Back to life drawing

This was the last drawing of the evening, and we actually had twenty-five minutes to work on it. It is great to have and know you have a time limit, as it helps you consider how much can I get done in this amount of time. In a life drawing session, there is not teacher and no input from other students. You can take the medium of your choice and try to draw what you see. It is challenging and a learning experience. I have fairly good drawings and some not so good drawings.

With this drawing, the model asked to see what I had done, and asked to take a photo of it. I have drawn this model before and she now always asks to see my work. I consider this an honor, as she did not ask to see any other work in the class.

I’ve drawn her in the past, and this was before the recent portraiture class I just took. This was a twenty minute sketch where I think I captured her essence, but the proportions are off. Her eyes kind of moved a bit off too! I just left it as it was, as it looks a bit abstract.

Life drawing sessions are good for improving a quicker drawing, and fun to have the camaraderie of different artists. It is fun to see the variety of styles and levels of expertise. I hope to do more in the future. Join my blog and hopefully we will see improvement together.

Back to life drawing

Garlic Butter Mushroom Stuffed Chicken

Aren’t we all looking for a million different ways to use chicken.  I found this recipe on Cafe Delites, a blog I follow, but will make a few changes next time I make it.  The sauce was very heavy.  I made it early in the afternoon and put it in my warming drawer.  This is one you need to make and immediately serve or the sauce gets gummy and too think.  I served it over sautéed spiraled squash and the sauce was great on that.   Pasta is always a wonderful choice or rice when the a sauce is creamy and garlicky!  And whatever you do, do not count calories on this one.  It comes in about 600 calories per serving.  Not a diet night!
Screen Shot 2018-02-02 at 10.03.01 AMMushrooms:
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 8 ounces (250 grams) brown mushrooms, sliced
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons fresh parsley chopped
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • 4 chicken breasts, skinless and boneless (I only used two and it made enough for four)
  • Salt and pepper, to season
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon dried parsley (Fresh is always better to me)
  • 8 slices mozzarella cheese  (I prefer fresh Mozzarella, so substituted)
  • 1/4 cup fresh grated parmesan cheese
Garlic Parmesan Cream Sauce:
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 large cloves garlic minced or finely chopped (Okay so I love garlic and used 4)
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 1-1/2 cups half and half
  • 1/2 cup finely grated fresh Parmesan cheese
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/2 teaspoon cornstarch cornflour mixed with 2 teaspoons of water (OPTIONAL FOR A THICKER SAUCE)   [I do not recommend, as it made the sauce way too think]
  • 2 tablespoon fresh chopped parsley
  1. Preheat oven to 200°C or 400°F.

  2. Melt butter in a large (over 12-inch or 30 cm) oven proof pan or skillet over medium heat. Add garlic and sauté until fragrant (about 1 minute). Add in mushrooms, salt and pepper (to your tastes), and parsley. Cook while stirring occasionally until soft. Set aside and allow to cool while preparing your chicken.
  3. Pat breasts dry with a paper towel. Season with salt, pepper, onion powder and dried parsley. Rub each piece to evenly coat in seasoning.

  4. Horizontally slice a slit through the thickest part of each breast to form a pocket. Place 2 slices of mozzarella into each breast pocket. (I was using fresh, so put about four or five slices)

  5. Divide the mushroom mixture into four (in my case two, but next time I would cut each in half, as they were large) equal portions and fill each breast with the mushroom mixture. Leave the juices in the pan for later. If there are any left over mushroom, you can use them later. Top the mushroom mixture with 1 tablespoon of parmesan cheese per breast. Seal with two or three toothpicks near the opening to keep the mushrooms inside while cooking.

  6. Heat the same pan the mushrooms were in along with the pan juices (the garlic butter will start to brown and take on a ‘nutty’ flavor). Add the chicken and sear until golden. Flip and sear on the other side until golden. Cover pan and continue cooking in preheated oven for a further 20 minutes, or until completely cooked through the middle and no longer pink. (I always check temperature to be sure it makes it to 170 degrees)

  7. Serve, with pan juices and any remaining mushrooms, on top of pasta, rice or steamed vegetables.  To make the optional cream sauce, transfer chicken to a warm plate, keeping all juices in the pan.

  1. Fry the garlic in the leftover pan juices until fragrant (about 1 minute). Reduce heat to low heat, and add the mustard and half and half .

  2. Bring the sauce to a gentle simmer and add in any remaining mushrooms and parmesan cheese. Allow the sauce to simmer until the parmesan cheese has melted slightly. (If the sauce is too runny for your liking, add the cornstarch/water mixture into the centre of the pan and mix through fast to combine into the sauce. It will begin to thicken immediately). [oh yes it did and it was way too thick to look good]

  3. Season with a little salt and pepper to your taste. Add in the parsley and the chicken back into the pan to serve. (I like to plate my food, so could not imagine serving dinner from a pan) . 

Garlic Butter Mushroom Stuffed Chicken

Cheese Dip Emergency

Screen Shot 2018-02-01 at 4.30.24 PMEver have people over without a lot of warning to go shopping.  It happens to me once in a while.  I found this wonderful simple formula for making a Cheese Dip.  An everyone seems to love cheese!  I love cheese, but only eat sheep or goat cheese.  Central Market in Poulsbo has a wonderful selection and I am starting to see other markets carry more of a variety of them.

A yummy and creamy cheese dip is always a welcome “bring-to” a party.  You stand and talk and snack and life is good.  It’s hard to go wrong and easy to be playful with your flavor combinations when you make cheesy hot dips without a recipe. If you follow the basic procedure for how to make baked cheese dips below, you can make one with whatever flavors and add-ins you want to suit your personal tastes. (or whatever you happen to have in the refrigerator or pantry)


The most versatile base for hot dips is simple and pure cream cheese. It’s the glue that holds everything together in the best creamy way.

Unless you’re making a cheesy baked dip for just one two or four, go ahead and start off with a full standard 8-ounce block of cream cheese. You’re more likely than not making this for a party, right? So start big. Depending on how many things you mix into your dip, starting with one block of cream cheese will make you about 3 cups of dip, enough to feed about 8 to 10 people depending on how much dip they go for.

Let your cream cheese sit out on the counter until it reaches room temperature. Or, if you can’t wait, chop it up and toss it into a microwave-proof bowl and zap it briefly a few times until it’s room temp. (One of things I do is put it in a plastic bag, in a bowl of hot water.  This works to bring eggs to room temperature too!)


To get your cream cheese to a place of being mixable, you need to thin it out with a bit of mayo or sour cream. Just add a few spoonfuls to the cream cheese and beat it all together with a wooden spoon or rubber spatula in a big bowl until it’s smooth. Not getting smooth enough? Add a bit more. You don’t want this mixture to be too thin, but it should be something you can easily stir.


So, how do you want the base of your dip to taste? Some of your flavoring elements can flavor as well as help thin the dip base: add some lemon juice, hot sauce, or mustard and beat until smooth. Now add a bit of salt and freshly ground black pepper too, and any spices you might want to use to pair with your mix-ins. Old Bay seasoning is classic if you’re making a crab dip, and a pinch of cayenne or paprika helps boost the flavor of almost any dip, but don’t stop there—use whatever spices you want! Some finely chopped garlic can go in at this stage too, and/or any citrus zest: lemon, lime, or orange. Stir it all one more time so it’s nice and smooth and your flavoring elements are fully incorporated.


A cheesy baked dip is nothing without a lot of shredded cheese that will get nice and melty in the oven. So, start grating and piling in the cheese! You can use any one or mix of cheese you want—just make sure most of it is a meltable cheese. Monterey Jack or mozzarella or cheddar are always good safe melty bets, as are fontina and gruyère. If you want to add a less smoothly melty cheese like Parmesan or Gorgonzola or Brie for flavor, you should, just make sure to pair it with a mild meltable cheese like Monterey Jack or mozzarella to make sure you get the best texture.

How much cheese should you add? If you started with that 8 ounce block of cream cheese, go for about a cup of cheese. Or just eyeball it and keep adding and stirring until it looks like you have a nice even distribution of grated cheese covered in creamy base. You don’t want the cheese to overwhelm the base, because you still have to add your mix-ins!


You could just leave your dip as is at this point, and it would be cheesy and delicious, but don’t you want to have a little more fun with it? It’s time to add some mix-ins! Spinach and artichoke dip anyone? Add a couple handfuls of chopped marinated or frozen artichoke hearts and some defrosted and drained frozen spinach. Or how about cooked crabmeat? Or crumbled cooked bacon? Or how about BOTH? Caramelized onions are a great mix-in, or you can use finely chopped raw onion or shallot if you want more of an oniony zing. Any chopped fresh herb works here too. Consider cooked and crumbled sausage, cooked lobster meat, diced chopped roasted bell peppers, and more. No need to measure—just add your mix-ins a bit at a time and stir to combine until your dip has a nice even distribution of base, cheese, and mix-ins. Have a taste. How’s it doing? Feel free to tweak the flavor with more salt, flavorings, or mix-ins.


Now it’s time to turn your dip bubbly. Preheat your oven to 375°F and transfer your dip creation to a baking dish, casserole, or oven-proof skillet. Pretty much any size works—just make sure it’s pretty wide to get more bubbly golden-brown surface area. If you have too much dip to fit in your preferred vessel, fear not—pack the leftovers into a resealable container, and refrigerate for a few days until the craving for baked cheesy dip strikes again. Top the surface of the dip with more grated cheese and/or some breadcrumbs for crunch, and put your baking dish on a foil-lined rimmed baking sheet before putting it in the oven to protect your oven from drips. Pop it in the oven and bake until bubbling, 15 to 30 minutes, depending on the size of your baking dish. Once the dip is done, let it stand for 5 to 10 minutes before digging in with chips/bread/pita/spoons if you can—you’ll save yourself (and your guests!) from dip-induced mouth burns.



For hot dip and dipping bread all in one dish, bake your rolls and your dip all in the same vessel. You can use any kind of bread dough you want, homemade or store-bought, but the easiest option is some store-bought pizza dough. For an 8-inch round, you’ll want about a pound and a half of dough. Let it come to room temperature, then cut it into golf ball sized pieces.

Brush each piece with some melted butter or olive oil, and arrange around the perimeter of an ovenproof skillet, pie plate, or round casserole dish. Set a small inverted bowl into the center to keep the dough from filling up too much of the center, then let rise at room temperature for 30 minutes as you preheat the oven to 375°F. Take the bowl away, then fill the center with your cheesy dip creation, top the dip and the dough with more shredded cheese, and bake until the dip is bubbly and bread is cooked through, about 45 minutes.

And don’t forget to wait that torturous 10 minutes before finally digging in.

Cheese Dip Emergency

Roast Beef Stock Recipe

This is a simple and wonderful recipe from Bon Appetit and I am going to make some this afternoon.


  • 5 pounds veal or beef marrow bones
  • 4 peeled carrots
  • 4 celery stalks
  • 2 halved peeled onions
  • 1 halved head of garlic
  • ½ bunch flat-leaf parsley stems
  • 4 sprigs thyme
  • 2 bay leaves
  • ¼ teaspoon black peppercorns


  • Preheat oven to 450°. Roast marrow bones (have your butcher saw them into pieces) in a roasting pan, turning occasionally, until browned, 25–30 minutes. Cut carrots and celery into 3” pieces; add to pan along with onions and garlic. Roast, turning occasionally, until vegetables are brown, 25–30 minutes.

  • Transfer to a large stockpot; add cold water to cover. Pour off fat from pan, add ½ cup water, and stir, scraping up browned bits; add liquid to pot along with parsley, thyme, bay leaves, and black peppercorns. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer 4 hours, occasionally skimming foam and fat from surface and adding water as needed. Strain.

  • DO AHEAD: Stock can be made 2 days ahead. Let cool; cover and chill, or freeze up to 3 months.

Roast Beef Stock Recipe

Mushroom & Pork Meatballs with Broccolini Rice

Screen Shot 2018-01-31 at 4.40.56 PM

Made this last night for dinner.  I only had thinly sliced Brussel Sprouts, so used them in place of the diced broccolini.  It was a wonderful dinner.

How to Make Mushroom and Pork Meatballs with Broccolini Rice
Instead of roasting a whole pork tenderloin or slicing and searing, try giving it a coarse chop in the food processor for incredibly rich and tender meatballs. Because the pork is so lean, the meatballs cook in just 8 minutes.
Prep Time . 35 Mins . Total Time . 35 Mins
Serves 4 (serving size: about 6 meatballs, 1/4 cup sauce, and 1 cup Broccolini mixture)

Instead of roasting a whole pork tenderloin or slicing and searing, try giving it a coarse chop in the food processor for incredibly rich and tender meatballs. Because the pork is so lean, the meatballs cook in just 8 minutes. Broccolini, a cousin of broccoli, have long stalks and small buds; they’ll add plenty of texture to the rice mixture once sautéed and chopped. Sriracha can be found in any grocery store and is worth keeping in your pantry. The chile kick and vinegar tang can perk up tacos, noodle soups, and stir-fries.

How to Make It

Step 1

Place mushrooms and pork in a food processor; pulse 15 to 20 times or until finely chopped. Place pork mixture in a bowl with panko, 1/4 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon pepper, and egg; stir to combine. Divide and shape pork mixture into 24 meatballs (about 1 tablespoon each).

Step 2

Heat 1 1/2 teaspoons oil in a large skillet over medium-high. Add Broccolini; cook 2 minutes. Place sautéed Broccolini in a bowl; set aside.

Step 3

Add remaining 1 1/2 tablespoons oil to pan. Add meatballs; cook 5 minutes, turning to brown on all sides.

Step 4

Combine 3/4 cup chicken stock, 1 tablespoon rice vinegar, brown sugar, soy sauce, and Sriracha in a bowl; add to pan. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 3 minutes or until meatballs are done. Combine remaining 1/4 cup stock and cornstarch in a bowl; stir into meatball mixture. Cook 1 minute or until sauce is thickened.

Step 5

Heat rice according to package directions. Stir rice, remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt, remaining 1/4 teaspoon pepper, and remaining 1 tablespoon vinegar into sautéed Broccolini. Serve with meatball mixture.  I put 1.5 cups of brown rice in 2.5 cups of water in an 8 x 8 inch glass dish and cooked in the oven for an hour.  Think I need a new rice cooker. 

Mushroom & Pork Meatballs with Broccolini Rice

Shaved Mushroom & Celery Salad


I found this recipe in America’s Test Kitchen Mediterranean Cookbook and since I had all the ingredients, decided to give it a try.  I added a little and left out a little.  I made notes below the recipe.


  • ½ pound cremini or white button mushrooms, very thinly sliced
  • 4 celery stalks, from the heart of the celery, very thinly sliced
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 1 tablespoon minced chives or tarragon
  •  Salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1 ½ tablespoons lemon juice, or 1 tablespoon lemon juice and 1/2 tablespoon (1 1/2 teaspoons) white wine vinegar or sherry vinegar
  • ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 ounces shaved Parmesan

Toss together the mushrooms, celery, parsley, and chives, and season with salt and pepper. Mix together the lemon juice (or lemon juice and vinegar) and olive oil, and toss with the vegetables. Just before serving, toss again with the Parmesan.


I used a little dried tarragon, as my chives are way out in the garden and probably frozen.  I did not use any vinegar as the recipe from the book did not call for any, but I did use EVOO (1/4 cup) and mixed it with the lemon juice, then added the very thinly (1/8 inch or less) mushrooms and thinly sliced celery to the mix and let it set for 10 minutes.

Since I had 2 ounces of grated regiano parmesano in the refrigerator I add that, then shaved the same for the top of the salad.  My garden is a little short of parsley this time of year, so I added baby arugula.

This would be a lovely salad to serve for dinner with friends, as it is a bit different, but delicious.  Hope you enjoy making it.


Shaved Mushroom & Celery Salad