Month: November 2012

Watercolor Morning Glories

This was such a simple drawing, yet I found these morning glories quite challenging to paint. Challenging = difficult, which usually means it was a learning experience, and that’s a good thing. This painting was based on a drawing lesson from Janet Whittle’s book, “How to Draw Exotic Flowers in Simple Steps.”

Chicken Pot Pie–A Great Recipe for Holiday Leftovers

What’s better than a Thanksgiving dinner where you don’t have to cook? Returning home with a bag full of delicious leftovers so you can create another fabulous meal. A big thank you to my brother and his wife for hosting the holiday meal and for sharing their leftovers with me so I could make home-made chicken pot pie–one of my daughter’s favorite recipes.

The beauty of chicken pot pie is that you can toss all your Thanksgiving leftovers into this dish–green beans, peas, carrots, potatoes, gravy, corn pudding, stuffing, you name it–and it always turns out fabulous. That’s that mark of a good recipe. Here are the ingredients you’ll need to make chicken pot pie:


1-2 cups de-boned chicken (or turkey)
1 cup celery, chopped
1 cup onion, chopped
1 cup carrots, peeled and sliced
1 cup potatoes, cubed (no peeling necessary)
1/4 – 1/2 cup butter
1/4 cup flour
1 1/2 cups home-made gravy (canned will work, too) or chicken broth
1 1/2 cups half-and-half (or 3/4 cup cream plus 3/4 cup milk)
1/2 teaspoon poultry seasoning
1 teaspoon salt

In a large skillet, saute the celery, onions, carrots, and potatoes in butter until soft (about 10-15 minutes), stirring occasionally so the vegetables don’t brown. Stir in the flour, gravy or chicken broth, half-and-half, chicken or turkey pieces, poultry seasoning, and salt. Pour mixture into a greased baking dish. Top with a home-made pie pastry (recipe below). Don’t use a store-bought crust; it’s easy to make a home-made crust and it tastes so much better. Come on, you can do it; I’ll walk you through it.

Pie Pastry:

1 1/2 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup shortening
1 teaspoon baking powder
3 tablespoons ice water (avoid adding additional water)

In a large mixing bowl, stir together the flour, salt, and baking powder. Cut in the shortening with a pastry cutter until the shortening pieces resemble small peas. Add ice water and stir to combine (use your hands if you prefer). Do not over mix, over work, or over stretch the dough when fitting it into the pan or it will shrink during baking and become tough. Form the dough into a ball and roll it between two sheets of waxed paper (this keeps your counters and roller clean and no additional flour is necessary). Fold the dough into quarters. Place on top of the baking dish; unfold. Turn raw edges under. Crimp edges between your thumb and fore fingers or use a fork.

Make at 400 degrees for 30 minutes, or until the top crust is golden brown and the filling is bubbling around the edges.

Doesn’t this look delish? You can see that I added leftover peas and corn pudding, too. Give this chicken pot pie recipe a try and let me know what you think.

The Perfect Appetizer: Baked Santa Fe Dip

What’s better than Thanksgiving dinner? Being a guest at your brother’s house, so all you have to do is show up and eat. And what a feast he and his wife prepared: baked chicken, stuffing, mashed potatoes with gravy, sweet potatoes, green beans, and corn pudding. I couldn’t show up and not bring something to the table, so I whipped up this baked Santa Fe cheese dip. I’ve been making this appetizer for years. With two types of cheese, green chilies, corn, and chipotle peppers, this dip is not only easy to assemble, it’s a real crowd pleaser. Five minutes after arriving at my brother’s house, this is all that was left:

My sister-in-law said, “this stuff is dangerous,” and she’s right. It’s impossible to stop eating it once you take a bite. So you’ve been forewarned. Here are the ingredients you’ll need to make this delicious appetizer:

As usual, I’ve revised the recipe to suit my taste. I love chipotle peppers, so I added way more than the original recipe called for. I also increased the amount of cheese, corn, and cilantro. If you’d like a milder version, you can get the original recipe here.


4 cups of shredded cheese (I used a blend of Monterey Jack and cheddar)
1 cup mayonnaise
1 15-oz. can whole kernel corn, drained
1 4-oz. can chopped green chilies
4 finely chopped canned chipotle chili peppers in adobo sauce
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1 medium tomato, diced
1/2 cup sliced green onions
1/2 cup snipped, fresh cilantro
Vegetable dippers or tortilla chips

In a large bowl, combine cheese, mayonnaise, corn, green chilies, chopotle peppers, and garlic powder. Spread into a 9 x 13″ baking dish. Bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes, or until the top is lightly browned. Combine tomatoes, green onions, and cilantro. Spoon mixture down the center of the hot dip. Serve with vegetable dippers or tortilla chips.

This dish is so easy and so good. Be prepared to share the recipe and be asked to contribute it to pot luck dinners frequently.

Thanksgiving at the Barn

There’s nothing my daughter loves more than spending time at the barn with her beloved horses. So I thought I’d share some photos of Thanksgiving at the farm. Simple pleasures are the best. I hope everyone had a wonderful holiday.

The drive to the barn:

View of the pastures:

Greta’s horse, Abbott:

Greta’s horse, Erin:

Greta riding Erin:

Katie, the mule:

Napoleon, the miniature horse:

Greta’s new horse trailer (just delivered this week):

Steve at the barn:

What a wonderful way to spend the day. It’s easy to see why my daughter spends so much time here.

Watercolor Morning Glories

While my daughter was painting her lovely orange tulips, I worked on these morning glories. This is a redo of these morning glories that I worked on last week:

I decided the yellow and turquoise background was too distracting and wanted to try a more monochrome painting. I also changed the proportion of some of the petals and glazed the flowers with blue. Which painting do you prefer?

Watercolor Tulips

My daughter painted these cheerful orange tulips during our joint painting session earlier this evening. How fabulous are they? I love the color scheme and the series of lines and dots drawn in micron pen that she used to shade the flowers and leaves. This painting was based on a photo I found on Paint My Photo.

Here’s a photo of her painting before the addition of the details in micron pen:

She wanted me to ask my readers if the painting was better with or without the micron pen details. I say it’s better with the dots and lines. What say you all?

Weekend Chef–Apple Praline Bread

I worked on my morning glory painting last weekend but wasn’t happy with the results. I was beginning to get frustrated so I set my painting aside and whipped up this apple praline bread instead. The cake is moist and dense and the caramel praline topping is absolutely decadent. I’ve been making this recipe for years. I found the original recipe in Better Homes and Gardens magazine, but made a few changes over the years to suit my taste. Specifically, I increased the amount of apples in the batter and doubled the pecans and caramel sauce on top. Here are the ingredients you’ll need to make this treat:


1 cup sugar
1 8-oz. container sour cream
2 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups chopped, peeled tart apples (I used Jonna Gold)
1 1/2 cups chopped pecans
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup packed brown sugar

In a large mixing bowl beat sugar, sour cream, eggs, and vanilla until combined. Stir together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt; add to the sour cream mixture, beating on low speed until combined. Stir in apples and 1/2 cup of pecans. Turn into a greased 9 x 5 x 3″ pan. Sprinkle remaining cup of pecans on top; press lightly into batter. Bake at 350 degrees for 50-60 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool in the pan for 10 minutes.

Meanwhile in a small sauce pan combine the brown sugar and butter. Cook and stir until the mixture comes to a boil.  Reduce heat and boil gently for 1 minute. Remove bread from pan. Drizzle top with brown sugar mixture.

Here’s a photo of my pal, Dexter, waiting for something yummy to drop off of the counter while I work:

He usually scores several treats this way. Afterwards, he’s more than willing to help me with dish duty.

What a good helper.

In Search of Rainbows–For My Kitchen

Speaking of colorful kitchen appliances, how fun are these limited-edition Kenwood kMix retro-style mixers accented with rainbow stripes? Since I couldn’t purchase my Delonghi kMix small kitchen appliances in every color of the rainbow (that would just be too crazy), I found this fabulous stand mixer in firecracker red.

The orange stripe in this playful pattern is the perfect complement to these Delonghi kMix appliances I recently purchased in orange:

This way, I can add just a touch of rainbow colors to my kitchen without going completely over the top.

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