Better Late Than Never

Dearest Boo,  once again I am late with my thoughts.  Your Uncle Mike’s birthday was ten days ago.  I did remember the date and I did get his gift to him in time, but I wanted to post this idea sooner.  It was a fun gift and I am sure that I enjoyed making the gift more than he did receiving the gift.  Fun, fun, fun for me!

“A friend is a brother who was once a bother.  ~Author Unknown”.  This sure does fit your Uncle Mike.  What a pain little brothers are and then I grew up and discovered what a charming young man he grew up to be.  Life was never dull when he was around and usually up to his antics.

Michael is a given name that comes from the Hebrew: (Mikha’el), meaning “Who is like God?” In English, it is sometimes shortened to Mike, Mikey, or, especially in Ireland, Mick.  Michael was a popular name among many royal houses of Europe for centuries; this was also the name of nine Byzantine emperors and a czar of Russia.  It has been in the top ten list since 1954 of the most popular names for boys.

Some notable Michaels – Michael is one of the Archangels, however, your Uncle Mike was not an angel.  Okay,  maybe when he was a wee baby he was an angel.  I remember that he had a horrible case of eczema all over his sweet little face.  His little cheeks were just so red and raw and so blistering and cracking.  It just hurt to look at this sweet face.  He was such a trooper during that time.  I remember that it seemed like he was allergic to everything.  We were always being reminded by your grandmother of things that he would have a reaction to if he ate it.  All I can remember is his being allergic to eggs, but I am sure that there were more things.

Famous sports Michaels – Michael Jordan in basketball and Michael Phelps in swimming.   I remember your Uncle Mike shooting hoops, just like Michael Jordan.  However, he was not your uncle’s favorite.  Magic Johnson was his “man” and I have to agree with him on this one.  The only thing better than Magic Johnson’s performance on the court is his performance off the court.  He is a true gentleman, both on the court and off.  His business enterprises are extremely successful and his is also a philanthropist and motivational speaker.   Uncle Mike picked a great sports hero in Magic Johnson.  Michael Phelps…what else can anyone say about this young man’s swimming accomplishments?  He has won fourteen Olympic gold metals, broken thirty-seven world records in swimming, and eight gold metals in a single Olympic.  Uncle Mike can swim, not Michael Phelps swim, but he can swim.  Aunt Charlotte tells the story of one time that Uncle Mike wanted to go swimming.  Only problem being that the swimming pool at the local park was locked for the night.  That did not stop him.  Somehow he was able to talk Aunt Char into climbing the fence and taking a midnight swim.  Another thing Uncle Mike has in common with Michale Phelps – they are were tall and lanky and had nicknames.  Michael Phelps was called “Gomer” in reference to “Gomer Pyle” a good natured, naive country boy.  Growing up we called Uncle Mike “Skeletor”, as he was so gosh, darn skinny.  He looked like all he had was his skin hanging on his bones.  Kind of a play on the character from He-Man.  You remember He-Man….one of your all time favorite cartoons.  Uncle Mike would eat and eat and eat and never gain a pound.   I was so jealous.  These two Michaels also had another thing in common, but that is a story for another day!  It involves “oregano”.

Then you have the fighter, Mike Tyson.  Mike Tyson has a temper and several of his assaults outside of the ring are well documented.  Your Uncle Mike had quite a temper growing up.  You could always tell when he was getting ready to let go of his anger.  His face would turn a bright red color, his body would stiffen, and his hands would start to ball up in a fist.  That was a giant clue for all of us to exit, stage right, get out of Dodge, make like a tree and leaf.  However, for some bizarre reason I felt that I could save us all by creeping up behind him and capture him in a giant bear hug.  What was I thinking????!!!  Lordy!  That was like waving a red flag in front of a bull!  He would start to struggle and I would hold on tight and be laughing.  Then I would realize that he was not laughing and I was in deep, deep trouble.  I could not let him get free or I would be in big trouble.  Not that I thought he would ever hit me – he was and still is one of the kindest, gentlest men I know, he would lay down his life for a loved one.  What I feared was that I would continue laughing, he would get angier, and I would laugh so hard at his frustration that I would pee my pants.  Nope, that would give me a nickname that I NEVER wanted to have.  So, what did I do?  I hung on for my dear life.  I remember having my arms and legs wrapped around him and we were on the ground. He was struggling so hard to get away and I was struggle so hard to make that not happen.  What was I thinking???

One of my favorite Michaels is Michael J. Fox.  Like your uncle, Michael J. Fox is a hard worker, compasionate and a dedicated father.  His compassion and dedication to his job is evident with the care he gives to all the disabled individuals he helps at the center.  He takes great joy and pride in his job and the work he is doing there.  And there is no one that can ever doubt the love and joy he has for being a father and the pride he has in his two sons.

So, for all of these reasons I decided that a rainbow to celebrate his birthday was appropriate.  Afterall, I wanted him to know that the was our “pot of gold” at the end of our rainbow.  Joy Rising!

Rainbow  Cupcakes

No real recipe for this one.


  • 1 box white cake mix
  • red, yellow, green, and blue food color
  • your favorite frosting


  1. Prepare one box of white cake mix.
  2. Once it is all mixed together divide it equally into four bowls.
  3. Into each bowl drop in three or four drops of one food color (you may need more to darken it to the color you desire).
  4. Place cupcake liners into your cupcake pan.
  5. In the bottom of each one place a tablespoon of red batter.
  6. Then add in spoonfuls of yellow batter, green batter and blue batter.   DO NOT MIX, keep the layers separate.  You do not need to add in equal amounts, although I did try to do so.
  7. Bake according to your cake mix directions.
  8. Once completely cooled, frost with your desired frosting.


The best part, for me at least, was the presentation.  I placed the cupcake into an “unopened” tin can and put that tin can into a plastic, new and unused, paint can. Here is a picture of one cupcake inside of a tin can.  I could tell you how I did this, but why spoil the mystery???

I Got My Geek On……..My Flag is Flying High

Dearest Boo……….Happy Pi Day!  It’s true; I have gone to the Dark Side….I have gone to the Geek Society.  It was so much fun telling you “Happy Pi Day” and you had no idea.  Yeah!  I got one over my resident Geek.

And I even have my own Geek Code:

GO d-@ s:+ a++ C@ U---? P--? L? E? !W++@ !N* !o-- K--? w@ !O--- !M-- !V-- PS@ PE@ !Y !PGP- t@ !5 !X- !R- tv+@ b++@ DI++ !D-- !G e++>$ h->$ r@ z+

I have no idea what it really says, based on the questions I had to answer it probably means “One Giant Idiot”.  The code generator asked how good was my knowledge of Unix, Perl, Linux, Emacs, USENET Oracle, Kibo, and VMS.  Heck, most of those things I have never head of before in my entire life.  I was just pleased that I know what “Pi” means.  It ‘s the ratio of the circumference to the diameter of a circle; approximately equal to 3.14159265358979323846.  Math, you say that word and my eyes glaze over, a giant knot grow in my stomach, and I am searching for food to help eliminate the pain.

What I can understand are Pi jokes.  And here are some for your laughing pleasure

  • Q:  What do you get when you cut a jack o’lantern by its diameter?
  • A:  Pumpkin Pi!
  • Q:  What do you get when you take green cheese and divide its circumference by its diameter?
  • A:  Moon Pi.
  • Q:  What do you get when you take the sun and divide its circumference by its diameter?
  • A:  Pi in the sky.
  • Mathematician:  “Pi r squared”
  • Baker:  “No pies are round, cakes are squared!”

Oh, gosh I kill me sometimes!  Okay, you may not think these are funny, but I know that your cousins Colton and Shea are “ROFL”.

National Pi Day has only been a “holiday” since March 11, 2009 – so, using my all knowing math skills – this is it’s second celebration.  When I was online “Googling” to find more information about Pi and why it is important to me here is some things that I did find interesting.

“Pi Day” was so designated to be March 14, as this is the birth day of Albert Einstein.  I found a website on BBC News explaining how we all use pi every day in our lives and why it is so important:

“Pi shows up everywhere. In mathematics, pi appears in many fundamental equations that have nothing to do with circles. In science, pi is inextricable from measuring everything from ocean waves to economic statistics.

Pi is found in the very measurements of the Great Pyramid at Giza. And if you divide the length of a river from source to mouth across a gently sloping plane by its direct length “as the crow flies”, you’ll find pi.

Pi also appears where you least expect it. Religious scholars point to the Old Testament which, when describing the measurements of Solomon’s Temple, implies that pi is only three. In the transcripts of the famed OJ Simpson trial, you can find arguments between the judge and an FBI agent about the actual value of pi.

For a time, Givenchy offered a men’s cologne emblazoned only with the symbol. Nobel Prize winner Wislawa Szymborska (Polish) wrote a poem about pi, and pop star Kate Bush sang 100 digits of pi on her album Aerial.

In this age of high-tech precision instruments, where we assure ourselves that perfection is attainable, pi is an ever-present, sometimes grating reminder that there are puzzles that can be solved and there are mysteries that, perhaps, can not.”

I also know that pi can mean “private investigator” and in my book the very best PI is

Hubba Bubba, Baby.

For me, the most important thing to know about pi is “You can’t spell “happiness” without “pi.”  So, for me pi is important, because it brings “happiness” into my life.   And how did I use pi today?  Why by making a pie and using pi be cut it into nice, even slices!   The best part?  Sharing it with you and your cousins, Kim, Stuart, Colton and Shea.  Joy Rising!

The Best Chocolate Cream Pie You Ever Ate

Prep  Time: 20 minutes

Cook  Time: 4 1/2  hours  (actual cook time is 30 minutes, the rest is cooling time)



  • 8 T unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
  • 3 1/2 c half and half
  • 2/3 c sugar
  • 1/4 c cornstarch
  • 9 eggs,  divided into yolks and egg whites
  • 9 oz semisweet chocolate, finely chopped
  • 2 oz unsweetened chocolate, finely chopped
  • 1 2/3 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • Optional: 2 c heavy cream for topping  or use the egg whites to make a meringue
  • 3 T milk chocolate shavings for topping
  • 1 purchased oreo crumb pie crust or graham cracker pie crust


  1. Heat half and half in a 4 qt saucepand over medium-high heat until it just begins to simmer.
  2. Remove pan from heat.
  3. While heating the half and half, in a large bowl, whisk together the sugar and cornstarch until combined.
  4. Add the egg yolks to the sugar/cornstarch mixture and whisk until smooth.
  5. Temper the half and half into the egg mixture.  When egg mixture ready drizzle in  the remaining half and half.  Whisk completely.  To temper means to add small amounts of the hot liquid into the eggs, slowly raising the temp of the egg mixture.  By doing this you will not “cook” the eggs, causing them to become scrambled eggs.
  6. Return the mixture to the saucepan, heat over medium heat.  Cook, stirring often, until bubbles rise to the surface and mixture is very thick (about five minutes).
  7. Remove pan from heat and add butter and chocolates in small batches, whisking until smooth.
  8. Stir in the vanilla.
  9. Set a fine mesh sieve over a medium bowl and strain chocolate mixture.  Do not skip this step! This will remove and “scrambled” egg pieces that are in the mixture.
  10. cover the bowl with plastic wrap, pressing the plastic onto the surface to prevent “skin” from forming.
  11. Refrigerate until set, about four hours.
  12. Remove plastic wrap from the chocolate filling and, using a rubber spatula, stir mixture until smooth.
  13. Spoon mixture into reserved crust, forming a dome, and smooth surface with the spatula.
  14. Your choice of topping.  You can either whip the cream into stiff peaks and spread on top of pie.  Sprinkle on the milk chocolate shavings.  Or you can make a meringue using the egg whites, spread on top of pie, and broil until lightly brown.  Sprinkle on the milk chocolate shaving.

Sad News And I Am Sorry To Have To Tell You

Dearest Boo.  This is such sad news.  An honorary member of our family died.

The Pillsbury Doughboy died yesterday of a yeast infection and complications from repeated pokes in the belly.
He was 71.  Doughboy was buried in a lightly greased coffin.  Dozens of celebrities turned out to pay their respects, including Mrs. Butterworth, Hungry Jack, the California Raisins, Betty Crocker, the  Hostess Twinkies, Captain Crunch, Tony the Tiger, Lucky Charms Leprechaun, Cocoa Pebbles, Snap, Crackle and Pop.

The grave site was piled high with flours.  Aunt Jemima delivered the eulogy and lovingly described Doughboy as a man who never knew how much he was kneaded.

Doughboy rose quickly in show business, but his later life was filled with turnovers. He was not considered a very smart cookie, wasting much of his dough on half-baked schemes.  Despite being a little flaky at times, he still, as a crusty old man, was considered a roll model for millions.

Doughboy is survived by his wife, Play Dough; two children John Dough and Jane Dough; plus they had one in the oven.  He is also survived by his elderly father Pop Tart.

The funeral was held at 3:50 for about 20 minutes.

I have a tender spot in my heart for Doughboy.  Three years ago I made a New Year’s Goal that I would create a recipe to enter into the Pillsbury Bake-Off.  This contest is held only every other year and the winner, along with a entire kitchen of large and small appliances, wins one million dollars!  the rules stated that there would be two winners from each state.  Aaaaaaaaaaaaaalllll right – let me at this goal.

The rules/guidelines were downloaded and I set out to figure out which category I would enter.  There were five to pick from and I picked Mexican, as that is one of your favorite cuisines.  Your recipe needed to contain at least three General Mills (Doughboy’s boss) products.  This was not a difficult thing to accomplish as they own so many other companies like Green Giant, El Paso, Jif, Smuckers, Crisco, Eagle Condensed Milk, Land O’ Lakes, Hershey’s, and Fischer’s Peanuts.

What to make, what to make??  With your cousin, Catherine, we had made “Mexican Lasagna” – would that work?  I could use El Paso corn tortillas, but then I struggled.  We had made “Nacho Pie” before and that used Pillsbury canned biscuits and some canned corn.  I just could not make my brain grab that third product.  Until, one night I was making you one of your favorite soups, Beer Cheese.  As I looked at the ingredients the light bulb moment went off.  I was already using Pillsbury flour and Land O’ Lakes butter in my roux.  This would be easy to find a third product.

Checking the pantry I found a can of Green Giant Corn.  It was okay, but not quite the winner.  Next try I used some canned biscuits to make “bread bowls” as the container for the soup.  Failure.  Then I found the canned pizza crust.  I draped portions of it over inverted bowls and baked into bread bowls.  Failure.  I was like a mad scientist working weekly/daily on this experiment.  We were sick of eating soup, so the poor people at work were getting all the leftovers.  Luckily there were lots of young men who were like human garbage disposals, eating anything and everything in their paths.  Then Pillsbury came out with a new product – “Crescent Creative Creations”.  It’s the same dough as their crescent rolls, but without the performations.  It worked just like the pizza dough, but a buttery flavor that I preferred.  Better, but still not a winner.  What to do, what to do.

I would not admit defeat, even though the entry deadline was closing in fast.  Then it hit me…………I wanted to do something for the Mexican portion and my recipe was not at all Mexican.  Dah!!  So, on the next attempt I dumped in a jar of El Paso Salsa.  We love it.  My fellow workers loved it.  But I just could not leave well enough alone.  One the next attempt I added one more ingredient.  Better, but I could make it better.  It just needed one more thing to take it over the top.  I added that last ingredient and it was perfect, in our opinion.  But we were wrong.  Last night I tweaked this recipe again and now it is a perfect meal.

The next day I filled out the entry form and sent it off to General Mills.  Six months later they published on their website the finalists.  With bated breath I logged on, sure that I would find my name in the section for our state.  There was only one finalist from out state…………was it me?  Could it be??  The finalist from out state that year was a recipe for Peanut Butter and Jelly Pizza!  Seriously?  W O W.  I was not a finalists……………say what??  I was sad, but in all honesty I did accomplish my goal.  I wanted to create a new recipe, enter the contest and I did.  I did not need General Mils to tell me that I was a winner.  By accomplishing my goal I was already a winner.

I was wrong………….last night I tweaked this recipe again and now it is a perfect meal.Yeah!

Joy Rising!

Fiesta  Beer  Cheese  Soup

Prep  Time: 60 minutes

Cook  Time: 3 – 4 hours  (most of this is the simmer time to allow the ingredients to marry)

Source: “Joy Rising”


  • 1  1/2 c chopped carrots  (you can purchase a bag of carrot slices to make life easier)
  • 1  1/2 c chopped onions
  • 1  1/2 c chopped celery
  • 3 c chicken broth/stock
  • 1/3 c butter
  • 1/3 c flour
  • 1 c cream  (you can omit, just increase the milk by one more cup)
  • 3 c milk  (1%, 2% or whole)
  • 1 T dijon mustard  (you can use the yellow mustard;  dijon use adds an extra “zing”)
  • 2 tsp worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tsp dry mustard
  • 1 bag hash brown potatoes  (I use the O’Brien kind and eliminate the need to chop onions)
  • 2# chicken  (you can use either the whole chicken or your favorite chicken pieces)
  • 6 c shredded cheese  (I use 4 c cheddar and 2 c monterey jack cheeses)
  • 1 jar salsa  (you can use the strength you desire, we use mild as we have woosy taste buds)
  • 1 can beer  (we use Samuel Adams Lite)
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • optional – bag of Doritos


  1. In large stock pot melt the butter and flour together.
  2. Add salt and pepper.
  3. When slightly brown add in the onions, carrots and celery.  Cook for about ten minutes.
  4. Add in the chicken stock/broth.  Stir to combine the butter/flour mixture.
  5. Add in the  chicken; cover and simmer until chicken is cooked.
  6. Once chicken is cooked, if you did not use skinned and deboned chicken, remove the skin and bones.
  7. Skim off as much of the chicken fat that you can.
  8. In a bowl mix together the dijon mustard, worcestershire sauce,  and dry mustard.
  9. Into stock pot add the cream, milk, mixture from the bowl, salsa, cheese and hash browns.
  10. Simmer for at least thirty minutes  (I usually simmer for several hours).

Serve with crush Doritos on the top for extra “crunch”   (we use Nacho Cheese flavor).