; why ruin a good thing? Mark was practically perfect in every way, but…

So, I called my little sister who had married at 12 (okay, 21) — married Leonard at 21, also a perfectly wonderful and very smart man who had pursued her since infancy and finally wore her down until she said “yes.” I loved Leonard–also practically perfect in every way, but…

I knew Lori could give some good advice and I was right. More importantly, she was right.

I started: “Uh, Lori, I have a question: you know how Leonard is just so wonderful and smart and creative and well, he does have some idiosyncrasies, you know, right? So, what do you do about those?”

As I recall, she didn’t miss a beat and out came these three gems. I’ve never forgotten–it’s been 27 years. Listen up, they are golden. Taste the goodness of the Lord right here and now.

“Well, Sue,” she began sagely, “one of three things happen.” (I know. Bated breath.)

“First, some of those little idiosyncrasies come to no longer bother you. You forget they used to.

“Secondly, some irritations actually become endearing. Those very same botherings no longer bother– they make you grin or chuckle or become the stuff of family legend.

“And, the third thing is this: THEY STILL BOTHER YOU!

Ha! I loved that. Wise words from a wiser, younger woman. Now she’s a Pampered Chef Queen in Chicago and pastor’s wife and many more profit from her wisdom. Lucky Chicago!



Marriage isn’t for the faint of heart. It’s for the long haul. A great gift from God. We taste Him and His love by the way we love our man. And love does begin in the kitchen. Thanks, Lori.

O, taste and see that the Lord is good from listening to wise words; blessed are you when you love and forgive and celebrate the very one you’re called to love. Today’s Psalm 34:8

Coffee with Holley on Wednesday:

Link up your taste of God’s goodness. Use the pretty button below on your site, code on the right.



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Go, Afraid -“Be You, Bravely”


You don’t get any more courageous, you just learn to do it afraid!

–Jeff Goins

“Be You, Bravely” is MOPS* theme for this year. I get to grab that theme by the spatula –“The Courage to Be Hospitable” — and speak to the Escondido MOPS this week. Yea! Smart women to choose this topic. Tired women and beautiful as well, I’m sure. Can’t wait!

We need courage everyday for everything, including being hospitable.

Inviting for the sake of Jesus takes courage–and time and money and sacrifice and inconvenience and old-fashioned work. Most of all it takes love for Jesus. He’s the Ultimate Host inviting us to the Ultimate Table (for more on that life-giving theme, check out Come to My Table: God’s Hospitality and Mine here.)


When we see God is on the front porch, doors and arms open wide, we can better open our door–just a little wider–so another can meet Him at our table. It’s worth considering. It’s worth being brave for.

Jeff Goins said:

“You don’t get any more courageous, you just learn to do it afraid!”**

Love that! We don’t get out of it just because we’re scared.


When the doorbell rings, you may need to pray Philippians 4:13 all the way to the door: “I can do all things through Christ Who strengthens me.” (Say it again, “I can do all things through Christ Who strengthens me.” One more time, “I can do all things through Christ Who strengthens me.”)

That’s doing it, afraid. And eventually you won’t be afraid. True.

Practice doesn’t make perfect (I burned the chicken last night.) Practice doesn’t make perfect, but it does make easier on the heart and soul and mind. (I cut off the burned parts and lit a candle. Several candles.)


Practice doesn’t make perfect, but it makes possibilities for God to do His perfect thing through you and your small table and unswept floor. Practicing perfect hospitality is God’s job. Practicing hospitality for the sake of a lonely person who doesn’t know God is your job and my job. Be you, bravely. And pray for me as I share the truth in love to the lovely ladies in Escondido. I won’t do it perfectly. That’s God’s job.


*Jeff Goins, interviewed by Michael Hyatt on Platform University

**MOPS–Mothers Of Preschoolers


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Feast on Friday: Pat’s Goat Cheese Brussel Sprouts


I asked Patrick to bring the brussel sprouts to Mary’s farewell dinner and, as usual, he outdid himself! Easy as pie – well, easier than pie – delicious and a colorful addition to any meal. Thanks, Patrick!

Feast on Friday: Pat's Goat Cheese Brussel Sprouts
Recipe type: side dish
Cuisine: American
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 5-6
You can choose to roast instead of deep-fry but we were short on time. Make as much as you need; marinate extra and roast the next day.
  • 1-2 lbs fresh brussel sprouts
  • ⅛ cup balsamic vinegar
  • ⅛ cup olive oil
  • ½ t. garlic salt
  • Goat cheese (or feta)
  • oil for frying
  1. Stir oil and vinegar into sprouts and let sit 20 minutes or more.
  2. Heat oil in a thin layer at very high heat.
  3. Toss sprouts gently into pan (watch out for spitting oil!)
  4. Add salt
  5. Cover briefly and then stir fry for 5-10 minutes
  6. Remove from pan
  7. Crumble and sprinkle in the goat cheese
  8. Serve immediately (sigh deeply)


I know. I should’ve had a redheaded boy, but I didn’t. Maybe even a redheaded boy who cooks. Lord knows.


Mary will have to wait til Thanksgiving for a repeat performance.

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