Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Mashed Cauliflower

The other night Bob and I made a turkey tenderloin and I wanted to do something different with the head of cauliflower we had. I remembered mashed cauliflower being all the rage when no-carb diets became popular so I made my own recipe, incorporating a few potatoes for a smoother texture. You would never know the main ingredient is cauliflower in this dish. Remember, I never really measure anything so you can adjust the recipe to suit your taste. Mashed Cauliflower 1 large head cauliflower, cut into florets 4 small Yukon gold potatoes, about golf-ball sized, scrubbed and cut in half 2 cloves garlic, peeled about a handful of fresh grated Parmesan cheese 2 TB butter salt (I used some truffle salt, yummy!) pepper In. A large stockpot, boil the cauliflower, potatoes and garlic until soft. Drain and add the rest of the ingredients into a food processor or mash by hand. This was delicious and I even took leftovers to work and I Never eat leftovers.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Spices, Cookies And My Apparently Inherited Need To Make Too Much

The other day I went to a local health foods store to purchase some spices. I can buy spices in bulk and only purchase what I need without having to spend a lot of money. I bought Cinnamon sticks, star anise, cardamom, allspice, cloves, everything I needed to make a ras el hanout spice blend. I found a recipe here http://www.theepicentre.com/Spices/raselhanout.html

Smelling all the wonderful spices made me think of Latvian pepper cookies, called Piparkukas which I looked up a recipe for. The recipes I came across and thought of being as authentic as possible all called for a large amount of ingredients. One pound of butter, 5 pounds of flour, one pound sugar, enormous amounts of ingredients. Every recipe for the cookies was the same with each having large amounts of ingredients, so I determined that making too much food is something that was passed down to me by my ancestors.
Here is a recipe for Piparkukas from ChristmasJoy.net:

Christmas Recipes from Latvia

Recipe Name: My Granny's Piparkukas

1 lb butter

16 oz dark Karo syrup; one bottle

16 oz molasses

1 lb brown sugar

1 cup white sugar

2 tsp cinnamon

2 tsp cloves

2 tsp coriander

1 tsp cardamom

1 tsp black pepper

1 tsp ginger

5 lbs flour; Wondra brand

4 egg yolks

2 tsp baking powder

2 tsp baking soda

Place butter, Karo syrup, and 1/2 the sugars in a large pot. Heat to boiling. When it starts boiling, add the ground spices. Remove from heat.

Gradually add 1/2 the flour, stirring constantly to avoid lumping. Continue stirring until the mixture no longer sticks to the sides of the pot. Let cool until cool enough to touch.

Beat the egg yolks and the remaining sugar together slightly. Dissolve the baking powder and baking soda in about 1 Tbsp water. Add the egg yolks and sugar to the batter. Add the baking powder and baking soda to the batter. Gradually add the remaining flour, and knead the batter dough until it is smooth, shiny and hard.

Roll the dough out (in portions) to a thickness of 1/16". Cut out the cookie shapes, place on a cookie par, and bake in a 350 degree F oven for about 10 minutes. Watch carefully - they burn easily.

Baked cookies are lightly brown, crisp, crumbly, piquant, very tasty. These are the favourite cookies in our family for Christmas. This kind of cookie (piparkukas - "pepper" + "cakes") is very popular in Latvia. And every housewife has her own recipe - family's recipe.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

iPad Test Post

I am trying out the Blogger app to see how it works. I don't like the keyboard and wish it was the Apple keyboard.
Below is a comic I made using an app. I spelled "pancakes" wrong but you get the idea.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Pumpkin Spice Cake Cups

It's fall.  There is no denying it.  Cold, windy, rainy.  Michigan gets cold early, and cold weather, especially fall, makes me think of apples, cider and pumpkins.  I have never been a fan of pumpkin but made some cake cups using only a cake mix, some pumpkin and water.  I call them cake cups because they are a cake mix in a cup form.  Shouldn't that be the proper name anyways?  Cupcake is a good name, but I decided cake cup is a more appropriate name for my creation.
This recipe uses no eggs or oil, so you can save your fat allowance for the frosting :)

Pumpkin Spice Cake Cups
  • 1 box (15.25 oz) spice cake mix
  • 1 can (15 oz.) pumpkin (not the pie filling, just plain pumpkin)
  • 2 TB water
Heat oven to 350 degrees.
Mix cake mix, pumpkin and water.  Stir well, it will be very thick.
Put a good-sized tablespoon of the batter into cupcake cups.  I used the foil cups because they will stand on their own and you don't need a muffin pan if you use them.
Bake for 20 minutes, give or take a few minutes until they are done.
Frost with cream cheese frosting, dust with cinnamon and nutmeg.
Next time I will make my own cream cheese frosting.  I bought the canned frosting and it is full of crappy chemicals that I can't pronounce, therefore should not be eating.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

First Football Sunday

Today is the first day of the official football season, and that meas Bob will be glued in front of the television most of the day.  I don't really mind because it gives me a chance to cook some great food, do a little shopping and just relax and prepare for the week ahead.
For the kickoff of football season, I made pulled pork in the crockpot.  That baby was in the crockpot at 6:30 a.m.!!  Rubbed with some spices, it cooked on low all day.  About halfway through the cook time I had to take out a lot of water and fat that accumulated because I wanted the pork to roast and not simmer.  I don't really have a recipe for the pork, just put the pork shoulder in a crockpot with about 1/2 cup water, 1/4 cup white vinegar, rub in some spices like cumin, paprika, onion powder, dry mustard, salt and pepper.  Cook on low for 8-10 hours.

I did make an awesome Carolina mustard sauce to go with the pork.  I never had mustard sauce on my pulled pork sandwich but he other other week I got to try it for the first time.  Bob and I discovered a local bar, Retro Rocks, started serving food and what great food it is!!!  In addition to their already great martinis, they started offering things like chicken tandoori skewers, pork stay skewers, great burgers, lamb burgers, homemade crab cheese, oh my!!  Anyways, one thing they offer is pulled pork sliders with your choice of sauces, one choice of which was Carolina mustard.  Being in Michigan and mustard sauce not being a popular thing, I tried it and loved it.  There was a recipe I had saved online for the mustard sauce before I tried it at Retro's, and I decided to tweak a few different recipes I found to make the sauce my own.
I am notorious for not really following or even having a recipe, but below is the closest I can come to giving you my recipe for Carolina Mustard Sauce.  I had a bottled raspberry chiplote sauce we could choose to put on the sliders as well. (pictured left) Of course the coleslaw needed to be on there too!!!  I found some great Hawaiian-style dinner rolls at the store and they were a perfect oval shape for the sliders.

Carolina Mustard Sauce
1 1/2 cups yellow mustard
1/4 cup white vinegar
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1 TB crushed red pepper flakes
1 TB ground black pepper
2 TB Worcestershire sauce
2 TB butter
2 TB liquid smoke

In a saucepan, combine everything except the butter and liquid smoke.  Simmer for 10 minutes.  Remove from heat and add butter and liquid smoke.
Notes:  You can add more sugar as you like.  I ended up using about one cup of brown sugar.  Also, the red pepper flakes can be omitted if you don't like a little kick.  Remember every measurement is approximate with me so add  things to taste.

Before the pork was ready to be pulled, I went bouncing around to shops in my area and came across the best book bargain ever!!  For $1.99, I got this:

It is a selection of headlines from the Weekly World News.  How could I pass this bargain book up?  It makes a great coffee table book.  I am still wondering who believes the stories in this publication.  "Scientists Discover earth's Core is Actually Made of Candy!" and if you read the article beyond the screaming headline, you will find out it's not just any candy but a jawbreaker.  My favorite headline is this one:

Who knew??  The people at Weekly World News, that's who!!!!!!  And Bat Boy is quite a popular subject, he escapes, drives down the freeway, helps capture Sadam, and will run for President in 2028.  Every "picture" of Bat Boy makes him look like he is shouting some nonsense, but isn't that what most politicians do anyways?  Bay Boy for President!!  (joking)

Friday, September 9, 2011

Sausage, Pear and Gorgonzola Egg Bake

 The weather is turning cooler here in Michigan and that means comfort food!!  Generally I don't have my meals planned but I had everything on hand to make the warm, comforting recipe below.

 This recipe is based on a frittata a local restaurant, Mornin' at Maggies, offers.  It has been a long time since I ate at Maggies and I can't recall exactly what is in the frittata but I did my best to try and replicate the savory and sweet taste.  I made it into an "egg bake" because my new frying pans suck and can't go into the oven, so I baked everything in a casserole dish.  You can bake this in the same pan you fry the sausage in, as long as the pan is oven-safe.
Look at all that cheesy goodness!!!

Sausage, Pear and Gorgonzola Egg Bake

  • 1 pound pork sausage
  • 2 ripe pears
  • 6 oz. gorgonzloa cheese, crumbled
  • 8 eggs
  • 2 TB herbs de province (see note)
  • 4 TB water

Crumble and brown sausage in a frying pan.  Drain off excess fat.
Heat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.  Spray a 9"x9" casserole dish with non-stick cooking spray.
Slice the pears and cut the slices into large pieces.
Beat the eggs , water and herbs de province together in a bowl.
Layer the sausage, cheese and pears in the casserole dish.  Pour the beaten eggs over everything.
Bake for 30-40 minutes or until the eggs are cooked through.

Note: I strongly suggest you use herbs de province but if you don't have herbs de province, you can use a combination of salt, pepper, rosemary, thyme and oregano.  There are plenty of recipes online to make your own but I purchased mine from a local company, Lesley Elizabeth.

On another note, I made some raspberry lemon bars from a recipe I found on Live Love Pastsa.  They were divine!!  I don't bake (too much measuring) but I really wanted to make the bars.  They were easy to make and turned out great.

Sunday, September 4, 2011


Yesterday Bob and I went to Frankenmuth and played tourist.  There was a pet fair with adoptable pets and wiener dog races!!  It was fun being a tourist in your own state and I found some great new stores to shop at.
We had some crepes at a restaurant in Frankenmuth and I remembered how much I love crepes.  Easy to make and they can be filled with anything.  I made some turkey, spinach, swiss and honey mustard crepes for lunch for us today based on the one I had at the restaurant yesterday.  You can fill the crepes with anything you want, from sweet to savory.

Turkey Swiss Crepes

Crepe filling:
  • sliced oven roasted turkey
  • fresh spinach leaves, rinsed and patted dry
  • Swiss cheese slices
  • honey mustard

Make the Basic Crepe Recipe (from Allrecipes), ingredients are below.


  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons butter, melted


  1. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the flour and the eggs. Gradually add in the milk and water, stirring to combine. Add the salt and butter; beat until smooth.
  2. Heat a lightly oiled griddle or frying pan over medium high heat. Pour or scoop the batter onto the griddle, using approximately 1/4 cup for each crepe. Tilt the pan with a circular motion so that the batter coats the surface evenly.
  3. Cook the crepe for about 2 minutes, until the bottom is light brown. Loosen with a spatula and flip the crepe over.  Put 2 slices of Swiss cheese, 2 slices of turkey, honey mustard and spinach on the crepe.  Let cook 2-3 minutes, fold one half of the crepe over, then fold the other half over.  Serve hot.
Some other ideas for savory crepe fillings:
feta cheese, spinach, olives, roasted red pepper
cooked bacon, tomato, lettuce
ham, Swiss cheese, dijon mustard

Crepes can also have sweet fillings, try a PB&J, bananas and chocolate chips, or simple melted butter, sugar and cinnamon.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Mobile Blogging

I have the Blogger mobile app and am posting this to see how well it works. I don't plan on blogging when I am on the move so I will have to determine if the app is worth keeping.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Roasted Tomatillo Salsa and an Engagement Ring

It has been a while since I posted, and I always like to share my finds and adventures.
This past weekend, Bob and I went to the local farmer's market and bought some great produce.  I didn't have anything particular in mind when I picked up tomatillos, onions, jalapeno peppers and garlic but soon realized a roasted Tomatillo Salsa would be their final journey.
Slightly sweet, a little savory this salsa would go perfectly with anything from topping a burger to eating alone with tortilla chips.
Roasted Tomatillo Salsa

8-10 tomatillos, husks removed and rinsed, cut into quarters
2 cloves garlic
1-2 jalapeno peppers, seeded and cut lengthwise (use 2 for more heat)
1 onion, peeled and cut into quarters
olive oil
handful of fresh cilantro leaves
1 lime

Heat oven to 450 degrees.
Place the tomatillos, onion, garlic and jalapenos on a cookie sheet and drizzle with a little olive oil.  Roast in the oven for 15 minutes or until everything is slightly charred.  Let cool.
Process roasted veggies, cilantro and lime juice in a food processor or blender until smooth.

On another note, even though Bob and I are engaged, he bought me something I have wanted for a long time...a Latvian engagement ring!!  The ring has 7 charms on it and here is a link explaining what the symbols mean: http://krikisjewelry.com/KrikisJewelryBellInfo.html

Thursday, March 10, 2011

More Alice Altered Tags

Here are some more tags I made for my book.  I used shipping tags purchased from Staples.  I replaced the string on the tag with ribbon and will connect all the tags together to form a book.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Alice in Wonderland

There is something about Alice in Wonderland that is frighteningly fascinating to me.  A strange world in a realm with talking rabbits, cunning cats, and the ability to shrink or grow by drinking or eating something.  I have never read the book or watched any of the movies, but the whole story is bizarre and makes me think of my own dreams which are nothing like real life, always strange and somewhat ethereal. I have been working on an Alice in Wonderland altered tag book and have the first page done:
I painted the tag blue, then used some Distress ink and a blending tool to age the edges.  The vintage paper with writing came from a variety pack of ephemera.  I added a piece of cardboard and then an image of Alice that I colored in with colored pencils.  The letter stickers are Jenni Bowlin (I think).  The clip at the top of the page is a flower clip I found in the scrap booking section of Hobby Lobby.
I have more tags done as far as a base background color.  My plan is to not tell the actual story of Alice in Wonderland, but to have a book of images and scenarios of the characters.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

More Journal Pages

Credit card scraping paint technique, stencils. gel pen

The red was stamped with paint and corrugated cardboard

Watercolor and salt, stencil and ink blown with straw

Monday, February 21, 2011


Yesterday it started snowing.  And snowing.  As of this morning we have over 6 inches on the ground.  I was inspired to make a journal page using a piece of scrap book paper that was laser-cut into snowflakes.  I placed it on my paper and washed over it with watercolors.  I took the wet snowflake paper and pressed in onto the other page for a subtle effect.  Below is my page.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

More pages

Here are some more pages in my art journal.  One is completed, the other one is a background I started.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Another Background

This was made by putting two colors of paint on the paper and using an old credit card to spread the paint around.  Then I used some punchenella as an accent on the edges of the page.  Next I dropped some white acrylic ink on the page and used the end of a paintbrush to draw out the ink to make star-like shapes.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Art Journaling

I have started an art journal with no specific theme.  Below are some pages that I have started.  Working on backgrounds for several pages at a time lets me explore different techniques without having to worry about focusing on a single page.
Completed page

Background started

Two-page background

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Happy (Almost) Valentine's Day

This is a Valentine's Day card I made for Bob.  I was excited to give it to him so he received it last night.  Here is how I made it:


For the large read heart I used a words stamp to stamp on a plain piece of watercolor paper.  Then I sprayed the paper with red spray ink and when it was dry, cut out a heart using a template I found online. 

I tore the edges off a piece of 9x12 watercolor paper to give it a rustic look.  I sprayed the paper with some water, then painted the background with blue watercolor.  Next, I added some purple and green watercolors.  I sprayed the paper with water again to blend to colors, then sprinkled salt on the paper (see the little flecks?)  Then I splattered some whiteYasutomo Pearlized watercolor over the whole paper. I let everything dry before moving to the next step.

I ran a Distress ink pad (vintage photo color) along the edges of the main paper and the edge of the heart.  Using a blending tool, I added more Distress ink to the corners of the paper and did a little on the heart.

The LOVE Grungeboard letters are painted white.  The Japanese heart was made using a paper punch.  I glued everything in place and Bob loved it!!!

NOTE:  The spray ink was made using a dropper of Distress re-inker in Lipstick, a scoop of gold Perfect Perals and water in a small spray bottle. 

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Abstract Mixed Media

I love to create and I wanted to incorporate painting into my projects, so I started doing some mixed media art.  Below are two works-in-progress.  Both are on 5" x 7" canvas board.  The purple and yellow has some collaged elements with the addition of tissue paper and cardboard for texture.  The other piece has a rice paper square with some Asian symbols.  I recently purchased Creative Paint Workshop for Mixed Media Artists and love the book.  It has a lot of information that is useful in creating a mixed media piece.