Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Q's Creative Heaven & Nature Cards, Tags and notebook

I found this beautiful vintage Christmas paper from Bella Carta awhile back and while I was designing with it, I started singing 'Joy to the World' and I knew exactly what I should call this class, Heaven & Nature!

Sweet little Angels, Victorian carolers, winter scenes...with happy non-traditional colors. 

Snowflakes & winter nights all tied up with vintage ribbon and then finished off with dimensional snow and glitter! 

Six easy cards to get you in the spirit of Christmas!
But wait...there's more!

Heaven & Nature had some tags up her sleeve!  Seven big creative tags, perfect for a box top, tie to a gift bag or send as a card!

This kit also includes a cute little hard-cover notebook, a perfect place to write down all the details for fun Christmas planning and will easily fit into a purse!

Both of these kits will begin shipping Oct. 3rd.  Save $5 and get free shipping when you order both. 

You can also add a Snow Marker from the drop-down menu if you need one, it is so fun to watch the ink 'puff' up!

This, like all my kits, come with a photo step-by-step slideshow and you also get all the printables which you can use over & over.

To see all your buying options, be sure to click on the black
arrow above "add to card".

Heaven & Nature

The Tag & Notebook will be sold as a kit to create at home.  If you're coming to class, you can pick up the kit there.  I also have 'extras' available (Paper, ribbon, crystal brads etc...) available, I will be emailing this order form to you.

I will be teaching the Card class as follows.  

Class Schedule 

Mon., Oct. 3rd          Sandy Hobby Lobby                  2 - 4 pm
Tues., Oct. 4th         South Jordan Hobby Lobby        5:30 - 7:30 pm
Wed., Oct. 5th   
      South Jordan Hobby Lobby        10am - noon
Oct. 5th         West Valley Hires Big H              6 - 8 pm
Oct. 6th        American Fork Senior Center      6 - 8 pm
Oct. 7th       Layton Hobby Lobby                  10am - noon
Oct. 7th       Layton Hobby Lobby                  2 - 4pm
Friday, Oct. 7th       Layton Hobby Lobby                  5:30 - 7:30 pm

What you'll need: 


Roller-type adhesive for putting cards together.  
Foam squares,  1/2" foam roll.

Glue dots (Micro, Mini and 3/8")

Scotch tape

Tools & Supplies
Scissors (long & fine-tipped)

Paper Piercer
Pumice Stone Distress Ink & Sponge
Craft Mat

Paper Piercer
1/8" and 1/4" hole punch
small Foam mat
Large lid or small container to place small items from kit

Marvy Uchida Snowmarker (or similar product)
Loose Clear Fine Glitter
Diamond stickles (glitter Glue)
Heat gun

If you have any questions, please let me know.
...and would love if you posted these pictures to Pinterest!

Studio 5: Salt vs Salt

Homer called  it a divine substance.
Plato said salt was near to the Gods.

It's hard to imagine feeling that strongly about something we've had in our cupboards for years at minimal cost.  Yet, in the history of the world, salt really was a precious commodity and at one point was worth its weight in gold.

It's in almost everything we eat, but we rarely think about it.  However, as with many other foods, there has been a heightened awareness about salt, thanks in large part to the growing food trend on television and in print.  We see chefs dip into salt cellars with their fingers and scatter big salt crystals on food and we want to do it too!

Leave a comment for a chance to win this
bamboo salt cellar filled with Maldon Flake salt

will pick a winner Oct. 2nd!
If you visit gourmet food shops, fine dine, or read Food & Wine magazine, then you probably know a lot about salt.  But if you're a home cook who loves to make a treasured casserole, spaghetti, meat loaf and a roast on Sunday then you may be wondering what all the fuss is about.

Here are three salt categories to help you decide just how much you want to venture into the world of salt.  But before I start, let me just say salt is salt.  Chemically, 98% of salt is Sodium chloride.  But it's surprising just how much that 2% of other minerals can change the taste of salt.  Other things besides taste affect salt though...

1. Color: usually caused by other minerals (red clay in Hawaii, basalt in Hawaii for Black salt, etc...)
2. Shape: usually caused by how it is collected (pyramid, flake, nuggets crystals)
3. Moisture:  the less refined a salt, the more moisture it will hold, which means it will hold its shape without dissolving, adding a nice crunch to food.
4. Additives: Anti-clumping and iodine can affect the taste of salt, although it's subtle.

 1. Everyday Salt

Table Salt is the salt we are most familiar with.  Fine grained, iodized with an anti-caking agent so that it pours like rain (hence the cute umbrella Morton girl). 

Cons: Very processed & highly dense, you do not want to get some of this in your mouth...ewww, yuck!  Because of this, easy to over-salt.

Pros: Great for quick dissolve needs, like baking & brining.

Kosher Salt is the workhorse in my kitchen.  The biggest difference between table salt and Kosher salt is the grain size.  It really should be called koshering salt, as it was first used to draw moisture out of meat to follow Jewish food laws. 

Pros: No additives.  Less dense and easier to control the saltiness of foods.  Salt by touch.  Good crusting on meats, but dissolves in liquids (like soups, sauces & stews) as well.  inexpensive.

Note: A Tbsp of table salt is equal to about 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 Tbsp of Kosher Salt.  Store in a salt cellar.

Using Kosher salt instead of Table salt will completely change the way you cook & season your food.  It's that magical "pinch & scatter" technique that chefs have been using for years. 

Why, you ask?  This technique forces you to rely on the very thing that makes good cooks great.  They taste their food.  Using this technique will help you to trust your palate.  It will take a bit of time to get used to, but before you know it that salt cellar will be your best friend in the kitchen!

2.  Finishing Salts
This category has LOTS of company, literally hundreds!   Finishing salt is an unrefined, hand harvested salt from all over the world.  Almost every country has their unique salt, most famous being Fleur de Sel from the Brittany region of France.

Cons:  Expensive.

Pros:  No additives.  Moist crystals that last on food, or delicate flakes that lightly salt even the most delicate greens.  Crunchy with a clean burst of mild salty flavor.  Beautiful presentation.

3.  Flavored Salts
Typically these are finishing salts that have been flavored or mixed with other ingredients.  Most common are mushroom/truffles, lemon, herbs, spices.

Cons:  They can be expensive, but not necessarily.  Limited use.

Pros:  No additives.  These are not seasoned blends, but more of an infused salt.  (You can smell truffle salt without even opening the bottle!)  Fun & creative uses.  You can make your own, there are many recipes on the internet.  Would make nice Christmas gifts.

Here are a few wonderful ways to use these special salts on your food.

Salted Butter & Bread

Such a simple, but elegant way to serve salt is on soft sweet butter
and a crusty loaf of bread.

But wait...a drizzle of honey takes it over the top!

Or you can create a gourmet butter & salt board (photo at top) for a fun dinner party appetizer.

Vanilla Salted Caramel

Probably the most surprising salt to me is Vanilla Salt and it's perfect on sweet/salty foods like Caramel.

I just bought a new sweet salt the other day at Harmons, Vermont Maple Salt!  Yum!

Watermelon, Tomato & Basil Salad

Sweet fruits & vegetables are served well with a finishing salt.

Try using oil, vinegar and a sprinkle of Pink Himalayan Salt or herb infused salt...
and what's better then a vine ripe garden tomato with some Fleur de sel?  Not much!

Steak & Porcini Fleur de Sel

Steak (and other meats) is a great canvas for strong flavored salt,
like a porcini or truffle salt. 

Finishing salts work best on whole, clean foods.  Salt can make foods taste more like themselves!

Shrimp & Hawaiian Red Salt

Another very popular finishing salt is Maldon (from the UK).  Very light and flakey and nice on delicate foods like salads, but also good on everything else as well.  About $10 a box.  Hawaiian red salt is very coarse and pairs nicely with shrimp. (deeply colored salts will bleed, so keep that in mind when pairing with lighter colored foods).

Roasted Garlic & Salt Chick peas

Typically salty snacks are a great way to try out your finishing and flavored salts.  French fries, other fried foods, or these roasted garlic chick peas sprinkled with fleur de sel.

If you're looking for low-cal, satisfyingly salty and crunchy snacks, this is perfect.  Because the chick peas are so meaty, I only need a few to satisfy.

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Zucchini: The KING of the vegetable garden!

Zucchini doesn't get enough respect.  Other than zucchini bread, I don't know many people who cook with it a lot.  But really, it's KING!  It's the easiest to grow (you could just about ignore that plant and it will still produce!) and is incredibly versatile in the kitchen.

Every year, I play around with new recipes to add to my zucchini recipe collection.  This summer I've tried Zucchini lasagna and Ravioli and loved them both.  Last year I discovered Zucchini boats! 

But, my tried and true hands-down favorite zucchini recipe is this treasure (which also happened to be my very first blog post back in 2008!)

I'm just about to go upstairs and crank our some pie crust so it can chill in time so I can make zucchini quiche for dinner with a side of beautiful young & tender corn on the cob!  Now doesn't that sound good?  Enjoy!

From 2008:  

These unpredictable vegetables (actually, really a fruit) are tiny, little thumb-sized fruits one day and the next, you could hollow it out and float in it.

Whether you grow them or have them dropped at your doorstep anonymously, they are delicious and I'm sure, like me, you're always on the look-out for new recipes.

Today I'm sharing my all-time FAVORITE zucchini recipe that I've been making for 20 years; Zucchini cheese quiche. Makes a lovely light summer-time dinner (just add a side salad) and is even better the next day for lunch.
Two 8” zucchini cheese quiches

Two 8” frozen pie crusts…or if you have time, make one!
6 small zucchini (or a large pan full of sliced zucchini...remember it will reduce in size as it cooks)
1 C. Chopped onion
3-4 cloves of Garlic, chopped
*Saute garlic and onion in olive oil and/or butter. After a few minutes, add sliced zucchini. While this is cooking down (cook until zucchini is a nice bright green color) mix in a bowl:

4 eggs, beaten lightly
8 oz. Gruyere cheese (or your favorite swiss), shredded. You can use more if you like it more cheesy.
1 Tbsp. Dijon Mustard
2 Tbsp. Fresh oregano (Thyme works well in this too) or 1 Tbsp dried herbs
Freshly ground pepper and Kosher salt (to taste)

Allow zucchini mixture to cool down and then mix with cheese/egg mixture. Cook at 375 F. for about 30 minutes or until top is golden.
Notice the bright green color? Take it off the heat and let cool.

If you like a zestier, warmer quiche, add 1 tsp red pepper flakes and/or a few grinds of my new favorite spice, Grains of Paradise.
How did I get those slices to thin? One of my top 3 kitchen mandolin!

Would love to hear what your favorite Zucchini Recipe is!

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Studio 5: Mango Sticky Rice

Last year, after 5 years of planning, we had our dream trip to Thailand.  It was incredible in so many ways; the people, the land, the culture and the food.  

But I will admit we were pretty obsessed about Mango Sticky Rice.

It took me awhile to start figuring out how to make this once I got back, but since I have I've made it a dozen times.  I've even made it while camping!

There is nothing ordinary about this dessert.  I love to see the reaction of people eating this for the first time.  It's such a surprising experience; sweet, but a touch salty.  Creamy, yet chewy and the perfect pairing of Coconut & Mango.

The best is, however, how easy it is to make.  5 ingredients & 45 minutes (most of that waiting for the rice to cook).

Let's start with the Rice.  You have to get to an Asian grocery store to buy this (visiting Ocean Mart in SLC is date night for us, love wandering the isles, talking to people and trying to decipher packages and cans and trying out new things).

Primarily you are looking for glutinous rice (this doesn't mean it's rice with gluten, it just means it's extra starchy, which makes it sticky).  Sweet Glutinous rice refers to the grain size (almost like Arborio), short and fat.  This is my favorite.  However, if you can't find Sweet glutinous rice, you can use simply Glutinous rice, which will be longer.

Besides being used for this dessert, Glutinous rice is a staple in South East Asia and used with many savory dishes as well (more on that later).

Most importantly and something I always forget is to soak the rice in water for at least 2 hours, but preferable overnight.  I use 1/4 cup per person.

This contraption is my set-up for steaming the rice.  It must be steamed!  If you boil it, it will wash away the gluten and  your rice will not be sticky.

If you have a proper rice steamer, by all means, use that!  My steamer doesn't have enough holes (and they are too big) for this rice.

Here, I've used a splatte
r guard (used for frying), available walmart and everywhere.  Find a pot with a circumference a little smaller than the splatter guard.  Fill with 3" or so of water and bring to a boil.
Place splatter guard over the pot and spoon the soaked rice in the center, spreading out into an even layer.

Place a bowl on top of the splatter guard/rice to capture the steam.  I like using a plastic bowl like you can see in the picture because it won't get too hot to handle like metal would...but still be careful when lifting; I use a knife to edge it up and a ove-glove (greatest invention!) to remove it.

Cook for 45 minutes.  It should tender, but still have a bit of chew in it (Al dente).  You can always grab a bit to taste if you're not sure and cook a bit longer if you want a more tender rice.

Not all coconut milks are the same.  What we're looking for here is the opposite of what I use when cooking my summer soups (re: last summer's Studio 5 segment) where I wanted a light version.  

This is dessert!  I want all that creaminess (ie: fat).
My favorite brand is Chaokoh, which you can find at Asian grocer as well. You can see here in my side by side comparison the striking difference.  Any brand will do in a pinch, but since you're at the Asian grocers for the glutinous rice anyway, pick up a bunch to keep on hand.

You'll need just one can for 4-5 people.  Place in a pot, bring to a simmer (do not boil).  Add 1/2 sugar and a 1/4 tsp salt.  This stuff is heavenly and would also be great over pancakes or waffles, with bananas, big flake coconut and chopped macadamia nuts...oh and while we're at it, a dollop of whipped cream!

Cook until salt & sugar are dissolved then keep this warm until ready to serve...easy, peasy!

Okay, let's talk about the hardest part of this dessert, preparing the Mango!  It's a delicious fruit, but tricky to get all that sweet, silky fruit out without destroying it in the process.  I've watched a lot of videos online, but I actually prefer mine.  But Before I show you how...let's give you the complete recipe.

Mango Sticky Rice
{serves 4 people)

1 cup glutinous Sticky Rice
1 can coconut Milk
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1 large Mango
opt: Toasted Coconut flakes

Soak rice overnight (or min 2 hrs).
Bring 3 inches of water to boil in a large pot.  Place splatter guard over pot and spoon soaked rice in an even layer on it.  Place bowl on top of rice. Steam for 45 minutes.

In the meantime, place coconut milk, sugar and salt in a small pot and heat gently until sugar/salt are dissolved.  Keep warm.

Prepare Mango (see tutorial below) and set aside, covered.

When rice is finished, cut rice into quarters and roll up and place in four dessert bowls.  Pour coconut syrup in each bowl.  It will soak in, so wait a minute and add more if necessary.  I like it submersed in the sauce.  Place chopped Mango on top and sprinkle with toasted coconut on top.  Serve immediately.  It really should be served right away. 


Here's a photo tutorial on how I prepare my Mango.  Click on the image to embiggen.

Mangos have this nasty oblong, sticky pit that can be a pain to work around.  But I breeze through my Mangoes now with this technique.

Hold Mango upright (small end up).  With a sharp filet knife (long and thin), start slicing just off-center until you hit the pit or some resistance.  Slowly move the blade away from the pit and continue cutting downward and around the pit.

Repeat on other side.  You now have 2 beautiful Mango cheeks!  But wait, there's more!

Turn what's left of the mango with the cross section facing you.  Starting at the top, slice around the pit to get the last of the meat off.

Here's the best part...cooks treat!  There's still a little bit of Mango lusciousness left on that pit.  Impossible to cut off, but perfect to nibble on!

The last hurdle is taking the skin off.  The two last bits are easy, just slide your knife along the skin to remove the meat.

The cheeks are a little trickier.  Many tutorials have you hold the cheek in your hand and then run your knife along the length, but just through the meat, stopping at the skin.  Ok, I don't know about you, but I try to avoid running sharp knives anywhere near the palm of my hand, so DON'T. DO. IT. :)  A simpler and safer way to accomplish this is to place the cheek, skin down on a cutting board.  

If you're using a ripe Mango, which goes without saying, your knife will slip through the soft meat and stop at the skin naturally, just have a soft touch.  

Once you've cut your slices (about 1/2" apart), flatten the cheek, almost turning inside out (this breaks the tension of the skin and will make it easier to lay flat).

Holding the cheek flat with one hand, start cutting with the knife on one end. As you move forward with the knife, move your hand back towards the end as you continue cutting through to the other end, releasing all the meat.  At this point you can cut the strips into pieces.

Sometimes, if I haven't flattened the cheek enough, not all the skin will be cut off.  Just turn the cheek around and repeat from the other end.  (of course, this is what happened to me on tv!).

Toasted coconut!  This isn't traditional, but I love it!  It add some nice color and texture to the dessert.  (Traditionally, toasted sesame seeds are used.)  I like using non-sweetened large flake coconut.  Broil for just a few seconds (don't leave!!!!).

Studio 5: Spicy Corn Fritters

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