Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Recipe: Pumpkin Caramel Biscotti

Repost from 2009

Recipe: Pumpkin Caramel Biscotti

Here is yet another pumpkin recipe. 
I love pumpkin in all forms, carved and lit with candles or baked in cookies or in pasta. Ashley likes pumpkin all right, but she asked me "Pumpkin again?"....
The answer is YES! 

This is a standard biscotti recipe. No fat (no oil or butter). But, it has a delicious little drizzle of caramel. Ohhh, CAR-A-MEL.....

2 3/4 cups flour
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp each nutmeg, ground ginger, ground cloves
1 tsp salt
2 eggs
1/2 cup pumpkin puree
2 tsp vanilla
6 caramel cubes
2 tsp water

Preheat oven to 350.
Mix flour, sugars, salt, baking powder and spices together in a bowl.
In a mixing glass, stir eggs, pumpkin and vanilla.
Combine egg mixture and flour mixture.
Mixture will be stiff, but don't give up.
(Add additional 1/4 cup flour, if needed.)
Divide dough in half.
Take one half and form it into a log about 8-10 inches long.
Place on a parchment lined paper.
Repeat with remaining dough.
Bake for 28 minutes.
Remove tray from oven and let cool for 15 minutes.
Remove one loaf from pan and slice into 3/4" slices. Return slices to parchment lined sheet.
Repeat with remaining loaf.
Bake for 8 minutes.
Turn cookie pieces over and bake for an additional 8 minutes.
Remove from oven.
Melt caramels and water. Stir until runny. Drizzle over pieces of biscotti.
Let caramel set (if you can) and enjoy....

Monday, October 20, 2014

Caramel Apples

Repost from 2009

An Apple a Day...

Somehow, I don't think this is what they had in mind when they suggested, "an apple a day"...
But it sure does add variety to life!
I have made caramel apples for the girls in the fall on and off through the years. We love them, they are a treat and they are a lot of work! But, oh so good. Here, I used vanilla caramel, mini apples (from the farm, that Dad gave me) white chocolate, dark chocolate.

Here is the tray that went with the girls to Wednesday night tennis practice. Their group of 12 works so hard. On occasion I send treats, like ice pops in the August heat and now caramel apples in the autumn cold.
These were made from simple, delicious ingredients and were a pleasure to make....
Here are some tips for making chocolate drizzled caramel apples....(even the name sounds decadent).
1. Use good quality apples in good condition.
2. Chill the apples in the fridge and then take them out 30 minutes before dipping time so that the apples can warm to almost room temperature, but still be cool to the touch. You don't want COLD apples, as the caramel will glob on and there will be condensation forming on the apples that the caramel will slip and slide and be a mess!
3. Use good quality caramel. I used vanilla caramel from King Arthur. It was costly, but it is exceptional. The Kraft caramels work, but obviously, the quality is a little waxy and loaded with artificial ingredients. But, for a once a year treat, make your choice.
4. Have all your ingredients at the ready "mise en place". Wash and dry the apples. Dry them 2 - 3 times. Water is your enemy here. Chop your chocolate and caramel. Set up your double boiler and prep for chocolate in bowls for melting in the microwave.
5. Line a larger baking sheet than you will think you will need with parchment, NOT tin foil or plastic wrap. In a pinch, you can use greased wax paper -- but the caramel still might stick.
6. Take a deep breath, and get ready!

1 dozen apples
1 dozen sticks... I found "craft sticks" at the arts n crafts store
2 pounds caramel, chopped
1/2 cup white chocolate, chopped and set in a microwave safe bowl
1/2 cup dark chocolate, chopped and set in a microwave safe bowl
1 double boiler set up with the water simmering and the bowl part clean and dry
parchment lined baking sheet
2 pastry bags - for the chocolate.

First, line up the apples, make sure they are dry. Twist out the stems.
Place the stick in each apple, all the way through, but so it can stand unassisted. You will have some leeway as the caramel helps to form a base - so don't fret.
Add the caramel to the bowl of the double boiler or make your own double boiler.
Let the caramel absorb the heat and melt, stirring occasionally.

Holding the apple by the stick, set it in the caramel and gently swirl it down, as if you are screwing in a giant screw. Do not cover the whole apple (unless you like that), instead leave 1 - 2 inches of the apple showing from the stem part.
Continue to turn the apple, as it if it were on a spit and smooth the caramel around the apple with a spatula, like you were using a lathe. When you are happy with the coating, place the caramel covered apple on the parchment.
Repeat with the remaining apples.

Because the apples were cool, they don't need much time to set. If your apples were warm to start with, chill them for 10 - 15 min in the fridge, until the caramel sets.
Once the caramel is set, melt the dark chocolate.

(I melted the dark chocolate first, as I liked the white chocolate on top, but it is up to you).
Melt the chocolate, place in a pastry bag (or just drizzle on top of the apples with a spoon).
This doesn't require much time to set.

Repeat with white chocolate.

Now, allow the apples to set until solid - at room temp or in the fridge.

Sunday, October 19, 2014


Some days are tough. Some weeks are tough. I try to be grateful for all that I have in life and most days I can find many things. Some days, though, it's a little tougher.
I'mg grateful for my family and friends. I love hearing from them and sharing in their lives.
It's stone crab season (Oct 15 - November 15) and I love the tender crab claws.
 Ashley knit herself a hat! She taught herself to knit just a few weeks ago and has been busy making scarves. I didn't know she could do a hat too!
And here's my version of the knitter!

Ashley, Allie and John went apple picking last weekend and enjoyed the beautiful New England weather.
When I'm not working, I've been busy playing tennis, running, and working out. I crave these chances to sweat and gasp for air. It's a relief for me to have an outlet when things get tough.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Boston Terrier, Day of the Dead

I made this image inspired by the Boston University mascot, Rhett, the Boston Terrier, for my daughters and then decided to make it a postcard that I sent my family. You can order one (or more) if you like!

You can order it here as a 24x36 poster (or other sizes, too!)

Friday, October 17, 2014

Gelli Printing: Using a Mask and Sketching

The Gelli Plate is a great way to mono print by adding layers of paint, stencils and masks. I like to use acrylic paints to make a colorful background page that I can then sketch over. 
Gelli Printed Paper
Gelli Printed Page with Sketch on Top of Monoprint
I like the way the paint layers show through the colored pencils. The translucency is an interesting element that adds interest and depth to the image.
But, there are times when I want the Gelli printed paper as the background, but not to show thorough the sketch. At these times, I want the sketch to stand out and really pop!

There are a few ways to get this effect.
Gesso is a gritty substance, that applies like paint and acts as a primer. It creates an opaque layer that can then be used as a base for additional layers of paint, crayon, pencil, inks. Gesso adds a texture, like fine sandpaper and even a little height to where it's applied. 
To use it to mask out an image,, I  Gelli-print the entire paper, as I normally would. Then I can sketch the silhouette of my image and fill it in with gesso. After the gesso dries, I can sketch over the gesso with colored pencils or paint. When I use colored pencils, the grit of the gesso sands them down and I go through the pigment quickly. It also adds a texture that I'm not always thrilled with. 
I use simple white acrylic paint to paint the silhouette of my mask, in the same manner that I use the gesso. The white paint does not give me the same sharp and solid primed image, but it does give me some level of opacity without the texture of the gesso.
Both of these methods work if I have already printed onto the page.
But, if I plan ahead, I can avoid covering over the paint altogether by creating a paper mask and then gelli-printing onto the page.
I make masks from scrap paper, copy paper, card stock, plastic lids, stencil film, and Tyvek. The easiest way to obtain Tyvek is to recycle used Priority mail envelopes. The Tyvek lasts longer than paper, is more durable because the Tyvek is a plastic and cuts easier than plastic lids or stencil film.
Clown Trigger Fish
Mask created onto a used Priority Mail Envelope (Tyvek)

For this artwork, I was hired to create a sketch of a trigger fish. I wanted to make the background by gelli printing a brilliant background and then sketching the elegant fish, named Spot. In order to achieve the pop of color for the fish, I decided to make a mask in the shape of Spot. I sketched an outline and then cut out the shape on the Tyvek. I then reversed it when I printed with it, to get the fish facing the direction I wanted.
I made a few pages in different colors and patterns to see which one I liked best.
 I chose the one with blues and purples for the background. I clipped the page to my easel and went to work adding details.
I began adding color, shading the fins and adding touches here and there.
When I finished, I was happy that the fish blended into the background, but wasn't distracted by it. I like the way it came out.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Illustrated Recipe: Pumpkin Poke Cake

Here's another pumpkin dessert recipe that's tasty and easy to put together. It's a cross between a Dulce De Leche cake and a trifle.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Botanical Sketch: Pitaya

Pitaya is the exotic fruit from yesterday's post. It is such an interesting looking thing, almost like a hot pink grenade. I sketched it onto a gelli printed page using colored pencils and inks.