Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Smokin' Pots...Some Garden Crafty-stuff from cheap old Pots and Junk

I made a trip down to the local Goodwill store and put myself on a 10$ budget for this upcoming gardening craft blow out. Look what it bought me!  It was blue tag day.  Clay and ceramic pots, plant stands, a watering can, a wood sectional fence, some little tiny garden tools, a few metal tins...

and the find of the day, an old cookie jar (top taken off)...Who throws this stuff away?!
I was excited to see some iron gardening stakes/fence sections.
Lookie lookie! They were so totally...50 cents! Fifty.Cents. Yikes. That's almost FREE.
 So, I went about getting some plants to put in the pots and rounding up some mental capacity to put the crafty touches on the pots. Don't laugh. You know I have to round up "mental capacity" sometimes.
 I matched up some good herbs and pot...and wow...I am not saying anything about *pot* being an herb...Do with that what you will. I never touch the herbaceous variety.
 I started with some bold lime green on a few of the clay pots. Ya know, because lime green is cool. Summer is cool. I'm cool. It's all about being matchie-matchie.
I got really technical on getting the mossy texture on the pot by just sticking moss on the wet paint. Yes, I know. It's mind boggling how smart  annoying I am.
I use outdoor enamel craft paint if the pots will be out doors.
I really love how this cheap tin got renewed with a quick coat of paint. It was so plain without it!
Sometimes it amazes me how easy it can be to change the look of a plain white pot. This is just ribbon and a silk flower sealed on to it with the same E-6000 bond that I used for  

Outdoor Vintage Plant Markers 

with the picture of my dad in it as the seed packet. It's weather proof bonding so it won't fall off.
Doesn't it look like this pot could totally walk down Hollywood Blvd.   in 1942...if we could only find a big Sassy-SAGE hat...Oh wait...
 I used the same sealant for this marker that tells my kids , "Hey these peppers are HOT". I was tired of them asking if they were berries. I'm nice. I could have just let them taste the berries. See...and you thought I was...well, actually, I have no idea what you think I am.
 Ribbon bonded to the top of the lime green pot and some black paint accents totally changed the look of this clay pot.
 Also using the ribbon on the fence section for a cutsie craft quote in the garden seemed right. I think Cassie, the producer of Valley Dish will like this the most.  I love her Gardening Blog. It makes me smile.

What do you think of the cookie Jar now?! It's Italian!'s the plant holder that was kind of plain before...snazzed up. I think I like it better this way, but ya know, I like color. You may prefer a more subtle look in your garden. I'm okay with that. It's your space.

 Some ribbon weaving in the fence sections is simple but super-deeee-duper oootsie-cutsie. It may be too puke cute for a man. I think that Ace will never come in the garden if I put up these stakes.  {insert evil grin}.
There you go. Today's crafty-craft adventure. I'm heading down to the NBC studio to actually film a segment...but will not be posting it until July. In the meantime...I hope this has inspired you to go down and make some smokin' pot...decorations...ya know which kind I mean. Right?

Monday, June 27, 2011

Whole Grain Chocolate Honey Amaranth Bread

And off we go! Welcome to Amaranth class. I'm chef Stephanie Petersen and I will be eating chocolate until I'm dead and bloated hosting this grand Grain Surgery 101 adventure!  

Amaranth is a supergrain! It's a complete protein. It's in the same family as millet. You all know how I love millet right? Amaranth (below, left) is a very small grain. Teff (below right) is the smallest of all the grains. Amaranth is right there though...very small. 
Added to baked goods when popped, it adds a light texture and nut-like flavor. I'm completely in love with it. Smooches Amaranth.
 I love how it looks in bread. I love how it tastes in bread. I love how it sounds like I'm doing drugs when my kids tell my neighbors, "Mom's poppin' Amaranth again."
For this amazing bread you will need this crazy cool recipe I Adapted from my chocolate bread recipe:

Whole Grain Chocolate Honey Amaranth Bread

12 oz luke warm water (no hotter than 110 degrees) 1 1/2 cups
1T  active dry yeast (or 1 packet)
1/2 cup honey
1/4 cup organic amaranth, popped to equal 1 cup (directions to follow)
1 lb 12 oz whole Kamut flour or whole wheat bread flour ( 5 1/2 cups)
4 (1 oz each) unsweetened bakers chocolate squares (or 3/4 cup cocoa)
1 T espresso powder (or Pero for the Mormon ladies)
2 tsp salt
4 oz olive oil, (1/2 cup butter is pictured but I usually use olive oil)
2 large eggs (1/2 cup)
1 T double strength vanilla
8 oz, high quality chocolate chips

Combine the olive oil OR butter and bakers unsweetened chocolate and melt slowly over a double boiler or in the microwave 15 seconds at a time. Stir often as to not burn the chocolate.
Stir and stir. Try not to imagine yourself as a one inch version of yourself floating away in a chocolate jacuzzi with Edward Cullen...he is fictional character. He will never love you.
In a large bowl, combine the yeast, warm water, honey and about 1 cup of the flour. When the chocolate mixture is completely melted, allow to cool so that it doesn't feel warm to the touch.
Now get out your amaranth.

Pop the Amaranth by heating a large deep pan 2-3 minutes on high heat. Add the 1/4 cup amaranth and stir with a wooden spoon until it pops.
 It will become bright white and take on a nutty flavor. comments on my lack of a tan...and my crazy-brain either.
 Isn't it the cutest little mini-pop you ever saw? If I was a Smurf, I'd take this to the movies. In the bread, it gives a nut-like flavor without adding fat and most definitely adding a ton of nutritional goodness!

 Mix the amaranth  into the water flour and yeast mixture. Add the salt, vanilla, eggs and remaining flour, reserving about 1/2 cup of flour. Knead by hand 5-7 minutes until a soft supple dough is formed. It should look like this.

Very little if any flour is needed to keep this dough from sticking to the work surface if you have followed the recipe correctly. Place in a 2 gallon covered bowl and allow to raise about 2 hours, until doubled in size.
Punch down dough.

 Divide the dough in half.
Roll out into a 14 inch by 10 inch rectangle and spread half the chocolate chips onto the dough, leaving an inch around the outside edge. It helps to lightly roll a rolling pin over the chocolate chips to ease them into the dough. Be careful not to push them through, just nestle them in the dough...
Tightly roll the dough into a long log, encasing the chocolate chips. Don't make them longer than your sheet pans. I don't have a huge oven like I did in the I had to make them short 16 inches or so.
I had a dream about an alien planet that was all cratered with chocolate chips like this. I think it was after I had eaten too many brownies.

When it is all rolled, be sure not to let any of those little cuties escape. escaped nibblet. Ooop. I had to do a mercy eating...just so it wouldn't get burned in the oven. See how benevolent I am.
Place loaves seam side down on a lightly oiled sheet pan or pan lined with parchment paper. You can cover each loaf lightly with plastic wrap or place in an Unheated oven, lightly spraying it with a mist of water. Raise 1 1/2-2 hours, until very fluffy. Remove wrapping or take out of cool oven. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Take one egg white and 2T water and whisk together in a bowl. Lightly coat the top of the bread with the egg mixture using a pastry brush.
Slash with a sharp knife lightly three times across the top of the bread.
Bake 40-45 minutes or until over 170 degrees with a meat thermometer.

When baked, the outside will be smooth and shiny. The inside will be studded with chocolate chips. Well, unless a few peek out through the slash marks. On a side note...I also like to make little buns with this dough and just put a square of chocolate in the middle of the dough, much like I do for the caramel stuffed sticky buns
There you go.

Don't lick the computer screen. It's not Edward Cullen and it will never love you. Stop poppin' too many freak.

Make your own. There you go. {Evil grin} Don't you want to just try amaranth now?!

Sunday, June 26, 2011

"Simplicity is...

The Ultimate Sophistication."--Leonardo da Vinci . 
Sunday is the Day I share a little of my soul. Enjoy.

I caught myself. I did. I said, "I bought those for something special!" as my son reached his hands into the gorgeous package of blueberries I had just purchased at the grocery store. I have this "project" coming up and I needed to come up with an amazing dessert.   To my everlasting shame, he looked at me like I had slapped him in the face. As if, he wasn't special enough to get to eat the blueberries of joy.  I wanted to crawl under a rock. However, to my credit, we decided that they did need to be used for, and with someone special instead of a lame old tart or cake. One tenth went toward the actual baking project. The rest went to this worthy cause.

 I found a recipe that was simple yet elegant.  So the lemon sponge pudding cake was laced with blueberries...and sprinkled with rose infused powdered sugar. Simple.

Do you know what?  It is perhaps the best dessert I have ever made.  Here I was thinking I had to come up with this remarkable and complex thing...when there, right in front of me, was a magic beyond description. I almost missed it.  Dieter F. Uchtdorf once said"There is a beauty and clarity that comes from simplicity that we sometimes do not appreciate in our thirst for intricate solutions." So how do we keep a virtue, no matter how worthy, from getting to be an "extreme". How do we keep that virtue a virtue instead of a vice?  I think it became clear today. It was a focus issue. When I focus on the things that matter most, then there is clarity. Period.  It will always be that one eternal truth...focus determines reality.  Amid the rush of life, the many bids for attention, it was like the Lord looking me in the face and saying,  Stephanie...listen to my invitation in Psalms: “Be still, and know that I am God.”--Be simple and take the time to make sure the ones who matter most in your life KNOW they matter most. 

There it is.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

S'mores on a Pretzel and Summer on a Stick! Fox 10 AZAM Segment

Tomorrow on Fox 10 I'll be sharing some fun Kids Cooking ideas for keeping your cool and making some memories. One thing is for sure...S'mores never looked so EviL!
I melted chocolate like  The crazed lunatic of chocolate love,
Crushed homemade  graham crackers,
Absconded with some "Gi-normeous-HuGe-ic" Marshmallows of immense magnitude,
and impaled a pretzel rod with the squishy mass of sugar fluff.
Dipping the fluff in chocolate was next on the Evil-to-do-list.
Now I'm just resting for effect.
Oh. My. Heck-fire. Can *anyone* make these or is it just me?!
Yah...I did just put the crushed stuff on the chocolate stuff.
Mashed in a few extra chunks of chocolate-love-nuggets, ya know, just in case there wasn't enough chocolate.
Then to be totally puke-ishly cute, I wrapped them in these treat bags and tied them with a ribbon. Yes, I know. It's totally Ootsie-Cutesie. I apologize in advance for that sappy adorable-ness. Someday I'll just be practical and put them in my mouth and eat them instead of wrapping them at all.
Use white chocolate and colored sprinkles...and you get what we call  All American Sparklers 
 Aren't they cool? Way simple too!
Watermelon pops may just  be one of my all time favorite " Summer-Treats-on-a-stick". If you haven't seen them you should try them at least once. You'll probably never buy a popsicle again. The segment will feature a really amazing variety of watermelon fresh from the fields this morning! Thanks to our outstanding friends down at Love Grows Farms!
This is a Moon and Stars Watermelon. Find out more about this variety Here. All I can say is it's stunning on the outside...
Gorgeous on the inside...
and perfect on a stick!
Bonus...I get to keep the seeds.  Is that legal? Well, I'm not sure, but my dad the Pansy Man is most likely going to cry tears of joy if I show up with these heirlooms in my pocket.
A few more Summer Sticks will include these butter-tea ring cookie flowers and some homemade salted caramel chocolate popsicles. Are you excited?!

Well, the segment airs on Fox 10 Arizona Morning Show tomorrow (Friday) at 9:40. I'm looking forward to seeing all the folks there again! Big hugs!!