All posts by Guest Writer

Summer Must Haves

The hottest must haves for you this summer!

  • Long but lightweight maxi skirts! Such an effortless way to look cute!
  • Vibrant monokinis!
  • A statement leather purse with metal chain strap
  • Funky nail designs to match your bikini
  • Anything chevron stripe
  • A good pair of sunglasses in the sun! Protect those beauties!

Written by Emily Burnette

For more summer “must haves” pick up our latest issue on stands today!

Breakfast Casserole

Breakfast Casserole is a hit at my breakfasts, and with good reason.  It’s cheesy, full of potatoes and tasty sausage, just enough egg, and buttery, peppery goodness.  It would be ideal for a great beach vacation breakfast, when you are looking for something easy yet filling to make for a house full of hungry vacationers, or just as perfect for a sunny weekend “breakfast for dinner.”

As it stands, it’s an amazing meal, but you can change it up to suit your tastes.  Not a fan of sausage?  Try beef or turkey burger.  Want more kick?  Add hot sauce or some pepper jack cheese.   Cut up a few ripe tomatoes and toss them on top?  Oh my heavens.

You’ll never look at breakfast the same way again.

For this great recipe and more, pick up our latest issue, on stands now!

 

Rock’n Women

We’ve all had some sort of meaningful connection to the outdoors-it’s part of our intrinsic makeup.  We are pulled to discover, explore, find and create relationships with the natural world.  Maybe it was making mud pies with the boys on the playground, searching the lawn for four-leafed clovers, attending camp in the summer. Through outdoor play, young girls begin to form a sense of wonder and the confdence they need to continue their personal and physical growth.

Written by Dustin Eshelman

To find out more about outdoor recreation in the Roanoke Valley and The River Rock Climbing Gym, pick up our latest issue, on stands now!

Protect Your Hair

The month of July is filled with a lot of summer occasions- barbecues, Fourth of July festivities, and many choose to take their vacations during this month.

For fun in the sun we all know that sunscreen is a must. But what about for your hair color? The suns rays are also harmful to your color & will cause fading.

If you’re swimming in a pool, the harsh chemicals can strip your hair color & even cause a greenish tone to develop if exposed to the chemicals for long. And even though the salt from the ocean can give us a nice texture, it can also be drying & may cause fading as well.

Written by Tanya Ritz

For tips on how to keep your hair safe this summer, pick up our latest issue, on stands now!

Crème Brûlée

Crème brûlée is one of my favorite desserts and I’m always trying out new flavor combinations, like these blueberry lemon cuties.  Crème brûlée is a dish some people are intimidated to make, but this recipe is really simple and impressive to entertain with.  You can make these a day ahead and flame the sugar on top in front of your family and friends for some extra “ooohs” and “aaahs”!

 

Makes 3 crème brûlées

 

Ingredients
½ cup blueberries (fresh or frozen)
3 egg yolks
4 tablespoons granulated sugar
¼ cup fat free sour cream
¾ cup heavy cream
1 ½ teaspoons lemon zest
3 tablespoons brandy
Sugar topping (fine granulated sugar or raw/turbinado sugar) – about 1/3 cup total

 

Preheat oven to 275 degrees Fahrenheit.

 

Place 3 standard size ramekins in a baking dish.  Add a small handful of blueberries to the bottom of each ramekin, reserving some for topping if desired.

 

In a medium bowl, whisk the egg yolks until pale yellow in color.  Add the granulated sugar and whisk to dissolve.  Add the sour cream, heavy cream, lemon zest and brandy and whisk to combine.  Pour equal portions of the cream mixture into each ramekin.

 

Pour warm water into the baking dish until it covers the bottom half of the ramekins, making certain not to get any water into the ramekins.

 

Bake for about 40 minutes, or until the centers are just set and jiggle slightly.

 

Remove the ramekins from the water bath, and set aside to cool for about 30 minutes, then refrigerate for at least 6 – 7 hours until completely cooled.

 

To serve, top each ramekin with some of the refined or raw sugar, and brown with a kitchen torch or broil just until the sugar is browned and caramelized on top (brûlée = burnt).

 

 
Check out more on my food blog, Leave a Happy Plate.

Chocolate Macarons

My college roomy and best lady got me hooked on these delicious French cookies.  For her bachelorette party last summer, the ladies packed into a cute little bakery for a macaron cooking lesson.  I don’t remember everything we were taught (oh, wine) but I do remember how amazing the cookies were.

This is my third attempt at making macarons.  My first batch was a major flop; my egg whites did not get fluffy  (see note 2).  My last batch was good, but not as fluffy as batch #2 (see note 3).  Therefore, the recipe below is a combo of a few recipes, one of which was adapted from Martha Stewart.

A few notes:

  • Macarons taste better the next day (but that certainly doesn’t stop me from eating a handful on day 1).
  • The chef at the cooking class said you can use boxed egg whites, but the kind I tried did not form stiff peaks, so I suggest sticking to egg whites straight from the egg!
  • Sifting may seem tedious, but it’s worth it.

 

Chocolate Macaron ingredients

  • 1 cup confectioners’ sugar
  • 3/4 cup almond flour
  • 2 large egg whites, room temperature
  • Pinch of cream of tartar
  • 1/4 cup superfine sugar (regular granulated sugar pulsed in a food processor for about 1 minute will work)
  • 2 tablespoons cocoa powder

 

Peanut Butter Frosting ingredients

  • 1 stick unsalted butter
  • 2/3 cup natural peanut butter
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 cups confectioners’ sugar

Pulse confectioners’ sugar and almond flour in a food processor until combined. Sift mixture 2 times.

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Whisk whites with a mixer on medium speed until foamy.  Add cream of tartar and whisk until soft peaks form.  Reduce speed to low then add superfine sugar. Increase speed to high, and whisk until stiff peaks form, about 8 minutes. Sift flour mixture over whites, and gently fold until mixture is smooth and shiny.

Transfer batter to a pastry bag fitted with a 1/2-inch plain round tip, and pipe 3/4-inch rounds 1 inch apart on parchment-lined or silicon mat-lined baking sheets, dragging pastry tip to the side of rounds rather than forming peaks. Tap bottom of each sheet on work surface to release trapped air.  Let stand at room temperature for 15 minutes.  Bake 1 sheet at a time, rotating halfway through, until macarons are crisp and firm, about 10 minutes.

Let macarons cool on sheets for 2 to 3 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack.

Prepare the frosting.  Mix the butter and peanut butter together in an electric mixer on high speed, then add the vanilla.  Gradually add the confectioners’ sugar and mix until just combined.  Add more confectioners’ sugar if desired for a thicker, sweeter frosting.

Match up like-sized cookies and pipe about 1 teaspoon of frosting on one macaron, and gently press another macaron on top to make a sandwich.

 

Check out more on my food blog, Leave a Happy Plate.

Summer Cookout: Sultry Sides

Whether it’s hot dogs, chicken, or hamburgers, nothing is better that an entrée done right over a flame. Everyone has the entrees down, but what is there to do about the sides? Of course there are always the classics of potato salad and baked beans, but every now and then don’t you want to switch it up?

The first side to try is a twist on a classic: grilled corn. You’re going to want to remove the silk, but keep the husk and soak in cold water for ten minutes before grilling. Once you’ve done this, lay the corn on a piece of aluminum foil and spread a thin layer of butter over the ear(s). Then sprinkle the ear(s) with a little pinch of cinnamon and nutmeg. Wrap the corn tightly and lay on the grill and cook for ten minutes or until soft.

This next item is sure to have your mouth watering for more. Get a few sweet potatoes and slice them like French fries as thick or as thin as you like. Place the wedges on aluminum foil and sprinkle with paprika, lemon juice, salt, and a dash of pepper then coat with a tiny amount of olive oil. Wrap the foil around the wedges and make sure it is securely sealed at the top and place on the grill. Let these cook for about ten or fifteen minutes, let cool for a few minutes, and enjoy with ketchup or your favorite dipping sauce.

You know of grilled vegetables, but a well-kept secret is grilled fruit. Take a wooden spear and soak it in water for about thirty minutes. Chop up fruit like apples, mangos, pineapple, oranges (with peel still attached to side that will touch the grill), and cranberries that will make this treat even more delicious. Place the fruit pieces on the spear according to personal preference and grill for seven to ten minutes each spear.

These quick and easy sides make even the most cliché grilled dinner full of life. Adding semi-sweet touches to your favorite grilling classics can send your taste buds soaring and wanting more.

 

Veggies, Vitamins & Kids

There is no denying that most kids cringe at the mention of anything healthy. Since this is often the case, it is difficult to find the necessary balance between pleasing kids and giving them a healthy diet at the same time. Below are some tips to get your tot on the right track:

1)  Appearance, appearance, appearance!

Make fruits and veggies look fun. Every now and then it’s okay to play with food and if kids can have fun with it, then they’re more likely to want to eat it.

2)  Let them help.

“Mommy’s little helper” is a merit badge of awesome for kids. If they have a part in making the meal, then they will be excited to eat it.

3)  Show ‘em how to shop.

Kids like to feel independent; show your children fruits and veggies and let them pick the ones they that the think are “cool.” This way, it won’t be as much of a struggle when the food is on the plate.

4)  Make it easy.

One reason junk food is so popular is because it’s quick and kids can grab it easily in their downtime or between activities. Simple changes like making healthy fruit smoothies and having them ready and accessible can drastically improve kids’ diets. Also, small vegetables (like mini carrots) that have been pre-portioned are great for a kid on the go.

5)  Don’t make junk food an option.

The occasional Oreo is okay, but leaving cookies, chips, and other unhealthy foods around conditions kids’ pallets to crave that type of food. By feeding kids healthy things from the start and limiting the amount of junk food that they’re allowed will help them become familiar with healthier foods, thus training their pallets to crave what’s good for them.