Where Magic Happens

Sometimes you have to leave your comfort zone to make magic happen. Today I left my comfort zone, slapped a variety of colors of paint on my paper, tilted the paper to encourage the colors to run together, and came up with this wildly intense background.

Those are roses I’ve sketched (the shiny areas are masking fluid). Can I take a traditional subject like roses and combine them with this wild background and come up with something magical? Only time will tell….

Puppy Antics

This is Dexter, our Pomeranian/Dachshund mix puppy. Look at that sweet, innocent face. What lies behind such cuteness, such pure innocence?

A little monster! That WAS a new magazine I just received in the mail today but failed to keep out of his reach.

Look at that mess! And what does a little monster do when he’s caught in the act?

He gives me a little wink and a smile. So what did I do? Why, I ripped the remaining pages out of my magazine, crinkled them into little balls, and tossed them to him for a game of fetch. Who am I to ruin his fun? Cost of an hour’s fun: about $4.00. Playtime spent with my puppy: priceless.

Weekend Chef: How to Make Eggplant Parmesan

In my last post, I showed you how to refashion zucchini into mock apple cobbler. In this post I’ll show you how to turn these beautiful eggplants into this amazing eggplant Parmesan.

Doesn’t this look delish? Here’s how I did it:

Eggplant Parmesan

2 medium eggplants, peeled and sliced into 1/4-inch rounds
2-3 eggs, beaten
Italian bread crumbs (I used Progresso)
1 12-oz package of sliced provolone cheese (I used Sargento)
Olive oil
Spicy roasted red pepper and sausage marinara sauce (recipe below)

Heat several tablespoons of olive oil in a heavy skillet. Dip the eggplant slices into the beaten eggs and dredge in the bread crumbs. Fry 3-4 slices at a time over medium heat. Cook several minutes on both sides until golden brown. Repeat with remaining eggplant slices. Replace the olive oil when the bits of bread crumbs on the bottom of the pan begin to burn (about every other batch). Drain eggplant on paper towels. To assemble the dish, spoon a thin layer of marinara sauce on the bottom of an 8-inch square baking dish, add a layer of eggplant, followed by more marinara sauce, and a layer of provolone cheese. Repeat layers until the dish is full (2-3 layers deep). Top with cheese. Bake, uncovered, at 350 degrees until the cheese is golden brown and the edges are bubbling. Cool for 15-20 minutes before serving. Cut into squares.

Spicy Roasted Red Pepper and Sausage Marinara Sauce
(My own concoction–an easy and fabulous almost homemade sauce)

1 16-oz. roll of spicy Italian ground sausage (I used Bob Evans), browned and drained
1 26-oz. jar of spaghetti sauce (I used Prego)
1 15-oz. can of Manwich sauce (for a little extra zest)
1 12-oz. jar of roasted red peppers (pureed in a blender with their liquid)
1 tablespoon chopped garlic
1 onion, peeled and diced
1 green pepper, seeded and diced
A bunch of fresh basil, chopped (the more the merrier)
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon truffle oil
1/2 tablespoon brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon paprika
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

Combine all ingredients in a large saucepan and simmer over medium heat. You can use this sauce when it’s heated through, but I prefer to simmer it slowly until the color deepens to a deep, rich red and the sauce almost scorches on the bottom of the pan. Watch it carefully, stirring often, to make sure it doesn’t burn.

Serve the eggplant Parmesan with a Caesar salad (mixed salad greens, shredded Parmesan Reggiano cheese, garlic croutons, diced ham, green peas, and Caesar dressing) and garlic bread or Texas toast.

Doesn’t this look amazing?

Give this a try and let me know what you think. Don’t cheat and use just a jar of store-bought spaghetti sauce. Take the extra time to doctor it up the way I did into a really delicious sauce. A good sauce really makes this dish. Enjoy!

What Does a Renegade Seamstress Do With a Zucchini?

She turns it into apple cobbler! That’s what Beth, the Renegade Seamstress did. If you haven’t visited Beth’s website before, be sure to check it out. You’re in for a real treat. Not only is Beth an expert at refashioning thrift store clothing into adorable outfits, she also shares step-by-step do-it-yourself instructions for each project, and other unique refashion tips, like turning zucchini into apple cobbler–she’s a regular renegade refashionista!

Zucchini cobbler may sound like a strange concoction, but after reading Beth’s post and her descriptions of her family’s rave reviews, curiosity got the best of me and my mom–and since we’d just bought zucchini at the farmer’s market–we decided to give it a try. And we loved it! My daughter did, too. It really does taste like apple cobbler. You have to taste it to believe it. Get the recipe here.

Here’s a picture of our zucchini cobbler hot from the oven.

And here’s a photo moments before I took my first bite.

And don’t forget to serve it with a steamy cup of coffee. Delish!

This One’s for Frodo

Our little pal, Frodo, hasn’t paid us a visit in two weeks. I’ve grown so accustomed to his daily deck visits that I’m really starting to miss him. So this one is for Frodo, our little princely frog friend, wherever he is.

This painting is based on a tutorial from “How to Draw and Paint Fairyland,” by Linda Ravenscoft.