Sunday, April 30, 2023

Chocolate Hazelnut Bark

Few things tantalize me like chocolate and nuts, combined.  Peanuts, almonds, cashews, hazelnuts--you name it!  It's a forever combination made in heaven for me.

But there's something especially scrumptious about chocolate and hazelnuts.  So when I recently came across a video touting the two in a delicious bark, I knew I had to bring the goodness to life in my own kitchen.  

Following church today, I made good on that promise and a three-ingredient star was born (I added sea salt to finish, in case you're wondering).  It takes sheers minutes to bring together, followed by an hour or so to set in the freezer--and you've got the best noshing at your fingertips.

Whether it's a casual (healthy-ish) sweet fix or a dessert course, it eats (and satiates) all the same.  

Here's to your own batch in your kitchen and guaranteed...Happy Eating!

Chocolate Hazelnut Bark


6 oz. semi-sweet chocolate

8 oz. hazelnuts

Sea salt to finish (optional)


Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Place hazelnuts in preheated oven and roast for 10-12 min.

Remove roasted hazelnuts and place them in a clean kitchen towel. Using towel, rub skins off of the hazelnuts (don't worry if they don't all come off) and set hazelnuts aside.

Melt chocolate in a double boiler (place a heat-proof bowl over a pot of simmering water, being careful not to allow the bottom of the bowl to touch the water) and stir chocolate until completely melted.  Remove chocolate from heat and stir in hazelnuts.

Pour chocolate-hazelnut mixture onto a parchment lined baking tray.  Sprinkle with sea salt, if using.

Place tray in freezer and allow bark to set, 1-2 hours.

Remove from freezer and enjoy!


Friday, March 31, 2023

Postcard From San Francisco: 6 Top Ways To Spend 24 Hours or Less


If you’re looking to make the most of a visit to San Francisco, I’ve got you covered.  During my latest jaunt to 'The City by the Bay', I took in six highlights that will make your visit unforgettable for all the right reasons.  And did I mention that you can do it all in a day or less?!

Here’s my itinerary for some of the best loved sights, attractions, and food, in the city—replete with memories to last a lifetime:

  1. Ghirardelli Square - chocolate lover or not, this San Francisco staple is worth a whiz.  Serving beautiful views, quaint shops, and, of course, Ghirardelli goodness (think delectable candies, hot chocolate, ice cream sundaes, and more), it’s a scrumptious slice of the San Francisco pie.

  1. Fisherman’s Wharf -  from my first visit to San Francisco many years ago, to my most recent visit, a stroll around Fisherman’s Wharf is a must-do.  Beyond the water and boat views, there is the matter of restaurants serving up seafood, the famous sourdough bread, clam chowder and more!  I went for a classic lunch of clam chowder served in a sourdough bread bowl at Boudin, but the options are seemingly endless, for whatever whets your appetite.  Final tip: come hungry and prepare to linger a while.

  1. A short bay cruise to take in views of the San Francisco cityscape, the Golden Gate Bridge and Alcatraz is a surefire delight and bang for your buck.  One hour and $20 later, you’ll have great photos, a bit of history under your belt, and lasting postcard memories in-hand.

  1. Hop on a cable car to Union Square.  A repeat indulgence of mine when I visit, cable cars are quintessential San Francisco and a charming way to make your way to key attractions in the city.  Conveniently located at the Wharf and other city points, you can hop on a one-way or round trip car.  For all day travel, you can also opt for a visitor passport.  I enjoyed a one-way ride to Union Square for $8, proving it’s also a more affordable way to go than local taxis and ride shares.

  1. Strolling and shopping in trendy Union Square.  If you’re looking to do some shopping while visiting, there’s no better place to get it in than in Union Square.  Spanning several blocks, enjoy the outdoors while walking from shop to shop and taking in more of the San Francisco landscape.

  1. The Ferry Building.  A destination within a destination, the Ferry Building is expansive and, as the name implies, is home to San Francisco’s ferry, along with coffee shops, restaurants, bookstores, and more, with water views and ferry rides awaiting, to boot.  I wrapped my evening in San Francisco with an al fresco dinner at the Hog Island Oyster Company (recommended as a must-try by Eater San Francisco), that was the perfect seal to a great day of casual delights.

Whether you visit for several hours, a day, or beyond, you’ll enjoy these San Francisco staples that continue to delight visitors again and again with lasting postcard memories.

Happy Travels!


Sunday, February 26, 2023

The Perfect Fried Chicken


Over my years of living, it’s fair to say that I’ve relished my share of fried chicken.  Much of my experience came as I grew up and feasted on my grandmother’s and mother’s fried chicken—both exceptional.  

I have so many precious memories of my grandmother hosting a dinner replete with her fried chicken (expertly fried in her cast iron skillet) and whatever else she added to the menu.  It was always clear, to me at least, that the fried chicken was the main event—the star—of the meal.  And if I may go further back in my heritage, she inherited her skills honestly from her mother, my great-grandmother, who won awards and was written up in the local paper for her fried chicken way back in the early 20th century.  

So great, award-winning, exceptionally delicious—dare I say, perfect—fried chicken is in my genes.   I truly did get it from my mamas (great grandmama to grandmama to my mama.)  As I have a way of doing, I’ve slightly adapted my own approach to making “finger-licking good” fried chicken in the years since.  And because it’s not a dish that I make often these days, when I do, it has to be GREAT!  I mean, I can’t be bothered with the additional mess of frying, and the extra calories, for mediocre chicken.  Anybody?

So before I delve into what makes my chicken the fried chicken you never knew you needed, allow me to share the two elements to achieving the perfect fried chicken:

Moist, flavor-filled meat; and 

Crispy, crunchy (and flavor-laden) skin.

That’s it.  

Flavor, crunch, and juicy chicken is what we came for, no?

So without further ado, let’s get into it a few key techniques to make your next batch of fried chicken, your best batch yet.

Getting the Juiciest Meat:

If you’re familiar with my tips for the best turkey, then you know that brining is an essential in my arsenal.  The same applies for the juiciest fried chicken.  A quick (2-3 hours will work) brine in a salt, sugar solution is worth the payoff in making your chicken the most moist and tender bird.  (*Cook’s Note: if you prefer a buttermilk brine, be my guest.  It will work equally well, I just don’t prefer the strong buttermilk notes it infuses into the chicken.)

The Spice Is Right:

As a long-time spice girl, who must have flavor bite after bite, I use my custom fried chicken spice blend to make my chicken unforgettably scrumptious.  The key ingredients are kosher salt, freshly ground black pepper, celery salt, cayenne pepper,  garlic powder and smoked paprika. (*Cook’s Note: I use my spice blend to season both the chicken and the flour mixture for extra goodness.) 

The Perfect Frying Temperature:

For perfectly done, golden brown chicken, you want to fry it at a temperature of 350 degrees F.  To maintain this temperature and to ensure your chicken actually fries to a golden crisp, rather than steams or burns, in the oil, avoid over-crowding your frying pan/pot and keep an eye on the oil temperature throughout. This may require working in batches, but it will be worth it in the end!  Aim for 160 degrees F (dark meat) to 165 degrees (white meat) for perfect doneness.  

Tools to Have On Hand:

I recommend a deep-frying or candy thermometer to measure and monitor the temperature of the oil (sometimes it can cool down a bit as you add in new pieces or unexpectedly get too hot).  I additionally recommend an instant-read thermometer to test doneness.  A baking rack will also come in handy, if you have one available. 

For more of my tips and techniques, you can checkout my fried chicken tutorial where I walk you through all of the steps and show you my end results. Refer to it as often as needed.

Now that we’ve gotten all of that in place, let’s get on to what really matters…

Happy Eating!

The Perfect Fried Chicken


Skin-on chicken legs (or whatever cuts you prefer)


2 cups all-purpose flour or more, as needed

2 tablespoons cornstarch

Quart of canola, vegetable, or peanut oil for frying

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1 teaspoon garlic powder

1 teaspoon celery salt

1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1 teaspoon smoked paprika

For Brine:

1/4 cup salt

1/4 cup sugar


*Gauge ingredient quantities based on the amount of chicken you’re frying and adjust accordingly.


Mix brine solution, add chicken, and brine in the refrigerator for two hours up to overnight.

Remove chicken from the refrigerator and the brine solution. Pat the chicken with paper towels until completely dry and set aside.

Mix salt, pepper, celery salt, garlic powder, cayenne and paprika together.  Mix flour and cornstarch together. Generously season chicken and flour mixture.

Dip chicken pieces in buttermilk, followed by the flour mixture, to coat.  Let chicken rest on a baking rack for 15-20 minutes before frying.

When ready to fry, heat oil to 350 degrees F in a heavy-bottomed pan (like a Dutch Oven) or deep-fryer.  Add chicken into oil and fry until done, approximately 8-10 minutes or so (use your thermometer to test doneness, however!).

Place fried chicken on a baking rack over a baking sheet/tray to drain any excess oil and lightly sprinkle the hot chicken with a bit of salt or more of the seasoning blend, if desired.  

Serve and enjoy!!


Thursday, January 26, 2023

{In Case You Missed It}: 2022 Highlights


Happy New Year! 

I know we’re nearing the end of this first month of the year, but hopefully you will still accept my my wishes for your to enjoy your best year yet in 2023—while I share my perennial highlights from 2022. This tradition started way back in 2013, and I truly enjoy recapping my highlights from each year.  It’s part ode to all the ways DMRFF continues to add to my journey and dreams and part keeping up with my journey and its evolution, year over year.

So in case you missed some or all of our footprint in 2022, here are the key highlights from my DMRFF world:


2022 brought more goodness on the food front, in particular with recipes that I brought to life in my kitchen and shared here on the blog.  From frittatas, to brussels sprouts, cheesecake, zucchini muffins, pralines and more, it was another delicious year, indeed. If you missed any of them, it's never too late to dive in!

Beyond the kitchen, I engaged in collaborations with notable food brands.  In honor of Black History Month, I collaborated with the FeedFeed and shared this recipe. I also collaborated with America’s Test Kitchen and had the privilege of reviewing and promoting their fabulous cookbook, Vegan Cooking for Two.

Lifestyle and Beauty:

Fragrance has been a part of my “get ready” beauty regimen seemingly forever and I shared my favorite tips for getting the most out of your scents, including tips for layering  and how to make your fragrance linger longer.  


My travel escapades in 2022 took me back to repeat, favorite destinations including Los Cabos, Mexico, Savannah, New Orleans, Destin, New York City and Phoenix. Each getaway offered up fresh experiences and memories, proving there’s always more to explore no matter how often you visit a destination.

The Cherries on Top:

The year also brought in the special honor of being selected as a 2022 Better Homes and Gardens Style Maker for the 3rd time (with the previous honors in 2018 and 2021).  This year’s celebration took place in NYC and boasted a day of learning from industry experts, connecting with fellow Style Makers, and culminating in a beautiful soiree overlooking the Hudson River in celebration of the magazine’s 100th anniversary.  It was an affair to remember and an honor, indeed, to be recognized by this prestigious  publication and brand.

This year was laced with many proud moments and accomplishments, including the publication of my first book, which represented a dream come true.  Along with fulfilled career goals, ministry, and relationships, I am very grateful for all the goodness I was blessed to experience last year, including the opportunity to share with you.

Thank you for being here in my corner of the world and for allowing me to continue to share my passions with you.  

Here’s to the Happiest of New Years…

xo, Dawn


Friday, December 23, 2022



When New Edition sang the song, Candy Girl, they were singing to me—and my unabashed sweet tooth.  To say I love candy is the greatest of understatements, because I actually looooove candy.

And when it comes to these confectionery delights, I especially enjoy them during the holidays.  Growing up, my mom always set out her glass candy jars filled with candies for my sister and me, along with family members and “dropper-byers”, alike, to relish.

Then something really special happened exactly 15 years ago, when D.M.R. Fine Foods was born during the holiday season.  And our inaugural offering?  A Holiday Sweets & Treats menu filled with sweet and savory goodness, including decadent homemade candies.

So it’s no wonder that I was inspired to bring another candy recipe to life in my kitchen last weekend—inspired by my latest jaunt to New Orleans this past Summer—and the tastes that have long been favorites of my pecan-loving family.


So unbelievably easy and quick to bring together, you can make and nosh on these goodies whenever your heart and palate desires.  I gifted most of my batch (a bit selfishly motivated by the consequences of keeping them on hand in my home and the residual fallout to my waistline), so you can do the same for friends, family, colleagues—or just enjoy them all to yourself, if you’re not willing to part with the nutty, decadent goodness.

This recipe rendition hails form the New Orleans School of Cooking where I spent an afternoon learning more about the history, culture, people, cuisine, and techniques that make Creole and Cajun cuisines so exceptional, while watching classic dishes come to life, and eating to my heart’s content.

So here’s to making your holidays—and beyond—extra sweet and to Happy Eating!



1 1/2 cup sugar

3/4 cup light brown sugar, packed

1/2 cup milk

6 tablespoons butter (3/4 stick)

1 1/2 cup pecans (roasted optional—but recommended)

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Special Equipment:

A Candy Thermometer


Combine all ingredients in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil achieving “softball stage” (*238-240 degrees) Cook’s Note: watch carefully to avoid sticking and burning on the bottom.

Remove from heat.  Stir until mixture (stirring constantly) becomes creamy and cloudy, and pecans stay suspended in mixture.  Spoon out on buttered waxed paper or parchment.  Enjoy!

Cook’s Note: when using waxed paper, be sure to buffer with newspaper underneath, as hot wax will transfer to whatever is underneath.

Roasted Pecans: Bake them on a sheet pan at 275 degrees F for 20 to 25 minutes, until slightly browned and fragrant.

Options:  Praline Sauce (add 1/2 cup corn syrup to mixture.)  Chocolate covered praline candy.  Flavored pralines (chocolate, coffee, brandy, etc.)

**Makes 1-50 Pralines depending on size.

*Recipe adapted from the New Orleans School of Cooking


Sunday, November 13, 2022

{Star Ingredient Round-Up}: Butternut Squash 3 Ways


Inspiration and preparation remain two of my very favorite ‘super powers’ and especially so when it comes to the big wide world of cooking.  Added emphasis when cooking for an occasion, a special someone(s), or to simply make good use of the food that’s been lingering in my fridge, on my countertops, and in my pantry.

Enter the genius I affectionately label as star ingredients.  Translation: one ingredient transformed in myriad ways and dishes.  As we make our way into the holiday season, I want to share a few variations on one of my absolute favorite seasonal ingredients, butternut squash.

My round-up includes recipes that can deliver as exceptional side-dishes, main courses, and appetizers:

Hasselback Butternut Squash with Maple Butter

Butternut Squash Galette

Butternut Squash Soup

Want more of this delicacy?  Simply search butternut squash and enjoy even more…

Happy Eating!


Sunday, September 11, 2022

{Be Inspired!}: My New Published Book


Throughout the years, I’ve shared the importance of my faith with my DMRFF family. And now I’m thrilled to build on that sharing with an ode to what faith and purpose have made possible in my life, in the way of my new book, Words of Life: Power Devotionals for Successful Living.

Just as I celebrate all the things that represent the good life to me, from cuisine, to culture, to community, to travel, lifestyle topics and more, I had to let you in on the celebration for this wonderful accomplishment and milestone in my ministry journey.

After decades of writing, including ghost writing book manuscripts for others, the time finally came to realize one of my greatest dreams: becoming a published author.  And beyond the goal of becoming an author, is the greater aspiration of imparting the faith, hope, encouragement, wisdom, lessons, and so much more, that have carried me through every season of life in stride with God and His goodness.

I’m so excited for this volume to be out in the world and available to all who will partake of the truths packaged in the 80 devotional messages and companion affirmations (a.k.a. power confessions).  And if that’s you, I’m thrilled for the blessing it will add to your spiritual and personal growth journeys.

I more than welcome you to grab your copy and enjoy loads of…

Happy, Inspiring, Uplifting, Impactful Reading!

*Also available online at Amazon | Barnes and Noble | Walmart and more!

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