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.
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!!!!!!!!!!!
Hello everyone!!! How is your 2014 starting off? This is my first week back to work, after spending some much needed time with Steve and my boys. This past fall wedding season was unbelievable and the best so far for Chic Sweets which always leaves my heart in awe of how much we’ve grown these past few years. One of my biggest words for this year is: PRESENT. Chic Sweets can definitely soak up a lot of time from me, which is why when I’m home with the boys, work urgent matters handled, I’m trying to be PRESENT. Don’t get me wrong…it’s very hard at times. I’m tired…maybe cranky…I find myself glancing at my Facebook or Instagram feed more times than I’m willing to admit, but I’m trying and it’s something I’m constantly working on. And so these past few months I’ve found myself blogging less than ever before. I used to beat myself up about it because I really do enjoy writing and putting my thoughts on “virtual paper”, but taking the pressure off has helped me breathe a bit, focus, and finally, excited to blog..when I’m able to.
So I do have a mega-post I plan on sharing of things that worked/didn’t work for me in 2013, basically my way of looking back at the year and what I need to do personally, and professionally to continue making what matters happen. BUT before I do that, I’ve been dying to share so many glimpses into the past few months–a few of our dessert tables, candy projects and some behind the scenes outtakes. I typically hold off on posting these pictures to my site’s gallery because they are from my I-phone and sometimes taken when I’ve lacked quite a few hours of sleep. HAHA! So sit back, grab a cup of coffee, and take a peek at what we’ve been up to!
Happy New Year everyone!
Chevron inspired dessert table with Julie Perez from Chic Designs and Fabulous Events. It was a “surprise gift” for the bride and groom, courtesy of Julie. Love this!
LOVED the branded candy boxes we did for our Chic Sweets (online shop). One of my favorite parts of this year.
And speaking the our Chic Sweets’ shop, we have big plans to add cake pops this month, something that I’ve held off for sometime. Thanks to Shay Cochrane for the fab photos!
Halloween time and at Tech Data over in Clearwater they kept us busy! From over 300 candy filled pumpkins to cauldrons…our hands were cramping!
Road trip to Chapel Hill…why not? One of my favorite tables we’ve EVER sponsored for the ladies of Southern Weddings. I’m hoping to share a bit more about this soon!
Moroccan inspired dessert table with Brooke Palmer of RSBP Events. Camel included. Seriously. I can’t make this stuff up.
Gold glitter dusted cake pops for NACE Tampa Holiday Party at the Floridan in downtown Tampa. Great times with my cohorts. And one of our last big orders before we took off for the holidays.
And finally, words can’t describe how much I love this picture. More the thought that all my Dad wanted to do was help and I can’t help but wonder what Steve is thinking here….hmmmmmm….
IMAGE CREDIT: SHAY COCHRANE PHOTOGRAPHY
Hey everyone! It feels surreal to even be typing this but our online shop is finally opened! The response from industry colleagues, friends and family has been amazing and I would be lying if I didn’t say I feel butterflies to finally share the entire collection! The concept behind this shop has been in my heart for sometime–a collection of gifts that tells a story and is very much personalized for YOU. Each one of our boxes speaks to the core of our business–clean, simple and has a unique color story that I really love!
When you visit our shop, you’ll see we have our gift boxes separated into two collections, our Everyday Collection and our Wedding Collection. Aside from both collections we also have our client partnership program for those professionals that are looking to gift a special client or business prospect with their very own branded gift box. You will LOVE this program!
Before I get to carried away, I really want to thank someone that helped to take the million thoughts and brilliant ideas in my head and produce images that I’m so proud to have in my shop. Shay Cochrane–you are beyond amazing and I’m so GRATEFUL to have you as a friend.
And second to my husband…the words “thank you” seem so inadequate for everything in my heart….but thank you, thank you, thank you for all your love.
Now to celebrate our NEW SHOP, we are doing a giveaway!!! I’m giving away one of my favorite boxes from the Everyday Collection (our Sunshine Box) and some wonderful gifts from some really amazing, small businesses!
2. Oh Happy Day Art Print from the Lara Casey Shop. Lara Casey has been such a great cheerleader for myself and for so many others. Her prints, paintings and everyday products are a must as a business owner! Love you Lara!
5. Essie Nailpolish (set of 2)
6. Lovely gold and white striped Target Notebook. I have an obsession with notebooks and so I figured, why not?
Help us spread the word about the Chic Sweets’ shop on social media and link back to my site or this blog post! All you have to do is leave a comment on this post with what your favorite Chic Sweets’ gift box from our shop! Yup, easy peasy!
You have until Wednesday, September 18, 2013 at 12:00 p.m. EST to enter in this fabulous giveaway! *US residents only and winner will be determined via drawing on random.org
UPDATE: WE ARE EXTENDING OUR GIVEAWAY UNTIL 12:00 a.m EST (TODAY, WEDNESDAY) SO YOU HAVE A FEW MORE HOURS TO GET YOUR ENTRIES IN!!!
If you would like additional entries…
- Tweet about the giveaway mentioning the @ChicSweets and #CHICSWEETSSHOP
- Facebook about the giveaway linking to our Facebook page (you must like the page first, so you can tag it properly!)
- Share the photo (above) on Instagram and tag @Chicsweets21 and #CHICSWEETSSHOP
Don’t forget to please leave a separate comment for each entry! Okay, Ready…Set…and GO!!!!!!!!!!!
I’m keeping my fingers crossed for all of you!!!! AHHHHH! I’m so excited about this!
Also enjoy 10% off all of our gift boxes from now until next Wednesday–just use CHICSWEETS10 discount code upon checkout.
* UPDATE: Our winner of this contest, chosen at random, is KATY HAMILTON!! YAY! Katy, send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll get your goodies off to you!
Thank you to everyone for entering!
Hello friends! Hope all of you are having a great summer. I’m a little sad it seems to go quicker than I’d like. Today I decided to be super ambitious and a did a video blog for today’s post (yes, I know…wow). Please note, I did this in one take, messy hair and five minute make-up so please cut me a little slack on this one. If you would like to see all our Daytime segments and our Shark Tank audition video, please click here.
And here are a few shots I could not help but share (I’m notoriously impatient, as the boss man likes to remind me). More details will be coming in the next few weeks as we announce a shop date and a giveaway, all wrapped up in one.
PHOTOGRAPHY CREDIT: SHAY COCHRANE PHOTOGRAPHY
Our Sunshine and Welcome Baby Girl Box which is part of our “Everyday Collection”
And a glimpse in our “Wedding Collection.” I LOVE this collection!
Happy Wednesday everyone! Hope everyone is having a great day! Happy to share the Mother’s Day segment that aired on Daytime. This is a link to our You Tube channel that also has all of our Daytime segments. I could critique myself to no end but then I stopped and saw Baby P look at the television and yell out “Mama!” “Mama!” Thank you, Baby P, for always reminding me to NEVER to take life too seriously!
Enjoy everyone and have a wonderful Happy Mother’s Day. And don’t forget to visit our previous post with a freebie printable!
Hello everyone! Wow! Am I the only one that ever sits back and wonder how quickly this year is slipping by?? I seriously still remember 2012 New Year’s! Okay, so today I decided to give a little glimpse into our world and then next week, I’d love to give everyone a longer update on my 2013 goal progress. Always inspired by the Making Things Happen movement and sharing a bit of where I am these days.
But for today, a look back at the tables we’ve done. I’ll be sure to share follow up details shots when I receive, but for now, I figured why not?
Have a lovely weekend everyone!
ANGRY BIRD BOYS BIRTHDAY PARTY: Event Planner (and mommy) Monica Varner, owner of Elan Events Studio
Bridal Show: Perfect Wedding Guide. Tampa. We do a handful of bridal shows a year, and these are by far one of our favorites!
Gender Reveal Cake Pops for my girl Zoe at Botanica. LOVE Zoe and her party was darling….
March Madness anyone??? 300 of these babies for Tech Data Corporation. Wow. Let’s just say I needed a break from seeing orange for a bit.
Happy Birthday Graham! A birthday table for one of my favorite people in the universe, Shay Cochrane (her husband’s 30th). LOVE Shay. Period.
And cannot wait to share an adorable baby shower for event planner, Julie Perez from Chic Designs and Fabulous Events. Photography by Mariana of Kismis Ink Photography. We received so many great images from this one which I LOVE. Thanks Mariana!
And finally, for no reason at all. Baby P.
I mean really, does there ever have to be a reason to see this boy in a boy tie, given by his Auntie Amanda. I think not!
Happy February everyone!!! I’m SO happy to share a segment we did for the Daytime Show (WFLA), a lifestyle morning show, syndicated in the Southeast. The Daytime family has been always supportive of me, Chic Sweets and our growth. My first segment with host, Cyndi Edwards (one of the most amazing people I know) was a few years ago, when I first started and I still find it hard to believe they gave me a chance and the platform to share our work.
Enjoy everyone and a much longer post coming….SOON! Happy day!
Happy Day everyone! Interrupting my series on recapping 2012, with some goodness brought to you by one of my dearest friends, Shay Cochrane from Shay Cochrane Photography. I haven’t spoken a lot about this, but this year we are looking to branch out with the launch of our Chic Sweets shop. This has been long in my heart, but I wanted to take my time and really get a few pieces in place before sharing too many details. I’ve never been one to rush the process and so I can tell you it finally feels good to be ready for this next step. Where does Shay come in all of this? Well, she is giving me a hand with stunning images for my shop, close up of my products, personalized favors and why not include a dessert table in all of that?
I know Emerald green, is the “Pantone Color of the Year” and all, but I’m convinced it was all a big mistake. Mint!!! It should have been mint!!!!
Thanks again, Shay. LOVE YOU to the moon and back! Also to all my photographer friends: Shay is doing a business and branding workshop that is a “must” for everyone. Space is very limited so definitely sign up today. Hint…there may be a cake pop in it for you.
Also, huge, big, thanks to our photoshoot venue for the day–the Tampa Museum of Art in downtown Tampa. I love the Museum, mostly because it’s so unique, different, great open, modern space with so much natural light that comes through. We could not have done this without their help.
Have a wonderful day everyone! More news to come on the shop soon….