Thursday, March 15, 2012

Peanut Butter & Jelly Yum Yum "Sushi" Rolls

 It is hard to be witty or creative when I am in a state of peanut butter and jelly induced bliss.     

I think we can all agree that a simple PB&J feeds a hungry tummy and the soul.  Yesterday I would have agreed  that there is no room for improvement.  But today for snits and giggles I made a "sushi" roll version. So as it turns out I was wrong there was room for improvement.

This is a great recipe for the little ones, your Peter Pan types and the silly at heart.  

All you need is peanut butter, jelly and a great sandwich bread.  I chose this Italian bread that is larger than regular sandwich bread. 

I chose strawberry jam after careful consideration.  My fridge is stocked with cherry, guava and Frutti di Bosco jams.  But I this recipe called for a classic. 

The peanut butter is creamy.  Do I really need to explain more?
 Spread onto your bread.  Leave 1/2"on the end without peanut butter or jelly.  When you roll peanut butter and jelly will "squish" out and you want a clean end.  

Now roll and voila you've got PB&J Yum Yum "Sushi" Rolls.

Friday, March 2, 2012

Almost Vegan Style Chinese Steamed Buns

Mr. Chica and I always ring in the new year with Chinese food.  This past new year's eve was no exception.   

Since we ran a 10.5K race I prepped the Char Sui Bao (aka steamed buns) the day before.  That turned out to be a stroke genius.  I finished the course 1 hour and 9 minutes and for 48 hours after hobbled around on sore legs.  So having buns ready to eat was a blessing.

You don't have to run 10K to enjoy these tasty little buns.  So what are you waiting for?  Get started!

The recipe below is vegan friendly version of Cooking Light's Steamed Pork Bun recipe.    

1 cup textured soy nuggets soaked in 3 cups of hot water 
1 teaspoon Five Spice Powder
3/4 cup sliced green onions 
1 teaspoon minced peeled fresh ginger
1 teaspoon minced garlic
3 tablespoons hoisin sauce
2 tablespoons rice vinegar
1/2 tablespoon Bragg's Liquid Aminos
1 1/2 teaspoons honey (omit the honey and it is vegan)

Drain soy when soft and mix with Chinese Five Spice Powder.

Lightly spray a pan with oil and add green onions, garlic and ginger.  Sautee for two minutes then add the remaining filling ingredients and mix.  Then remove from heat.

1 cup warm water (100° to 110°)
3 tablespoons sugar 
1 package dry yeast (about 2 1/4 teaspoons)
3 1/4 cups all-purpose flour (about 14 2/3 ounces) 
3 tablespoons canola oil 
1/4 teaspoon salt 
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

To prepare dough, combine 1 cup warm water, sugar, and yeast in a large bowl; let stand 5 minutes.

Lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Add flour, oil, and 1/4 teaspoon salt to yeast mixture; stir until a soft dough forms. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface. Knead until smooth and elastic (about 10 minutes). Place dough in a large bowl coated with cooking spray, turning to coat top. Cover and let rise in a warm place (85°), free from drafts, 1 hour or until doubled in size. (Gently press two fingers into dough. If indentation remains, dough has risen enough.)

Punch dough down; let rest 5 minutes. Turn dough out onto a clean surface; knead in baking powder. Let dough rest 5 minutes.

Divide dough into 10 equal portions, forming each into a ball. Working with one dough ball at a time (cover remaining dough balls to keep from drying), roll ball into a 5-inch circle. Place 1/4 cup filling in center of dough circle. Bring up sides to cover filling and meet on top. Pinch and seal closed with a twist. Repeat procedure with remaining dough balls and filling.

As you can see I do 8.  I like big buns.....please feel free to insert your best Sir-Mix-A-Lot jokes here. 

Arrange 5 buns seam side down, 1 inch apart, in each tier of a 2-tiered bamboo steamer. Stack tiers; cover with lid.

Add water to a large skillet to a depth of 1 inch; bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Place steamer in pan; steam 15 minutes or until puffed and set. Cool 10 minutes before serving.

Serve with Thai Sweet Chili Sauce.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Love Is All Around

Love Necklace - Sterling Silver & Bronze
 Earlier this week my mother told me that one of her dearest friends had been diagnosed with cancer.  It was unexpected and a tough blow for everyone.

Rather than wallow this amazing woman has rallied and is ready to face what lies ahead and come out smiling.  Make no mistake the road ahead is going to be rough.  There will be surgery and radiation therapy.  But she has wonderful medical care, a loving husband, supportive friends and a devoted dog.  And now a necklace meant to remind her that she is loved.

I wanted the necklace to have meaning so I gave the design serious thought.  Though simple it was created with her journey in mind.

Bronze is a metal alloy whose healing power is tied to touch.  Physical contact is said to bring calmness and meaningful thoughts. The simple bar shaped pendant is meant to easily be grabbed and touched.   With time bronze tarnishes taking on a rustic gold tone.  She can easily clean it by wiping it with any fabric.  But the stamped letters will only become darker and more prominent with time.  Always reminding her that she is loved.

The pendant is backed with sterling silver and hung on a sterling silver round snake chain.
Monty modeling with the necklace

I hope she finds the necklace to be a comfort.  It was made with the best intentions.  

Monday, January 30, 2012

How to Wash, Dry & Store Your Enamel

I adore color.  So it was love at first sprinkle with enamel.  My first few sessions I was fortunate enough to use someone else's materials.   That meant I didn't have to prep the enamels and used a huge kiln.

These days I am on my own with a humble little beehive kiln and prepping my own enamels.  Though it can be time consuming washing enamel is essential for translucent, as well as opaque enamels.  It ensures a truer color and a better final product.    

The added bonus is that the filtered material can be used for counter enamel.  That will save you a few bucks.  Who wouldn't love that?  

This video from Art Jewelry magazine is a great step by step for anyone interested in learning how to wash, dry and store their enamels.  I hope you find it helpful.