Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Huevos Rancheros. It's what's for breakfast...and dinner.

The first time I had Huevos Rancheros was on our first trip to Costa Rica.  We were staying at Villas Nicolas in Manuel Antonio.  We stumbled out of bed and headed down to the magical court yard where they served breakfast. The soft morning light filtered through the trees.  And monkeys were playing over head.  When I think of my favorite memories on our vacations, they almost always involve the morning Sun and enjoying a peaceful meal.  The whole day is still ahead of you.

I've had Huevos Rancheros numerous times since then.  And it is always different.  But the way I make it couldn't be simpler.  I just saute onions and peppers in a little olive oil.  Or if you happen to have made bacon the day before...use that pan if you know what I mean.  After the onions start to soften add some minced garlic. You don't want to burn the garlic.  It can get bitter. This time I cheated and added Penzeys dried minced garlic.  It is nice to have that on hand.  Then just add one 8 oz can of tomato sauce.  What ever your favorite variety might be.  You can add a little bit of sugar to the sauce.  Only like 1/4-1/2 of a tsp.  That's it!

Now fry an egg however you enjoy them and top the egg with some of the yummy sauce. I sprinkle some Marie Sharp's Hot Sauce on top.  Then add some fresh cilantro.  I served it with some crusty french bread slathered with butter and drizzled with honey.  

So I had left over sauce because my husband was fishing last weekend.  So I decided to make the Huevos Rancheros again. But for dinner this time.  So I axed the toast.  And added a soft corn tortilla on the bottom.  Then I sprinkled the tortilla with a Mexican cheese blend.  Lastly I added the egg, sauce and cilantro.  So easy.  The only thing missing was the Monkeys.  Well, actually there was a lot more missing than that.  But this is Minnesota after all.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Pillow Talk

I have the perfect art for today.  The theme is faded.  Do you know why these are perfect?  They are footprints in the sand.  And my first thought was how they are only there momentarily.  Then the ocean slowly washes them away.  

I created these for the ripple sketches blog when it was raising money for the gulf oil spill.  I actually used outlines of me and my husband's real footprints in the sand.  Can you tell whose is whose?  Well, mine is the top.  Here's hoping that humanity will soon leave a lighter footprint on our precious resources. 

P.S.  If you have a chance between now and this Sunday please go to  My recycled coffee bean sack pillow is entered in the We all Sew Challenge.  Please vote and read the pillow's story.  

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Rhubarb Cake

It's that time of year.  I used to think of Rhubarb as a glorified weed.  But I'm older now and I've wised up to its charms. My husband picked up some stalks at the Farmer's Market and I made a cake.  I used a recipe for a Peach Cake.  And it turned out great.  First I chopped around 2 cups of Rhubarb.  Then I mixed the dry ingredients:

2 cups flour  
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt

Then I started to mix the wet.  First mix...

3/4 cup softened butter
1 cup packed brown sugar

Then mix in...

2 beaten eggs
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup buttermilk

Now add the dry ingredients.

Now stir the rhubarb into the batter and place in a 13 x 9 glass baking dish.  

Sprinkle a mixture of 1/4 cup white sugar and 2-3 tsps of cinnamon on top.  Bake at 350 for 30 minutes.

It turned out great.  And is one step easier than the Rhubarb cake with a buttery lemon sauce.  This cake was very soft and light.  Rhubarb isn't so bad after all!

P.S.  I not only cook but sew up a storm as well.  And you can do me a favor by voting for my Coffee Bean Sack Pillow at this link We All Sew Challenge Thanks!

Monday, May 21, 2012

Heads or Tails...

Turtles are pretty cool anyway you look at it.  I've snorkeled with sea turtles, admired them from near and far and even eaten them.  Well, the chocolate variety anyway.  My favorite is with cashews, caramel and dark chocolate.  Yum.  And now I've saved one.  And so can you.     

I purchased this cool art from Nate over at They Draw and Cook/Travel fame.  And all the profits go to the Turtle Conservancy.  To learn more visit Saving turtles is a snap!  If this was a Seinfeld episode I'd say,"No turtle soup for you!" But don't be slow checking back on Wednesday for another tasty recipe...

Friday, May 18, 2012

Good Eye Sight

click to enlarge

I've posted Big Eyed Dog for before.  But I had to re-post it for the theme sight.  I still don't know what got into me when I painted this dog.  I made the weird decision to give him one super size eye.  We artists are a strange bunch I guess.  But I've always loved him.  

And I have good news.  Illustration Friday or as I like to call it Hawaiian Shirt Day (among many other alias names) highlighted last week's Beloved Moon on their website.  Yay! Please head over and check it out.   P.S.  I accidentally uploaded this week's submission with out an image.  Which I think is pretty hilarious for the theme of sight.  Ha! 

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

My meal of choice for death row...

I made my favorite meal for our Anniversary.  Mexican Pizza and Watermelon Margaritas.  Divorce?  Never.  I don't have to worry about my husband kicking me to the curb after making this.   

I'll even start this post in the prehistoric dough stage.  You'll need:

2 pkgs. dry yeast
1 1/2 cup lukewarm water
4 cups flour  (I use 3 1/2 cups white flour and 1/2 cup whole wheat)
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp sugar
1 tbsp olive oil

In a large measuring cup mix the lukewarm water and the yeast.  Let stand in a warm place for 5 minutes.  Now mix all of the dry ingredients and the oil in a large mixing bowl.  Push the flour mixture to the side and pour in the yeast/water mixture.  Now be ready to knead.  I knead with my right hand and keep my left hand clean in case I (knead) to add more flour. (If it is too sticky) 

 It will be a big wet mess at first.  But soon it will come together.  To knead you just fold the dough over and on itself over and over.  Of course you won't be able to really knead until the dough comes together.   

It should look like this after a few minutes. When you are done kneading and it feels like a springy dough ball, cover the dough with a damp towel.  I always prepare the damp towel in advance because your hands will be a mess.  Now let the dough rest in a warm place for at least 20 minutes.  It should double in size.  When that happens you'll need to punch it down to release some of that air.  Now pull the dough from the sides of the bowl and kind of loosely form it into a ball again.  Pour a little olive oil over the dough and cover with plastic wrap and store in the refrigerator until dinner.  

O.K.  so now it is hours later right? The dough will have risen and should be enough for 3 pizzas.  I take the dough out of the bowl and cut it into 3rds.  I take 1 3rd and roll it out as shown. I freeze the other balls for later.  And boy, is it nice to have those in the freezer! I like a thin crisp crust so I roll it thin.  I transfer it to my large oiled pizza pan.  And this is an important part.  Take a fork and poke it all over your crust.  Then bake it for 5-10 minutes. (My metal pan has holes in it) This  pre-baking will give you a crisper crust.  You don't need any pizza stone or special pizza oven.  Trust me.  

Now you can take your pre-baked crust and add your toppings.  I spread a thin layer of Ortega taco sauce on top.  Then a thin layer of a taco cheese blend.  My favorite meat is chorizo. I find my favorite at Clancey's Meats in Linden Hills.  If you've tried chorizo and didn't like it, try another kind.  When you find the right one it is fantastic.  I take one link and squeeze it out of its casing and saute it until it is almost done.  Then I sprinkle it on my pizza.  I'll add onions and sliced peppers. But add what ever southwestern veggies you like.  Bake for around 5-10 minutes at 450 degrees.  

After the pizza is done.  Add cooked frozen corn.  I always have pre-cooked frozen corn in my freezer. You might want to defrost the corn on a paper towel to absorb moisture.  Then sprinkle the pizza with some fresh Mexican cheese.  I usually add my favorite herb cilantro as well.  But I didn't have any today.  This is a fabulous pizza!

Now the Margaritas will take some planning.  Last Summer my husband brought home as many watermelons as he could carry.  He picked them up on his lunch break downtown at the Farmer's Market.  The melons then came home with him on the bus.  Ha!  But you don't have to go quite that far.  My point is you'll need watermelon puree in the freezer.  Or fresh.  You'll need to blend the fresh seeded watermelon and strain out the pulp.

Now put 1/2 cup of watermelon juice each in two large glasses.  Add 2 shots of Tequila and 1/2 shot of Grand Mariner to each glass.  Then add 1/2 shot of Lime Margarita mix and 1 shot of fizzy club soda to each.  Stir, add ice and enjoy what ever special occasion you're celebrating!  It is sooooo good. This recipe is too good not to share.  Pass it on... 

Monday, May 14, 2012

I'm giving you the bird!

Someday Dean and I will wear khaki outfits with lots of pockets and carry around a diary to record all of our bird sightings.  Ha!  But we didn't have to be real birders to notice that we saw a record variety of birds in Florida this year.  Maybe we saw so many because we like the same things that birds do. The ocean, hiking in the woods and eating fish.  Birds of a feather flock together after all.  And now that I've done all the grueling beach photography.  You can set your binoculars aside and be an armchair birder. Well, you do have to scroll...

So pretty.

Not just one owl...but two.  

Get a load of that beak.  

These gulls proudly strut their stuff.  They know they are the most handsome seagull out there.

These vultures are giving us a little teaser of what we'll see inside the park.

Demon hawk.

Another goofy beaker.

This egret must get pretty hungry waiting for the fish to slide down its pencil thin neck.

He posed so nice for me.  I'm glad my legs didn't get that sunburned!

A famous toucan.  This 50's toucan survived 4 hurricanes and numerous tropical storms.  We spotted him at the Naples Zoo. And so can you.  

Friday, May 11, 2012

A Kernel of Truth

click to enlarge

I decided to post my Beloved Moon illustration for the theme Kernel.  I created this piece for a show at the Owatonna Arts Center here in Minnesota. It is on the grounds of an historic Orphanage.  The young lady in the image is gazing at the Moon and longing for the Mother she never knew.  There is a kernel of truth to this illustration. I might be too old to be an orphan.  But I certainly feel like one.  I did this illustration several years ago.  But even then I was thinking about my Mom.  I put her childhood hero on the poster hanging over the bed.  Roy Rogers.  

Here's her childhood lunch box.  I was lucky enough to have my Mom growing up.  But now she is gone. If I look up at the Moon I can imagine her riding horses up in Heaven.  And probably with good ole Roy Rogers himself!

Happy Mother's Day.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Almond-Crusted French Toast

In a large shallow bowl mix:

2 eggs
1 cup egg beaters (or 4 more eggs)
1/2 cup milk
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp almond extract (optional)
1/4 tsp nutmeg
2-3 tsps cinnamon
1/4 tsp salt

In another shallow bowl mix:

2-3 cups slightly crushed cornflakes
1/2 cup sliced almonds

Now take 6-8 slices of your favorite wheat or white bread.  One at a time soak them in the egg batter and then coat each side in the cornflake mixture.  (I thought that just one heavily coated side of the corn/almond mixture might be enough)  Now fry them on your Grandma's greased griddle and enjoy with your favorite syrup.  These don't even need butter.  But then again. I'm not the butter police!

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Stick It To Me!

click to enlarge

I've almost completed my new studio space.  I say almost because I'm not going to stop collecting objects of beauty to inspire me. Salli and Nate sent out a challenge to their recipe and map loving illustrators.  If we post a shot of our studio space they'll pin it on Pinterest.  Well, my boards were empty until a few days ago.  I finally started sticking the Voodoo doll.  Here's my link. Ouch!

I did a collage because it would be impossible to photograph all my favorite things in one shot.  The top two photos are close ups of my wine cork push pin board.  Drinking all that Vino to make the board was a hard job.  But somebody had to do it!  The top right photo is a close up of my new denim pockets rug.  It brings a smile to my face on a daily basis.  The middle photo is a close up of an old door from my farm.  It is from a Sears refrigerated building.  Yes, I said building.  The bottom right photo is a kooky wooden sculpture I bought at an art fair last summer. I added the camera.   And the bottom left is a childhood toy.  Cute!  

    click to enlarge

The top left photo is part of my Mom's old type writer.  The middle photo is a growling wooden sculpture from Guatemala.  And I have many fond memories of playing the Which Witch? game as a kid.  Thank you ebay.  The bottom left is my cuckoo for cocoa puffs clock.  The middle is a photo I purchased at an art fair last Summer.  An Owl sitting in the window of an old barn.  How perfect to hang on my weathered door.  I love barn boards.  The middle right photos are a Red Wing Crock and one of my orchids.  The middle bottom shot is a container made of old yard sticks.  Cool.  And the bottom right is a little box that I made with my Mom one Christmas.  A long time ago.  

Now for a little vignette I did in my studio.  I'm posting it for hitched.  The theme du jour over at  The dog is hitching a ride of course!

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Flowers for Courage

I took a little walk through my virtual garden.  And hand picked some flowers for Leontien.  She is battling cancer.  And bloggers have been posting flowers in her honor and posting them at A Rural Journal  I felt inspired to send hope and courage her way.  Most of us have been wounded by Cancer.  I know I have.  My Mom suffered through breast and bone cancer.  It scares me and brings tears to my eyes just thinking about it.  And like you I have many friends and family members who have faced the big C.  I hope this post adds to Leontien's bountiful bouquet.  And is also a reminder to send flowers to your Mom this Mother's Day.