3.27.2015

Restaurant Style Steaks


I make the same mistake every year.  The weather starts to warm up and I plan for an amazing dinner of steaks on the grill.  When I sit down to eat, I'm always disappointed...

Next time you want a Restaurant Style Steak, forget the grill and cook them the way a RESTAURANT would!

Restaurant Style Steaks

Ingredients:

4 Strip Steaks around 1 1/2 inch thick
Kosher Salt
Fresh ground black pepper
Butter
Olive Oil
Fresh Garlic
Fresh Parsley
Thyme

Let's cook:

I let my steaks warm up before cooking and take them out of the fridge about an hour before.

Whip up some Hotel Butter for later:

1 stick of butter, softened
2 Tbsp. Parsley
1/2 lemon, you will need the zest and the juice
1  clove garlic, minced
1 Tbsp thyme

Mix all ingredients well adding salt and pepper to taste. On a sheet of plastic wrap, form into a log and throw in the fridge for later.

Dry steaks well by dabbing with paper towel then generously season each side of each steak with Kosher salt and black pepper.

Meanwhile, begin heating your pan on high and preheat oven to 400 degrees.  

Many recipes call for a cast iron pan but I used my good stainless steel All-Clad skillet.  Heat your pan good and hot!!

Add about 2 tablespoons of olive oil and 1/2 stick of butter then add steaks to the pan.  Don't move them at all for about 3 minutes. Now flip and brown the other side for 3 minutes while spooning the melted butter and oil over the first side.

Grab the whole pan and stick it in the oven for 9 minutes.

Add a slice of Hotel Butter to each steak and place back in to oven for 1 minute.

3.09.2015

Hope Studios...The Shop



I haven't given an update on Hope Studios, The Shop since the fall and a lot has happened since then!  I have continued to "meet" some great people, hear their stories, and help them give some great personal gifts.  I combed through my photos to find a few to share.  Here are some of the custom orders I have worked on recently.

The 16x16 Photo Plaques like the one above have really taken off as an alternative to my usual 20x20 Photo Frames.  This plaque has endless options when it comes to photo placement and has been really popular for it's price point and flexibility.   I have painted some quotes that made me cry and some that made laugh like the one above.


Here is the same size 16x16 photo plaque with the photo center mounted to mimic the 20x20 inch Frames. Isn't that the greatest baby name ever??


Of  course, my mainstay remains my 20x20 Wood Photo Frame with a custom quote and center shadowbox-style photo mount. There is just so much space on this frame that the sky is the limit when it comes to quotes.  I have even painted text from actual love letters and wedding vows on this style frame.  The quote on the one above is actually the one I painted for my own mom!  Yep, trouble!


My most reasonably priced 12x12 inch Photo Plaque with custom quotes is always a great choice.  This Pooh quote is just so sweet!  I love it when couples have their own special love language I can help capture.

Check out this little number I painted to commemorate someone's first experience at a major league baseball game, this customer needed flexibility for two differently sized photos on her 16x16 inch Multi-Photo Plaque:


A gorgeous rich red 12x12 inch Photo Plaque - I wish my photo was of better quality! 


And here is a wedding gift, 20x20 inch Photo Frame. Weddings make up about 80% of my business with people choosing vows, special lyrics, and Bible verses most often:


So, that's a highlight on what has been up with Hope Studios, The Shop over the past few months!  Still chugging along!

I have sold on Etsy since 2008 (and Ebay before that), and have been pretty successful (Almost 700 sales! Over $54,000 worth of merchandise!) but the latest policy changes have left me unhappy and looking for a change. 

I noticed a site called Storenvy.com and I'm considering opening a shop as a test.  Anyone have any experience selling or buying from this site?  From what I can see, there is no listing fee but they charge a 10% fee after you sell something...hmmm...

3.04.2015

Transitions...And Cinnamon Buns!


I've reached that point in my boys' lives when I'm not as needed at school, leaving me with a lot of time during the day.  Due to the recent changes in Etsy's policies my frame sales have plummeted. My hand-painted art is lost among the machine fabricated resold items and it's just so frustrating! I finally have the time to devote to my business...but no business.

I'm in a weird transitional phase right now. I love that I have gotten to spend these years raising my boys and I'd never trade that.  I've kept myself busy, but since my first child was born I've only worked for myself. I sold Pampered Chef for a few years, worked as a free-lance marketing person drumming up business for a local chiropractor, then started my home business, Hope Studios...are any of those things resume-worthy?  Is it possible to be relevant in a "regular job" at this point? Do I want a regular job?

I feel like I've come to a crossroads and I need to commit to reestablishing my business or move on to something else.  What do I know how to do?  Could I start a business centered around our concept of Soul Sisters?  So many thoughts racing through my head. So many questions as to whether I want to play it safe and look for work on Craig's List or do I want to stick my neck out and create something new? Any ideas?

I discussed my predicament with my Soul Sisters last week while Marzipan taught us how to make Cinnamon Buns - then promptly ate 7 of them that afternoon.



Cinnamon Swirl Buns with Cream Cheese Glaze
Molly Wizenberg, Bon Appetit

Dough:
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 3 1/2 cups (or more) unbleached all purpose flour, divided
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 1/4 teaspoons rapid-rise yeast (from 2 envelopes yeast)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • Nonstick vegetable oil spray
Filling:
  • 3/4 cup (packed) golden brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
Glaze:
  • 4 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
Dough:

Combine milk and butter in small pan. Heat on med/high until butter melts and mixture is just warmed to 120°F to 130°F.

Pour into bowl of stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment. Add 1 cup flour, sugar, egg, yeast, and salt. Beat on low speed 3 minutes, stopping occasionally to scrape down sides of bowl. Add 2 1/2 cups flour. Beat on low until flour is absorbed and dough is sticky, scraping down sides of bowl. If dough is very sticky, add more flour by tablespoonfuls until dough begins to form ball and pulls away from sides of bowl.

Turn dough out onto lightly floured work surface. Knead until smooth and elastic, adding more flour if sticky, about 8 minutes. Form into ball.

Lightly oil large bowl with nonstick spray. Transfer dough to bowl, turning to coat. Cover bowl with plastic wrap, then kitchen towel. Let dough rise in warm draft-free area until doubled in volume, about 2 hours. Ours took a little longer to rise since it was a chilly day, but don't give up! It will happen if your milk was the right temp!

Filling:

Mix brown sugar and cinnamon in medium bowl.

Punch down dough. Transfer to floured work surface. Roll out to 15x11-inch rectangle - stretch and pull it if you need to.

Spread butter over dough, leaving 1/2-inch border. Just smear it all over the dough with your hands. Sprinkle cinnamon sugar evenly over butter, then spread that almost to the edges with your hands too.

Starting at long side, roll dough into log, pinching gently to keep it rolled up. Give it a little squeeze and pull it if necessary to make sure the log is uniform thickness.

With seam side down, cut dough crosswise with thin sharp knife into 18 equal slices (each about 1/2 to 3/4 inch wide).Marzipan pulled out a kitchen ruler to make sure the rolls were the same...who knew?

Butter two 9-inch square glass baking dishes. Divide rolls between baking dishes, arranging cut side up (there will be almost no space between rolls). Cover baking dishes with plastic wrap, then kitchen towel. Let dough rise in warm draft-free area until almost doubled in volume, 40 to 45 minutes.

Position rack in center of oven and preheat to 375°F. Bake rolls until tops are golden, about 20 minutes. Remove from oven and invert immediately onto rack. Cool 10 minutes.

Glaze:

Combine cream cheese, powdered sugar, butter, and vanilla in medium bowl. Using electric mixer, beat until smooth. Spread glaze on rolls. Serve warm or at room temperature. (I even ate some of mine stale and they were still delicious!)

Your Skin Fix, December Edition