Tuesday, April 2, 2024

{Postcard From Cape Town}: The Best of South Africa's Mother City



To say it was looming on my travel bucket list for seemingly forever would be an understatement for how intensely I longed to visit the continent.  Not only because of my ancestral history and connection to the land, but because I genuinely anticipated taking in the vastness of its rich cultural, culinary, natural and historical landscapes.

Yet, my travels somehow continued to lead me elsewhere.  

And so, I finally made the personal determination that 2024 was my year to finally visit the Motherland.  I didn’t know where my footprint would land first, but as it happened, Cape Town, South Africa, was my portal into the continent I was longing to see and experience and behold the land of my origin.

It was a perfect introduction and fulfillment of my determination to finally get there, and I’m excited to share some of the highlights from my inaugural—but certainly not singular or final—entree into the continent of my travel dreams.

Marking my fifth continent visited to date (as a solo traveler, to boot), my anticipation for my arrival in Africa stirred so many emotions - excitement, wonder, belonging, connection and more—within me.

Embarking upon the Cape Town International Airport and finally settling my feet on the pavement outside of the airplane was a joyous moment--and one that remained throughout my visit and beyond.

If I had to characterize my stay in Cape Town, I’d say it was a veritable highlights reel of the best this destination has to offer—and I’m immensely grateful that I got to experience it all, amidst the gorgeous weather that crowned my visit.  From waterfronts, to mountain tops, wineries, safaris, cultural and culinary exposés, mixed with local art, cuisine and R&R, it was everything I could have wished for.

I spent my first day getting settled, enjoying a delicious lunch, and taking in the vibrant V&A (Virginia and Alfred) Waterfront, studded with yachts, shops, eateries, and bustling activity.  That soon led me to a highly anticipated museum exhibition—and with only an hour to spare until closing, I managed to take it all in (a feat for me), before heading to the stunning, adjacent hotel for a pre-dinner sip and gorgeous sunset views of majestic Table Mountain.  I wrapped the evening with an early-ish dinner and then it was back to my hotel for a wind-down in anticipation of an early start the next morning.

The days that ensued included forays in heart of—along with escapes to—various parts of Cape Town and the Western Cape.  I saw and indulged in glorious mountains, beaches, wine farms, local neighborhoods, markets, wildlife, restaurants, spas, and more, combined with connecting with exceptional locals and fellow travelers, alike.


And when the time for my departure finally arrived, you don't have to guess whether I was longing for more time to explore and enjoy this South African hallmark.

Now back home, I’m left with the treasure of indelible postcard memories that I will savor for a lifetime.  I hope this inspires you to seek out your own dream destinations (and to add Cape Town to your list!) and create experiences that will fuel you for years to come.

Happy Travels and Inspired Living!


Tuesday, February 13, 2024

Love and Chocolate


Love and chocolate!  A dynamic duo that fits all types of love and all types of chocolate.  And while I may not be able to make any promises about your love prospects (I'm sure they're fabulous, by the way!), I can promise you all the scrumptious chocolate eats that your heart and palette can hold.

So if you’re looking to make your Valentine’s Day a little sweeter, then I’ve got seven ways to make that happen in this roundup of my favorite chocolate recipes I've shared here over the years.

Choose one (or more) to express your love to those who are special to you and enjoy all the delicious goodness and good vibes that result. From morning to night, and all in between, these sweet treats are the perfect indulgence.

Chocolate Peanut Butter Cups

Chocolate Truffles

Chocolate Hazelnut Bark

Chocolate Croissants

Chocolate Chip and Sea Salt Cookies

Chocolate Sorbet

Raspberry-Topped Chocolate Cake

Here’s to love, chocolate, and Happy Eating!


Monday, November 6, 2023

Deck the Halls Mocktail + A Holiday Recipe Exchange!

This year, I'm excited to take part in Eat the Culture’s 2023 Holiday Recipe Exchange: Party Pairings for All the Holidays! Holidays often revolve around communal moments – sharing stories, laughter, and, of course, food. This year's roundup is all about those delightful 'lite bites' and drinks that set the tone for festive gatherings.

I had the pleasure of partnering with Ashley of Pink Owl Kitchen who crafted delicious New Orleans BBQ Shrimp. This dish pairs perfectly with my Deck the Halls Mocktail. 
Learn more about Eat the Culture and find a complete list of recipes from all participants here.  Share these recipes with your friends and loved ones and follow each participant by using the hashtags #HolidayswithETC, #PerfectPartyPairings, and #ETCHOLIDAYS2023  on Instagram.  

And speaking of the holidays, they have always represented the time of year where my favorite things combine (faith, family, friends--and food!) and ignite my merry-making.  With the backdrop of the world today, I'm anticipating the upcoming holiday season more than ever.  

And to celebrate the many special moments, gatherings, soon-to-come memories, and merriment, I'm toasting to this season--and decking the halls!--with a festive, effervescent and beautiful sip.  Cue my easy and fun Deck the Halls Mocktail

I'm talking a worthy signature drink (for easy entertaining) that's adaptable for any occasion from a kids' party, to a Girls' Night, to Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year's Eve, and beyond.  It's the drink that you'll love to sip and serve, again and again.  It's been in my holiday repertoire for a couple of holiday seasons now, and I'm thrilled to share and make your holidays all the merrier, brighter and tastier.  

A really special wow factor happens to be the festive ice cubes that serve the double duty of both chilling—and adorning—this drink.  Like mini frozen ornaments, they boast orange, rosemary, cranberry, and star anise.  A beautiful compliment to the gorgeous drink hue, these ice cubes elevate this drink and make it a feast for the eyes.

So now that we’re agreed that this will be making the rounds during the holiday season, let’s cheers to safe, festive… 

Happy Sipping!

Deck the Halls Mocktail


Festive Ice Cubes* (recipe to follow)

Ginger beer

Grenadine syrup

Orange slices  

Maraschino Cherries

Festive Ice Cubes:


Cranberries (frozen or fresh)

Orange Slices

Fresh rosemary sprigs

Star Anise


Special Equipment: Ice cube tray/mold


Place cranberries, an orange slice, rosemary sprigs and star anise into an ice cube mold or tray compartments.  Add water and freeze overnight.

Add festive ice cube(s) to a glass.  Pour over ginger beer.  Add a splash or two of grenadine. Garnish with orange slices and cherries. Enjoy and cheers to a fabulous holiday season!


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

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