Kitchen Concoctions

Friday, May 15, 2015

Grilled Lamb Shoulder Chops with Mint Chimichurri

Add some flare to your weekly backyard BBQ with this simple Grilled Lamb Shoulder Chops topped with a slightly spicy and easy Mint Chimichurri!


When we moved into our new house I was excited for a number of things. A bigger kitchen (with lots of windows, more bedrooms (so we could finally have an office and separate guest bedrooms) and a two car garage. But one of the things I was most excited about was our backyard.

Not that it is anything special. In fact it is pretty basic, small with just a patio, but it is a yard nonetheless. A yard where our dog can freely run and play any time of day. And it is a place where we were able to set up patio furniture and invite friends over to hang out on a lazy Sunday afternoon. And most importantly it gives up a place to have a grill!



We love grilling so much, especially now that we can go out on our patio any time and throw whatever on the grill. And while grilling (especially when you have a charcoal grill) does require a little prep and thought, we love it! Not to mention the weather this spring has been perfect, almost chilly, in the evenings, making hanging out on our patio, while we monitor the grill, even more enjoyable!

While we love to grill almost anything, from the traditional hamburgers and hot dogs, to chicken and kabobs, a few weeks ago I decided to change it up a bit and grabbed some lamb shoulder chops at the store to throw on the grill. To keep things simple, yet add a nice pop of flavor, I whipped up a Mint Chimichurri. For those of you who are not familiar, chimichurri, which originated from Argentina, is a green sauce used traditionally for grilled meat. Traditionally it is made of finely-chopped or pureed parsley and often cilantro, minced garlic, olive oil, oregano, and white vinegar. Since lamb pairs well with mint, this recipe for Mint Chimichurri is the perfect topping (and if you choose, marinade) for grilled lamb.


We absolutely loved this meal! And while lamb can tend to be expensive, this recipe uses lamb shoulder chops which can be a little less than other cuts of lamb. Since this meal was a nice change, with bright, fresh flavors, compared to most of our favorite grilled entrees, I know we will have this meal again and again all summer long!

What is your favorite thing to cook on the grill? Share in the comments below! 

One Year Ago: Beef Fajita Burgers with Creamy Avocado Ranch Spread
Two Years Ago: Crispy Tortilla Crusted Chicken
Three Years Ago: Slow Cooked Sirloin Steak
Four Years Ago: Mom's Sugar Cookies with Butter Cream Frosting 
Five Years Ago: Lemon Truffle Pie
Six Years Ago: Fireman’s Special BBQ Chicken Sandwiches


Grilled Lamb Shoulder Chops with Mint Chimichurri
Printable Version
Prep Time: 10 minutes Cook Time: 10 minutes Serves: 4

Simple grilled lamb shoulder chops with a quick mint and parsley chimichurri. 

Ingredients:
4 lamb shoulder chops (each about 10 ounces and 1 inch thick), at room temperature
¾ teaspoon each Kosher salt and ground black pepper, or to taste
3/4 cup olive oil
3/4 cup fresh mint leaves
1 cup fresh parsley leaves
1/4 cup fresh oregano leaves
4 cloves garlic
1 serrano pepper, stem removed
1 shallot, finely chopped
3 tablespoons fresh lime juice
1/4 cup red wine vinegar

Directions:
Rub the lamb chops with 1/4 cup of the olive oil and season both sides with ½ teaspoon each salt and black pepper. Preheat grill to medium-high. Grill seasoned lamb to desired doneness, about 5 minutes per side, or until a meat thermometer inserted in the center of the lamb reads 130 degrees F, for medium-rare.

Meanwhile, to make the chimichurri, blend the mint, parsley, oregano, garlic, serrano pepper, shallot and ¼ teaspoon each salt and black pepper, in a food processor or blender. With the machine running, drizzle in the lime juice, red wine vinegar and remaining olive oil and process until fully combined. Taste and season to taste with additional salt and black pepper.

Remove the lamb from grill and allow to rest for 10 minutes. Serve lamb topped with mint chimichurri.

Note: Lamb can be marinated in mint chimichurri. Prepare mint chimichurri as directed. Place lamb in a shallow dish or large plastic storage baggie. Pour mint chimichurri over lamb and let marinate in the refrigerator for 1-2 hours. Remove lamb from marinade and grill as directed. Discard marinade. If wishing to serve with additional chimichurri, double the recipe and set aside half of the chimichurri for serving.

Serving Suggestions: Keep things simple with grilled veggie kabobs or Braised Peas and Green Onions and oven roasted potatoes.

adapted from Food Network


Other recipes you might enjoy:
Guinness Shepherd's Pie
Steak and Potato Burgers {Plus Tips for the Perfect Burger}
Classic Pesto Sauce
Parmesan Pesto Chicken Burgers
Seared Sirloin Steak with Sweet Balsamic Wine Sauce

Monday, May 11, 2015

A Day in the Life of a Recipe Developer, Food Blogger and Chef Instructor {Plus a $50 Gift Card Giveaway to The UPS Store!}

Disclosure: This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #ad #SmallBizSalute #CollectiveBias 

I am very passionate about supporting small businesses and entrepreneurs. Join me as I celebrate small business owners with a gift card giveaway to The UPS Store and share a "behind the scenes" look at what a day looks like for a chef instructor, recipe developer and food blogger. 



For as long as I can remember, like most little girls, I was going to be a teacher when I grew up. I loved playing school with my friends and sisters, and we had a ball using all of our “real” teaching props to educate one another.

I always wanted to make a difference and so I went off to college (at my dream school) and was on my way to teaching and molding young minds. But then something happened. I decided it wasn't for me. I wasn't in love with teaching. No I take that back. I loved teaching. I was passionate about it, I just wasn't passionate about what I was teaching and the lack of creativity/freedom I was experiencing.


So I did some soul searching. In that time of reflection, I did a lot of baking because that is what made me happy and brought me peace. I was instantly taken back to my other childhood, love, cooking and baking and decided that is where I should be. So I ran off to the Texas food mecca, Austin, to go to culinary school and peruse my dreams of working in food.

At that time, if asked what I then wanted to do when I grew up, being a food writer (this was WAY before food blogs existed or at least were as popular as they are now), recipe developer, or owner of a cute B&B was at the top of the list. However, as I was in school and for several years after, I worked for several popular chain restaurants working my way “up” as I learned every single position in the restaurant industry. From my start as a hostess, to bar tending, to being a prep cook, to managing and training staff to catering. I learned a lot while working at these places but quickly got burned out. I was working all the nights, weekends and holidays and I had no creative freedom.

So I took a leap. Some (cough, cough... my parents) may say it was risky, but I just saw it as following my dreams.


I started this little blog of mine, to have that creative freedom and have a place to share my voice. And then I worked hard looking for jobs in the food industry where I could still be me. I still worked part time at a restaurant, but took every other opportunity that came my way. I helped other local chefs by cooking for their catering companies or meal delivery services. I bar tended special events. And then I was blessed to have the opportunity to work as a chef consultant for a meal planning app start up. Then, as chance would have it, I met the owner of a local kids cooking school; and was blessed with the opportunity to combine my two loves, cooking and teaching, but this time it was all about my passion- food.

I continued to work hard and was eventually able to quit the restaurant job and focus solely on blogging, teaching, recipe developing, and working as a private chef (cooking for small families, family owned hunting lodges and private events)! Despite doing all this for so many years, it took people actually telling me that I was a small business owner before I realized, that in fact dreams do come true! I guess I never really thought of it that way. But in fact, I was a small business! I had clients and business cards and business expenses that I submitted to my accountant each year.
To this day, the fact that I wake up and do what I love every day and earn a living doing it, almost doesn't seem real. But it is!


Even though I didn't set out to be a small business owner, I have several family members who own their own businesses and I do contract work with many local businesses as well. My family members own hair salons, fitness studios, nurseries, and are independent massage therapists. And I am blessed with the opportunity to teach cooking classes for several local cooking schools, including Cook, Learn, Grow and Patricia’s Table, as well as develop recipes for popular local brands, like Stubb's Sauces and Marinades! I love watching all of my friends, family members and other entrepreneurs thrive and grow as individuals and well as business owners!

Because of this, supporting local is extremely important to me. I know how hard it is to run your own business. Be an entrepreneur. Take risks and follow your dreams. Not only do I want to support local businesses when I can, I think as being small business owners we can learn a lot from each other. That is why I am grateful for opportunities to meet, mingle and learn from other business owners. 


Recently, I was given the opportunity to attend a small business networking event put on by The UPS Store. I met other local bloggers, photographers, restaurant owners, designers and many other inspiring small business owners. It was awesome to met these other entrepreneurs and I left the event feeling inspired! Not only did these individuals follow their dreams, they understood the struggle that small business owners have. Jae Kim, founder and owner of Chi’Lantro BBQ, spoke about his struggles to open his now super popular food truck. About how hard he worked, often working alone to get his business going and how in the early days, every little negative Yelp comment made him question his work, his passion, his dream. That he had doubt that people would show up. But the customers and extremely positive reviews and feedback finally came and now he not only has a popular food truck but brick and mortar location as well!

Since I have a unique “job,” I often get asked what my typical day is like. Truth is, I have no typical day. Most days I am running from the moment I wake up (around 6:30) to the moment my head hits the pillow (around 12 or 12:30, sometimes later) each night. Even though I work hard, I love every single minute of my day and am forever grateful that this is my life.


In general a typical day starts when I jump out of bed and immediately hop on the computer. This includes writing blog posts, responding to my never ending emails, scheduling social media shares, conference calls and administrative work for myself and several other small businesses. Depending on what is scheduled for the remainder of the day, I will take a break and go on a bike ride or a long walk/jog. Then around lunch the computer gets turned off and I head to the store or run other errands, liking mailing packages or heading to the bank. In fact, I am at the grocery store so much that the employees know me by name! Sometimes I am shopping for personal groceries/necessities, but mostly I am grabbing groceries for blog posts, cooking classes, or to cook for a personal family/small event. Then the afternoon entails recipe testing and photography at home, teaching kids cooking classes, visiting local farms (I have a very special place in my heart for the small farming business owners!!) or getting ready to work an event. Late afternoon/evening can evolve teaching an adult cooking class, working an event or cooking for client, attending a special event (like The UPS Store Small Biz Salute), going to meetings (I am on several planning committees and boards), or if I am lucky, getting to go on an evening walk/bike ride and hanging out with friends and family. Then, depending on the day, around 10 pm I hit the computer again to catch up on everything I didn't get to during the day.


Just like me, The UPS Store is passionate about supporting small business owners. To celebrate Small Business Month, The UPS Store launched the Small Biz Salute campaign, which celebrates small business owners nationwide. This campaign recognizes small businesses for their hard work and gives them an opportunity to network and support each other. Not only is The UPS Store encouraging people nationwide to show their support of small businesses, I learned recently that all 4,400 locations nationwide are locally owned and operated; allowing more individuals to be small business owners! In addition to supporting and encouraging small business owners, The UPS Store has everything a small business owner needs to help run their business. From printing brochures to business cards, to offering mailboxes if your business is a “work from home gig” to being your shipping headquarters (when you are like me and shipping giveaways to loyal blog readers!). Since The UPS Store is so committed to helping small businesses (and individuals too!), they would like to give two lucky Kitchen Concoctions' readers a $50 The UPS Store gift card (enter below)!


Giveaway: Two lucky winners will each receive a $50 The UPS Store gift card! Enter below!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Friday, May 8, 2015

Yarn Wrapped Flower Vases and Affordable Mother's Day Gift Ideas {Crafty Concoctions}

Disclosure:  This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #ad #L2LMom #CollectiveBias

Need quick, affordable last minute Mother's Day gift ideas? This DIY Yarn Wrapped Flower Vase paired with a simple card and a beautiful fragrance is a perfect and effortless gift to say I Love You!


You all know I am big on holidays. I love every single holiday for so many different reasons... the traditions, the memories, the time spent with loved ones and what these beloved holidays represent.

One holiday that I really love, despite not having any specific traditions or ever making big plans to celebrate, is Mother's Day. Mother's Day is such a special day to honor and remember everything that not only my own Mom (who is the BEST Mom is the whole.wide.world) has done for me my entire life, but that all Mother's and Motherly figures do for others.


Yeah, as I have gotten older, Mother's Day has become more personal and even more special. My sisters are now Mothers and it gives me a chance to do something just for them. It reminds me to stop and call my grandmothers and tell them how much I love them.

Since Mother's Day is such a special day, I also try to remember my aunts, cousins, friends and neighbors who are also Mothers. But there are also a lot of Mothers or Motherly figures that I think are often forgotten, and as I have gone through life, meeting these marvelous women, I try to remember them on Mother's Day as well. Foster mothers, mothers who have lost or not been able to have their own babies just yet, caring teachers, social workers and nurses who are there to comfort, teach and guide children when, for whatever reason, their own mothers can't be there. Yes, Mother's Day is a glorious and special day!


To celebrate all Mothers this Mother's Day I wanted to share a quick craft and a few simple, and affordable (I know a lot of Mothers! Smile!) Mother's Day gift ideas. I don't know what Mother doesn't like fresh flowers, so a custom yarn wrapped vase decorated with hand made felt flowers, is a great way to add a personal touch to that traditional bouquet.

In addition to my custom vase filled with flowers, I decided this year to give my Mom, MIL and sisters, another classic “Mom gift” - a bottle of fresh smelling fragrance. Luckily, I found some fun and affordable options, Coty Love2Love Fragrances, at my local Walmart when I was picking up my crafting supplies. Love2Love comes in a beautiful glass bottle adorned with a whimsical petal shaped cap, making it the perfect accompaniment to my Mother's Day vase and flowers!

Other affordable Mother's Day gift ideas:

Chocolate
Homemade coupon books
Homemade breakfast or dinner
Flowers
Yarn Vase
Coty Love2Love Fragrances
Homemade or store bought card
Quite/nap time :)
Magazine subscription

Happy Mother's Day to all Mothers out there! I hope it is filled with lots of love and appreciation!

What are your affordable Mother's Day gift ideas? Share your ideas in the comments below!


How To Make a Yarn Wrapped Flower Vase
by Heather H. of Kitchen Concoctions: www.kitchen-concoctions.com
Prep Time: 1 hour Cost: $5 Makes: 1 vase

Transform an old vase or glass bottle into a beautiful and simple yarn wrapped vase.

Supplies:

For yarn vase:
Craft glue
Paper Plate
Sponge brush
Glass vase or clean glass bottle (great way to "up-cycle" any glass bottle)
Yarn, in desired color
Scissors

For felt flower decorations:
Felt sheets, in desired color
Quarter
Thread or embroidery floss (color to match felt)
Needle
Colored buttons
Hot glue gun
Scissors

Directions:

For yarn vase:

1. Gather supplies.




2. Pour 1-2 tablespoons craft glue on to a paper plate. Using a sponge brush, brush the top of the vase with a thin layer of glue and attach one end of the yarn. Begin wrapping the yarn tightly around the vase.





3. Continue wrapping the yarn tightly around the entire vase, over lapping the yarn, if needed, to fill gaps. Add additional glue as needed working down the vase.



4. Once to the bottom of the vase, add additional glue, trim the yarn and press the trimmed yarn piece into the glue to hold.


5. Decorate yarn covered vase with buttons, felt flowers, etc.

For felt flowers:


1. Using a pen, lightly trace a quarter five times onto felt squares.
2. Cut out circles, making sure to cut off any pen marks


3. Thread needle with floss and tie off at the end. Fold one felt circle and push through the needle.
4. Fold the remaining felt circles and thread them onto the needle.

5. Sew through all five felt circles and pull needle out through the other side. From the opposite side, push the needle through the felt circles, to sew through the felt a second time.

6. Spread out the felt flower petals and pull the thread to tighten.





7. If needed, stitch together the top and bottom petals, on the back side of the felt flower, to hold together. Tie off thread and cut off.
8. Using hot glue gun, glue buttons into the center of the felt flower.
9. Glue felt flowers to yarn vase and fill with water and fresh flowers.



I like that not only are the Coty Love2Love Fragrances affordable they come in a variety of scents, that each have their own coordinating color. I thought the Fresh Rose + Peach (in a pink bottle) looked great next to my green yarn vase, but there are a variety of scents to chose from including the new Bluebell + White Tea Fragrance which is available in participating Walmart stores.

Each variety of Love2Love fragrances captures love and joy; with each of the carefully selected ingredients telling the story. As I mentioned the Love2Love come in a variety of options, including:
  • Fresh Rose + Peach = joyful, optimistic, the essence of natural comfort
  • Jasmine + Sparkling Mimosa = carefree, invigorating and energetic; like the first day of Spring
  • Bluebell + White Tea = captivating, radiant, delicately feminine; the tranquility and ease of Sunday morning
  • Freesia + Violet Petals = elegant, alluring, and timeless; like the perfect effortless sun dress
Be sure to look for all the Coty Love2Love Fragrances on a special display at Walmart where you can also grab a coordinating gift bag for only $.50! You can also pick up the Love2Love Fragrances year round on the fragrance aisle! 





Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Baseball Date Night and DIY Baseball Gift Basket and Picture Frame

Disclosure: This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #ad #BuffaloWingsAndRings #CollectiveBias 

Plan a fun and creative baseball themed date night, complete with a special ball park inspired dinner and DIY Baseball Gift Basket and Picture Frame, to show your loved one how much you care! 


I have mentioned several times that my goal for 2015 was to stay more “connected”. A major part of this was going on more date nights. And not just “hey let's go to dinner and the movies” (not that we don't LOVE that), but dates filled with fun, carefully planned out activities.


One thing that we love to do in the spring and summer is go to baseball games. It is really the only sport we both love watching and because it is affordable and we are blessed to live near the local ball field, we tend to go often.



Even though this is a fun activity/date night we enjoy often, keeping with my goal for the year, I wanted to transform one of our regular baseball dates into something more special. As I thought and planned, I discovered that Buffalo Wings and Rings, was coming out with a special seasonal “ballpark” menu. This was perfect for our baseball themed date night! Not only is a ballpark menu the perfect thing to fill up on before heading to a baseball game, Buffalo Wings and Rings, has plenty of TVs, always tuned into some sporting event or another. This was great for catching some baseball action while dining on great baseball themed food, and getting up amped for the game! And because baseball games and ballpark dinners are more fun with friends, we invited our good friends C and A out on a baseball double date!



In addition to being the perfect spot to grab a bite to eat and catch up on some sports with friends, Buffalo Wings and Rings, always has fresh, not frozen, food and a chef on staff to assure quality. We had so much fun trying the ballpark menu at Buffalo Wings and Rings on our fun date night! This special menu consisted of several creative twists on several ballpark classics. We tried the Ballpark Pretzel Bites AKA The Dipster, The Mound AKA “C Dog”, Jack'd Up Wing AKA “THE BOSS”, and the Battered-up Funnel Stixx AKA “Shugga" for dessert. My personal favorite was the Jack'd Up Wing AKA “THE BOSS” - boneless wings, tossed in sweet Thai chili and salted caramel sauce. Then topped with applewood-smoked bacon, sesame seeds and scallions, and the garnished with – get this - caramel corn! This was such a fun, tasty and unique dish that we all loved!

Other things I did to make our baseball date night extra special was create a custom baseball themed gift basket, which acted as my invite to the date night, as well as a custom baseball picture frame. 


One thing that Eric has made several comments about was that we have really slacked on doing things with all the “selfies” and other photos we take on our adventures. I used to scrapbook and/or frame our photos regularly, but have really slacked off with this in recent years. Making a custom baseball picture frame (check out the tutorial below) not only added a personal touch to my gift basket, it gave us somewhere to put a photo from our date night!


Another personal touch to the gift basket was personalized baseball. All I did was take a baseball and used a permanent marker to write our names on it. To personalize it even further, you could write the date of your date night or anniversary on the baseball. Not only would this baseball themed gift basket be a fun and creative “invite” to a baseball date, it would be a great birthday or Father's Day gift for any baseball lover in your life. 


Below are suggestions on what to include in your gift basket:

DIY Baseball Gift Basket:
Buffalo Wings and Rings Gift Cards
Baseball cap (for favorite or local team)
Baseball (customized with name, date and/or birthday/anniversary date)
Tickets to a local professional, college, or high school baseball game
Baseball themed snacks (peanuts, sunflower seeds, etc.)
Custom baseball picture frame (directions below)

We had so much fun on our baseball date night and can't wait to do it again soon!!!

What do you like to eat when you are watching a baseball game?


DIY Baseball Picture Frame
Printable Version
Project Time: 30 minutes (plus drying time) Cost: $10-$15 Makes: 1 frame

Transform a basic wooden picture frame into a weathered looking baseball frame.

Supplies:
Wooden picture frame with glass and backing (new or old)
Blue acrylic paint (or color of choice)
White acrylic paint (or color of choice)
Crackle paint
Paper plates or bowls
Sponge brush
Wooden baseball decorations
Wood glue or hot glue gun with glue
Newspaper or brown paper, for working

Directions:

1. Gather supplies.

2. Remove glass and backing, set aside. Set frame on newspaper.

3. Pour several tablespoons of blue acrylic paint onto paper plate. Using sponge brush, paint the front and sides of the wooden picture frame (it doesn't have to be perfect, a rustic look is ok!). Set aside and dry completely. Meanwhile, wash sponge brush for another use.

4. Once blue paint is dried completely, pour several tablespoons of Crackle paint onto paper plate. Using sponge brush, brush the front and sides of the painted picture frame with a generous amount of Crackle. Set aside and dry until tacky (still a little wet and sticky). DO NOT dry completely. Meanwhile, wash sponge brush for another use.

5. Once Crackle is “tacky”, pour several tablespoons of white acrylic paint onto paper plate. Using sponge brush, paint the front and sides of the Crackle coated picture frame with the white acrylic paint (it doesn't have to be perfect, a rustic look is ok!). Set aside and dry completely. Meanwhile, wash sponge brush for another use.

6. Once dry, glue on wooden baseball decorations. Use pre-made decorations, or create your own by painting wooden balls to look like baseballs.

7. Once frame and decorations are dry, clean glass with glass cleaner, and insert glass, picture backing into frame.

Monday, May 4, 2015

Easy Vanilla Bean Panna Cotta

Panna Cotta may seem like a fancy Italian dessert, but the recipe below is quick and easy to whip up; making it a light and creamy spring dessert


Can I take a tiny moment to freak out for one second that it is already May!! I mean really how did that even happen! It's May!!!!

This year is flying by and I cannot believe it! It seems like every month and every holiday this year is sneaks up on me and it seems like I am running to pay another monthly bill on time, remember that next birthday and holiday.

This year I have been working really hard to try and remember all those special holidays, not just so I can be that sweet granddaughter that remembers her dear grandmother's birthday, but because I have so many recipe, craft and fun blog posts that I want to share for these holidays and special events.

But then all of a sudden I am looking at the calendar and realize there is this holiday or that holiday just days away!

Like during the first few days of May, we celebrate the Kentucky Derby, Cinco de Mayo and Mother's Day. I managed to get a simple Cinco de Mayo recipe up on Friday (even though I have like 5 recipes I could share to celebrate this day) and am managing to squeeze in a few Mother's Day posts this week.

Today I am sharing an easy, yet eloquent Mother's Day dessert idea and plan to share a Mother's Day dinner and gift idea later this week! If you are not familiar with Panna Cotta, it is a classic Italian dessert. It is a simple creamy custard that is served with fresh fruit or top with a fruit puree. While this dessert typically has to firm up in the refrigerator, and can be made several days in advance, I like to enjoy it when it's not quite set, and still a little soft and all creamy!

One Year Ago: Burgers with Blue Cheese and Red Wine Caramelized Onions
Two Years Ago: Easy Mediterranean Pizza
Three Years Ago: Green Monster Smoothie
Four Years Ago: Greek Pasta Salad
Five Years Ago: Lime Cheesecake Dessert Squares
Six Years Ago: Dulce de Leche Tres Leches Cake


Easy Vanilla Bean Panna Cotta
Printable Version
Prep Time: 5 minutes Cook Time: 10 minutes Wait Time: 4 hours Serves: 4

An easy, classic Italian dessert custard. 

Ingredients:
2 cups (1-quart) heavy cream
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 vanilla bean, split lengthwise, seeds scraped*
1 (.25 ounce) envelope unflavored powdered gelatin
3 tablespoons water
Mixed berries or Strawberry Sauce (recipe below), for serving

Directions:
In a medium saucepan, combine the cream, sugar, vanilla bean and seeds. Bring the mixture just to a simmer over medium heat. Simmer for 1-2 minutes. Remove from heat, cover and steep for 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a small bowl stir together the gelatin and water. Let stand until thickened, about 5 minutes.

Uncover the cream mixture and bring to a simmer over medium-high heat. Remove from heat, and stir in the prepared gelatin, stirring until dissolved. Remove the vanilla bean and discard.

Pour the panna cotta mixture into four (4-6 ounce) ramekins or small bowls. Cool to room temperature. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until the panna cotta is set but still jiggly, at least 3 hours.

Serve chilled in the ramekins, topped with fresh berries or strawberry sauce. Store panna cotta covered in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. 

*Note: 1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste or 2 teaspoons vanilla extract can be substituted, but may alter the color of the panna cotta.

Adapted from Food and Wine Magazine, May 2007

Strawberry Sauce 
Prep Time: 10 minutes Cook Time: 15-20 minutes Makes 1 cup

A simple strawberry sauce perfect for serving with panna cotta!

Ingredients:
1 1/2 cups thinly sliced strawberries
1/4 cup sugar
1 lemon, zested and juiced

Directions:
In a large bowl, stir together the strawberries, sugar, lemon juice and zest. Let strawberries sit for 15-20 minutes. Once strawberries have had time to macerate, pour mixture into blender and blend until liquefied. Serve on top of set panna cotta.

Other recipes you might enjoy:
Whipped Lemon Mousse
Strawberries n’ Cream Jell-O Salad Cups
"Skinny" Brownie Pudding Parfait
The Best Homemade Chocolate Pudding

Saturday, May 2, 2015

Sneak Peek: SoFabU on the Road {Dallas, TX}

Disclosure: I am writing this post in exchange for a discounted SoFabU on the Road conference ticket; however, all opinions are mine and mine alone. #SoFabUOTR #cbias



I am so blessed that this thing called blogging has given me so many opportunities! I have been blessed with the opportunity to meet so many people online and in person. I have been able to share my passion with all of you. I have been able to grow as a person; pushing myself to talk to meet new people, learn new things, be 100% myself.

I have also had the opportunity to learn from many talented people! This has come from reading other blogs, casual conversations and attending blogging conferences. Yes, for my non-blogging friends, there are conferences just for bloggers! This gives me an opportunity to meet some of my fellow blogging buddies, learn new things and get inspired!


One conference I am really looking forward to is SoFabU on the Road! This conference is put on by Collective Bias and Social Fabric (with support from great sponsors like Johnny RocketsMüllerKraft and iBlog), a fantastic company I have been blessed to work with for several years.

While some conferences are a one time event at a specific location, SoFabU is hitting the road this year and traveling to 11 different cities all over the US! I'll be attending the Dallas conference later this month but check out the list below to see all the places SoFabU has been and where they will be next!

Jan. – Los Angeles
Feb. – Miami
March – Phoenix
April – Cincinnati
April – Seattle
May – Dallas
June – NYC
July – Chicago
Aug. – Minneapolis
Sept. – Atlanta
Oct. – Bentonville


I am super excited for this conference for a number of reasons. Not only will I have the opportunity to learn, network and have fun, but the Dallas conference includes an Education Adventure: Gaylord Chefs Tour with Professional Photography/Video Instruction (check out the full schedule here)!

The conference keynote speaker is Randi Dukes. Randi Dukes is the founder and creator of Dukes and Duchesses, a craft and DIY blog that has grown from a hobby into a business over the last few years. Randi loves creating sponsored content for companies and has worked with many large brands including Better Homes and Gardens, Michaels, and The Home Depot. Randi is passionate about using social media to promote and monetize her site and has developed strategies that have brought consistent growth in her social media platforms and steady, increasing traffic to her site. She has over half a million combined followers on her various social media channels. Randi has previously spoken at Haven Conference and loves sharing with and encouraging other bloggers. Regularly featured on sites such as Today, Country Living, and Buzzfeed, Randi enjoys inspiring people with simple seasonal and everyday projects. Randi lives in Dallas with her husband, five kids, and a very dirty dog.

Randi will be speaking on How to Use Social Media to Drive Blog Traffic- Attendees will learn the secrets of using social media platforms {Facebook, twitter, google plus, pinterest, and instagram} to build an audience and drive traffic to their site.  Whether a brand new blogger or a proficient user of social media, you’ll learn tips and tricks for branding your social media platforms, finding your voice, increasing social media followers, enhancing engagement, and forming a lasting social media strategy and presence on all platforms.

And since I timidly posted my first ever “selfie” earlier this week, I think I could use a few tips in this area! LOL!


Are you a fellow blogger or curious about blogging and want to go to the Dallas SoFabU here is all the info you need to know:

Dallas SoFabU
May 30, 2015
8:00 am – 7:00 pm
Gaylord Texan Resort and Convention Center 1501 Gaylord Trail, Grapevine, TX 76051
Purchase Tickets Here

SoFabU On the Road:
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About SoFabU on the Road: SoFabU on the Road is a unique event that allows influencers to take advantage of educational opportunities that will help set them a part from the rest. SoFabU on the Road features hands-on, interactive sessions for influencers to implement what they're learning on the spot. The sessions are paired with fun city-specific adventures where attendees get to practice their newly learned skills. Events are open to all bloggers and influencers!

About Collective Bias and Social Fabric: Collective Bias® is the only shopper social media company that solves shopper marketing problems by weaving together organic social content with engaging, real-life stories to generate millions of impressions, increased share of voice, SEO and retail sales for brands and retailers. Top brands such as Tyson, Nestlé and Duane Reade rely on Collective Bias to sell their stories socially. Based in Bentonville, Arkansas, with satellite offices in New York City, Chicago, Minneapolis, San Francisco, Cincinnati and London, Collective Bias was named one of America's 25 Most Promising Companies by Forbes and a part of the Inc. 5000.

Social Fabric® is Collective Bias’ proprietary community of nearly 3,000 shopping-focused influencers with an aggregate multi-channel reach in excess of 130 million. For more information, please visit Collectivebias.com or find us on Facebook and Twitter.

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