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Mary made another amazing Lego minifig cake for Landon's birthday. This time it was Captain America! It, of course, takes red, white and blue icing, along with some peach, a touch of grey and some black outline (not shown).
The generic Lego minifig cake ready for the icing to make it magical.
The peach face and red hands are done.
The blue icing applied along with a few black lines on the head and toothpick marks elsewhere mapping out the rest of the icing to come.
The completed Lego Minifig Captain America Cake.
Mary's awesome Lego Minifig Captain America cake as it appeared at Landon's fifth birthday.
Aunt Donelda brought us a supply of scrumptious Christmas cookies for the holidays. From the top, clockwise, finishing in the middle left to right: Toffee Oat Cookies, Trisha Yearwood's Pecan Tassies, Trisha Yearwood's Snickerdoodles, Chocolate Gooey Butter Cookies, Peanut Brittle, Tollhouse Chocolate Chip Cookies, Peanut Butter Balls and Rum Balls.
The best part...Daddy's secret stash of frozen chocolate chip cookies just like Daddy and Aunt Donelda's Grandma Buller used to have for us every time we visited.
For Drew's friends party tomorrow, Mary made a Lego Iron Man minifigure cake. These are the colors: Iron Man red, gold, black and just a little white...and one white Sweet Tart.
The Lego Iron Man cake starts with a standard minifigure mold with a little extra cake on his head for the helmet.
Start by icing the entire cake in Iron Man red.
Toothpick outline everything and start the detailing with the gold gel icing.
Finish off by outlining in black, adding in the white eyes and a Sweet Tart for Tony Stark's arc reactor.
The final product at Drew's birthday party with ten candles all ready to celebrate one lucky boy's birthday. Mary did another absolutely amazing job!
Mary made a Lego Ninjago Jay Cake for Will's friends birthday party. Tip of the Day: just buy black decorating icing rather than trying to mix black icing from coloring...unless you're going for dark purple.
Mary cut out some extra cake for Jay's shoulder armor/epaulets. Now imagine Mary taking care of three kids, a new lab puppy, and generally running a household by herself while I'm at work. So, forgive the missed steps that follow before the final product.
Mary's awesome Lego Ninjago Jay cake.
The Lego Ninjago Jay minifigure that Mary went by and the final cake version. Given that the minifigure is just 1 1/2 inches tall and the cake full size (reduced for comparison), I'd say that Mary nailed it!
I'm running out of superlatives to describe Mary's cooking. Tonight she made the most wonderful and crazy healthy chicken taco soup. Only its name was bland.
Mary made chicken fajitas for dinner tonight. They were delicious!!!
We had the most amazing marinated chicken and beef shish kabobs for dinner tonight.
Mary did all the work putting them together. All I did was grill them the Weber. They were delicious!
Grilling up some marinaded chicken for Will's family birthday party tonight.
A plate full of grilled chicken at the center of a well stocked table. It doesn't get any better than this!
Today, after church, we ate lunch at Ruby Tuesday. Besides having the best salad bar and most amazing croutons, they also have great barbecue ribs. I can never decide between their classic barbecue or their Memphis dry rub, so I get half a rack of each. They are absolutely delicious and literally fall off the bone allowing you to pretty much eat them with just a fork.
Anyway, since I was a small boy, I've loved ribs and have always neatly lined up my cleaned off bones. After all, what else would you do with them, just throw them haphazardly on a plate? Mary has always complained about me doing this, saying that it was gross and that she could hardly look at my dead carcass reenactment. I always laughed off her concern chalking it up to over sensitivity especially since everyone or, at least, most people also line up their ribs. Or, so I thought, though I must admit I never really pondered the subject much.
Today, however, made me question whether my little habit is really all that common. The waitress saw my used rib bones and commented that she had never seen that before in her many years of being a waitress. "Really?" I asked. "Yes," she confirmed, never seen it before. OK, so maybe Mary's right and I am a little weird. At least I don't have a pile of randomly strewn bones in front of me.
Aunt Donelda continued her much loved Christmas tradition of bringing us an assortment of cookies for the holiday. This year's selection included from top-right clockwise: chocolate chip cookies, toffee oat cookies, rum balls, peanut brittle, chocolate caramel cookies and peanut butter balls in the center. Additionally, Aunt Donelda gave me a bag of chocolate chip cookies labeled "Daddy's Stash" for the freezer just like our Grandma Buller used to always have waiting for us when we visited.
Even with all the holiday goings-on, Mary still found time to make a delicious pork tenderloin for our Christmas Eve dinner. It looked so good, I had to take a picture. And, it tasted even better!
Mary made an absolutely awesome Lego Ninjago Kai cake for Drew's friends birthday party tomorrow. First, mix up your colors: red, yellow, brown and black. (Just ignore the maroon in the upper right...it went on cupcakes made out of the extra cake batter. I was unaware of this fact when I took the pics.)
Start with a cake made in a silicone Lego minifigure cake mold.
Cover the Lego minifigure's head yellow. While you might be tempted to just put a little yellow where the face is, if you do, it won't come out a good as the final result at the bottom shows.
Next, black icing on the hands. Be sure to take some time to do a good job modeling the Lego hands.
Now it's time for the red body, the smoother the better.
Next, brown belt and other decorations.
Now, just make a yellow lion's head emblem. (How in the world Mary did this, I have no idea. I would have just made a giant smear.)
Now, add all the black outlining and accents. Careful on the lion's face!
Add, Kai's hood and Lego Ninjago Kai is done. Great job Mary!!!
Mama's on a homemade cookin' streak and we're all happy about that! Tonight it was the most awesome homemade deep dish pizza officially entitled Easy Deep Dish Pizza Pie.
If you can't tell it was awesome from the picture then you just got no imagination because it was delicious and we all ate it up! Mama can make this again anytime.
Mama made a delicious Shepherd's Pie for all of her boys (me included). Technically the recipe is for Twice Baked Potato Pie, but I know a shepherd's pie when I see one.
First servings are out. This pie barely survived the meal with just a serving left over. When the boys get bigger, Mama will have to make two!
All garnished up and served with a side of peas, it was a delicious and healthy meal. Great job Mama!
As a special treat to celebrate the boys' first day of school, Mama made a fancy dessert for after dinner: a cupcake with mint chocolate chip ice cream, whip cream and a cherry. It doesn't get any better than that!
In addition to the Star Wars Lego Luke Cake, Mama also made chocolate Lego bricks and chocolate Star Wars minifigures for Will's friends birthday party. She put an assortment of bricks and minifigures in each of the children's party favor bags.
Chocolate and different colored candy melts, a silicon candy mold, a little love and presto...your own
clone chocolate army.
Mama's awesome chocolate Lego bricks and Star Wars minifigures!
For Will's friends birthday party, Mary made a Star Wars Lego Luke Cake. Start with a cake made in a silicone Lego minifigure cake pan.
Begin icing the head and hands with a skin-tone icing.
Next the body, which is black since Will specifically requested Luke from Episode VI.
Add some yellow hair and eyebrows and then some eyes and a mouth.
Last, add a some grey details to Luke's cloak/robe and belt.
The final product at the party including a green, Episode VI, lightsaber. Great job Mama!
The final entry in my trio of work lunches is the every other Friday special of teriyaki chicken and fried rice. Unless, I'm out of town or a group of attorneys are going out to lunch together, I never miss my Friday teriyaki chicken!
One of my most common Monday lunches at work is a half club sandwich with fresh fruit and potato salad from next door. I've got to admit, it doesn't leave me really full but it does satisfy me and I feel good eating a variety of fruit: grapes, melon, pineapple, apple, pear and nectarine. Previously, I posted about my Thursday lunch.
I grab lunch from a really nice woman who runs a small food shop in the building next door about twice a week. This is one of my favorite specials of hers which she has about every other Thursday: chicken, potatoes and vegetables. Two other days a week I go out somewhere for lunch and about once a week I wind up skipping lunch and just grabbing some Cheez-Its from our lunchroom.
I once asked my dad what he usually did for lunch and I think he had a similar answer: two days food from inside his building, two days outside and one day skipped.
Despite having planned and pulled off Will's friends birthday party earlier today, Mama found time to try out a terrific new recipe for dinner...Cheesy Chicken-Tortilla Lasagna.
The Cheesy Chicken-Tortilla Lasagna was awesome and hopefully will appear on our dinner table again!
The first step in making a Star Wars R2D2 cake is to make butter-cream icing in four colors: white, light blue, medium blue and dark blue. This is done by simply stirring and adding blue food coloring until the colors look about right.
Next, make your R2D2 cake. If you don't have an R2D2 cake pan, this will be a difficult step. You might also note, this is one ugly looking cake...but, it is an awesome cookie which our little padawan prefers.
Start with the white icing smoothly covering the body, legs and feet as shown.
Next, use the dark blue to outline the various features as shown.
The cook (Mary) skipped a step in her photography. I don't know why she can't take care of three active boys, decorate a cake and photograph every step of the process at the same time, sheesh! So, here are the dark blue and the medium blue icing filled in. I think you can tell which are which.
Finally, with the light blue icing filled in last. The almost finished Start Wars R2D2 cake or, in this instance, cookie.
Mary was worried about the juice from the cherries running so she waited until the birthday party to put the final touches on the R2D2 cake, cherries for the lights/cameras/sensors/whatever.
Tonight, Mary made the most incredible gourmet meal for dinner, Basil Artichoke Chicken. Here is the baked chicken breasts along with the sauteed mushrooms, artichokes, tomatoes and spices.
The baked basil artichoke chicken fresh out of the oven.
The final product, Basil Artichoke Chicken served on white rice. It tasted even better than it looked. Awesome!
Tonight the University of Tulsa College of Law Alumni Association held its 17th Annual TU Law Chilifest Cookoff. The event featured 32 teams, made up of TU law students, alumni, and staff, local law firms, and the Tulsa County Bar Association, competing in a variety of categories which were judged by local state and federal judges.
Our theme this year was Outlaw Biker Chili. Some creative types in the firm brilliantly transformed the Hells Angels logo of skull and wings into a blindfolded lady justice with chili hair.
The theme was a huge hit as everyone was decked out in their biker shirts, do-rags, fake piercings, slip-on sleeve tattoos, tacky wigs and the most unflattering makeup. Below you can see my do-rag...which may have been the first time in my life I actually wore one. We are one touch looking trio!
Our chili, made by Ben in the blue apron in the background, won the People's Choice award proudly displayed by Will and Drew.
Besides exchanging cards and small gifts, Mary made the most delicious brownie pie for dessert tonight. I didn't think too much of it as it simply tasted like a really great out-of-the-box brownie mix, but then Mary informed me that she made it completely from scratch! Needless to say it was a huge it with her four boys.
With all of us snowed in, Mary made snow ice cream as a treat tonight for her boys.
All it takes is a bowl of fresh snow, a little sugar, milk, vanilla and some love and you have snow ice cream.
Mama also made Daddy's favorite, pumpkin pie. This being snowed in isn't so bad!
I made beer bread today from a recipe a friend gave me. It turned out awesome! And, it couldn't be any easier to make:
Aunt Donelda brought with her boxes, bags and tins filled with homemade cookies. Starting from 12:00, moving around clockwise and ending in the center: Nestle Toll House mint-chocolate chip cookies, loaded oatmeal cookies, chocolate gooey butter cookies, Nestle Toll House chocolate chip cookies, peanut brittle, rum balls, Nestle Toll House frozen sifted-flour chocolate chip cookies (just like our Grandma Buller had waiting for us every year we went to visit), and peanut butter balls. It's hard to pick a favorite but the rum balls and peanut butter balls sure stand out as do the frozen Toll House which really bring back memories of visiting my Grandparents and later my Grandmother. Who knew sifted flour was the secret to getting the texture right!?
Tonight, I cooked steaks out on the grill. They looked so good I had to snap a picture. They tasted even better! My mouth is watering as I write this just remembering how good they were. I've explained before how much a good steak means to me...here's to you Spiv.
Tonight Mary made the most incredible potato soup...I had three bowls! It looked so good I grabbed the camera and Mary said that if she knew I was going to take a picture she would have garnished it nicer. How about that! The photo, which looks pretty appetizing to me, is just her plain old, put together an ordinary meal, style. It's good being married to someone who can cook! I hope the boys...when they grow out of their macaroni and cheese, chicken nuggets and cheese pizza phase...will appreciate what a great cook they have for a mother.
Mary and the boys got crafty yesterday and made some delicious Thanksgiving desserts.
Officially called Oreo Turkeys the delectable little treats are made with Double Stuffed Oreo Cookies, Candy Corn, Whoppers, Reese's Peanut Butter Cups, some icing, a little love and a lot of patience.
Did you know a bunch of turkeys are called a rafter? So, here we have a rafter of Oreo Turkeys.
Previously, I posted about Mary's awesome soccer ball cupcakes.
This year, Mary added basketball and baseball cupcakes to the mix for Drew's birthday party today.
Basketball cupcake pattern.
Baseball cupcake pattern.
The sports cupcakes were a huge hit with all the kids! Awesome job Mama!!!
Tonight Daddy made dinner for everyone and took the opportunity to teach a little about eggs.
Everyone learned about the differences between hard boiled, sunny side up, over easy (over rough in this case) and scrambled. After tasting each, the boys decided they liked scrambled the best.
Mama and Daddy each got one of Daddy's special omelets.
When Mary was in the hospital after having Landon, she saw a recipe on the Today Show for baby back pork ribs that looked and sounded good. Tonight she made them and they were out of this world! The flavor was indescribable and the meat literally just fell off the bone. In the picture it looks like the ribs were cut in a few places, but that's just where it broke apart on its own from being moved slightly!
And, the left-over sauce makes the world's greatest sloppy joes that can only be described as gourmet!
Tonight the four of us went to the University of Tulsa College of Law, Alumni Association, annual Chilifest Cookoff. My co-worker, chef Tony, is a multiple past winner and was favored to win again but the judges took pity on the other contestants and let them take home some hardware for a change. In other words, we were robbed! Drew and Will made out better than our team, behaving like angels and taking home pockets full of trinkets and finding a surprising assortment of non-chili food items to stuff themselves with: ice cream, brownies, cookies, chocolate covered marshmallows, lollipops and probably some other stuff I've forgotten.
I haven't gotten the official total but there seemed to be about 35 or so teams competing in the Chilifest Cookoff.
There were a number of student teams competing including several representing various conservative and liberal student groups. Can you guess whether it was the Republican law student group or the Democrat law student that was giving out free copies of the United States Constitution at their table? Hint: it was the group which actually cares about and respects the Constitution and not the group which considers the Constitution an impediment to the implementation of their dream of a government controlled socialist utopia.
Our team was the Beverly Chili Billies:
~ To the tune of the Beverly Hillbillies theme song ~
Come and getcha a taste of Bodacious Chili
Made by the cook of the Beverly Chili Billies
His recipe is full of surprises
With tons of peppers and exotic spices
Hot it is, tasty, Bodacious Chili
Next thing you know you'll be grabbing for your beer
And steam will be a comin' out your ear
ACAC is the place ya oughta be
To sample our Bodacious Chili
Chilifest - 2009
Chili, beer and lots of fun
The Beverly Chili Billies!!!
Have you ever tried to make a Model-T-esque jalopy (actually a 1921 Oldsmobile) out of construction paper and aluminum foil?
I missed last year's cookoff because I was in Chicago. We cleaned up the 2008 competition winning Best Traditional Chili and Best Overall Chili with our Pirates of the Chilibean entry.
I did a much better post explaining the logistics of the competition in 2006, when we won the Tournament of Champions.
There's nothing better than real mashed potatoes, with the peals left on, and, fortunately, we have the best automatic potato masher(s) in town. Just boil the potatoes, drain and drop them on the floor. Add milk, butter, salt and pepper to taste. Interrupt when desired consistency is reached. Yum!
Momma made a dozen soccer ball cupcakes, with some helpful hints from Aunt Donelda, for Drew to take to school to celebrate his birthday. Drew's teacher said the cupcakes were the class's favorite snack this year. It was the only snack that every student ate completely. Afterward, Drew said the cupcakes were dee-licious!
The Scene: After a delicious meal at the Cheesecake Factory the day before, Daddy has some left over ribs for dinner. At meals, we often discuss the foods, where they come from and how they get to our table. Drew understands that milk comes from cows and can name just about every major food that is made from milk. He also knows that chicken comes from chickens, beef or just "meat" comes from cows and pork comes from pa-pa-pa-pigs (his mnemonic for remembering the source of pork).
There was only one slight flaw in Drew's wealth of knowledge, he only understood "comes from" being in the sense of milk comes from a cow, as in the cow gives us some milk or some hamburger and then goes about the rest of its day happily eating grass in the fields...until tonight:
Drew: What's that?
Daddy: It's a rib.
Drew: What's a rib? [Although he knows what a ribs is away from the dinner table.]
Daddy: It's the rib of a cow, like you have ribs. [Poking Drew in the ribs.]
Drew: How do they get it?
Daddy: They cut the cow up.
Drew: Oh...[pause]...but they're cute.
Daddy: And, tasty!
Drew: Oh. [Contemplating becoming a vegetarian without even knowing what a vegetarian is.]
Daddy: Eat your meat.
Drew: It's not meat, it's pork.
Daddy: [Realizing today's food lesson has gone far enough.] Eat your pork.
My favorite food of my mother's growing up was her Imperial Chicken which we called cornflake chicken. Our best memory is that she said she got it from a military wives' cookbook but it may have been an Amoco wives' cookbook or maybe even a commercial cookbook. It's simple and easy to make and tastes great!
Click "Continue reading" for step by step preparation instructions.
Crumple the corn flakes in a medium sized mixing bowl. My mom used to crumple the corn flakes by hand but you can use a potato masher. It's best if you don't grind them into dust however. I may have over-ground them a little this time around. Mix all of the dry ingredients being sure to also crumple the parsley flakes.
Let the chicken and butter/margarine come to room temperature and pat the chicken dry.
When my sister and I were kids, my mom always made corn flake chicken using legs and thighs with their skins on. Sometime, after we had grown up, we all became more health conscious and started using skinless/boneless breasts. The recipe will work either way to make delicious chicken.
Coat the chicken all over with butter and then all over with the corn flake mixture.
Put the chicken in a large baking pan, lightly sprayed with cooking oil. We used glass here but my mom always used an oven broiler pan. Don't overlap the chicken in the pan. Sprinkle any remaining mixture over the chicken.
Cook in the center of a preheated oven at 325 degrees F. for 1 hour.
Now that's a fire, Burger King's got nothin' on me...
Most weekends, and sometimes during the week, we grill out on our trusty Weber gas grill. Tonight it was steaks and with the help of a little flare-up they had that extra-carcinogen goodness. There's just something about grilling out yourself that makes the food all that more delicious. We've tried all kinds of assorted rubs, marinades, and various combinations of seasonings, but nothing seems to beat good old salt and pepper for the best flavor.
My mom grew up fairly poor on a farm in rural Oklahoma where they raised their own animals. My grandfather maintained that while they didn't have a lot of money, they always ate well with lots of meat at every meal; breakfast, lunch and dinner. When we visited, it seemed like we had steaks every night. I think about my grandfather almost every time we grill out. He would have loved tonight's meal.
Tonight the University of Tulsa College of Law, Alumni Relations Committee, held their annual Chilifest Cookoff. 34 teams representing law firms, corporations, government offices, law student organizations, faculty and administration entered an incredible array of chilies. The teams competed in six categories, Best Overall Chili (Res Ipsa Loquitur), Best Traditional Chili - beef with or without beans (Stare Decisis), Best Non-Traditional Chili - other meat, vegetarian, etc. (Inter Alia), Most Creative Recipe (Sui Generis), Best Presentation (Attractive Nuisance) and the Tournament of Champions - pitting past winners against each other. The judges were primarily members of the state and federal judiciary.
The team from my employer went with a Redneck theme.
Our chili was made by my coworker Tony who combined beef brisket, pork and ground beef for an out of this world beanless chili. Besides an incredible flavor, it had a delicious aroma, perfect texture and just the right amount of heat. Click "continue reading" to see how our team fared.
With 34 teams, it was impracticable for each judge to taste each chili. So, the competition was set up for teams of judges to rate 11 or 12 chilies each and then send their highest recommended chilies on the the Appellate Judges who would then determine the winner. Here the judges are being sworn in before the tasting began.
There was pretty huge crowd at the Allen Chapman Activity Center, known on campus as ACAC and affectionately pronounced "ack ack."
Entertainment was provided by a live Mariachi band.
Our team was easy to spot in the crowd.
We won second place for Best Presentation thanks mostly to Ed who, with no prior notice, ad libbed a great tale on stage about our bobcat mascot.
Finally, at the end of the evening out team's chili was announced the winner of the Tournament of Champions! I'm on the left giving Tony his well deserved props. (Click here to see Tony when he won the 2002 Chilifest Cookoff.)
Lately, I've been totally hooked on Jamba Juice's Strawberry Nirvana smoothie. Most of Jamba's offerings do little for me as they are so high in calories and don't really do much to fill you up. However, the Strawberry Nirvana is surprisingly low in calories, only 330 for the large 32 ounce "power" size.
One of Jamba Juice's gimmicks is their "boosts" that are either included or added to their smoothies for an additional charge. Addition of protein and fiber boosts turns the Strawberry Nirvana into a truly filling meal replacement and all for around 400 calories!
I'm actually beginning to wonder if the Strawberry Nirvana isn't too good. Like the Seinfeld episode where Kramer invests in a non-fat frozen yogurt shop. After tasting the frozen yogurt Jerry exclaims: "This is so F***ing Good!" Everyone gains weight as it turns out the frozen yogurt was actually full of fat.
[UPDATE: The Strawberry Nirvana is made with apple-strawberry juice and lower calorie dairy base (nonfat milk, natural flavors, whey protein, Splenda). However, additional calories can be saved while adding protein by asking that it be made with no juice and with all low-cal dairy base. I corresponded with Jamba Juice corporate about this and they provided the following nutritional information for the 24 and 32oz sizes with and without the fiber and protein boosts:
24oz without any boost:
24oz with protein and fiber boosts:
32oz without any boost:
32oz with protein and fiber boosts:
Now, the only thing I drink is the 32oz Strawberry Nirvana, no juice, all dairy, with protein and fiber boosts.]
This weekend, Friday through Sunday, Wendy's is giving out free Jr. Frostys. (FYI, they are 6 oz which equals 1/2 a soda can.) This promotion is the company's official thank-you to customers who have stood by it after the recent failed attempt to defraud the company by a piece of human debris which, though unsuccessful, did result in a measurable drop in sales.
Besides having excellent burgers, Wendy's also has a nice variety of healthier options including my favorites: the Fresh Fruit Bowl with lo-fat yogurt (only 220 calories with 1 gram of fat) and the Mandarin Chicken Salad with Fat-Free French Dressing (hold the almonds and rice noodles, only 250 calories with 24 grams of protein and just 2 grams of fat).
So, stop by Wendy's for a free Frosty and let them know that you support them!