Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Joy The Baker Cookbook Spotlight and Cook-off: Snack Time with Joy

Every once in awhile you discover something about yourself that you never knew.  For instance, up until recently I thought I was more of a sweet than savory type of gal.  A total chocoholic, pie-eating, cookie monster, baked-goods-eating-machine.  I've never been one to have very much willpower around sweets.  Sadly, I'm one of those people who can rationalize having a slice of fruit pie for breakfast because...well, because it has fruit in it.     

So, imagine my surprise when I opened up Joy the Baker's cookbook for the first time and after paging through the most super-duper, absolutely crave-inducing, sinful and indulgent treats around, the first recipe that screamed at me was Joy's Honey Mustard Roasted Cashews.  Savory over Sweet? Say What?
I blame it all on the mustard.  Me and mustard are BFFs.  Not to mention...cashews.  Aren't cashews awesome?  They're perfect all on their own with salt but imagine them all glazed over and somewhat sticky with honey, then flavored with mustard and black pepper.  We're talking gourmet prime-time snackin'.
When I go nuts, I really go nuts.  I also decided to make Joy's Crunchy Cocoa Roasted Almonds.  These are such a unique treat.  Very crunchy, a little salty, a little sweet, not too chocolatey but just enough chocolate flavor to quell that craving.  I hate to say it, but I think I even enjoyed these crunchy cocoa roasted almonds better than the honey mustard roasted cashews.  Could this mean chocolate and sweets win out in the end after all?
And, last but not least, I made Joy's Perfect Kettle Corn because my family is absolutely crazy for all things popcorn.  This is a simple stovetop recipe for popcorn that includes just the right amount of balance between sweet and salty.  It also requires a lot of shaking to get all that goodness evenly distributed.  I didn't perfect it the first time around, but I'm convinced I will with practice.  
I loved each and every one of these snacks, but my favorite was probably the Crunchy Cocoa Roasted Almonds.  There's just something special about them that's hard to put a finger on.  Maybe it's because they're the perfect mix between sweet and savory.  The perfect snack for those of us who walk the fine line.

Crunchy Cocoa Roasted Almonds
Slightly Adapted from Joy The Baker Cookbook
Makes 3 cups 

3 cups raw almonds
6 tablespoons butter
2 large egg whites
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup granulated sugar
3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
1/8 teaspoon cayenne powder (could use a tad more if you are really into spicy)

Place a rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 350 degrees F.

Place almonds on a baking sheet and roast for 15 minutes in the oven.  Remove from oven and place in a medium bowl to cool completely.

Place butter on a rimmed baking sheet and melt in the oven for 5- 7 minutes.  Remove from the oven and set aside.  

In the bowl of an electric mixer with the whisk attachment (I did this by hand with a whisk), add egg whites and 1/2 teaspoon of the salt.  Beat on medium speed until frothy.  Gradually add sugar.  Increase the mixer to medium-high and beat until white and glossy and the egg whites hold almost stiff peaks.

Add the remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt, the cocoa powder, and cayenne pepper (go big if you like spicy or you will not taste this at all), and beat until well incorporated.

Pour the egg mixture over the toasted almonds and toss together until almonds are evenly coated.  Spoon mixture atop the melted butter on the rimmed baking sheet.  Bake for 30-40 minutes (30 worked perfectly for me), removing the pan from the oven to toss almonds 2 or 3 times during baking.

Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely before serving.  Almonds will keep, in an airtight container, at room temperature for up to a week.

Note:  When roasting nuts it is best to allow them to cool to room temperature before testing.  When they first come out of the oven they will not have that crispy crunchy texture you are looking for.  They need time to cool down and achieve that great crunch.
This post is part of the Joy the Baker Cookbook Spotlight and Cook-Off sponsored by Hyperion and hosted at girlichef*

Freshly Made: The Only Choice

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This is my last week as the guest designer at Freshly Made Sketches.  It's been so fun and so exciting but I admit to feeling a certain amount of stress each week thinking that I need to come up with something totally unique and creative.  Well...I put that all aside this week.  This week's sketch is wonderfully basic which means it is PERFECT for showcasing beautiful paper and amazing sentiments...

Most of my cards are for a church card ministry, but this one is personal.  It's heading to an amazing woman who deals with more than any of us can imagine and does it with great faith and spirit. 

Thanks so much to Lesley and the rest of the Freshly Made design team for letting me share in the fun this month!!  I look forward to playing along for a long time to come!

  • Stamps: My Favorite Things Vertical Greetings
  • Paper: Stampin' Up Peach Parfait, Soft Suede, Poppy Parade, Very Vanilla, Everyday Enchantment dsp
  • Ink: Stampin' Up Soft Suede, Baja Breeze (just sponged on the edges)
  • Accessories: My Favorite Things die, Stampin' Up embossing folder, Pool Party Seam Binding and Butterfly Embosslit

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Merry Monday: Deck the Halls

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When Lesley at Always Playing with Paper started her Merry Monday challenge this year, with the goal of getting us a head start on Christmas cards, I swore that I would play EVERY week thus avoiding seasonal stress.  Well...she is on challenge 9 and I am on card 3.  Not great...but better than nothing!

  • Stamps: Taylored Expressions Wreaths of Joy and Banner Holidays
  • Paper: Stampin' Up Wild Wasabi, Garden Green and Very Vanilla, Cosmo Cricket Mitten Weather dsp
  • Ink: Stampin' Up Garden Green, black, copics
  • Accessories: Stampin' Up border punch and Garden Green Grosgrain, Taylored Expressions wreath and banner die, Ranger Glossy Accents, misc gems colored with copics

Unexpected excitement

I have been getting some unusually good mail lately but I was very surprised at what arrived in my post box today...

Let me share what I had also received the past two days because they are also very cool :o)

First, Brooke at apriltwoeighty and I had another little swap and she sent me some to live for fabrics...drool!!! Thank you Brooke! And if you have not seen Brooke's new is a must see!!!!

I also received this sweet package from Sukie  and I already have plans for that cute little charm pack! Thank you so much,you are awesome!!!

Now, I knew Sara was going to be in the new publication Modern Quilting...

My copy came in the mail today and I was running back to the house to tear it open to see this...LOVE this bag Sara!!!! Congratulations :o)

Then I was reading the rest of the magazine while waiting in the parent pick up line at Katy's school and mentally planning out how to budget in fabric for the Amy Butler and Kate Spain ( I am in love with Good Fortune) quilts featured. Both are very good! I got to page 57 and...ummm...OMG!!!!!!  Right there, next to my sweetie Sara is MY GO-GO LIFE...WHAT!?!?!  I had no idea and I was GOBSMACKED !!!!  If you know me in know that is HUGE!!!  I am very excited to be able to say that I will be in the magazine again with a super sweet pattern to share :o)

I am going to scrape myself off the ceiling and, make some more quilt steps and giggle a whole bunch :o)

Monday, February 27, 2012

Razzleberry and White: He Lives

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This card is so NOT what I had envisioned when I got this stamp set!  It was going to be a classic kraft/white/subtle Easter card.  But I saw this morning's Splitcoast Clean and Simple challenge and then saw this stamp set sitting square in the middle of my craft desk - I knew it could work.  The Razzleberry adds a regal tone and the white would keep it fresh and peaceful.

The pink on the cross is actually glitter.  Have you ever noticed that "clear" glitters generally have a color cast?  I grabbed the nearest glitter and wish I would have looked more carefully.  The clearest glitter that I have found is Martha Stewart's - I buy it in giant bottles at Michaels.  This cross does not use Martha Stewart - had I stood up and walked three steps, I would have had that clear glitter.  Teaches me to be lazy!

  • Stamps: Sweet 'n Sassy He Lives
  • Paper: Stampin' Up Rich Razzleberry, white
  • Ink: Stampin' Up Rich Razzleberry
  • Accessories: Stampin' Up Razzleberry Ribbon and Scalloped Border, Sweet 'n Sassy cloud dies, Martha Stewart Butterfly Punch, Impress Sparkle Glitter

Time to get READY!!!!!

I was sewing most of the weekend and this is one thing I could not wait to share!!!!! I first saw her on Heather's blog and fell in LOVE!!!! Katy said I should leave her faceless, I am undecided. You can buy the pattern to make this sweet thing here.

Are you all ready? I am very excited that it is only one week until we start the New York Beauty QAL. The first in the series will be right here on March week from today!!!!!

This is the block we will be making

 I have chosen Joel Dewberry Heirloom for the blocks.

If you have not chosen your fabric yet or just love more fabric hop on over to Sara's blog and enter for a chance to win this beautiful fabric.

Finally, this is my submission to the Aurifil thread contest for Alex's timeline :o) There have been some really good ones! So many creative people :o)

Sunday, February 26, 2012

His first day...

So technically this photo wasn't his first was the day before when we went for some photos at his school, and if you recall luckily enough as my camera broke on his  first day of school...but I still wanted to use it as it was my favourite photo from that day. This was another of my projects from this months gallery reveals at Elle's Studio. The tags are just the perfect element to finish any page.

 I just love this little glassine bag from Greatest View, perfect for keeping some memorabilia he brought home for me the first day.....and one of my favourite back to school badges also from Greatest View!

 You can see I have added some punched letters and hearts as well.

These are the Greatest View goodies I have used on this project.


Saturday, February 25, 2012

memory keeping: a simple dance scrapbook

We call our Ella, "Ella Bella Tu Tu" because she loves to dance. She started taking lessons at The Dance Conservatory when she was two years old. Even more than dancing, she loves to perform.

Last month TDC had their winter concert at the Covey Center for the Arts in Provo. The dancers performed Mary Poppins.

There's Ella, third from the left.

At the end of the dance, the girls got to "strike a pose." Ella practiced hers over and over. :)

I found Ella thumbing through her "dance book" the other day. It's a simple scrapbook in a "half pint" or 5 1/2" x 8 1/2" album. I used the same size album for my family favorites recipe book.

After each dance concert, I add the program and individual and group photos to her scrapbook.

I've also included memorabilia (hair ribbons, tags from costumes and leotards, etc.).

And it's nice to have the card for the store we purchase dance apparel on hand. There's a postcard with the TDC information so she can always remember where she danced. DVDs of photos and filmed performances tuck nicely into the sheet protectors too.

I love this simple little album.

Papertrey February Blog Hop: Interactive!

Today's monthly Papertrey Blog Hop is to make interactive cards.  Just this month, they released a series of dies to make creating interactive cards much easier.  I got mine yesterday!!

I added a subtly colored - but highly glittered rainbow on the pull up apart...

The saying is very creative.  The outer sentiment says "Beyond the clouds, behind the rain, there are a thousand rainbows."  The inside says "One is on is way to you."  Isn't that fun?

I also glittered the buttons which was Papertrey's Make It Monday video!

I have to admit - that this first card took FOREVER even with the dies.  But I understand it now and am looking forward to sitting right back down and doing another!

  • Stamps: Papertrey Movers and Shapers Sentiments, Up, Up and Away (rainbow), Faux Ribbon (thinking of you)
  • Paper: Papertrey Kraft, Spring Moss, Aqua Mist patterned paper
  • Ink: Papertrey Kraft, Spring Moss, Aqua Mist, copics on rainbow
  • Accessories: Papertrey Movers and Shapers Sliders Dies, Cloud Dies, Summer Sunrise ribbon, buttons, EK Success border punch, Martha Stewart glitter

Joy The Baker Cookbook Spotlight and Cook-off: California Biscuits

Okay, okay....these biscuits are really called Whole Wheat Honey and Goat Cheese Drop Biscuits.  The problem is there is no way I could say, "Honey, we're having Whole Wheat Honey and Goat Cheese Drop Biscuits for breakfast."  My southern-loving buttermilk biscuit eating husband would probably run for the door.  So, I called them California Biscuits.  I described them as a healthy whole wheat drop biscuit and no one was the wiser. 

I did make some changes to Joy's original recipe.  First I used white whole wheat flour in place of the whole wheat flour.  Secondly I used tomato and basil goat cheese in place of regular goat cheese.  And, lastly, because I used tomato and basil goat cheese I omitted the honey.  

 I served these biscuits on the side, along with some scrambled eggs, in my new baby cast iron serving skillet with a wood underliner.  I have to admit, ever since I was a kid I've loved the whole breakfast skillet look.  I'm beyond excited to finally have a set of these little baby breakfast skillets.
Scrambled eggs with caramelized onions, peppers, and breakfast sausage
 Are you curious to know the verdict on these biscuits?  My husband loved them.  I don't think he even tasted the goat cheese in them at all.  Score!  I enjoyed these biscuits and found the texture of them really pleasing.  I especially loved the crispy buttery bottoms on the biscuits.  And, I really appreciated how stinking easy these biscuits came together.  After making the traditional southern biscuit for years I can now say that I have a new appreciation for the drop biscuit.  I will say that I'm slightly disappointed that you can't taste the goat cheese. I'm a fan of goat cheese and would like to actually taste it in these biscuits.  That said, I'm sure I can remedy that situation by simply adding more goat cheese next time.  I'm always up for adding more cheese!
 Whole Wheat and Goat Cheese Drop Biscuits
Slightly adapted from Joy The Baker Cookbook
Makes 8-10 biscuits

2 cups whole wheat flour (I used white whole wheat)
3 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1-1/2 teaspoons salt
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) salted butter, cold, cut into cubes, plus more for the pan
4 tablespoons crumbled goat cheese (I used tomato and basil goat cheese and went heavy with it)
1 cup buttermilk, cold
2 tablespoons honey, plus more for topping (I omitted the honey)

Place a rack in the upper third of the oven and preheat to 400 degrees F.  Place a 10-inch cast-iron skillet in the oven as it preheats.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.  With your fingers, quickly incorporate the cold butter and goat cheese until the flour resembles coarse meal.  Some of the butter and cheese chunks will be the size of small pebbles; others will be the size of oat flakes.  Make a well in the center of the flour mixture.  Add the cold buttermilk to the well of the flour mixture.  Use a fork to blend together the wet and dry ingredients.  Mix until all of the flour is incorporated and no dry flour remains.  Set aside.

Note:  If you chose to add the honey to these biscuits you will need to incorporate the honey into the buttermilk and then pour it into the well.

Remove the hot skillet from the oven and add 1 tablespoon butter.  Swirl the butter around the bottom and sides of the pan until butter is melted and pan is coated.  

Spoon batter by the 1/4 cupful into the hot skillet.  About 6 biscuits will fit into the 10-inch skillet.  Biscuits should have about an inch of room separating them, but will bake up to touch one another. Place in the oven to bake for 14 to 16 minutes, until golden and tops appear dry and slightly firm.  Remove from oven.  Let rest for 5 minutes.  Remove from skillet and top with more honey (if using).  Repeat the process to cook the remaining biscuits, remembering to add another tablespoon of butter to the skillet before placing the biscuit dough inside (you want to make sure you get those crispy buttery bottoms on all your biscuits).  These biscuits are best served immediately, but will last for up to 3 days, well wrapped, at room temperature.

look at those crispy buttery bottoms!
This post is part of the Joy the Baker Cookbook Spotlight and Cook-Off sponsored by Hyperion and hosted at girlichef*

Thursday, February 23, 2012

How very cool is this Aurifil contest!

I cannot tell you all how much I have loved using Aurifil thread.  I have been able to use the same cone since December. Every project that I have posted {and some that I 've not been able to post} has been sewn with Aurifil. Now is your chance to win FORTY EIGHT large spools of your choice of weight a rainbow of colors!!!!

{photo snagged from Aurifil Buzz}

The contest particulars are here on the Aurifil Buzz blog. So bring out your mind reading skills and create a fun and fantastic timeline header for what Alex is thinking :o)

I submitted mine and my fingers are crossed.

Less Is More: Punches or Die Cuts

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This is my second post today!

I have been off my cardmaking game this week - just not feeling it.  But this morning, I realized just how bad it was.  I had not recognized the fact that one of my favorite challenges is all about one of my favorite tools.  Less Is More challenges us to use punches and die cuts...NOT a problem!!

My card uses five dies, all from Papertrey Ink:
  1. Flower Fusion #11 die
  2. Flower Fusion Stem die
  3. Double-Ended Banners die
  4. Mat Stack #1 (the white mat)
  5. Fillable Frames #10 (the linen layer)
Thank you, Less Is More, for bringing back my enthusiasm!!

  • Stamps: Papertrey Flower Fusion
  • Paper: Papertrey Fine Linen
  • Ink: Papertrey Spring Moss, Classic Kraft
  • Accessories: Papertrey Melon Berry felt and Impression Plates
I have a favor.  I am struggling with the fact that the photos on my blog look blurry, even though they look totally clear in my photo editing software.  I have recently realized that if I made the photos extra-large (WAY bigger than any of you want to see them) they look clear to me.  

I have my regular size photo below and then the extra-large version.  I have two question (1) does one look blurrier to you and (2) if so, do you have ANY ideas why???  It seem backwards to me - I would think the smaller photo would be clearer.  Help!!