Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Happy Birthday Lulu!

Lulu loves lemon cake and I love lemon cake so when she asked for lemon cake for her birthday- no problem.

I have successfully made this recipe before and this time even better because it was EASY. This is not how I got the recipe from ALLRECIPES.com, but it is how I actually made it and it was WONDERFUL!

Lemon Cake with Lemon Filling and Lemon Butter Frosting

1 tablespoon grated lemon zest
1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon cornstarch
6 tablespoons butter
3/4 cup white sugar
4 egg yolks, beaten

4 cups confectioners' sugar
1/2 cup butter, softened
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
2 tablespoons milk


To make filling (curd): In medium saucepan, mix together 1 tablespoon lemon zest, 1/2 cup lemon juice and 1 tablespoon cornstarch until smooth. Mix in 6 tablespoons butter and 3/4 cup sugar, and bring mixture to boil over medium heat. Boil for one minute, stirring constantly. In small bowl, with a wire whisk, beat egg yolks until smooth. Whisk in a small amount of the hot lemon mixture. Pour the egg mixture into the sauce pan, beating the hot lemon mixture rapidly. Reduce heat to low; cook, stirring constantly, 5 minutes, or until thick (not to boil). Pour mixture into medium bowl. Press plastic wrap onto surface to keep skin from forming as it cools. Cool to room temperature. Refrigerate 3 hours or overnight.

To make cake: Take a Duncan Heinz Premium White Cake Mix and make it in 2 rounds with the addition of 1 tsp vanilla in the mix. Then… Allow to cool in pans on wire racks for 10 minutes. Then invert onto wire racks to cool completely.

To make frosting: In large bowl, beat confectioners' sugar, 1/2 cup butter, 2 tablespoons lemon juice and 1 teaspoon lemon zest until smooth. Beat in milk, and increase speed and continue to beat until light and fluffy, maybe 3 minutes or more.

To assemble: With long serrated knife, split each cake layer in half horizontally, making 4 layers. Place 1 layer, cut side up, on a serving plate. Spread with 1/3 of the lemon filling. Top with another layer, and spread with 1/3 of the curd. Add third layer, and spread with the remainder of the lemon filling.

Press on final cake layer and frost top and sides of cake with frosting.

Refrigerate cake until serving time.

Sunday, February 24, 2008


Seriously. I was looking for frosting help here... Please help and then I will post the WONEDRFUL lemon cake I made for Lulu's birthday later this week...

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Texas Girl

A few weeks ago the Stock Show was here in the Big City and we took the Peep. It turns out that it was on the same night she came down with The Flu so we are really sorry to everyone we exposed her to, but she had a good time.
Here she is in the Petting Zoo looking carefully at a bunny. Then we hit Elsie the Cow which we also enjoy seeing at Mayfest.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Tasty Dip

The Neighbor and I have to go to a meeting next week that is in the evening and since we are OOOHHH SOOOOO important to the committee, we get to bring food.

I am taking the Pioneer Woman’s Best Ever Chocolate Sheet Cake which is almost the same sheet cake I have been making since I first learned to measure flour and sugar with the addition of and extra 1.5 sticks of butter. You should make it some day . It is WONDERFUL.
I suggested to The Neighbor that since I had us covered on sweets- I mean she and I can easily polish off the cake- we might also need something with protein in it. You know, to stay healthy.

So I am using this as a forum to share with her, and you, the best ever dip that I LOVE LOVE LOVE and Slick does not not not like at all. Hence the fact that I am trying to get someone to make it for a meeting where he will not be…

Chicken Enchilada Dip from one of my “little sisters” in college:

3 Chicken breasts boiled with carrots, celery, onion, garlic and 2 bullion cubes; cooled, removed from the bone and cubed small.
(Can substitute 40 oz canned chicken drained and broken up in a pinch, but not near as tasty)
2 cans cheddar cheese or nacho cheese soup
2 8 oz blocks cream cheese
2 cup mayo
1- 2 cups salsa (like Pace or something)
garlic powder and salt

Bring cream cheese to mixing temperature, mix with other ingredients in either a mixer or just with a whisk in a bowl and stir in chicken.

Bake in uncovered 13”x9” dish at 350ยบ for about 25 minutes until bubbly and hot in the middle.

Serve with Tostitos and/or Flour tortillas.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Icing on the Cake- er Cookie

Not this past Christmas but in '06 the Peep made cookies with Busia and Papa. They are a wonderful recipe from the Betty Crocker cookbook that Slick brought to the marriage 10 years ago as part of his dowry.

The same cookbook as a recipe for vanilla frosting that is very tasty as well. You might be able to see in the pictures that we tinted it green and reddish pink in honor of Christmas and decorated our hearts- that is trees- out.

It is almost- but not quite- the tastiest frosting I have ever had.

The best ever was at the house 4 doors down from us at our old house long about 1985. Yes, that is 1985. Seriously, when I obsess, I really obsess.

22 years I have been searching high and low- definitely for the last 10 years since Slick and I married- for the best ever frosting recipe.

Now as Easter approaches and I am getting excited about the William-Sonoma cutters I got last year and making flowers and chicks and bunnies and from tasty slightly almond flavored cookies- I am looking still for the perfect frosting recipe.

If you have one, please, please share… otherwise all who we encounter over the next few weeks be ready for yummy cookies and mostly yummy frosting…

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Rock and Roll Girl

A million years ago before I was even thought of my dad, Chief, was a Rock and Roll man. He played the drums and wooed the women.

Well, my mom at least. If there were others we don’t talk about it since they met in high school and when we look at their old yearbooks my mom makes faces at the other girls he might have dated a time or two…

Me, not so much a rocker. I play no instrument with the exception of the occasional kazoo and even then it is more than shaky.

The Peep, on the other hand has received the gene. Just this morning she asked me if after school we could play Rock and Roll. She will wear the headset, she told me and I can hold the Echo Mic.

No problem for me, I LOVE the Echo Mic. Here you see me when I was about 20 with one in the dorm room of Home on the Range Author PWS. Also present my then roommate turned Peep’s godmother, Duke. But the real STAR of the photo is the Echo Mic.

Back to the Peep and Chief.
He came over a week or so ago to check on her while she was down with The Flu and they started a little jam session here in the living room.
Peep assigned the instruments and Chiefers and she went at it! Peep loves to listen to CD’s in the car and play DJ and she LOVES to sing along- but only with songs she deems “Rock and Roll.” Ones with fast tempos and lots of guitar and drums.

Slick and I in for a long ride…

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Pie in the Big City

Slick likes pie. I kind of like pie. Slick really likes pie. So on Saturday I made pie. Slick’s favoirite is fruit and we had blueberries in the freezer- which survived the big freezer cleanout last week- so I made blueberry.

We really like this recipe from the William Sonoma cookbook collecetion:

2 rolled-out rounds of basic pie dough ( I use the red box from the grocery store because it is almost as wonderful as home made and it only takes 15 seconds from box opening to into the pan)
4 cups blueberries
1 Tbs. fresh lemon juice, strained
3/4 cup sugar
3 Tbs. cornstarch
1/2 tsp. finely grated lemon zest
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 Tbs. cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces- really I think I used about 2 ½ T
Fold 1 dough round in half and carefully transfer to a 9-inch pie dish. Unfold and ease the round into the pan, without stretching it, and pat it firmly into the bottom and up the sides of the pan. Using kitchen scissors, trim the edge of the dough, leaving 3¿4 inch of overhang. Set the dough-lined pan aside, along with the other dough round, in a cool place until ready to use.

Place the blueberries in a large bowl, sprinkle with the lemon juice and toss to coat evenly. In a small bowl, stir together the sugar, cornstarch, lemon zest, salt and cinnamon. Sprinkle the sugar mixture over the berries and toss to distribute evenly. Immediately transfer to the dough-lined pan. Dot with the butter.

Fold the reserved dough round in half and carefully position it over half of the filled pie. Unfold and trim the edge neatly, leaving 1 inch of overhang, then fold the edge of the top round under the edge of the bottom round and crimp the edges to seal. Using a small, sharp knife, cut an asterisk 4 to 5 inches across in the center of the top to allow steam to escape during baking.

Refrigerate the pie until the dough is firm, 20 to 30 minutes. Meanwhile, position a rack in the lower third of an oven and preheat to 375°F.

Bake the pie until the crust is golden and the filling is thick and bubbling, 50 to 60 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack and let cool completely to set, 1 to 2 hours. Serve at room temperature or rewarm in a 350°F oven for 10 to 15 minutes just before serving. Makes one 9-inch pie; serves 8.

Note: If fresh blueberries are unavailable, use frozen blueberries (without thawing them first) and increase the baking time by 10 to 15 minutes.
Adapted from Williams-Sonoma Collection Series, Pie & Tart, by Carolyn Beth Weil (Simon & Schuster, 2003).

They have not called to see if they can feature my pie in their next collection of photos, but I am thinking the call will come shortly.

Slick is a pie purist.
I preferred to cut the sweetness with a little light vanilla ice cream. Man that was good pie.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

An opossum as a pet?

For the Peep's birthday she got fish. Two lovely goldfish named Jack and Box.

She named them herself.

In the drive through line.

At Chick-Fil-A.

She loves the fish in as much as you can bond with a swimming non pet-able friend who neither talks nor snuggles.

Jack is a lovely shade of gold and is really a pretty fish with all of the fins and tails that swoosh around in the fancy round aquarium Slick and his parents picked out. Box is more of a hanger-outer preferring to watch life from the sidelines.

Way on the sidelines.

He is a little creepy with all of the opossum he plays. Any time of the day or night we can walk past the aquarium- strategically placed in the kitchen on the counter beside the refrigerator- and find him hanging on the top of the water. The first time I saw him "playing" Slick was at the office and I called and said I thought Box was a gonner.

Then he swam away like nothing doing and he has been playing us ever since.

Friday, February 15, 2008


Slick and I have a LOT of stuff. We are desperately trying to decrease the amount so we can enjoy what we have in a clutter free lifestyle. This is especially tough because I like our stuff. But enough is enough.

I have cleaned out my closet ( one bag worth!) and am taking it to our friendly neighborhood drop off location.


I mean it.

Along with three bags of Peep clothes from age birth to three. I know we will not use them again. I know someone else will use them. I just am not inspired to actually take them down there.

I did clean out the freezer this morning. Yuck is all I have to say about unknown origin bananas and when did I get lemon sorbet? Found it! Probably should have waited until trash day instead of just the day after trash day?

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Happy Valentines Day!

Valentines Day!

What a wonderful day to tell everyone you love that you are thinking about them.

And what a wonderful day to eat all of the loot kids bring home from school...

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Temperature Alert

The temperature posted in the King Ranch segment is hot. Please cook at 325 for 30-40 minutes covered or uncovered. I did 30 minutes covered, 10 uncovered.


King Ranch Chicken

Today I am making King Ranch Chicken one of my favorite dishes and one of Slick's least favorite. Sorry for him.

My first King Ranch memory is of a luncheon celebrating my super friend Duke when she was going through one of her Deb seasons and we had a lovely time eating it at the King Ranch Queen of Waco Texas' house. Since then I have made the dish on many many occasions and loved every one. I have tweaked the recipe a little over the years, but not too much for it was already wonderful.

Start with a few chicken breasts. I boil them in flavorful water including salt, bullion, onion, garlic, celery if you have it. Save the stock. Then pull the meat from the skin and bones if there are any. Today there are because the grocery store was having such a terrible sale of chicken breasts with bones and skin that I HAD to buy 30 pounds of it and now I am sorry because I hate to touch the stuff. Tear or chop the meat into smallish pieces and set aside.

Chop about a cup of yellow onion in really small dice. I prefer yellow Spanish onion when Vidalia's are not available because I think they are milder than the white ones and because that is what Lulu used when I was growing up and you know that girls almost always do stuff in the kitchen like their momma's did.

Soften the onion in a skillet with a little butta or oil for a few minutes to get it all cooked because I do NOT like crunchy onion. Add a little salt and pepper to the onion and a can or two of cream of chicken soup and cream of mushroom soup. Add an undrained can of Rotel Tomatoes with Green Chilies. If you like add an additional can of greed chilies. Stir this all up in the pot- I like to use a whisk to break up all of the lumps. Then add as much of the reserved stock as it needs to become nice and loose. Like creamy cream of cauliflower soup from the Antique Mall's Tea Room. You know- nice and creamy and not at all watery but not at all thick.

Then take 12 to 15 corn tortillas in a stack and slice them. Sometimes I do little triangles, sometimes slices and sometimes a combination of the both. Place a layer of the tortillas in a 9x13 pan- today I am using white corn tortillas because they were on sale and I thought it might be a little fancy but the yellow would work just as well.

Onto the layer of tortillas, sprinkle 1/3 of the chicken and about 1/3 of the creamy soup mixture. Top this layer with a good handful of grated cheddar cheese. I like mild but really if you have gotten this far it is obvious that you can do it any way YOU like. Then on with the tortillas again, then the chicken, soup and cheese. Do it all again finishing with the cheese.

Cover with foil and place into a preheated 350 degree oven for about 30 minutes. Check to see if the cheese is melty and either keep cooking or take out and let it rest. After about 10 minutes on the counter it will be nicely set up for cutting and serving.

I like mine on the plate with a dollop of sour cream and a splash of salsa. I like a few Tostitos on the side too for scooping up the last of the sauce and to break up the texture of the casserole.

I hope you try King Ranch Chicken and that it makes you Queen of your Casa!

Monday, February 11, 2008

Holiday Home

We moved furniture and vacuumed and dusted and shopped and cooked and decorated and ironed and chilled and washed and it was all worth it!

The small Valentines Dinner Party we had Saturday went well, we thought.

Dinner was tasty and drinks were flowing and flowing and shades were hung.

What? The Roman Shades for Slick's and my bedroom that I had worked on for over 6 hours with the Peep's help in November were finally hung by a dinner guest!

They look wonderful dahling and I will get a picture this week I promise.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Still sick?

This is what it looked like in the Big City yesterday when the Peep finally finished with her fever.

Yes, that is the Backyardigans in the background. We might have watched all or part of every episode yesterday.

That is the Peep in her night gown with the birthday cakes printed on it, with a Harpy Eagle necklace, princess shoes and yes, you are seeing it right, a purple headband crown. The crown is new, a gift from Duke. The Peep loves it. And rightly so, I mean look at how well she wears it!
Thought she would be going to school as there was no fever activity yesterday. Got up 5 minutes ago with 100.6. Can't very well send her to school when the thermometer is beeping "Your kid has a fever! Your kid has a fever!" And she knows what the beeps mean...

I guess the 15 item to do list I made out this morning is now obsolete...

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

The Organized Home Part 4

Skunky water is so cool.

The Peep has been well enough today to fend for her self with the TV/ DVR/ DVD remote and has already at 10 to 10 watched about 48 different shows. While all of this fun was happening I decided that it was TIME. Time to clean the upstairs carpets. We have only had this carpet for about 18 months, but between the little grass in the yard, Putter Rooskey, the Peep, Slick and me, we have managed to skunk up the carpet.

Lulu brought the super-duper-Hoover-carpet-cleaner and a fresh bottle of magic carpet cleaning solution over yesterday and this morning I have preformed a mini-miracle.

In case you have never done this, you put hot water from the tub into a reservoir and add magic cleaning solution to another place and voila- when you turn on the vacuum skunky water gets into a third spot and the carpet is wonderfully like new.

Pouring the skunky water down the drain is a little gross when you think about it, but if you stay shallow in your thinking- you too will be like me and think skunky water is the coolest thing since cloths that come loaded with scrubbing bubbles for quick wipe-ups.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Fun for the rest of the week?

We are the new owners of a positive flu test for the Peep. And she has a wonderfully old man one pack a day cough that prompted the Dr to send us to the hospital for a pneumonia x-ray. Thankfully it was negative.

In other good news the Peep's Dr congratulated me on about to have the flu myself next week. I am so excited and really looking forward to it. Or not.

On the way home the Peep asked me why if she had gotten a flu shot that she now had the flu. My answer: Sorry Dude, sometimes these things happen.

We've Got the Fever...

We've got the fever for the flavor of a Pringle.

Well not exactly, just the fever part. The Peep has been sick since Friday night and the days keep rolling by with her still having the fever and coughs and general yuckiness. We are headed to the doctor for the second time in seven days. Peep already told me this morning that she is not interested in having the pink antibiotic medicine and that Tylenol is just fine.

I am thinking when in her four years did she have time to attend medical school??

Last night at 12:30 when I got up with the dang dang dog Putter Rooskey, I checked in on the Peep and she was hot as a mackerel. Is that right? Hot as a trout just does not seem right. So I got the Tylenol out and we talked for 30 minutes about the benefits of taking the medicine even thought she was "nervous" about taking it.

The girls is wonderful. If only I could make her well with my magic wand…

Monday, February 4, 2008

The Organized Home Part 3

Last weekend Slick and I moved furniture. No, we did not get any new furniture and we did not get a new residence, we just moved the furniture we have around inside the house. We moved the china cabinet from the old dining room, now game room, to the living room in the back corner. We moved the black wooden former entertainment console for a TV now laden with games and toys to the now game room and moved all of the sorted and thinned contents of both to their respective pieces.

The good news is that the entertainment center come game cabinet is in two pieces like and nice piece of formerly unfinished wood- sometimes called Naked Wood. It is not naked now, nor is it necked, it was nicely painted black in the garage of our former house, you know, when we had a garage.

The china cabinet on the other hand is one set of solid-wood-old-school-piece-of-furniture-heavy-son-of-a-gun. Slick and I were like Ross and friends with the big "Pivot" scene with the couch.

I know Hill Dog is going to be disgusted with the "Friends" reference two days in a row. Sorry, dude. It was funny. Both the scene form the show and the one in our living room. We got part way to the destination and had to rest- which happened to be mostly in front of 46 inches if High Definition Glory. The Peep was watching something- probably Emperor’s New Grove for the 2,543 time, when she announces that “Hey. That is not going to work there.” It is like we have a standup comedian living with us. Really. So she does not think that in the middle fo the room is the best place for the china cabinet. “No,” she told us, “it needs to go on a wall.” A little Martha Stewart. My heart is warm.

Then Hill Dog and I moved a set of shelves from the guest room to the game room- doing a nice job of junking that room up already- and moved the chest of drawers in the guest room to a different wall.

We still have a ways to go to be completely organized and efficient, but we are doing ok so far. Rest assured- I will keep you posted.

Sunday, February 3, 2008

Slick and Slick's Friend Bob

In a land long long ago Slick lived in a really big city after undergrad and worked at a consulting firm with a bunch of eccentric men and a few wonderful ladies.

A friend of Slick's from undergrad, and I think maybe from the Men's Golf Team, Bob, also worked at the firm. The two of them, young fresh just out of college guys had many great never to be duplicated experiences- much of which I am not privy to- but one which I can see on an almost daily basis.

They had "Man Bags." You can see here Slick and Bob after a delicious dinner while Bob was in town on business and came over for dinner with their bags just last month- both still carrying them daily over 10 years after their purchase. Slick said there may have been as many as six different men at the firm with the same bags. This was the status symbol of the consultants, I think. If a consultant under 30 years old with a man bag told you what changes to make at your company to improve productivity or increase sales, it was much more believable than if a young punk told you all that was wrong with your world while carrying a pack from LL Bean, for instance.

This bag has become Slick’s purse. He takes it on almost every trip. Clearly Bob does as well. Both with the worn, unconditioned leather look from too many plane rides and too little care other than to routinely and unceremoniously dump the contents onto the bed while packing for another trip. Sometimes it holds his computer, sometimes the little tv sometimes just a stack of files and magazines. The purse has been all around the country- from San Francisco and Salt Lake City to DC and Boston. The stories that purse could tell.

Several years ago there was an episode of “Friends” where Joey gets a man bag- I think it was Joey- and that was one of the funniest episodes for us of the series! Just last week on “Rules of Engagement” was a story line about man bags. I am thinking if everyone hit the Hartman store, all of the jokes would end and people would come to realize that the Man Purse is here to stay- at least for the club of recovering consultants.