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June 30, 2020

June Recipe of the Month: Mixed berry cobbler

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This patriotic colored recipe is always a slam dunk during the Utah summer months. This works wonderfully in your kitchen in a cast-iron skillet, or at your campsite in a Dutch oven. Enjoy!

Ingredients

Fruit Filling

  • approximately 2 - 2 1/4 pounds of mixed berries
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1  1/2 tablespoon cornstarch
  • splash of lemon juice
  • dash of salt

Biscuit Topping

  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 5 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, chilled, cut into small cubes
  • 3/4 cup buttermilk
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Directions

Preheat your oven, with your 8-10" oven-safe skillet (we prefer cast iron for this recipe) inside, to 400 F.

While the oven is heating, prepare the fruit filling. Whisk together sugar and cornstarch in a large bowl. Add the berries and toss lightly until the sugar is evenly coating all the berries. Set aside.

In a separate bowl, prepare the biscuit topping. Mix the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a large bowl. Using a pastry cutter (or a fork, or your fingertips), cut in the butter until the mix is coarse and mealy. Add the buttermilk and vanilla. Stir gently, just until combined. Take care not to over mix.

Remove hot skillet from the oven. Add the berry mixture. Stir gently. Using a spoon or a portion scoop, drop 1-2" round pieces of the biscuit dough onto the fruit, spacing them as evenly as possible.

Transfer the skillet back to the oven and bake until biscuits are golden brown and baked through (a toothpick inserted into the middle should come out clean) - approximately 30 minutes (perhaps slightly more or less depending on the heat flow in your oven).

When finished baking, remove from oven and allow to cool on a rack for 15-20 minutes. Serve warm, topped with ice cream or fresh whipped cream.  

Variations

Consider adding baking spices (cinnamon, clove, nutmeg, allspice, etc.) to the fruit filling.

Consider playing with different fruits. Peaches of course work wonderfully. Cherries too.

For an even more buttery biscuit, brush the tops of the biscuits with melted butter after scooping and just before placing in the oven.

For an extra crunch, sprinkle the tops of the biscuits with turbinado sugar after scooping and just before placing in the oven.

June 6, 2020

5 things we miss most

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We miss our jobs! Working in special events is always a challenge, but we love what we do. We enjoyed connecting with our industry partners on this post to discuss what we all miss the most. Read on to see the 5 things we miss most and why we're all so excited to get back to work!

1. The people.

Every single person we interviewed mentioned how much they miss all the people! Event professionals make a lot of sacrifices as they put in long hours and work nights and weekends. Through it all, the staff, the clients, the guests, the partner vendors become some of our closest friends.

Joseph Parkes from Offsite Utah

"It is the people! I miss our great clients, our amazing vendors (Like Culinary Crafts), and working closely with the Offsite Utah team! We look forward to getting back into the office and kick-starting our industry when it is safe for everyone."

Janica Horner from Riverbottoms Ranch

"One of the things that I miss the most is the loud chatter.  I love seeing large groups family and friends gathering and listening to the sound of that constant chatter.  It’s a unique language of its own where there is not a single word that can be identified but a constant rumble of people laughing and talking in a tone of happiness and excitement.  River Bottoms is ready to once again fill our walls with some noise, it’s been quiet way too long. "

Josh Knight from Five Penny Floral

"I think the thing that I miss the most is rubbing shoulders with other professional vendors. I miss seen my crew and designing. And the laughter I miss the laughter."

Donna Urban from 4U Ranch

"I miss the camaraderie of a group of people working together as a team to create events.  Watching the creativity, hearing the banter, seeing the beautiful result of all the months of planning come to fruition....I so look forward to seeing it all again! "

Kasey Plourde from Harvest Moon Events

Familiar faces. Not only our awesome Harvest Moon part-time employees, but also the dozens of vendors that have become friends over the years."

Dawn Borchardt from Memorial House

"I miss getting to work with my amazing staff and our vendors! We have such good relationships with some many people behind the scenes and have fun working together to make clients' days go as perfectly as possible. Can't wait to bring back that good energy into Memorial House again! "

Michael Tobian from Utah Live Bands

"I'd say the thing I miss the most is regularly seeing all the great friends in the industry.  In this local economy, it is so fun to see who the vendors are at an event, give them a hug and work together to make the event go as smoothly as possible.  I will so look forward to doing that again in a safe manner as things open up."

Michelle Cousins from Michelle Leo Events

"I miss my friends! I adore the vendors in our community. They’re part of what makes working in this industry so enjoyable and events so special. I always look forward to event day when I get to give each of them a big hug and thank them for all of their amazing efforts. I miss that right now, even more so because I know how much our industry is hurting at the moment. I look forward to when I get to see each of them again and can actually give them a big hug."

Jillian Burnham from Eclectic Hive

"I miss pretty much everything about events, but mostly I miss seeing my fellow members of our community! From vendors to venues, planners, etc. I adore our local event community and miss everyone quite a bit."

Kristin Spear from Soirée Productions

"I miss my vendor friends the most and getting out of the house."

Meg Orsini from SceneMakers

“I miss seeing my creative partners. The lighting team, the caterers, the DJs, the planners, the officiants...I miss our people. We are a small but talented market place, but we are a tight nit family.”

Kellie Jackstien from Artisan Bloom

"I mostly miss connecting with clients and the general joyful aspect of everything that goes into designing wedding flowers."

Pepper Nix from Pepper Nix Wedding Photographer

"The thing I miss the most is the people. I miss the energy on the dance floor, the large group photos, the quiet prayers before a ceremony. I really miss people. Happy people, crying people, drunk people, sweaty people, and that one crazy uncle who is gunning for my job as a wedding photographer - I miss them all so much!!!"

2: Showing off Utah.

4 true seasons. The Mighty 5. Cocktail parties after a day of skiing. Summer BBQs in the mountains. And did you know Utah is the first and only US State to receive 3 stars as a tourist destination from the prestigious Michelin Guide?!

Ryan Hanley from PRA Mountain West

"I miss helping people enjoy our great destination the most- we have so much to offer and I’ve seen so many people with both surprise and delight after coming to Utah"

Cliff Harris from This is the Place Heritage Park

"We miss being able to welcome people for the first time to the beauty of This Is The Place Heritage Park. We love even more welcoming home many returning visitors. We count them as family."

3: The adrenaline.

Special events bring a lot of pressure. And even though we need our R&R to relieve stress just like anyone else, event professionals thrive under pressure. We love the rush of hard work. We miss having to lean on our grit.

Kasey Plourde from Harvest Moon Events

"The feeling on Sunday after a successful big event the day prior. The sore feet and pure exhaustion paired with happy clients makes for the most rewarding feeling ever."

Alexandria Jaramillo from Over the Top Events

“I think for me the thing I miss about events is the joyful anticipation for both vendors and bride. Months of hard work finally coming to fruition and nothing more satisfying than seeing the smile on my couples face as they see everything come to life."

Shelly Huynh from Orchid Dynasty

"I miss the adrenaline, the pace of event day setup, you hate it, you love it but then that magical moment at the end where somehow it all comes together at the same time. Every emotion gets dragged out, as a florist I’m worried about the flowers surviving in the heat, wind, and all of Mother Nature. However, she feels at the time. The safe transportation of these beautiful centerpieces that you have been working on, the timeline to get the setup,
the physical and mental stress. You worry, then you panic, you scream, then the couple comes in and they’re happy and then you’re happy and then you cry because you did it. I guess being an event florist has prepared me for the Pandemic. I know that I cannot control everything, we can not predict what will happen. We prep, plan and do everything that is possible to prevent issues beforehand but we are at the mercy of life. So if something goes wrong during setup, we still have to get up, fix it and do whatever it takes. "

4: The production.

Most special events spend several months or weeks in planning. It's so exciting to see all that work come to fruition in a matter of days or hours. It's almost magical. It's very fulfilling.

Heather Weinstock from Abravanel Hall

"I think I’d have to choose that moment right before guests start arriving and when everything is set—rentals and décor are beautifully staged and untouched, and the air is buzzing with excitement and anticipation. I always make sure to pause and take it all in. It’s such a rewarding feeling to see how everything comes together after months and months of hard work and careful planning."

Tonya Hoopes from Hoopes Weddings and Events 

"I miss seeing the bride's reaction when she enters the room for the first time and sees the vision come to life.  I miss the hard work the day of the wedding and then the reactions of all the guests knowing the hard work paid off."

LeAnne Brandburg from Riverbottoms Ranch

 "I would have to say I miss seeing our amazing events perspire from a vision to an experience… Being there in person and feeling all of the love, happiness, hard work, details, and celebration! I greatly miss seeing all of the vendors as well as I consider them my dear friends and love seeing their faces!"

Cassidy Budge Harrison from Flour and Flourish

I miss seeing all the puzzle pieces come together to make the perfect day for our brides."

Joslyn Poole from Metro Music Club

"I miss singing and playing MUSIC!!! I never thought I would ever actually miss playing 24K Magic, but here we are, ha!I miss seeing all our amazing industry friends every weekend and walking into the beautiful event spaces. I miss it all!"

Nick Peters with Diamond Event and Tent

"I miss seeing the final result and fulfillment when working on events. I also miss the teamwork and day-to-day interactions with clients. "

Rachel Nassee from In the Event

"The one thing I really miss is that very first meeting with a client.  When we sit together, get to know one another, and learn from each other.  I become incredibly inspired after those initial meetings!  I’m inspired by the thought of making someone’s dreams come to life.  Every time, no matter how many times I have that first meeting, I get an excited, nervous little flutter in my belly at the prospect of making this person’s life a little better and a little easier by offering my assistance."

Guy Jordan from RMC DMC

“Is the excitement on both the planners and guests faces when they arrive at an event”

Kati Price from Events Rising

"What I love most about being an event planner is seeing the finished product coming to fruition and seeing the look on my clients' faces when the event has been seamless from start to finish.  Creating memorable experiences with my clients is what I love.  I miss adding value to my clients so that they can focus on their guests and attendees.  I also miss collaborating with my amazing vendors and partners on how to take our event to the next level. Maybe it's a themed event or a special surprise in the middle of the event to finish out the experience, leaving the guests with a lasting memory of your event. The exchange of energy at an event starts with setting the stage prepared and calm."

Alessandra Wortmann from Carrie's Cakes

"I think the biggest is when I am able to catch the bride and groom see their cake for the first time. I also miss seeing and interacting with the other vendors."

Kasey Plourde from Harvest Moon Events

"That magical moment right before an event comes together. No matter how much extra time we allow for setup, we use every last minute to perfect until go-time. During those last 30 minutes before the event starts something special happens and (with a lot of hard work by many people) it all comes together." Ann Elizabeth from Ann Elizabeth Print Studio "What we miss about events is handing off the finished product to the client. The excitement from them seeing what our digital drafts become to something physical that they can actually touch and feel is priceless."

5: The groove.

Event professionals have spent years honing their skills and perfecting their craft. Before this crisis, there was a bold confidence in our collective expertise. We had all the right answers and could tackle projects of any scope and size. Now, we're faced with unprecedented challenges. Suddenly, we don't have all the answers. Needs and protocols are changing on a near daily basis. We miss the familiar. We miss the known. We miss our groove.

Alexandria Jaramillo from Over the Top Events

"I miss the good old days when we as vendors are confidently going into events knowing what to expect. Not to say we aren’t learning and adapting to new protocols...but hoping one day we will be back to our normal.”

Donna Urban from 4U Ranch

"Can I say what I miss most is NOT being on all of these Zoom calls and Webinars? "

Rob Bennion from Echo Talent

"I miss the excitement and variety of working 4 events every week in unique environments, traveling for events on the west coast and internationally!  Sometimes when we as creatives are put into a small box we do our best work, and I am constantly thrilled to see what professionals are doing when placed under such tight restrictions!
Small side-hustles have become primary sources of income, local clients, relationships, and businesses have become even more essential where before perhaps before we were focused on destination clients or travel gigs.   Last year I worked in Tokyo, Amsterdam, Paris, Seattle, San Diego, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Jackson, Vail, this year will be much more local!"

Rob Ferre from Life of the Party

"I miss human interaction. Nothing is better than seeing your fellow wedding and event professionals at an event where we collaborate hustle and create lasting memories. Most of all I miss the energy of a full dance floor with people singing and dancing to the grooves of the night. Let's bring that back! "

Elizabeth King from Salt Lake Public Library 

“Sometimes you will never know the value of something until it becomes a memory.” We miss the graduations, proms, weddings, and all the major milestones we’ve been fortunate to host at the library. We look forward to the day we can reopen our doors and welcome patrons in person. Virtual cheers from the City Library.

Kati Price from Events Rising

"I miss hugging.... I am a hugger and I love a good hug.  I look forward to the day we can gather together safely, comfortably, happily for a fabulous bash."

May 9, 2020

Mother’s Day Alcoholic and Non Alcoholic Cocktails

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Celebrating our mother's this weekend, we wanted to share Kaleb's favorite summer cocktail. Enjoy this slow sipping cocktail this weekend with your wife and mothers and celebrate!  

Enzoni

  • 1 oz your favorite gin - I love Utah's local Madam Patrini
  • 1 oz  Campari or Aperol
  • 3/4 oz lemon juice
  • 1/2 oz simple syrup
  • five or six fresh red grapes
In a cocktail shaker, muddle the grapes with the simple syrup and the lemon. Add the gin and Campari. Shake with ice and strain over ice. Garnish with a grape and lemon peel flag. Enjoy!    

Non-alcoholic Enzoni

  • 1 oz non-alcoholic gin
  • three dashes your favorite bitters - I love rhubarb bitters!
  • 3/4 oz lemon juice
  • 1/2 oz simple syrup
  • five or six fresh red grapes
Muddled the grapes with the simple syrup and the lemon juice. Add non-alcoholic gin and ice and shake 8 to 12 seconds. Strain over ice and top with 1 to 2 oz of club soda. Enjoy! Watch Kaleb make this cocktail here.  You can also watch here from the Educated Barfly! Happy Mother's Day!

May 4, 2020

May recipe of the month – 7 layer black bean dip

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Jazz up your humdrum beans from Food Storage with this May recipe of the month - 7 layer black bean dip. Celebrate Cinco de Mayo during this time of social distancing with a little flair! Great for any celebration.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup dried beans - soaked and cooked according to package
  • 3 cloves garlic - minced
  • 4 oz cream cheese - room temperature
  • 1/2 cup lemon juice
  • 1 cup chopped cilantro
  • 1/2 tbsp cayenne
  • 1/2 tablespoon chili powder
  • 1/2 tablespoon cumin
  • salt and pepper to taste
Make it a 7 layer dip by adding these
  • 1 cups shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1 bunch green onions- chopped
  • 2 medium heirloom tomatoes- chopped
  • 1/2 cup black olives- chopped
  • 1 avocado sliced
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • Add 1 cup of your favorite salsa for an extra kick! Check out our recipe for our cilantro lime salsa and pineapple black bean salsa

Directions

Place beans and garlic in a food processor, Puree beans and garlic until smooth. Blend in cream cheese, cilantro, cayenne, chili powder, and cumin. Salt and pepper to taste. Serve immediately with your favorite chips! It can be refrigerated for 3 days. For 7 layer dip, spread black bean mixture into a 9x13 pan. Just before serving top with cheese, green onions, tomatoes, olives, avocados, and salsa. Serve and enjoy!  

April 28, 2020

The Best Fajitas in the world

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Indulge me in a little bragging - I make the best fajitas in the world. I’ve searched everywhere and never found better ones than these. Frankly, it’s not even close. This is bold I know. But when you’ve got it, flaunt it, right?   grilled skirt steak | Bloody Mary Steak Recipe | Brian Child | Flickr       What’s fascinating about this dauntless claim is that the recipe and techniques are quite simple and nothing secret. Indeed, the simplicity is one of the keys. When cooking Tex-Mex style foods we often gravitate towards intense marinades and complex spice mixes. With fajitas though, the best results are achieved by allowing the primary flavors of the meat (usually steak or chicken), the peppers, and the fire itself, to shine. The other key to success is understanding and timing three distinct stages of cooking. First, sear your steak or chicken as hot as possible to a beautiful char and crust. While the meat is resting, cook the vegetables over a medium high heat. Finally, slice the meat, toss with the vegetables, and allow the mix to finish at a low temp while swirling in wood smoke. Gather your equipment:
  • Your grill and your fuel. I use a charcoal grill for the entire process. It’s the simplest option and produces the best results. Hardwood / lump charcoal is recommended. Briquettes can also work well. Avoid using Matchlight or other similar briquettes. You can make excellent fajitas on a gas grill, but you’ll need a smoker box or other wood burning accessory to approximate the charcoal grill flavor. Similarly, a Traeger or other pellet cooker can work wonderfully for the final stage of cooking, but you’ll need a different apparatus with a higher and more direct heat for first stages.
  • Your basic grilling tools: tongs, spatula, fork, oil, onion, rake, apron, and gloves.
  • A grill basket is highly recommended to cook the vegetables.
  • Wood chips. And a chip soaker is super convenient.
  • Cutting board, knife and fork, serving dish.
Gather your ingredients:
  • 1 flank steak OR 5-6 chicken breasts as desired
  • 2 large red onions and 4 large sweet peppers (green, red, orange, yellow, or a mix as desired), cut into thick strips
  • 3 tablespoons minced garlic
  • vegetable oil
  • lime juice
  • salt and pepper
  • tortillas (see my recipe for homemade flour tortillas)
  • toppings (see my suggested favorites below)
Instructions (assuming a charcoal grill; adjust as appropriate for other devices): Mix garlic with a splash of lime juice and salt and pepper to taste. Rub onto the steak or chicken. Set aside at room temperature while you ready the vegetables and the grill. Toss the peppers and onions with vegetable oil, salt and pepper. Set aside at room temperature while you prepare the grill. Set your wood chips to soak in water. Light your charcoal (a chimney is recommended) and allow to burn until evenly ashed over and very hot. Gather your coals together in a single zone of your grill in order to focus the heat for the searing stage. Sear the steak or chicken over your hot searing zone for ~3-4 minutes or until a nice crust has developed. Flip and sear the other side for ~3-4 minutes and nicely crusted as well. Don’t worry about doneness at this point. Remove from the grill, cover loosely with foil, and set aside. While the protein is carryover cooking / resting, spread out your fire for a more medium heat zone. Using a basket, cook the peppers and onions, turning occasionally until tender and lightly charred - ~10 minutes. Depending on the size of your grill, fire, and basket, you may opt to cook the vegetables in more than one batch. Remove the vegetables from the fire. Slice the steak or chicken on the bias and against the grain, into thin strips. Toss the meat with the cooked vegetables in the grilling basket. Sprinkle your soaked wood chips onto the coals. Put the basket over the coals and wood. Cover the grill with a lid to trap and swirl the smoke. Reduce the openings of the grill vents to reduce the burn rate and temperature. Check and stir your mix approximately every 5 minutes. Cook until the peppers have a wonderful wood smoke flavor and the meat is done to your desired temperature. Warm your tortillas during this time. Serve immediately, hot from the grill.     IMG_7067.jpg Homemade Flour Tortillas Ingredients:
  • 2 ¾ cups of flour
  • 6 tablespoons of choice of fat - I prefer 3 tbs European butter with 3 tbs of lard. However using 6 tbs of just one works fine. Substituting vegetable shortening works too.
  • 1 teaspoon of salt
  • ¾ cup of warm (~110 F) water
Instructions: Mix flour and salt in a large bowl. Cut in the butter and lard until mixture resembles coarse meal. Add the warm water and stir until combined. Knead briefly - the goal is to make a smooth and cohesive mix, but to not develop the gluten as much as you would for bread. Divide the dough into 8-12 (depending on desired size) even pieces and roll into 1-2” balls. Cover and transfer to the refrigerator for at least 1 hour. When you’re ready to cook the tortillas, pre-heat a large nonstick or cast iron skillet over a medium heat.. Remove the balls from refrigeration and roll into 6-9” rounds. Lightly grease the hot skillet and reduce heat to medium low. Lay tortillas onto hot skillet and cook for ~1 minute on each side or until lightly browned and nicely puffed. Remove from heat and cover with a towel. Note that although the tortillas are best right from the skillet, they can be made several hours or even a day in advance. Simply rewarm pre-made tortillas briefly in a microwave prior to service. Favorite Fajita Accoutrements:
  • sour cream
  • cheese - especially mild, moist, soft, and easy melting cheese
  • avocado - can be fresh sliced avocado, guacamole, or both
  • fresh or grilled jalapenos
  • your favorite hot sauce
  • fresh cilantro
  • lime wedges
And finally, fajitas are a dish made to be shared family style around a table with plenty family and friends. During quarantine though, your immediate family only is perfect. We suggest perfecting your fajitas now. And as soon as it's appropriate, invite the neighbors over for dinner. Eat well!   IMG_7027.jpg    

20x winner Utah’s Best of State

16x Best of State Caterer

3x Best of the Best / Hospitality

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