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A Declaration in Support of Children

No recipe here, but I thought this was important to share!

faceofhope Illustration by Vanessa Brantley-Newton

Children’s literature may be the most influential literary genre of all. Picture books, chapter books, middle-grade and young-adult novels all serve the most noble of purposes: to satisfy the need for information, to entertain curious imaginations, to encourage critical thinking skills, to move and inspire. Within their pages, seeds of wisdom and possibility are sown.

Therefore we, the undersigned children’s book authors and illustrators, do publicly affirm our commitment to using our talents and varied forms of artistic expression to help eliminate the fear that takes root in the human heart amid lack of familiarity and understanding of others; the type of fear that feeds stereotypes, bitterness, racism and hatred; the type of fear that so often leads to tragic violence and senseless death.

Our country is deeply divided. The recent election is a clear indication of the bigotry that is entrenched in this nation, of…

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Click Here to Start Launch and Power Button Start Cookies

  
This past week, we celebrated the release of my husband, Denis’, debut novel, Click Here to Start.

Click-Here-to-Start-High-Res
This awesome book cover was illustrated by Octavi Navarro.

The book chronicles twelve year old Ted, who is a whiz at Escape the Room Games, and his two friends, as they cleverly figure out what is behind the clues left by Ted’s great uncle – a WWII veteran of the Nisei Brigade from Hawaii. Ted is sure there is something valuable to be found in his late uncle’s apartment, and he has to use his gaming knowledge to do it. Along the way, the trio realizes there are other people searching for the same “treasure”, and they may not be so “friendly”. Ted and his friends have to use their wits and brains to solve the mystery – and ultimately, themselves, in this fact-paced, kid friendly novel.

The audio book, produced by Listening Library, was released at the same time, which was very exciting! It’s narrated by Greg Watanabe, an actor and comic. He does a wonderful job! I love how he’s able to do the different voices of all of the characters, whether they are male or female, young or old, from Hawaii or from the mainland… He gives each of them a distinct personality.

So far, the book has gotten such positive reviews from School Library Journal, Publisher’s Weekly, kidlit bloggers, teachers, librarians, kids. It was named a School Library Guild Section and an Amazon Best Books of the Month Selection.

“As addictive as your favorite video game. I couldn’t put it down.”-Adam Gidwitz, New York Times bestselling author of A Tale Dark and Grimm

“Humor, believable characters, and adventure…keeps readers in suspense to the end. A winner for mystery enthusiasts.”-Kirkus Reviews

“In this clever debut, Markell takes readers on a clue-filled adventure…[and] maintains an energetic, entertaining balance of character-driven narrative and tricky challenges.”-Publishers Weekly

“Markell’s highly entertaining debut novel…is a well-paced read with fully realized and likable characters,…[and] should have strong appeal to gamers, fans of video game-based stories, and reluctant readers.”-School Library Journal

And today from Jean Westmore of the Buffalo News:

“Markell offers plenty of scary suspense, thrilling action, references to literature and movies and lots of humor in his cleverly constructed puzzle. The book is dedicated to “the valiant men of the 100th Infantry Battalion and the 442nd Regimental Combat team, who fought so bravely for the U.S. at a time when their Japanese-American relatives back at home were being treated so dishonorably.’ His wife’s uncle was among them.”

click-cookies_Melissa-Iwai
For the Click Here to Start book launch at BookCourt this past weekend, I made Power Button Start Cookies. Jamie, our son, was a great help with frosting and packaging. He’s so proud of his dad! 🙂

jamie-_Click-Here-_-Bookcourt

me-icing_Click  

For the cookies, I used my tried and true sugar cookie and royal icing recipe I’ve used for holiday cookies in the past. This time, I used powdered egg white merengue for the frosting, and I think it really made a difference. The exterior piped frosting was perfectly hard. I am just not so great at piping! I dyed the frosting a bright green to match the Start button on the cover of the book. We frosted them green, then later, I piped the Start symbol on top in white. It is an extra step to do the piping and then the fill with diluted frosting, but the results are much better. You get a crisp outline and a very smooth interior with no ridges.

The event was wonderful. Fun to see old friends and new ones. Denis spoke about how he came to write the story, which is inspired by my uncle, Nicholas, Nakabayashi, who fought with the 100th Battalion during WWII. Denis also had fun playing Escape the Room Games with Jamie as research. 🙂

 Denis-and-Aubry-at-Book-COurt
I was surprised that almost all of my 38 cookies were eaten at the event! Only two remained, which we enjoyed after the big event. 🙂 

  

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It’s SPRING!…Lets Go to the HARDWARE STORE! Launch!

THE WAY TUGEAU

Iwai Hardware Cover   tools IWAI

We all want to get things fixed up for spring! and especially when moving into a new home for the family.  So some of the storybook family says Let’s Go to the Hardware Store in this most delightful book from Anne Rockwell and illustrated by our own MELISSA IWAI! Published by Christy Ottaviano from Henry Holt……Happy Launch Day!

Melissa put so much detail into this book with many cut papers carefully placed just so.  That fun inclusive detail is what readers will go back again and again to see and re-see.  As their parents work with the tools we all must have, the kids will remember seeing them ‘at the Hardware Store.’  Such fun!   Good for boys and girls (and parents!) of all sizes, ages and ethnic backgrounds…. make it a family trip…….!

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National Soup Month

January is National Soup Month! It’s gotten colder here, so soup is the perfect go to meal for us. I love soup so much I wrote a book about it.

The recipe is at the end of the story.

It is featured on Library Sparks’ activity calendar for January which you can download for free here. (Did you know it’s also Happy Get Organized Month and Happy Brainteaser Month? I bet you didn’t!)

Soup Day was inspired by my son, Jamie. I created Snowy Day Soup (the recipe of which is at the end of the story) to get him to eat his veggies when he was a toddler. We’d choose the vegetables together at the market, and I’d let him cut the soft ones like the mushrooms, with a plastic knife (with my help).

Here is an old video of us making it together!

Back in 2010!

Back in 2010!

And here is a video of it being read on Story Time Castle. 🙂

Another favorite soup of his is Zucchini Soup, and we have it regularly. It is so easy to make, even he can do it by himself! I illustrated a version of it which I submitted to They Draw and Cook. Here’s the art and the recipe:

Zucchini Soup Melissa Iwai 2016 72

Zucchini Soup

1 lb. zucchini sliced

1 cup chicken broth or other broth

salt and pepper to taste

  1. Slice zucchini into rounds. Steam. You can either steam on the stove or in the microwave, covered with saran for 8 minutes.
  2. Careful transfer the cooked zucchini and juices into a blender. Add chicken broth and seasonings. Pulse several times on low, and then blend at high until completely smooth.
  3. Heat and serve.

Happy Slurping! 🙂

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Happy Halloween and Pumpkin Smoothie

inktober 31
I’ve been doing an ink sketch every day for the month of October and posting on Instagram.  This is the last one!  I’ll be doing a give away next month of some of my original sketches, so stay tuned…  See the Top 5 Favorites and which art tools I used here.

 

Here’s my Pumpkin Smoothie recipe– in keeping with the autumnal spirit of the day!

(I often freeze pumpkin puree in ice cube trays and remove and store in a ziploc bag for these…one cube equals 2 tablespoons of puree)

WIth some pumpkin granola sprinkled on top!

With some pumpkin granola sprinkled on top!

Pumpkin Smoothie

2-3 ice cubes

1/4 frozen banana 

2 tablespoons pumpkin puree

1 scoop vanilla protein powder

3/4 cup almond milk

dash of vanilla extract

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon pumpkin spice

pinch of guar gum and xanthan gum if you want it extra creamy (optional)

  1. Place all ingredients in blender and blend until smooth.

Makes one serving.

pumpkin-smoothie

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Dad how-tos

A recent piece I did inspired by my neighborhood!

THE WAY TUGEAU

hipster-dad-CORRECTED-Melissa-Iwai-2015 (3)Melissa Iwai’s how-to for the perfect (Brooklyn) Dad….

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Merry Christmas Eve Day

Santa Sack copy

Hope all who celebrate have a joyous time!

I didn’t bake my usual cookie this year (breaking a 13 year annual event!) because I was producing so much art!  I finished 25 consecutive days of Advent Illustrations! View here on my art blog.

Here are some of my all time favorite cookie recipes:

Holiday Butter Cookies 3 Ways

lemon

Chocolate Butter Cookies with sanding sugar

Chocolate Butter Cookies with sanding sugar

Butter Cookies Drizzled with Melted Chocolate and White Chocolate

Butter Cookies Drizzled with Melted Chocolate and White Chocolate

Packed for school!

Turtle Brownies

Stained Glass Cookies

Snowballs

Pistachio Orange Lace Cookes

Brown Sugar Gringer Crisps

cookies

Enjoy!

25 animals no text

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Free Fall Friday – Reviews and Kudos

Nice post about Denis’ great news last month!

Writing and Illustrating

DOGMelissa Iwai is participating in an AdventChallenge2014 this month and she sent me this fun illustration from December 3rd. Thought it might give you ideas for decorating your best friend. Melissa was featured on Illustrator Saturday. Now her husband has something to tout about below.

gayle KraussAfter being read and
reviewed by Karen Haas
in New Jersey, Cherry Money Baby by John Cusick took at trip to Pennsylvania and visited Gail Krause.

Gail is  pictured on the left holding Cherry Money Baby taken on Thanksgiving day in the Poconos.

Isn’t it a great holiday picture?

After Gail read it she wrote a review on Amazon and Goodreads, then set Cherry off on a trip to visit someone in Louisville, Kentucky.

We’ll have to wait and see where Cherry ends up traveling after that.

DenisMarkellKate Sullivan at Delacorte Press has won two middle-grade novels by Denis Markell (Melissa Iwai’s husband) at auction. The first book, Click Here to…

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Cauliflower Fried “Rice” with Bacon and Shrimp

Cauliflower fried rice with bacon and shrimp

Cauliflower fried rice with bacon and shrimp


Just yesterday I was listening to a podcast on super foods, and I was pleasantly surprised to hear that cauliflower is one of them.  I love it and eat it all the time.  So I was happy to hear that there are so many benefits to incorporating this lovely vegetable into one’s diet.

The other night, I made a huge batch of Cauliflower Fried Rice for myself (Denis and Jamie don’t eat cauliflower… 😦   They don’t know what they are missing!).

I had thought I had already done a fried rice post here, but it turns out I haven’t!  Fried rice is a favorite in our household.  I don’t make it the traditional way — I always add bacon.  We love the smoky flavor it imparts.  And you don’t have to use as much oil — everything gets mostly cooked in the bacon fat.  I add a bit of water later on and steam/braise the fried rice until everything comes together.  Then I season it all with sesame oil (a must!) and soy sauce.  When the kitchen begins to smell like smoky bacon and nutty sesame oil, people will come wandering in, mouths watering.

Since I didn’t feel like eating a ton of rice, and because there wasn’t enough anyway, I made mine with cauliflower rice recently.  It was really delicious and much lighter, but filled with as much flavor.  This is a perfect alternative for people who are reducing their starch intake.  Half a head of cauliflower makes a lot of “rice”!  You can eat tons of it with abandon, knowing you are getting a ton of nutrients, fiber, and protein.

cauliflower fried rice 3

Cauliflower Fried Rice

1/2 head of cauliflower

2 eggs, beaten

1/2 medium onion, diced

2 slices of bacon

2 sprigs of green onion, sliced finely

2 cups of veggies (I used zucchini, steamed broccoli, and frozen corn and peas)

1 cup of shrimp (deveined and cleaned), or cooked chicken, ham, cubed tofu, or other protein of choice

1 teaspoon sesame oil

water

1 tablespoon soy sauce

1.  Process cauliflower in a food processor until it has the consistency of rice.  Set aside.

2.  Cook egg in a small skillet on stove.  Remove to cutting board and chop coarsely. Set aside.

3.  Cut bacon into small pieces using kitchen shears.  Heat a large cast iron skillet or non-stick pan.  Add bacon.

4.  When a bit of fat has rendered from the bacon, add the chopped onion.  Saute until almost translucent.  Add other vegetables and meat if you are using it.  When softened, add cauliflower.  Drizzle with sesame oil. If pan seems dry, add a bit of water and cover pan with a lid.  Turn down low and braise until vegetables are cooked to your liking.

5.  Add soy sauce, chopped egg, and scallions.  Stir to incorporate.  Serve immediately.

Makes 2-4 servings.

 

Note:  You can also use about 2-3 cups of leftover cooked rice in place of the cauliflower (or a combination!) to make regular fried rice.

My regular fried rice with bacon

My regular fried rice with bacon

 

 

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Green Recipe Fail and Success: Perfect Green Coconut Chocolate Protein Ice Cream

My attempt at a green dosa

My attempt at a green dosa

I’m sharing with you a recipe (semi) fail today.  Sometimes life is not perfect.

I ate my first dosa from Dosa Royale eaten at the Brooklyn Smorgasburg.  I wish I had a photo to show it — it was huge and delicious!   A dosa is a savory crepe made from a fermented batter of rice flour and black lentils.  I was inspired to try making a savory zucchini one at home

zucchini batter

Zucchini batter

I don’t have a crepe pan — but that shouldn’t be the cause of my fail because I’ve made many crepes on a regular non-stick skillet.  Bu this time, nothing stayed together when I tried to flip it. 😦   Maybe I need a new skillet?  Or perhaps there wasn’t enough oil?   Wanting the salvage the remaining batter, I decided to try baking it in the toaster oven.  I had better luck with this, but who bakes a crepe!?  Anyway, here is the result.  It is crepe-like and similar to the dosa I had, but with a nice tea green shade:

zucchini crepe

I used it to make a breakfast burrito (with beans, egg, cheese, salsa, and onions).  The flavor is wonderful, even though it is not very “pretty”.

burrito

These days, I am so busy with my artwork, I don’t have as much time to noodle around experimenting in the kitchen, but it is a nice way to procrastinate!  For breakfast, I’m sticking with my perfected Green Coconut Chocolate Protein Ice Cream.  It is similar to my Green Coconut Chocolate Spinach Smoothie, but instead of psyllium husk (I know, I’m losing out on the extra fiber…!), I use a pinch of xanthum gum which I picked up at the health food store.  It gives it a really nice smooth and creamy ice cream feel.

AH... dessert for breakfast! I garnish it with toasted unsweetened coconut and sliced almonds and chia seeds.

AH… dessert for breakfast! I garnish it with toasted unsweetened coconut and sliced almonds and chia seeds.

This is the perfect light breakfast on a hot summer day.  If you can find xanthum gum, try it out — a little goes a lo..o.o…o..ng way!

 

**********************************************

In other news, my son, Jamie and his friend have recently started blogging.  For a peek at what ten year old boys and girls are writing, check out their blogs at:

http://storiesonclouds.wordpress.com/ and his friend, P’s http://hefordandmelly.wordpress.com/ blogs.  Both are creative writing blogs. It is pretty obvious which one is written by the boy and which is written by the girl!

Perfect Green Coconut Chocolate Protein Ice Cream

2-3 ice cubes

1/4 frozen banana (I slice them and freeze, so this is about 4 slices)

1 cube of frozen coconut milk (or 2 tablespoons)

About 1/2 cup frozen fruit — I use blueberries and strawberries often

1 pinch of xanthum gum

1 teaspoon unsweetened cocoa powder

a little less than 1/4 cup milk

teaspoon of toasted coconut and almond for garnish (optional)

1.  Crush ice cubes and coconut milk in blender.

2.  Pour in remaining ingredients and blend. Use a tamper to press everything down — I use a Vitamix.  If you don’t have a tamper, I would just keep stirring it every now and then by hand to remove clumps, and blend again.

3.  Pour into a  bowl and top with crunchy toasted coconut and almond topping if you desire!

Here is my semi-fail recipe if you are interested — still needs work!

Zucchini “Dosa”

1 medium sized zucchini

1 egg

2 tablespoons pancake mix (I used TJ’s multigrain)

1 tablespoons grated parmesan

salt to taste

about 2 tablespoons water to thin batter

non-stick spray

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Cut eight  5 x 5 inch squares out of parchment paper and lay four of them on top on baking sheet.  Spray paper with nonstick spray. Set aside.

2.  Blend ingredients in a blender.

3.   Spoon batter onto parchment and spread into circles or squares.  Bake for about 10-12 minutes.  Cover each square with paper then flip pancake so that the cooked side is down.  Bake for another 5-7 minutes until pancake is done.  Cool and store in refrigerator or eat immediately.

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