Friday, September 1, 2017

Labor-less Labor Day Eats x Atlanta Plugged In

Summer isn't over yet!! I want to (air) scream this every time I cite a mention of Fall food and flavors these days.  Don't get me wrong, I loveeee the Fall.  It's my favorite season, in fact, but I'm all about celebrating each season to its fullest--and that means relishing the final days of Summer.

Just as Memorial Day marks the unofficial start of Summer, Labor Day tends to mark the unofficial end of this sultry time of year.  And with Labor Day in mind (and on the horizon), I have to share a few, fun recipes to make your entertaining over the long weekend anything but laborious.  Think effortless!

If you follow me on social media (I'd love it if you did--see the easy 'connect' buttons in the right margin. Shameless plug. ;-) ), then you're likely aware that I had the awesome privilege of returning to my favorite, Atlanta Plugged In, earlier this week to share my tips and recipes for making the most of the holiday.

Now that you've watched the segment, I hope you're inspired to try these easy, delicious, and, yes, healthy dishes.  Win, win, win.

And to tie it all together with a big bow on top, I'm sharing a bonus "recipe" in the way of a super fun and effortless sip.  Because there's so much to cheers to and be thankful for.

Enjoy a delicious, effortless, and safe holiday weekend.

Happy Eating!

Peach Caprese Bites
Fresh peaches, sliced into rounds
Fresh mozzarella, thinly sliced
Prosciutto, thinly sliced
Basil leaves
Flaked sea salt (optional)
Balsamic syrup, for garnish, (optional)

Arrange peaches, mozzarella, basil and prosciutto in stacks.  Sprinkle lightly with sea salt and drizzle balsalmic, if using.  Enjoy!

Roasted Shrimp and Pineapple Skewers
Shrimp, peeled and deveined
Fresh pineapple
Old Bay Seasoning
Kosher Salt
Freshly ground black pepper
Olive Oil  
Brown sugar 
Fresh limes  

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.

On a baking sheet, toss together shrimp, seasoning, a light sprinkling of salt, freshly ground pepper and olive oil.  Roast in preheated oven for 5-6 minutes.  Set aside.

On a separate baking sheet, toss together pineapple, brown sugar, salt, pepper and olive oil.  Roast for 15 minutes in preheated oven. (*Cook's Note: Shrimp and pineapple can be prepared a day ahead and served at room temperature, if preferred.)

Add roasted shrimp, pineapple and cilantro to skewers.  Garnish with more chopped cilantro and fresh lime juice.  Enjoy!

Watermelon with Chili-Spiced Salt
Fresh watermelon slices or chunks
1 tablespoon kosher salt 
1/2 teaspoon chili powder 
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper (or less, to taste)

Add salt and spices to a dish and stir well to combine.  Sprinkle over melon, serve and enjoy! (*Cook's Note: leftover salt can be stored in an airtight container in your pantry.)

Cotton Candy Sparkler
Cotton candy
Sparkling drink of choice (cider, prosecco, champagne, etc.)

Pour sparkling beverage in glasses.  Top with cotton candy.  Toast and enjoy!     


Sunday, August 27, 2017

Mixed Fruit Green Smoothie Bowl

I'm back on my smoothie craze these days, after an unintentional hiatus.  Ever since I began making smoothies years ago, I've been relatively constant about indulging--especially during the Summer months when my frothy, icy concoctions bring a much needed (and healthier) cool down.  I can rely on them to give me a semblance of the tasty goodness that ahem, a milkshake, might otherwise offer.

I also happen to be intentionally focusing on 'cleaner' eating these days, and smoothies are an easy go-to for loading fruits, vegetables, and added nutrients into your eating regimen.  My current favorite is a mixture of fruit and greens--with all the same good to you, good for you, scrumptious-ness that I love.

And while I'm talking cleaner eating, my newest star ingredient is a Coconut-Almond Milk blend that I discovered at the market recently.  It's everything (cue: diary free, gluten free, soy free, non-gmo and sugar free).  Everything, right?  Annnd.... it's only 45 calories per serving and provides the perfect creamy, sweet goodness as the base of my smoothie.  I'll admit that I was dubious about displacing my usual juice + coconut water base, but this was love at first sip.

So in the spirit of sharing and caring, I'm sharing my easy, good to the last drop smoothie recipe-turned-smoothie bowl.  About the bowl effect, I love it because it allows me to layer in more goodness with the toppings of my choice (fruits, toasted coconut chips, and whatever else your heart and taste buds desire.)  Smoothie bowls also happen to be all the rave right now, so I had to jump in on the fun.

Here's to more healthy, yummy goodness in your breakfast and snack routines and always to...

Happy Eating!

Mixed Fruit Green Smoothie Bowl
1 cup Coconut-Almond Milk Blend (or Almond Milk, if you can't find the blend)
3/4 cup frozen mixed fruit
1/2 banana
1 cup fresh baby kale mix (or other greens of choice)
1 tsp honey
Fresh berries, coconut chips to garnish (optional)

Add milk, frozen fruit, banana, greens and honey to a blender and blend to desired consistency.  (Note: if smoothie mixture needs extra liquid, add in a little water and continue to blend.)  Pour smoothie into a bowl, garnish with toppings and enjoy!


Wednesday, August 16, 2017

{Let's Celebrate!} Popsugar Must Have Box Turns Five!

If you're like me, it doesn't take much to get you in the mood for a celebration.  And when my August PopSugar Must Have Box arrived in the mail recently, it was just the indulgence I needed.  As a resident girly girl, it was right up my alley.  From beauty treatments, to a stylish journal, to glitter candles (my personal favorite), a gorgeous confetti tray, chocolate chunk cookies (yes, you read that right), and more, I've been like a kid in a candy store. 

But that's not the only reason this month's box is special.  The August Must Have Box also marks the five year anniversary of this lifestyle favorite.  And to keep the celebration in high gear,  PopSugar Must Have is doing weekly giveaways!

All current subscribers are eligible--and if you're not a subscriber yet, not to worry.  Simply sign-up before the end of August to get in on the fun and chances to win.  And use the discount code 'PARTY' to receive a $10 discount off of your first box if you order by August 31st.

Here's to more celebrations and many more years of curated goodies!

Happy Birthday Must Have Box!

Friday, July 28, 2017

{Toast With This!}: Strawberry Spritzer

Enduring the Summer heat is a lot more bearable when you're sipping on a cool, effervescent and refreshing drink that boasts the season's bounty.  And with that in mind, I recently added another favorite to my mocktail repertoire.

Inspired by my love for homemade everything, I set about to create a strawberry puree, accented with a hint of fresh lime juice.  And can I just tell you--it was sooo good.  (Like, spoonfuls in the middle of the day, straight from the container, kind of good. Don't judge me.)  From there, the possibilities became endless for how to make the most of the berry-licious concoction.

Freeze into sorbet.  Spoon over ice cream.  Make into a seasonal spritzer.  The latter of these was my immediate go-to, but the other options are still very much alive.

And this "non-recipe", recipe of sorts, couldn't be easier to pull off--or transform with additional or alternate flavors.  One technique x endless options = happy cooking at its finest.

So cheers to more of Summer's luscious flavors...and to Happy Sipping!

Strawberry Spritzer
1 lb. fresh strawberries, hulled and halved
Juice of 1/2 lime, plus more to garnish as desired
1/2 cup sugar
Club soda
Ice Cubes

Place strawberries in a blender or food processor and blend into a puree.  Strain puree through a fine mesh sieve.

Add in sugar and lime juice and stir well to combine.  Store in an airtight container for 8-12 hours or overnight to chill mixture.

Mix together 1/4 cup of puree and 3/4 cup of club soda.  Pour over ice, serve and enjoy!

Recipe adapted from Bon Appetit 


Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

Dear Carrot Cake,

How do I love thee?  Let me count the ways....

Your moist, luscious cake... Your creamy, decadent frosting... Your...

By now, you're probably thinking, "Really, Dawn?  A love letter to cake?!"  And if I hadn't baked and tasted it for myself many times over, I would be right there in the skeptic's seat along with you.  Just trust me when I tell you that my ode could never come close to being overrated.  It really is that good...and special.

As with most of my favorite recipes, I began baking this cake many years ago and sharing it among family and friends.  We all loved it, so I later added it to my catering menus.  And surprise! My clients also loved it.  The rest, as we say, is history. 

From holiday celebrations, to birthday affairs, to dinner parties, and good 'ole sweet tooth cravings, this Carrot Cake continues to hold its own in the sea of confectionery delights.

I gave it an honorable mention once here on the blog, as I shared highlights from a Thanksgiving Dinner.  Today I've finally come full circle to share a recipe, as well (and if you must know, I took so long because I vowed I would never give up my source for this unbelievable yumminess. And that's still not entirely untrue.) But because I'm a generous girl at heart :), I'm offering up a similar recipe to get your baking--and indulging--underway! 

Happy Eating!

Carrot Cake
(Recipe courtesy of Epicurious)

Monday, June 19, 2017

{Atlanta Plugged In}: The Perfect Summer BBQ

Summer has (unofficially) been on the horizon since Memorial Day and will make its official debut in a matter of days.  Despite the accompanying heat waves and humidity that typically mark this time of year, it's the perfect season for casual entertaining, dining al fresco, and everyone's favorite: barbecues. 

Last week I had the thrill of appearing on Atlanta Plugged In to share some of my favorite recipes and tips for hosting--and enjoying--The Perfect Summer BBQ.  (Awesome, huh?!) 

It was such a great time of sharing food, tips, cheers and laughs.  And in case you missed it, I'm sharing the video clip from the day below--along with the featured recipes that were also a hit at my previous Summer Pop Up Cooking School!

A creative twist on traditional BBQ fare, I know you'll enjoy them as much as we all did.

Atlanta Plugged In: The Perfect Summer BBQ

Sangria Mocktails
Heirloom Tomato Gazpacho
Gourmet Meatball Sliders (Recipe coming soon!)
Berry & Balsamic Shortcakes

Happy Eating!



Saturday, June 17, 2017

{Cooking for Dad}: A Father's Day Menu

There are few things that compare to the love, care, protection, guidance and affirmation that come from a father (or father-figure).  An undisputed daddy's girl, my father represented many "firsts" in my life.  He was my first love; the first man to affirm me and see the best in me; the first to lovingly foster the big dreams that he had for me.  And although he wasn't perfect, he was perfect for me.

Our earth story ended shortly before my 19th birthday, when he moved to heaven, but there isn't a day, or year, that goes by in which I'm not thinking of him, thankful for the love he gave to me, and wishing I still had him on this side of heaven with me.

If my dad were still here with me, I would prepare for him a meal fit for a king.  And as you prepare to cook for the special man (or men) in your life, this menu is all you need to make for a delicious and unforgettable meal:  Roasted Chicken and Vegetables, Rosemary Popovers, Arnold Palmer Special, and Cherry Upside Down Cake.  Now who wouldn't want that for dinner?! (No guy that I know. :))

So here's to a Happy Father's Day...and Happy Eating!

Arnold Palmer Special
Roasted Chicken and Vegetables
Rosemary Popovers
Cherry Upside Down Cake

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