Misty Copeland and Olu Evans Engaged!

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Ballerina Misty Copeland opened up about awhile ago about her lawyer boyfriend (now fiance) Olu Evans:

It took me finding a person that respected me, that allowed me to still fulfill what i wanted in my career. That was most important to me. I always said, ‘no man is coming in and taking me away from ballet.’ And that was so important to me that the person I ended up with was going to support me in every way, because my career is so important to me.”

“And I knew immediately when he wasn’t afraid of hearing or seeing me so damaged – and that he wanted to help because he cared about me as a person.”

Delicious Eats for Tailgating Season

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One of the best things about the fall is football and tailgating. Now if you have NEVER experienced a tailgate then you have never lived my friend. It is some crazy fun to say the least. The picture above is from my beloved school the University of MS and if you have never heard of the Grove then I dare you to google it. A lot of things happen in the Grove and on game day it’s where you want to be. Now I have to worn you, the Grove is an electric place with all kinds of juices flowing! Everyone is your friend and you can eat at just about any table. Some tents are very elaborate with chandeliers and china dishes. Others will be very casual like a backyard cookout but the experience is the same. UNFORGETTABLE!

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What do you bring to a tailgate? I personally would stay away from a lot foods that need to be either heated or refrigerated. A few dishes won’t hurt as long as you care for them properly so that none of your guests get sick. There are just an extensive list of dishes that you can keep a room temperature. Check out these simple items below:

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You have simple cheese and crackers where the cheese and meat has been but into a football shape. Next we have chocolate dipped strawberries that are decorated like a football. Last we have chocolate, football shaped rice krispies treats. These are perfect treats to have at your tailgate. Check out these Pigs in a Blanket

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INGREDIENTS

  • 2 pounds (about 60) mini hot dogs
  • Cheddar cheese, cut into small pieces, optional
  • Caramelized Onions, optional
  • 1 large egg
  • All-purpose flour, for work surface
  • 1 box (17 1/2 ounces) frozen puff pastry, thawed
  • Poppy, sesame, or mustard seeds, optional
  • Mustard, for serving
  • Ketchup, for serving

DIRECTIONS

  1. Cut hot dogs lengthwise 3/4 of the way through. Insert a piece of cheese or 1/2 teaspoon caramelized onions into each hot dog, if using; set aside. If not using cheese or onions, poke hot dogs several times with the tip of a knife.
  2. On a lightly floured work surface, working with one sheet of puff pastry at a time, roll into a 14-by-11-inch rectangle. Cut lengthwise into seven 1 1/2-inch wide strips. Cut each strip crosswise into 4 rectangles, each about 3 1/2 inches long.
  3. In a small bowl, beat together egg and 1 tablespoon water; set aside. Line baking sheets with parchment paper or a nonstick baking mat; set aside. Place a hot dog on the narrow end of one piece of pastry. Roll to enclose, brushing with some of the beaten egg to adhere; transfer to prepared baking sheet. Repeat process with remaining hot dogs and pastry. Brush the tops of puff pastry with egg and sprinkle with seeds, if using. Transfer to refrigerator and let chill for 15 minutes.
  4. Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
  5. Transfer baking sheets to oven and bake until puffed and golden, about 20 minutes. Let cool briefly before serving with mustard and ketchup.

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Chef Chantea Williams

Easy As 1-2-3 Summer Desserts

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When it comes to looking for easy desserts, the first thing that comes to mind is something that is a no-bake desserts. These cheesecake trifle pictured above is a perfect example. In the summer when it is already hot there are times when you don’t want to add to the heat by turning on your oven. I don’t know about you but summer in the south is no joke!

We need something sweet and refreshing like these strawberry shortcake ice cream bars. It has two of my favorite items, strawberries and ice cream. Well, actually three items. I forgot about the Oreo crust. Yum! Yum! This recipes uses vanilla Oreos but I bet the chocolate or berry ones would work just as well.

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I have to be honest. I was once not a fan of no-bake desserts because we didn’t do those kind in my house besides rice krispie treats. I don’t recall any in culinary school other than homemade custards. I have since learned the error of my ways. LOL! Go ahead a try a few no-bake desserts. They taste just as good in half the time. Enjoy this Snicker Pie.

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Ingredients

  • 1 (8 oz.) package cream cheese, softened
  • 1 c. confectioners sugar
  • 1/2 c. chunky peanut butter {I use a heaping 1/2 cup of Extra Crunchy
  • 1 (8 oz.) container Cool Whip
  • 1 1/2 c. chopped Snickers candy bars
  • 1 (6 oz.) prepared graham cracker pie crust
Directions
  1. With an electric mixer, beat together cream cheese, confectioners sugar, and peanut butter until smooth. Stir in Cool Whip until well combined.
  2. Cut Snickers bars in half lengthwise and then chop into small pieces; set aside about 2 to 3 tablespoons. Add chopped candy bars to peanut butter mixture; stir until well mixed. Spoon mixture into pie crust. Sprinkle top with reserved chopped Snickers.
  3. Refrigerate for at least 3 hours before serving.

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Chef Chantea Williams

This Girl Is Anointed Tee – Grab One!

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I love a tee. I’m partial to vintage tees but this one fits the bill. It’s VERY popular right now and the orders are coming from EVERYWHERE. It seems that all the ANOINTED entrepreneurs want one. It says “This Girl Is Anointed For Kingdom Business.” It’s comes in a soft v-neck and a crew neck too. Both have a slight curve and are made to fit a woman. They are very true to size and you can snag one before they run out!

GET IT HERE. 

Carnival Food Favorites

 

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Who wants to go to the carnival and just ride the rides? Some of the best junk foods are at carnivals. You can get your junkie fix all in one place as long as you have the extra change to do so. One of the first things I do when going to a carnival is checking out all the food vendors to see who is selling what. I look for my all time favorite funnel cakes.

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This fried dough topped with powder sugar is so delicious! Far from anything healthy. The one food I absolutely  do not like are corndogs. I think I ate them too much when I was younger and developed a dislike for them as I got older. The other carnival foods that I enjoy are candy apples, popcorn, sno cones, cotton candy and pretzels. What better way to wash it all down than with some lemonade!

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A new carnival favorite are the fried Oreos and candy bars. This happens to be my daughter’s favorite. Every time the fair comes into town all she wants to know is whether or not they are selling friend Oreos. Now, I have to admit I wasn’t totally sold on it when I first heard it and I still have yet to try it. I think that the next time a fair is town I will try it to see for myself. Until then enjoy this recipe of Fried Oreos.

 

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INGREDIENTS

52 cookies 
  • 1(20 ounce) package Oreo cookies
  • 2cups Bisquick
  • 2eggs
  • 1 1⁄2cups milk
  • 3teaspoons oil
  • vegetable oil (enough for deep frying)
DIRECTIONS
  1. Blend Bisquick, eggs, milk, and 3 tsp oil until smooth.
  2. Preheat your deep fryer to about 375°F (use a thermometer if you wish to deep fry in a pan).
  3. Dip the cookies in the batter mixture until totally covered and then place in the hot oil (cookies will float).
  4. Keep checking and turn over the cookie when bottom side of Oreo is brown.
  5. Keep a close watch because it only takes a short time to brown.
  6. Remove cookies and eat warm.

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Chef Chantea Williams

A Shoe-In for Best Organizer Hack

Finding a new use for this hanging door shoe rack will make you a shoe-in for Organizer Of the Year.

Finding a new use for this hanging door shoe rack will make you a shoe in for Organizer Of the Year.

If you’ve ever struggled with storage or lived in a tight space, then you know that it takes a bit of creativity to organize your life. Moving isn’t always an option, and if you’re a renter, you may be limited in the changes you can make to your home. This is my current situation. Known to my friends and family as the Glamourpuss, I am not short on beauty and skincare products. My tight 28″x 18″ under the sink bathroom storage space has proven to be no match for my ever growing collection of Mary Kay skincare, purchased and homemade bath products as well as my ever-expanding hair junkie arsenal. I was overwhelmed and couldn’t find ANYTHING when I needed it. I also found myself purchasing multiples, because I had NO IDEA how much stuff I had under that sink. What was a girl to do? I already had baskets for my towel issues (that’s in a future post). I needed to be organized and stat!

The solution was right in front of me (or rather inside my bedroom closet) the entire time. While visiting a friend, I saw her using a clear shoe organizer to hold non-shoe items. “They make those in clear?!” I thought to myself. So I went home and looked at my organizer in it’s tanned glory and immediately went to my neighborhood mega mart and picked up a clear shoe organizer for myself. It came in at under $10 and has greatly improved my bathroom organization. I was able to use my under sink area for other items. Now I can “see” what I have, and I have saved time and money by not buying what I already have. So…is this an idea you’re open to try? Have you used a shoe organizer in a creative way? If so, I’d love to hear from you. Please leave your comments below.

Yours,
Natalie S. Everett

Deliciously in the Dumps – Dump Cake Recipe

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Now, I have to admit desserts that used mixes was never in my kitchen after I graduated from culinary school. I felt like I wasn’t really cooking. Why? I was a natural cook and a trained one so it just wasn’t allowed in those kitchens neither in mine. I know, I know…you’re saying, “Girl please!” I got it. I promise you I did. LOL! This cherry dump cake will please even the toughest critics.

A dump cake is just what it says. You dump all the ingredients one at a time into your baking dish and no, you do not have to stir. It usually has canned fruit but you can also use frozen fruit. You may want to top it with any type of nuts like this peach dump cake below.

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This dessert is not only good for potlucks, church dinners and family gatherings but it’s also perfect to bake with kids. It’s simple and requires no advance techniques or sharp objects. Gather the kids and use their favorite fruit along with your favorite box cake mix. Don’t just think you have to stick to a yellow cake mix but get creative and use chocolate or strawberry. The variations are limitless as long as you step out of your comfort zone. The kitchen to a cook or chef is like a canvas to painter. If you mess up, just try and try again! The recipe below is a Blueberry Cream Dump Cake

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INGREDIENTS

 4 cups fresh or frozen blueberries
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 (15.25 oz.) box yellow cake mix
1 cup (2 sticks) butter, melted
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 (6 oz.) container Greek blueberry yogurt
 
DIRECTIONS
  • Preheat the oven to 350º F. Grease a large (12-inch) cast iron skillet or a 9 x 13-inch baking dish with softened butter.
  • Add the blueberries to the prepared baking dish. Add the brown sugar, cinnamon and vanilla. Toss to combine. Then cover the blueberries with the cake mix.
  • Pour the melted butter over the cake mix, but do not stir.
  • Bake for 35-45 minutes, or until light brown.
  • Meanwhile, whip the cream with an electric mixer. Fold in the blueberry yogurt.
  • Serve the cake warm or cold, topped with a dollop of blueberry cream.

 

You now have permission to be deliciously in the dumps!

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Chef Chantea Williams

Herb Growing For Beginners

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Shhhh! I have a secret to tell you. Come closer because I don’t want this to get out. I have always wanted to grow an herb garden. I know, I know. What does a pastry chef need with an herb garden? Well, we can’t live on sweets alone you know.

I won my first herb plant in a health challenge at work earlier this month and it’s still alive!!! I am by no means a successful plant grower yet but I’m off to a good start. My basil plant is still looking good. I’m so excited and can’t wait to cook with it! That led me to researching how to grow herbs for beginners. So here we go…

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First thing you need are good supplies. A more robust pot for growing will take you a long way and can be used over again. You want to look for quality pots that will hold your plants. You want to make sure they have room to grow and don’t get cramped. Secondly, you need labels for your herbs. The labels can be a simple as using colored popsicle sticks or you can get more fancy and use different shapes.

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Thirdly, you need good potting soil. A plant can’t grow without good nutrients so don’t get cheap on the soil or you might as well continue to buy the herbs at your local grocery store or market. Fourthly, you need a watering can. Lastly and the most important, are the herbs you are going to grow. Herbs that tend to grow fast are chives, dill and coriander. There are others but these are a few of the more common ones. You will need to pay extra attention when growing these herbs. Herbs that tend to grow slower are oregano, parsley, rosemary, fennel & thyme. Again there are others but these are a few of the more common ones. These require a little more patience and be sure they have plenty of room to grow.

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You want to be sure to give your herbs plenty of sunlight but keep them out of high temperatures. The sun can actually burn them. They need about an inch of water a week so be careful not to flood them out. As you start your own kitchen herb garden, don’t be afraid to consult the experts as you are shopping for your supplies. Share with us your herb garden pictures. We would love to see your progress. Now if they only had a plant for beignets!

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Chef Chantea Williams

Summer Beverage Hacks, Part 1

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It’s summertime and the living is hot, depending on which part of the world you reside in. If you happen to be located closer to the equator, then you know just how hot it can be. During these hot summer days, nothing quite refreshes like a cold beverage, and smoothies are a great way to get in your daily recommended servings of fruits and vegetables while quenching your thirst. Here are some kitchen hacks to help improve your smoothies and shakes, while saving you time, time that you can spend relaxing poolside:
1. Freeze your bananas for later use. This is what the professionals do. Purchase bananas in bulk and once they’ve reached your preferred ripeness level, peel them and cut into small pieces. You don’t have to freeze them, but it makes it easier to use later, unless you prefer to blend the skins along with the fruit. You can freeze these bits in a quart-sized freezer bag or other freezer container. When you’re in the mood for bananas, just drop a few into the blender with your other ingredients. This adds instant potassium and helps thicken your beverage.

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2. Perhaps you have other season fruit or veggies that you’d like to add to your blended beverage, but the fruit is several days away from being ready to eat. No problem. Just place them in a sealed brown paper bag. In a few days, they will ripen. Can’t wait a few days? Then place a banana in the bag. As the banana ripens, it will emit additional ethylene gas, causing all items in the bag to ripen at an accelerated rate.

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I hope you enjoy these quick hacks and plan to make some shakes and smoothies in the days to come. In the meantime, I’d like to hear from you. What are some of your favorite summer blended beverages using bananas and other seasonal fruits?

Yours,
Natalie S. Everett

The Best 4th of July Desserts

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What thing I love about the holidays are the desserts! They seem to get more creative and fancier depending on the holiday. Now I have to admit this 4th of July I am keeping it simple with our family cookout. I will probably do a peach cobbler, brownies and maybe an apricot bourbon poundcake but that didn’t stop me from doing my annual search of 4th of July desserts.

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This American Berry Pie is sure to be a big hit. This combination of strawberries, raspberries & blue berries is irresistible! Pies are always a great dessert to bring but you better have more than one if you are bringing this one. I can bet you anything that it won’t last long. My favorite is going to be the Star Spangled Shortcakes. I LOVE shortcakes! They are the sweet version of biscuits. You can make them out of almost any shape using cookie cutters.

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This is filled with strawberries, blueberries and fresh whip cream. If you have never had fresh whip cream, then you have been deprived. It is so much better than the tub stuff  but I do use it too depending on the type of dessert I’m making. The last thing I’m going to share is a Patriotic Layered Drink, which is non-alcoholic. I know that drinks aren’t normally desserts but it looked so pretty that I couldn’t resist. This drink does take some time so make sure you are not in a rush, otherwise, it will not come out right and you will end up with a delicious purple drink.

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Ingredients

  • 1 cup Cranapple Juice
  • 1 cup Sobe Elixir Pina Colada
  • 1 cup Blue G2 Gatorade
 Instructions
  1. Make sure all ingredients are well chilled.
  2. Fill glass ¼ of way with ice.
  3. Fill with cranapple juice just to ⅓ way up.
  4. Place in freezer for 30 minutes or until ice layer has formed on red layer.
  5. Fill to top with ice
  6. Gently fill with pina colada by pouring over the back of a spoon to ⅔ way up.
  7. Place in freezer for 20 minutes or until ice layer has formed on white layer.
  8. Gently fill with G2 by pouring over the back of a spoon rest of way up.

 

Have a safe and happy 4th!

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Chef Chantea Williams

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