Sunday, January 3, 2021

D.M.R. Fine Foods, The Blog, Celebrates 10 Years (Pt.3)


Soaking in my exceptional BHG Stylemaker Event in '18

Happy New Year! 

Without question, making it through 2020 was a feat--and one well worth celebrating. And before much more time in the new year elapses, I want to finalize my "blogiversary" celebration with this third installment covering the 2016-2019 years.

I hope you've enjoyed my walk down memory lane from the 2010-2012 and 2013-2015 installments and perhaps learned a bit more about me and what I've been up to on this front all of these years. Best of all, I hope you are inspired to stay connected with me in the days ahead because I like having you around. :)

In reflecting on the 2016-2019 years, they were years of continued momentum across many of the areas that had come to life and blossomed in the previous years, along with their own new noteworthy highlights.  So let's once again dive in--and enjoy!

2016

My 2016 highlights included the likes of more amazing travel, the continuation of my Holiday Pop Up Shop, my For the Love of Food monthly food column in Atlanta Tribune: The Magazine (2011-2019), continued food and lifestyle media coverage, more sponsored brand campaigns, including Groupon and Warby Parker, as well as PopSugar, being featured in the Vinings Lifestyle Magazine, and taking in that exquisite night to remember at the James Beard House in NYC that I was awarded in 2015, and enjoying a celebration among celebrations at the Red Rooster Harlem Cookbook launch party!! 

2017

My 2017 highlights reflect more amazing highs from my journey to date. From exceptional travel throughout the year, including another dynamic, hosted press trip to St. Croix in collaboration with United States Virgin Islands Tourism, it was another year for the travel books.

Beyond travel, the year brought on a new (and continuing) collaboration of epic proportions, with a cadre of fellow talented food bloggers, for a first of its kind Black History Month Virtual Potluck. It remains one of the key highlights of my blogging journey to date, as it gave more exposure and expression to our individual and collective voices, talents, stories and heritage, among each other, as well as on several renowned media platforms (including Food52, Blavity, Tasting Table, and more that would follow in the years to come.)   

My media footprint expanded(!!!)--to include television (a long-held dream of mine) via a series of holiday-themed segments on CBS46's, Atlanta Plugged In show, showcasing my recipes and entertaining tips, as well as a St. Croix travel radio segment that chronicled the best of the destination and travel planning tips, following my recent press trip earlier in the year.  

Continued collaborations, including existing and new media relations and social media campaigns, across more hotel, tourism, lifestyle and food brands, were definite highlights, along with more fashion media coverage for the Ragtrade Atlanta Fashion Week and Runway Show

2018

My 2018 highlights included more thrilling moments and experiences across the food, travel, lifestyle and media fronts.  From continued collaborations (BHM Potluck, food and lifestyle media relations and campaigns, etc.) epic travel, more sharing via television segments, this time on NBC's hit Atlanta and Company show, along with more fashion and lifestyle goodness from Saks to the Global Runway Fashion Presentation hosted by the Atlanta Airport, I couldn't make it all up, if I tried. :)

2018 was also the year I experienced one of my biggest honors on my journey to date: being selected as a 2018 BHG Stylemaker by Better Homes and Gardens magazine!!! An honor indeed, by all accounts, with the coveted spots reserved for a select few on an annual basis, I couldn't have been more thrilled to have been recognized by such a renowned and exceptional publication--and to have been in the company of my fellow ah-mazing Stylemakers--for an unforgettable event in New York City! From the day I was notified and invited until the very last moment of the event, I was beyond thrilled. (I know I keep saying it: but dreams do come true!)

2019

At the risk of sounding like a broken record, my 2019 highlights represented what was truly another phenomenal year.  As you might have guessed :), there was more epic travel (I added my fourth continent via Thailand and more new countries, states and cities to my footprint, as well as launching my own travel boutique), to more exceptional collaborations, media campaigns and recognition, across food, fashion, travel and lifestyle, including New York Fashion Week-adjacent media coverage at the MAN/WOMAN A/W 19 show, another phenomenal hosted press trip in collaboration with Arkansas Tourism, and a dream (to me) media collaboration with a long beloved brand, ESSENCE, among notable others.  

As I mentioned in an earlier post, my highlights always included my blog posts during the year, that were always done in tandem with every other amazing experience and opportunity throughout the years.  They can all be found in my archives section here on the blog, so feel free to indulge!

That brings us to the year we'll all never forget: 2020--and the actual culmination of my 10th blog anniversary, or "blogiversary", this past August.  So in keeping with my annual highlights tradition, I will dedicate a post to my 2020 highlights in very near future to conclude this memory bank/digital celebration of sorts. :)

I thank you for being here and being interested, engaged, supportive, connected and encouraging throughout my journey.  It has made it sweeter and all the more fulfilling--and I look forward to sharing more as the year unfolds. 

I wish you the best (healthiest, happiest, most fulfilling) year yet on your personal journey.

Happy Living!

Dawn

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Wednesday, December 23, 2020

D.M.R. Fine Foods, The Blog, Celebrates 10 Years (Pt. 2)



I'm excited to be back sharing more of the highlights and experiences that have made my D.M.R. Fine Foods blogging journey truly rewarding to date.  And I trust that the best is yet to come!  

In this installment, we're going down memory lane for the years of 2013-2015, and believe me when I tell you that they were some of the most progressive and thrilling years, following the amazing-ness of the early years.  So without further ado, let's keep this party train rolling!

2013

2013 highlights brought on the likes of amazing collaborations, including being a founding member of Popsugar Food Select which would segue into the publishing of five of my original recipes on the Popsugar platform and inclusion in additional round-ups, being acknowledged as Blogger of the Week among the cadre of fellow talented bloggers, and sponsored/ambassador campaigns for the Popsugar Must Have Box in the years to follow.  

My collaborations continued as a contributing blogger with the Travelista TV brand, expanding my reach for sharing my travel passion, tips and savvy with fellow travelistas far and wide.  Annnd, I saw another dream come true, as I embarked on my first (of several fully-sponsored/hosted) press trip to Puerto Vallarta, Mexico.  Furthering my voice as a travel journalist and working with tourism authorities, all while taking in the best of a destination, couldn't have been more thrilling and fueling to keep indulging my passions with wild abandon.

2014

And then there was 2014!!! With momentum from the previous years flowing nicely, 2014 highlights brought even more awe-inspiring experiences.  I caught the bug for teaching culinary skills and techniques, while making food a fun and delicious endeavor, during my William-Sonoma days and in 2014 ultimately parlayed that into the realization of  my very own cooking school. (Can you say, dream fulfilled?!). As the pop-up concept was starting to catch on, and with a full-time corporate career in tow, I decided on a pop-up concept that would launch in the Spring of 2014 to raving success.  You can take in more of the amazing highlights from my Techniques and Tastings (TM) Pop Up Cooking School--and stay tuned for future offerings from this well-beloved DMRFF offering.


And if my cooking school wasn't enough, I added another pop up concept, in the way of my Holiday Pop Up Shop, to the mix with our initial launch in December of 2014.  My love of sharing my food with the "masses" beyond the world of media and bespoke cooking classes, was realized in this one-day format where I brought forth many of the recipes that had become customer favorites from my Holiday Sweets and Treats Menu catering days.  Again, I say, stay tuned for more on this front!

I also continued furthering my media and collaboration footprint covering events like the Taste of Atlanta Food Festival, restaurant reviews, being a contributing writer to the Travel Noire platform and crowning the year with another epic, hosted press trip and tourism collaboration to St. Croix in the U.S. Virgin Islands!

2015

The hits just kept on coming with my 2015 highlights!  

I experienced more epic travel forays to new destinations (like Argentina and Uruguay) and repeat favorites (hello Paris and London and NYC), and more, to satisfy my travel passion. 

Back on the media/collaboration front, my footprint expanded to more festivals, including the highly regarded Atlanta Food and Wine Festival, along with more restaurant and food industry event reviews, including Restaurant Week indulgences and more.  I was also honored to have my first of four recipes, to date, published on the FeedFeed!

There was also the matter of having the James Beard Foundation give a nod to my food, accompanied by an award of dinner for two at the James Beard House!!!!! It still remains one of the most special memories in my journey to date--and a night I'll always remember. 

My byline credits expanded to include a lifestyle piece in the June 2015 issue of Upscale Magazine; another honor, indeed.  

And then there was yet another dream come true, as I received my first media invitation to cover the Daniel Silverstain SS16 New York Fashion Week collection (eeek!!!). To know me is to know my life-long (as in adolescent years forward) passion for fashion and my dream of attending fashion week someday.  

And to be clear, all of these highlights were in parallel with blogging my heart out here and staying connected through my social media channels. From 2010 until now, that has always been the format.

So much amazing-ness, so many memories, so much more goodness still to share.  I keep pinching myself and thanking God for all the richness this journey has served (and continues to add) to my life and expression as a creative.  Thank you for being here and for allowing me to share many of the good things that continue to make it worthwhile.  Stay tuned for more in the days ahead. :)

Happy Holidays!

Dawn


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Friday, December 18, 2020

Holiday Eats: Sugar and Spice Straws with Orange and Walnuts


I can barely think 'holidays' without thinking sugar and spice and everything nice.  So when I stumbled upon a sugar and spice rendition of classic cheese straws, you can guess my elation--and equal determination to bring them to life in my kitchen.

This past weekend, I made good on that promise and spent a sunlit Sunday afternoon baking these delicacies, while singing and bopping along to tunes from my Christmas playlists, while relishing the fragrant wafts that filled my kitchen.  (And because you know how seriously I take self care, creating moments of happy and bliss, like this, are a priority.  And even more so against the backdrop of 2020.  So remember to take time to be good to you.)


Back to the recipe, it marries the warmth of five spice and cinnamon to bright citrus--and sugar, of course. :) As an added bonus, walnuts give great texture, along with nutty goodness, and flaky puff pastry brings it all together.  So as you're warming your oven in the days ahead, add this easy recipe to your repertoire.  The results are gorgeous, to boot, so no one has to know what a cinch they were to make.  It'll be our little secret.

And if I haven't raved enough already, you can serve them any number of ways, from cocktail party bites, as a part of a cheese board, paired with bubbly, or as an anytime snack.  



However you indulge, you're in for...Happy Eating!

Sugar and Spice Straws with Orange and Walnuts

Ingredients:

3/4 cup sugar

2 tablespoons five spice powder

1 teaspoon cinnamon

Zest of an orange

1/2 cup walnuts, finely chopped 

2 sheets frozen puff pastry, thawed


Method:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F

In a small bowl, combine sugar, five spice and cinnamon.

Roll out each pastry sheet to approximately 11in. square (no need to stress; just do your best, like I did!) Sprinkle half the sugar mixture evenly on one sheet. Follow with walnuts and orange zest.

Take the second sheet and lay directly on top of the first sheet.  Sprinkle remaining sugar mixture on top. Use rolling pin and roll out further (you'll also be pressing the sugar into the pastry by doing this) in one direction to form a rectangle that's approximately 11in. x 13in. 

Cut into 1/2 in. strips and transfer to a parchment lined baking sheet. (I used two to space them out.) Hold both ends and twist 3-4 times to form a spiral.  Pinch ends tightly to avoid unraveling while in the oven.  Bake for 15-20 minutes, rotating sheet pan(s) once, until deep golden brown.

Allow to cool on sheet pan.  Serve and enjoy!

Recipe adapted from Peter Som

 


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Tuesday, December 15, 2020

5 Tips for Stress-Free Holiday Travel

Memories from Florence, Italy
 While the prospect of holiday travel can come with excitement and anticipation of enjoying an amazing getaway, it can also bring its unique set of challenges. To help you make the most of your holiday travels (and beyond), here are five tips to keep in tow:

1. Embrace Your Inner Early Bird or Night Owl for Going To and Fro —Planning for very early or very late typically results in lighter crowds and clutter on the road, on the train, or as you’re trying to get through airport security.

2. Pack Light —I’m still working on this one, admittedly, but a lighter load allows for carry-on ease, minimizing the stress (and extra $$) associated with checked baggage in the case of air travel. Plus it’s all-around easier to manuever across multi-destinations.

3. Avoid Tight Connections —Because despite the best laid plans, delays sometimes occur. And nothing shrieks stress like the possibility of missing a connection,

4. Stay Powered Up —If you’ve ever glanced at your phone to see that low battery warning staring back, then you know the angst of not having enough juice for the journey. Make sure your mobile devices and portable chargers are fully powered before leaving home.

5. Get Organized —Gather important documentation, such as passports, boarding passes, itineraries, etc. and keep them organized and easily accessible. In the case of international travel, check sites like the State Department for relevant travel requirements, advisories, country information and related updates.

Now, you’re more ready than ever to enjoy…

Happy Travels!

This article originally appeared on Postcard Travel Boutique

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Saturday, December 12, 2020

D.M.R. Fine Foods, The Blog, Celebrates 10 Years! (Pt. 1)


Time flies when you’re having fun and you look up one day to realize that your blog is ten years old and counting.  Ten years (*throws confetti*)!  It’s an amazing milestone for me, personally, as I think back to where it all began.

 

For a bit of catch up, before there was D.M.R. Fine Foods, the blog, there was D.M.R. Fine Foods in its solely food-centric incarnation that was born out of an idea that came to life during the holiday season of 2007.  So we’re celebrating 13 years of existence (woot, woot), with the companion blog having arrived on the scene 10 years ago.  This post reveals more details on my start and food story.

 

So back to the blog, as I’ve shared before, when I began, it was purely out of a passion to share my love for all things culinary, with no idea who would read, engage and find joy in my corner of the world wide web.  It was a disposition that has served me well and allowed me to remain true to the passions that brought the brand, and subsequently, the blog, to life.  To share, inspire, aspire, create and grow, authentically and organically.  And I could not have asked for a more blessed and thrilling journey to date.

 

As I take time to celebrate many of the special moments that have constituted this ride throughout the past ten years, I will be highlighting them here on the blog and on my social media channels and email list, so be sure you’re connected with me!  I believe my story is one of what’s possible when you dare to believe, share your gifts, put your best foot forward, trust God and nurture a growth mindset.  Despite the odds (or number of followers, subscribers, etc., and some of the other vanity metrics that often label “success".)  For me, quality has always outweighed quantity.  I’m proud of the work I produce, whether it’s on my blog platform, as a micro-influencer on my social media channels, an event host, a food writer, brand ambassador, media liaison, and so on.  Please know, if you put our your best (not someone else’s, but your personal best), that someone will feel it.  And quality work will live long beyond the latest trends, fads, etc. 

 

But rather than tell you, I also want to show what’s possible with that ethos in tow.  I’m happy to share that I’ve seen many of my dreams literally come true with D.M.R. Fine Foods, in what felt like serendipitous fortune.  So without further ado, let’s get this party started!!

 

The Early Years, 2010-2012:

 

My first blog post was published on August 15, 2010 and the blog was dedicated mostly to the culinary spectrum at the outset, but would soon expand in scope to embrace more of passions.  Besides my enthused foodie and recipe sharing on the blog, I experienced highlights such as:

 

Meeting and cooking with one of my favorite chefs (2010)

 

Being given my very own monthly food column, For the Love of Food, for a renowned regional publication, Atlanta Tribune: The Magazine, that would run in print publication and eventually also digitally for eight years! (2011-2019)

 

Winning a CookingChannel Recipe Contest and all the amazing accouterments, including having my recipe published on CookingChanneltv.com (2011)

 

Being a Guest Chef at Williams-Sonoma (2011)

 

Expanding my blog scope to include my travel and lifestyle passions (2011-present)

 

Being a featured contributor for Recipe Lion (2011)

 

Meeting, growing and collaborating with my community of fellow food and lifestyle bloggers and foodies (2010- present)

 

Collaborating with and having my work featured on Yahoo! (2012)

 

Being featured in HuffPost Taste (2012)

 

And more!

 

So you see, so much goodness can happen in a very short time span (and this was before Instagram was a boom! ;))

 

I look forward to continuing my celebration over the remaining weeks of 2020 and hope these shares will inspire you to pursue your dreams and passions and embrace wherever they may lead.

 

xo,

Dawn

 

 



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Thursday, November 19, 2020

Pumpkin Spiced Bundt Cake


So my recent baking spree continues.  And this time I’m leaning into an uber moist and scrumptious (truly, truly) Pumpkin Spiced Bundt Cake.  Honestly speaking, if calories and such were simply a figment of the imagination, I’d be baking around the clock.  Because…dessert! :)  But alas, reality bites at times, so I try to do myself the favor of not having too many sweet, homemade delicacies on hand.

 

Still, the desire to bake (for the first time this year, I realized) a pound cake in my beautiful bundt pan outweighed any aforementioned caution. ;)  And last Sunday made way for joyous moments dedicated to baking (and relishing) this delicious confection.

 

 

While I take my pumpkin spice indulgences on the lighter side, the pumpkin helps to make this one of the moistest cakes you’ll ever taste, with a gorgeous color, to boot, and coupled with the warm, flavor-full spices, it goes down nice and easy, bite after bite after bite.  And maybe a little too easily in my case; but hey, we have to take our pleasures as they come, no?

 


 

So not one to keep a great thing (especially a great recipe) to myself, I’m sharing this in time for your very own baking indulgence to celebrate Fall, the holidays, or simply continuing to survive the “wonder” that is 2020.  No matter the reason, you’ll be so glad you baked this cake.  And you’ll be overwhelmed with….

 

Happy Eating!

 

Pumpkin Spiced Bundt Cake

 

Ingredients:

3 cups all-purpose flour

2 ¼ cups of sugar

1 can (15 oz.) pumpkin

3 eggs, room temperature

2 teaspoons baking soda

1 cup canola oil

½ teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1 teaspoon allspice

1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice

¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Confectioner’s sugar

 

Method:

Preheat oven to 350° F.

 

Grease cake pan liberally (I used cooking spray) and set aside.

 

In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, salt, baking soda, and spices.  Set aside.

 

In a stand-mixer, combine the sugar and oil until well blended (2-3 minutes).  Blend in eggs one at a time, incorporating each fully, before adding the next.  Add in vanilla and blend further.  Add in flour mixture, alternating in batches with the pumpkin until all ingredients are blended in.

 

Pour batter into prepared cake pan and bake in heated oven for 60-65 minutes, or until a cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean, with no crumbs.

 

Let the cake rest and cool for 10-15 minutes before inverting onto a plate or wire rack.  Dust (I used a small mesh strainer) the cake with as much confectioner’s sugar as desired—and enjoy!

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Sunday, November 8, 2020

{Easy Fall Baking}: Apple Crisp

 


There’s something about Fall that turns up my love for baking.  If I had to put a pulse on it, I’d say it’s the cooler, crisp weather coupled with warm and cozy fare that gets me every time.  Oh, and apple season.

Since forever, apples have been one of my favorite fruits, so it’s a no-brainer that combining them with scrumptious flavors like fragrant spices and citrus make them a star-ingredient in my kitchen.  From tarts, to crostatas, apples and baking are a winning combination for me.

 

As much as that is true, it was somewhat ironic that I had never baked an apple crisp until this past weekend.  I say ironic because it was a favorite dessert treat growing up.  In fact, I was introduced to apple crisp as a part of the occasional dessert round-up for my school lunches, and although I found most of the lunches to be not so great, and happily farmed mine off to my eager classmates (my mom didn’t appreciate that, lol!), apple crisp was one of the few dishes (along with peanut butter cookies, pizza and burgers) that elicited excitement.  Sounds like a child’s palette, no?

 


Despite having a grandmother who turned the apples from the apple tree in my grandparents' backyard into decadent homemade apple pies that food dreams are made of, I still fell for those little servings of apple crisp on the lunch trays. And this past weekend, I revived those childhood memories and tastes in my own kitchen, discovering, to my delight, that apple crisp will always do it for me.  (I baked a peach crisp over the summer that was addictively good, so I was biding my time for apple season to finally arrive, so I could recreate the goodness all over again.)

 

Beyond the memories and delicious indulgence, the ease in which this dessert comes together makes it star-worthy.  With the toss of a few ingredients, it’s oven-ready and primed to be baked to perfection with the bonus of that “something delicious is baking aroma” wafting through your kitchen. 

 

Served hot from the oven, topped with ice cream for extra decadence (yes, please!), it’s baked perfection in a dish and the best kind of…

 

Happy Eating!

 

Apple Crisp

 

Ingredients:

¾ cup flour

¼ cup light brown sugar

½ teaspoon salt

½ cup plus 2 tablespoons granulated sugar

8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, cold, and diced into cubes

1 cup old-fashioned rolled oats

3 lbs. apples (I prefer Granny Smith)

2 tablespoons lemon juice

2 teaspoons cinnamon

 

Method:

Preheat oven to 375° F.

 

In a large bowl, mix together the flour, brown sugar, salt, 1 teaspoon cinnamon, and 2 tablespoons granulated sugar.  Cut butter into flour, using a pastry blender or two knives, until mixture is the texture of coarse meal.  Add oats and use your hands to toss and squeeze mixture until large, moist clumps form.  Place in freezer to chill while you prepare the apples.

 

In another large bowl, toss apples with lemon juice, 1 teaspoon cinnamon, and ½ cup granulated sugar.  Transfer to a 2-quart baking dish and sprinkle with the oat topping mixture.  Place in preheated oven and bake until golden and bubbling, 55 to 65 minutes.  Let cool slightly before serving—and enjoy!

 

Recipe adapted from Martha Stewart

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