Cymbidium Orchids in Watercolor

Orchids2 Small

I thought it was time to switch gears from painting fairies and focus on botanical painting this weekend. Variety is the spice of life, right? I’ve never painted orchids before but I was drawn to the soft pinks and purples in this variety. I think the natural touches of red in the center of these orchids add interest to the painting and keep it from looking too monotone.

I’m particularly pleased with this color scheme. The colors are bright and soft at the same time. For the background I dropped in cobalt blue, cerulean blue, aureolin, and permanent rose. For the flowers I used permanent rose, cerulean blue, aureolin, and Winsor violet. For the leaves and stems I used green gold, cerulean blue, and raw sienna. This painting is based on a tutorial in Ann Mortimer’s new book, “Orchids in Watercolor.” Here’s a close up view:

Orchids2 Closeup Small

Texas Hot Dog Sauce

Texas Hot Dog Sauce

I love hot dogs. I like them with simple toppings like mustard and ketchup; I like them fancy with exotic isle toppings like pineapple, papaya, and cilantro; I like them Chicago style, and I like them Texas style. It seems like whatever I top my dog with the end result is delicious, and this recipe for Texas hot dog sauce is a big hit with my family.

I like to serve Texas hot dogs with macaroni salad and baked beans, like the delicious sausage-spiked baked beans pictured here. What? You want those recipes, too? You know you do. I’ll be posting those recipes next. Here are the ingredients you’ll need to prepare Texas hot dog sauce.


  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 1 heaping teaspoon prepared mustard
  • 2 heaping teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 heaping teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 6 heaping tablespoons ketchup
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 cup water
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 package hot dogs, cooked according to package directions
  • 1 package hot dog buns (I like Martin’s potato rolls)
  • Shredded cheddar cheese


  1. In a large skillet, cook the ground beef and onions over medium heat until the beef is browned and the onions are soft; drain fat.
  2. Add remaining ingredients; simmer for 30 minutes, adding more water if necessary.
  3. Serve over hot dogs with additional mustard, finely chopped raw onions, and shredded cheddar cheese.

Savory Kielbasa and Sauerkraut Stew

Sausage Sauerkraut Stew

I’ve been preparing this savory kielbasa and sauerkraut stew for many years. It’s inexpensive, easy to prepare, uses ingredients that are readily on hand, and always gets rave reviews. I often reach for this recipe during inclement weather, like last Wednesday’s snow storm, which blanketed our area with 12 inches of snow and strong winds that chilled us to the bone. I found the original recipe in Taste of Home Magazine, but I’ve adapted it over the years to suit my taste, so I’m reposting the recipe here with my changes. If you like kielbasa and sauerkraut, you’re going to love this simple stew.


  • 2-3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 4 cups carrot chunks, cut into 2″ pieces
  • 4 cups Yukon gold fingerling potatoes, quartered, skins on
  • One 14-oz. can sauerkraut, rinsed and drained
  • 2 1/2 pounds low-fat polish sausage (I use Healthy Choice), cut into 3″ pieces
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • 2 cups dry white wine
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon seasoning salt


  1. In a large Dutch oven, brown the sausage in olive oil over medium heat.
  2. Combine all other ingredients.
  3. Cover and simmer until the vegetables are tender, about 30 minutes.

How easy is that? I’ve also made this recipe in a crock pot. Brown the meat first then add the remaining ingredients and cook on low for 8-9 hours or until the vegetables are tender. This recipe is so easy and delicious. It’s definitely a keeper.

The Gift of Life

Gift of Life

My brother has been suffering from kidney failure for the past five years and has had to rely on dialysis several times each week for the last two years, which rendered him very weak and unable to work. But all that changed on Monday when my cousin’s husband donated one of his kidneys and gave my brother the gift of life.

How do you thank someone who has given the gift of life? A thousands thank yous are not enough. A hand-painted thank you note seems so trivial for the gift he has given but I give it from my heart and with gratitude that will last a lifetime. He says he is isn’t a hero; donating his kidney was the right thing to do. A hero is defined as a person of distinguished courage. He is a hero in my book. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

Chicken with Cashews

Cashew Chicken

I’ve been collecting recipes on Pinterest for a couple of months, and I’ve tried a number of dishes with mixed results. Of the roughly half dozen dishes that I’ve tried so far, only three recipes are keepers: this sweet and sour chicken with vegetable fried rice that I blogged about several weeks ago and this cashew chicken from

The original recipe is served on lettuce wraps but I wanted a more substantial meal so I served the chicken with steamed white rice. I made some changes to the original recipe to suit my taste. Specifically, I doubled the amount of brown sugar in the sauce and I substituted spring onions for the yellow onion (although the next time I make this dish I would toss uncooked spring onions on top of the completed dish instead of stir frying it with the garlic because the onions wilted immediately). I also doubled the amount of stir fry sauce and I’m so glad I did because the sticky sweet and spicy sauce was fabulous. Heat wise, I give this dish a medium rating, so folks who prefer less heat may want to reduce the amount of ground red pepper in the sauce, though I think it’s perfect. Here are the ingredients you’ll need to make this dish (my changes are included):

For the sauce:
  • 4 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons rice vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground red pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon fresh ground ginger root
  • 2 teaspoons sesame oil
For the cashew chicken:
  • 1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts, diced
  • 3 tablespoons canola oil
  • 1 cup spring onions, diced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 teaspoon soy sauce
  • 1/2 cup cashews, chopped
  1. Combine the stir fry sauce ingredients in a small bowl; set aside.
  2. Heat the canola oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the diced chicken and cook until no longer pink in the center (about   4-5 minutes); set aside.
  3. Add garlic and 1 teaspoon of soy sauce to the pan; cook for a minute or two then add the stir fry sauce, cooked chicken, and cashews. Saute the mixture and stir to combine; remove from heat. Top with diced spring onions.