Sunday, March 17, 2013

A camping we will go….

photo 1


My closest friends have RVs, so they all decided to go camping at Lake Georgetown this week. Lucky me, I got to tag along. This was pretty much our view for 3 days.

Texas weather looks like yoga pants in the morning, and shorts and tank tops by 2:00.

We all got our first sunburns of the year! (YAY)

And I was the camp nerd in my big lifeguarding hat, because I’m afraid of wrinkles and age spots.

But I’ll tan my legs all I want, ha.

photo 2

Aaaaand this was our view by night.

Not much difference, huh?

Complete with s’mores.

Real s’mores.

And marshmallows in the shape of easter bunnies.

The kids LOVED that.

We also took the kids on scavenger hunts, led leaf and glue art projects, and laughed as the kids teased and chased the boys at the campsite down the way. *sigh* It was just like The Wonder Years.

I’ve become a sort of camping weenie, but RVing it is sooooo convenient. Because, you know, you can use the commode  and wash your face, and brush your teeth, all without a hose. AND escape the wind, or heat.

photo 3

Here was our breakfast out on the range!

And yours truly, The Hill Country Cook herself, didn’t do a lick of cooking! I just leaned back and took pictures.

Our camp chef made eggs and sausage on a disc.

As in, a tractor disc.

photo 4

Here it is, on it’s stand. It’s the BEST way to cook eggs for tacos while camping.

Down in Texas, breakfast tacos are what it’s all about.

My favorite is eggs, beans, bacon, and cheese, all wrapped up in a soft flour tortilla. At our local taco shack here in town they call it The Bud Light.

Can’t wait till it warms up, and I talk them all into camping again, and next time we can get IN the water!

photo 5

THEN, the last hoo-rah!

On Friday, my friend Amy, who is the girl to talk to when it comes to the local music scene and fun Austin outings, let me tag along on a SXSW outing.

SXSW, in case you’ve lived in a cave, is South By South West. Or now commonly referred to as “South By.”

As it began in 1987, it’s grown every year, and has outlets for film, music, and technology. It’s the event to attend in Austin.

All of my seven years here in Austin, and I hadn’t been yet. So I begged and pleaded to Amy to take me to something.

Well BOY did we have a great night.

We started by stopping at the UT (read: University of Texas, Austin [longhorns]) baseball game. This is her regular weekend hangout and she had to say hi to the peeps.

Well, this is a pretty awesome tailgate if I’ve ever seen one. School buses and bread trucks painted burnt orange, complete with rooftop balconies.

You (read: me) climb up this really, really steep and scary ladder, and then try not get blown off, fall off, slide off, or jump off the roof of the bread truck. All while watching a baseball game.

After I relaxed, it was PRETTY AWESOME.

photo 2

THEEEEENNN, we drove down to San Marcos to see Diamond Rio play for SXSW.

That would’ve been pretty cool by itself to see a Country Music Icon like that, but of course, Amy knew the guy who does all the booking at this venue, Texas Music Theater, so HE BROUGHT US BACKSTAGE to hang out with the band!!!!!

OH, also, Six Market Boulevard opened for Diamond Rio, and they were awesome as well. I’m downloading their songs tonight on iTunes.

Anyhow, so we chatted it up with Diamond Rio, and talked to the keyboardist Dan Truman about these cool essential oils his sister sells, DoTerra, anyone know anything about them? I kinda want to try them!

AND we each caught a guitar pick!


*sigh,* Back to reality tomorrow.

~Peace, Love, and South By Y’all.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Cream Cheese Pound Cake…. and other news

I don’t even like pound cake.

But add cream cheese? I’ll chew on a rubber tire for that!

Yeah, maybe not a rubber tire, but you know, like at least old stale bread.

Cream cheese pound is the baking god’s answer to me. Still sweet, but a tender, fine crumb.

Creamy and dense, waiting to soak up some berry juice.

Or peach juice.

Or to be toasted and topped with ricotta, grilled peaches and balsamic reduction.

Y’all just go and make some, I borrowed this recipe from Ol’ Martha; I know you must have some bridal shower, baby shower, or ladies luncheon to make it for.

My word to the wise, I would suggest making it in a bundt pan; I used two loaf pans, and it’s difficult to keep the edges from burning while the middle cooks.

Then this tidbit. I BOUGHT A JUICER! From my best friend, CraigsList – you know, the online “classifieds.”

It’s a Breville, the entry level model. And I’m excited. Sooooo excited.

Juice #1, pictured above, was 2 carrots, one large honeycrisp apple, and ginger.

I also made some beet, sweet potato, apple, and then sweet potato, apple, pear.

It’s so interesting and fascinating to me, it’s like MAGIC.

And then yeah, all super healthy and stuff to.

Aaaand lastly, heard of LikeTwice? I read about them when I discovered Leslie’s blog And Her Little Dog Too.

She did a 3 day cleanse and has some really great juicing recipes, and then mentioned this site in another post.

I totally got lost in her site and was reading everything! LikeTwice is an online second-hand store based out of San Francisco, my sorta other half-stomping grounds.

You can sell clothes to them too, and they send you a bag to fill, or you can just shop!

They carry mainly higher end brands, which is music to this little BargainGirl’s ears!!!!!

Check it out, if you use that link above, I think you receive a $10 credit, if I did it correctly.

Oh, and fo’ reals, if y’all have any great juice recipes that I just HAVE to try, tell me. I’m making a list, and LOVING THIS!!!!

~Peace, Love, and Pounds of Juice Y’all…. (see what I did there?)

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Cream Cheese Pound Cake

adapted very slightly from Martha Stewart


1 1/2 cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 bar (8 ounces) cream cheese, room temperature
3 cups sugar
6 large eggs
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
1/2 teaspoon fiori di sicilia
3 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons salt
Nonstick cooking spray


Preheat oven to 350 degrees. With an electric mixer, beat butter and cream cheese until smooth. Add sugar; beat until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Mix in vanilla. With mixer on low, add flour and salt in two additions, beating until just combined.

Generously coat two 8 1/2-by-4 1/2- by-2 1/2-inch loaf pans (1 1/2 quarts each) with cooking spray; immediately pour in batter (pan will seem full). Tap pans on work surface to eliminate any large air bubbles.

Bake until golden and a toothpick inserted in the centers comes out almost clean, 60 to 75 minutes (if the tops begin to brown too quickly, tent with aluminum foil).

Cool 10 minutes in the pan. Turn out the cakes; cool completely, with top sides up, on a wire rack.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Dr. Pepper Cake with Flour Cooked Frosting… and a birthday surprise!

It’s time!! A much awaited surprise….



We’re having a party for the coolest #TEXAN I know! Go check her out if you haven’t already. She’s really the cat’s meow.


Did I just say that?

But for real, in case you didn’t know, she is whom I have to thank for my blog name! We spent weeks and weeks emailing back and forth as she listened to me list and list and list hundreds of possible blog names, before she suggested…. THE HILL COUNTRY COOK!!!

Thank you Jeanne !

In case you didn’t know, nothing screams TEXAS more than Dr. Pepper, so this cake is in honor of my favorite Texas blogger. With the addition of buttermilk, it has a fine, moist crumb. I LOVE LOVE LOVE any cake with vinegar or buttermilk; when I see that, I know it’s going to be good.

COOKED FROSTING if you haven’t tried it is about to be your new best friend. You start with a white sauce, or cream gravy base. I know, it sounds weird. You just mix up milk and flour on the stovetop, and then let it cool COMPLETELY.

If it’s warm in the least bit, it will melt your butter when it’s time to add. Make sure and keep beating, longer than you think you have to, and it gets nice and fluffy.

Sometimes I add vanilla, other times almond extract, and this time I added fiori di sicilia from King Arthur for a nice faint citrus and chocolate flavor combo.

Anyhow, it’s the best frosting you’ll ever try; it’s not too sweet, but perfect for cake.

Oh and we have another little surprise for her, of the felty kind, so be sure to check us out Saturday!!!!

Hmmmmm….. wonder what’s going on? We all have injuries to show for it…..

To keep the party going, check out:
Kirsten’s Orange Cream Pie
Allison’s Coca Cola Cake
Beka’s Aged Manhattan
Megan’s Nutella Turnovers
Madelyn’s Cheesey Chorizo Dip
Anne’sMexican Vanilla Ice Cream Cones
Monica’s Tropical Ice Cream
Lauren’s Mini Key Lime Pies with an Animal Cracker Crust
Madeline’s Fig, Fontina and Pecan Flatbread
and Carrie’s Coconut Banana Brownie Pie


~Peace, Love, and Soda Cakes Y’all,

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Dr. Pepper Cake with Flour Cooked Frosting

Yield: serves 12


2 cups sifted flour
1 cup sugar
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 cup Dr. Pepper
1/2 cup chocolate chips
2 large eggs
1 cup buttermilk
1 cup vegetable oil
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla

5 tablespoons flour
1 cup milk
1 cup butter, softened
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla


For the cake:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and sugar a 9x13 pan, or two 9 inch rounds. Sift together the flour, sugar, brown sugar, coacoa and baking soda in a bowl and set aside.
In a saucepan, mix the Dr. Pepper and chocolate chips over low, and stir until melted. Set aside.
Combine the eggs, buttermilk, oil, and vanilla in a mixer and mix for two minutes, until well combined. Slowly mix in Dr. Pepper mixture, and continue mixing until well combined.
With mixer on low, gradually add in dry ingredients and beat two more minutes. Bake for 30-35 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool completely before frosting.

For frosting:
Cook flour and milk in a saucepan over low, stirring constantly, until it gets really, really thick. Set aside, and let it cool COMPLETELY.
In a separate bowl, beat the butter, sugar, and salt until really fluffy. Then beat in the flour 'til it gets more fluffy! Add in vanilla and beat some more. Spread on 9x13 cake or half the recipe for cupcakes.