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Bakery makes specialty cakes that are more than just delicious — they’re art

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Veronica Estrada, owner of Sugar Benders Bakery, takes a break from creating her surgery desserts, including this cupcake inside her east Cobb shop.
Staff/Kelly J. Huff

Sugar Benders Bakery is making east Cobb a sweeter place.

Opened in 2012, the bakery specializes in sculpted cakes.

“The inspiration for the bakery is bending sugar,” said sugar artist and cake designer Veronica Estrada who owns the bakery.

She came up with the name Sugar Benders because of the nature of the specialty cakes she makes. Her cakes are more than layers with icing. They are art.

“We manipulate sugar. … We do tons of three-dimensional characters — anything from a football stadium to a panda bear.”

The east Cobb resident previously owned a restaurant where she began making cakes. She pursued her love of cake decorating with Chef Nicholas Lodge through the prestigious International Sugar Art classes in Atlanta.

“Specialty cakes is the reason I felt like there was a need for a bakery in east Cobb. You had to drive to Roswell and further to get anything that was custom and from scratch,” Estrada said.

“It’s been apparent that there is no bakery or specialty shop in this area. I definitely saw a need,” she said.

Quality is the key to Sugar Benders’ success.

“Our cake quality is excellent. We have the perfect combination of the highest quality design that you can find in this area such as the execution of a character or beautiful wedding cake,” she said.

Sugar Benders found the right combination through research and recipe testing.

“I wanted to make sure the cake on the inside was just as good as the cake on the outside. We’ve definitely reached that. We have the perfect harmony going on,” Estrada said.

Sugar Benders makes everything from scratch and to order.

“We don’t have any frozen products. We make everything from the icings to the glazes. Every single thing we have in-house is made here,” she said.

In addition to specialty cakes, Sugar Benders offers a variety of pastries, breakfast items, breads, cookies and desserts. Breakfast and lunch is served Monday through Saturday and brunch on Sunday.

“We have been very well supported and well received by the surrounding neighborhoods and even outside that,” Estrada said.

Visit Sugar Benders at 255 Village Parkway Suite 240A, Marietta. They are open Monday through Saturday from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., and Sundays from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.

For more information, visit sugarbenderscakes.com.

(Reprinted from the Marietta Daily Journal. Written by Sally Litchfield, March 26, 2014. Read more: The Marietta Daily Journal – Bakery makes specialty cakes that are more than just delicious they re art)

 

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LongHorn unveils spring menu

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LongHorn Steakhouse is “springing forward” with its new Spring Peak Season and Chef’s Showcase menus. These menus rotate seasonally and this spring, the dishes include:

The Peak Season menu was created to highlight the best ingredients of the season. This spring, it celebrates freshness and vibrant colors.                                                                                 

  • New Crispy Artichoke Harvest (appetizer) – Hand-battered artichoke hearts, green beans and red bell peppers served with red chili ranch sauce
  • New Roasted Golden Beets (side) – Sweet golden spring beets topped with melted goat cheese
  • New Grilled Chicken Famers’ Market Bibb Salad – Tender butter lettuce topped with grilled asparagus, shaved radishes, grape tomatoes, hearts of palm and mandarin oranges in a chardonnay vinaigrette
  • New Blueberry Lemon Butter Cake – Warm blueberry butter cake filled with a lemon custard, finished with a vanilla cream sauce and topped with fresh blueberries
  • New Spiked Orange Ale (alcoholic beverage) – Blend of Absolut Mandarin Vodka, housemade orange cream and Blue Moon Belgium White Ale

The Chef’s Showcase menu celebrates LongHorn’s Executive Chefs’ culinary inspiration and creativity.

  • New Grilled Lamb Chops – Bone-in lamb chops marinated in a mint infused bordelaise and grilled over an open flame; served atop horseradish whipped mashed potatoes and wilted spinach
  • New Coconut Chili Mahi-Mahi – Fresh line-caught mahi-mahi grilled to perfection and finished with a house-made coconut chili butter sauce, perfectly paired with pineapple-ginger rice and topped with crisp sweet potato straws

Visit the East Cobb LongHorn at 4721 Lower Roswell Road.

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New Chicken Salad Chick restaurant lets customers choose from 15 different salads

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Carol Schrader serves Chicken Salad Chick sandwiches to, from left, Frank Mitchell, Don Schrader and Tom Melton.
MDJ Staff/Jeff Stanton

Chicken Salad Chick has arrived in east Cobb. The new fast, casual restaurant opened on March 18 at Providence Square in Marietta.

Established in Auburn, Ala., in 2008, Chicken Salad Chick offers a unique chicken salad experience allowing customers to chose from 15 original chicken salad flavors, as well as four gourmet soups, four flavorful sides and freshly-baked desserts.

“It’s one of those places that’s fun to go eat. It’s the experience,” said Kay Lynne Mitchell, who owns the franchise with husband Frank along with Tom and Cheryl Melton and Don and Carol Schrader.

“Chicken Salad Chick is such a unique concept of chicken salad. When you start tasting the salads, it depends on your mood that day because you can get salty, you can get nutty, you can get spicy, or you can get fruity. Every day I feel different, and I eat a different flavor,” said Mitchell, a former east Cobb resident who lives in Rome.

The wives of the franchise are related to founder Stacy Brown. Each has a chicken salad named for them.

“Each flavor is named after someone in the founder’s life. The three chicks opening the current location are her mother (Melton) and two aunts (Mitchell and Schrader),” Mitchell said.

Brown, an Auburn University graduate who lives in Auburn, started making chicken salad out of her home as a means to stay at home and care for her three children. “She was looking for the perfect chicken salad,” Mitchell said.

Once she perfected the recipe, she developed different flavors. With the help of her future husband and co-founder Kevin Brown, they opened a small take-out shop.

“That’s how it started. She opened the first day and was sold out in an hour-and-a-half so she doubled her pounds the next day and the next day and continued,” Mitchell said.

For five years, Brown grew two stores in Auburn. The first year after franchising the operation, the couple opened 13 stores, according to Mitchell. Chicken Salad Chick will be developing 85 franchises across the states of Alabama, Georgia, Florida, Tennessee, and North Carolina and South Carolina, and has plans to expand nationally in the next few years.

“We love the concept of (Chicken Salad Chick). We chose east Cobb because we knew they would fall in love with it. We know the concept will be well received there,” Mitchell said.

The restaurant is at 4101 Roswell Road, Suite 811, Marietta.

Visit chickensaladchick.com for more information.

(Reprinted from the Marietta Daily Journal. Written by Sally Litchfield, March 20, 2014. Read more: The Marietta Daily Journal – New Chicken Salad Chick restaurant lets customers choose from 15 different salads)

Just in time for St. Patrick’s Day: Irish Soda Bread

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Get ready for the Wearing O the Green with this recipe from East Cobber Jacqui Grant.

 

INGREDIENTS
4 1/2 cups flour, sifted
3 teaspoons sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
Dash cream of tartar
1 table spoon baking powder
3/4 box of raisins
2 1/2 cups buttermilk

 

DIRECTIONS
Lightly grease and flour a round baking pan.

Mix flour, sugar, salt, baking soda, cream of tartar and baking powder,

Add raisins and buttermilk

Bake for 45 minutes at 375 degrees.

Remove from oven and lightly rub butter on top while still hot.

(Reprinted from the March 2013 issue of EAST COBBER)

Do you have a favorite family recipe? Email cynthia@eastcobber.com and share it with your neighbors! Put “Recipe” in the subject line.

Williams-Sonoma Junior Chef Classes

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Introducing Williams-Sonoma’s new series of complimentary Technique Classes just for kids – The Junior Chef Program.

Every Saturday through April 5 from 9:30 – 10:30am, junior chefs can learn a new technique geared just for kids.  The classes are simple, easy and fun, and all class attendees and their parents will enjoy a 10% Technique Class discount on select items purchased the day of each event.  Class sizes are limited.  Call 678.560.3660 for complete details.

Williams-Sonoma is located at The Avenue East Cobb.

 

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Learn how healthy cooking can help prevent cancer

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The “Cooking for a Lifetime: Cancer Prevention Cooking” workshop will be held 10 a.m.-2 p.m., March 13, at the Cobb Cooperative Extension Office, second floor, 678 South Cobb Drive, Marietta. Many cancers are preventable with improved nutrition and physical activity. The program will teach healthy food preparation that helps control chronic diseases like cancer and also inform about the need for breast, cervical and colorectal cancer screenings.

During the program, participants will learn about preventing cancer and sample excellent recipes. Topics will include the importance of routine cancer screenings, what food and behaviors reduce cancer risk, how to fix food with less fat, calories and sodium and how to choose healthier food from the grocery store. Uninsured women who have not been screened recently may be eligible for free screenings. Registration is required and closes March 6. For more information, or to register, call 770-528-4070.

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Olive Garden unveils new menu

DARDEN RESTAURANTS, INC. CUCINA MIA MENU

Olive Garden’s new Cucina Mia menu section gives guests the ability to create their own entree from a variety of six pastas and five made-from-scratch sauces – for only $9.99 every day. (PRNewsFoto/Darden Restaurants, Inc.)

Leading Italian restaurant Olive Garden unveiled this week the most significant menu evolution in the restaurant’s history, including more than 20 new menu items that broaden the choice, variety and value it offers guests, prepared with new cooking techniques that accentuate new flavors. Olive Garden’s new menu is designed to appeal to the evolving palettes and preferences of casual dining guests, while providing guests with more options to customize their meal experience at both lunch and dinner.

New Dinner Menu Highlights

  • ·         “Cucina Mia” Section: Introducing a new menu section that gives guests the ability to create their own entrée from a variety of six pastas and five made-from-scratch sauces—for only $9.99 every day.
  • ·         Small Plates: Expanding the Tastes of Italy section to include eight small plate dishes for guests who want to explore different flavors.
  • ·         Lighter Italian Fare: Enhancing variety within the under-575-calories menu section by introducing additional dishes for calorie-counting guests.
  • ·         Specialty Entrees: Bringing new culinary-forward entrees to the chicken and seafood sections of the menu, enhanced by preparation on a new Piastra flat-top grill for a more evenly cooked, tender and juicy taste.
  • ·         Antipasti and Caprese Salads: Creating new ways for guests to enjoy Olive Garden’s popular signature salad through the addition of antipasti or caprese toppings.

New Lunch Menu Highlights

  • ·         Lunch Experience: Recognizing the busy schedules of lunch guests, Olive Garden is debuting a new lunch menu and enhanced service steps that provide busy guests with a variety of choices for a quick and satisfying meal.
  • ·         Tuscan Trio CombinationsEnhancing the popular soup, salad and breadsticks lunch by offering guests an additional pasta side, Small Plate or new salad topping.
  • ·         Sandwich & Flatbread Combinations: Giving guests more handheld options with sandwich and flatbread combinations served with unlimited soup or salad and breadsticks.

 

With this evolution, guests will continue to find their Olive Garden favorites on the menu — including Fettucine Alfredo and Lasagna Classico — and all entrees are served with choice of homemade soup or garden-fresh salad and unlimited garlic breadsticks, which are baked fresh every 15 minutes.

“Our new menu is designed to give our guests an enhanced experience by giving them new flavors, more variety and everyday value,” said Jay Spenchian, executive vice president of marketing for Olive Garden. “We’re staying true to the fresh, simple Italian food, while creating more ways to delight our guests.”

 

New Menu Details

New Cucina Mia (“My Kitchen”) for $9.99

  • ·         Choose your pasta: New Large Paccheri, New Tri-Colored Vegetable Penne, Bucatini, New Cavatappi, Whole Wheat Linguine, New Gluten-Free Rotini
  • ·         Choose your made-from-scratch sauce:  New Creamy Garlic Asiago, New Primavera, New Creamy Sun-Dried Tomato, New Spicy Diavolo, Fresh Tomato Pomodoro
  • ·         Add a topping (additional cost): New Chicken Meatballs, New Sausage Meatballs, Meatballs, Sautéed Shrimp

 

New Small Plates

  • ·         Parmesan Olive Fritta – A bite-sized blend of olives and Italian cheeses, rolled together and lightly fried. Served with your choice of a citrus aioli or gorgonzola cream dipping sauce.
  • ·         Polenta Shrimp alla Greca – Sautéed shrimp served on creamy polenta and topped with a fresh blend of olives, capers and tomato sauce.

 

New Appetizer

  • ·         Spicy Calabrian Wings – Chicken wings tossed with garlic and chili peppers from the Italian region of Calabria, served with gorgonzola dipping sauce. Increase the heat by adding our signature Calabrian chili paste. Available for a limited time.

 

New Lighter Italian Fare

  • ·         Center Cut Filet Mignon – 6 oz. premium cut filet, seasoned with Italian herbs and grilled. Served with sautéed Italian vegetables and roasted garlic.
  • ·         Chicken Abruzzi (Olive Garden Specialty) – Grilled chicken breast in a savory broth simmered with cannellini beans, kale and garden vegetables.

 

New Olive Garden Specialties

  • ·         Crab Topped Chicken – Pan-seared chicken breasts topped with crab meat in a lemon cream sauce.  Served with fresh spinach and garlic parmesan mashed potatoes.
  • ·         Salmon Bruschetta – Grilled salmon filet topped with bruschetta tomatoes and basil pesto, served on freshly prepared seafood risotto with crab meat.
  • ·         Pappardelle Pescatore – Sautéed shrimp, bay scallops and clams tossed with pappardelle pasta, fresh asparagus and tomatoes in a creamy red pepper seafood sauce.
  • ·         Mediterranean Grilled Trout – 10 oz. filet seasoned with basil and extra-virgin olive oil. Served with pappardelle pasta tossed with garlic, broccoli and fresh tomato sauce.

 

New Carne/Beef

  • ·         Parmesan Crusted Filet – 6 oz. premium center cut filet, grilled to perfection and topped with a creamy parmesan-alfredo crust. Served with sautéed Italian vegetables and roasted garlic.

 

New Antipasti and Caprese Salads

Choose a new topping for Olive Garden’s signature garden-fresh salad:

  • ·         Antipasti Italian Meats & Cheese – Hard salami, genoa salami, pepperoni and mozzarella.
  • ·         Roasted Tomato Caprese – Fresh mozzarella bites, roasted tomato, bell pepper, basil, kale and an extra-virgin olive oil drizzle.

 

New Lunch Combinations & Sandwiches

  • ·         Tuscan Trio Combinations: Start with Soup, Salad & Breadsticks and add a new salad topping, a pasta side or a Small Plate.
  • ·         New Smashed Chicken Meatball Sandwich – Smashed chicken meatballs with roasted bell peppers and mozzarella on a focaccia bun.

 

New Dessert

  • ·         Salted Caramel Tiramisu – Layers of creamy caramel mousse and vanilla-soaked ladyfingers, topped with salted caramel crumble and chocolate shavings. Available for a limited time.

 

Connect with Olive Garden at Facebook.com/OliveGardenTwitter.com/OliveGarden and Instagram.com/OfficialOliveGarden.

 

For more information and to find your nearest Olive Garden restaurant, visit OliveGarden.com.

 

 

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Look what’s cooking at Fat Lady Baker this week

Fat Lady Baker

This week the Fat Lady Baker will feature:

Entrees
Beef Stew
Taco Casserole
Shepherds Pie
Chicken Piccata
Chicken Pot Pie
Pesto Stuffed Chicken Breast
Vegetable Lasagna

Empanadas – Tasty stuffed pastries
Crab & Artichoke Empanadas
Italian Empanadas
Chicken & Cheese Empanadas

Stir Fry
Fresh and healthy in minutes!
Empty contents into piping hot skillet. Saute for 2-3 minutes.
Serve over rice if desired.
Steak Stir Fry
Chicken Stir Fry
(each with fresh organic vegetables)

Pie of the Week
Apple

Sides
One side included with all full size entrees.
Green Beans
Corn
Mashed Potatoes

Italian Semolina Loaves baked daily

Breakfast
French Toast Casserole
Sausage & Egg Casserole
Mini Quiche
Pumpkin Bread
Danish
Croissants

More
Taco Chicken Chili
Tomato Basil Soup
Vegetable Soup

Pimento Cheese
Chicken Salad

Fresh Bread Friday – Breads, Bars & Granola are ready by 2pm Friday afternoons

Fat Lady Baker is located at 2995 Johnson Ferry Road (at the top of Johnson Ferry Road near Shallowford Road- across from Wal-Mart.) For more information call 770-587-3005.

 

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Coming Soon to East Cobb: Chicken Salad Chick

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The Chicken Salad Chick is coming to East Cobb. Opening March 4th in the Providence Square Shopping Center, 4101 Roswell Road, the Chicken Salad Chick will feature 15 different chicken salads, certain to please everyone.

Always on the quest for the “perfect” chicken salad, founder Stacy Brown would always order the chicken salad at restaurants and noticed one thing. They all included chicken and mayonnaise. Using chicken and mayonnaise as the base Stacy began to work on her perfect chicken salad.

After much tasting and tweaking she finally created “the one”. Brown began selling it to friends and neighbors. The demand became too much and after a partnership with her future husband they opened their first restaurant.

Find out more about The Chicken Salad Chick by calling (770) 565-3985 or visit www.chickensaladchick.com/home.

 

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How Much Chocolate is Eaten on Valentine’s Day?

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In terms of gorging oneself on candy, Valentine’s Day is second only to Halloween, the king of candy-induced stomach aches. The main difference is that on Valentine’s Day we skip the candy corn and go straight for the good stuff — and by “good stuff” I mean chocolate.

Just how many chocolate-covered hearts do we shove down our pie-holes each Valentine’s Day? According to Nielsen, Americans will purchase around 58 million pounds of chocolateduring the days leading up to the 14th (a small fraction of the reported 3 billion pounds per year), and we shell out somewhere around $345 million to satisfy our Valentine’s sweet tooth.

(Reprinted from Holidash. Written by Josh Loposer.)

Chime In graphic

Will you indulge your inner chocoholic today? Tell us your favorite treat. Click “Chime In” to comment on our Facebook page.


Of course, it’s not like we buy all this chocolate by the pound or anything — it’s much more appropriate and romantic when it comes in a heart-shaped box, obviously. So obvious, in fact, that America’s thoughtful shoppers buy 35 million heart-shaped boxes of chocolates each Valentine’s Day.

Once again, that 58 million pounds only includes chocolate candy. When it comes to the iconic “conversation hearts,” 8 billion of the chatty little pastel candies are sold between February 1st and 14th.