How to Make a King Cake with My Texas Kitchen

My friend Susan from My Texas Kitchen invited me to her house to teach me how to make her famous Mardi Gras King Cake.  I have the best life ever!

History lesson:

The Mardi Gras or Carnival season officially begins on January 6th or the “Twelfth Night,” also known to Christians as the “Epiphany.” Epiphany comes from a Greek word that means “to show.” Jesus first showed himself to the three Wise Men and to the world on this day. As a symbol of this Holy Day, a tiny plastic baby is placed inside each King Cake.

The King Cake tradition is thought to have been brought to New Orleans from France in 1870.  A King Cake is an oval-shaped bakery delicacy, crossed between a coffee cake and a French pastry that is as rich in history as it is in flavor. It’s decorated in royal colors of PURPLE which signifies “Justice,” GREEN for “Faith,” and GOLD for “Power.” These colors were chosen to resemble a jeweled crown honoring the Wise Men who visited the Christ Child on Epiphany. In the past, such things as coins, beans, pecans, or peas were also hidden in each King Cake.

Today, a tiny plastic baby is a common prize. At a party, the King Cake is sliced and served. Each person looks to see if their piece contains the “baby.” If so, then that person is named “King” for a day and bound by custom to host the next party and provide the King Cake.

Mardi Gras Day has a moveable date and may occur on any Tuesday from February 3rd to March 9th. It is always the day before Ash Wednesday and always falls 46 days before Easter. This year Mardi Gras occurred on February 16. Due to COVID-19, New Orlean’s residents transformed their front porches into colorful displays to represent the traditional parade floats.

Susan has been making her famous King Cake since her days in college at none other than our alma mater TCU! Be sure to visit her beautiful blog My Texas Kitchen for the recipe here. The recipe was passed to her by her mother’s friend, Jean. Susan’s home smelled like a bakery when my friend Jessica and I arrived. While we sipped lemon and mint-infused water, Susan led us through the process of proofing the yeast and making the dough.

The dough was like velvet.  Susan described it as a brioche, different from a cinnamon roll type dough.
Easy to roll out onto a floured mat. We covered the dough with mounds of a brown sugar and butter mixture.
Then we rolled our dough up into a log like you would a cinnamon roll and shaped it into an oval.
Then with kitchen scissors, snipping small slits on the dough.
While the cakes baked in the oven, we sat down to a lovely lunch Susan prepared for us — homemade pimento cheese sandwiches and tomato basil soup — served on a place setting of beautiful blue and white china, linens, and glassware.
The cakes were ready after lunch and it was time for the best part — the icing!  We poured the icing on top of our cakes, then Susan taught us how to make colored sprinkle sugar using Turbinado sugar and food coloring. Here’s a link to purchase sprinkles and babies for your cake.
Meanwhile, as I was walking past her kitchen counter, I saw this box of fur just waiting for me to love her!
This is Jackie, the Bengal cat, who belongs to Susan’s son Ben.  She was a love. She sleeps during the day in this box on the counter under the warmth of the counter lights.  I am sure she was glad when I left because I couldn’t resist going over and petting her every few minutes.
Susan helped us package up our cakes, but not before strategically placing the baby inside each of our cakes for good luck.  She sent us home with extra icing and sprinkles just in case we needed more.
This was definitely a bucket list moment!  Have you ever made a King Cake?  As Susan says, “baking with friends is always so much sweeter!”

How to Create An Easy Valentine’s Day Flower Centerpiece

I have an easy Valentine’s Day centerpiece to share.  You could do this for any occasion, like a birthday party, ice cream social, baby shower, or July 4th by changing up the colors of the flowers. Valentine’s Day is my second favorite holiday behind Thanksgiving so I am always looking for ways to fill my home with pink and red!

What you’ll need:

Carnations — I love Carnations and I think they get a bad rap.  They are fragrant, inexpensive, and can go a long time without water which is perfect for this centerpiece project.  I bought three bunches at $3.99 each from Central Market.

Red Hots — I bought several scoops from the bulk bin at Central Market, or you could buy a large bag in the candy aisle.

Ice Cream Sugar Cones — I used nine cones which were one box.

Glass Cylinders or Vases – You can find these anywhere.  I just used ones I had in my vase stash.

I cut the carnation stems short enough to fit in the ice cream cone so the bottom petals of the carnation set just around the rim of the cone.  I put all one color in each cone.  As it worked out, I had enough to make three cones for each of the colors.  A rule of thumb, tablescapes always look better in odd numbers — in this case three vases, three cones per vase.

I filled the bottom of each cylinder with red hots.  You don’t need to measure, just pour enough in each vase so it looks even.  Then, nestle the cones down into the vase.  That’s it!

The carnations went without water for 24 hours, and I put them into water the next day.  They are still fresh a week later.

These centerpieces would be so cute lined up on an ice cream sundae bar for July 4th, a baby “gender” reveal party or birthday!  If you put love into it, everything turns out amazing!

Your Guide to Girl Scout Cookie and Wine Pairing

Not too long ago I saw an article on Facebook for pairing wine with Girl Scout cookies.  I looked on Pinterest and found three posts with suggested wines for each of the cookie types.  Mr. Bee and I thought it would be the perfect theme for the neighborhood parties we all take turns hosting each month. Since, Girl Scout Cookies are on sale right now, it’s the perfect time to gather up cookies and host your own party. Did you know Girl Scouts have been selling cookies for over 100 years?  Read about the history of Girl Scout Cookie sales here.  Even if you just have a party for one, what’s better than sweets and wine!  

Since Girl Scout cookies are plentiful right now, with the little scouts selling them on almost every corner, it wasn’t hard to score six varieties of cookies.  I made my list and did some research to determine the suggested type of wine for each cookie I had purchased.  Mr. Bee and I headed over to Total Wine last week after our date-night dinner and a very helpful, friendly sales associate helped us shop for each wine we needed.

Thin Mint — Michel Gassier Syrah Les Piliers at $14.99

Tagalongs — Script and Seal Merlot for $9.99

Samoa — A Port Quinta das Carvalhas for $17.99

Savannah Smiles — There were a few suggestions on this and we went with Petals Riesling for $8.99

Trefoils — A sparkling wine was suggested and I already had the perfect bubbly in my wine fridge.  A Petite Cadeau from Wine Shop at Home, an online wine club.

Do Si Dos — We tried a Zweigelt, and Austrian wine,  from Winzer Krems Blauer for $13.99

Total Wine extends 15% off when you purchase 6 or more wines at one purchase, so we saved some money.  The Port was on sale during their Spanish wine promotion.

To prep for the party I used long, white platters (from Walmart) to showcase the cookies – a steal at $7 a platter. White platters are perfect because they draw attention to the detail and colors of your food.

We cut the front off of each box so the guests could see the full description for the cookie.  Then I took small chalkboards and wrote the name of each cookie and placed them at the top of the platters.  We used cocktail napkins and dessert plates.

We told our guests to eat dinner first and to come over around 7:30 p.m.  I asked a few neighbors to bring mixed nuts, and sliced apples and cheddar cheese to help cut the sweet between cookies.

Cindy, of course, went the extra mile to prepare the prettiest platter of five varieties of apples and labeled them for identification.

I used chalkboard placemats (similar here) to labeled each wine and the cookie it accompanied, then we put each bottle in order of when we would taste it — lightest, to medium body, then finish with the dessert wine (Port).

The Petit Cadeau from Wine Shop at Home was so light and refreshing.  It was paired with the Trefoil (a shortbread cookie).  I love sparkling wine and I will definitely purchase this variety again.

The Riesling we selected was light and was paired with the Savannah Smile — a lemon powdered sugar cookie. The price point on this was a great bargain and would make a perfect summertime wine.

The Merlot was just so-so and we felt the peanut butter in the cookie was a little overpowering.

The French Syrah was excellent with the Thin Mint.  The coolness of the cookie with the peppery taste of this wine was superb.  It was rated number one among all the guests as the best pairing. And finishing off the tasting was the Port.  We practically finished the bottle.  I am not a fan of coconut, but the pairing of this Port with the Samoa highlighted accentuated the coconut.

I didn’t get a pic of the Austrian Zweigelt variety with the Do Si Dos.  It was a brand new wine for all of us to try and it was pretty good.  It paired nicely with the peanut butter sandwich cookie.

We had fun tasting each wine.   One of our friends is a wine enthusiast and asked us to smell the wine and with our first taste to try and identify the taste notes — floral, peppery, fruity?  It was fun to come with up with our ideas then compare the crowd’s input with the description given of each wine by the winemaker.  In most cases, each label on the bottle described the wine, but if there was no description we looked it up on the Total Wine website.  All of the wines we selected with just input from the Total Wine expert were worth trying and ones we would definitely try again.

For more ideas for Girl Scout cookie, wine pairing check out my Pinterest board Just a Sip.

Falling for It — Picnic Inspiration

From Hello Giggles

“Picnics:  One of the supreme pleasures of an outdoor life.” James Beard

Fall is the perfect time to enjoy the outdoors, especially if you live where the summers are hot and humid.  When I recently saw the quote about picnics from James Beard, I spent some time on Pinterest looking for inspiration and how to put a twist on the traditional picnic.

Vintage Thermos and Aladdin

On a tour through my local antique mall I saw this thermal trio. Two are Thermos and one is Aladdin brand.  It made me get all nostalgic thinking how I used to take hot cocoa to high school football games.  I plan to just use these for fall decoration on the mantel, but I do think any good picnic needs a thermal carafe for hot cocoa or pumpkin spiced coffee.

Which leads me to the next picnic must, a good sandwich.  It’s all in the presentation.  So many restaurants make really good sandwiches, why reinvent the wheel?  Just pick up several, then take them home and re-wrap them yourself.  Here’s a step-by-step from Nad’s Bakery for wrapping them in parchment paper. Butcher paper would be cute, too.  I would add the extra touch of bakery twine with a sprig of rosemary.

How to wrap your sandwich in parchment

Instead of a sandwich how about a spin on Frito pie and do a “walking taco.”


Pack small, personal sized bags of Doritos and Fritos and a variety of toppings like taco meat, cheese, diced tomatoes, shredded lettuce, salsa, jalapeno slices, and sour cream.  Package each topping in a plastic container and keep it cold with ice packs.

Strawberry, mint lemonade

And last, every good picnic needs lemonade.  This is a fun idea from Little Miss Party NYC.   Just purchase store bought lemonade (you cannot beat SimplyLemonade or Limeade in my opinion) and infuse it with sliced lemons, strawberries and mint.  Fill mason or milk jars and pack on ice to keep it cold.

Here’s some more fun tips from Country Living magazine on how to create the ultimate picnic experience — like using frozen grapes for ice cubes and attaching your blanket to a shower curtain to put a barrier between your blanket and the grass.  Brilliant!


Have a great fall Ya’ll!

Hosting a Baby Shower with a Twist

My sweet little niece is expecting twin boys in June and our family is so excited!  My summer is set aside to cuddle these sweet bundles.  Until then, I had to make do with hosting her baby shower to prepare for their arrival.

Two things that are a must for any good hostess — one, have a good caterer as your friend and two, when a friend offers to help – let them!

I am not a big “theme” shower person.  I believe a baby shower should be a time for the mother-to-be to feel pampered with delicious food.  I relied on my good friend Karen McCann with Applause Food Show and Catering to make my job easier. I have used Karen both personally and professionally for many occassions.  I told her I wanted crudite and a charcuterie tray and she worked her magic.

Sweet heart-shaped crackers add the perfect touch

Crudite is a French term for appetizers consisting of sliced or whole raw vegetables which are typically dipped in a vinaigrette or other dipping sauce. My sweet friend Shannon had just gifted me with her mother’s party dishes and Karen thought the punch cups would be perfect vessels for the dip and nesting the vegetables (Twist #1).  They were the perfect size for people to pick up and place on their glass plate.

We nestled the crudite cups on a wooden two-tiered tray.  I spread out a blue and white checked table cloth on my dining table and we set all of the food on top in a casual display. For a centerpiece, I kept it simple.  I bought four bunches of white and blue hydrangeas at Trader Joe’s and placed them inside two blue and white ginger jars.

Pro-tip:  About 20 years ago I bought glass salad plates at an estate sale and everytime I see them at garage sales I add them to my collection.  Shannon’s mother also had some she shared with me so I can easily say I have well over 100 glass plates to use for any occassion.  They go with everything!

A charcuterie tray is a French word for smoked, dry-cured or cooked meats. Karen prepared a tray of meats, cheeses, fruits, nuts, spreads and other savory treats.

Wonton cups filled with peat and mint pesto and goat cheese
Phyllo cups filled with cream cheese, sundried tomatoes and orange jam

And any good southern party is not complete without deviled eggs.  The twist on these is Karen prepared them in beet juice (Twist #2) so they had the slightest tinge of pink then she garnished them with capers and parseley.

Deviled eggs with dill and capers

Mr. Bee made his famous pizzas, only for a ladies party we made mini margarhita pizzas with carmelized onions, basil, tomatoes, mozarella cheese and basil. We walked around serving these to guests from platters.

Mini margarhita pizzas

Then, it was time for dessert.  Enter Twist #3.  My party dishes included glass parfait dishes.  Growing up I remember how fun it was when my Sister Lady made parfaits with jello and whipped cream.  My version was poundcake, berries and homemade whipped cream!  Sister’s friend Kay offered to help and I enlisted her to make the mother-to-be’s favorite dessert lemon pound cake.  Kay was up for the challenge and after three recipe attempts found a recipe from Southern Living magazine that we have now deemed Kay’s Lemon Poundcake (recipe at the end of the story).  We set up a make your own parfait bar and it was yummy!

Cubed lemon poundcake

And one last treat, a grown up S’More.  I first made these when I visited Sister Lady in her home in New Mexico.  They are Twist #4.  Butter baguette slices and lightly toast.  Spread with Marshmallow cream and toast until just a golden brown. Top with pieces of milk and dark chocolate (buy the giant bars from Trader Joe’s for $3.99) then place back in the oven (we used our Fontana Forni outdoor pizza oven since it was already hot from the pizza) until the chocolate is soft.  Then top with a raspberry and vanilla sea salt.

Grown up S’More

We washed everything down with peach minted iced tea and ice cold glasses of Almond Creek Prosecco I found at Trader Joe’s.

And here’s what you’ve been waiting for…Kay’s Lemon Poundcake.  It is out of this world.  Moist and freezes well. Be sure to call your cardiologist first…it has 5 sticks of butter!

Kay’s Lemon Pound Cake (original source Southern Living)

5 sticks (2 1/2 cups) *unsalted butter, softened
3 cups sugar
6 large eggs
2 teaspoons lemon extract
1/4 fresh lemon juice (about 3 large lemons)
2 Tablespoons lemon zest
3 cups cake flour
2 teaspoons kosher salt (*I have used salted butter and added 1 teaspoon kosher salt.)
Powdered sugar for garnish.

1. Preheat oven to 350*, generously mist a 10 cup fluted cake pan with non- stock spray, dust with flour.
2. In a large bowl with an electric mixer, cream butter and sugar together on medium speed until pale and fluffy (about 5 minutes).
3. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, until incorporated.
4. Scrape the bottom and sides of mixing bowl, add lemon extract, lemon juice, and lemon zest until smooth.
5. Add flour and salt, mixing on medium speed until barely incorporated.
6. Transfer batter to prepared pan, bake for 75-85 minutes, or until a bamboo skewer inserted in the thickest part of the cake comes out clean or with a few moist crumbs.
7. Cool in the pan for 30 minutes, then place on wire rack to cool completely.
8. Dust with powdered sugar for garnish.

Please contact Karen McCann through her Facebook page Applause Food Show and Catering, (815) 520-2069 and [email protected] to book her for your next party.  And visit her retail store in Aledo (600 E. West Oak Drive, 76008) for quick meals, coffees and desserts.  Karen also offers a weekly chef-prepared meal service.

Art of Gathering Book Club Party!

In May, when Priya Parker launched her book The Art of Gathering, I knew it would be the perfect read for my co-workers.  Since I am always looking for an opportunity to host a party, I offered to lead the discussion.   I already lead my own personal bookclub Mrs. Twist Reads This,  and I was up for the challenge.

Book selection:

The Art of Gatheringdraws on Parker’s expertise as a facilitator of high-powered gatherings around the world, and takes us inside events of all kinds to show what works, what doesn’t, and why. She investigates a wide array of gatherings–conferences, meetings, a courtroom, a flash-mob party, an Arab-Israeli summer camp–and explains how simple, specific changes can invigorate any group experience.

The result is a book that’s both journey and guide, full of exciting ideas with real-world applications. The Art of Gathering will forever alter the way you look at your next meeting, industry conference, dinner party, and backyard barbecue–and how you host and attend them.”


I wanted this to be interactive, not just me sitting at the front of the room talking, so I enlisted the help of Kahoot – an online game-based learning and trivia platform used on our campus by professors, but it’s also a popular tool in business.  It helps you create all kinds of fun ways to facilitate learning.  I wrote seven questions I came up with using important points in the book and the group played along.  We also used the book to find key concepts that coordinated with the questions.

Before the book club gathering,  I asked the group to come with three ideas they found interesting and willing to adapt or try and a concept that seemed out of their comfort zone.  We took time between trivia questions to share their responses.

Getting personal:

Since we combined two different departments to collaborate on this book club, I felt it was important to get to know one another to find common interests.  Before we started, everyone shared their name and two fun facts about themselves.  When they arrived at our gathering they were asked to write down on a slip of paper their favorite book as a child.  I pulled out the slips of paper throughout our discussion and it was fun trying to figure out who wrote what.


The most important rule:  You cannot have a book club without food!  I enlisted the help of Georgie Girl Bake Shop for the delicious and stunningly creative sugar cookies.  She designed Miss Bee’s graduation party cookies so I knew she could make something fab.  I showed her a copy of the cover art from the book and TCU’s current tagline “Lead On.”  She made cute bookmarks and purple bookworms, too.

I also had my niece, who is very handy with her sewing machine, help me construct candy bags from pages of an old book.  She sewed up the sides with colorful thread.  They were the perfect pouches for everyone’s personal candy stash.

Speaking of color, I knew this gathering called for a big tray of colorful candy!  I bought bags of Dots, Hot Tamales, Lemon Heads, Sour Patch Kids, Licorce twists, Skittles and jelly beans and filled a white tray.

And to wash all the sugar down…little cans of sparkling lemonade piled in an ice bucket with colorful napkins and matching straws!

Everybody wins at the end of a gathering is the moral to this story.  We fed our intellect with a new subject matter.  We noshed on fun and creative snacks.  We learned something new and we made connections.  I’d said we scored an A+ at The Art of Gathering!

Oh, Mamma, Here We Go Again!

It’s t-minus Mamma Mia folks!  I purchased my tickets three weeks ago and as I write this you can see how long I have to wait before I get to see the sequel Mamma Mia – Here we go again!

I thought I’d give you some fun things to ponder until the time you get to go see it.  P.S.  Mr. Bee is being a super trouper and going with me, my girlfriend and her husband.  Hey, after all the Enforcer and Jason Bourne movies we’ve watched with them, they can see eye candy, too.

First, get the soundtrack here.  It features 18 songs, and the last song is sung by Meryl Streep — “Before you Came” so I think that gives us the clue as to whether or not she’s around for Sophie or just in spirit.  This is the original motion picture soundtrack  so it includes all the cast voices.


Second, speaking of eye candy, I cannot wait to see Pierce Brosnan. I literally have re-wound 7,000 times the scene at the end of the first movie when the water burst up through the patio and he and Meryl kiss.  This man ages perfectly.  Perfectly yummy.

You can thank me because I pinned this pic of him to my Mamma Mia Pinterest board for your viewing pleasure here.

Cher.  She makes an appearance in the move as Sophie’s grandmother.  Ol Parker, the director of the movie said, “if you’re making a sequel, “it’s an American sports thing: If you’re not playing offense, you’re playing defense.” In order to top the original Mamma Mia, Parker wanted to make sure that the sequel was bringing in something new (that wasn’t just an elaborate subtitle) — and what easier way is there to make a movie better than to bring in Cher?  To quote her character in Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again: “That’s the best kind of party, little girl.”   Here’s a clip of Cher singing Fernando at CinemaCon Las Vegas.  Mind you, Cher is 71.  And here’s some fun trivia:  After casting Cher, Parker needed to find someone to play her romantic partner. Enter Andy García, who plays Fernando Cienfuegos, a dapper, well-bearded gentleman who works with Amanda Seyfried’s Sophie. And yes — the character was invented entirely so that Cher could sing “Fernando” at him.  You’re welcome.

Most of the outdoor scenes were filmed on location at the small Greek island of Skopelos and the seaside hamlet of Damouchariin the Pelionarea of Greece. On Skopelos, Kastani beach on the south west coast was the film’s main location site.  So I say it’s the perfect inspiration to eat dinner outside after the sun has set.  Pile the table with candles, wine and delicious Greek-inspired food like we ate while vacationing in Turkey a few summers ago…piles of beautiful fruit, bread, olives, fresh vegetables.

Donna and Sophie — their clothes.  As a nod to What Would Holley Wear if you were this iconic mother/daughter duo…rock those overalls and peasant blouse!

And we can’t have a party without a cocktail!  How about the Santorini Sunrise. The recipe for this Mediterranean take on the Tequila Sunrise comes to us from the New York City restaurant Molyvos. Try using a Greek honey infused with thyme or rosemary for a more pronounced floral sweetness, or swap out the vodka for ouzo for an intoxicating punch of licorice flavor.

For the Grapefruit-Infused Vodka (makes about 3 cups)

1 pink grapefruit, sliced
2 1/4 cups unflavored vodka, plus more

For the Cocktail

2 slices pink grapefruit, quartered (8 total pieces)
4 mint leaves, plus more for garnish
2 tsp. honey (Greek honey, if available)
2 oz. Pink Grapefruit-infused Vodka
3 oz. freshly squeezed pink grapefruit juice
1 oz. Campari


Make grapefruit-infused vodka: Stuff grapefruit slices into a sterilized 1 quart glass jar. Pour over vodka, adding more as necessary until grapefruit is completely submerged. Seal jar with a tight fitting lid and let sit for 3 days at room temperature. Strain solids out through a coffee filter into another sterilized glass jar; store infused vodka with other spirits up to 2 months.
To make the cocktail: In a highball glass, muddle seven of the quartered grapefruit slices together with mint and honey. Fill with ice; add vodka, juice, and Campari and stir. Garnish with remaining quarter slice of grapefruit and additional mint leaves.
I hope you are inspired now to see the movie and enjoy the fun!

Breakfast Fit for a Queen

You’re invited to join me for a look back at a post I penned on April 29, 2011 when William and Kate were wed.  It was such a special day with my mother, Miss Bee and me enjoying royal breakfast while we watched the nuptials.  My photography has improved since then, so indulge me more on the sweetness of the occasion.  Enjoy this “best of” the blog.

Earnie and I shopped at Central Market yesterday in preparation for the big day today.  I set the table last night with her Wedgwood Wild Strawberry china and wedding crystal.  We set the alarm at 4 a.m.  Even Little Miss Bee wanted to be in on the fun.  She came in at 3:45 a.m. to make sure I didn’t oversleep…

Up at 4 a.m., Diane Sawyer on the telly and Cinnamon Bun coffee brewing.  Here’s our feast…

I didn’t prepare a traditional English breakfast because that would have involved frying eggs, frying bread, mushrooms sautéed in butter and fried sausages.  Did you notice I used the word “fried?”  Mr. Bee is English and when we go to see relatives, this is the typical fare.  It’s good every once in a while, but not everyday if you’re trying not to die of coronary artery disease.

Rather, we enjoyed the fare I would have liked prepared for my own coronation. We had Quiche Lorraine, chocolate filled croissants, scones with clotted cream and strawberry preserves, fresh fruit, strawberry goat cheese muffins, coffee and fresh squeezed pineapple orange juice.  I really think food tastes better when it’s dark outside (as seen in the lower right corner of the photo).  The cats weren’t quite sure what was going on…why are we getting to eat so early…they weren’t complaining..

Mr. Bee said no thank you to our invitation last night.  He said he would watch the reruns on CNN today.  So, it was just Little Miss Bee, me and the Queen Mum.

At 6:15 a.m., Little Miss Bee went back to bed….and so did the Queen Mum.  I got ready for work…and a wedding reception!

My co-worker and I brought in a cake we had made at Central Market and prepared a mock Champagne punch.We also asked everyone to make a name tag with their “Royal Name” — Lord or Lady, the first name of your Grandmother, the name of your first pet, and street name of your childhood home.  It was a lot of fun seeing people’s names…mine was Lady Ruth Orange Oliver on Meadowbrook.  Some day, I’ll tell you about Orange Oliver.

So, like the Windsors, I will retire tonight in my castle bedroom, without servants, however.  And recall the day’s events.  How excited I was to wake up this morning to watch with the world the beginning of a new life together.  Best wishes, Prince William and HRH the Duchess of Cambridge.  God save the Queen!
This Saturday, May 19 at 6 a.m. CST, I will be up again to witness true loves kiss again with Harry and Meghan.  I am gathering up my breakfast stuff and will be enjoying noshing with my bestie whilst we watch the telly.  God bless you Harry and Meghan.

How to Host A Fish Fry

We hosted our neighbors for a July 4th fish fry.  One of the smartest aspects of our outdoor kitchen is the gas burner we installed.  It’s perfect for cooking a big pot of beans, a shrimp boil or a fish fry.  And, the best part is that the odors of fish stay outdoors and don’t heat or smell up the house.

Mother taught me years ago how to fry catfish.  She’d mix up yellow cornmeal with garlic powder, salt and pepper.  I also like to use Louisiana New Orleans Style breading mix.  It’s usually right by the butcher case and I pick up a bag every time I purchase fish.  It has all the same ingredients and it’s pre-measured.

I buy large catfish pieces and cut them into thirds when I get home.  It’s easier to fry small pieces and the fish cooks more evenly.  I rinse the fish and place it in a bowl with water and ice so it gets good and cold. This makes the batter adhere and helps coax the coating to get real crispy.  Set up a “dredging” station with your fish, a long dish of the breading mix and a plate to put your cooked fish on.  And, of course a cocktail.

I prefer to fry in a cast iron skillet.  Pour in canola oil and turn your burner on medium.  Wait until you can drop in a sprinkle of water and if it sizzles, your oil is ready.

Using a fork or your fingers, take a fish piece from the bowl of iced water and dredge into the cornmeal.  Keep turning the fish over and over until it’s good and coated.   Get three pieces ready then transfer them with tongs into your skillet.  Cook 3-4 minutes on each side until golden brown.  Since I was cooking for a crowd, I turned the inside oven to 200 degrees and placed cooling racks onto cookie sheets.  After each batch of fish was ready, I placed them onto the cookie sheet and kept them warm in the oven until we were ready to eat.

After the fish was done I moved onto fried shrimp.  I like to start over with fresh oil because by the time you finish cooking all the catfish, the bottom of the pan has alot of cornmeal.  I always turn the fire off and with oven mits pour the hot grease into a large empty can. It will pop and sizzle so practice extreme caution.  Just make sure no one is around and you are careful and slow with this step.  Put your skillet back onto the burner, pour fresh oil in and turn the burner back on.

This recipe for fried shrimp is from Helen Corbitt via my friend Allison Fogle.  Allison’s mother used the same recipe and she shared it with me.  I will never fry shrimp any other way.  Period.

Mom’s Fried Shrimp

2 eggs

1 cup whole milk

1 pound large shrimp (uncooked)

1 cup flour

1 1/2 tsp. garlic salt

36 saltines, smashed with the fingers

Beat the eggs and the milk.  Clean the shrimp and split down the back to butterfly.  Dip in the seasoned flour, then the egg and the milk, then in the smashed saltines.  Fry in deep fat (I use Canola) until golden brown.  It just takes a few minutes.  Serves 4.  I doubled the recipe for 10 people.

The saltine crackers create a crunching coating that is so delicious.  This could easily be a weeknight dinner it’s so easy to prepare.

I found cute “fish fry” newsprint waxed paper liners and red and white checked cardboard trays on Amazon to serve the fish on.

Everyone brought a side salad and we added hush puppies we cooked in the outdoor pizza oven.  Everything was set up buffet style and we sat on the patio at tables set with cloth linens, candles and seashells.  The warm, evening breeze was perfect as we sat around the table eating and laughing. It felt like we were on vacation at the shore.

We have the best group of neighbors and really enjoy spending time together.  It was the perfect way to celebrate not only love of our country, but love for each other.  It was a fun spin on the traditional outdoor cookout.

Have a blessed July 4th with family and friends!

Anthropologie Birthday Party

raspberriesI love to shop at Anthropologie.  It’s a treasure for the eyes when you walk into their store –unique gifts, home decor, clothing and bedding.  A wonderful place to just get lost in and browse, pick up a hostess gift, or an outfit for an upcoming party.  As a frequent customer you can register for perks including being invited to a birthday party!  I’m celebrating my birthday in August and since I usually start celebrating my day about 30 days prior, why not kick it off with Anthropologie.

Mr. Bee and our little Bee went with me as my guests.  We traveled to the Southlake Store.  The sales associates greeted us with party hats on and showed us to the refreshment table. This is my kind of party!

birthday sign 2

croissant 2


Fresh, warm almond croissants, fruit tarts, and mason jars filled with raspberry limonata spritzers set atop vintage linens.


spritzer 2

And refreshing fruited water

close up spritzer

While the Bees sat on the couch napping and texting, I leisurely shopped because during the party your purchase is 15% off. I picked up a few books, a pineapple candle, and these hooks which I have plans for and will share soon…


Happy Birthday to me!