Month: September 2012

Almost Home-made Beef Vegetable Soup

I love the fall–the turning of leaves, fall fairs, the crisp air, and hearty one-pot meals. And this almost home-made beef vegetable soup really hit the spot. Preparation was a snap; I threw this dish together in less than 10 minutes. And, boy, was it good. The secret to this speedy soup is to use ready-to-eat beef. Normally I use Hormel Roast Beef au jus–it tastes great and can be used to speed up lots of dishes, but it wasn’t available so I chose this Jack Daniel’s fully cooked beef brisket instead.

Since it was sliced and not cut into chunks, I cut it into bite-sized pieces and threw it in the pot–sauce and all. The whiskey based sauce was slightly sweet and made a wonderful addition to the soup. Here are the ingredients you’ll need to make this soup:


1 16-oz package Jack Daniel’s Beef Brisket (or other ready-to-eat, fully cooked beef)
1 28-oz. can diced tomatoes (or two 14-oz. cans)
2 14-oz. cans beef broth
2 beef bouillon cubes
1 large onion, peeled and diced
4 carrots, peeled and sliced into bite-sized pieces
2 cups of mini potatoes, unpeeled and cut in half
1 cup frozen peas (canned peas are too mushy)
1 can green beans, drained (fresh or frozen are better but I didn’t have any on hand)
1 can corn, drained (I used fresh corn on the cob)
Seasoning salt and fresh ground pepper to taste

Now here’s the easy part. Throw all these ingredients into a large soup pot. Stir, cover, and cook over medium heat until the vegetables are tender–about an hour. While that’s cooking grab a magazine and a cup of tea and relax until dinner is ready. Nice! I served this soup with home-made buttermilk biscuits and topped them with unsalted butter and honey. Perfecto!

Almost homemade vegetable soup

Watercolor Sunflowers

I painted these sunflowers a few months ago but wasn’t happy with the results, so I thought I’d paint them again using a slightly different color scheme and a highly saturated background. This painting is a based on a tutorial in Fiona Peart’s book, “Vibrant Flowers in Watercolor.” The background technique is based on a tutorial in Janet Whittle’s book, “Watercolor Roses.”

Weekend Chef: Cheeseburger Salad

For dinner tonight, I whipped up this cheeseburger salad featured on last January. It’s quick, easy, and delicious—and it really tastes like a cheeseburger. It doesn’t get any better than that. I made a few changes to the recipe to suit my taste. You can get the original recipe here.


  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 1/3 cup ketchup
  • 1 tablespoon spicy brown mustard
  • 2 tablespoons barbecue sauce
  • 2 heaping tablespoons mayonnaise
  • 4 Martin’s potato hamburger buns
  • 2-3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 bag Fresh Express pre-washed sweet butter (aka butter head) lettuce
  • 1 cup grated cheddar cheese
  • 1 medium tomato, diced
  • 8 dill pickle slices, diced (I used dill pickle sandwich stackers)
  • 1 medium red onion, diced

Brown the meat in a large skillet. Remove from heat and drain the fat. Add ketchup, mustard, barbecue sauce, and mayonnaise. Stir to combine.

Cut hamburger buns into cubes. Heat 2-3 tablespoons of olive oil in a large skillet. Add bread cubes and toss to coat. Cook over low heat, stirring frequently, until lightly toasted.

To assemble the salad, place lettuce onto a plate. Top with meat mixture, cheddar cheese, diced tomatoes, red onions, and pickles. Sprinkle croutons on top. Enjoy!

Lavataria–Commonly Called Silver Cup Mallow

Lavataria in watercolor

This painting was based on a tutorial from Fiona Peart’s book, “Charles Rennie Mackintosh’s Watercolor Flowers.” I may drop in a background at a later date, but for now I’m calling this painting done. Charles Rennie Mackintosh was an internationally celebrated architect, designer, and watercolor artist. His paintings did not become popular until after his death in 1928.

My Mom’s Coral Elder

This is my mom’s third painting. The improvement over her first two paintings is remarkable. She now has her own watercolor supplies and has begun painting on her own. Can we get a collective, “go mommy, go mommy?” This painting was based on a tutorial from Sherry C. Nelson’s book, “Painting Butterflies and Blooms.”

My Sister’s Watercolor Tulips

This is my sister’s second watercolor painting. Aren’t these tulips gorgeous? For this painting she combined two tutorials. The tulips are based on a tutorial in Fiona Peart’s book, “Tulips in Watercolor” and the background is based on a tutorial in Janet Whittle’s book, “Watercolor Roses.” What a great combination. You rock, sissy!

Frodo’s Chair

Since Frodo has become a full-fledged family member, he deserves better accommodations. So I painted this stylish Frodo-sized chair so he can be more comfy when he hangs out on the deck. Based on the big grin on his face–check that out and his rosy cheeks–I’d say he likes it! Isn’t he adorable?

I’m going to miss him when he begins his winter hibernation. His visits are already getting fewer and farther between. So I stood outside in the rain early this morning to snap these pictures. I didn’t want to miss what might be my last photo opportunity of the season.

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