Wednesday, June 8, 2022

Chili, Soy and Honey Brussels Sprouts


I get cooking inspiration from so many sources.  From food t.v., to magazines, travel, cookbooks, dining out, and more, there’s no shortage of familiar and novel ways, alike, to feed my passion.  And among the list, scrumptious, unforgettable tastes rank supreme.  

And my latest kitchen foray is a direct result of one such unforgettable dish I had last year while visiting my forever favorite, NYC. I took a chance on a cozy Italian restaurant near my hotel, after a long day, replete with an early flight into the city and non-stop goings upon my arrival.  (Just my speed, and the ultimate allure, whenever I’m in the Big Apple.) So settling in at the bar to order up some pasta, and the brussels sprouts that the server was raving about, was just what I needed to finish a wonderful day.  





So about those brussels sprouts.  They were crispy, with the perfect balance of sweet, spicy and savory goodness.  They were quite literally the best brussels sprouts that I had tasted to date, and currently that ranking still holds.  Who knew you could elevate an already favorite ingredient even further?  That’s the joy of cooking—and eating!


While I can’t recall the exact ingredients that restaurant’s kitchen used, I do recall enough of the flavors to inspire my own twist and nod to the amazing sprouts.  Simple, quick, versatile and supremely flavorful, it’s everything you want in a recipe—and more. Leading with the perfect trifecta of sweet, savory and somewhat piquant notes, I trust that you will make this a star side (or possibly even main) dish in your cooking and entertaining repertoires once you make them.





I crisped them up in the air fryer (but roasting them in a very hot oven will get you there, too) and finished them off in that wonderful marinade.  From there, all that was left to do was to indulge in…


Happy Eating!


Chili, Soy and Honey Brussels Sprouts


Ingredients:

1-2 lbs. brussels sprouts, halved lengthwise

Olive oil

Kosher salt

1 tablespoon soy sauce

1 tablespoon chili garlic paste

1 tablespoon hot honey (any variety of honey will work)


Method:

Season brussels sprouts with a generous drizzle of olive oil and salt. Cook according to air fryer instructions, until golden and crispy.  (For oven roasting, preheat the oven to 400 degrees F and roast for 18-25 minutes, watching carefully to ensure they don’t burn.


Meanwhile prepare the marinade by combining the soy sauce, chili paste and honey in a small bowl.  Stir to mix thoroughly.  Set aside.


Once the brussels sprouts are ready, pour the marinade over and toss to coat the sprouts. Serve and enjoy!

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Sunday, April 24, 2022

{Scent-Sational}: The Beauty Hack of Layering Fragrance


My current layering trio - Coco Mademoiselle Body Oil, Body Cream and Perfume

You’re never fully dressed without a…fragrance.  


That beauty and lifestyle ethos was lived before me as I grew up watching both my grandmother and mom regularly incorporate fragrance into their “get ready” beauty routines.


Scents of days gone by lined their vanities and dressers and inevitably finished off the “look of the day” before they headed out for work, church, or wherever the day took them.  As the observant bystander, I soaked it all in, including the way my mother, in particular, layered her scent of the day for the ultimate aromatherapy for those in her path.  And she’s still layering to this day, if you’re wondering. :)


As these things have a way of unfolding, it wasn’t long—high school, to be exact—before I was donning my own signature fragrance. (I’ve always had a signature fragrance in rotation since then.  Anyone else?). Back then it was Giorgio Armani’s Acqua di Gio.  Who remembers that?! I absolutely lovvvved it and would soon recognize my fragrance proclivities as leaning heavily toward florals, citrus, and lighter bodied scents—that carry a punch.


I wasn’t layering my fragrances just yet, but the time would come, when I’d start to adapt that beauty technique, too.  Currently, my layering is mainly centered around stacking the same scent through perfume, body cream, and/or body oil, and there’s a body wash that I’m eyeing to complete the end-to-end experience. It’s an indulgent hack to really give your scent a luxurious boost and lingering effect, while nurturing your skin, as well.  Because who doesn't want to smell sensational longer?


And as layering goes, I’m also excited to dip my foot in the world of layering complimentary fragrances from different perfumers to create bespoke scents that are uniquely my own.  If you’re also interested in doing more with your fragrances, you’ll find this article from L'Oreal Paris on layering fragrance, including a break down of complimentary scents, to be worthwhile.


I’ve shared how I’m wearing my fragrances these days, but I’d love to know what you’re doing, too.  So tell me: is fragrance a regular part of your beauty routine and, if so, how do you currently wear your scents?  A single scent?  Layers of the same scent? Layering different scents or oils?  Whatever you do, there’s no denying the intoxicating scent of a woman who’s adorned in beautiful fragrance.


I’m grateful to my grandmother and mother for giving me the gift of fragrance—and I’m thrilled to share my passion for it with you.


Happy Scenting!


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Tuesday, February 22, 2022

5 Essential Tips for Successful Solo Travel

 

Havana, Cuba

Solo travel can seem daunting for some, but let me assure you that it’s absolutely doable and fulfilling—when done right.  After traveling to four continents and numerous countries, cities and islands as a solo traveler, it’s fair to say that I know a little something about this often avoided way of exploring.


So if you never, or rarely, travel alone, I want to boost your confidence and savvy with five tips for a successful solo journey—because life’s too short to wait around.


1.  Research, research, research.  Although you can’t know everything about a destination before arrival, you can get a major head start by taking the time to research.  From lodging, to dining, to cultural outlets, nightlife, ground transportation, local customs and norms, and more, the more you know, the better.  Not into all that research? Let my travel company, Postcard Travel Boutique, do the heavy lifting for you.


2.  Document and share.  Once your itinerary comes together, be sure to share it with family and/or friends so that they can know your intended whereabouts and monitor your safe comings and goings. This also includes real-time updates and check-ins while navigating your destination(s).


3.  Seek out curated activities that will allow you to safely engage with others, while still enjoying what a destination has to offer.  Hosted tours and classes are really good avenues, among others.


4.  Go at your own pace. One of the biggest ‘wins’ of solo travel is being in complete control of what happens—and when.  Whether it’s sleeping in after a late night, or lingering longer over an art exhibition, there are no rules for enjoying your journey.


5.  Make lots of postcard memories!  And repeat.


I hope the possibilities of solo travel feel more in reach than ever before and that your solo travel confidence is boosted.  When you’re ready to go, go at the pace that feels right to you and keep these tips on hand for….


Happy Traveling!


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Monday, January 31, 2022

{In Case You Missed It}: 2021 Highlights

 


I gave myself the grace to remain in a Happy New Year state of mind for the entire month of January.  And so, here I am on the final day (my how time flies!!), sharing my perennial recap of the year gone by.  So before January is a distant memory, let me get on with the D.M.R. Fine Foods highlights of 2021, despite it being another challenging and fulfilling year-in-one.  


I embraced every wave of energy, inspiration, occasion and celebration to make the most of my passions and share them with you.  I’m always grateful for each and every person who shares this journey with me and appreciate every opportunity to make it worth your while.


So without further ado, here are some of my favorite highlights of 2021:


Food

2021 brought more home cooking, as I relished long-time favorites and new recipes, alike. From Creole Jambalaya, to Peach Shortcakes, Peach Crisp, Skillet Cornbread, Stuffing Biscuits, and more, it was nothing short of happy eating on full display. 


Travel

I eased back onto the travel scene with a mix of staycation/short road trips, to quickie flights to Ft. Lauderdale and NYC, a Caribbean getaway to Aruba, and a final jaunt to Las Vegas, replete with the Christmas aura I love to experience during holiday season travels. You can check out my quick and fun travel recap here.


Lifestyle

One of the biggest highlights of the year was being selected as a 2021 Better Homes and Gardens Stylemaker! Can you say awe-mazing?!  It truly was and no less exciting being honored a second time around, following my 2018 BHG Stylemaker selection.  An exceptionally curated two-day event, marked by the best brands and authorities across the lifestyle spectrum, the BHG Stylemaker team and my fellow Stylemakers made for another unforgettable hallmark in my journey to date and a welcomed nod that my contributions matter.


Collaborations

Finally, I enjoyed the privilege of once again collaborating with fellow culinary creators as we hosted the Juneteenth Virtual Cookout, replete with a bevy of recipes, stories and celebration around the theme of freedom and what it means to Black Americans.  I additionally enjoyed the honor of sharing more about what Juneteenth means to me on the Stasherbag instagram platform for the (now federal) holiday commemoration. Other collaborations with high fashion brand Marcell Von Berlin and America's Test Kitchen were also a delight.


All in all, I remain grateful for the blessings God continued to bestow on me, even as we continue to navigate the “new normal” in food, hospitality—and life, as a whole.  As a final reminder, the archives are always available for you to dig in and devour D.M.R. Fine Foods through the years. :)


Thank you again for being here and here’s to a blessed, healthy, and prosperous 2022!


xx,


Dawn

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Saturday, January 22, 2022

Vegetable and Bacon Frittata




If raiding your fridge and bringing a meal together easily is your kind of thing, then a frittata is just what the home chef ordered.  I’ve always appreciated the easy touch and elegant finish that goes into making this Italian variation on an omelette.  

And while deciding what to make this past Sunday—that would match the ingredients I had on had (yes, I raided my fridge for this) and also yield a healthy, delectable bite—a frittata seemed to be the perfect fit.  Reminiscent of a crust-less quiche (or mini quiches), it is adaptable to whatever you want to toss into the skillet.





From a prep perspective, I cooked my turkey bacon and sautéed my vegetables before pouring in my cheese and egg mixture.  From there it was off to the oven to bake and set-up into a beautiful, golden finish.  And whether you’re indulging for breakfast, brunch, or anytime, it’s a superb dish to serve when feeding a crowd or a party of one.  Bonus? If you find yourself with leftovers, the individual slices make for the best ready-made breakfast in the days that follow.  


So now that I’ve hopefully piqued your desire to bring this dish to life (or a variation matching what you have on hand), let’s get on with what’s most important….


Happy Eating!


Vegetable and Bacon Frittata


Ingredients:

9 large eggs

3 scallions

1 sweet bell pepper

1 Chile pepper

5-6 strips of turkey bacon (cooked)

1 tbs. Olive oil

4 oz. Shredded cheese

1/4 cup milk

Cherry tomatoes, halved

A bunch (a couple of handfuls or so) of raw kale greens

Italian parsley, finely chopped

Parmigiano Reggiano

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste


Method:


Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.


Whisk together eggs, milk, cheese, salt and pepper in a large bowl.  Set aside.


Add oil to an oven-safe skillet and heat over medium-high heat (cast iron recommended, if pre-seasoned or enameled). Add in scallions, bell pepper, and Chile pepper and sauté until softened, about 2-3 minutes.  Add in the cherry tomatoes, kale and bacon and continue sautéing for another 2-3 minutes.  Pour in the egg mixture and place skillet in the pre-heated oven.


Bake for 18-20 minutes or until the top is set and golden-ish in color.  Remove from the oven (remember to use oven mitts!) and garnish with parsley and grated Parmigiano Reggiano. Serve and enjoy!


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Thursday, December 23, 2021

Merry Christmas + Homemade Biscuits


Holidays and baking go hand-in-hand for me, so this past Sunday, I decided to slow down and finally bake homemade biscuits.  Yummy, right?!  

They truly were, with a savory, herbaceous twist, that makes them great for devouring morning, noon or night (i.e. for breakfast, brunch or dinner).  So with that said, I wanted to share the recipe with you in case you decide to follow my lead and bring them to your holiday eating repertoire.  

I'd actually been eyeing these since I saw the recipe in my November issue of Bon Appetite magazine, so it felt good to finally bring them to life in my kitchen. I'm so thrilled to say that they didn't disappoint.  To the contrary, they came out wonderful--with beautiful layers (the hallmark of a great biscuit, no?) and are easy to bring together.



I baked a few to enjoy and photograph for the blog :) and froze the rest of the batch for homemade biscuits on demand, whenever the notion--or craving--hits.  

So whenever you decide to bake them, I hope you experience the same Happy Eating.

Blessings for a Merry Christmas!

xx, Dawn

Stuffing Biscuits 


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Thursday, November 4, 2021

Hot Skillet Cornbread


Food has always been a love language in my family. From my earliest memories, I recall the rallying call it represented to gather, nourish, strengthen bonds and demonstrate affection.  



My grandmother, in particular, would often call us and read off her dinner menu, ending with the invitation to come over and share in the bounty. It was code for, “I want to see you and spend time with you and share my love for you.”  And no few times, whether the menu was on the grander scale, or relatively modest, skillet cornbread was on the menu.  


I can still see her pulling a hot cast iron skillet from the oven with the same common touch that one might give to grabbing a pre-made dish from the fridge.  It was such a common occurrence that it’s forever etched in my memories—and heritage.  Similar scenes were recreated by my mom in our home, albeit on a less frequent rotation due to working mom life.)






There were other variations of cornbread that my grandmother served, like cracklin cornbread, prepared stovetop with cracklins mixed into the cornmeal batter that was fried in hot oil, yielding a savory pancake-esque bite, only crispier and more satiating.  Still, my favorite was the hot skillet cornbread that often stood, very well I might add, on its own as the bread course—making everything from collard greens and pot likker, to fried chicken, chili and more, that much better.  Hot, buttery, tender crumbs, with crispy a top and edges, have a way of doing that.





And then there was the reincarnation into phenomenal cornbread dressing, another family staple, served mostly during the holidays.  As traditions go, I've kept this one alive with my slightly adapted iteration of this forever family (and cultural) staple in my kitchen.  From stuffed cornbread, to cornbread dressing, to herbed cornbread madeleines, or on its savory, delicious lonesome, cornbread will always have a place in my heart and home.


I’m sharing this recipe with all the sentiments of love and togetherness that it represents for me, and I hope you take it, enjoy it, and create your own fond memories filled with…


Happy Eating!


Hot Skillet Cornbread


Ingredients:
1 stick (8 ounces) unsalted butter
1 1/2 cups cornmeal
1 cup flour
1/3 cup sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1 1/2 cups milk
2 large eggs 

Heavy drizzle of honey (optional)

Instructions:

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.  Add butter to the skillet and place in the preheated oven for approx. 8 minutes, until butter is melted and golden.  

While the butter is melting and the skillet is heating through, in a medium bowl, add the cornmeal, flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt, and stir to combine. To the large bowl, add the milk, eggs and honey (if using). Toss in the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients and stir until just combined. 

Pour or spoon the batter into the skillet.  Bake for 20-22 minutes, until the cornbread is golden brown and the edges are browned (don't overbake!).  Remove from the oven, serve warm and enjoy! 


Baker's Note: Cornbread used for dressing can be made ahead and stored in the freezer for up to a month.




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