April 5, 2023

Easter Colors from Natural Food Dyes


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As people become more aware of the health risks associated with artificial additives and synthetic food coloring, there has been a growing interest in natural food dyes.

Whether you’ll be frosting sugar cookies this Easter, dying eggs, or wowing your guests with colorful spring concoctions, homemade natural food dyes can be a great way to make your Easter more beautiful, healthy, and fun.

Why Dye?

Artificial food coloring is so cheap and easy to use, why would you consider making your own dyes? Well, here are a few reasons:

  1. They're healthy. Natural food dyes are made from organic fruits, vegetables, flowers, and spices, many of which contain healthy vitamins and minerals. Beets, for example, are a good source of vitamin C, iron, fiber, and iron. It never hurts to sneak a little good nutrition into your diet!
  2. They're safe. While the exact dangers of artificial dyes are still under debate, some things are clear. Several artificial food colors used in the U.S. have been proven to cause cancer in animals, and at least four dyes (Blue 1, Yellow 5, Yellow 6, and Red 40) have been shown to cause hypersensitivity reactions. Using natural food dyes allows you and your family to avoid those harmful chemicals.
  3. They're environmentally green. Artificial food coloring is generally made from non-renewable, petroleum-based chemicals. Using natural food dyes is a small way to do something good for the environment.
  4. They taste good. While you have to be careful not to use natural ingredients that have an overpowering taste, many natural dyes add a pleasant subtle flavor that helps cut the cloying sweetness of frosting and desserts.
  5. They're fun. Making your own food dyes—especially if you rope your family into doing it with you—can be a fun and meaningful seasonal tradition. And Easter is the perfect time to add color and creativity in the kitchen.
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Tips for Making Your Own Natural Food Dyes

  • Keep it clean. These ingredients stain easily, so be careful! Wear gloves. Protect your countertops. (You may want to work on a cookie sheet to catch any spills.) Use cheesecloth or a towel that can be permanently stained. And if your kids are helping, make sure they’re not wearing their Sunday best!
  • Adjust the intensity. Remember that natural dyes tend to be more muted than artificial dyes, so expect the colors to be less intense. With natural dyes, you’ll usually end up with softer pastel colors…perfect for Easter! To kick up the color, you may need to use about twice as much dye in your recipes.
  • Start with primary colors. Find good recipes for red, yellow, and blue dyes. (See below.) Once you have those three colors, you can mix them in the right proportions to make almost any color you want!


Traditional ways to make natural red food coloring include beet juice or dry beet powder, hibiscus tea, strawberries, paprika, cherries, pomegranate, tomatoes, or cranberries. Some of these ingredients have strong tastes and some have little taste at all, so different ingredients work better for different applications.

To frost our Easter sugar cookies this year, we used dry beet powder because it’s easy to use and does not interfere with the taste of the frosting. Just add a little at a time until you reach the color you want. If you don’t have dry beet powder, you can wash and peel one beet, purée or mash it up, and strain out the juice. To deepen the color, boil the mixture down and/or add a little vinegar.

PRO TIP: That left-over beet is great for making a delicious borscht.

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Saffron, turmeric, annatto, lemons, carrots, and yellow onion skins can all be used to make yellow natural food dye. We used saffron because we’re all about keeping it simple. Just crush a pinch of the spice in a mortar and pestle, add a little hot water, and voila!

PRO TIP: Adding a little vinegar may help you extract a more vivid yellow color.

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Blueberries, red cabbage, purple potatoes, and cornflowers can all be used to make natural blue food dyes, but we used butterfly pea blossoms.

If you haven’t worked with butterfly pea blossoms before, you’re in for a treat! They’ve been used in Southeast Asia for all kinds of delightful drinks and dishes for centuries.

Butterfly pea blossoms are inexpensive and can be ordered online. Steep a dozen blossoms in a cup of boiling water for about 15 minutes, until the water turns a vivid blue. Then strain out and discard the flowers. You can add the remaining blue dye to any food or drink, but here’s part of what makes these flowers so fun: their color changes according to pH! If you add a few drops of lemon juice or some other acid, you’ll see it transform from blue to beautiful shades of purple, lavender or pink.

PRO TIP: Dye your Easter eggs blue with butterfly pea blossoms, then drizzle them with lemon juice or soda to play with the colors.

While pea blossom extract lends a vivid blue color to drinks, it makes a very pale blue in frosting or other foods. We also tried crushing dried blossoms with a mortar and pestle and adding the powder directly into our frosting. It works, but if you use this method, be sure to remove the sepals (the little green leaves on the blossoms) before you crush your powder.

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Wishing a healthy, safe, and beautiful Easter season to you all!

Eat Well.

March 20, 2023

Persian Fish with Herb Rice


by Jinous Jahromi

Wedding and Event Specialist

Culinary Crafts, catering, Jinous, event manager, wedding specialist, team portrait, smile, brunette, Persian New Year Every March, my family celebrates Persian New Year (Nowruz) which marks the beginning of spring and the start of the Iranian calendar. During these thirteen days we go all out! Of the many festivities and family traditions, my favorites are always the food, especially Persian Fish with Herb Rice.

The Haft-sin

We start by prepping our Haft-sin, which is a table full of seven different traditional items. Each item begins with the same Persian letter (which is pronounced “seen”) and symbolizes a different hope for the new year. Lentil sprouts, representing rebirth and renewal, were always one of my favorite items of Haft-sin because we grew our own, and I would beg my grandparents to let me be in charge of watering the tiny sprouts. Nowruz, Persian New Year, Haft-sin, Jinous, Culinary Crafts, Utah caterer, sprouts, coins, yellow flower, garlic, samanoo, sumac, recipes, sabzi polo ba mahi The second item, samanoo, is a sweet pudding that symbolizes wealth and fertility. I didn’t care much for the taste, but Grandpa loves it, so Grandma always made extra for him. Sumac (which tastes amazing on rice and kabobs) is a red berry spice that symbolizes the color of sunrise. Apples represent beauty and nutrition. Garlic stands for health and medicine. Vinegar signifies age, wisdom and patience. We also had dried fruits on the table, but I’m not sure what they stood for. I just remember trying to convince my grandma to get dried apricots so that I could eat some too.

sabzi polo ba mahi, Persian recipe, Persian New Year, Nowruz, sumac, apple, garlic, coins, sprouts, Haft-sin, samanoo, staff recipe, Jinous Jahromi In addition to all these Haft-sin items, we would add goldfish, which I loved because, I mean, who doesn’t love goldfish, right? My brother and I would always argue on who got to feed the fish. Goldfish represent new life/new beginnings. We would also add some coins and flowers, traditionally hyacinths if we could find any, for the beauty and fragrance. On the last Tuesday before Nowruz, all our families and friends would get together and build small bonfires. Then we would jump over the flames as a symbol of wiping the slate clean of the past year and starting fresh. Believe me, the first time I did this I was excited, but scared to catch on fire. Nowruz, fire-jumping, leap over fire, Persian New Year, night, bonfire, jump, danger, celebration, Persian tradition But, like I said, the best part of Nowruz is the food. If I could, I would eat Persian food all day and every day. On the night of the New Year, we eat sabzi polo (herbed rice) with mahi (fish). To this day, my grandma makes the best Persian fish with herb rice. I loved going shopping at the Persian market with my grandparents, then going to Costco to get the Atlantic salmon. We had to make sure to get plenty to feed our whole family and enough for seconds and leftovers. I still have the oil-marked, torn paper I took notes on as I carefully watched Grandma prepare the sabzi polo. I am still trying to get the technique down perfectly. It’s tricky, but I’m almost there. Persian rice, sabzi, Nowruz, Jinous, herb rice, Utah caterer, Persian New Year, pecans, garlic, parsley, cilantro, Persian Fish with Herb Rice  

Persian Fish with Herb Rice

(Sabzi Polo Ba Mahi)


Sabzi Polo (Herbed Rice)

  • 4 cups water
  • 2 cups basmati rice
  • 1 cup roughly chopped fresh dill
  • ½ cup packed sliced fresh garlic chives (At an Asian market, these might be called nira or Chinese leeks.)
  • ½ cup packed chopped fresh cilantro
  • ½ cup packed chopped parsley
  • a dash of ground saffron powder (optional) for the top
  1. In a 3-quart saucepan (or rice cooker), boil 4 cups of water. Add 2 cups of rice. Allow water to reach a simmer. Cover and reduce to medium low heat. Cook for 6-8 minutes until the water is gone and little holes appear in the surface of the rice.
  2. Drain in colander and rinse with cold water.
  3. Add the prepared herbs and gently toss together to combine. Pour mixed rice back in the same pot and put it back over medium low heat.
  4. Cover the pot with a kitchen towel. (Be careful not to let the towel touch the heat and catch fire!) Let the wet rice cook in its own steam for 45 minutes to one hour, or until the steam rises and the tahdig (the skin on the bottom of the rice) is golden and crisp.

Mahi (Fish)

  • 2-3 pounds of salmon
  • kosher salt
  • 1 Tbsp saffron powder
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • ¼ cup of water
  • lemon pepper to taste
  1. Preheat oven to 350° F. Pat dry salmon, with or without skin, and sprinkle kosher salt on the front and back side.
  2. Place on greased sheet pan. Cook for 15 minutes. Remove from oven.
  3. In small bowl, mix together lemon juice, water, and saffron powder. Pour saffron mixture on salmon and sprinkle lemon pepper.
  4. Return salmon to oven and cook for 15 more minutes or until salmon reaches 130° F. (It should be easy to pull the fish apart with a fork.)
Nowruz mobarak! (Happy New Year!)

March 14, 2023

Culinary Crafts Featured in Utah Valley Bride


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Culinary Crafts has a long history as a contributor and preferred caterer with Utah Valley Bride magazine. The most recent edition of that gorgeous publication features “Smoke Show,” a smoke-themed inspirational shoot we did at the Tasting Room to showcase a few beautiful new wedding trends.

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Wedding catering is trending toward “experiential dining” which means treating your guests to an unforgettable experience. By putting creative thought into your planning, you can do much more than just place delicious food in front of your loved ones. You can entice and enchant all their senses, creating a fun and engaging event that they (and you) will always remember.

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The use of smoke is just one of countless ways to heighten the dining experience. You can let your guests start savoring their food with their eyes and noses before it ever reaches their palates.

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As always, we were delighted to work with Utah Valley Bride and the excellent vendors who helped us put together this unique shoot. A special thank-you goes to Potted Pansy for the florals, Pop Culture by Snap Happy for the balloons, Just Girl Stuff for the dresses and jewelry, Diamond Event and Tent and Wild Event Studio for the rentals, and the inimitable Logan Walker for his amazing photos. We love you all!

Eat well!

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March 8, 2023

Kitchen Safety Tips for the Accident-Prone


by Amanda Mize

Scullery and Prep Chef

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I have always been accident prone.

The first time I rode a scooter to school, I hit a pebble and went down hard, knocking my teeth on the road. I never told my parents about that. In fact, I never told them about a lot of accidents I had over the years, like the longboarding mishap or the road rash I got from slipping on a wet sidewalk at a friend’s swimming party. They have no idea how many accidents I’ve had, and I want to keep it that way.

For someone who has so many scars from so many accidents, working in a kitchen seems like a terrible career choice. But actually, it’s a good thing because I’ve had to train myself to be super careful and follow good safety rules. The truth is that anyone can get hurt in the kitchen. When you get too confident and ignore the rules, that’s when you’re in trouble.

My boyfriend likes to tease me that the reason he does most of the cooking is because I’m not safe in the kitchen. (I let him think that because I’m just glad to have a break from being in the kitchen all day at work!) But once in a while, I get the urge to cook at home. Recently, I made grilled cheese sandwiches. I didn’t cut myself. I didn’t get burned. There was no accident of any kind. I have to admit, I was feeling a little proud of myself as I carried my sandwiches up the stairs to show him what I’d done.

And that’s when I slipped on the stairs and dropped the plate.

Life is hard for us accident-prone people, but I swear, we’re the safest people around if we follow good safety guidelines. Here are a few kitchen safety tips I’ve had to learn along the way:

Kitchen Safety Tips for the Accident Prone

  • Make your workspace safe.

    Before you turn on any heat or pull out anything sharp, make sure you’ve cleared out any pets, children, or amorous partners. Don’t leave anything where it can fall, be bumped, or overheat. Have a fire extinguisher nearby as well as a cookie sheet or other flat surface to smother a fire. Also, no slick surfaces.
  • Don’t wear anything loose.

    Tie up your hair and avoid loose-hanging clothes or jewelry.
  • Never reach into something you can’t see.

    This includes murky water and drawers that are out of your vision. If you have a bin full of dirty utensils, pour it out rather than trying to sort through it by hand.
  • Don’t dump broken glass into the trash.

    It will cut through the plastic and hurt someone carrying it. Place broken glass in a used cardboard box, an opened tin can, or some other waste container that won’t easily be cut open when it’s in the trash.
  • Make sure your cutting board is secure.

    You don’t want it to slide around! If it’s on a slick surface, lay a damp cloth flat underneath your board.
  • Keep your knives clean.

    For health safety, you should always keep your tools clean, but be extra careful not to use a knife that has oil or grease on the handle.
  • Make a flat surface on anything you cut.

    The first cut a chef makes is often one that creates a stable, flat surface so that the object will rest firmly in place.
  • Don’t use anything wet to shield you from heat.

    A wet towel will burn you just as badly as a pan if you try to use it as a hot pad.
  • Don’t wear plastic gloves under grilling gloves.

    Trust me. Just don’t.
  • Don't get complacent.

    This is the hardest rule to follow, but it's the most important. When you stop paying attention and start thinking, "I got this!" that's when you spill your beautiful grilled cheese sandwich on the stairs.

February 22, 2023

Butternut Squash Soup


The Soup that Changed My Life

by Katie Carter

Wedding and Event Specialist

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Let me tell you about my first encounter with Culinary Craft and butternut squash soup, two thing that changed my world.

In October 2018, I was just starting my new job as the Venue Coordinator for River Bottoms Ranch (RBR) in Midway, Utah. I had planned several big charity fundraising events back in college, but RBR was my first official job in the hospitality industry, and I was feeling a bit overwhelmed.

My anxiety grew worse at the RBR Grand Opening when I walked into the dining room and saw the elaborate display. From the gorgeous centerpieces to the fancy glassware to the proliferation of silverware at every plate, I had never seen such opulence! My Utah/Minnesota upbringing hadn’t prepared me for that experience.

I looked around for a friendly face and sat down next to a beautiful, kind-looking woman who introduced herself as Jocelyn. I confessed that I loved her hair and asked for the name of her hair girl, which she gladly shared. We chatted easily throughout the meal, and my nerves started to calm down. I hoped she wouldn’t notice that I was following her lead on which forks and spoons to use.

It turned out that Jocelyn was an event planner for Culinary Crafts and someone I would end up working with many, many times at RBR. My first impressions of her were right: she has always been the same cheerful, caring person who helped me find my footing and feel at ease when I was brand new to the world of hospitality.

But That Soup!

The other detail that stands out in my memory from that first encounter with Jocelyn and Culinary Crafts was the butternut squash soup that was served at the event. Here is Culinary Crafts’ own recipe. I promise: it’s amazing! It’s even better when served hot on a cold day. And, unless you happen to be sitting at a fancy table and are worried about committing a faux pas, I highly recommend dipping your bread in it.

Butternut Squash Soup


  • ½ cup butter
  • 12 cups vegetable stock
  • 1 Tbsp garlic, minced
  • ½ - ¾ tsp thyme
  • 1 cup yellow onion, large diced
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 cup apples, peeled and diced
  • ½ - 1 cup cream
  • 4 lbs butternut squash, peeled and diced
  • salt and pepper to taste


  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 3 Tbsp apple cider powder
  • 1 - 2 cups pepitas, toasted


  1. Melt butter. Sautee onions and apples until onions are soft.
  2. Add butternut squash, stock, garlic, thyme, and bay leaf. Bring to a boil.
  3. Turn heat down and simmer until squash is soft.
  4. Remove bay leaf and strain ½ of liquid out.
  5. Puree the soup. Add cream and nutmeg.
  6. Adjust seasonings to taste.
  7. Make garnish by mixing sour cream and apple cider powder. Top soup with a swirl of garnish and a sprinkle of pepitas.
  8. Serve with a smile, and don't judge your guests if they lick their bowls clean.
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