Category: Sweets

5 Best Flavors from the Atlanta Food & Wine Festival 2017

Every year the Atlanta Food & Wine Festival offers the best from the Southeastern culinary scene. This year I was credentialed media. So beyond the renown tasting tents, I was able to attend some of the educational experiences and VIP parties. Between the Thursday preview event, the Friday kick off and the Saturday classes– here are the five best things I tasted at the 2017 at the Atlanta Food & Wine Festival.

1 Smoked Gator by Chef Kenny Gilbert
Kenny Gilbert is probably best known as a contestant on Top Chef. As the owner of two southern restaurants in Jacksonville, FL, he knows how to adapt Floridian ingredients into southern traditions. He talked us through his process of procuring a farm raised gator, brining it, seasoning it and finally smoking it. Talk about slow cooking! The result was one of the tenderest, juiciest meats I’ve ever eaten. Gator has a reputation for being chewy, but when done right, as Chef Kenny Gilbert proved, it will fall off the bone.

2 Rivulet Pecan Liqueur
The world is accustomed to other nut based liqueurs. But being a Georgia girl, I have deep love for the pecan. Enter Rivulet Pecan Liqueur. I remember while growing up, my aunt had a tree in her yard. Not so fun to pick them up when they fell, but totally worth it when she made a pecan pie! Rivulet is reminiscent of that joy. The owner of the company actually attended the tasting tents and gave me the rundown about how many different types of pecans there are (20 in Georgia). I can honestly say that I will definitely be supporting this brand. I can’t wait to try it with a cola and/or a bourbon. So delicious. 

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3 Red Velvet Cupcake from Sugaree’s Bakery
I am really hard on red velvet cake. I’m super critical. For me, it must be dense, not light and airy. It must be dark red, not pink. It must be moist and buttery. And the icing must be creamy and heavy, preferably with nuts, NOT whipped. Sugarees delivered on all of these things. I cannot tell you how I nearly melted when I bit into the cupcake. They were generous enough to give me a case. Sadly, I decided to share them rather than eat a whole dozen. I will definitely be ordering from them as they ship nationwide.

sugarees bakery red velvet

4 Spicy Coconut Wahoo from the US Virgin Islands
All throughout the tasting tents, I could hear steel drum music and see a woman towering above everyone while dancing on stilts. I finally made my way over the U.S. Virgin Islands tent, which was a cool lounge area with, as it turns out, a live steel drum player accompanied by an instrumental calypso track.  Of course, they served food and drinks. Wahoo is one of my favorite flaky white fishes, it was served with a light coconut broth and fresh peppers. It had the perfect amount of heat and the right balance of sweet. I washed it down with cruzan rum. The whole experience made me want to go to the Caribbean.


5 Arkansas Bourbon Bread Pudding by Chef Scott Rains
At the preview event, Chef Scott Rains served a bread pudding. While sharing my experience live on facebook for my friends, I walked past the table with all the Arkansas chefs and restaurants. I was reading the sign when this attractive tall man said to me “you know you want it”. I burst out laughing and made my way back to him after my video ended. Seriously. This man knows how to make a bread pudding! I think I got the last one. The next day, I went to a breakfast hosted by the Arkansas CVB, here again Chef Scott Rains was serving the famous bread pudding. I should have had a second serving that day. I got a selfie with him instead, which has managed to disappear. Damn.


Recipe| How-to Make a Raspberry Macaron

French Macarons are the new cupcakes. Bakeries everywhere are adding them to their menu. And now there are macaron shops/stands popping up all over the place. Below is a recipe so that you can make your own!

Raspberry Macaron villa azur dine with daniMay 31 is National Macaron Day (not to be mistaken for a celebration of the new French president). Below you’ll find a recipe from Chef Erwin Mallet of Miami’s Villa Azur. Now you can try your hand at creating a perfect batch of this sweet meringue-based confection. The Raspberry Macaron.



  • Almond flour/meal: 212 grams
  • Powdered sugar: 212 grams
  • Egg whites: 0.82 grams to 0.90 grams
  • Red food coloring: a dash
  • Granulated sugar: 236 grams, plus a pinch for the egg whites
  • Water: 158 grams

Raspberry jam:

  • Raspberry purée: 1 kg
  • Granulated sugar: 50 grams
  • Pectine: 10 grams


Healthy Living| Kicking the Sugar Habit in 2017

I decided to cut sugar from my diet in 2017. Maintaining a healthy lifestyle is hard and its even harder when you have a sweet tooth. But even for those of us who don’t, cutting sugar can be difficult because nearly everything we eat has sugar! And LOADS of it! You can find sugar in the most unexpected places. And even if its natural, that doesn’t mean the glycemic load will work in your favor. Certain natural sugars are just as bad as high fructose corn syrup. So watch the video below to talk learn what steps I’m taking in 2017.

I’m posting my videos hella late, but I’ll be keeping you guys in the loop. I fell off the wagon recently, but I’m doing better! Lets talk on social media!

Purchase your monkfruit sweetener using the link below to keep this site running. This is the best price you’ll find for this brand! I put it in my black coffee every morning now.

My Acai Protein Smoothie Recipe

my acai protein smoothieA few years ago, smoothies became the snack du jour. They were touted as diet food (meal replacements) and soon smoothie shops started popping up everywhere. We were paying $5 and $6 for fruit blended together. And ultimately all we did was increase our sugar intake.

After a few studies regarding the myths and facts about smoothies, we got smart! The public demanded that smoothie shops add veggies, yogurt and/or protein to the mix. Home electronic companies jumped on the bandwagon and started marketing “smoothie makers”. So now everyone has a bullet or ninja at home to make their own.

I don’t have either of those, but my blender is no slouch! And I make some amazing smoothies with it. Remember: when it comes to cooking, its not all about the tool– its about the ingredients.

Anyway, I call smoothies my frenemy because they are so yummy (friend), but so sugary (enemy). So I like all frenemies, I take them in small small doses. And what do I put in mine? Seriously only a handful of quality ingredients. And NO ice.

The DineWithDani Acai Protein Smoothie/Vitamina

1 cup plain greek yogurt (flavored yogurt has too much sugar and the texture ruins the smoothie)

1 pack of Sambazon Acai puree (it says sweetened, but its really not sweet- and if you have another brand– it’ll work)

1 frozen banana (when bananas are on the way to being overly ripe, I peel them and freeze them in a ziplock bag for smoothies at a later date)

0.5 cup of almond milk (you can use cashew milk, skim milk, lactaid or whatever you have)

1tbsp of honey (I choose raw honey and honestly it isn’t just for sweetness, it really affects the texture of your smoothie)

optional: one serving of protein powder

optional: two large kale leaf OR one extra-large collard green leaf (cleaned)


smoothie ingredientsClick below for additional notes…


How-To Make Cranberry Sauce… a Holiday Condiment

Don’t cook? No worries! Here is the recipe for everyone’s favorite holiday condiment: Cranberry Sauce. (The people who don’t like it probably NEVER had it made fresh!) With the recipe and video below– you have the ability to blow some minds and changes some lives!!


granulated sugar
orange juice
(spices to taste- salt, nutmeg, cinnamon, rosemary, thyme, etc.)

The Secret of My Success… Sweet Auburn Desserts

Sweet Auburn Desserts by Chef Sonya Jones

This was the first cookbook I was ever asked to review and I took that very seriously. So I’ve had the book for a long time and I’ve tried several of the recipes. And I have to say this book is the REAL DEAL. If you want to learn how to make moist pound cakes, southern style banana pudding, bread puddings, pie crusts and classic cookies– you’ll want to invest in this book. Sweet Auburn Desserts.

The author, Sonya Jones, and her bakery on Auburn Avenue in downtown Atlanta are known for a delicious sweet potato cheese cake. Yes, you read that right. And yes, it is everything you think it is! This treat was my introduction to the Sweet Auburn Bakery.

While hanging out at the Sweet Auburn Festival, I heard a young man yell “Girl, you know you want this!” I turned my head laughing, sure he wasn’t talking to me. He was. But he was right. He was holding up a slice of a dessert. I rarely give in to my sweet tooth, but I found him so funny that I decided to see what he was talking about.

It turned out that his mother owned the bakery he was sitting in front of and she had made this particular dessert, for which she is “famous”. Of course I questioned what he meant by famous. He then showed me photos of his mother with all manner of celebrity; politicians, musicians, actors, etc. I asked if I could have a sample. I was denied. As there were no samples, I bought a $5 slice of the famous sweet potato cheesecake. I ate it about 30 minutes later while walking around the festival.

The thing is, I’ve never really been that into desserts. Of course I like something sweet, but I’ll choose a chocolate martini over chocolate cake any day. I like pies (especially cherry and sweet potato), but cakes never really moved me. And cheesecake only served to confuse me. Its cheese, its cake, but kinda like pie. I left it alone usually. Only once in my life have I ever had that ecstatic experience with a dessert that so many women describe, but that came many years later. Another post.

My experience with Sonya Jones’ sweet potato cheesecake was like no other. I ate my slice slowly. I even considered saving half of it for later, but I proved completely undisciplined by eating the remainder in my car. I sat there wondering when I’d return to Auburn Avenue. I had to have more. I had to share it with my mom. I went back to purchase a few more things. And I fell in love.

A few months later, I got an offer from the publisher to review her cookbook. And here we are. If you want to impress your friends and family– GET. THIS. BOOK. My family thinks I’ve mastered the pound cake. I’m constantly asked to make them. And I don’t mind!!

One tip: Read the entire recipe before beginning. Some desserts require two recipes; one for the crust and the other for the filling. I wish you happy baking. Thank you Pelican Publishing! I look forward to more!!

Camicakes Cupcakes… Providing Smiles by the Box

“Happy Birthday to ME” — a lovely birthday surprise from my awesome team at the 9-5.

There is a lot of hype surrounding the Camicake. I was so pleased when I was surprised by my team with an assorted box. Camicakes is the perfect choice for childrens’ parties, holidays, birthdays, babyshowers and more.

I never really thought of myself as a cupcake person, but how can you not be? Handheld cake decorate so beautifully can only do one thing: make you smile. Mind, they probably have a days caloric intake per bite, but its totally worth it!

Okay, on to the favorites:

My senior colleagues RAVE about the red velvet cake. I’m rarely a champion for anything red velvet– and this is no exception. While it is moist (unlike most restaurant versions) it doesn’t make me do a happy dance.

The Lemon Meringue is a tasty option if you like a light lemon poundcake. The Bananas Foster is a delicious choice for anyone who loves banana cream– I wasn’t quite sold that it was bananas foster. The Raspberry Chocolate is a delight; the almonds add so much to such a simple flavor. I think I love anything strawberry- so I’m not even going to get into how much I gravitate toward it. The Cotton Candy flavor was a pleasant surprise that took me back to a carnival or theme park; the sugar on top is just perfection. The Salted Caramel was fantastic. Not as pretty as the others, but there again I probably should rate anything that is caramel flavored because it will get a rave.

I have to say that the best thing about Camicakes is the icing. Its pretty and colorful and full of flavor. I’m not quite sold that the cake in the cupcakes are the greatest thing since cake, but how can you complain when they are moist, sweet and perfectly topped. There is another purveyor of cupcakes that I may have to write about, but for now: If this is your cupcake provider of choice- you aren’t doing too bad.


Camicakes Cupcakes on Urbanspoon

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