July 6, 2015

How to Host a Family Camp-In {Making Memories with #DarkForDinner} #ad

This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Dixie for IZEA. All opinions are 100% mine.

#DarkForDinner


Lights off
Phones exiled
No TV
You, me,
Family
Talk, listen, Be

Camp Out
(Inside)
Camp In?

Fire Crackling
Candles Flicker
Faces light up
Smiles
Laughter

Time moves slowly
Unplugged
Unencumbered
No expense
High Yield Investment
Family Time

#DarkForDinner

 

 

This past Sunday, July 5, my family fulfilled their promise to go #DarkForDinner with Dixie. We didn't spend a dime. Our labors amounted to moving the coffee table off to the side of our living room and firing up the BBQ. Sounds simple, right? Yet this Sunday dinner turned out to be a really big deal. A new summer family tradition was born -- The Camp-In.

As I anticipated, there were moans and groans when I presented four kids, ages 10-18 with the idea of turning off the lights and all electronics for dinner. But something sort of magical happened once we powered off -- The tuned-out suddenly became tuned-in. Without packing a car, driving for hours, pitching a tent and fending off mosquitoes, we created some really fantastic family memories right here in our living room. Here are some of the highlights:

video

The kids grabbed their instruments -- a set of bongos, an acoustic bass, a ukelele and a guitar -- and started to jam.


For dinner, we kept it simple. We used what we had on hand -- extra burgers and fixings from the 4th. We threw the burgers and some fresh corn on the BBQ and had ourselves a proper camp-out-style picnic on the floor. My sister Cara and our dog, Pancho, nearly had a showdown over the last piece of corn.


Our like-a-son-to-us neighbor, Samba, was inspired to throw some of our favorite pork jowl bacon (sliced into thick strip steaks) on the grill. It was incredible!


I sliced up some of Samba's barbecued bacon and threw it on top of a handful of leftover crispy tater tots and nacho cheese. Not exactly health food, I know, but it sure was a hit.



For dessert, we all enjoyed some of my youngest daughter's S'more Kisses cookies. You can find the recipe HERE.



The kids couldn't resist grabbing a few sticks of kindling and toasting marshmallows over the fire.



We rounded out the evening with an easy little game my daughters made up that is all about getting to know more about one another. The game is called "Favorites" and this is how you play: 

Players take turns coming up with a topic (example: Favorite color, Favorite type of pie, Favorite movie). In turn, we all share our "favorite" that fits in to that category. We were surprised to learn that everyone's favorite color is one shade or another of blue or purple. We shared favorite adventures which included a honeymoon in Pismo Beach and Big Sur (my sister), Catching raindrops on our tongues in Jamaica (my daughter, Maddie), and exploring the Roman Cisterns in Turkey (me). We talked about favorite smells, which ranged from the pavement after it rains to clean laundry to the smell of a freshly opened video game. We had a lot of laughs and learned a lot of new things about each other. I think this Camp-In and dinner will definitely play a role in a future round of Favorites.



Do you have a memory of a special family dinner?

How about creating some new memories by going #DarkForDinner with the people in your life?

On Sunday, June 14, Dixie launched a movement called #DarkforDinner. The movement encourages families to be more present in the moments that matter most and spend more meaningful time together, especially during dinner. In order to really appreciate the company of your family during dinner, the #DarkForDinner movement asks those participating to turn off all cell phones, televisions, computers or other electronic devices to ensure the time together is distraction free.

Join Dixie by participating in the #DarkForDinner movement. For one family dinner, make sure work calls, personal calls, social media or other distractions do not take away from time you can spend together. Go #DarkForDinner and enjoy great conversation and time with what really matters most in life, your family.

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July 2, 2015

Family Camp-In Recipe: S'more Kisses For the Dixie
#DarkForDinner Movement #ad

This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Dixie for IZEA. All opinions are 100% mine.



Last weekend, my youngest daughter and I spent some one-on-one time in the kitchen coming up with a new cookie recipe inspired by the classic summer camping treat -- S'mores.

There is nothing in this world more important to me than family time.

How about you?

It's summertime, and we hear a lot about grand summer road trips, traveling by air or by sea to explore other lands and cultures, and lazy days on a river or lake followed by nights under the stars in inside a tent. These summer family getaways are no doubt memorable, but not always within our grasp. Fortunately, it doesn't take a lot of money, a week off of work, or even a tank of gas to make special family memories with those you love most. All it takes is a little imagination, and that's why on Sunday, July 6, we're going #DarkForDinner with an indoor camp-out -- a Camp-In.

On Sunday, June 14, Dixie launched a wonderful movement called #DarkForDinner The movement encourages families to be more present in the moments that matter most and spend more meaningful time together, especially during dinner. In order to really appreciate the company of your family during dinner, the #DarkForDinnermovement asks those participating to turn off all cell phones, televisions, computers or other electronic devices to ensure the time together is distraction free.

Just like at a regular campout, we're unplugging -- No electric lights, no cell phones or devices, and no television. We'll be outfitting our cozy lodge-style living room into our Camp-In zone. Here's the "Before" shot.


The coffee table is going out, and we'll sit, campfire style, on the rug. My sister and I will be in charge and we'll be joined by my husband, our girls, and some of the kids' best friends.

On the agenda:
  • A special camp-out themed dinner. For dessert, we'll be enjoying the amazing "Smore Kisses" Cookies pictured at the top of this post. You can find the recipe below.
  • Telling stories and playing games designed to help us learn more about each other. I'll share more about a game we invented called "Favorites" in my follow-up post.
  • Music -- The girls will provide the entertainment on their guitars and ukeleles

It's really simple, but I know it's going to be very special. Going #DarkForDinner is a great opportunity for my family to spend time together unencumbered by distractions. It's important to me and my husband that we share moments like this with our children where we are fully engaged. There's no pressure and no set agenda. Everyone is there to simply enjoy "being".


So, have I piqued your interest in going #DarkForDinner with the special people in your life? Go ahead, pull out the calendar and pick a Sunday any time through July 19. It doesn't have to be a grand production. All it takes is turning off a few switches and turning on the human connection. 

Join Dixie by participating in the #DarkForDinnermovement. For one family dinner, make sure work calls, personal calls, social media or other distractions do not take away from time you can spend together. Go #DarkForDinner and enjoy great conversation and time with what really matters most in life, your family.

Now, as promised, here's the recipe so that you can enjoy S'more Kisses with your family!


S'more Kisses

(Yield: 20 cookies)
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup cocoa powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
  • 2/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 tablespoons milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar for dipping
  • 10 large marshmallows cut in half with kitchen shears
  • 20 chocolate kisses, unwrapped
Step 1:  In a medium bowl, whisk flour, cocoa, and salt. Set aside.
Step 2:  With electric mixer on medium-high speed, beat butter and sugar until light and fluffy, 2 minutes. Add egg, milk, and vanilla and mix until smooth and no lumps remain. Reduce speed to low and add flour mixture until just combined. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
Step 3:  Adjust oven rack to middle position and preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Roll dough into 1-inch balls, then roll in sugar. Place 1” apart on baking sheet (4 rows of 5 cookies).
Step 4:  Bake for 10 minutes. Remove from oven and gently press a mashmallow half on to each cookie. Move oven rack to top position. Bake for 2 more minutes on top shelf.
Step 5:  Gently press a chocolate kiss into each marshmallow. Bake for 1 minute more. (If you like you marshmallows toasty, you can use a kitchen torch or even a stick lighter to add a little color to your marshmallows). Cool, then serve warm or cold
_______________________________________________________________________
About Dixie: For over 90 years, Dixie® products have been a part of American lives. Originally invented to help prevent the spread of germs through community drinking cups, the Dixie® paper cup has become an iconic American product. Throughout the years, Dixie has continued to introduce new products to make lives simpler and clean-up easier. Today, Dixie has an entire line of paper and plastic products including plates, bowls, cups, cup dispensers, serving platters and dining utensils. These products continue to enable consumers to worry less about chores and spend more time focusing on what matters most to them.
 
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June 12, 2015

Recipe: The Perfect Peach Cobbler


Continuing along on my peach-fueled trajectory...
...today I bring you one of my all-time favorite desserts:  Peach Cobbler!

Forget pie.  That's right.  You heard me.  Forget pie.  This cobbler is so buttery, crispy-crumby, cakey, ooey-gooey and profoundly peachy that you can forget about that old Plain Jane.

Just try it.  Thank me later.


 

 Perfect Peach Cobbler


For the peaches

  • 4 cups fresh, ripe peaches (peeled, sliced and diced)
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 3 Tablespoons cornstarch

For the cobbler topping

  • 1 cup unsalted butter (that's 2 sticks), softened (plus a TB butter for buttering the pan)
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2.5 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 2 Tablespoons raw or organic sugar (slightly larger grain that regular)
  • Vanilla bean ice cream 

Preheat oven to 350°F

Butter a 9"x9" baking dish and set aside.

In a medium bowl, toss peaches with the 1/2 cup sugar and cornstarch.  Transfer to the baking dish and level out.

With an electric mixer, cream together the butter and 2 cups sugar.  Beat in the eggs and vanilla till smooth.

Place a sifter over the bowl of butter mixture.  Into the sifter, add flour, baking powder, salt and cinnamon.  Sift directly into the bowl with the butter mixture.  Beat just till a stiff dough forms.

Spoon by the tablespoon-full on top of the peach mixture, until the whole surface is covered.  Sprinkle with the raw or organic sugar.  This will create a perfectly crispy sugared crust.

Bake for 50-55 minutes, or until golden brown.  Let cool for 30 minutes before serving.  Serve with a generous scoop of vanilla bean ice cream.


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