Monday, December 26, 2016

Tomato Bisque from home canned tomatoes


I really love canning, so when I had a friend, and then another friend gave me30 lbs of tomatoes each I sorta had a canning party... I was the only one invited, my family scattered. So it's now winter and I have a bunch of canned tomatoes that I need to figure out what to do with... pizza sauce, chili base, salsa is all really good but what about tomato bisque? (fancy word for creamy chunky tomato soup.)

Tomato Bisque, so good you wish you had some for leftovers... in that case double it! I served this with grilled cheese.

You can use this recipe with any canned tomatoes you get at the grocery store,  I have also been known to do this recipe with spaghetti sauce, (especially when it's a good deal- around January and February, you can get tomato sauce for $1 a jar.) don't add spices, although I would add basil to the soup if you're using spaghetti sauce.

Creamy Tomato Soup with Home-Canned Tomatoes (serves 4-6)

Ingredients adapted from Farm Fresh Feast


  • 2 Tablespoons butter
  • 1 cup chopped sweet onion (or use a 1/4 cup of dried onions)
  • 1 ½ teaspoons flour
  • 1 quart crushed tomatoes
  • 1-quart stock (I used one can 14.5 oz of Swanson's broth)
  • 2 Tablespoons of fresh basil
  • 2 Tablespoons tomato paste (Alanna shares a simple tip for the rest of the can)
  • 2 cloves roasted garlic (I used the garlic that comes in a jar)
  • 1 piece Parmesan rind (ask your fancy cheese counter to sell ya some cheap don't skip this ingredient, it's worth the flavor!)
  • ¾ teaspoon salt (I used kosher)
  • ½ teaspoon pepper
  • 6 ounces (by volume) evaporated milk Or heavy whipping cream, or milk (depends on of your texture of the base you want. I used heavy whipping cream.)

instructions



  1. In a large pot (at least 3.5 quarts) over medium heat, melt the butter. 
  2. Add onion and sauté for 5 to 8 minutes until softened. 
  3. Sprinkle flour over top, stir to coat with butter, and cook an additional 3 to 5 minutes until lightly browned.  
  4. Stir in tomatoes, stock, pesto, tomato paste, garlic, parmesan rind and seasonings.  
  5. Bring to a gentle boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 30 minutes up to 2 hours. 
  6. Before serving remove the parmesan rind and stir in the evaporated milk. Use an immersion blender (or puree in batches) if you like a smooth soup.
It's that simple! I didn't actually puree it, I thought it cooked up pretty good, I liked the textured of having some tomatoes in the soup. 

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Christmas Baking day 2016

What is it about the beloved baking day we all get giddy about every year about this time? I was able to bake in my kitchen that I love with my sister in-law, in which she is awesome we got a ton of stuff done in the 4 hours she was here, no messing around...

So here was what was on the agenda?
 






































I then packaged them into cute boxes made from my Silhouette to give away to family... it was a fun day and I was exhausted at the end of the day! Totally worth the whirl wind of creating in the kitchen! I can't wait till next year. 

I think that it went well, we knew what we wanted to do ahead of time and we knew what each other was doing, a lot of the time, one would be string, cooking, measuring, while the other one did dishes, or got the next step in the recipe ready to go, so it really worked out well.  

Monday, December 19, 2016

Home Made Chocolate Covered Cherries (that's worth the wait!)



These are the best cordial, or chocolate covered cherries you will have... and they are easy and therapeutic to make!

For last week's artist's date I chose to make some chocolate covered cherries, I researched the best methods, or the way I wanted to do them, and recipes and found this tutorial helpful from my favorite source, YouTube, cheek it out!

My biggest hurdle for making these have always been that I couldn't eat them right away... I had to wait a whole week, seriously that's like a lifetime away I don't have patience! It was totally worth the wait and they are so good!!!



Cordial Cherries have always been on my "If I had time to do what ever I wanted list" for years, so I thought why not? Cherries and sugar aren't that expensive, and I will know right away if it doesn't work out... so no pressure right? I am glad I took this challenge, They are so good! I estimated that with the chocolate and the cherries and sugar I spent about $8-$10 on materials... (so getting at lest 60 cherries for $10, isn't too bad, and they are really yummy!) So really a decent frugal/economic hand made gift that the receiver would like! Now, as for my labor, it was expensive! We're not counting the time I spent, it's the process right?


I will say that it took longer than I thought it would, I dedicated a whole morning to making these things, and it took me into the afternoon. I do think that next time I will change somethings like having the fondant already to do before I start, would help, that really only took like 5 minutes to make, but I thought it needed to rest and be chilled a bit so it was easier to wrap around the cherry. I also would work in chunks, so do a third,  to get it into the fridge, so by the time I was done with the last cherry to get fondant on in, I could start on the first batch that go put into the fridge to dip the covered sugar cherry into chocolate. The whole process lasted about 4 hours, I think I could cut that down to about 3 hours, now that I have done a batch. It would also help if you didn't have little hands that also wanted to help... I love that my kids are in the kitchen with me, but this recipe was more of a repetitious thing, and having kids in the kitchen with you didn't make it much therapeutic... which is why I was doing this in the first place.

Here's the recipe, I adapted a bit from Laurice's Kitchen

Cherry Cordials
60-90 large maraschino cherries, stems attached, drained (I used a jar from Sams club, and used about half)
12-24 ounces semi sweet chocolate chips
1 cup sweetened condensed milk (not evaporated milk), 237ml 
1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon light corn syrup, 20ml
½ teaspoon almond extract, 2ml, or a splash if you don't like to measure like me...
4-6 cups confection sugar (powdered sugar), approximately 454 grams plus additional if needed ( needed a bit more.)

Mix the milk, corn syrup, extract and powdered sugar, by hand/mixer, until it resembles clay. Do not over mix, but more powdered sugar can be added if the mixture is too soft to handle.
Flatten a teaspoon of the sugar mixture into a thin disk and cover the maraschino cherry, pressing to seal the “clay” around the stem. Set cherries aside on a baking sheet covered with parchment paper. If the clay separates from the cherries, pat the cherries dry.

Melt the semi sweet chocolate in the top of a double boiler until everything is smooth and melted.
Dip each sugar-covered cherry in the candy covering slightly onto the stem to ensure the sugar is completely covered and allow the excess to drip off for a few seconds. Place each covered cherry in a small candy baking cup. Store the cherries in a sealed container for a week. Enjoy after the long wait!

If you have any questions on how I did it, comment bellow, and Happy creating!

Sunday, December 18, 2016

My Cookie Exchange Cookie I shared



Lets face it, in life it's all about the cookie... right? This year I was invited to a cookie exchange, I love them! We all have grand plans to NOT EAT THE COOKIES and give them away in nice little plates to friends and neighbors right? I will freeze my cookies until Christmas Eve when we have a family game night. (by that time my kitchen mojo is in hiding, and I can't get her to do a thing.)

So I thought about what I wanted to do and then what time allowed me to do, and I kept coming back to cake mix cookies. But how do you dress up cake mix cookies so they look festive? with a big grin on my face I came up with a brilliant plan. I am sure it's been done before but no where have I seen it done the way I did it... so let me walk you through the process. 

Chocolate Mint cake mix cookies
for the topping: 
1 can chocolate frosting, I used Pillsbury, but any will work.
1 box of Andes Mints
melt the Andes Mints, add the frosting, melt that, you don't want to over melt it to much then it will become more like a syrup, you want your mixture to hold it's shape a bit. Pour the mixture onto a piece of parchment paper. ( I also think it would work as fudge, but it in a brownie pan, let it cool) Sprinkle Candy Cane Crunch on to the wet chocolate mixture. let it cool and set up, (2 hours or so.)

Once the chocolate mixture is set up, cut it up into about 1 inch or so squares. 


Making the cake mix cookies is the easy part, I followed this recipe  but I didn't put in chocolate chips. (I'm sorta weird.) 
You will need 2 eggs, oil, water. mix, and bake...
Once they were out of the oven, I placed a square of chocolate mint on the cookie, then transferred them to the cooling rack. 


On a different note: If putting the chocolate candy square on the cookie doesn't seem like something you would do, you could melt the mint chocolate mixture after the cookies have been baking and then dip the top of the cookie in the melted chocolate mixture, then add the Candy Cane Crunch. That would be a cookie that is worth giving to a cookie exchange too! 

I know I am not the only one that has came up with some fun toppings for cookies, do you have one that you love? I would love to hear from you, leave a comment bellow! Happy Baking! 

Saturday, December 17, 2016

Santa's Visit

I love how when I am walking and thinking about my next shindig I plan for my kids, how a budding Idea can become reality, this was the case for me while walking early November, I thought how can I get Santa to come to our house, with a bit of Christmas Cheer I made it happen!

We kept it light, I wanted it to be magical for my kids, and test the waters to see if I could pull off breakfast with Santa, I did! It was just our family, Santa brought a gift for each of the kids, and we sent him on his way with Waffles and Bacon and a plate of cookies. A perfect start to a perfect day!

The How: I asked a friend that my kids didn't know that well, He even had a Santa Suit,( I also had one, it's stored in our attic. I got the Santa suit for like $10 at a garage sale) I knew that most Saturday are busy so I wanted it to be early in the morning, so we chose for 8:30 am. Santa couldn't eat with us, so we gave some food to him before he left,

I told my daughter that I got a text for the North Pole that morning, that said that Santa is gong to be in our area and he wants to stop by to make sure they were being good... So Miss Thing had to wear her Santa Dress.

There is magic in the air when Santa shows up, something about feeling happy and peaceful there isn't a feeling in the world that can describe the feeling of wow! Santa came to visit us!


I think I may have started a new tradition for our family... lets see if it continues for the years to follow!



Thursday, December 15, 2016

Jolly Holiday Lights at Adventureland

Traditions run deep in our family, and Jolly Holiday Lights is something we do every year, rain or shine, snow or no snow.... last year was the first year we were unable to go through Jolly Holiday lights. So with a lot of anticipation I was really looking forward to seeing Jolly Holiday Lights again this year! I am glad that Adventureland did a great job putting this amazing display of lights for the Des Moines metro! I like this new tradition at Adventureland. My only notes for Jolly Holiday Lights, is even though it says it's at Adventureland, and you do enter at the Adventureland parking lot, IT'S NOT AT ADVENTURELAND. It's in the campsite, so you enter in the park entrance, then pass through the Adventureland inn parking lot to get to the campsite, which works, just clogs up traffic a bit, but totally worth going!

Bring your camera, and visit Santa in Santa's Workshop, it's fun how they decorated the camp's common area. Make a Wish asks for just a cash donation to take pictures with Santa, or do what we did, and pay the $10 for a printed picture of the kids with Santa and then you can take pictures too!

I just want to mention to, GET YOUR ADVENTURELAND SEASON PASSES SOON! It's totally worth it if you live in the Des Moines Metro! We practically live there in June and July... we are on a first name basis with some of the ride workers (aka, if you need me in June or July, I'm at Adventureland with my kids.)

So here are some of the displays that we liked as a family








Enjoy looking at lights with your family, and enjoy the giggles, the smiles, and the laughter of your children while looking at this wonderful display of lights to brighten your Christmas!

Watercolor freezer paper masking Christmas cards

I am in love with masking watercolor! Enter into the world of freezer paper and your silhouette, and I may never feed my kids, (just kidding, I have a stash of food in my studio for my kids when I don't want to stop to feed them. the love me!)  Anyways.... I may have finally admitted that I am not a stamper, I am a water colorist. So to get a graphic look with out buying or making a stamp I will share with you my cheaper version of high end stamped watercolor cards, that doesn't use a single stamp.. The secret, cutting out freezer paper!

It's not really my idea, Kristina Werner has a great tutorial on this youtube video

First find some good clean graphic type files, I used a pointsetta, a deer, geometric shape You get the idea...


Cut out the shapes from Freezer paper, and then iron on the cut freezer paper to the watercolor paper (I used cheap kid's watercolor paper,) The tooth isn't great but it works for this type of card.  for what we are doing this paper works out well for us and it's super cheap, I can get like 100 bases if I cut them out my self for like $4.00, totally worth it.

I mixed the Starry Colors into the Kuretake Watercolors to get a metallic watercolor pigment, and it really does look nice, it's super fun to mix them up and use them, it makes me happy!

On a side note about ironing on the freezer paper, I had to turn my iron up to like steam for the paper to stick to the Freezer paper, and let it cool before you start water coloring it on. otherwise it may bleed into the freezer paper.

I enjoyed playing with  washes, and gradient washes, I also chose to do some flooding techniques for some.

This project was a fun one, I enjoyed getting about 15 hand made one of a kid cards done in a morning.
You can find all my files that I used on the Silhouette Design store

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Christmas tree scene with stencils

I secretly have a thing for Christmas trees and stencils.  I had a blast coming up with different ways to use one stencil, I called it my personal design challenge... I really liked the way they turned out!

The stencil is Evergreen Grove from Elizabeth Crafts  I got it from Memory Bounds in Ankeny Iowa and I loved playing with this stencil!

Here are some of the examples...
For the first one, I inked white vellum waited it to dry, dribbled water on it to get a neat look, then let it dry, then I then applied gesso to the stencil, then coated the wet gesso with white glitter to the trees! I added a white glitter  to the dear, and some decorative silver tape at the bottom.



For the second one, I used a "dry brush" with all Kuretake watercolor, (and started adding pigment in) then I let it dry, and added more and less water until I got the look I was looking for, no extra tools, just the stencil brush, water, and two shades of greens! Then once that was dry, I went in with a medium yellow and painted a wash for a background. The trick with this technique is to use just the right water and pigment. I then added some highlights to the branches with some yellow gold from the Starry color collection.  At the bottom I just used a flooding technique to add some texture to the piece. I added two layers of paper for the mat of his painting, and some gold decorative tape from Hobby Lobby to anchor the card a bit more. 


This one I wanted to use a more traditional winter scene, it's going to a college and I didn't want to make it super cute. It was simple, I used green texture embossing paste on the stencil, then once that was dry I painted the clouds. (I finally figured out how to make realistic clouds, so I had to do some on this project!) I then glazed over the whole card with some White gold Starry Color to give it some shimmer.


This one was a fun one, its called a Batik technique, in a really easy way of explaining: It's a two step process, first, you ink the back side of the stencil with ink, (I used watercolor pigment) you will want two diffrent colors so they can blend and mix well.  Lay the stencil inked side down on the paper, and let it dry.... do not do anything to it, I have to walk away for an hour because I want to mess with it or look at the process. 
 Once the ink is dry, you can ink the stencil part with what ever color you think will work well... I chose a lighter ink color to make the trees stand out. This effect is really easy, but takes time, and practice, if you colors don't blend well you get a muddy look, so knowing color theory really helps! 




What do you think? Did you know you could make a bunch of different cards with one stencil? it's fun and I love using one tool for lots of different looks.  stencils let you do that! Which card is your favorite? Do you have a stencil that is your go too? Leave a comment bellow, and Happy Creating!



Tuesday, December 13, 2016

The Perfect Easel!


Daler-Rowney Artsphere easel
This makes for a great Present under the tree....

I found the easel I think I need, and it's on sale, right now at DickBlick.com While watching a new class on Craftsy I was totally eyeballing the easel, and so did other students it was asked what the easel was and I think most every one said they were going to get it, it's that nice! If your thinking about getting a new easel DickBlick has some good ones, I like that it's a table top, and it's not huge, so if I want I could take it to the kitchen table, or work on my work in my studio.

Cheek out the other deals at DickBlick, there's a ton! I am sorta excited to watch all their free classes on Youtube

Happy creating!

Monday, December 12, 2016

Quick Washi Tape Christmas Cards



Need that last minute Christmas card done like now? look no farther than your Silhoute software (free program even if you don't own a Silhouette) a color printer with card stock ready to go, and washi tape

I used a free Merry Christmas file from the Silhouette Design store, printed it on to card-stock as a the base for my card. I already had the Christmas Trees cut out from a previous card I did. (used the negative part, left the positive part for this project.)  Once the sentiment is printed and the base card is cut to size add your favorite Christmas type washi tape to it as a background, and then add your embellishment (white tree) onto the washi tape back ground you created, and you whipped up a card in like 5 min. Super awesome right? I suppose you could stamp a sentiment too, but I realized why stamp sentiments?

For a non software/printer card, you can still make a cute card, in even less time.. you just need some washi tape, a printed sentiment (usually from a sticker or from a paper pack to help with layers.) 

The key to this is to plan where you want the washi tape at, do you plan on using the whole card base and use washi tape as more of a pattern that is part of the card, or just a couple lines of tape at the bottom?

 I actually sat down on a Saturday afternoon and just played with some washi tape, with out an image/sentiment in mind and just played with the washi tape, but if you are a planner, you could have your printed sentiments out and decide how it would work out. I just love the freedom of playing with your paper crafting supplies,  and seeing what comes from just playing around. 

Keep like colors together, and use the golden design rules when it comes to using washi tape. For example: Use the rules of thirds, a small, medium and large pattern goes well. 

So there you have it some easy last minute card ideas, I suppose these would also work for tags too, if you wanted too. 

I really think that if you were to go out and buy 3 rolls of washi tape, and use your printer for a sentiment, buy some specialty paper that you can cut the sentiments out. I estimate you could get about 50 cards for about $10, which is really not bad!  






Friday, December 9, 2016

CreativeLive Gift Giving

This post contains affiliate links and I will be compensated if you make a purchase after clicking on my links.


My husband recently said:  I haven't gotten you anything fun yet for Christmas... So what do you want? By the end of my quick brainstorming session, I knew I wanted to take some online art classes, CreativeLive does this well, and it's really easy to give a gift to a "creative." with CreativeLive.

If you haven't gotten a membership, it's free, and worth it. There is always a free class on at CreativeLive!

Watch FREE online courses live at CreativeLive.com

There are lots of classes that are broadcast, and it's free, I like to RSVP them, so when the time comes that they are on, it will email me saying it's free right now to view.  Creativelive classes are usually priced well, you get a lot of info in one class for your money. Click here to get started!

Here are some of the other deals going on:

Best of 2016 Sale - Top 100 Classes Starting at $22 at CreativeLive

Here is how you can give a Gift to your "creative" from CreativeLive once there, pick on a class that you think the receiver might like, and click Give as gift, then it will ask you when you want it delivered to them.


Santa Washi Tape


I love a product that I can use more for multiple things, I have found Washi and Decorative Tape to be a wonderful trendy paper crafting item that is very versatile! Need some Little B. Santa Tape? Yes Please! I was excited to see this product at Memory Bounds during their Christmas open house.

Here are some of the fun ways I used washi Santa Tape

This was some home made caramel that I wrapped with wax paper squares, and then wrapped Santa washi tape around. Is't it supper cute?  They also tasted incredible! Here is how you can make the Caramel


This next project was really fun and easy to  make, and could be reproduced easily. All you need is Red textured card-stock, white paper, black buttons, and Santa Tape! Cut the white card-stock short enough to leave room for the tape, place the Santa buckle in the middle towards the bottom. pictured at the left is a simple card that is just a red card with the Santa belt tape, and it still looks cute! 

For the Treat box, I cut it out with a Lori Whitlock SVG file, that worked perfectly, I also didn't add the white and it looked cute.



Here is a close up of a tag and a card, I had some embossed paper from another project that I thought would work perfect for the card, It did, and then it was easy enough to add some black buttons.  


I really love  products that makes me happy, this did, and I am excited to give this card to Santa when he visits for our Santa breakfast this Saturday!