Surprise-Inside Cakes and Giveaway!

Surprise-Inside Cakes -

I can attest, without a shred of doubt, that Amanda Retke, author of ‘Surprise-Inside Cakes’ is magical, as are all the confections she makes.  I am fortunate to be in the food blogging community with Amanda and discovered her website I Am Baker just before my daughter’s birthday last year.  My daughter's request for a birthday cake was ‘a cake with flowers on it’.  I swallowed hard, appreciating a challenge, but clueless where to begin.  I’m not a ‘fancy froster’, far from it.  I took to the internet, locating the exact solution on Amanda’s website.  I read her simple tutorial, generously punctuated by affirming messages that anyone could make this cake.  I knew ‘anyone’ did not include me.  Having set aside an entire day to create the extraordinary cake that Amanda promised in the … {continue reading}

Santa Fe NM: Jalapeno Margarita {recipe} & Hotel Santa Fe

Hotel Santa Fe Jalapeno Margarita -

Last week I shared two segments of our recent family-friendly road trip through Arizona and New Mexico.  We visited the gorgeous Sedona, Arizona, and Phoenix Arizona which was packed with sun, fun, culture and great food.  The last segment of our road trip landed us in Santa Fe, a place I’ve visited many times over the years and never tire of.  New Mexico is known as the Land of Enchantment and Santa Fe certainly lulls one into that state of mind as easily as slipping into a comfy easy chair.  For me, each time I arrive here all cares dissipate, relaxation sets in and time feels endless.  It is a place of beautiful native architecture, earthen-hued stucco, ristras (hanging dried chilies) and a serene calm.  Also a mecca of good food and drink, art and culture, and beautiful outdoor areas … {continue reading}

Gluten-Free Basics: Flours and Baking

Gluten-Free Basics Flour and Baking

When I look back on my gluten-free journey one of the biggest learning curves for me was gluten-free flours and baking.  When baking with wheat flour there were few situations when I ventured outside of the basic all-purpose flour, whole wheat flour or cake flour.  Gluten-free flours are an entirely different situation.  For this month's post in my role as a Udi's Gluten-Free Community ambassador, I wanted to share some of my findings over the nine years of being gluten-free. Why Does Gluten-Free Baking Require Multiple Types of Flour and Starches? As a reminder gluten is a protein in barley, wheat and rye (and is implicated in oats as well though they are not naturally glutinous).  Gluten is a binding agent, the element in wheat flour that holds everything together when baking.  … {continue reading}

Tattooed Easter Eggs

Tattooed Easter Eggs in Nest {tutorial} -

Growing up my household was like everyone else’s, dying Easter Eggs with small dye pellets dissolved in water and vinegar.  It was always so exciting to watch the pellets begin to fizz with such fury eventually creating sublime spring tones on our hard-boiled eggs. A few years ago I decided to finally try a method I had been anxious to do for some time; using natural vegetables and spices to create Naturally Dyed Easter Eggs.  I was amazing to behold, especially for the eggs dyed blue, which were dipped in a red cabbage mixture to emerge the same blue as an early summer night sky.  This sparked my creative juices to try new and different methods ever since.  The following year I used an old family method belonging to one of my daughter’s Middle School teachers; Silk Tie Dyed Easter … {continue reading}

Lime and Chili Fish Tacos and Donna Hay’s ‘Fresh and Light’ cookbook {& giveaway}

Donna Hay Fresh and Light cover -

When I was asked to review Donna Hay’s latest cookbook ‘Fresh and Light’, to say I was over the moon would be a gross understatement.  Regular readers know how much I love to share a great cookbook and I’ve been a fan of Donna Hay’s work for a long time, owning prior cookbooks and subscribing to her Australian-based magazine in digital form.  All of her recipes celebrate seasonal ingredients through approachable, delicious recipes that are geared toward easy preparation.  Of her twenty published cookbooks, themes such as ‘simple’, ‘fast’, ‘off the shelf’ and ‘instant’ head the focus offering a reprieve for busy cooks who don’t wish to sacrifice flavor or visual presentation when not having hours to prepare a meal. Fresh and Light is no different.  The title hit me like the first blooms … {continue reading}

Phoenix AZ: Water Park Resorts, the MIM and the Best Bison Burger {recipe}

Best Bison Burger -

Our road trip destination of Phoenix Arizona, had one mission in mind; a watery dose of sun and fun.  When looking for resorts we were scouting destination resorts with dazzling aquatic features, perfect for family travel.  Three resort options were clear wins. JW Marriott Desert Ridge.  I love, love, L.O.V.E this resort.  Located in North-East Phoenix it is a multi-faceted venue offering an abundance for fun-loving families.  Though the resort was booked during our time in Phoenix, we’ve stayed there as a family twice prior.  On our first visit we selected the resort due to a partnership they had with Nickelodeon at the time and once again fled winter to surprise my son with a full on Sponge Bob weekend for his birthday.  The concierge worked with me to have our room decorated when we … {continue reading}