California Dreamin’

June and me

June and me

It’s been so long since I’ve posted, I feel like I’ve almost forgotten how!  In the past few weeks, I’ve had a ton of deadlines and events, and in June, we made a visit to California.  It was my 30th high school reunion, and we had a book signing in my home town of Lompoc on the Central Coast.  Life has been a whirlwind and now I am catching up!

Air travel and the time difference makes life so surreal… It was hard to believe that the same day we left Brooklyn, we later found ourselves driving around in sunny Los Angeles in a rented car.   After a lunch of the requisite In-n-Out burgers (which are nowhere to be found in New York),   we hopped on the 405 and headed north to Lompoc.  On the way there,we made a quick visit to a Barnes and Noble store in Westlake Village where we met June Sobel, the author of B is for Bulldozer, and the two of us signed books there.  I illustrated this book over ten years ago, and June’s son, to whom the book is dedicated and was inspired by, just graduate from Stanford this summer!  We had just met in person finally this year in NYC, and it was great to see her again. :)

Then, the next thing we knew, we were in beautiful Santa Barbara at the wonderful Chaucer’s Bookstore where I got to sign more books!

Jamie and me with Truck Stop by Anne Rockwell

Jamie and me with Truck Stop by Anne Rockwell

It was so great to finally make it to Lompoc after 15 hours of non-stop traveling!

I’m totally dating myself when I say it was my 30th reunion, but honestly it doesn’t feel like it’s been that long! Lol.  Some of my classmates whom I haven’t seen in 30 years were in town and came to a book signing we had at The Bookstore–a wonderful independent book store in Lompoc.  I don’t think we’ve changed THAT much.  It was so great to see these lovely women again after so many years!

sarah me barbie karen

 

bookstore karie, donna, lisa

 

There were several reunion events during the weekend.  What fun it was to see everyone again and reconnect.  It was  kind of weird to talk to people who remembered things that happened that were shared experiences that had no recollection about…!  And so amazing to realize that we had all watched each other grow up and now here we were in the present so enmeshed in our respective adult lives and identities!  It was also nice to be able to introduce Denis to everyone and meet my classmates’ significant others and tie the two worlds (past and present) together.

While in Lompoc, we stayed with my mom, of course.  I hope I have her energy when I’m 84….

My mom tree trimming on her property.

My mom tree trimming on her property.

The whole time we were there, I think every meal I ate except for maybe one was Mexican!  I so miss the food I grew up with, and here in our part of Brooklyn, great, cheap Mexican food is not to be had….  My mom made her yummy enchiladas (I did a post on it here and again here!), and I literally ate a burrito I got in town and brought home (it was as big as my head) for about five meals.  lol.

For breakfast, my mom introduced us to a delicious and so so easy to make Mexican Migas that a friend taught her to make recently.  Basically it is scrambled eggs with salsa and leftover cut up corn tortilla.  It is SO good!  Total comfort food.

You start by frying the corn tortilla in a bit of oil:

migas 1

Then you add beaten eggs:

Note the Japanese influence of cooking with wooden chopsticks...

Note the Japanese influence of cooking with wooden chopsticks…

Then you add salsa:

migas 2

Serve and eat!

With refried beans, crema, and chopped scallions

With refried beans, crema, and chopped scallions

I’ve seen other migas recipes made by sauteing onion and pepper first, but my mom’s recipe is easier– you could do it in your sleep – or at least before your first cup of tea or coffee!

I think it also tasted so good because my mom made it for me. :)

Hope you enjoy it!

me jamie mom in lompoc

Mexican Migas

2 corn tortillas

1 teaspoon oil

2 eggs, beaten

about 1/4 cup salsa or more to taste

1.  Cut up corn tortillas.  Heat oil in skillet.  Saute tortillas until soft.

2.  Add beaten eggs to skillet and stir. Cook until no longer translucent.  Stir in salsa and cook until heated through.

3.  Serve with shredded cheese, chopped onions, beans, sour cream if you wish.

Makes one to two servings.

13 Comments

Filed under Books, Breakfast, Eggs

Zucchini Pseudo Crepe

zucchini crepe up close

There were so many times I wanted to write a post in the last few weeks — about my experience at Surtex, my mom’s visit and our subsequent travels to Maryland to honor the life of her long time partner, Tom… Book Expo America, a fun class I taught to 34 families in Brooklyn recently, new art pieces, several newfood concoctions I’ve been experimenting with… Now it is weeks later, and I’m feeling very overwhelmed and bad that I never posted a thing! Still struggling with meeting several major deadlines which takes precedence over everything.
But it’s all been good –lots of wonderful things happening! If you’re interested in my Surtex experience, I wrote about it here.

Let me just leave you with this quick recipe of an easy Zucchini Pseudo Crepe. It is a wonderful way to get more veggies into your diet and easier to make than a regular crepe. I like to eat them with Mexican food in place of tortillas, with my breakfast eggs, and just as a nice vegetable side. They go well with a lot of things! This recipe makes 3, which I store in the refrigerator and use whenever needed. Sometimes I eat half at a time.

zucchini crepe with egg

Zucchini Pseudo Crepe

About 3 cups of shredded zucchini
1/4 cup diced onion
1/4 cup multigrain pancake mix
2-3 tablespoons liquid egg whites or one egg white
kosher salt to taste

1. Mix all ingredients together in a large bowl.
2. Line a large plate with parchment paper. Spread 1/3 of mixture on top in a thin circle.
3. Microwave on high for about 3-4 minutes.
4. Peel off paper and eat or store for future use.  Repeat with more paper and more batter twice.

Makes 3 large crepes

11 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized, Vegetables, Vegetarian

Red Quinoa and Cauliflower “Rice”

High protein low carb and full of nutrients!

High protein low carb and full of nutrients!

Have you ever tried Red Quinoa?  They have it at Trader Joe’s, but I also buy it in bulk at our local store.  Health food stores probably would carry it as well.  It is nuttier and chewier than regular quinoa.  It takes longer to cook, but it is minimal active time on your part.  You just simmer it in a lot of liquid (I used broth to make it more flavorful) for about 45-50 minutes.  Then you mix it with steamed “riced” cauliflower (process raw in food processor and then steam in microwave for 4 minutes).

You can process it until it has the consistency of rice.

You can process it until it has the consistency of rice.

I like to eat this as a side with veggies and meat.  It is really good with curry.  And it also good mixed with some real rice!  Either way, you are getting a nice dose of protein and wonderful nutrients and fiber.

 

This weekend is jam packed with various events.  On Saturday (tomorrow, May 17, 2014), we will be in Hillsborough, NJ at the Hillsborough Library Children’s Book  Festival.  If you are in the area, come by!  The event is from 10-3 at the Hillsborough Library (379 South Branch Road, Hillsborough, NJ 08844).  There will be a number of authors and illustrators there signing books and giving presentations.  Hopefully it will be nicer weather tomorrow, but regardless, it is indoors, so you don’t have to worry about standing out in the rain!

I’ll be signing Truck Stop, Soup Day, and we will both be signing Hush Little Monster, of course!

turck stop_cover

The recipe is at the end of the story.

=

hush_book

On Sunday through Tuesday, I will be at Surtex, one of the major licensing conventions in North America.  I’ll be helping Victoria Johnson with her booth (#447!) and checking out all the amazing art at the rest of the show.  It’s a great way to learn about the industry which is somewhat unfamiliar to me.  Check out this amazing post at Print and Pattern where Victoria and other amazing artists are featured.

 

Red Quinoa and Cauliflower “Rice”

1/4 cup red quinoa

1 1/4 cup or so of liquid (water, vegetable broth, chicken broth or beef broth)

1/2 half head of cauliflower

1.  Simmer quinoa in liquid in a saucepan until quinoa is soft and chewy and most of liquid has been absorbed.  Keep an eye on it and stir every 15 minutes or so to make sure there is still liquid in the pan.

2.  Meanwhile, process 1/2 head of cauliflower in food processor until finely chopped.  Transfer to a large bowl, cover with saran, and cook in microwave for 4 minutes.  Let sit while quinoa cooks.

3.  Mix quinoa and cauliflower together.  Season to taste.

 

13 Comments

Filed under Gluten Free, Grains, Sides, Vegetables

Mother’s Day and Pillsbury Bake Off Reject

Melissa Iwai © 2014

Melissa Iwai © 2014

First of all — Happy Mother’s Day to all the moms!  :)  This is a card I recently did for my mom.  I posted my process on my “work” blog on my new website.  I’m loving experimenting with calligraphy.  The fun thing about this card, is that I drew the calligraphy, because I don’t yet have the correct nib.  Anyway, you can check out how I did it here.

My mom is so great.  This is us a couple of years ago after she helped plant flowers in our garden (I am kind of hopeless):

She the only person that makes me feel tall. :)

She is the only person that makes me feel tall. :)

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So, even though I’ve been crazed with multiple work projects, I had time to completely procrastinate last week and enter some recipes in the 47th Annual Pillsbury Bake Off Contest.  I don’t really know what got into me.  I haven’t entered a contest in years and years.  And I’ve only entered this one once, and didn’t get in.  I never tried again, because it was so hard for me.  There are certain ingredients you must use, and certain ingredients you can use in addition to these.  There are time constraints — your prep time has to be under 30 minutes, and full cooking time has to be within 3 hours (I think!).  This year, there was a seven ingredient limit (not counting water, salt, pepper).  Anyway, for some reason, I became obsessed, but I only had a week to do it all because the deadline was May 7th, and I only learned about it a week and a half beforehand (thank you Laura Stanke!)

I first learned of the world of recipe contesting when I was a finalist for a Cooking Light Reader Recipe contest — the first one I entered.  These people are AMAZING. I was so in awe.  I met my friend, Anna, there of Cookie Madness, who had just won the Pillsbury Bake Off that year.  Everyone there knew about it and most were in the contesting world. There are so many recipes contests going on all the time.  I tried a few after that, but I never devoted the time and energy into it — it is a lot harder than it sounds!

This time, I made about 12 savory fillings and used them in 17 recipes and did two more sweet recipes.  I had such a hard time inputting the recipes — it was ridiculous. I kept making mistakes and had to redo them (probably due to sleep deprivation– ha ha).

Here is a recipe I later realized I couldn’t submit because the prep time exceeded the limit of 30 minutes.  Also you may have extra filling leftover — this isn’t a bad thing, as the tomatoes are good in so many things!

roasted tomato quiche 2

Roasted Tomato and Mozzarella Mini Quiches

1 pint (10oz.) grape tomatoes, washed and sliced vertically in half

¼ teaspoon dried basil

Non-stick spray

kosher salt

1 can of Pillsbury® Grands!® Reduced Fat Crescent Refrigerated dough

2 eggs

2 tablespoons half and half or milk

1/2 cup shredded mozarella cheese

 

1.  Heat oven to 275° F.  Lightly spray a baking sheet with non-stick spray.  Arrange tomato halves cut side up in one layer.  Season with basil and kosher  salt.  Roast in oven for 40 minutes.  Set aside.

2.  Heat oven to 375 F.  Spray 8 regular-sized muffin cups with non-stick spray.

3.  Remove crescent rolls from package but don’t unroll.  Using a serrated knife, cut roll into 8 rounds.  Carefully separate rounds.  Roll round flat with a rolling pin.  Press 1 round on bottom and completely up side of each muffin cup.  Beat eggs with half and half or milk and set aside.

4.  Top with roasted tomatoes.  Divide egg mixture evenly among cups (about 1 tablespoon each). Top with cheese.

5.  Bake 12-16 minutes or until filling is set and edges of quiches are golden brown.  Cool in pan 5 minutes.  Run knife around edge of each quiche to loosen;  Remove from pan. Serve warm.

roasted tomato quiche 1

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Filed under Uncategorized

Asian Grilled Salmon Salad

salmond salad 1

This salmon salad is really high in protein and healthy fats, and it packs a lot of flavor from the grilling.  I used one individually packaged Kirkland frozen salmon fillet, which I thawed overnight in the refrigerator.  I grilled it on a hot cast iron grill pan until just opaque and let it cook the rest of the way in a bowl from the residual heat.  Instead of loading it with mayonnaise, I used a teaspoon of wasabi mayonnaise and 1/2 teaspoon of sesame oil for flavor and added about 1/2 cup of whipped cottage cheese.  I often use it in place of sour cream or mayonnaise because it’s high in protein and low in fat and tastes wonderful whipped.  See this post for preparation.  I made a green salad and topped it with the salmon and dressed it with my favorite Miso Dressing.  I make this dressing all the time and we have it year round.  Many years ago, I included it as part of a Cooking Light recipe I submitted to a recipe contest, and I was a finalist!  Anyway, it’s really delicious, and it goes well with salmon, chicken, and beef.

salad

I’ve been a busy bee this month.  Along with other work projects, I FINALLY redesigned my website, which I really needed.  I was getting really sick of my theme (no tech support to speak of).  I switched to Squarespace.com, because friends recommended them, and I LOVE them.  I highly recommend them if you are low tech like me.  Every time wordpress (.org not .com) would update their software or a plug-in needed updating, it’d be such a big deal to back up my whole site.  I know for most people, this is probably nothing.  Squarespace does all of this automatically and you don’t have to worry about it.  They also have great templates to choose from.  But the best thing is that they have AMAZING tech support.  I’ve only done it via email, but if you ask a question, they get back to you in minutes.  They are always so nice and helpful. I’m really glad I made the switch!  Please visit my new site at:  www.melissaiwai.com   anad check out the new design.   I also have a blog there that is only art related, where I talk about the industry, what I’m working on, and my process. :)

site

Also, I made new business cards this month:

businesscards2

I wanted them to go with my website, so I used the same logo. I did all the lettering except for my email address! :)

I love the feel of these cards — the card stock and printing is great!!  I went with Moo.com.  I had never used them before, but I had seen friends’ cards which I liked, so I decided to try a new place.  They are FANTASTIC!  Check them out if you looking to print cards, postcards, etc.  So reasonable too.  AND, when I got my cards yesterday, I realized I had made a mistake and had my back image upside down!  Yes, this is why I am not a graphic designer… lol.  I called them, and they reprinted the entire batch and are sending me replacements for FREE even though it was my mistake.  So I feel like I have spread the good word — they are a really great company with a great product!

 

salmond salad 2

 

Asian Grilled Salmon Salad

1 6-8 oz piece of salmon fillet

kosher salt and pepper

non-stick spray

1 teaspoon wasabi or plain mayonnaise

1/2 cup whipped cottage cheese 

1/2 teaspoon sesame oil

For green salad:
Couple of handfuls of spring mix

1/4 seedless cucumber, sliced

1 plum tomato, diced

1 small carrot, julliened

1/2 red pepper, diced

1/2 scallion, finely sliced

1 tablespoon roasted pumpkin seeds

For dressing:

1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar

1 tablespoon soy sauce

2 teaspoon canola or grapeseed oil

2 teaspoons miso paste

1/2 teaspoon sugar

1/2 teaspoon sesame oil

1.  To make dressing, whisk all ingredients together until completely smooth.  Store in the refrigerator.

2.  To grill salmon, heat grill pan until almost smoking.  Spray with non-stick spray.  Pat salmon dry and season with salt and pepper.  Lay on grill pan and let sear for about 2 minutes.  Flip over and sear other side. for about 1 1/2 minutes.  Turn heat to low, cover and cook until desired doneness is reached.  Let salmon cool a bit in a large bowl.

3.  Break up salmon with a fork until completely shredded.  Add mayonnaise, whipped cottage cheese, and sesame oil.

4.  Make green salad and top with salmon salad.  Garnish with pumpkin seeds and sliced scallions.

Serves 2.

15 Comments

Filed under Art Related, Fish, Vegetables

Coconut Chocolate Chia Pudding and Almond Chia Pudding

Coconut Chocolate Chia Pudding

Coconut Chocolate Chia Pudding


This is my newest obsession:  Instant Chia Puddings!  I have seen chia puddings all over the web, and this Vanilla Chia Seed Parfait with Fresh Berries and Tsubuan (Japanese Red Beans) made by my friend, Judy, at Bebe Love Okazu really stands out.  I haven’t made it yet because I need to go to a special store to get the red beans, but it looks amazing.

While shopping at our local Trader Joe’s recently, I was compelled to buy a bag of chia seeds on display strategically near the cashier stands.

chia bag

On the bag, there was a recipe for a simple pudding:  Chia seeds, milk, and agave syrup.   I thought it would be fun to make a coconut chocolate one since I had a lot of lite coconut cubes in the freezer (for my morning Coconut Chocolate Spinach Smoothies).  I defrosted two cubes in the microwave and added a tablespoon of chia seeds, cocoa powder, stevia, vanilla and a pinch of instant coffee (to bring out the chocolate flavor).

 

 

chia in cup

I don’t know if it’s because I used coconut milk or because when I defrosted it in the microwave, it was slightly warm, but the chia pudding set in literally 2 minutes!

chocolate chia

Right after mixing….

Coconut Chocolate Chia Pudding

Coconut Chocolate Chia Pudding

…and two minutes later!

 

I loved it so much, I started making them every afternoon for a snack.  The texture is similar to a rice pudding.  The chewiness reminds me of tapioca pearls in bubble tea.  And I love the coconut chocolate flavors.

Then, I thought I would experiment a bit and try making it with regular milk (I use Lactaid) and almond extract.

The consistency was a lot thinner:

almond chia

This one took a lot longer to set — about three hours (which is what it says it will take on the bag).  The texture is lighter and less dense than the one made with coconut milk.  But it is equally delicious!

almond chia set


There are so many health benefits to eating chia because they are high in protein, fiber and omega-3s as well as other nutrients.  So if you want to try something different and a lot healthier, try making some chia seed pudding!

 

Note:  I’m happy to make my single servings of chia pudding, because it is so easy to make, and I prefer to eat it the day I make them.  But the recipes I have here can easily be doubled and quadrupled to make 2 – 4 servings.

Coconut Chocolate Chia Pudding

1 tablespoon chia seeds (15 g)

1/4 cup coconut milk

1/4 teaspoon vanilla

1 teaspoon cocoa powder

stevia or other sweetener of choice

pinch of instant coffee (I like decaf VIA from Starbucks)

1 teaspoon dried coconut

Serves 1

1.  Mix all ingredients together.
2.  Chill until set.  EAT!

 

Almond Chia Pudding

1 tablespoon chia seeds (15 g)

1/4 cup milk

1/4 teaspoon almond extract

stevia or other sweetener of choice

Serves 1

1.  Mix all ingredients together.

2.  Chill until set — about 3-4 hours.  EAT!

10 Comments

Filed under Desserts, Gluten Free, Vegetarian

Slow Cooker Tomato Beef Sauce and Quickie Baked Pasta

beef pasta 1


I know I sound like a broken record, but I’m still crazy busy and haven’t had time to cook or bake anything very exciting!  Unfortunately since I’ve been working on client work, rather than personal pieces, I can’t show anything (until it’s published).  Here’s a peek at a sketch I did that will appear as part of a story in Highlight’s magazine for babies, Hello!  I also did the cover for that issue.

I had a lot of fun painting this little on and her mom!

I had a lot of fun painting this little one and her mom!

I’m also working on another Hidden Picture for a Let’s Play Hidden Pictures book, and working another Anne Rockwell story as well as several other projects.

 

The slow cooker has been my friend still, and last week, I threw together a baked pasta with an active prep time of about 15 minutes.  Here’s what I did:  In the late morning I threw a bunch of ingredients into the slow cooker (no pre-sauteing or anything! I also didn’t measure –the recipe is an estimate) and cooked it on low for about six hours.   Then 30 minutes before dinner, I preheated the oven to 350, boiled some water and cooked some rotini pasta. Next I assembled the pasta dish with the sauce and parmesan, and topped it with some shredded mozzarella  and baked it until it melted — about 10 minutes.  That’s it– dinner done.  I didn’t even add oil at the start, as I figured the meat and liquids would be sufficient, and they were.  The meat was moist and juicy, and the sauce was delicious.  It was a bit hit with my son, who had seconds. :)

I’ve also been (quickly) experimenting with cauliflower flat bread (see my previous version here) and chia pudding in my attempt to eat more whole foods even in the midst of stress and work.

cauliflower pizza with caramelized onions

 

I’ll post more on that later!  In the meantime, enjoy this easy, fast, and delicious beef pasta dish!

beef pasta 2

 

Easy Beef Pasta in Slow Cooker

1 lb. lean ground beef

1 small onion, diced

2 garlic cloves, minced

1 small can of tomato paste

1 small can of diced tomatoes

1 teaspoon sugar

1 teaspoon dried oregano

1 teaspoon dried basil

kosher salt

pepper

1/3 cup red wine

1/2 lb. dried pasta of choice

1/2 lb. shredded mozarella (I used smoky)

1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese

1.  Put beef through red wine into slow cooker.  Cook on low for about six hours, stirring every two hours or so.

2.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Cook pasta according to package instructions.  Drain.
3.  Return cooked pasta to pot and pour in beef sauce and grated parmesan.  Mix thoroughly.

4.  Pour pasta mixture into a casserole dish and sprinkle with shredded cheese.  Bake in oven until cheese is melted, about 10 minutes.

 

 

13 Comments

Filed under Art Related, Beef, Slow Cooker

Adventures with Jello

flubber jello


  Last month was all about Jello in the MATS Bootcamp.   I was really happy about it because anything that has to do with both food and art is excellent in my mind!  I drew a lot of Jello doodles.  Here are some: ink sketch   I also messed around with different art supplies and did some color experiments:

Painted in acrylic

Painted in acrylic

Drawings in pen over old palette paper

Drawings in pen over old palette paper

I really liked the effect of drawing on my old palette paper.  I will have to revisit that technique again in the future. Not sure how I will use it though. I had a lot of fun with all these doodles.  But when the actual assignment was unveiled,  I choked.  It was bolt fabric, and I still feel pretty insecure about pattern making because I am so new to it.  Here is my first attempt, which I hated: pattern 1 smaller I built all the icons in Illustrator.  The colors kind of clash.  Also there are too many items the same size.  I could have attempted another one using these icons, but I decided to trash it and start over.  I made another one that was more “me”.  Of course it had cute animals.  I’m obsessed with this bear and bunny and know there is a story there somewhere….  We also were introduced to a new “candy, nougat-y” palette.  

My pattern and what it would look like on an apron!

My pattern and what it would look like on an apron!

I loved this nougat palette so much, I decided to do an illustration I have been wanting to do for awhile using it.  The inspiration for this one was the February MATS assignment on cuckoo clocks.   I did this Bavarian couple experiment. bavarian couple This is the same couple in a candy nougat colored village.  This piece is completely different for me because of the palette, but I am really happy with it! bavarian couple_final3   With all this Jello activity, I was reminded of one of the very first cookbooks I got in the 70s or 80s — Amazing Magical Jell-O Desserts.  I love this book.  It is illustrated by the fantastic Seymour Chwast, and I was happy to see is still in print!

My original copy from my childhood

My original copy from my childhood — obvious from the price!

I thought it would be fun to make some Jello desserts with Jamie, so we spent an afternoon making three of them!  For one, we tried to make a big face on the bottom of the pan out of fruit.  Unfortunately, I don’t have a Jello-mold, so when we tried it with a pan and a candy mold, it was a big fail.The Jell-O wouldn’t come out.  :( We made regular ones with fruit in parfait glasses and these worked out though:

Peach Jell_O with no sugar added fruit cocktail -- a classic

Peach Jell-O with no sugar added fruit cocktail — a classic!

We also made a Strawberry Poof one, but we didn’t have the correct amount of yogurt and I used sugar-free Jell-O (it was the only one that came in strawberry at the store).  This probably contributed to our second (semi) fail.  After chilling, the Jell-O totally had the consistency of Flubber!! flubber 2
I remember making this as a kid, and the consistency was more like a mousse– light and airy.  Oh well… we tried.  Also, we had a lot of fun.  :)  We still ate it too, even though it was kind of weird.  It tasted good!

On another food/art front, the winners of the of the They Draw and Cook Glad Party were announced this week.  To see the 1st place winner and five second place winners, check it out here.  There were over 330 recipes submitted!! So I was honored to be one of the 15 Honorable Mentions!  My Amazing Tofu 3 Ways was voted “Most Awwwwwww-esome”, so that was pretty awesome. :)

 Peach Jello with Fruit

1 package of peach gelatin

1 can or about 8 oz. of fruit in natural juices

1.  Dissolve gelatin in 1 cup of boiling water in a large bowl and stir until completely dissolved.

2. Drain fruits, reserving liquid.  Measure 3/4 cup of it — if you need more liquid to make 3/4 cup, add water.  Add to gelatin.

3.  Pour some of the mixture into serving dishes about 1/4 full and chill for about 10 minutes to thicken.

4.  Add strained fruit to dishes and pour remaining gelatin mixture on top.  Chill until completely firm.

 

Strawberry Yogurt Poof (adapted from Amazing Magical Jello Desserts by Arnold Rosenberg)

1 package of strawberry gelatin  (don’t use sugar free!)

8 oz. of strawberry yogurt  ( be sure to use the full amount!)

1.  Dissolve gelatin in a large bowl with 1 cup of boiling water.  Stir until completely dissolved.  Add 3/4 cup cold water.  Chill for about ten minutes until slightly thickened.

2.  Add yogurt to jello and mix vigrously with a whisk or a hand mixer.  Transfer to serving dishes and chill.

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Filed under Art Related, Children, Desserts, Uncategorized

Tex Mex Tofu Scramble and They Draw and Cook

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

Hope everyone had a good one! :)  

I’m still recovering from a Hidden Pictures Retreat at Highlights this past weekend–lots of work to catch up on!   It was wonderful to see old friends and make new ones.  The folks at Highlights are the best.  I stayed in the cutest little wooden cabin, and we artists spent all day Saturday learning all about Hidden Pictures!  I have done a few of Hidden Pictures for the magazines for the younger set, Hello! and High Five.  But I grew up with Highlights for Children (the most popular of their magazines), as did almost everyone else in this country.  It is such an honor being able to contribute to the magazine from my childhood.  :)  I will have to do a post about it in the future.  But this one is the one I started before I left for Honesdale, PA last week!

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tofu2


Quite frankly, I would probably never have made this Tofu Scramble had it not been for the They Draw and Cook Glad Party.  I submitted an illustration there, and the requirement was to come up with three different recipes using the same ONE ingredient.  I usually only eat tofu with Asian flavors or in Chocolate Mousse, which I included in the recipe below.  After illustrating it though, I decided I had to try it.  And you know what — I love it!  I’ve been eating it several times in the past week — it is so yummy with refried beans, cheese, and salsa!  I also garnish with lime juice, plain yogurt (I can’t eat sour cream), and chopped cilantro.

For the concept, I knew I wanted to include animals, becauseI love drawing them, and I wanted characters and a story in the piece.  Since there had to be three recipes, I thought it would be fun to do three different courses: A soup, a main entree, and a dessert.  Then I came up with the Fox’s Cafe and went from there!  I realized each recipe kind of has a different cultural background as well, so I incorporated that into the design with each animal saying how delicious tofu is in three different languages.  At the end I have instructions for storing tofu.  It’s important to keep it in fresh water.  I actually have some leftover tofu in my fridge in water in a Glad container just like the little guy in my sketch:

sketch1c

And this is the final piece which I submitted:

Click to view larger

Click to view larger

It pretty much was the most difficult thing I’ve ever attempted, though it doesn’t look so complicated…  It’s made up of several files, one of which — just the ingredients in the recipes—was over 550 layers!  Crazy, huh?  That’s what happens when you import something from Illustrator.  Lol.  Every sliver of scallion had its own layer.  The animals (yes, I am obsessed with the bunny and the bear — they keep showing up) are a separate file, and I assembled everything together in one big Photoshop file.

I realized that working this way (using several flattened files to make one big file) is a LOT like baking a complicate dish– something like the German Chocolate Cake we made for Denis’ birthday last weekend!  There are also three stages to making the cake:  First there is the cake component, then the  filling component (which needs to be cooked and coddled and babied at the stove for 20 minutes), and then assembled all together later when everything has cooled!

This year, I had a baking assistant, which I was very grateful for!

Cracking the eggs...OMG, this cake has 3 eggs, and 4 egg yolks!!!  It's kind of scary like that.

Cracking the eggs…

OMG, this cake has 3 eggs, and 4 egg yolks!!! It’s kind of scary like that.  But if you are brave, here is the recipe.  I only make it exactly once a year, and only for the man I love!

Tex Mex Tofu Scramble

1 block of tofu

1 teaspoon oil

1/2 onion, diced

1/2 green pepper, diced

1/4 teaspoon or to taste of ground cumin, chili powder, and dried oregano

dash of kosher salt and pepper

1/4 cup chopped cilantro and more for garnish if desired

1.  Wrap block of drained tofu in a paper towel and weight under a heavy pot for 30 minutes.

2.  Heat oil in a skillet over medium heat.  Saute onion and pepper until softened, about 3-5 minutes.  Crumble pressed tofu and add to skillet.  Season with spices, and saute for about five more minutes.

3.  Remove from heat and stir in cilantro.

4.  Serve with grated cheese, lime wedges, refried beans, sour cream, salsa, and warm tortillas if you’d like.

Makes about 2 servings.

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Filed under Art Related, Vegetarian

Slow Cooker Caramelized Onions and Easy Weeknight Mini Pizzas

Mini Pizza with caramelized onions, artichoke hearts, and mozzarrella

Mini Pizza with caramelized onions, artichoke hearts, and mozzarrella



I recently completed another Skillshare class (Character Illustration from Concept to Final Artwork)!  I almost didn’t take this one because I felt character development is something I’m pretty capable of doing.  But it also has an Illustrator and Photoshop component, and I felt I can always learn more about creating digital art.  I’m really glad I did take it, because I was introduced to some key things that I will definitely use in my work — for example, importing layers into Photoshop from Illustrator (who knew!!?).  I don’t know if I will end up working exactly this way in the future, but going through the process was really valuable and a great learning experience!  And I did learn things I am using now that I didn’t before. :) Here is my work process for this assignment: I first did sketches of pirates and chose a final one to take to final: roughs

This is the one I decided to work with.

This is the one I decided to work with.

This is my pirate after I drew every shape in Illustrator.  it was WAY tedious!

This is my pirate after I drew every shape in Illustrator. it was WAY tedious!

This is the pirate after rendering it in Photoshop -- I realm I am a lot more comfortable in!

This is the pirate after rendering it in Photoshop — a realm I am a lot more comfortable in!

This is a full illustration incorporating the character.  I will use this as a promotional piece.  I used a lot of techniques I learned in the Skillshare class, so I'm really happy I took it.

This is a full illustration incorporating the character. I will use this as a promotional piece with my artist rep. I used a lot of techniques I learned in the Skillshare class, so I’m really happy I took the class!

With these various projects going on, the slow cooker has been my friend.

My bestie!

My bestie!

Our favorite dish is Slow Cooker Pulled Pork.  It’s so great to throw everything in the cooker and forget about it.   In 6-8 hours, you’ll have tender, tasty meat. Ooey and gooey, and yummy I tend to avoid chicken in the slow cooker, unless it’s dark meat though.  White meat tends to dry out. Recently, I knew I wanted to saute some onions for easy Mini Pizzas I was planning for a quickie dinner.  That morning, I had the brainstorm of throwing some sliced onions in the slow cooker and letting it cook all afternoon while I was out.  That cut down on about 20 minutes of sauteing later in the evening– 20 minutes of precious time I could be working!  I just used one onion and drizzled it with some olive oil.  It cooked on low for 4 hours.  But next time, I will buy a bag of onions and a bunch at one time.  This might take closer to 6 hours to cook. onions 2
You end up with soft, sweet, meltingly tender onions.  They can be store in the refrigerator and used throughout the week in omelets, fritattas, quesadillas, burritos… I’ve even put them on my salads.  They are soo good!

For this batch, though, I put them on our mini pizzas for a FAST week night meal!

How about you all– what are some slow cooker recipes you can’t live without that make life easier?

onions 1

Slow Cooker Caramelized Onions

Some onions, sliced vertically in to 1/4 inch slices

Drizzle of olive oil to coat

Pinch of kosher salt

1.  Put sliced onions in slow cooker and drizzle with olive oil.  Season with salt.  Stir.
2.  Cook on low for about 4-6 hours.

pizza 2

Mini Pizzas

Mini or Regular sized whole wheat pitas

Your favorite marinara sauce (or homemade!)

Shredded cheese

Slow cooker onions

Chopped artichoke hearts

Any other topping you would like!

1.  Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (I use our toaster oven).

2. Spoon some sauce on each of the pitas.  Top with toppings.

3.  Cook in oven about 8-10 minutes depending on how crunchy you like it (place directly on rack).

4.  Slice into wedges and eat! :)

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Filed under Art Related, Dinner, Vegan, Vegetables, Vegetarian