Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Homestyle Baking: Apple Cinnamon Oatmeal Cookies with Walnuts

How many of you still have apples hanging around your abode?  Well, if you're like me, you still may have some stragglers.  Even after a couple batches of homemade canned applesauce and some baked apple crisp, I still have some leftover apples that I am determined not to waste.  These particular apples are the same ones I picked in late September with my mom and sister, so I've got a very limited window of time to use them off before they start heading West.  The past couple of years I've bakes them in pies, muffins, crisp, and into applesauce; so putting them into cookie form was still a comforting twist on a lingering autumn flavor. 

I adapted the recipe from Serious Eats: Apple Cinnamon Cookies, using half the batter to bake some cookies one night then baked the rest the next day; with the batter resting the in the fridge overnight.  I also found out I didn't have precisely all the needed ingredients, so had to improvise a smidge with what I had on hand. (I really didn't want to make a trip to the supermarket.)


1 c. flour
1 1/2 c. rolled oats
1 egg
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. ground cloves
1/4 tsp. nutmeg
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. olive oil (optional)
4 Tbsp. unsalted butter (melted)
1 1/4 c. brown sugar
1/4 tsp. vanilla extract
1/2 c. applesauce*
1/2 c. chopped walnuts
4-5 small-medium sized apples (peeled, cored, chopped into small chunks)


Mix together rolled oats, salt, cinnamon, flour, and baking powder in a medium-sized bowl and set aside.  Using a large mixing bowl as your main bowl, mix butter, both sugars, egg, vanilla, and applesauce.  Add the dry ingredients from your medium bowl to your large.  Add remaining apple chunks and walnuts.  Cover bowl with plastic wrap and let rest in fridge for at least an hour (or overnight).  

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.  Line baking sheet with parchment or wax paper.  Scoop dough about 1-1/2 inches in size and leave about 1 inch space between each cookie (they won't spread much).  Bake for 15-20 minutes and set on wire rack to cool.

These are great to have midway through the day with the chunks of apple and cinnamon oatmeal.  Also pairs well with any leftover apple cider you may have still left in the fridge too.  

*I chose to use homemade spiced applesauce that I canned in September, because it was on hand and already opened in the refrigerator.  Even though the original recipe calls unsweetened applesauce, I thought mine came out fine with sweetened.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Gallery of Mo: First Mo'trait Request

Mo'trait #1
Prismacolor marker and pigment liner on paper.

I wanted to share my first finished Mo'triat request from the Gallery of Mo.  This particular portrait will soon be shipping out acorss the pond to the United Kingdom to a sweet contributor, Keshia.  I've got one more portrait on deck of my good friend's father and three more opportunities to create portraits with mustaches for the Gallery of Mo project all during the month of November.  

Would you like an awesome portrait of yourself with a mustache drawn by me?  Or by another fabulous artist?  Sign up and contribute to the Gallery of Mo today!

Spread the word, spread the awareness, and spread the art!

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Homestyle Cooking: Acorn Squash Soup with Bacon and Kale

I've mentioned a little through some posts how much I enjoy cooking and consuming squash during the autumn.  This love has definitely been cultivated over the last recent years and only just started when I started around college.  I find squash more enjoyable if it's in a soup, or baked in a quiche with other root vegetables.  Honestly, I could have fresh butternut squash soup at least five times every autumn and be happy as can be.  It's pureed and oh-so comforting sipped from a large mug!

Though I do love my butternut squash and a spaghetti squash or two, today's focus is on the little acorn squash and roasting it into a soup.  I had bought one acorn squash at a local farmer's stand in hopes of cooking it in a different method that strayed from simply putting brown sugar on it and baking.  I will acorn squash this way, but I personally like my squash my herby and savory tasting.  This recipe was adapted from Williams-Sonoma's book, Soup of the Day: 365 Recipes for Every Day of the Year.  I also tend to improvise on spices, preference, or what I have on hand already in the fridge or cupboard.


1 acorn squash (peeled, seeded, and cubed)
4 Tbsp. olive oil
4-5 thick-cut slices of bacon (cooked and crumbled)
1 onion
4 cloves garlic* (minced)
1/2 tsp. dried thyme
1/2 tsp. grated nutmeg
1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
pinch of ground clove
a good sprinkle of seasoned salt or pinch of salt
1 bunch kale (stems removed, rinse and chop leaves)
6 cups chicken stock
1 can white beans (great northern or cannelini) 

optional soup toppings:
french-fried onion pieces
grated parmesan cheese
sour cream


Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit (200 degrees Celsius) and line a baking sheet with wax or parchment paper.  Prepare the acorn squash by washing and peeling it.  Slice squash in half and scoop out seeds.  Place in bowl and set aside to roast seeds later.  Cut up squash in chunks the size of your choice.  I cut mine on the smaller side to about 1/2" cubes, but if you're a big acorn squash lover you can choose to cut larger chunks too.

Place cubed squash in a large mixing bowl.  Toss squash with 2 Tbsp. olive oil, a good sprinkle of seasoned salt (or a pinch of regular salt) and a little pepper.  Transfer squash to baking sheet and cook for 20 minutes, or until you can easily stick a fork through a squash chunk.  

Cook bacon in a medium sized pan over medium heat until crispy.  Transfer to a plate with a couple folded paper towels on top to soak up bacon grease.  Dab excess grease off the top of bacon with a paper fowel.  Let bacon sit until cool and crumble with hands into a small bowl.  Add the onion to a large soup pot and cook with 1-2 Tbsp. olive oil for about 5 minutes on medium-low heat.  Add minced garlic once onions start softening down in the pot and stir frequently.  Cook for a little while longer, until garlic and onions become aromatic, but before they start browning.  

Add remaining spices as well as squash to the pot.  Next add the kale, chicken broth, and bacon to pot and cook on low for 30 minutes.  I tend to let my soup cook on lower temperatures for a longer amount of time to let them simmer and enrich itself with the flavors in the pot.  Plus it adds a great aroma to the apartment that you can smell going up the steps to the front door.  Also, the squash could be substituted with a butternut, small pumpkin, or other hearty root vegetable if you're using up what you have around your kitchen.  This comforting autumn soup also pairs well with grilled cheese for a weeknight dinner for two.  

**Once again, garlic lover here!  If you do not share the same sentiments towards this aromatic friend, please feel free to cut down on the amount used.  I also add a little more than recipes ask for to add more flavor to a recipe, and to help with staying healthy (espeically when customers are starting to come in under-the-weather).    

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Volunteering Artwork: The Gallery of Mo

"My Favorite Scarf (self portrait)"
Self portrait with mustache created for The Gallery of Mo
Prismacolor marker and pigment liner on paper.

I signed up to be an artist to help create some portraits of people with mustaches on them as a part of the Gallery of Mo for the month of November.  What is the Gallery of Mo and what's up with mustaches and November all of a sudden?  November has become dedicate to mustaches and raising awareness and funding for prostate and testicular cancer. Movember supports programs focuses on awareness and education of men's health as well as living with or beyond cancer or mental illness.  Thus re-creating November into "Movember."  

Would you like a self portrait from an awesome artist with a mustache on it?
Here's how you can one and participate in this fundraiser:

1. Visit www.galleryofmo.com

2. Select an artist who is participating based on their created self-portrait...with mustache (like mine above)

3. Upload a photo of yourself that you would like made into a artistic creation…with a mustache

4. Donate however much that artist is asking to commission a portrait for the fundraiser (some artists ask for different prices based on how they create their portriats, how much time it takes them, how much they would like to help donate to the fundraiser, and things like materials;etc.)

I plan on mailing the original illustration of requested mo'triats that come my way, if it's requested.  I'm also excited to share that I have had two mo'trait requests with one in the works and the other completed, scanned, and shared with the recipient.  This project has been pretty fun and very rewarding…and we're only about the first week into the month of November.  

I have to say, reading the feedback from the first mo'triat request I received from the United Kingdom was truly uplifting!  Even though at times I felt a little like I was creating  a caricature (maybe because of the mustache?), it was still a great experience to create a piece and have such positive feedback.  I've got one in the works, of one of my good friend's fathers, and three more empty slots to create some more mo'traits!   

Also, if you'd rather have another artist create your mo'triat in a different style, there are a myriad of others willing to create one for you.  You've got until November 30th, 2013 to request a self portrait with a mustache, a mo'trait!  Get on it!

Thursday, November 7, 2013

New Illustration: Wise Picea (pines)

"Wise Picea (pines)" 2013
Prismacolor marker and pigment liner on paper

Yes, this illustration is a little different from what I normally create.  It was originally created to submit for a local call for art at the Gallery at the Syracuse Tech Garden.  Unfortunately, this piece did not make the cut.  However, that doesn't mean I won't try and submit it to future calls for art and/or try and get it exhibited in another gallery setting.  "Trees: Symbols of Powerful Experiences," will be exhibiting November 14-December 31st 2013 with the opening reception on November 21st 2013 @ 5-8pm.  The Gallery will be open Monday-Friday 9-4pm.  

I'm still an emerging artist and there's still plenty of room for growth, acceptance, rejection, and new opportunities.  I try and apply my work, or create new work for a many opportunities as I can physically can in between working my retail job and living my life (like cooking good food, reading, running, shopping;etc.)  I strive to continue to create my work and continue to apply to exhibitions to simply get my work recognized.  I am determined to be a successful artist with my illustrations and my re-purposed sculptural/installation work.

What can I say?  It's a rollercoatser, like most of life is.  Sometimes I feel on top of the world and so joyful and proud of my work.  Other times I feel frustrated, defeated, and disappointed; however that doesn't stop my momentum.  I cannot say enough how I love simply just making things with my hands; creating new art and cooking good food.  

Now, back to the illustration.  I've been wanting to create an illustration that essentially pays homage to both my deceased grandfathers, who both cultivated enriching experiences within the Adirondacks.  I wanted to create an illustration that would remind me of the times spent in the woods with each grandfather and my family, and something my family would aesthetically appreciate in their home.  

Donald, my maternal grandfather, was a New York State Conservation forest ranger for over half his life.  He would even check fire towers on various trails in the Adirondacks in the earlier experiences of his career.  Mario, my paternal grandfather, was an avid fisherman and camper and influenced a lot of my own camping experiences still I was an infant.  I associate both my grandfathers with the love and appreciation I have with this great forest that was practically in my backyard growing up in Gloversville, New York. ( I was literally less than 10 minutes away from the blue line of the park.)  I have represented both of them with their first initial on each side of the piece.

The illustration also depicts the view from the top of Whiteface Mountain in Wilmington, New York; specifically depicting Lake Placid in the background.  I have specifically revisited this location with my family many a time; literally driving up the mountain road (it was paved in the 1940s) in one of our Chevrolet station wagons. (I'm proud to say we've been a station wagon family for generations).  
The area is magnificently beautiful and is great for camping, fishing, swimming, and hiking.  I have so much love for that protected woodland and the memories and experiences I have within the Adirondacks.    

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Halloween 2013

This year for Halloween I was determined to do something, even if it was small, after work to celebrate the holiday.  No one I knew was hosting any sort of Halloween party and some of our friends weren't even going to be home, which led to the decision of hosting my own small party with Gregory in our quaint apartment.

I celebrated Halloween dressing up a child and going trick-or-treating for candy until about adolescence.  The toilet papering and shaving creaming friends (who would return the favor to you) came next, as well as dressing up for Halloween parties.  More dressing up, then drinking was introduced.  My current young-adult years have been consisting of working on the holiday and scrambling to do something to appreciate the one day where playing dress-up is socially accepted.  A lot of the girls I would dress up with and plan these things have moved elsewhere and life has just become a little more hectic with bills and living expenses. 

The first photo shown above is the Halloween inspired backdrop I created with a roll of brown craft paper and paintI figured it was cheaper than buying something premade and I was really proud of it when it was finished.  Next are Jeff, Greg's brother-in-law, as an awesome homemade pirate and his sister, Lara, as a spirit in a creepy mask.  Greg is slicing up hot meatloaf as Dave Mustane, and I'm a DIY Velma from Scooby-Doo (yes, my hair is getting quite long).

The party was a little splash of fun amongst the mundane, even if it was a little low-key party of four that night.  We served homemade warm spinach dip with baguette slices and tortilla chips, a cheese platter consisting of: Dubliner, goat, and Swiss cheese, crackers, Mediterranean olive spread, homemade meatloaf (Greg made this spontaneously the day of and I think this has become a new Halloween tradition), as well as some store bought Halloween candy.  Greg's sister Lara and brother-in-law Jeff (pictured above) brought homemade stuffed mushrooms, oatmeal cookies, and sliced apples with pumpkin dip.  We also made up some mulled cider, a pitcher of El Diablo (from thekitchn.com), and served some beer.

I'm really content with how the night went and everyone's costumes.  It was a quaint night of yummy hors d'oeuvres and good company in costume.  We listened to Pandora on the "David Bowie" station over John Carpenter's: Halloween II and III.  I hope your Halloween night went just as well, whether it was shared with others or in the comfort of your own dwelling.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Where did October go?

Photo taken using A Beautiful Mess' iPhone app (using Greg's phone)

October flew right by!  Thankfully I can say I enjoyed it from start to finish.  As you can see I hardly blogged on here at all during last month and wanted to share a little of what kept me busy.  

Greg and I went camping with my mom and dad in the Adirondacks.  I made homemade butternut squash soup twice and roasted the seeds.  I went to a cool exhibition as a part of Project-U Arts in Utica, New York.  Donated my small illustration, "Soup Loving Mouse" to a local non-profit gallery, ArtRage: The Norton Putter Gallery, for a cheap art auction.  Created a new illustration for a call for art, applied (and declined) from a local exhibition. Baked up some apple crisp and had a little Halloween party.  Whew!

How was your October?  Did you make the most of the mid-autumn?  I hope you're doing a lof cooking/baking of tasty and comforting autumn dishes as well!  Squashes are still in season!

I've signed up for the Gallery of Mo creating mo'traits (self portraits with mustaches) to help raise funds to fight prostate cancer.  Click here to visit my profile.  That will most likely be occupying my drawing, as well as some good late-autumn cooking.  I still have two butternut squash, an acorn squash, and some pumpkins to cook up!