This is a sponsored conversation on behalf of BJ’s Wholesale Club.

Crumbs Bake Shop

Have you ever heard of the famous Crumbs Bake Shop? They are based in New York and serve up the most amazing desserts. My husband actually grew up on sweet treats from this bakery. Well now there is no need to travel to New York to indulge in the decadent desserts. BJ’s Wholesale Club is satisfying members’ cravings for sweets by exclusively carrying an assortment of the famous bakery’s sweet treats. All 201 clublocations in 15 states will carry a variety of items including signature cupcakes, ice cream cupcakes, ice cream sheet cakes and Crumbnuts— a cross between a croissant and a donut. Until now, the delectable desserts were only available at Crumbs Bake Shops.

“The Crumbs Bake Shop line of treats fits perfectly with our bakery model of tasty and unique offerings,” said Christina Neppl, executive vice president of merchandising/logistics at BJ’s Wholesale Club. “We are the only retailer bringing the Crumbs Bake Shop experience to our members – many of which have not been able to experience Crumbs in their areas – and we are so thrilled to be able to satisfy our member’s sweet cravings with these famous desserts.”

Crumbs Bake Shop Cinnamon Crumb Cakes

The Crumbs Bake Shop menu at BJ’s Wholesale Club includes these mouthwatering delights:

  • Signature Cupcake 3-pack: Peanut Butter Cup, Cookies & Cream and Red Velvet.
  • Colossal Cupcake: Happy Birthday Vanilla cake mix with rainbow sprinkles, filled with vanilla buttercream, topped with cream cheese frosting and yellow rosette in the center. This oversized cupcake serves 6-8.
  • Crumb Cake 12-pack: Bite-sized crumb cakes with a cinnamon streusel topping made with real cinnamon and cream cheese.
  • Crumbnuts 4-pack: Part croissant, part doughnut, all delicious! Dusted with cinnamon and sugar.
  • Ice Cream Sheet Cakes (18-inch):
    • Happy Birthday Vanilla cake with rainbow sprinkles and vanilla ice cream. Frosted with vanilla icing and finished with yellow rosettes sprinkled with edible rainbow confetti.
    • Cookie Dough Vanilla cake and vanilla ice cream with cookie dough chunks mixed-in. The cake is frosted with vanilla icing, edged with chocolate rosettes and topped with cookie dough chunks and chocolate drizzle.
  • Ice Cream Cakes (8-inch round):
    • Red Velvet cake and cheesecake-flavored ice cream with red velvet cake chunks mixed-in. The red velvet ice cream cake is frosted with vanilla icing and edged with vanilla rosettes and topped with red velvet cake chunks, cheesecake dough chunks and white chocolate drizzle.
    • Peanut Butter Cup chocolate cake and peanut butter ice cream, frosted with peanut butter icing and topped with chocolate rosettes, mini peanut butter cups and chocolate drizzle.
  • Ice Cream Cupcake 6-pack: Peanut Butter Cup, Cookies & Cream and Red Velvet each filled with respective ice cream flavors.

Crumbs Bake Shop Signature Cupcakes

Crumbs Bake Shop items retail from $3.99 to $22.99 and can be found in the bakery department and freezer sections of all BJ’s Wholesale Club locations. We had the chance to try the Signature Cupcake 3-pack: Peanut Butter Cup, Cookies & Cream and Red Velvet (pictured above). These are huge cupcakes that are moist and oh-so decadent. We split the cupcakes that made me feel a little bit better about indulging in the sweet treats. Each flavor is amazing and I can see myself buying these each and every time we make a trip to BJ’s Wholesale Club. We also picked up the Crumb Cake 12-pack (pictured at the top of this post). These make for a great breakfast sweet treat and pair perfectly with a cup of coffee! I love that they are bite-size. You can have one or a few… no one is judging here!

BJ’s Wholesale Club wants one lucky Katie’s Cucina reader to have the chance to try out some of the sweet treats from Crumbs Bake Shop. Please fill out the mandatory entry n the  rafflecopter widget below for a chance to enter to win a $25 gift card. Giveaway ends May, 10 at 12:00 AM.

Don’t have a membership? No problem! BJ’s is currently offering a Free 60-Day Trial Membership through July 6, and it’s the only wholesale club that accepts manufacturer’s coupons as well as their own coupons.  The risk-free, trial membership consists of full-member benefits and no surcharge.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Disclaimer: I received a membership to BJ’s Wholesale Club and a gift card to try out a few desserts from Crumbs Bake Shop. As always all opinions are my own. 

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Happy Easter

Easter Bunny Newborn Photo -- new baby Ryder on Katie's Cucina!Just wanted to wish everyone a very Happy Easter. May your hearts be filled with joy and love during this holiday spent with the ones you love. I made an early Easter dinner last night for my parents; slow cooker maple glazed ham, sour cream and chive mashed potatoes, steamed green beans and carrots and an apple crisp for dessert. Yes–I cooked all that with a newborn. If I can do it–anyone can do it! Later this afternoon we will be heading for my in-laws to celebrate Easter with them.

A note about the photo above. Yes, that is my son, Ryder. My little Easter bunny! Two weekends ago, we spent the day with the amazingly talented, Christy Buonomo Photography, shooting newborn photos. She shared this Easter photo earlier this week and I just had to share it with my readers. Once we receive all of our newborn photos I’ll be sharing them over on our DIY blog Sew Woodsy. I’ll also be sharing my birth story in the next week or two. I’ve had lots of people asking about how it all went down, so I’ll be dishing out all the details–the good, bad, and the ugly (ok and maybe some really cute photo’s of Ryder as well)!

Happy Easter!



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Announcing the birth of the next generation of Katie's Cucina, Ryder Thomas

(photo by Christy Buonomo Photography)

Last Saturday, March 29, 2014 my husband and I welcomed the birth of our son, Ryder Thomas. He was three days “late” from my predicted due date (that bounced around through the course of my pregnancy. Let’s rewind back to my 40 week appointment of how this little guy got here. My blood pressure was a little elevated and my midwife wanted me to undergo a few extra test just to make sure that all was well with myself and the baby. By that Friday morning we found out that I was very low on amniotic fluids and well, my blood pressure never went down. That afternoon my midwife called me and told me to head to the hospital that my wish was coming true and I would soon be meeting my baby.

The next generation of Katie's Cucina

After 22 hours of labor (11 of those with no epidural) I had not progressed and was starting to spike a fever (as well as my blood pressure was still on the high side). We made the decision around 6pm on that Saturday to have a c-section. Not by choice, but this baby was not moving down and I had not dilated past 7 cm for over 5 hours. By 6:55 pm our son, Ryder Thomas was born. I will have a full birth story (with a ton more details) on my DIY blog, Sew Woodsy, in the coming weeks. Ryder weighted in at 6 lbs, 9 oz and 19-1/4inches long! If you ask me he looks just like his daddy–long and lengthy and a total heart throb already. But then again, I’m a little biased!

The next generation of Katie's Cucina

We spent 4 (long days) in the hospital until they finally allowed us to discharge. Because I spiked a fever during labor, Ryder had to get antibiotics through an IV every 8 hours for 48 hours. Making this mama sad and already blaming herself for not opting for a c-section earlier in the laboring. But what can you do, if that’s the worse that was wrong with him, I’ll take it! I was so ready to get home and get the show on the road.

My super talented friend, Christy, came to visit us in the hospital and did what is called a “fresh 48″ photo shoot. This is a great way to document the first 48 hours in the hospital as a new family. The first photo up top was taken by Christy as well as this one she posted on Instagram. I can’t wait to see the rest of the photos!

The next generation of Katie's CucinaI will leave you with one more photo of Mr. Ryder Thomas. My father in-law took this photo of Ryder on his iPhone in the black and white setting (on accident). We absolutely loved the photo and made him send it to us ASAP. We have been at home for almost a week now and are getting adjusted to the new “normal”. We made it through the first week and everyone is still alive! I even managed to cook a freezer meal (a post on that coming soon) as well as cook a few breakfasts’. And not just cereal or a store bought pastry for breakfast in our home. Ryder is also doing great. He eats like a champ (I’ve chosen to exclusively breast feed) and  sleeps pretty darn well. He sleeps 3-5 hours at a time. Which most people tell us in unheard of. He really only cries when he is hungry or has a dirty diaper and if he starts to have a crying fit it really freaks us out because we have no clue why else he is crying. We have only experienced 2 of those crying fits in his first 9 days of life. I consider myself crazy lucky.

For the remainder of the month I’ll have my closest  blogging friends helping out while I get adjusted to this new thing called parenthood. I’m so incredibly grateful for the help of our parents, family, and friends while we adjust to being a family.

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Surprise Virtual Baby Shower for KatiesCucina.comYesterday, I woke up to a flood of tweets, Facebook messages, and Instagram tags. I’m use to seeing quite a bit of activity on my phone in the morning, but nothing like what I received yesterday. To my surprise, my nearest and dearest blog friends surprised me with a virtual baby shower! I honestly had no idea it was coming and was beyond taken back by the surprise!

A big thank you to Julie from The Little Kitchen and Christine from Cook the Story for organizing my virtual baby shower. I’m so lucky that we’ve become friends in real life and that I get to see them every few months (and I’ll get to see both of them this weekend)!

The theme of the shower was easy recipes and crafts for new parents. Not only did Julie and Christine ask my food blog friends to participate, but they also organized some of my craft/DIY pals to join in on the fun! My heart was filled with joy and love yesterday. One of the reason’s why I love blogging is the friendships I’ve been able to make over the past four years.

Another big thank you goest out to all my friends who surprised me yesterday. I can’t wait to try all the easy recipes, and download the fun craft/printable items for the baby!

In case you missed this in blog land, here is a list of 27 easy recipes and crafts for new parents. I encourage you to check out all the blog post from my virtual baby shower yesterday. I have lots of new recipes to try that should hopefully get us through our first few months as new parents!

Easy Broccoli & Cheddar Soup from The Little Kitchen
Buffalo Chicken Stuffed Peppers from Cook the Story
Individual Tortilla Caprese Pizzas from a farmgirl’s dabbles
Easy Cheesy Potato Corn Chowder from A Little Claireification
Slow Cooker Jambalaya from A Spicy Perspective
Italian Style Stir Fry from Aggie’s Kitchen
Apricot Chicken from Bombshell Bling
Easy Baked Spaghetti from Chocolate & Carrots
Cuban Casserole with Whole Grain Mustard Butter Biscuits from Climbing Grier Mountain
Freezer-Friendly Quinoa Meatballs from Cooking with Books
Baby Boy Subway Art Printable from H2OBungalow
Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Banana Cake from Inside BruCrew Life
Asparagus And Leek Quiche from Kokocooks
Roasted Lemon Parmesan Chicken with Red Potatoes from Life After Empty Nest
Yogurt Blueberry and Honey Smoothie from My Sweet Zepol
Pesto Parmesan Chicken Salad from Shaken Together
Printable Baby Whale Themed Cards and Project Life Mini Album from Simply Kelly Designs
Coconut Cookie Butter Sandwich Cookies from Simply Southern Baking
Slow Cooker Pot Roast with Garden Vegetables from Sweet Remedy
Easy Kofta Kebabs from Tasty Chomps
Crock Pot Fajitas with Chicken and Quinoa from The Dinner-Mom
Overnight Oatmeal from The Hungry Housewife
Honey-Dijon Chicken, Apple & Quinoa Wraps from The Kitchen Prep
Slow Cooker Italian Chicken Soup from The Lemon Bowl
Slow Cooker Pulled Pork Tacos from The Nifty Foodie
DIY Whale Art from While They Snooze
One Pot Mexican Chicken and Rice from Yellow Bliss Road


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Merry Christmas!

Christmas Card 2013

I just wanted to wish everyone a very Merry Christmas from our family to yours. 2013 has proven to be an eventful year for us. From all the traveling my husband and I had the opportunity to do, the amazing brands and campaigns I worked on, and of course the announcement that we are expecting a baby in 2014! Thank you for hanging in their with me over the past few months and not giving up on me. My number priority has been to take care of myself. We will spend the next week spending time with family and friends and we hope that our readers do the same.

We will kick off 2014 with some tasty new recipes. Over the past few days I’ve been dabbling in the kitchen again and have quite a few winning recipes. I will note that not all will be figure friendly. Then again–I don’t really have a figure to watch right now and I just eat what the baby has me craving!

Until then wishing everyone a Merry Christmas and a healthy and happy new year!

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We're Cooking Up A New Addition - #Baby #Announcement

I know I’ve been pretty absent over the past few months and I have a great excuse…

We’re cooking up a new addition… my husband Jon and I are expecting a baby in March! We’ve been married for 5 years and the announcement is one that everyone has been waiting for. Now that I’m in my second trimester I feel safer about announcing to the world. Plus I wanted, my readers to know why I’ve been a little absent lately.

NightstandI don’t think that anyone could have prepared me for what the past 15 weeks have been filled with. No book, no friend, no family member… when people would warn me I would scoff (in my head) and think do these people not know me? I’m like the energizer battery. Well… I’ve had 1% energy over the past almost 4 months. Although I’m happy to report that I feel like I have 20% energy now.

The above photo is what my nightstand has looked like over the past few months. Although… I’ve not read an ounce of my food writing book. The non-stop 24-7 nausea hit me at about week 5 (right during the Food & Wine conference I attended this summer). It was also a bummer because they had amazing food and all I wanted was comfort food (like mashed potatoes, and more potatoes, and some veggies). And they definitely tempted me with lots of tuna tartar, fresh sushi, and luscious drinks. But… at the same time I some what didn’t have any desire to eat it. Funny how that works. Saltines were my best friend over the past 10 weeks. I did get on a teddy graham and cheez-it crackers kick for a few weeks and then got really sick of them and now can’t stomach it.

I can not tell you how much Chobani I’ve consumed over the past 3.5 months. Every morning my loving husband makes me a smoothie that consist of apple Chobani, strawberries, banana, and spinach. Then for a mid morning snack I have a Chobani, and most night as my snack before bed (because you have to eat before bed–or at least I have to eat before bed or I get sick during the night) I have another Chobani… 3 greek yogurts every day! We have a full shelf dedicated to CHO!

picklesI haven’t had too many food cravings. I mean I’ve always LOVED pickles but now when I smell them I can’t eat just one or two. I need like five or six. Lucky for me, my office has a lot of catered lunches and typically we have lots of pickles left over… so you can find me in the break room picking up a handful of pickles.

ice cream snickers barsLately, I’ve been on a sweet quick. I’m not going overboard but I definitely get the craving and I need something sweet. Its not like I eat sweets morning noon and night, I just need something to satisfy my sweet tooth. Typically, if I have something sweet once a day I’m satisifed. I may or may not have bought a box of Ice Cream Snickers bars to have in my office freezer for an afternoon snack. Oh, and I’m totally obsessed with Mini Double Caramel Magnum Ice Cream Bars.

I’m also eating all things Mexican! I’ve been on the shredded chicken taco train lately with lots of fresh salsa. I’m making a few batches of fresh salsa each week (although it doesn’t agree with the heart burn that has already started, but its delicious so I eat it and suffer later). I use to be able to do lots of spicy food, but after trying a little spicy I soon found out that it was stronger than I ever could have imagined… so all my mexican food has been sans spicy!

Opal Apple from

The other thing I’ve been digging is a lot lately is fresh veggies like cucumber slices and carrots and apple slices (not all at the same time). Which the apples are very appropriate since I just visited Washington state last weekend and learned all about apple harvesting and the process. Even more appropriate since my little baby is the size of an apple this week!

So… in a nutshell. That’s why its been a little quieter around here lately. I don’t know if I’ll share a lot about my pregnancy on Katie’s Cucina. I am adding a tab called “Katie’s Bambino” that will deal with all things baby. If you want to keep up, hop over to my DIY blog Sew Woodsy where I know I’ll be sharing a bit more.

Disclaimer: None of these brands know I’m writing about them… its just what I’ve been eating lately.

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8 Best Italian Recipes + Homemade Olive Garden Favorites

Today, I’m excited to announce that I was asked to contribute my Copycat Carrabba’s Minestrone Soup recipe in the eCookbook! This eCookbook has 8 delectable copycat Italian recipes from some of your favorite restaurants. Just think about it… no need to go dine at the restaurant if you can make your favorites at home (of course remember you will have to do the dishes)!

So if you want to try a few Italian restaurant copycat recipes I highly recommend you download a FREE copy of the 8 Best Italian Recipes + Homemade Olive Garden Favorites today!

Disclaimer: I was not compensated to contribute to this eCookbook nor was I required to blog about it! I’m excited to share the eCookbook news with my readers. As always all opinions are my own! 

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Fondue Week with Cook the Story & Katie's Cucina

Fondue Week is officially coming to a close. This whole concept started in December when we were brainstorming about future Google+ Hangouts, and thats when we thought it would be awesome to invite a Chef from The Melting Pot to talk on National Chocolate Fondue week. And that is how Fondue Week was born. The week has come and gone and we hope that we were able to not only teach you a few things about fondue but also inspire you to make your own at home. Whether or not you have a fondue pot you can still make the delectable dips at home.

Once again a big thanks to our sponsors who donated prizes: The Melting Pot Restaurant, Swissmar, and Scharffen Berger Chocolate! These giveaways could not have been possible without them!

So lets see who our lucky winners are… 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

A big congratulations too…

Jamie H — $100 Melting Pot Gift Card

Suzanne from Kokocooks — Swissmar Mont Blanc 15-PC Meat Fondue Set

Tiffany W — Scharffen Berger Chocolate Bar Sampler Gift Box

We’ve emailed all the winners to obtain more information so we can get their prizes shipped! If they do not respond within 48 hours a new winner(s) will be chosen.

Now on to the features… 

We know fondue isn’t as common as ice cream or any other sweet treat out there. We had a few people link up and provide gorgeous fondue recipes for us to share.

Classic Cheese Fondue from Seasonal & Savory

Classic Cheese Fondue

Chocolate Cheesecake Fondue from Frugal Foodie Mama

Chocolate Cheesecake Fondue


S’mores Fondue For Two from Kokocooks

S'mores Fondue for Two

While I’m at it here are 10 more recipes to get you inspired to make your own fondue:

  1. Milk Chocolate Fondue Recipe from Add a Pinch
  2. Champagne Fondue from A Communal Table
  3. Little Dippers Pizza Fondue from Crockpot 365
  4. Spinach, Mushroom and Bacon Fondue from Steamy Kitchen
  5. Raclette from Cook the Story
  6. Cheddar Cheese Fondue from
  7. Pretzel Bites with Jalapeno Cheddar Cheese Sauce from A Kitchen Addict
  8. French Onion Cheese Fondue from Taste of Home
  9. Cookie Dough Fondue from Crazy for Crust
  10. Our version of Melting Pot’s Spinach Artichoke Cheese Fondue from Favorite Family Recipes

We hope everyone enjoyed fondue week and has a romantic and tasty Valentine’s Day!


Disclaimer: All prizes were provided by the companies listed above. As always all opinions are my own. 

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Top 12 Recipes of 2012

Top 12 Recipes of 2012 Katie's Cucina

Wow, I can’t believe today is the last day of 2012. Katie’s Cucina has grown by leaps and bounds this year. I published 189 blog post in 2012! That is a lot of recipe developement, cooking, photographing, editing, and writing that was done this year.

First and foremost the success of Katie’s Cucina wouldn’t have happened without my loyal readers who support me by leaving encouraging and kind comments and sharing via social media. Secondly, I have to thank my family and friends;

  • To my husband who more than often eats cold dinners because I’m off photographing our meal or trys a dish that is lack-luster in flavor. He’s my number one food critic. I tend to take constructive criticism well but there were a few times in 2012 that I went on strike from cooking for him because of his over-the-top comments. Hopefully, we will have less cooking strikes in 2013. I also hope that he will finally man-up and actually cook for me for a week. It is something that I’ve challenged him to for the past few years and he also claims that he can do it, but has never stepped up to the plate. Maybe 2013 will be the year that I document him in the kitchen for 1 week. And while I’m on that topic maybe I’ll finally get to try his famous chili that no one has ever consumed accept him.
  • To my mom, whom I get frequent phone calls from because I’ve “outed” her secrets or told a cooking trick she didn’t want exposed to the public. It’s ok… we are all human and real. That’s what makes Katie’s Cucina such a real place to be.
  • To my god-mother, Aunt Diane, who always emails me and gives me grammar lessons: blog post-by-blog post. I know… I’m working on it. I recognize I have the worst spelling and grammar in the world and hope to improve next year!
  • To my neighbor, Edie, who is always forced asked to taste-test recipes multiple times and give me feedback. Your opinions are much appreciated!
  • To my co-workers whom I know I’ve caused to gain several pounds in 2012 thanks to all the desserts I’ve brought in for them to try. Thank you for always being supportive and eating the food I make!
  • To my food blog friends in real life. I have a lot of them and made so many more of them in 2012. To Julie, Suzanne, Christine, and Julius to name a few. Thanks for always being my rocks and listening to me ramble, giving great advice, and just being all around great friends.
Seriously, 2012 has been an amazing year. The opportunities I’ve received have blown me away. I never in a million years would have thought that my hobby blog would turn into a business! I started doing recipe development and food photography projects this year which has opened up my eyes to a whole new world of possibilities. I had the opportunity to attend three food blog conferences this year: Food Blog Forum Orlando, TECHmunch Tampa, and Mixed Conference. I learned new blogging skills and networked with some of the most amazing bloggers and brands out there. I finally added video in 2012 to Katie’s Cucina. Not as much as I would have wished for, but I did do a few cooking videos. I also started a weekly Google Hangout with my friend Christine. It was just a simple idea that we turned into reality.We can’t wait to see what 2013 has in store for our weekly hangouts.
Once again, in 2012 I pushed my boundaries and learned new skills to take my cooking to a new level. I embraced the grill finally this year and can now confidently cook on it… no longer needing to call my husband every time I want to grill something. Instead, I just call on him to move it out on our patio for me! While vacationing around Europe in October I had some of my food blog friends guest blog for me while I enjoyed a little R&R. This was a first on Katie’s Cucina and I just want to thank everyone who helped out.  I also filmed not one but two cooking segments for nationally syndicated morning shows. This was a goal I had set for 2012 and I’m so happy I was able to accomplish it. A big thank you to the producers who reached out to me to make it possible.
So without further ado, I would like to share my top 12 recipes of 2012 (as viewed by my readers via Google Analytics)!

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Last Friday, I left for a 3 day, 2 night trip to Mountain Lake Resort; outside of Roanoke Virginia. The fabulous Paula from bell’allimento and Susan from Doughmestic put together a one-of-a-kind conference. Very hands on and topic specific all pertaining to food!

Mountain Lake Hotel

There were about 90 energetic food bloggers ready to learn and network! We spent our weekend at  Mountain Lake Hotel where parts of Dirty Dancing were filmed. This was definitely a dream come true. Back when I was 4/5-ish my parents took me to Lake Lure in North Carolina to see Johnny’s cabin, the staff cabins, and to walk those infamous steps that Baby carried the watermelon! Now, as an adult I got to visit the other half of where Dirty Dancing was filmed. Very surreal and brought everything into perspective! Can you tell I’m a die-hard Dirty Dancing fan?

Angela from Angela's Kitchen & Katie's Cucina

I got to the hotel pretty early and began helping Paula and Susan almost immediately. Upon arriving I had no clue who my roommate for the weekend would be. Little did I realize that Angela who I had chatted with from the airport to the hotel would be my roommate!

Mixed Conference

I helped check in various bloggers, answer questions, give directions, and even carry luggage up stairs. I loved that Paula and Susan thought to make a map. Each food blogger put a sticky note of where they were from. Of course, I was the lone Floridian (in my parka all weekend)! lol.

Nobody puts Baby in the corner!

So while I was helping out that evening at our opening party, I took a detour to the dining room where I sat in THE corner that “Nobody puts Baby in the corner”. Seriously, a highlight of my life!

Bree from Baked Bree at Mixed Conference

My first session of the day was with Bree from Baked Bree. She spoke about photography. All the way from the basics of camera bodies and lenses to finding the best light. Like almost all the photography talks I’ve listened too the speaker always encourages you to read your camera manual and get off programed settings and start shooting in manual. Every time I leave a talk I say I’m going to do it but I never really do it. This time–I’m sticking with my word. I need to truly learn every function of my camera. So I’ve started (little by little) reading my camera manual in hopes that come in January I can switch to manual 100% of the time!

Marian from Sweetopia at Mixed Conference

Next up, it was time to get creative with Marian of Sweetopia! REAL Butter sponsored the cookie decorating session with fabulous instruction by the ever-so-sweet Marian! Seriously, she is one of the nicest and most sincere people I’ve ever met. Marian showed us basic cookied decorating techniques that we could all use at home.

Cookie Decorating with REAL Butter

Even with Marian’s fantastic instruction my flooded royal icing ornament looked disastrous. Thankfully my tree, came out ok minus the fact that I decorated it upside down so my branches were going up instead of down! lol.

Lenny from Chez Us at Mixed Conference

After cake decorating with Duff and gang it was time to learn about video. I was super excited to listen to this talk since I’m trying to add more video! Lenny from Chez Us shared so much information. Here are just a few things that Lenny said that really resinated with me. Making a video is like a recipe you have your ingredients and directions. You must map out your video like you would a recipe. Common mistakes people make when creating a video: standing to close to walls, too far from the camera, background is messy, no tripod, no b-roll, poor lighting, audio, and crazy long titles. And after talking to Lenny over the weekend I now know that I have quite a few more items to add to my Christmas list!

 After an action packed morning it was off to lunch (and I even got to sneak in a quick power nap before it was time to decorate cakes)!

Cake Decorating with Duff Goldman

One of the 5 sessions we got to participate in was Cake decorating with Duff Goldman from the famed Food Network show: Ace of Cakes.  Just like for the cookies I paired with Lynda from Me and My Pink Mixer.

Cake Decorating with Duff Goldman

Both of us were pretty much at a loss for how to decorate our cakes. Nor had we ever decorated a cake before. Thankfully they had all of Duff’s products that you can buy at Michael’s Craft Stores. I felt that these products were perfect for the beginner cake decorator. We picked up a box of the fancy gum paste flowers and some of the cake tattoo decals!

Cake Decorating with Duff Goldman

And with much of the amazing Elania’s help we went over to the paint sprayers and she showed us how to paint our flowers.

Finished Cake using Duff Goldmans Cake Decorating Products

So, what do you think of how our cake turned out? I love the pre-made gum paste flowers! I mean they look like a pro made them!

Katie's Cucina with Duff Goldman at Mixed Conference

Of course, when I lined up to take my photo with Duff not only did my camera battery die but my apron had practically fallen off. Yep, that’s Duff. Fixing my apron for me as I balance our cake! lol.

Katie's Cucina with Duff Goldman from Ace of Cakes

The proper photo of Duff & I holding my cake.

Mixed Conference at Mountain Lake Hotel

So on our 1 hour break between sessions Brandy, Melissa, LaurenAngie, and I went on a self-guided Dirty Dancing walking tour. Scenes filmed at Mountain Lake included all of the dining scenes, Kellerman’s Hotel, the beach games, Penny crying in the kitchen, and the Houseman family’s cabin.

Tami from Running with Tweezers at Mixed Conference

After our little self-guide tour around the hotel I made my way to Food Styling with Tami Hardeman from Running with Tweezers. She gave a few really great tips during her talk. I never thought about it this way but Tami said “When you choose your recipe that is when food styling begins. That makes so much sense. I have started thinking about what dishes and natural elements I will use as I’m cooking the recipe. That way I’m prepared and ready to photograph once its done. She also made another great point. That is that you don’t always have to put every single ingredient to the meal on the plate. If your making a beef dish and it calls for vegetables with it. They can be on two separate plates if it makes the plate look too busy with both ingredients on it. “Let your photo be lived in–wipe your mouth off with the napkin”. I loved this concept… and hope to embrace this in the next few months.

Heidi Larsen from FoodieCrush speaking at Mixed Conference

The last session for the day was mind blowing. To be honest. I’ve heard at least a handful of eBook talks this year, and none were as powerful as the one given by Heidi Larsen of FoodieCrush. Here are a few take-aways from Heidi’s session:

  • Ask yourself why you should create an eBook?
  • Write something that you care about, that you know about, and that your readers want.
  • Draw from your own experiences
  • Think like a beginner

All-in-all I think Heidi’s session was my favorite. She really inspired me and gave me so many tools to get started on an eBook! Closing Party at Mixed Conference

That night we had a killer closing party equipped with tons of prizes from all the amazing sponsors, a live band, and a stocked bar compliments of Captain Morgan, Crowne Royal, Smirnoff, and others to boot…

Watching Dirty Dancing at Mixed Conference

After the party, we moved from the Barn back to the hotel where most of us watched Dirty Dancing! It was surreal watching it while staying at “Kellermans”. How I managed to stay up and watch the movie was besides me. I think it was pure adrenaline.

Food Bloggers at Mixed Conference

It’s always such a wonderful thing to meet people you’ve connected with online for years. Julie from Table for Two and I met earlier this year at Food Blog Forum Orlando. I finally got to meet Rachel from Baked by Rachel, Ali from Gimme Some Oven, Lauren from Healthy Delicious, Heather from Basil Momma, and Erin from Eat, Bake, Drink, Cook. I never got to attend sumer camp as a kid, but I imagine that our goodbyes are just like the ones you make at the end of summer camp!

Packing at Mixed Conference

Seriously, packing was hell. I hate to pack plain and simple, but packing all that swag (I know I shouldn’t be complaining right now) was the pits. I carried on everything going to Mixed, with all intentions to check a bag going back (and I packed a collapsable duffle bag in my carry on going). So I had to tote about 20lbs of swag through 3 airports (on no wheels). I mean, I can’t lie. It was totally worth it… just sayin. Sadly, this is the only picture of our room from the conference. It was very 1960’s! I loved it. Big thanks to all the sponsors: KitchenAid, OXO, Dreamfields, Dixie Crystals Sugar, Go Bold with Butter, Attune Foods, Hersheys, Way Better Snacks, Lucky Leaf, Creminelli, Roland Food, Stonyfield, Harvard Common Press, Le Creuset, KitchenIQ™, Duff Goldman, John Boos, Dreamfarm, California Raisins, and Andersons Seafood.

Hills of Virginia

Our driver that took Angela, Maeghan, and I to the airport asked if we had a little time. There was a lookout and he wanted to stop and let us take pictures. We had a good couple of hours so we were totally ok with stopping. Thanks to the iPhone panorama app I captured this beautiful photo.

Small Plane for Mixed

Getting on that crazy small plane was definitely not a highlight of my trip.

It was a whirlwind of a weekend and I’m so glad I had the opportunity to go. This was the first time I had taken a “girls weekend” since my bachelorette party almost four and a half years ago! It was so nice to do something for me although you know the saying “Theres no place like home” and that’s so true. I was so happy to be home after such a fun and exciting weekend.

Mixed Conference

Once again a BIG thanks to Paula and Susan who made Mixed Conference possible. And a very big thanks to KitchenAid who sponsored my trip to Mixed Conference!

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