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 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!!!
Hello everyone! Hope all of you are having a great week. These last few weeks have been a bit busy on the family end–boys have finally finished school, Kindergarten graduation, Preschool graduation, cap n gowns, end of year field trips, summer camp planning, all the while I constantly wonder how on earth did my mom do this and make it look so easy? I will figure it out, I keep telling myself….one day….
Today I’m so happy to a dessert table for wedding planner Julie Perez’s son and daughter in law, Saray’s welcome-baby shower. It’s amazing how things come full circle, since were lucky enough to a table for Julie when she renewed her vows at the Don Cesar a few years ago and then here we are working together on such a special table. The great part about working with Julie is that she has a very detailed vision (vintage touches, fun, whimsical) and then she allowed us to run with it. Hehehe…thank you Julie!
Mariana and Khaled from Kismis Ink Photography were the photographers and we were are oh-so-happy when the images popped up in our inbox and I was blown away with all the detail shots. Thank you Mariana and Khaled!
Enjoy! And be on the lookout for another Daytime segment coming next week. I’ll be sharing a few summer popsicle ideas that are YUMMY! Seriously, I’m hooked.
PHOTOGRAPHER CREDIT: KISMIS INK PHOTOGRAPHY
Hello everyone! Hope all of you are having a great week! I’m taking a deep breath as our wedding season winds down–we’ve had a great season and amazing clients I’m constantly grateful for. Today I’m so happy to share one of my favorite tables from this year. Our bride Dominique has to be one of the sweetest, laid back clients we’ve had, and I was sort of sad to see it all come to an end. Add my favorite teams to work with–MMD Events and Confetti Events, along with Limelight Photography and I was a happy girl.
One of the biggest things about this table was the backdrop. Oh boy. The backdrop. We love our backdrops and they are so essential to every table we do and this baby was no different. Steve, my right hand, my boss man, spent hours working on this backdrop, painted by hand (no stencils)–he is such a perfectionist when it comes to our backdrops and I secretly love it. So Steve–if you read this one–THANK YOU. I thought it came out fantastic, and played great against the drool-worthy linen.
And of course, big thanks to Limelight for always taking their time to capture so many details on our table. It takes a lot of time to make it come together and I love Rebecca and Michael for sharing so many images with me.
Enjoy everyone and have a lovely Memorial Day weekend!!!
PS-Two more weeks left! Am I the only mama dreading that school is almost over for the boys? Preschool graduation…cap and gown….tears everywhere!!!!
PHOTOGRAPHY CREDIT: LIMELIGHT PHOTOGRAPHY
Hello everyone! Hope all of you are having a great week!!! I’ve been a busy bee prepping away for a Mother’s Day Table for the Daytime show, which airs on NBC and is hosted by Cyndi Edawards and Jerry Penacoli. Cyndi has not only a big supporter of our work, but she’s someone I consider a very dear friend with one of the biggest hearts EVER. I reached out to her in the very early stages of Chic Sweets, and from the get-go she believed in me and always told me it was going to work out…crazy, right?
The segment will air on Monday and I’ll be sure to share a link to the video when I have available.
Also in honor of Mother’s Day and all the Daytime viewers out there, a little, tiny gift from me to you. Below is the link for the printables that were used for the segment which I hope you will be able to use for your own Mother’s Day table.
This is the first time I’ve shared the printables we create on our blog, so hopefully none of you have any trouble opening up the link. Any questions, just send us an email!
Thanks and be on the lookout for the segment…coming soon.
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….
Happy December everyone!!! How are all of you doing?? Love December, cookies, Advent Calender, Christmas songs and just taking a deep breath before the new year begins.
Today, though, I’m feel incredibly grateful that Chic Sweets’ yummy cake pops were featured in the latest Southern Weddings 5th Anniversary issue. I would be lying if I didn’t say that I stared at the picture numerous times, bought copies and even made my mom and dad run to the nearest Barnes n Noble to get a copy…or two.
The community that Southern Weddings has created through their website, social media, and magazine is amazing. I kid you not, you feel the love pour out of each page–I mean it’s so hard to explain but the best I can say is that I have every issue and it’s one of those magazines that remain on your coffee table because they are just too darn special.
I’m also grateful that my relationship with these ladies has grown and we are not only lucky to be a Blue Ribbon Vendor but also that we can send them our red velvet cake pops every month with their trademark Southern Weddings touch.
Love you ladies!
PS–Happy Holidays everyone!!!
Hello Everyone! This will be one of the last weekends before wedding season hits us in full force, so I can honestly say it feels beyond amazing to have a day, with minimal plans and with my family. BUT (big BUT) being the woman whose wheels are always turning, I’m gearing up for a Halloween Dessert and Fall dessert table in the next two weeks for a wonderful corporate client, which brings me back to a few segments I did for the morning show, Daytime with Cyndi Edwards and Lindsay MacDonald.
This was the first of a few segments that we did and it was an amazing, amazing experience that I will forever be grateful for.
So on that note, enjoy the segment and your weekend!
So onto more interesting topics other than my venting, EXTREMELY excited to share with you this latest party. This table was for Chloe’s 2nd birthday and was shot by her amazing mother Shay Cochrane, owner of Shay Cochrane photography. We were lucky enough to work with Shay on a previous photoshoot here with Every Last Detail. And if we go back even further, we first crossed paths during Making Things Happen with Lara Casey–a workshop and journey that has changed my life forever.
Shay also happens to be a genius photographer who was able to turn around some great images. I mean, really, I just keep on staring at these pictures…the lighting…..the daisies…the way all of the colors pop…the backdrop…I can honestly say that it’s photographers like Shay that help bring my work to another level. So Shay, if you get a chance to read this: THANK YOU.
If you would like to read Shay’s original post on her own blog, click here.