Congrats to Alison, the winner of the Sharecrate giveaway. In a few weeks, Alison will receive three meals right at her doorstep. Thank you to Dream Dinners for such a wonderful giveaway, and a big thank you to all who entered.
Congrats to Alison, the winner of the Sharecrate giveaway. In a few weeks, Alison will receive three meals right at her doorstep. Thank you to Dream Dinners for such a wonderful giveaway, and a big thank you to all who entered.
A couple of months back, I was invited to learn about Dream Dinners, a national meal-assembly company inspired by the belief that families should eat wholesome meals around the dinner table together. Since I share the same desire, I knew I had to go find out more information! I was excited to learn about the money and time-saving opportunities, not to mention the delicious seasonal meal options. There is so much that goes into meal-time prep- from planning what to serve, buying groceries, and allowing plenty of time to prepare the meal and gather everyone around the table. Dream Dinners strives to make this process simplified so you have more time with the people you love the most. To extend the idea further, the ShareCrate package was created to send meals to families experiencing life-changing events, be it celebrating new beginnings or offering support during hard times.
With the popularity of other delivery services, a ShareCrate package is the perfect way to show friends and family far away that you care. I recently received my very own ShareCrate to blog about my experience. Today, I will be sharing my wonderful experience. At the end of the post, you too will have a chance to receive your very own ShareCrate! Simply leave me a comment on what you love the most about the ShareCrate concept to enter the contest. Next Thursday I will use random.org to announce a winner.
When you place an order, the package will look similar to this adorable cardboard box. Just seeing the packaging brought a huge smile to my face.
Once you open the package, you will see a carefully packed Styrofoam cooler with dry ice.
How cool! Ahhhh no pun intended. But REALLY! Wholesome meals. Delivered. Easy to prepare. So you can spend more time with the people you love. My heart was rejoicing!
Each ShareCrate comes with three frozen easy-to-prepare meals, most of which can be made in 30 minutes or less. Additionally, you recieve the cooking instructions and nutritional information for each meal.
Each package comes with one meal that goes from freezer-to-oven, Creamy Chicken Florentine Tortellini. That meal takes 1.5 hours to cook in the oven, but there is no preparation needed. You simply follow the cooking instructions and you have an incredible Italian dish ready for the entire family to enjoy. The cooking instructions are easy to follow you don’t to be a kitchen aficionado to prepare high quality meals for your family. The other two meal offerings, Sesame Glazed Meatballs with Jasmine Rice and Chicken with Honey, Garlic, and Orange and Roasted Broccoli can be placed in the refrigerator to thaw the morning of the day you want to serve them. Each meal comes complete with all of the ingredients and seasonings needed to prepare the meals, except for olive oil needed for cooking. There are two different size offerings: the medium option feeds 2-3 people per meal and the large option feeds 5-6 people. Regardless of the size you decide to order, the meal offerings won’t change.
Although all three meals were delicious, my favorite meal was the Chicken with Honey, Garlic, and Orange and Roasted Broccoli. The sauce was sweet but not overpowering of the chicken and broccoli. It was a healthy meal that felt like a splurge because I had prepared restaurant-quality food in the comfort and convenience of my home.
The cost for a medium ShareCrate is $89, plus shipping. The cost of a large ShareCrate is $139, plus shipping. When shipped, the family doesn’t have to be home. All packages contain enough dry ice to ensure the meals stay sufficiently frozen from shipping until 8pm the day of delivery. ShareCrate is currently available for delivery to Alabama*, Arkansas*, Connecticut, Delaware, Georgia*, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa*, Kansas*, Kentucky, Maine*, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi*, Missouri, Nebraska*, New Jersey, New Hampshire, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota*, Ohio, Oklahoma*, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina*, South Dakota*, Tennessee, Vermont, Virginia, Washington D.C., West Virginia, and Wisconsin. Additional delivery areas will be added in the coming months. (*limited delivery area) In addition, for every ShareCrate sold, a meal will be donated to a child in need through the non-profit organization Living the Dream.
What do you love about the ShareCrate concept?
**Disclaimer: I was not paid, but received the package to review. These thoughts and opinions were strictly my own.
I’m a host and people gatherer by nature so when a close friend asked me to host and help plan her daughter, Gracie’s, 1st birthday party, I jumped at the chance! While I don’t have any kids (yet) I love all things whimsy and creative so it was a great opportunity to see what kinds of ideas we could come up with for her birthday party. One day when we were planning the idea for a ladybug themed party hit us, because the Mother of the little one loves the colors red, black, and white. We thought that an excellent idea because it not only fits the Mother’s favorite colors, but also matches the birthday girl’s sweet little personality. Today I’m going to share with you how I made these adorable little edible “ladybugs” in no time flat. I will also show you some easy decorating ideas if you want to throw a similar style party. All it takes is a LOT of love and attention to detail on things that make the party.
To make the darling little “ladybugs”, you first have to rinse your strawberries and completely dry them. If you don’t the chocolate coating won’t stick.
I decided to make some “ladybugs” and some completely covered in chocolate. #becausechocolate! To start the “ladybugs”, only dip the bottoms of the strawberry in the chocolate and place them on a baking sheet. This makes the face of the ladybug. I originally want to use black frosting, but realized that would take way too long to coat and make the spots on the back of the ladybug. It would also be VERY messy to say the least. No thank you!
Candy coating won over in my book! The candy coating dries very quickly and is a lot less messy as you can/will see in the pictures. Once the babies are dry, carefully insert mini chocolate chips into the strawberry similar to get the ladybug look. Make sure to press the chips in firmly because the sneaky little things will try to come lose. Once all are complete, give them a quick pat dry with a dry paper towel to remove the strawberry juice.
It took maybe an hour to do these cute statement pieces. I’d say it was perfect for a kid’s party as well since there was fruit involved. YAY! Not bad for an edible conversation piece! To serve, I used some cake stands I made a few years ago out of treated wood from my Father-In-Law’s yard. The stands gave the “ladybugs” a more natural look.
For the other decorations, Gracie’s Mom made this chalkboard timeline documenting her 1st year. I thought this was such a cute and creative idea.
A few balloons were purchased and a close friend of the Mother’s made these adorable banners.
If I had thought about it, I would have posted pics of the other food present at the party. At that time though, I was only planning a post on the “ladybugs”. In addition to the “ladybugs”, we served snacks like chips, salsa, guacamole, hummus, pretzels, and cupcakes. For drinks we had water and an awesome ladybug juice made with Cranberry juice and Sprite mixed together in equal parts. Drop in a few blackberries to add the ladybug spots to the mix.
I’m so honored that I got to help plan this sweet one’s 1st birthday party. I can’t wait to plan more parties in the future. Do you like planning parties? What is the most stressful part and what is the most fun?
A few years ago, I had the pleasure of meeting some missionaries during a singlemoon trip I took to Paris a few months before getting married. Meeting them was life-changing for me because I unexpectedly got to experience firsthand how God was working in unique ways in the arts community in Paris. Every now and then I catch these reminders that God isn’t just working behind a pulpit. He’s working in hardened hearts in coffee shops…. he’s empowering workers of landfills… and he’s mending loneliness in the stay-at-home Mom. When I recently found out that one the missionaries had written a book on unique prayer and worship techniques using French culinary metaphors, I knew it would be a profound book in my faith journey. I took my time reading the book, and it was truly one of those I didn’t want to finish. I wanted to savor each page and impress it in my heart and mind. If growing in your relationship with the Lord is important to you, this book will help you discover new ways to connect with God as well as pray blessings for other people. This book will help you realize just how whimsical God is and how He is moving in our lives at all times. Today, I’m sharing with you an interview with the wonderfully talented author of the book, David Brazzeal. Since this is one of those books that I wish I could buy for every person I know, I’m going to use random.com to select a winner for a free copy of the book. All you have to do to enter is leave a comment below as to how you think this book will influence your prayer life. Happy Reading! I can’t wait for you to hear about the book!
Tell us a little about your background and missions experience. I grew up as a normal kid in Atlanta, GA. Later I studied music in Alabama and Texas where I obtained a master’s degree in Music Theory and Composition. My wife, Sanan and I have 4 wonderful daughters. We have done some sort of missions related to the arts since 1983 in Seattle, Rio de Janeiro, Guadeloupe, Montréal and Paris. During this time, we helped four churches get started and will soon get involved in another new church start in the southwest of France.
What prompted you to write a book?
Several things: One is that as I get older, I feel the need to share with others what I’ve learned from my journey. The area of personal prayer is where I’ve learned the most yet have rarely shared it. Another motivation comes from a long-time frustration that most churches do not help people with how to pray. We are told we should do it more frequently and with more faith and more fervency, but we hear very little about what to do when we pray.
How did you get the idea to talk about prayer using French dinner metaphors?
The basic idea for this book has been swirling around on the back burner of my mind for about 10 years. I’ve considered several cliché metaphors and weak titles, but nothing really seemed to click until I moved to France and experienced French dining on a regular basis. I don’t know when or how, but it dawned on me one day that this was the best metaphor for communicating how I had begun to re-imagine prayer for myself.
What is it about the concept of prayer that is so intriguing to you?
The thing that I find the most fascinating and mysterious about prayer is how we can move ourselves from an “I-don’t-feel-like-doing-this” kind of attitude immersed in the crud of everyday life to that special spiritual space where we actually experience and know once again “The God Who Is There”. The sad part is that the large majority of Christians I know don’t know how to do this.
You discuss several ways to worship and pray in Pray Like a Gourmet. What are two of your favorite prayer techniques you discuss in the book?
As I mention on page 47 under the title LITANIES, the oldest and most effective prayer practice for me has been the simple idea of improvising simple sentences using God’s names and his attributes, like “Lord, you are wonderful; God, you are glorious; Jesus, you are the Light of the world; Lord, you are the Sunrise on High, the Bright and Morning Star; God you are the Ancient of Days, etc.” I do this exercise slowly, quietly and as poetically and expressively as I can until I feel a shift or openness in my spirit. I guess my second favorite for the past few years has been blessing people either with carefully crafted written blessings (page 81) or with some kind of thoughtfully drawn visual blessing (page 82).
What can people expect to gain from reading your book?
First of all, I think readers of Pray Like a Gourmet will also find ideas that could take years or even a lifetime to develop but which are well worth the challenge. Secondly, I think people will recognize these new prayer concepts as parts of a very friendly, beautiful and continually developing menu. No one will be able to try them all on the first or even second visit. The book (along with God, I might add) patiently waits for us to come back again and again, each time our spiritual palette is ready and perhaps even hungry for a new taste.
What kind of feedback have you been getting on how it is changing prayers and individuals’ relationship with God?
The feedback has been amazing. I think the book surprises a lot of people, either by the beauty of the illustrations or by the practicality of the content. It’s not a normal book that you read once and put away or pass on to someone else. Many tell me that they plan to keep it close at hand so they can consult it often when they pray. However, the feedback that touches me the most are those who tell me that certain pages are tear-stained. The book seems to be very liberating to those who, for years, have felt boxed into traditionally prescribed prayer formulas. It is a very special privilege for me to help cater the banquet in that spiritually intimate space of others, the place where our spirit dines with the Spirit of the Living God.
For more information on David Brazzeal and to purchase Pray Like a Gourmet, visit Amazon. When you read it, consider leaving a review. Check out the book’s website so you can keep up with events and get some additional fantastic prayer resources. Also, be sure to “like” his Facebook page.
I’ve been thinking about making some homemade ice cream for an entire week now. A week of thinking about a particular food is torture to the tongue! Since I was sick with pesky gallbladder problems last year, I had no desire for any kind of food. Hence, it’s been two years since I last had my ice cream maker put to good use. That’s two years too long in my book! A friend called me this morning and said, I’m bringing my baby over in two hours. My first thought was about the heat, but then again it seemed like the perfect excuse to make ice cream with the blueberries I picked not too long ago! That’s how I developed my Blueberry Waffle Cone Ice Cream.
I first had blueberry ice cream a few years ago on a trip back home to Oklahoma. It was deliciously creamy and light with walnuts added to it. I loved it because even though it was ice cream, it contained fruit and Omega-3’s. That meant it was healthy and I could eat more, right?! That’s what I tell myself anyway. Fast forward to when I was making my ice cream… I wanted to see what pieces of chopped up waffle cone would add to the ice cream. I am so glad I added the waffle cone to the ice cream! When the blueberries aren’t bursting on your tongue, the sweet, crunchy waffle cone demands to be noticed and thanked for its role. Obviously if you want the “healthier” route, you can still go with just about any nut (pistachios, almonds, walnuts, and pecans make good choices). But if you are looking for a deliciously creamy and sweet ice cream, add the waffle cones.
An hour after my friend arrived we were able to enjoy the blueberry waffle cone ice cream. Judging by the blueberry ice cream on her little one’s face, I would say she loved it! Please give this recipe a try. There are several steps, but there is NOTHING as rewarding as homemade ice cream! When you make this, let me know what you decide to add. I’m always looking for new things to try.
Yields: 2 quarts (5-6 servings)
Cook + Passive time: 2 hours
2 cups fresh blueberries
1 tbsp lemon juice
1/2 cup plus 1 tbsp sugar
4 egg yolks
2 cups 2% milk
1 cup heavy cream
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/2 cup chopped waffle cone
** Read your ice cream maker instructions thoroughly before starting the recipe as many require the container to be frozen hours beforehand!
Combine blueberry, – lemon juice, and 1 tbsp sugar in a small saucepan on medium heat. Stir for 7-10 minutes or until berries begin to burst and the mixture forms a berry syrup. Remove the syrup from the stove and let it cool.
In a medium mixing bowl, whisk egg yolks and 1/4 cup sugar.
In a medium-sized saucepan, heat milk, cream, salt, and remaining sugar for 5 minutes until it’s hot, but not boiling. Remove it from the heat and slowly whisk it in with the egg mixture. Then place all of that mixture back in the saucepan and stir with a wooden spoon constantly on medium heat for 8 minutes or until the mixture coats the back of the wooden spoon. Poor that mixture through a strainer, but make sure there is a bowl to catch the liquid below the strainer. The resulting mixture will be a thin, off-white color.
Next, you want to place a bunch of ice in a bowl slightly larger than the one holding the mixture above. Then place the bowl with the mixture atop the larger bowl filled with ice and freeze for 20-30 minutes. This process will quickly cool the liquid. After 20-30 minutes have passed, take the mixture out of the freezer and incorporate the vanilla and blueberry syrup. Your mixture will start to look like blueberry soup. Don’t freak out! That is a good thing! That means it is ready for your ice cream maker. Follow the manufacturer instructions for your ice cream maker. Incorporate your nuts or waffle cone pieces in the last 5 minutes of ice cream mixing.
Freeze at least 1 hour before serving if you can wait that long. If not, I don’t blame you. I didn’t either and it was still amazing!!
In my last post, I shared with a new way to use Royal Design Studio stencils to add an exciting dimension of fun to your food! I had so much fun working with them on that project. I decided I would do a separate post to showcase the actual pie. Per my usual crazy ways, I didn’t make a classic All-American apple pie. Heck no! I had to have some fun spicing it up in the kitchen. That’s how I created this Mexican Apple Pie.
Compared to your average apple pie, this Mexican Apple Pie has not only cinnamon, but espresso powder, nutmeg, cayenne pepper, and ginger. It is still savory pie, but the filling is less heavy than your typical apple pie so there is more emphasis on the spices incorporated. Speaking of spices… I just had to see what greatness would happen if I added espresso powder, nutmeg, cayenne pepper, and ginger. In traditional Mexican baking it is common to combine chocolate with cinnamon and cayenne pepper, hence the espresso powder and cayenne pepper. I added nutmeg for extra warmth to the dish. As for the ginger, well, ginger pairs well with most fruits (really!) and the dash of heat it adds lends a sophisticated note to the fruit. That’s right. This is a pretentious pie. Not by appearance, but by taste. Your friends will enjoy the flavor packed in the crust and won’t miss the heavy pie filling of the classic apple pie.
For the pie crust, I used this recipe and it turned out perfectly.
What is your favorite summertime pie? Have you ever put a spin on it? If you haven’t I dare you to try it next time.
A blank pie canvas calls for a little creativity in the kitchen! Since the July 4th holiday is right around the corner, I’ve partnered** with Royal Design Studio using their Stars and Stripes stencil to show you how easy and beautiful their stencils work on pie! Yes, these are furniture stencils, but just about any stencil can be brought into decorating your next dessert. Today, I will show you how you can use just about any stencil on the all-American classic dessert: the apple pie. In my next post, I will share with you my recipe for a spiced apple pie; my twist on this favorited dessert.
Materials for stenciling:
9″ unbaked pie without a dough top
1 stick of butter at room temperature
1/8 cup sugar
1/8 cup cinnamon
pie dough (mine was homemade, but you can buy the kind you roll out)
Step 1: Start by rolling out your dough for the top of your pie making sure it will cover your pie pan. You also want to ensure your dough isn’t spread too thick or thin. It should be a little less than 1/2 cm thick.
Step 2: Gently lift your dough and place it on top of your pie. Since my stencil was a tad larger than my pie, I decided to only decorate the areas of the dough that touched the stencil. Don’t do the edges, because it will get messy and might ruin the design once the stencil is removed. Put the stencil on top of the pie and mark the stencil design areas with butter.The butter will allow the cinnamon and sugar to stick to the dough. Mix the cinnamon and sugar together and sprinkle on the top of the pie. Do your best to only cover the designs so you don’t waste the cinnamon and sugar. Mix and apply more cinnamon and sugar as needed to completely cover your design area.
Step 3: Gently remove the stencil from the top of the pie. If necessary, use a pinky finger or cotton swab to clean up any cinnamon and sugar outside of the stenciled area. Voila! The Royal Design Studio stencils are that easy and fun! Now you have a total showstopper that is ready for the oven!
Step 4: Bake the pie at 350º for 45-60 minutes. After 30 minutes, check it to see if the crust is browning quickly. If burning, place aluminum foil around the edges (or cover pie completely with foil) and continue baking. The end result will be more lovely than fireworks!
Royal Design Studios has a wonderful selection for all of your stencil needs. I had a great time working with them on this post. Stencils are an easy and fun way to add excitement to foods. This would also be a great activity to get your kids involved with. Who doesn’t love stenciling designs?!
**This post was sponsored by Royal Design Studio. I received the stars and stripes stencil in exchange for a blog review. The thoughts and opinions expressed are my own.
I’ve been experimenting with some interesting things this summer. For Mother’s Day, I did an awesome post on baking with edible flowers. Lately, I’ve been playing around with edible glitter and practicing a neon marbled look for coating ganache truffles. I know that you are probably thinking I’ve LOST MY MIND and, Wait! There is EDIBLE GLITTER?! Well yes, there is! I’m happy to tell you I have been playing around with the unicorn of the food world: edible glitter! Two things that are big right now in fashion and home decor are 1.) neon clothing and accessories 2.) marbled ANYTHING. I not only follow food trends, but try to stay in the know on fashion and decor to keep my experiments going. One day, I got the most amazing idea to do a swirl coating in neon food colors for some ganache truffles. They turned out yummy, but needed a little something extra special so I added some edible glitter to the tops. Behold, my recipe for Neon Swirled Truffles with Edible Glitter.
The great thing about this recipe is that it is very easy and fun! If you have kids, this would be a great one to work on with them. They will love the vivid colors, glitter, and chocolate so invite them to help you make the swirls in the white chocolate coating! You will just need to assist them with the covering the truffles immediately after the desired marbled effect is achieved because the coating hardens very quickly!
It’s not every day you come across a business that takes you back in time. When I heard that CeCe, the entrepreneuer behind the wildly successful Sweet CeCe’s franchise, was dreaming up a new business concept, I knew I had to learn more. The Dixie Drip, a stationary retro parlor-styled food truck, is CeCe’s newest creation. Even though it has only been open for a little over one month, it’s starting to get buzz. Nestled across from Opryland, it’s hard to miss her fabulous little camper with a red and white striped awning.
If you think that’s where the nostalgia ends, you are so wrong. Several of the offerings on the menu were CeCe’s favorite childhood foods. CeCe told me she grew up on Fried Bologna Sandwiches, while I explained that I grew up on Pimento Cheese Sandwiches (both on her menu). Since I adore pimento cheese so much, she made her Jalapeño Pimento Cheese Panini for me. I had to confess to her I had never had grilled pimento cheese before, but it was so gooey and delicious. The sandwich was reminscent of my childhood, but also had an element of surprise since it was grilled and had a slight kick with the jalapeños.
Next up, I had the Peanutbutter & Jelly & Banana Panini. (Not on the menu, but she loves to surprise her customers with this fun panini!) This panini was so good I don’t think I will ever eat another peanut butter and jelly sandwich again! Bananas are incredible fruit, and something about when I bit into the banana and jelly together made my heart sing in a new song. I love it when I discover new flavors that pair amazingly well together! The Dixie Drip concept is built upon this idea of reclaiming the food traditions of our past and making new memories to carry forward.
From the foods to the retro design, The Dixie Drip is a wonderful experience. In addition to carefully crafting food, I got to taste some wonderful iced coffee. With such variety, The Dixie Drip is great any time of day-on your way to work, for lunch, a quick snack, or right before heading home from work. Stop by and order your favorite foods of then and now. You are bound to relive and create new memories of your own!
For more information on The Dixie Drip, check out:
With the rise of internet food blogging and food photography, foodies everywhere have sought after new flavors to tantalize their taste buds. In this day and age, if you aren’t creative and artsy with your culinary craft,your business will likely be average at best. Heather, the owner of Sophisticakes in East Nashville, knows this all too well. Since opening the shop in April 2015, Sophisticakes has already mastered the art of taking bakery creations to the next level.
I recently came across this photo (below) of one of her Strawberry Shortcake Cake Cups and knew Heather was soon to be a kindred spirit.
If you aren’t familiar with cakecups, they are a basically a tiny portion of Heaven in a plastic cup. Okay REALLY though, each cup holds a serving or two of cake goodness… frosting, and toppings. This is just one example of the way Heather dishes up love at Sophisticakes. Her little shop offers a variety of creations each week depending on what’s in season and what’s popular in the bakery world. Whether she’s making cheesecakes, cake cups, cookies, or macarons, everything is made fresh from scratch.
Not only does Sophisticakes offer variety, but I appreciate that it isn’t afraid to experiment. Take these Chocolate Covered Brownie Bars for example. Not only had I not seen anything like it before, but they were delicious. The juicy and vibrant flavor of the strawberries paired well with the rich cocoa flavor in the ganache atop the brownie bars.
The next time you get a craving for a little something sweet, head out to Sophisticakes. Whether you are looking for a traditional cupcake or a new, surprising treat, Sophisticakes is your one-stop bakery shop. It also does custom orders for any treat you can imagine.
For more information, stop by the location at:
go to the website: Sophisticakes