Friday, July 31, 2009

New Painting

I have been itching for a break from my usual nature paintings. I used to paint mostly figures and portraits but have gotten away from it lately. I tried out a simpler sort of style than usual. What do you think?

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Homemade Chocolate Peanut Butter Ice Cream

I've really been wanting to make homemade ice cream this summer. Unfortunately, my ice cream maker is MIA. I can't figure out what the heck happened to it. In the meantime, I've borrowed my sister's machine so I can experiment while the weather is still warm (a pretty short time period in Minnesota).

I was looking around the Tastespotting website for some delicious ice cream recipes and stumbled upon one from this blog: The recipe itself is adapted from David Lebovitz's ( Then I modified it just a little bit more! I used regular cocoa powder because I didn't have dutch process and added chocolate syrup for extra chocolatey goodness. I also added some chocolate chips because you can never have too much chocolate and I wanted the chocolate and peanut butter flavors to be balanced. The result has a great creamy texture and is definitely as good (if not better) than any store brand.


2 cups half and half

1/2 cup sugar

1/2 cup cocoa powder

1/2 cup Hershey's syrup

1/2 cup smooth peanut butter (I used Jif) for mixture plus approx 1/4 cup for pb patties

1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

Combine first four ingredients and heat in a medium saucepan, stirring constantly to prevent burning. Once it begins to boil, remove from heat and stir in peanut butter until smooth. Refrigerate mixture until completely cooled. Meanwhile, make patties of peanut butter to add to ice cream. Cover a plate with plastic wrap, put small dabs of peanut butter on the plate and freeze. Make ice cream in machine according to directions. Remove the ice cream from the freezing bowl and add chocolate chips and frozen peanut butter patties. If ice cream is not firm enough, freeze for a couple hours before eating.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Our Tent at the Fest

Here are some pics of our set up at the Fallout Art Fest. It was crazy windy so we couldn't have the tent walls up; they acted just like a sail! We made do without them. It was a good time and we mets lots of cool people.
You can see lots of my Melanie's (my sister) art in the above photo. Isn't it cool?

Friday, July 24, 2009

Fallout Art Fest This Saturday

Melanie and I will be selling our work at the Fallout Art Fest this weekend. It should be fun, and the weather looks like it will cooperate this time (fingers crossed). Stop by if you get a chance. The times are noon to 10pm and more info can be found on the website:

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Thomas the Tank Engine Cake

Here is the cake I made for a friend's son. He LOVES Thomas! I didn't have a large enough cake pan so supplemented with some cupcakes.

Below is a picture of the cake before I added the colors. I did a black outline is royal icing to make sure that the detailed drawing wouldn't melt or run all over. It didn't need to be an exact replica of Thomas but I wanted it recognizable, at least.
Below is a picture of Thomas colored in with buttercream. I wasn't sure what to do for the black parts at first because no one wants a mouthful of black frosting. These chocolate sprinkles or jimmies (as we called them in Massachusetts) worked pretty well, I think.

Friday, July 17, 2009

What's for Dessert?

Unfortunately, I'm not making too many desserts lately. It's sad because I enjoy baking and other desserts but, as I mentioned, we're trying to eat better around these parts. The pic above is the berry crisp I made from black raspberries, rhubarb and strawberries. The crisp topping is mostly oats with a little butter, sugar, and flour. Bake at 350 until the top is browned and the fruit is bubbling.
The above is a lazy way to assemble a crepe, I will admit. Melanie had just made a fresh batch and I didn't feel like rolling them up neatly.
This last one really isn't a healthy dessert. I mean, I guess it has oats and nuts in it. Does that count? I took the standard Tollhouse cookie bar recipe and made some substitutions. I used a 1/4 cup of oats to replace some of the flour. I also had three half bags of chips to use up (butterscotch, peanut butter, mini-chocolate chips. Am I the only one who ends up with these pathetic half or quarter bags of random chips?) and used half almonds/half walnuts instead of the pecans listed. Oh yeah - I also threw in half a bar of semisweet chocolate (a baking bar size, chopped). The end result was very good but I think the butterscotch chips made them a little sweeter than I would have liked.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

What's For Dinner?

When you get a weekly CSA delivery, you really have to figure out how to use all those vegetables. Otherwise, you don't get your money's worth plus I really hate wasting all that food. Unfortunately, I don't like pickled foods. So, we've been trying to make some easy meals that use up the random vegetables.

Above is a pizza made from 1/2 a pita, canned diced tomatoes (drained), some pesto, and little mozzarella. I put it under the broiler for about 4-5 minutes and it was done.
We are also trying to cut our carb intake so have to be a little more creative that way, too. Above is a stuffed red pepper stuffed with a filling of black beans, tomatoes, summer squash, and onion and topped with a little cheddar. I think the seasoning was just a little garlic, s&p, red pepper flakes and basil.
I made this crustless quiche in honor of Bastille Day. It is a basic quiche recipe with a few adjustments. The recipe called for six eggs but I used two whole eggs and the rest was egg whites (the kind you get in a carton at the store). I also used two percent milk but would recommend using whole milk or half and half as my quiche wasn't as firm as I'd like. The recipe called for 2 cups of cheese so I used half sharp cheddar and half mozzarella. I sauteed some veggies (swiss chard, broccoli, early onion, and some garlic scapes) and added those to the mixture right before baking. The potato wedges were baked in the oven and were also an attempt to use up my CSA vegetables.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

An new planter and some random stuff

I found this old toy truck at a yard sale for two bucks. I didn't know exactly what I was going to do with it but knew it had potential. It originally had a cracked, yellowed plastic windshield so I pulled that off and sanded some of the rusty spots. I was going to paint it but now I can't decide because I like the rusty look, too. I think I'm going to use it for plants but pondering other ideas.
I couldn't resist sticking this nerdy elf (from Rudolph) in the driver's seat. It's maybe a little embarrassing how much time I spend playing with things, considering I don't have any kids.
In other news, I've become addicted to perusing the Tastespotting website. Have you checked it out? Lots and lots of gorgeous pics of food with links to the original blog post/recipe.

I found this local blog through Tastespotting:

I love the way mushrooms look. They are such a mystery to me. One day they just pop up out of nowhere. Why can't they be as tasty as they are pretty? I know, I know - lots of people like mushrooms. I just can't seem to get past the texture problem.
The chocolate bars below are a new-to-me find at Trader Joe's. They are both tasty and attractive (are you taking notes, Mushrooms?) Unfortunately, chocolate has really become a sometimes treat (as they would say on Sesame Street) now that I'm watching my diet and my budget. Lame.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009


We went strawberry picking last Friday at Lorence's Berry Farm in Northfield. They got a mention in the paper last week, but that isn't why we went to that particular farm. I've driven past that place millions of time on the way to visit my sister. So, I knew I wouldn't get lost, wondering around the countryside trying to find it.

Picking went surprisingly quickly. Two of us picked 14 1/2 pounds in about 45 minutes. They are very organized at Lorence's and had tons of ripe berries for the picking. I actually don't think these are the very best berries I've had, but they are far, far better than the berries found in the grocery store and cheaper, too. Plus, it is nice to see your food growing in a field instead of packaged in plastic :)

Above is a pic of half of our berries. I included the picture below because I thought the red and turquoise looked nice together. We ate some fresh and froze the rest.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

The Glorious 4th and a Birthday Shout-Out!

The 4th of July just so happens to be my older sister's birthday as well. Fireworks for every birthday and grilling outside? Sweet! Beats my December birthday by a mile (chance of blizzard, close to Christmas and everyone is busy with holiday plans). It makes sense because Michelle is definitely a firecracker! Happy Birthday, Michelle!

I made this flag "cake" out of little lemon cupcakes. The frosting is a simple buttercream with vanilla bean added for a little extra flavor. The flag would have been better with more rows but we just don't need to be eating that much cake!

Below is a close-up.

The weather was a little iffy yesterday. Here is when it started really clouding up and looking a little ominous.....
...then it rained so we retreated indoors for a little Rockband and Trivial Pursuit. Below is a pic of a little blue peeking through the clouds....

...and then it cleared up in time for fireworks, just as Sven Sungard (weather gnome for Channel 11) said it would. Cool - time for some pyrotechnics..........
The guys lined up the fireworks and did their pyro thing.....

....and the rest of us mainly took pictures from a safe distance. Below are the only two decent pics I got of the "real" fireworks display put on by the town. My camera battery was low and it just didn't want to do its thing.

Friday, July 3, 2009

To Market, To Market........

The Farmer's market on Nicollet Mall is in full swing now. I had plans to meet a friend for lunch and took the earlier train so I would have time to stroll around. The above are garlic scapes. Crazy looking, eh? I made a rockin' pesto using these, a little lemon, some green onion, and some walnuts.
The flowers were all really beautiful but, alas, I am trying to stick to a budget these days.
The same with the sugar snap peas. We share a weekly CSA delivery with a friend, so already have some peas. But they are so good! It never seems like there are enough.
Candyland is always a temptation. Thank God I don't work right on Seventh Street, anymore. I actually was starting to get really hungry at that point, with the actual eating of lunch still at least 45 minutes away. I was very tempted to stop in for some Chicago Mix (cheddar, plain, caramel) popcorn, but........

....decided to go with this cheddar, bacon, and green onion scone by Cocoa & Fig. I haven't noticed them at the market before but all their stuff looked really tasty and the prices were quite affordable.
And finally, I stopped by just to say hello to Mary Tyler Moore. I love it when tourists take their picture with the statue - especially when they throw their hats up in the air a la Mary. I don't know why but it makes me laugh (in a laughing with kind of way, rather than the laughing at way)