My Favorite Things Giveaway: Lightroom and Photoshop

by Shawnda on November 22, 2014

in Giveaways,Photography & Props

Editing Food Blog Photos with Lightroom 5

It’s here! It’s here! The most wonderful tiiiiiiime of the year!

Which I’d normally tell you was right behind opening day of the NFL season and the day when $5/15lb bags of Rio Star grapefruit reappear in my grocery store. But since the latter happened this week and we celebrated appropriately – move over, football!

Editing Food Blog Photos with Lightroom 5

So here’s “Scary Elsa” to introduce the first of our 2014 holiday giveaways, dedicated to The Picture Taker: a Photography subscription on the Adobe Creative Cloud, which includes the latest releases of Lightroom and Photoshop.

Editing Food Blog Photos with Lightroom 5

In my Photo Friday series, I covered how I used Lightroom to edit my photos.

In the 8+ years (!) that I’ve been flooding the internet with pictures of my desserts and dinners, I’ve tried out different photo editing software. My workflow has changed over the years, even since I wrote the last “How I Edit” column, but what hasn’t changed: I have yet to find anything as user-friendly and compact as Lightroom 2 3 5.

Editing Food Blog Photos with Lightroom 5

Lightroom is the ultimate photography assistant. I can cook up a fantabulous pumpkin butter bundt cake, I can style a pretty decent shot, and I can take a pretty darn good photo. But what I need help doing? Breathing the life and vibrancy and detail back into the output file so that it looks to you exactly how it looked to me . Sitting in my living room floor.

Right before I ate a slice of it for breakfast.

Editing Food Blog Photos with Lightroom 5

We have paired up with the fine folks at Adobe to bring one of you guys a year-long Photography subscription to the Adobe Creative Cloud, with which you’ll be able to use Lightroom 5 (and 6, when it is released next spring!) as well as Photoshop CC to edit and create your own delicious masterpieces.

To enter the giveaway, simply answer the following question in the comments below: What is your very favorite animated Christmas program to watch during the holidays?

Mine is “Year Without a Santa Claus” and I am solidly on #TeamSnowMiser.

Good luck!

The fine print:
– Maximum of one (1) entry per person.
– Giveaway ends at midnight (Texas time, y’all) on Friday, November 28.
– Winner will be selected by one of those cold, soulless, unfeeling random number generator thingies and announced on this post.
– Winners will receive a 1-Year Photography Subscription from Adobe (value ~$125).
– This prize in this giveaway is supplied direct by Adobe.
– Prize must be claimed within 7 days or it will be forfeited.
– Official giveaway rules can be found here.

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‘Tis the Season!

by Shawnda on November 21, 2014

in Christmas,Giveaways,Thanksgiving

XmasGiveaway

Tomorrow begins our annual holiday giveaways here on the blog. WHY SO EARLY, SHAWNDA? CAN YOU NOT RESPECT THE BIRD?!

I assure you I will be plenty respectful of the bird… as I drown it in a sweet tea brine next week :D

You can accuse me of surrendering to “Christmas Creep” but I am a proud, uncloseted Listen-to-Christmas-Music-on-November-1st kind of gal. And our Christmas tree has been up since Sunday night (although half of the lights are still out because I’m having a total Griswold moment and cannot figure out what I’m overlooking).

Truthfully, 2014 has been an insanely hectic year and I’m afraid that if I don’t start at least a little bit early, I won’t get it done in time. And what are you going to do with a big, shiny baking gadget that arrives during the first week of your January essential oil juicing no-carb cleanse detox?

See?

Each of this year’s giveaways will open on Saturday mornings and will include some of my very favorite things for the Cake Baker, Dinner Maker, Picture Taker, and Amazon Junkie.

Links for each giveaway will open on the date listed and the requirements/entry methods will be available on each giveaway page. Merry ThanksgivingMas!

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Chicken Pot Pie with Goat Cheese Drop Biscuits

If you don’t use goat cheese in – and on – your chicken pot pie, I’d like you to reconsider how you make chicken pot pie.

Although technically this might be considered “Chicken & Biscuits” but let’s not get bogged down in the details. Humor me.

Chicken Pot Pie with Goat Cheese Drop Biscuits

The first time I made a completely from-scratch chicken pot recipe ~8 years ago, it took me close to 3 hours. You cooked the chicken at the same time you were making everything else from scratch (the filling and the pastry topping). And while I streamlined the process quite a bit over the years… man, ain’t nobody got time for that.

With all that heavy cream in the filling, it was a total fat- and calorie-bomb. But what really convinced me that all the work was worth it back then: the tangy, tender cream cheese pastry crust.

But you know what makes an even better chicken pot pie topping than that? Goat Cheese Drop Biscuits.

Chicken Pot Pie with Goat Cheese Drop Biscuits

Not familiar with Goat Cheese Drop Biscuits? Today is your &^%$#@! lucky day. A heavy dose of black pepper, creamy goat cheese, and tangy buttermilk (or greek yogurt) are cut into ordinary old drop biscuit dough. The result? Far from ordinary old drop biscuits.

Under those crispy-tipped biscuits, an entire Costco rotisserie chicken, plenty of vegetables, and more goat cheese keep the filling hearty and flavorful even in the absence of heavy cream.

WHY ARE YOU SO DOWN ON HEAVY CREAM, SHAWNDA? YOU BASICALLY TAKE PICTURES OF DESSERT FOR “A LIVING” AND ‘TIS THE SEASON, RIGHT?! I know, I know. But I have recently dropped 25 lbs and I’d like to drop another 25. Andplusalso, I am paying someone to take pictures of us this weekend so this is a NO HEAVY CREAM zone until after photos on Saturday :)

Chicken Pot Pie with Goat Cheese Drop Biscuits

A hearty, flavorful chicken pot pie topped with tangy Goat Cheese Drop Biscuits.

Ingredients

  • For the filling:
  • 4 Tbsp butter (I used Smart Balance)
  • 1/2 very large yellow onion, chopped (~2 cups)
  • 1 cup chopped carrots (about 12 baby carrots stolen from my kid's lunch stash)
  • 1 small green bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 cooked rotisserie chicken (that you picked up from Costco along with a whole bunch of stuff you didn't need)
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • Black pepper
  • Salt
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 1 tsp Tobasco (or your favorite hot sauce)
  • 3 cups chicken stock
  • 5 oz log of goat cheese, divided
  • 16 oz frozen peas
  • 8 oz frozen broccoli florets
  • For the biscuits:
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 Tbsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • Generous amount of black pepper
  • 4 Tbsp butter (again, more Smart Balance)
  • 2 oz goat cheese (that was leftover after making the filling)
  • 1 cup buttermilk (I prefer 2/3 cup fat-free greek yogurt whisked with 1/3 cup 1% milk)

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 425.
  2. Lightly spray a baking dish with cooking spray (my dish holds 3 quarts) and set it on top of a baking sheet (safety first, clean ovens second).
  3. Heat 4 Tbsp butter in a large pot over medium heat.
  4. Add the onion, carrots, and bell pepper and cover, stirring occasionally and cooking for ~10 minutes until softened.
  5. While the vegetables are cooking, skin, debone, and shred the rotisserie chicken - I save the "castoffs" in a large zipper bag and freeze to make stock later.
  6. Add the garlic, black pepper, generous pinch of salt, and flour to the pan, stirring to make a paste. Let cook 2-3 minutes, stirring once or twice more (it will be thick and clumpy and do not panic).
  7. Add the Tobasco and then whisk in the chicken stock, making sure to scrape the bottom of the pot to loosen any flour and vegetables stuck to the pan.
  8. Bring mixture to a boil, add 3 oz of the goat cheese, peas, and broccoli, and cook until everything is heated through and the goat cheese has melted completely.
  9. Stir in the shredded chicken, add additional salt and pepper, turn off the heat, and transfer to the baking dish.
  10. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt, and black pepper.
  11. Cut the remaining 2 oz goat cheese and butter into the dry ingredients until a shaggy, crumbly mixture forms - I do this with my fingers and it takes ~60 seconds.
  12. Make a well in the dry ingredients and add the buttermilk or yogurt mixture. Stir until all traces of dry ingredients are gone. If it feels a little crumbly, knead it in your hands a few times.
  13. Pull off golf ball-sized chunks of dough and place on top of the chicken mixture.
  14. Transfer the baking sheet to the oven and bake ~20-25 minutes, until the filling is bubbly and the biscuits are golden brown.
  15. Try not to laugh so loud that you startle your 4-year-old when you find that she has pulled a chair up to the range and is eating the biscuit topping straight off the pot pie.

Notes

Yields: 6-8 generous servings

Source: Confections of a Foodie Bride, Biscuits from Cook Like a Champion

Estimated time: 1 hour 20 minutes

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Pumpkin Spice Bundt Cake

Like anyone else with a pulse, I have major love-hate for the Pumpkin Spicing of everything. (And the Red Velveting of everything but I’ll whine about that in Febraury.)

Some of it’s good. Some of it’s just eh. But I will not be apologizing for throwing another Pumpkin Spice [Whatever] recipe onto the internet because this one is awesome and deserves to be photographed and eaten for lunch and the leftovers taken to Jason’s office where they left the cake plate so clean, it left me wondering just who in my husband’s office stood there and scraped the glaze right off of it.

To that guy – or gal, I do not judge – I say thank you. And you’re welcome.

Pumpkin Spice Bundt Cake

So let’s talk about cake. Bundt cakes. Bundt cakes that are pumpkin buttered. And pumpkin spiced.

I took a 16 oz jar of Barton Creek Crossing Pumpkin Spread (locals, you can find it at HEB – unlocals, substitute your favorite pumpkin butter or make it yourself), the trusty 1234 cake method, and a bundt pan and made lunch.

Pumpkin Spice Bundt Cake

Half of the pumpkin butter is put into the cake batter while the other half is baked into the middle of the cake. The cake gets a flavorful and aromatic dose of spices from your favorite pumpkin compliments – cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, allspice, cloves, and black pepper. It’s almost a gingerbread-pumpkin spice hybrid.

The cake is topped with a maple-powdered sugar glaze that I would have rather not used but did anyway because I had no plans to eat the whole thing myself (

Pumpkin Spice Bundt Cake

Pumpkin Spice Bundt Cake

A tender, pumpkin-spiced bundt cake, with a ribbon of pumpkin butter baked into the middle.

Ingredients

  • For the cake:
  • 1 cup (2 sticks butter), softened
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • 16 oz (~2 cups) pumpkin butter, divided (purchased or make it yourself)
  • 3 cups flour
  • 1 Tbsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp ground allspice
  • 1/4 tsp ground cloves
  • A couple of pinches of fine-ground black pepper (probably close to 1/8 tsp)
  • Baking spray
  • For the glaze:
  • 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
  • 2 Tbsp maple syrup
  • 1/2 tsp maple extract
  • 1/4 tsp vanilla
  • Water

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350.
  2. Cream butter and sugar together for 3-4 minutes, until light and fluffy.
  3. Mix in the eggs one at a time, followed by the vanilla, occasionally scraping the sides of the bowl.
  4. Whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt, and spices.
  5. Alternate adding the dry ingredients in three batches with 1 cup of the pumpkin butter in two batches.
  6. Spray a bundt pan with baking spray and spoon half the batter into the pan.
  7. Use the large spoon to make a slight well in the batter and add then spoon the ramining pumpkin butter into the well.
  8. Cover with the remaining cake batter.
  9. Bake for ~45 minutes (a knife inserted into the cake should come out with moist crumbs attached (and maybe a little pumpkin butter) and then let cool for 10 minutes in the pan.
  10. Turn out onto a cake plate and cool completely before glazing.
  11. To make the glaze, whisk together powdered sugar, maple syrup, maple extract, and vanilla, with 1 Tbsp of water. Add water by the 1 teaspoon until the glaze is smooth but thick.
  12. Spoon over the cake, using as much (or as little) as you want.
  13. Try not to eat the whole thing in one sitting.

Notes

Yields: ~12 servings

Source: Confections of a Foodie Bride

Estimated time: 1 hour 30 minutes

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