Sunday, July 31, 2016

Reader Favorites: July

Thank you for all of the love this month! July is a great month; it feels like Summer! If you missed any of the posts this month, here are the top posts you visited in the month of July. Enjoy!

Let me know if there are any nutrition-related topics you would like me to cover. You can comment below or tag me on PinterestInstagram, and Twitter

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Friday, July 29, 2016

State of My Goals Address: July Edition

As promised, I am sharing updates on my goals and 2016 resolutions in the state of my goals address. You can take a look at my 2016 goals and my thoughts on goals and resolutionsSharing these goals is a way to keep me accountable and help me to improve, grow, and learn. People who share their goals tend to be more successful. So, I'm sharing the goals here to encourage you and to keep me accountable. You're welcome to comment with your goals and share your progress as well. Feel free to tag your goals with #RDTODgoals or #healthyRD on social media.

2016 Goals
Try 30 new recipes. 
In July, I tried a few new recipes including:

  • Sprinkle Cake with browned butter 
    • It was fun to practice some of the leveling and icing skills that I learned at my first cake decorating class. The sprinkle cake was more crumbly than the cake we used in class, but it was delicious!
  • Sugar cookies
  • Scallops with a lemon orange gastric 
  • Royal Icing
  • Cake balls 
    • This was my first attempt at cake balls. They are a bit messy; I learned a lot. They are far from perfect, but they were delicious!
For those keeping track, this makes my new recipe count 26 out of 30.

Build endurance and strength.
I'm still loving my weight lifting class. I also restarted Zumba. I danced in high school and love to dance. I found an instructor that I like taking class from, so yay for cardio!

image from

Read more.

I read Playing with Fire by Bianca Olthoff. You can read my review of Playing with Fire from my July favorites. The book is available for pre-order. Please note that I was able to get an early copy of the book, since I was a part of the book launch team.

For those keeping track, my book count is 5 in 2016.

Learn something new.
I took a break from cooking classes this month. Instead, I took a cookie decorating class. My first attempt at icing cookies with royal icing did not go smoothly. So, I was excited to learn some tips and tricks for cookie decorating and working with royal icing. Stay tuned for my class review.

I practiced making pasta with my pasta KitchenAid attachment. My husband surprised me with the pasta roller as a half birthday present; so nice! I've practiced making pasta with friends. It's so nice to have friends help you make pasta. It's great to have two or more pairs of hands. And, it's nice to have people to visit when you make tortellini because it takes time to make homemade pasta.


There was no big travel this month. But, we have some travel plans later this year. So, stay tuned!

These are my broad goals for 2016. What goals are you working on in 2016?

Comment below. I would love to hear your goals and progress.

For more recipes, encouragement, and tips for healthy eating, follow me on PinterestInstagram, and Twitter

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Friday, July 22, 2016

RDtipoftheday Favorites July

Welcome to RDtipoftheday's favorites July edition. This is my blog series that highlights some of the best things I've been watching, reading, listening to, cooking, and eating. These are a few of my favorite things this month.

Eating & Cooking
I have some massive fresh fruit grocery hauls this Summer. So, here's the question we all ask. How long will your produce last? 

For all the bakers, it is more accurate to weigh ingredients. So, here are the weights for common baking ingredients

I always think food trends are fun. For me, 2016 is the year of the cooking class. 2015 was the year of Brussels Sprouts. 2014 was the year of the sweet potato. the Here are the top 10 predicted food trends of 2016. Let me know if you've tried any of these foods. in the comments below. Tell me what you're loving. And, let me know what foods you will 'pass' on.

After preparing a yummy meal, I would love eating in this dining room.


I just finished reading Playing with Fire by Bianca Olthoff. It was a great book that I got to read early because of being on the book promotion team. I really enjoy Bianca's speaking style, which was the same as her writing style. This book is a great balance of funny, sharing struggles, personal stories, challenging, and encouraging. My summary of this book is learning more about how God uses your personal struggles to shape you. My favorite quotes from the book are:

"There will be proverbial fires that thrown our lives, moments that make us feel like all hope is gone be nothing can or ever will change. But I want to remind you, the fire that boiled and softens a potato is the same fire that hardens an egg. It's not about our circumstances; it's about what we're made of." page 12

"I was placing all importance not the provisions, not the Provider." page 37

"I spent so much time in the external that the internal was malnourished and withering. Instead of believing I had value and worth heavier I was loved by God, I believed my worth came from being loved by others, and I focused my efforts there." page 41

"As children of the one true God, there is no power, stronghold, or addiction that can overtake us." page 137

*Please Note: As a part of the book promotion team, I was compensated one copy of the book before its official release date.

I'm currently reading Rising Strong by Brene Brown. It was a recommendation to me by a friend. I'll let you know my thoughts soon, so stay tuned.

Cake decorating technique videos on YouTube. Since I went to a cake decorating class, I learned a few techniques. It gave me more confidence to try new techniques. So, I'm learning through some videos.

This video demonstrates a few different icing techniques including basketweaving, swiss dots, and swag. The chef offers some good tips and techniques.

She Reads Truth phone screens. The screens are available through their app. I love these free screens. I have my phone with me pretty much everywhere I go. I think these phone screens are beautiful, encouraging, and a great way to learn scripture. Enjoy!

I hope you enjoyed these tips, recipes, and all of my favorites from this month. Let me know if this is a feature that you would like me to continue by commenting below. And, let me know if you have something you want to be featured. Thanks! Have a great weekend!

For more recipes, encouragement, and tips for healthy eating, follow me on PinterestInstagram, and Twitter

Monday, July 18, 2016

Summer Pasta Class

I took my second cooking class this weekend. We made fresh pasta dough and two dishes. The first dish was goat cheese tortellini with charred red pepper pesto and olives. The second dish was linguine with shrimp, Summer vegetables and fresh mint. Both were yummy. Let's start at the beginning.

Our chef instructor prepared the pasta dough ahead of time because it needs to rest. Then, we worked as a team of four to roll the pasta out by using the hand roller. We started at setting "zero," which is the largest opening. Then, we folded the pasta in thirds, then in half. Then we rolled each sheet through the attachment. We at started at setting 1 and progressing through each setting until we reached setting 6. We had fairly thin sheets of pasta that were ready to use for both dishes.

The first dish we made was goat cheese tortellini with charred red pepper pesto and olives. I helped make the pesto for the class. It was super simple especially because all the ingredients were prepped and ready. May chefs use this technique called mise en place. This is a french term that translates to "put in place."  I blended the ingredients for the pesto together in the food processor until there are no large pieces of ingredients and everything is well blended.

Then, we moved to making the pasta dough into tortellini. We cut out 3-inch pasta rounds with a cookie cutter. Placed 1 teaspoon of filling into the pasta round. Dampen the edges of the pasta with water. Fold the pasta in half to make a half-moon shape. Please out all the air bubbles from the inside (by the filling) out. Place a drop of water on the edge of the pasta and loop the two corners behind the pasta to make the tortellini shape. Place tortellini on a floured half-sheet pan and continue forming the tortellini until done.

Boil the fresh pasta for 3-4 minutes until tender, and the pasta rises to the top of the pot. Toss warm pasta with your fresh, Summer pesto, and enjoy!

The second dish was linguine with shrimp, Summer vegetables and fresh mint.

This was the first time I used a pasta cutter. The pasta machine has a cutting attachment you can see in the picture below. It was super simple. After you roll out the pasta to the desired thinness, you feed the pasta sheets through the cutting attachment. And, out comes linguine! You flour the pasta and lay it in flat nests on a baking sheet until you're ready to cook it.

Next, it's time to make the sauce. The ingredients are all out on a sheet tray ready to chop and finish the mise en place. 

Then, you cook the shrimp in a little oil. Add the onion and garlic. Deglaze the pan with white wine. Add the veggies. Cook until tender. Add the herbs. The chef cooked the pasta while we prepared the sauce. Toss everything together and enjoy!

Y'all. I really loved taking these classes. One of my friends came to this class with me, which was extra fun! Learning to make pasta in a class setting was a great experience for me. There was a chef to help coach you. And, there were the chef's helpers who helped clean up the mess. There was quite a bit of flour . . . on everything and everyone in the class. Whoopsies! 

I encourage you to try something new. Invite a friend. Learn something new. Don't be afraid to try a new recipe, and taste something new!

For more recipes, encouragement, and tips for healthy eating, follow me on PinterestInstagram, and Twitter

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Monday, July 11, 2016

Cake Decorating Class

I think it's important to always be learning. I love watching Food Network shows to learn about cooking. I think it's event better to take classes. So, I decided to try out some cooking and baking classes. My first class was a pasta class. This was my second class to take. I took a cake decorating class at Central Market.

We had 12 students in the class. There was one instructor and two helpers. The instructor provided us with a packet that included the buttercream frosting recipe, tinting instructions, and some basic decorating instructions. We learned how to level, split, fill, crumb coat, ice, and decorate a two-tiered cake.

Here's what we did in pictures.

To keep your cake secure, put a small spoonful of frosting on the cake board to keep the cake stable. It is important to have your cake centered on the cake board and your cake board centered on the revolving cake stand. 

Next, I leveled the top of my cake. We used a serrated knife. We cut int approximately 2-3 inches. Keeping the knife still, I slowly rotated the cake stand one full rotation. I moved my knife in toward the center of the cake. On the second rotation, the knife finished cutting the top of the the cake off. Remove the cake top. The cake scraps can be saved, mixed with icing, and used to create cake pops!

I used the same technique to split the cake in two, so it could be filled.

Next, I piped a ring of buttercream around the edge. This creates a border to keep the filling inside the cake. Then, we spread raspberry preserves in the middle of the cake. It was super helpful to use a small, offset spatula for adding the preserves. 

After filling the cake, I replaced the split cake top. It was fairly level. Then, I added the crumb coat for icing. We started by adding a big spoonful of icing on the top. You spread the icing pretty thinly on top. Let the excess fall over the edge. Then, you crumb coat the sides of the cake using a wiggling motion with your spatula. Then, you use your spatula or a straight edge to remove the excess icing. If you're right handed, you ice the left side of the cake.  Then, let the cakes chill in the fridge to harden the icing.

Then, repeat for your next layer. The first tier iced was the bottom layer; it was an eight-inch cake. The second tier of the cake was a six-inch cake.

Level the top of the cake, and split the cake in half along the equator.

Pipe a buttercream barrier, and fill the cake with raspberry preserves.

Then, we crumb coat and chill the second tier of the cake in the refrigerator.

The first cake decorating technique I learned was the basket weave. It took a little time to complete the whole cake. My basket weave is not perfect by any means, but it was a fun technique to learn. I thought it this icing technique was visually interesting and added texture to the bottom tier of the cake.

The last step was adding a 1/4 inch of icing to the top 2-3 outside inches of this cake layer. That layer of icing covered the crumb coat that would not be covered by the second tier of the cake.

Then, frost the top tier.

And, frost the side of the cake. I used a straight spatula to smooth the top and sides of the cake. It was a work in progress.

Then, I used an offset spatula to move the second tier off the decorating stand and onto my bottom layer of cake. Since the cake was only two tiers, we did not include structural support. 

The instructor did demonstrate how to add small dowels. She inserted three bowls into the bottom layer of cake. Then, removed the dowels. She broke the dowels below the mark left by the frosting. She said the dowels should be hidden in the frosting, not showing through the frosting.

Next, we used a toothpick to map out our designs. This was a super helpful tip because you can "erase" mistakes by smoothing the frosting.

And, I decorated to my heart's content.

Here, you can see the inside of the cake filled with the raspberry layer. If you look closely, you can also see the buttercream ring.

Overall, I enjoyed the class. It was a three-hour class, which seemed both long and short. I wish we would have had more time for our cakes to chill and practice the different decorating techniques. However, I was kind of tired from standing and decorating for three hours. 

I think this was a good class to attend because of the techniques. Decorating, leveling, and crumb coating are new techniques for me. It was helpful to see the instructor demonstrate, practice, and have immediate feedback. I will definitely practice these techniques and consider taking another cake decorating class in the future.

Also, they provided soft drinks, hummus, pita, and ordered 3 pizzas for the class. This was a nice touch because our class was held over the typical lunch hour. 

The cake cost $60. I thought this was reasonable compared to other cake decorating courses offered. The cakes were baked for you, the icing was prepared and bagged, and they provided you with an apron. We got to take the cakes home. And, you don't have to do dishes or clean the kitchen when you're done! The class advertised a cake carrier to take home. I thought this would be reusable, but it was a disposable cake carrier. 

These are a few of my favorite tips from this class.
1) Don't throw away your cake scraps.
The cake scraps can be saved, mixed with icing, and used to create cake pops!

2) Use frosting to secure your cake to the cake board.
This helps keep your cake stable during decoration. The cake board makes it easy to move your layers and provides structural support when you stack your layers.
Bonus tip: The cake board under your bottom cake layer should have a visible border. The other cake boards should be the same size as your cake. The cake boards on your upper layers will be covered by a layer of frosting, so they will not be visible.

3) Use a damp paper towel to keep your cake board from slipping on the cake turntable.
This helps keep your cake stable during decoration. I also used this trick for transporting my cake hope. It was super helpful in keeping my decorated cake in one piece on the drive.

4) Make more frosting than you think you need.
We used a lot of buttercream in this class. Our first batch of frosting became contaminated with crumbs during our crumb coating. We could not use the crumb investing frosting for our nice outer layer of frosting. Also, it is difficult to match colored frosting if you run out.

5) Use a toothpick to draw your design layout on the cake.
Drawing with a toothpick on icing is like using a pencil when you're sketching. You can easily erase the indications in the frosting from the toothpick by blending the frosting with a spatula. It is more difficult to remove mistakes with colored frosting.

For more recipes, encouragement, and tips for healthy eating, follow me on PinterestInstagram, and Twitter

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