Sunday, August 30, 2009

A New Twist on Jalepeno Poppers

One of my favorite things to do is make appetizers for parties. Sometimes, I think people only invite me because they know I am going to cook something good. Here is a new appetizer that I tried recently for a friends get together. Only 4 ingredients!


2 (12 ounce) packages ground sausage
2 (8 ounce) packages cream cheese, softened
30 jalapeno chile peppers
1 pound sliced bacon, cut in half
1 1/2 cups cheddar

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C).
Place ground sausage in a large, deep skillet. Cook over medium high heat until evenly brown. Drain sausage and place in a medium bowl. Mix with the cream cheese.

Cut jalapenos in half lengthwise. Remove the seeds. I found it easiest (and less of a burning feeling on your hands) to soak them in water when you are taking the seeds out. Stuff each jalapeno half with equal portions of the sausage and cream cheese mixture. Wrap with half slices of bacon. Secure bacon with toothpicks.

Arrange wrapped jalapenos in a large, shallow baking dish. Bake in the preheated oven 20 minutes, or until the bacon is evenly brown.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Brushstroke and Values Study

I have been experimenting with patterning, values, and brushstrokes. In doing so, I used an old sketch from my sketchbook to experiment using oils. Right now, the hardest challenge I have been facing is when using different mediums, they either leave too shiny of a finish or dry too quickly. This is the first attempt using a suggestion from a friend. It is a medium called liquin and so far I like it. It thins the oils, but it also dries in a great amount of time. It also allows for a smoother blend between colors. So far so good, not sure I am liking the shininess that it appears to have though.

Monday, August 24, 2009

An old family recipe

I have always loved cooking and I have always loved cooking for other people. As a kid, I had a serious problem with being able to tell the difference between salt and sugar. I still remember my grandmother's face when I made these cookies for the first time (around age 7 or 8 I would say) and added salt where the sugar should have been. These cookies are even rolled in a sugar and cinnamon combination right before you cook them. Can you imagine what those tasted like.

As a kid, I had braces from 4th grade until about 7th grade. I loved my braces and thought I was the coolest kid because I had my rubber band colors changed each week to reflect my mood. With my cool kid attitude came a nasty habit of drooling. Yes, I was a drooler. I drooled when I talked, when I ate, and when I slept. With this drooling came the apprehension of eating the food that I made. It grossed most of my family out. My grandma always used to say, "It's ok Brooke, your nasty germs will get cooked off in the oven." Regardless, my grandmother never discouraged me from cooking. She is actually the reason I truly believe I love cooking to this day.

I have made these cookies for years, I hope you enjoy!


1/2 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup shortening
1 1/2 cups white sugar
2 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons cream of tartar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons white sugar
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C).
Cream together butter, shortening, 1 1/2 cups sugar, the eggs and the vanilla. Blend in the flour, cream of tartar, soda and salt. Shape dough by rounded spoonfuls into balls.
Mix the 2 tablespoons sugar and the cinnamon. Roll balls of dough in mixture. Place 2 inches apart on ungreased baking sheets. Bake 8 to 10 minutes, or until set but not too hard. Remove immediately from baking sheets.

P.S. A little slobber adds great flavor!

Baby Shower Invitations

I have the awesome opportunity to help plan a good friend of mines baby shower. You all know how I love planning events. Julie has beautifully designed her baby room, so you know I had to design some awesome invitations! The biggest challenge I had is that Julie does not like "baby stuff." Sooo.... this is what I did.

I used scrapbooking paper and cut and pasted each piece and then reconstructed them together. For the eyes, I used felt, and for the eyeballs, I used a gold puffy paint. I then attached each of them to the white back, which held the information about the shower. Each one is a little different. I am so happy that Julie liked them. When I was at her house on Friday, she already had three of them framed and hung up in her baby's room! The best compliment of all.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Art + Food= Love

As I am finishing up packing for my trip to Philly to visit my best friend Joanne, I am reminded of how food and art really has effected out friendship.

Eight years ago, Joanne and I packed up my Montero and drove to Baltimore for an art show. We had no idea of what was ahead of us. We got to the show, and within hours everyone knew who Joanne was. Of course a blond haired, blue eyed girl is going to stand out at an African-American art show. I hate to stand at my booth and talk to people about my artwork, so Joanne stepped up.

That evening, after an opening ceremony, we were all a little tipsy. My sister Kim and Joanne staid down at the hotel bar to have one more drink. I was not feeling well so I went to bed. Kim and Joan must have had more than one drink because on the way up to the room, they met two guys in the elevator, and of course they had pizza. Joanne, one of the boldest people I know, asked for a piece of pizza, and Ty was happy to give her a piece. Ty's friend announced that he never kissed a black woman before. Anyone who knows my sister knows that she is always willing to take one fore a team! Ha!

A little bit later that evening, there was a knock at the door, and it was Ty. I was half asleep, but I will never forget how angry with the all of them I was because they kept laughing and giggling in the bed next to me, while my sister was in bed with me with some serious gas. I have had enough and I packed up a pillow and a jacket and slept in the car.

Little did I know that Joanne would marry this man, move to Philadelphia, and have two beautiful children with him. Two drunk and hungry girls + two guys in an elevator= a happy family. Who would have thought it!

Monday, August 3, 2009

Sunday Experiment

It must be dating an Italian, but after having my first arancini, I had to try and make them on my own. This are super fun to make, but next time I will make a few changes. It seems like a lot of ingredients, but trust me, its worth it, and VERY easy.

Spinach Arancini

4 cups chicken broth
1/2 teaspoon saffron threads, crumbled...( I WILL NOT be using this again. It was $15 for a tiny little plastic bag. Forget that.)
1 1/2 cups Arborio rice ( I could not find this in a regular grocery store. I went to three grocery stores and finally had luck at good old Trader Joes)
sea salt and pepper to taste

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 onion, minced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup white wine
2 cups chopped fresh spinach (use 1 cup, 2 was way too much)
2 tablespoons butter
1 1/2 cups grated Parmesan cheese
8 ounces mozzarella cheese, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 eggs, lightly beaten
2 cups seasoned bread crumbs
...Next time I will add crumbled chicken sausage...

vegetable oil for deep frying

Bring 4 cups chicken broth and saffron threads to a boil in a saucepan over high heat. Stir in Arborio rice, return to a boil, then reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer until the rice is tender, yet still a little firm, about 16 minutes.

Heat olive oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Stir in onion, and cook for one minute, then stir in garlic, and continue cooking until the onion has softened and turned translucent, about 3 minutes. Stir in wine, spinach, and butter, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low, and fold in cooked rice and Parmesan cheese; cook a few minutes until the mixture is a little stiff. Spread onto a baking sheet, and cool in the refrigerator until completely cold, 4 hours to overnight. I just froze the rice for 10 minutes because you know I have no patience!)

Once the rice mixture has cooled, form the arancini by enclosing a cube of mozzarella cheese in about 3 tablespoons of the rice to form a 1 inch ball; set aside. When you have finished making the balls, place flour, eggs, and bread crumbs into separate, shallow bowls. One-by-one, gently roll the arancini in the flour to coat, then shake off excess. Dip into beaten egg, then roll in bread crumbs; set aside.
Heat the oil in a deep-fryer or electric skillet to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
Deep fry the arancini 5 or 6 at a time in the hot oil until golden brown, about 4 minutes. Be sure to roll the arancini around with a metal spoon as they cook so they are evenly browned on all sides. Drain on paper towels, and serve hot.