Thursday, February 19, 2009

What to Cook After Torching

Turkey Sausage and Spinach Stuffed Portobello Mushrooms

Don't know what to make for dinner after a long day at the torch? This is an amazing recipe that's compatible with the South Beach Diet (Phase I - 'tis the season, after all). Succulent spicy turkey sausage, healthy fresh spinach, meaty portobello mushrooms, and creamy melted cheese. If I were you I'd double the recipe and plan to spend extra time at the torch on leftover night!

4 large portabello mushrooms (get the biggest ones you can find)
12 oz. mild or hot Italian sausage (use turkey Italian sausage for South Beach Diet)
1-2 T olive oil (for browning sausage and onions and brushing on mushrooms before grilling)
1 small onion, finely chopped
1 tsp. minced fresh garlic (or use chopped garlic from a jar)
1/2 cup tomato sauce
pinch red pepper flakes (optional)
8 oz. coarsely chopped spinach leaves
2 T chopped fresh basil (I used pesto and it came out great)
2 T chopped fresh parsley (probably optional, but recommended)
1/2 cup grated mozarella, plus 1/2 cup for sprinkling on top (I used low-fat mozarella)

Preheat gas or charcoal grill to high heat. Heat a small amount of olive oil in heavy frying pan, then crumble Italian sausage into pan and cook about 5 minutes, breaking apart with back of the turner as it cooks. When sausage is well-browned, remove to bowl. If needed, add a bit more olive oil, then saute onions until they're starting to soften, about 2 minutes. Add garlic and continue cooking until onions are starting to brown, a few minutes more. Add Italian sausage back into pan, then add red pepper flakes and tomato sauce and simmer 2-3 minutes while you chop the spinach. Add chopped spinach and let it wilt and cook down, stirring so it's evenly distributed in the sausage/onion mixture. Turn off heat and stir in 1/2 cup mozarella, chopped basil and parsley.

Remove stems from mushrooms caps, being careful not to break them. Scrape out brown gills from inside mushrooms if desired, then brush both sides of mushrooms with olive oil. Put mushrooms on grill, inside facing down, and cook about 4 minutes, until mushroom is slightly browned and starting to soften. Remove mushrooms from the grill. Carefully stuff the inside of each mushroom with sausage/spinach/cheese mixture, then top each mushroom with about 2 T grated mozarella. Carefully put mushrooms back on grill, stuffing facing up. Cover grill and cook about 5 minutes, checking often and removing from grill when mushrooms are cooked through, and cheese is melted and starting to brown, and stuffing mixture is hot. Serve immediately.

Here is a great site for new South Beach Diet-friendly recipes.

Saturday, February 7, 2009


I had the best time in Tucson! Saw tons of beady peeps, and enjoyed the sights. Thanks to the nav system in my rental car, I was able to safely find my way while driving alone to the shows scattered about town. It really saved me some mental effort and frustration. Here are some of my favorite moments:
  • A stimulating conversation with Milon Townsend, who helped me think about my last name in a brand new way.
  • I met the charming Andrew Thornton, who was chatting up the visitors to the Green Girl Studios booth.
  • I had a lovely chat with Kate McKinnon about her exciting new designs, and her experiences with the new bronze clay.
  • I was thrilled to meet Lori Greenberg and see her work in person. She has given a tremendous amount of herself to the beading community, and her beads were spectacular.
  • I got a ton of helpful advice from Toni Lutman about showing in Tucson, and was wowed by some of her incredibly well-displayed work.
  • I met Judy Carlson from JuJee Beads and had a wonderful chat about our positive experiences with the Convergence Exhibition.
  • I was honored to meet Jeff Barber and hear what it was like to make 200 commemorative beads for the Bead and Button's 15th Anniversary.
  • I received a great demonstration by Andrea Guarino of Jim Moore's silver coring tool, and an engaging chat with Whit, who has to be the sweetest guy on the planet (not to mention dashing in his tiara). Andrea had a stunning collection of pieces at her booth.
  • Gail Crosman Moore's work just knocked my socks off. I wish I had been able to talk with her, but she was engaged with a customer when I was there.
I hit the Whole Bead Show, the Best Bead Show, and Rio Grande's Catalog In Motion all in one day, and was pooped after that. I was appreciative for a chance to talk to the guy at the Swanstrom booth about my damaged flush cutters, but overall there wasn't much at CIM that I could relate to, not being a traditional jeweler or metalsmith. I was fighting a cold and a couple of blisters, so it was good to get back to the hotel and crash.

The next day I had only about 4 hours to spend before driving back up to Phoenix for my flight home, so I wandered around the Gem and Jewelry exchange downtown. I'm sure I had that deer in the headlights look, but who wouldn't with booth after booth after booth of cut gemstones and exotic pearls? I couldn't tell one from another. I did, however, find an amazing vendor named Gary Wilson, who had the most beautiful and amazing gemstone cabachons I've ever seen. I'm certain I left drool on his counter.
While I use (and bought) some of the items these vendors were selling in my finished jewelry pieces, I can only take a few hours at a time of that stuff before I'm toast and have to seek out some visual relief. Fortunately after leaving the show I found a nice little urban park downtown that had just what my eyes needed, and I got some lasting photographic memories of Tucson to boot.

The icing on the cake was this sunset from the flight home. See you next year, Tucson.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Have You Been Seen?

Jennifer Cameron from the Lampwork Etc Street Team has. On the Art Bead Scene blog - she won their monthly challenge for January, whose theme was "Van Gogh Irises". Check out this gorgeous piece she made. Now she can put the "I've been seen on Art Bead Scene" bumper sticker on her blog! It's a really gorgeous piece, and amazingly, it's her first time using many of these materials and techniques. My only comment is, "What were you waiting for? GO girl!".

Have a great day. If you got sunshine, enjoy it.

Here it is again:

Art Bead Scene Blog: Monthly Challenge Winner: "Van Gogh Irises"


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