Pumpkin Snickerdoodles

Pumpkin Snickerdoodles.

It’s the most pumpkiny time of the year…….. (are you singing with me to the tune of “It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year?”)

Seems we just can’t get enough of it.

I know I’m having fun trying new things with pumpkin…. Like my recent Pumpkin Chili recipe!  YUM!

How about a new twist on old-fashioned snickerdoodles by pumpkin’in them up?

Oooo Laaa Laaaa!

They just taste like Autumn!

Hope you’ll give them a try.

Pumpkin Snickerdoodles*

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar, packed
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup canned pumpkin (not pumpkin pie mix)
  • 3 1/2 tsp cornstarch
  • 1 tsp cream of tartar
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 3 1/4 cups flour
  • For rolling:  1/4 cup sugar + 2 tsp ground cinnamon, combined

Directions:

Cream together butter and sugars with electric mixer.  Add egg yolk, vanilla and pumpkin, and combine.

Add next 8 ingredients, followed by the flour, and mix until combined.

Refrigerate dough for at least 1 hour.

When ready to bake, preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Roll and shape dough into golf ball sized balls.  Roll balls in sugar-cinnamon mixture.  Place on baking stone or sheet and bake approximately 12 minutes until tops begin to crack.  Remove from oven and allow to cool on baking stone/sheet for an additional 10 minutes.  Transfer to wire rack to cool completely.

Enjoy!

Cheers & Hugs,
Jodi

*Recipe tweaked very slightly from Cooking Classy

 

Autumn’s Kaleidoscope of Color

Flames of crimson, pomegranate, and persimmon,
ambered gold, chartreuse, and mossy greens

struggle to compete with the saturated sapphire sky
marbled with softly suspended cottony clouds.

The intensity of the beauty surrounding me
almost overwhelms my senses.

My eyes and my mind try to absorb it all
as if snapping photos in a continuous burst mode

trying to find a special place to store them
to remember on a dark, dreary day

when my heart can’t remember the bright warmth
or the splendorous display of Autumn’s kaleidoscope of color.

Cheers & Hugs,
Jodi

 

 

Honey Garlic Chicken Stir Fry

Honey Garlic Chicken Stir Fry.

Do you love going to those fun hibachi restaurants where they cook delicious stir fry meals right before your eyes?

This honey garlic chicken stir fry recipe reminds me of the fresh deliciousness of those experiences.

This might very likely be my all-time favorite chicken recipe!

It is simple and easy, made from ingredients typically kept on hand, and so adaptable to your tastes.

Make it with mushrooms and snow peas and onions if they are your favorite vegetables or what you have on hand.

Make it with beef or pork or shrimp – whatever you like best.

Whatever you like, please do try this awesome recipe.

I wonder if it will become one of your favorites like it is for me?

Here is how I made it this past week.

Honey Garlic Chicken Stir Fry

Ingredients:

  • 2-3 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 2 lbs. boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1 inch pieces
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 cups fresh broccoli florets
  • 1 cup sliced carrots
  • 1 cup sweet red peppers, chopped
  • 1 cup zucchini, sliced
  • 5 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1/2 cup chicken broth
  • 1/2 cup low sodium soy sauce
  • 6 Tbsp. honey
  • 3 tsp. cornstarch

Directions:

Heat 1-2 Tbsp oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat.  While oil is heating up, steam carrots in microwave for 3-4 minutes.

Season chicken cubes with salt and pepper to taste.  Allow to rest.

Add broccoli, carrots, red peppers, and zucchini to skillet.  Stir fry until vegetables are tender (approx. 3-4 mins.).

Remove veggies from skillet, and allow to rest.

Add remaining oil to skillet and stir fry seasoned chicken.  Cook 3-4 minutes on each side.

Add the chopped garlic, and cook for approx. 30 seconds.

Add the veggies back to the pan, and cook for a couple more minutes until the veggies are warmed through.

In a bowl, whisk together the chicken broth, honey, and soy sauce.  Pour over chicken and veggies.  Cook for one minute.

Whisk cornstarch with equal amount of cold water.  Add to skillet.  Bring to a boil, and cook for another minutes or so until sauce begins to thicken.

Serve over rice.

Enjoy!

Cheers & Hugs,
Jodi

*Recipe slightly adapted from DinnerAtTheZoo.

It’s All My Friends!

“It’s All My Friends!”

People author and illustrate and publish books for many reasons I’m sure.

Dreams of fame and fortune…
Checking off a bucket list item…
Creating a legacy…
Fulfilling a life-long dream…
Sharing an important story…

For many – it’s a passion.
Writing is like breathing.
It is something they just have to do.

I love to read.
I admire writers.
I admire artists and illustrators.

I never, however, really aspired to be an author…

Well – maybe it fleetingly crossed my mind from time to time…
Maybe a cookbook…
or an autobiography of sorts.

I definitely never considered I’d be an illustrator.
Heck – until about two years ago, I would have never
even dreamed I would share a stick figure I drew.

But then I discovered the joy of blogging
through the encouragement one of my sweet McHendy “daughters.”

And then I discovered watercolor art
through this wonderful blogging community.

With the encouragement of so many,
I shared my watercolor paintings.

I created some fun little animal characters
with silly rhyming stories to go with them.

One very special friend here at TheCreativeLifeInBetween.com
began sharing my little animal characters and their stories with her grandson.

Three and a half year old Benjamin
became one of my greatest supporters and fans.

Benjamin would ask daily to hear stories from his grandma “Gem’s” computer,
along with those of his favorite books.

He even started asking for special characters,
which is how “Earl the Squirrel” came to be.

So with full permission from “Gem” and his Mom,
I am sharing this joyful photo of Benjamin with his copy of my first-ever
authored and illustrated book, “Klaus the Mouse – and other Silly Animal Tales.”

Per Gem, when Benjamin received his book,
he squealed with delight and laughter,
“My friends!  It’s all my friends!”

Could there be any greater joy…
any greater reason or purpose…
to author and illustrate a book?

The joy in those words…
The twinkle in those eyes…
The delight in that smile…
Those beautiful little hands holding the book.

Thank you Benjamin!
Thank you Ellen (aka “Gem'”)
for fulfilling a dream
I didn’t even know I had.

Because of you…
I visited the dentist yesterday,
and the receptionist said,
“I just saw your book!”

Because of you…
a friend told me he purchased my book for his 4-year old niece’s birthday.

Because of you…
my book is being shipped all the way to Ireland.

Because of you…
so many sweet friends have bought “Klaus the Mouse
for their children and grandchildren.

What a joy it is to share a little piece of me...
A little bit of my art…
A little bit of my writing.

Thank you Benjamin!
I can only imagine the impact you will have on the world in 20 or 30 years!

Cheers & Hugs,
Jodi

If you would like to order a copy of “Klaus the Mouse and other Silly Animal Tales,”
you can do so by clicking here.

Full Moon Calling

Full Moon Raven Watercolor 8x10

Full Moon Raven Watercolor 8×10

Full Moon Calling.

When I saw a recent painting done by a favorite artist/blogger friend, Sharon Mann at Make Art… Magic Happens, I told her I loved it so much, it made me want to paint it.

Sweet Sharon encouraged me to do it!

And so I did – and here it is….. A painting I did at 4AM one morning last week when I couldn’t sleep.

Be sure to check out Sharon’s absolutely amazing original version of this, which she titled, Call of the Raven.    Sharon has a style very different from mine, but one I absolutely adore and admire.  I love the texture she creates.  I love the whimsy of her style.  I love the range of subjects she chooses to explore and create.  And to top it off, she is simply a lovely person!

Sharon was one of the first to send an absolutely amazing handmade gift when I learned I was to become a grandma over a year ago.  She painted a photo of a batch of my cookies and gifted me with the beautiful piece of art that has graced my kitchen wall for several years now.  She was one of the first few dozen people to purchase my first published children’s book – and then share it to her friends.

About a year ago, Sharon lost her husband and best friend.  It was a life-altering experience for her, and she took a break from blogging until just a few weeks ago.  It is so wonderful to have her back blogging and inspiring so many of us artist wannabees!

Thank you for allowing me to paint your art Sharon.  I enjoyed it immensely!  Thank you for your inspiration, encouragement, but most of all  your friendship.

Be sure to check out Sharon’s blog.  You are in for a real treat and a wonderful new friend!

Cheers &  Hugs,
Jodi

 

Stuffed Butternut Squash

Stuffed Butternut Squash.

I wanted to do something new and creative with butternut squash for dinner one day this past week.  I absolutely love butternut squash and have shared several recipes through the years here at The Creative Life In Between on how I enjoy preparing it.

The most simple is yummy, but easy Roasted Butternut Squash.

Another fabulous way to serve it is Roasted Butternut Squash and Spinach Lasagna – OOOO LA LA!!

Or how about Penne with Goat Cheese and Butternut Squash?  Such a delight with crunchy toasted walnuts!

But how about a meaty version?

I had a fresh package of grass-fed ground beef in the fridge, so after googling beef and butternut squash, I found some ideas and tweaked up a favorite found at Civilized Caveman Cooking.

This full-flavored, meaty, and paleo version was DELISH!

Another winner of a way to serve Butternut Squash!

Here is how I made it.  Hope you’ll give it a try.

Stuffed Butternut Squash

Ingredients:

  • 1 butternut squash
  • 1 lb. ground beef (grass-fed organic if possible) or ground turkey
  • 6 slices bacon, chopped
  • 2 sweet onions, sliced and coarsely chopped
  • 1 stalk celery, diced
  • 1 Tbsp fresh minced rosemary
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp thyme
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 Tbsp balsamic vinegar

Directions:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

Cut butternut squash in half lengthwise.  Scoop out seeds.  Place flesh down in glass 9×13 baking dish.  Pour 1/2 inch of water into baking dish.  Roast in oven for 30-40 minutes or until a fork can be easily inserted through skin into soft flesh.

While squash is roasting in the oven, saute sliced strips of bacon in a large skillet over medium-high heat until crispy.  Set aside and pour off all but about a tablespoon of bacon drippings.  Saute onions (reserving 1/4 for topping) and celery in same skillet for 2-3 minutes.  Add beef, rosemary, cinnamon, thyme, salt and pepper.  Stir and saute until beef is cooked through.

When squash is done, remove from oven, and reduce oven temperature to 350 degrees F.

Scoop out all but about 1/4 inch of flesh from squash halves.  Add mashed squash and crispy bacon (reserving 1 Tbsp. for topping) to meat mixture .  Stir to completely combine.  Fill both butternut squash shells with meat and squash filling.  Return to oven in same baking dish for 10-15 minutes.

Saute remaining 1/4 chopped onion with balsamic vinegar until caramelized.

Remove stuffed squash from oven.  Top with balsamic caramelized onions and reserved bacon.  Cut each squash half in half to create 4 servings.

Enjoy!

Cheers & Hugs,
Jodi

 

 

Learning to Respect the White Space

Cobalt Teal Blue, Lunar Black and Iridescent Gold Abstract Watercolor 11x14

Cobalt Teal Blue, Lunar Black and Iridescent Gold Abstract Watercolor 11×14

Learning to Respect the White Space.

Often times the hardest thing in art
is learning to respect the white space.

As artists, we love color, and we love paint,
and we want to fill the entire space.

But if we do,
there’s nowhere to focus

or to rest our eyes
or our minds.

It’s much like life.

We need to respect that empty “white” space
amongst the busyness

to allow our mind and body,
our heart and soul

to rest
and replenish.

Respect that “white” space.

Cheers & Hugs,
Jodi

At least once…

At least once.

As the sun sets,
and this one day ends…

can I look back and say
that at least once…

I was kind to someone,
I let someone be kind to me.

I was strong,
I was gentle.

I smiled and laughed,
I made someone smile and laugh.

I knew when to talk,
I knew when to listen.

I learned something,
I taught something.

I did something for someone,
I did something for me.

I told someone “I love you.”

I remembered to love myself.

As the sun sets,
and this one day ends.

Cheers & Hugs,
Jodi