Hello friends! First post of 2015, here we go! I don’t believe in having resolutions (I feel like I’m setting myself up for failure with those), but I do believe in keeping goals that will always ground me (my faith, family, health, friends, and business). Never easy sometimes, but I’ve learned to appreciate the times with my family so much more than I did in the past. Maybe it’s because I’m getting older, (haha…and wiser) but this past year I’ve really challenged myself to carve out more, intentional time for my family, my husband, which as silly as it does sound, feeds my soul and in turn, I find that my work is better, more focused and everything just flows. Wow, didn’t think I was going to take it there to start out 2015, but I guess it is natural for all of us to take this time, especially January, to reflect.
One of our final shoots to wrap up 2014 was in partnership with Southern Weddings, a publication and blog I hold near and dear to my heart. They were working on a Holiday Dessert Round Up, and they wanted me to share some of my favorite recipes. I thought this would be hard for me–I mean, I love to bake, but to come up with two recipes I thought readers would connect with, was not as hard as I thought.
Thankfully Shay Cochrane from Shay Cochrane Photography, is an amazing commercial photographer, that I’ve had the pleasure working with on more than one occasion and has an uncanny ability to take my vision, props and work her usual magic. Shay, if you are reading this–thank you–you are an artist!
Happy 2015 friends! I hope it’s a great one!
Southern Newlywed Series: Dessert Feature
Heart Shape Strawberry-Nutella Filled “Mini-Pies”
These pies are delicious and once you get a good feel for the recipe, there are endless variations to it, which is really fun (hellloooo–Valentine’s ideas!). The prep time may seem a bit long, but this is one recipe that never “feels” long since the steps are fairly easy. This particular recipe has been tweeked a bit between me and my mom. The two of us love to work on this one, together! We don’t get to spend as much time as we like, together so this time is especially sacred between us.
Serves: 12. Prep time: 40 minutes. Cook time: 23-25 minutes
1 pie crust dough (feel free to use store bought or if you have time, from scratch. There are some really, easy pie crust recipes out there!).
2 cups of strawberries, cut very small
2 tablespoons of sugar
1 teaspoon of strawberry jam
1 ½ teaspoons of Nutella
Flour (for the dough)
2 egg whites, lightly beaten, with a splash of water.
Heart cookie cutter, recommend 2 ½ to 3 inch size
Candy coated wafers, for dipping. Optional. *See RECIPE NOTES
Sprinkles, optional. *See RECIPE NOTES
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Take a large, baking sheet and cover with parchment paper, with a very light coat of non-stick cooking spray.
- While oven is pre heating, start rolling out your dough (with flour) until it is nice and smooth (approximately ¼ thick). When your dough is ready, begin to use your cookie cutter—in this case, you should be able to get out at least 18-20 hearts. I always take scraps, and recombine them to squeeze out a few more if I can.
- Now in a bowl, take your strawberries (diced very small), sugar, strawberry jam and Nutella, and combine all together. The jam is great in this case because it cuts the tartness of the strawberries for a more balanced flavor.
- Once you have all your ingredients combined, take teaspoon and put a dollop of filling in the center of half of your hearts (the other half will be reserved for the top of the heart!). The first time I went through this part I was very worried about putting too much filling, or too little, or that they wouldn’t look totally perfect. Do not worry! The beauty of this recipe, and pies, is that they don’t have to look perfect—just think if it as (cough, cough), more “rustic looking!”
- When you’ve put your filling on top of your hearts, lightly beat your egg wash and with your finger or a small brush and slightly brush the heart border which will act like a glue for the heart topper.
- Then take the reserved, half of hearts and place on top, carefully. Use a fork to pinch the edges together and make them look all pretty.
- After placing all your hearts on your baking sheet, I will brush all of them lightly with the egg wash—this gives them that golden, crusty “I should work for Better Crocker” look to them.
- Before placing in oven, I quickly take my fork and puncture them right in the middle, to act as a vent when they start baking.
- These will then back anywhere from 23 to 25 minutes, until they look nice and golden. I usually will set my timer to check them out at the 20th mark and then adjust my time from there, depending on how they look.
- Don’t have strawberries? Don’t worry! Just eliminate the strawberries and substitute with one of your favorite jams that you may have on hand in your pantry.
- Pie on a stick? At “Step 4,” after you have put the filling on half of hearts, gently place a lollipop stick at the bottom of the heart—be careful when pushing the stick so it doesn’t come through. Anything on a stick always creates that “oohhh…ahhh” factor!
- There is nothing I love more than chocolate and strawberries. After your mini pies have cooled, I take one (1) bag of white, candy coated wafers, melt as directed and half dip my pies, then add sprinkles. I recommend, Merckens white candy melts. For sprinkles you can use holiday inspired (as shown), Valentine’s Day mix, or your own special mix.
White Chocolate Hot Cocoa
Serves: 12 cups. Prep time: 10 minutes. Cook time: 2 hours
Can you think of anything better than pies and white chocolate hot cocoa? Nope. I couldn’t either. During the holidays, when it’s late at night, my family isn’t much into drinking coffee so we started making this recipe and it’s always a great hit. This also gives me a great reason to take out my crock pot/slow cooker which receives no love from me, for most of the year.
- 16 ounces of white chocolate (if you can, try to go with a premium brand)
- 4 cups of whole milk
- 4 cups of heavy cream
- 2 tablespoon of pure vanilla
- ¼ teaspoon of nutmeg
- 2-3 cinnamon sticks
- Garnish ideas: whip cream, crushed peppermints, white chocolate chips, nutmeg, caramel sauce and Pirouettes (Pepperidge Farm is my favorite). *See RECIPE NOTES
- Place your white chocolate in the slow cooker along with all the other ingredients. I keep my slow cooker at the “hot setting” and once the chocolate starts to melt, I drop down the “warm setting.”
- Cover and simmer for at least two hours, stirring every 20-25 minutes, or so. There will be skin that will form at the top of your hot cocoa, just take a whisk, stir and it will go away.
- This can stay warm for up to several hours.
- I’ve been asked this before, but you can substitute the whole milk with a low fat version if you wanted to lighten it up a bit.
- When serving, I will take my garnishes and put them in small bowls and guests can help themselves. I love this part!
- If you would like to spike your hot chocolate, I recommend going with a nuttier flavor like a good Amaretto, Bailey’s or Brandy. They have very fancy vodka’s now, but with this recipe I find that the nuttier base goes lovely with the hot chocolate.
Hello everyone!!! Praying each one of you had an awesome summer. I can’t believe I have a first and second grader! Time goes back way to quickly. Although I cherished the summer camps-pools-parks-popsicle-bicycle days, it feels good to get back into a good routine! Riiiiiiight, moms???
Okay, so finally had a moment to go through images from before summer started and wanted to stop an share a wedding we had the pleasure of working with Laura Helm of Ashton Events. Laura is a wonderful planner that I’ve known for a few years and it’s been so great to see her business grow leaps and bounds! This wedding took place with an amazingly gorgeous couple at The Junior League of Greater Lakeland’s Sorosis Building.
This was the first time we did a dessert table there and I loved everything about this venue and it was also great because the space gives you a clean canvas to really create something unique. In this case, vintage, timeless touches were everywhere along with blushes, pinks and accents of peacock hues…royal blues, deep purples…if you know me, there is nothing I love more than a couple that is open to a unique color palette!
Enjoy friends! And best of luck to all the teachers, schools and families out there!
IMAGE CREDIT: RAD RED CREATIVE
Hello my friends! The beginning of MAY. How did that happen??? Although in my mind I’ve intended to blog more, sometimes things just don’t pan out as I would like and that is A-OK with me! One of my more personal goals, is to be really present with my family, with my boys, their unending energy and the biggest lesson of all has been to define was true success means to me. Not so long ago, I was spent…exhausted…and feeling like if I wasn’t that crazy-busy, I wasn’t really making it.
Now that I’ve gone through my big rebrand not that long ago, made changes to my business structure and to our core, I’ve learned to recite a phrase often my head…
I’m busy enough for me.
I’m busy enough to keep my head afloat and my heart happy. Busy enough to still take that 1-2 days off work, and hang out with Preston or volunteer at my boys’ school. Busy enough that when my husband comes home I can carry a conversation without being distracted about work…the million things I still have on my every growing to-do list. And don’t get me wrong. Not every day is perfect and there may be some periods where I let myself sink into the old habits again, but then I go back to what really matters to me and it’s always the big wake up call I need.
So before I take this blog post all over the place, I would love to share part one, of our Spring season which is winding down for us. From weddings to snippets of corporate events, we did it all! Thanks as always to my husband Steve (always the man-behind-the-scenes), and to Karina, my assistant designer, we were non stop! Enjoy my friends! And I hope 2014 has started off great for all of you!
Bridal Showcase: Perfect Wedding Guide. We only do a sprinkle of bridal shows a year, and Perfect Wedding Guide is one of them! I always use the shows as my excuse to do whatever my sweet ole’ heart desires. Ha!
Gold and Black Vintage Dessert Table: This was our first wedding of the season. Carolyn our bride, is an amazing person and client. I was sort of obsessed with the venue, our first time at the Casa Monica in St. Augustine. And I loved the fact that Carolyn made sure to connect her vintage style and the color palette to the room and it really worked it so well. Also thanks to my cupcake girl, Crystal the owner of Cuppy Cakes for always bringing it with her delicious cupcakes which were a hit.
Photography Credit: Melissa Enid Photography
PS–Um…could Carolyn be more stunning?
And one picture from me…
Ashley Brooke Designs/West Elm Pop Up Shop Event: And one of my favorite partnerships from this Spring, we partnered up with Ashley Brooke Designs and their pop up shop at the West Elm in Orlando. Ashley is a force to be reckon with, with impeccable sense of style that translates through her design work. If you are looking for any unique gifts, stationary…she is your girl.
Neiman Marcus Spring Trends Event: One of my favorite corporate clients, Neiman Marcus. We’ve worked with them for a few years and we love to provide our tables as a way to launch their Spring season. Hmmm…can you guess what color trends are happening this year???
I’m going to wrap up our Spring season round up in two blog posts, so stay tuned next week for a few more updates and pictures.
And….before I forget, Mother’s Day is right around the corner!!! If you are looking for any last minute ideas, we have some great options in our online shop! Shop link on our home page. Have a great week friends!!!
YAY! Quickly I want to announce the winner for the Valentine’s Day Giveaway. Thank you so much for everyone that entered–you have no idea how much I enjoyed reading everyone’s Valentine Day plans and favorite memories!!! If you didn’t win this time–don’t worry! We definitely have plans to do another one SOON! Have a great weekend everyone!
The lucky duck is…..Jessica Hurtado! Jessica be on the look out for an email from Chic Sweets. Congrats!!!
My favorite valentine memory will forever be the day my daughter Julianna was born. February 14th 2011! We had a great 1st pregnancy just lots of fatigue. Delivery went smooth just some cramps. She was a week late and I just knew she was going to come on Valentines. She always gets two gifts, a valentine and a birthday gift and her sister gets one too. I always try and make it special for the both of them and my husband as well.
Hello Everyone!!! Hope all of you are having a great January! This is one of my favorite times of year–time to regroup, set new goals with pretty new planners, prioritize…a nice, clean slate. It has been on my to-do list to do a much longer post running through all my goals for this year since when I put everything down in writing it holds me so much more accountable. BUT before I get to that post, I’m taking a moment to announce new products that have been added to our shop AND a giveaway! YIPPEE!
Color has always been a huge part of my design work so when it came to adding cake pops to our online shop I really wanted to do something that stood out and felt different. I’ve taken some of my all time favorite color palettes and created selected sets which I LOVE. Corals….blacks…mint…reds….oh my! On top of the select sets, we’ve also added glitter cake pops which are just about the prettiest things you will ever see. Below are a few glimpses into our sets. Of course, as always, Shay Cochrane is our girl for all of our product photography. Every time she works, she really just blows me away.
A few behind the scenes from our photoshoot…hey…we got some great lighting in that garage!
And now for some amazing images from Shay…
All together now…it’s great…to be…a Florida Gator…(chomp, chomp)
Now for the fun part–I’m a sucker for a great giveaway and collaborating with some of my favorite people only makes me more HAPPY! You have until Thursday, February 6 at 12:00 p.m. (EST) to enter! *US residents only and winner will be determined via drawing on random.org.
I’m giving away a dozen Valentine’s Day cake pops plus a few of these other wonderful goodies!
1: A set of 10 Ice Cream Valentine Note Cards from Ashley Brooke Designs. LOVE HER and her blog is amazing mix of lifestyle tips and fashion–a must follow.
2: Essie Nailpolish in forever yummy and watermelon. Two of the best colors. Ever.
3 and 4: “Love Others Well” gold foil print and a set of six Choose Joy pencil Set from B is for Bonnie Design. How gorgeous is this print??
5: Red Velvet Cupcake scented candle from Target. It’s sitting right next to me and I’ve opened it up several times while typing this post. Just to inhale it. Sooooo good.
6: A dozen Valentine’s Day cake pops from yours truly! YAY! Makes the perfect gift!!!!
All you have to do is leave a comment on this post with your most favorite Valentine’s Day memory! OR if you even want to share what you are thinking about for this upcoming Valentine’s Day, that is fine as well!
If you would like additional entries…
- Tweet about the giveaway mentioning @ChicSweets and #CHICSWEETSSHOP
- Facebook about the giveaway linking to our Facebook Page. (you must like the page first, so you can tag properly!)
- Repost the Giveaway picture (above) on Instagram and follow @chicsweets21 and these amazing two shops @ashleybrookedesigns AND @bonniejoymarie. Tag #CHICSWEETSSHOP
Very, very important!!!! Don’t forget to please leave a separate comment for each entry!
Okay, Ready…Set…and GO!!!!!!!!!!!