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


Saturday, May 27, 2017

{Taste of Atlanta}: Davio's Northern Italian Steakhouse

It's no secret that Atlanta has become quite the burgeoning foodie town.  While the gamut from quaint eateries, to top-tier restaurants, and more, dot the dining trail, it can sometimes feel like mission impossible to take it all in.  And then, if you're fortunate, you happen upon what could be considered a somewhat hidden gem.

Such was my lot on a recent balmy Spring evening, as I dined al fresco on the covered patio at Davio's, a northern Italian steakhouse nestled among the shops of Phipps Plaza.  The evening unfolded with chilled sips, passed hors d'oeuvres (perfectly fried oysters, anyone?), and a decadently satisfying multiple course dinner.

As we took our places at the beautifully dressed tables, I became wowed with course after course of the freshest, seasonal Italian fare.  From succulent filet, to moist and flaky halibut, it was some of the best surf and turf I've tasted.  And dessert?  Luscious panna cotta and trays of macarons and chocolate truffles, truly.  Have a peek at the menu below (apologies if it makes you hungry as you're reading.)

Davio's offers convenient, upscale dining at one of Atlanta's shopping hallmarks--and is a must-try for resident locals and visitors, alike. And if you're really fortunate, you may even receive a personal welcome from the lively owner, himself.

Put it on your dining bucket list--and thank me later.

Happy Eating!

Friday, May 12, 2017

Homemade Marinara and Meatballs with Creamy Polenta

Sundays and homemade comfort food go way back in my family.  From my youngest memories, I can recall coming together for Sunday dinner (whether with the extended village at my grandparents' home or the more intimate connection of my immediate family) and relishing the delight of a homemade feast of some sort.  And while the tradition isn't observed every Sunday (or even every other Sunday, if I'm being completely honest), I have carried the awe and ode to Sunday dinner, made up of good ole' comfort food, with me into my own adult world.

Last Sunday was one such instance.  Making my favorite homemade meatballs and marinara sauce was the highlight of my cooking foray.  And it was all things comforting--the relative ease of bringing the dish together, the anticipation of enjoying the finished product, memories of sharing this beloved dish in days gone by, and the welcomed twist I decided to add.

I broke with my tradition of serving my meatballs and marinara with pasta (linguine, to be exact) and recalled my desire to serve them over polenta one day, as inspired by Chef, Michael Chiarello.  And one day had come.  It was exactly the beautiful, finished dish that I was aiming for--and no less scrumptious.  (The Italians know their stuff!)  A big family style platter of the best comfort food you could imagine was the takeaway for happy mouths and satisfied tummies. 

I must add that this recipe doesn't require a Sunday, or a crowd, to make and enjoy.  It comes together easily enough to match a fast-paced weeknight equally as well as a lazy, indulgent weekend. 

So you choose when and where to indulge and savor....Happy Eating!

Recipe: Homemade Marinara and Meatballs with Creamy Polenta (simply substitute pasta for quick cooking polenta and enjoy!)

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

{Style Files}: How the Met Gala 2017 Red Carpet Was Slayed

Zendaya, Dolce & Gabbana
Raindrops on roses...whiskers on kittens...bright copper kettles...and Met Gala red carpets.  These are a few of my favorite things.  And last night's red carpet fashion came through in the oft-predictable, glam-slam style that fashion enthusiasts have come to know and love.

LaLa Anthony, Thai Nguyen Atelier
Kylie Jenner, Donatella Versace
I could barely contain myself as Instagram posts and streaming footage, coupled with television coverage, began offering up the starlet looks of the evening.  This year's gala, in honor of Commes des Garcon, brought anticipation of the over-the-top whimsy and flair of many a Met Gala gone by.  But most consistently, it was sighting after sighting of sheer...beauty.  You know the kind of fashion that makes you (okay, that makes me) want to holler?  Yes, those feelings were definitely in operation as I pinned, tweeted, insta-storied and snap-chatted some of my favorites. 

Halle Berry, Donatella Versace
Jennifer Lopez, Valentino
Priyanka Chopra, Ralph Lauren
These looks are the ones that I found to be most stunning and worthy of a little Monday night distraction, even as I told myself that I didn't have time for it.  (But as life has proven, we somehow make the time for what we truly want.)  I wanted all the fashion slaying--and it was served.  Artistically and beautifully so. From fairy-tale, to seductive, to old-world glamour and elegance, to edgy chicness, the style gamut was in full display. 

Cassie, on aura tu vu
Lori Harvey, Dolce & Gabbana

Which is your favorite?  For more Met Gala fashion inspiration, go here.

Happy Styling!

Photo Credits: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8


Monday, May 1, 2017

{Be Inspired!}: Spring Fling

Although today began on a rainy note, I'm counting on the old adage, "April showers bring May flowers", to prove truer than ever.  I'm anticipating the growth, life, renewal, beauty and full on 'bloom' that Spring represents, as new beginnings and a healthy dose of inspiration beckon me to embrace the gift of life like never before. 

I'm having a fling with Spring--and sharing some of my favorite seasonal inspirations ala my favorite go-to to help you do the same.  As you might have guessed, my girly girl sentiments shine through. :)

I'd like to know how you're embracing the season and staying inspired.  Share with me and let's inspire one another!

Here's to...Happy Inspired Living!

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