Saturday, December 29, 2012

One For The Ladies – PeggyStella Totes

Their brochure reads, "Need a bag as durable as your classic car?" Oh ya!

PeggyStella display at a Mopar event.
An Amercian company, PeggyStella Totes offers a vast variety of handbags, messenger bags, wristlets, wallets, dog collars, belts and laptop bags. Each piece is handmade, and they are impressive. I first discovered PeggyStella at the MCACN (Muscle Car and Corvette Nationals) in Chicago this fall. I couldn't resist and bought a couple of pieces for my daughter and myself!! I went with the classic car interior look (black and white hounds tooth), but the selection was vast enough to meet pretty much any taste.

How cool is this ... PeggyStella Charger bag??
They've got the car theme down pat, using authentic automotive interior replacement material. There's no doubt, that no matter what classic or muscle cars you have in the garage, they'll have a bag to match!!

But that's not all, they offer exotic skins as well as Coach, Gucci and other designer looks. If you can dream it, they can make it ... just for you, custom to order! They'll even take that piece of interior vinyl or leather that you just can't part with, and create what you can use with it!

I think their website is still in the works, but you can follow them on Twitter and Facebook and contact them to find out where their next showing is at!

'Fast' handbags for the lady that likes speed!!

Have fun accessorizing!! — Linda :)

Monday, November 26, 2012

MCACN Show & The Ultimate Mopar Farm Find

The Ultimate Mopar Trilogy (l-r): They Came With The Farm,
They Came With The Farm Too, They Came With The Farm Free.
Gallery Edition Canvases limited to only 50 s
In November we were setup, showing Michael's latest creative sensation ... "They Came With The Farm Free", in Chicago at the Muscle Car and Corvette Nationals. I say 'creative sensation', because that's what the Mopar Farm set is turning out to be!! They look so amazing together that people were coming from across the convention center floor to check them out ... 9 feet of dream find Mopars can really draw a crowd!!

I think one of the main reasons for the set's success, aside from being  esthetically pleasing to the eye, is the incredible creative level that Michael has managed to achieve. Nothing like this (to my knowledge) has been attempted or created before. Creating one incredible scene from three independently painted works. Not only does each painting stand on it's own, but each works with it's partner (playing to the left or the right) and then as a whole, working together, they are simply spectacular!

They Came With The Farm

"They Came With The Farm" (released late 2006, Limited Edition Prints and Artist Proofs with Custom Remarque sold out early 2008) was a stand alone piece. Part of the Muscle Car Landscapes Series, it was not connected to any of the other paintings and was, at that time, the only Mopar piece in the series. Next, based on the popularity of the first one, and from comments like, "There just aren't enough Mopars in this painting!", Michael decided to do a second painting. At first, conceptually, it too was a stand alone piece.

They Came With The Farm Too

Always looking to challenge himself, Michael thought he'd try for something completely different — a continuation painting — starting "They Came With The Farm Too" (2010) where the first one finished off. This made the new painting that much more challenging —not only did it have to look good when on it's own, it now had to work with the first one. And of course, scale, size, proportion, color palette, all had to match. Layout too, became  more critical, because "Farm Too" had to work with "Farm", without being overpowering.

They Came With The Farm Free
This year, Michael decided to complete the scene, by releasing the third and final painting, "They Came With The Farm Free". This was the most complicated of the three. Not only did this painting have to work visually on it's own, it also had to  flow with "Farm Too" and balance with both "Farm" and "Farm Too" combined. The challenges: scale, size, perspective, color pallette, car choices and colors, layout, and interest, were now multiplied as Michael worked to achieve the 'ultimate car find' (for Mopar, Plymouth, Dodge, Chrysler lovers that is!!). And, as Michael is not keen on the idea of just repeating himself, he wanted a different look and feel to the painting, while still fulfilling all the necessary restrictions that doing a continuation piece created. Very challenging. Very time consuming. And somewhat stressful. The result — wow! The consensus — success on all fronts!! They are truly incredible together!!

Close to Being Sold Out

Complete matching number sets are sold out in the Limited Edition Prints and Artist Proofs with Custom Remarque. At the time this was posted, we still had a couple of complete matching number Gallery Edition Canvas sets available. For those interested in the Limited Edition Prints or Artist Proofs with Custom Remarque, I am recommending matching numbers of the two available, "They Came With The Farm Too" and "They Came With The Farm Free". These opportunities are very limited, but there are still a few available.

Thank you to all that made this series of prints such a wonderful success. I, for one, cannot wait to see what Michael comes up with next!! All the best in the year ahead. — Linda

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Sugar Free Pumpkin Pie

It's Canadian Thanksgiving this weekend. In North America we share many, many holidays, Thanksgiving being one of them. But for some reason, we celebrate ours a month earlier. Myself, I like celebrating both!! I mean why not, right? ... Turkey, gravy, stuffing and finally, pumpkin pie!! We have a small family gathering, just us and the kids and my parents. It's one of the few times we all collectively partake in dessert.

That's where it gets challenging ... both my parents are diabetic. My dad was diagnosed over 30 years ago and has managed the disease primarily through diet. To say he has a sweet tooth would be an understatement and his "treats" are few and far between. So, to me it's  important that I come up with sugar free alternatives in the dessert department.  I've taken a recipe traditionally made with lots of sugar and changed it to suit our dietary needs, without compromising on the texture or flavor.
Irvine’s Traditional Pumpkin Pie
Prep Time: 35 minutes, Cooking Time: 45 to 50 minutes
Yield: 2 pies

4 eggs
1 can (28 oz) pure pumpkin
1/2 cup Splenda brown sugar
1 1/4 cup Splenda granular
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
1 1/2 tsp pumpkin spice
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 cup (approx 1 can) fat free evaporated milk
2 (9-inch) unbaked home-made or frozen deep dish pie shell

Beat eggs lightly in medium bowl. Add pure pumpkin, Splenda, cinnamon, nutmeg, pumpkin spice and salt - mix on low until well combined. Blend in milk. Pour filling in pie shells. I'd recommend having some tart shells on hand, we had enough filling left over to fill 12 tart shells. These are a big hit with our kids — they really like the "mini-pies!"

Bake at 425ºF for 15 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 350ºF and continue baking 30-35 minutes longer or until knife inserted in center comes out clean. Cool. Serve topped with whipped cream made with Splenda instead of sugar.
 As an added bonus, if you're watching your weight (like me) this pie will meet the low fat, low sugar test. If your diet is super strict, pass on the whipped cream topping.

Happy Thanksgiving, whenever you celebrate it.— Linda

Thursday, September 27, 2012

The Power of Imagery and Art

Being an artist's wife, I have to admit, that along with being Michael Irvine's greatest supporter and toughest critic, I sometimes kind of take his unbelievable talent and skill for granted. After all, in our home, he's also the guy that takes out the garbage and the recycling!

It's when I get to talk to people in person, on the phone, or read their comments on our Facebook page, that I am once again reminded of what his work means to them.

"Wow." • "Incredible.""Amazing.""Breathtaking." 
"Surreal.""Oh my God."" Niiiiice!" 
It's what I like to call the "wow factor". It's that initial reaction that people have to the powerful images and stories that Michael is able to portray in his paintings. They are amazed by his creativity, the reflections, the details and the fact that he hand draws and paints each and every one. They ask how he does it. Where he gets his ideas from? How does he get such brilliant, vibrant, intense colors using watercolor? How many hours does each painting take? And then finally, they just let themselves be immersed in the art. Let me tell you, it's pretty cool to witness and, in a small way, be a part of.

I found this quote, by visual artist Louie Schwartzberg, that I want to share with you. He uses time lapse photography to give us a unique look into the real world. And Michael, through his creative imagination and breathtaking images, gives us a peek into a world we'll never see in real life.
"Oh my God. ... The 'O' means it caught your attention, makes you present, makes you mindful. The 'my' means it connects to something deep inside your soul. It's a gateway for your inner voice to rise up and be heard. And 'God'? God is that personal journey we all want to be on, to be inspired, to feel like we are connected to a universe that celebrates life." Louie Schwartzberg at TEDxSF

According to Louie, approximately 80% of the information we receive comes through our eyes.  Isn't it necessary then, for our well being, to have something beautiful to look at each and every day? Images, like those in Michael's car art, can create feelings of joy, bring back the memories and glory of days past, spark our imagination, launch dreams of a possible future, and bring us an overall feeling of well being. Through art in our home or work space, we are able to experience all that creative imagery has to offer on a day to day basis.

So, no matter what life and the world throw at you, don't forget to smell the flowers, take the time to enjoy your surroundings, and share a smile. Enjoy the day.  — Linda

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

A Love Story

Non car people just don't get it. They think a car is just transportation ... that it's a means to an end from point 'A' to point 'B'. When they look at a car (or truck, for that matter), they see 4 wheels, some metal, fiberglass, lights, a windshield and some other stuff that makes it go. But for many, though, it's much, much more than that.

We are often asked, kind of warily, if Michael is in fact a car guy at all. Or just one of those artists that has set their sights on a subject they feel will be profitable to them. With 4 classic cars, mountains of car magazines, shelves of books and boxes full of parts (many duplicates and triplicates, just in case), I can assure you, he's a car guy, nut, enthusiast (whatever word fits) through and through. And, he's definitely not alone.

In searching through the Netflix selections for car chase movies the other day (see what I mean about his passion?), Michael came across a documentary that, as car enthusiasts, you're sure to appreciate. "Love The Beast" is about one man's love of his car, what it's meant to him and his friends, and their journey together. 

Eric Bana and his Ford GT Falcon Coupe
"What if you were a Hollywood movie star with an obsession for cars and racing? You would probably read every script with even the tiniest link to the subject matter, in the hope that you could tell a great car story of the likes of "Grand Prix", "Le Mans" or "Mad Max". —

You'll follow Eric Bana and his Ford GT Falcon Coupe — "THE BEAST", through his early childhood, acquisition of his first car (which is incidentally, the Falcon Coupe), restoration, rebuild, racing and more. Through Eric's eyes, we get a glimpse at his own 25 year long love story — reflecting on a lifetime of ownership and of friendship. Jay Leno, Jeremy Clarkson and Dr. Phil pitch in to help give us insight into the car obsessed psyche. You'll be glad to hear, they all agree it's quite healthy (yes, even Dr. Phil says so!).

A young Eric Bana.
Actor/Race Car Driver Eric Bana with Jay Leno.
From "Love the Beast", Eric Bana with Dr. Phil.
English motorsport broadcaster, Jeremy Clarkson.

When you have a spare couple of hours, check it out. I don't think you'll be disappointed. — Linda

Thursday, July 26, 2012

The 1970's - The Era That Started It All

We were at a local car show, held at Reif Winery, this past weekend. Our first time there, it's a very nice event, with about 350 classic cars, many of them Corvettes. Inevitably, when people see Michael's car artwork (especially in person), they want him to capture cars from other eras in brilliant watercolor! One of the most popular requests is vehicles from the 1950s. It's not that he doesn't like  those cars, Michael has an appreciation for pretty much every collector vehicle, it's a matter of time and influence.

Time is easy enough to explain ... each painting takes Michael literally hundreds of hours. Painting in watercolor allows Michael to play with reflections, subtle gradations and incredibly small details, but the drawback is that it is a time consuming medium. It's "high risk" — with very little room for errors. Each decision has to be made before the brush touches the cold pressed watercolor board he paints on. With a translucent medium, here are no "do-overs", or in other words, no "paint-overs!"

So, although Michael creates these incredible works full time (and then-some, putting in 16 hour days near the end of a painting), due to the length of time each piece takes, he only releases between 3-6 paintings a year. Currently, he is working his way through the "muscle car" era, thus no 50s cars yet!

Which brings us to the reason he started with the 1960s and 70s ... early influences. Everyone seems to have that pinnacle moment when they fell in love with a car, a make, a model. I often ask clients when they were struck by the "Mopar magic", or  hit with the "Chevy arrow" or the "Ford thunderbolt" ... okay, maybe I don't ask in such colourful ways, but you get the idea. Everyone I've spoken to can almost pinpoint that moment in time that impacted them and their choice to become car enthusiasts. For Michael it was a ride in his uncle's Mustang ... I think he was only 5 years old ... he got in and KNEW it was a cool car! Born in 1967, Michael grew up in the 1970s, and that era had the greatest influence on him. He grew up when muscle cars from both the 1960s and 1970s were everyday vehicles.

Michael's paintings are a reflection of the cars, the culture and the decades that brought them to us. While doing some online research for an upcoming piece, Michael came across this cool site, dedicated to bringing back some of the fun toys and games that those growing up in the 1970s might remember — it sure brought back memories for him! He found many toys, especially model cars and trucks, that he himself built back then. Check it out, it's a lot of fun. — Linda

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Decorating The Home With Automotive Fine Art

Michael's automotive fine art hangs in man caves, dens, rec rooms, offices and now, more than ever, in feature areas of many clients' homes. We are always thrilled to hear just how creative people are with, not only the framing and matting, but also how they hang Michael's Limited Editon Prints and Gallery Edition Canvases.

Recently, at Mecum Indy, we met face to face (for the first time) with a client that has collected Michael's work for several years. It was great to get a chance to put a face to a name, email and voice! Curtis had stopped by to say hi and to check out Michael's latest piece (which he'd already ordered, but not received yet), "Chasing History."

During our chat, Curtis and I exchanged framing and hanging ideas. One of the things we found we had in common (aside from a love and appreciation of Michael's car art!!), was the way we display it.

As you can well imagine, we have a LOT of art in our home — most of it Michael's but there's a decent showing of other works too. And, like many, we are a bit light on wall space. So, I decided to try "stacking" the art. In other words, rather than hanging a single print at eye-level, which is what most decorators recommend, I hang one just above, and one just below. So, my eye level, is roughly the bottom of the top frame. I have to tell you, the effect is pretty stunning. It gives it a "gallery feel" and to my mind, gives the art even more impact.

As it turns out, I'm not the only one to do this. One of our other clients, Steven, is not only stacking, but also alternating — one vertical Gallery Edition Canvas, two stacked framed prints, one vertical Gallery Edition Canvas, etc. — brilliant! I'm waiting for Steven to send me pictures (hint, hint).

After talking with Curtis at the Mecum Auction, to my surprise and delight, when we arrived at home, he had emailed me a photograph of his clever art corner! Here's a peek at what Curtis has done — not only stacking, but using corner space —looks great! Definitely an idea I plan to incorporate in our own home.

Fittingly, Curtis named the photograph he sent me, "Irvine Corner." Thanks Curtis!!

"Irvine Corner" great idea for hanging Michael's car art!
Shown clockwise, starting top left:
They Came With The Farm, Kings of the Road,
Big Blocks Behind the Barn, Always Room For One More.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Mecum Indy Auction: Behind the Scenes

For the first time ever, we set up a display of Michael's car art at Dana Mecum's Auction in Indianapolis, Indiana. It was quite the event ... over 2500 cars going over the block in only 6 days.

The auction ran from 8:00 am until near midnight, almost every day. We took a walk about and were amazed at the shear number and quality of the vehicles. In a word — wow!

Here are a few of the pics we took in the staging lane and in the Marsh Blue Ribbon building, where we were set up.

Mecum Indy: Michael's exhibit; our good friend Jim manning the booth.
Mecum Indy:  That's a lot of Corvettes, like "C1, See Them All."
Mecum Indy:Three orange Plymouth Superbirds under one roof in
the Blue Ribbon Marsh Building.
Mecum Indy: More Vettes - covering all the years.
Mecum Indy: This Classic Corvette was getting ready to hit the staging lanes.
Mecum Indy: Unrestored Plymouth Superbird. Wow.
Mecum Indy: Another wing car. "Six Pack Salute", anyone?
Mecum Indy: Some amazing cars with incredible pedigrees. Including
Fred Gibbs' 1969 Camaro race car.
Mecum Indy: This one appeared as a "What is it?" on our Facebook page.
Mecum Indy: Hot Rod Firetruck.
Mecum Indy: Yellow 1970 Plymouth Superbird.
Mecum Indy: 1970 Boss 302 Mustang — beautiful.
Mecum Indy: Early Corvette racer.
 Mecum Indy: Beautiful 1968 Shelby Convertible on it's way to being sold.

The annual auction is held at the Indiana State Fairgrounds. It's a big venue, easy to get to no matter where you're staying. The Mecum staff are friendly and helpful, whether you are an exhibitor, buyer, seller, or spectator! As car events go, it's should be on everyone's bucket list!

For us, highlights included meeting new clients, seeing dear friends, and putting faces to the names and voices of people that have been collecting Michael's work since the early days. Great seeing you all. Until the next time, Cheers. — Linda

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Linda's Easy Fajita Recipe

Last night I found another great way to use Chef Tim Creehan's Grill Plus in one of my "gotta get dinner on the table quick" fall-back recipes. In our family & work dynamic, as an artist, Michael focuses most of his time on the creative process. Every painting is a challenge he puts onto himself. He pushes himself creatively, starting with a vision and finding a way to push past the obstacles and make the painting come to life. And the results are stunning, like his latest piece "Blast By The Past." That leaves mundane tasks like chauffeuring our kids to and from all their activities, as well as preparing all our meals, to me.

"Blast By The Past" - Camaro SS 396 car art painting by Michael Irvine.

So, when I come up with, or come across, a meal that works nutritionally, fits the budget, meets our tight schedule and is loved by the family, it becomes a staple in our diets! I've been making fajitas for years — not authentic, by any means, but a family favorite none-the-less.

Last night, I thought I'd try using Grill Plus ... but I wanted to maintain the flavors our family has become accustom to — I don't know about you, but teenagers can be finicky — which meant still using the Bull's Eye Barbecue Sauce that gives the meal a pretty distinctive flavor. It was a raving success. So good, in fact, I thought I'd share my recipe with you.

Easy Fajitas

  • 3-4 chicken breast
  • 10" tortilla shells (your choice)
  • 1 large red pepper
  • 1 medium Vivaldi onion
  • 1/4 cup Bull's Eye Barbecue Sauce (or your favorite)
  • 1/8 cup Grill Plus (approx)
  • 1 tsp fresh ground pepper
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • 1 tbsp fresh cilantro
  • Condiments: grated cheddar cheese, guacamole,
    sour cream, taco sauce, salsa, hot sauce
Heat bbq to medium high. Brush one side of each breast with Grill Plus. I squirt a dollop on one breast then, using a silicone brush, brush over all 4. Place chicken on grill, Grill Plus side down. Close the lid. Mix barbecue sauce with approx. 2 tbsp of Grill Plus, brush other side of the chicken (while it's on the grill). Turn chicken, set bbq to medium, close lid. Cook for about 10 minutes (check to make sure it doesn't burn. It can be slightly underdone (pink in the middle). Because you've added Grill Plus, it WILL NOT stick ... awesome!

Remove chicken from grill. Set aside. Cut pepper and onion into strips. Heat a large skillet (I use an electric wok) on high. One at the time, heat the tortilla shells, turning when steam bubble appear. Do not over cook, you want them soft NOT crunchy. Once done, set aside on a covered plate.

Add peppers and onions to skillet, cut bbq'd chicken into strips. I stand the breast on it's side and halve it lengthwise, then cut into strips. Add chicken to the skillet. Sprinkle with ground pepper, chili powder and fresh cilantro. Toss mixture. Cook until chicken is all the way done through. I like the veggies to still have a bit of a crispness to them. That's it, your part is done.

Leave mixture in the skillet. Let everyone "fix their own" fajita. So easy and so good!  — ¡Buen apetito!, Linda

Monday, April 30, 2012

MegaSpeed Custom Car & Truck Show – Toronto

The new MegaSpeed Custom Car & Truck Show actually replaces Performance World, a show that was around for many years. So, this inaugural event, is really a new and improved version of one of the area's longest running indoor car shows. New owner, new vendors, new automobiles ... really, a great looking event. And, with the changes owner Pat is making, next year should be even better.

Although we did not set up a booth at the show, Michael's automotive fine art was on display; you can just make out the Gallery Edition Canvases of "BEEP BEEP!", "Feeding Frenzy" and "Pure As The Driven Snow"  in the background of the first photo of the Boss Mustang below, and "Bird Sanctuary" in the 2nd photo. WHAT a beautiful car! After spotting "Boss Building" while the car art was being hung, the owner added it to his collection.

Enjoy the pics. — Linda

Michael Irvine Car Art with Boss Mustang at car show
Car Art by Michael Irvine at Toronto car show
Couple of shots of a truly stunning Boss Mustang.

Cool gold truck - beautiful paint. Inspiring us to get our 1971 Firebird into
a paint booth!

One of our client's cars — took home 5 awards — awesome!

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

TV Show 'Alcatraz' Recreates Classic Bullitt Chase Scene

After seeing the 'new chase' on the show Alcatraz, all we could think was ... "That is 'Chasing History' (Michael's up coming painting) but with the new Dodge Charger and 'Bullitt' Mustangs recreating the classic chase scene from 1968. Wow! Very, very cool."

It seems that Michael coming out with two Bullitt themed car art paintings (he released 'DODGE N' A BULLITT' earlier this year) is perfectly timed. Not only is HoonDog Events planning the "Route 66 Legend Lives Tour" with Bullitt Mustangs and Dodge Chargers old and new, but a hot new TV show reenacts the famous chase scene ... and do it some serious justice.  In striving for authenticity, they even had the Volkswagen in a couple of shots. Too funny.

Like most Bullitt fans, we watched (and recorded) the episode which aired last night (March 26th). I have to admit, it was impressive.

A client of ours from San Francisco, sent us the following link to a 'behind the scenes' look at the chase segment. Click on this link to check it out: 'Bullitt' redux: 'Alcatraz' recreates classic SF chase scene

And, to whet your whistle, here's a few shots I managed to capture. Look familiar, don't they? I think they did a pretty good job. Enjoy, we sure did!! — Linda

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Route 66 and Bullitt - That's Just Too Cool

Rare Opportunity to be Part of a Unique Experience.

Michael has been commissioned by HoonDog Events, to create a painting commemorating the inaugural "The Legend Lives Tour," down America's Main Street, the historic Route 66.

The Tour
Just imagine, Dodge Chargers and Bullitt Mustangs, old and new, touring down Route 66 in the ultimate Bullitt caravan!

You don't have to just imagine it, you can be part of history in the making! Hoondog Events has created a unique, memorable driving event, inviting Bullitt Mustang and Dodge Charger owners to take to the open road on Route 66 in the inaugural, "The Legend Lives Tour".

Starting in Chicago, Illinois on May 26th, the tour ends in Chino, California, at the Friends of Steve McQueen car show, on June 2nd, 2012. 

Rare look at Michael's car art at the sketch stage. Shown with limited
printed remarque.

You can register for the whole trip, or just one leg. Or, if you can't make it this year, you can still own a Limited Edition print of the commemorative car art painting, "Chasing History," they've commissioned Michael for!

It Just Gets Better

Above is another rare opportunity to see one of Michael's paintings at the sketch stage and pre-order your Limited Edition Print today.   Only the first 100 prepaid orders (based on the sketch) will have the "Rout 66 The Legend Lives Tour 2012" remarque shown here.

This will be printed on the first
100 pre-ordered prints only.

For more information on "The Legend Lives Tour", check out 

Chasing History, is available for order through HoonDog Events, or through us at Happy trails!,— Linda

Monday, January 30, 2012

Chef Tim Creehan's Incredible Soup

The weeks leading into the holidays are always busy — Michael's car art has become a popular Christmas gift for the car enthusiast! And being big on making wishes come true, we try our hardest to make sure that every order makes it under the tree in time for the big day.

Personally, it's a busy time too — we have a couple of kids, so gift planning and shopping is a must. As is attending school concerts and seasonal events. Every Christmas Eve we host a family/friend dinner. The tradition started years ago, before any of us had children, and before my parents moved cross country to be close to their first grand children.

In the early days, when there were only four of us, there was a lot of "accidental" successes and failures. But youth, friendship and wine, helped smooth it all out!

Over the last few years, it's become a matter of personal pride that the dinner is as wonderful and creative as possible. We never have the same exact meal twice. This last year was probably the best so far, with the addition of recipes created by our friend, and fellow car enthusiast, Chef Tim Creehan.

We met Chef Tim about 3 years ago at the Wing Car Reunion held at the Wellborn MuscleCar Museum. I purchased one of his cookbooks (pictured below), but in awe of his incredible talent, I was reluctant to try any of the recipes - feeling my attempts would fall short.

We saw Chef Tim at Cuvée Bistro in Destin, Florida last summer. In fact, we ate there every night of our stay. The food is amazing, the wine list is incredible, the staff are wonderful. If you're ever anywhere near the area, you have to stop by. Word of warning, make a reservation ... the place was packed every night.

It was there that we first tried "Tim Creehan's Smoked Tomato Soup". Even our non veggie eating daughter loved it. With an assurance from Chef Tim that his recipes are simple to follow, because he uses fresh, simple ingredients, I threw caution to the wind. I followed the recipe exactly, and the result was perfect. Everyone loved it, asked for seconds and for the recipe!

I asked Tim if I could share it with others, and he gave me the go ahead. So, here it is. Do yourself a favor and give it a whirl. You won't be disappointed.

Tim Creehan's Smoked Tomato Soup
Ingredients – Serves 12
A must have cookbook in our kitchen.
  • 2 yellow onions
  • 4 tomatoes
  • 1/3 pound chopped bacon
  • ¼ cup chopped garlic
  • 3 cups canned Italian plum tomatoes
  • 3 cups tomato sauce or puree
  • ½ cup tomato paste
  • 2 canned chipotle peppers in adobo
  • 1½ quarts chicken stock
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • salt to taste
  • pepper to taste
  • 1 pound steamed (70-90 count) shrimp
  • ¼ cup chopped parsley or chive stems
  1. Sprinkle a smoker with soaked hickory chips and preheat. Cut the onions in half and place them and the whole tomatoes on the smoker rack. Smoke over low heat for 30 minutes. Allow to cool and chop.
  2. Saute the bacon in a heavy soup pot. Add the onions, tomatoes and garlic. Cook for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the next 6 ingredients; mix well. Simmer for 20 minutes.
  3. Process the mixture in batches in a blender or food processor until smooth. Combine the mixture in the soup pot; stir in the cream. Season with salt and pepper and heat to serving temperature. Ladle the soup into soup bowls and top with the steamed shrimp and chopped parsley or chive stems.
I also picked up Tim's sensational marinade, Grill Plus. I cannot tell you how often I've used it in the past months. It is pretty much foolproof. I don't think I can do without it anymore. It gives the simplest meal that little bit of a flavor boost!

Grill Plus Instant Marinade and Cooking Sauce, makes a wonderful marinade for steaks or roasts. Great on chicken and pork. I've brushed it on hours in advance, or moments before cooking. I've used it instead of butter or oil in the pan when sauteeing. It's very versatile, flavourful (without being overwhelming) and keeps meat from sticking to any surface. I've even mixed it into our favorite bbq sauce when grilling ribs! Check out for ordering information and recipe ideas.

A great big thanks to Chef Tim, for making me feel like a gourmet ... we cannot wait until our next trip to Destin! And, happy cooking to everyone!! — Linda