Blog Posts by Sarah McColl, Shine staff

  • Announcing the Winner of the Shine Birthday Cake Contest!

    The winning cake by Sara's CakesWe're delighted to announce the winner in the Shine Birthday Cake Contest. You cast your votes and the winner--with 1534 votes--is Sara'sCakes! Sara, we'll be contacting you directly about your prize. A huge thank you to everyone for baking, voting, and participating in our great big community birthday celebration. Here's to another happy (and delicious!) year on Shine!

    5 Things That Blew Us Away About Your Cakes

    1. You totally nailed our logo. How did you perfect that swaying "i" in icing? We have no idea, but we were mega impressed.

    2. You captured the spirit of Shine in a cake.
    The whimsy! The fun! The color palette! Well done!

    3. You've got an eye for detail.
    Buttercream swirls and cherry blossoms, fondant figures, fresh flowers--they're almost too pretty to eat. Almost.

    4. You proved they were edible.
    As if the sight of all these cakes wasn't enough to get us craving cupcakes the size of our heads, you revealed the insides of your cakes: lines of sweet icing suspended between

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  • Shine Supper Club: What We Learned About Your Scariest Dish

    For the first month of the Shine Supper Club, we asked you to make your scariest dish. Why submit you to this terror? We had a feeling that if we could cook outside our comfort zone and confront a fear, we'd all wind up with more kitchen confidence. Even if our souffle fell, we'd have looked our personal cooking demon straight in the eye, and that takes guts. From there, it's self-fulfilling: more confidence leads to more experimentation, trial and error leads to unexpected triumph, and then whaddya know--we're having fun among the pots and pans on a random Tuesday night. So what did we learn from our first endeavor?

    Shine Supper Club - Quick Fried Chicken1. Fried Chicken is Scary
    Still smiting from her childhood bout with salmonella, Sarah Lipoff bravely stepped up to the plate to make her own fried chicken, which she'd always worried was a recipe for food poisoning. Sarah approached her scary recipe with a Zen attitude and wound up with a crisp--thoroughly cooked--batch. But there was some debate in the comments: Was

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  • Shine Birthday Cake Contest: Vote for the Winner!

    Remember when it was somebody's birthday in grade school? A tray of cupcakes would show up after lunch, and the classroom would erupt in frenzied, pre-sugar-rush birthday glee. Multiply that by 47, subtract the sugar crash, and you've got an idea of about how excited we were to see the birthday cakes you baked.

    And y'all can bake (and make gum flowers, and polka dots, and mount Barbies on top of three tiers of buttercream...). To say we were wowed and humbled--and very, very hungry--doesn't even cover it. In fact, narrowing the cakes down to five finalists was so brutal it hurt. These cakes were amazing.

    Without further ado, it's time to cast your vote for the best Shine Birthday Cake. We only wish you bakers made deliveries.

    For Official Rules, including odds, and prize descriptions, click here. Void where prohibited.

    One last thing: we'd be remiss if we didn't call-out our two honorable mentions:
    Ashley Sullivan1's rising sun cake
    Tirzah Mounsey's white cake with flowers

    A huge

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  • Shine's Birthday Contest: Bake Us A Cake And Win $100 Worth of Gourmet Baking Ware

    We've never met a cake we didn't like.We've never met a cake we didn't like.Happy Birthday to us! This April 1st, Shine turns 4 years young. And, over the years that we've been writing/obsessing/looking/admiring/informing (we hope!) on this here interwebs, we've had some amazing adventures. From crashing Fashion Week to traveling all the way to the White House to meet our truly wondrous first lady, it has been an incredible, exciting, and humbling ride. But none of this would be nearly as much fun if you guys weren't around to be in on the conversation. Since Shine launched, our readers have contributed over 8 million comments (!!). You've helped us make Shine what it is today-a dynamic, ever-changing place where we can talk about issues most important (and not so important) in all of our lives. Because of this, our birthday wish is to give a present back to you.

    But first, you're gonna have to bake for it. We're looking for the most beautiful, most creative, most delicious (we will obviously have to trust you on this one!) Shine birthday cake that ever was.

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  • How to Throw a '60s-style 'Mad Men' Party

    'Mad Men' has inspired clothing collections, bar trends, and makeup lines. But there's a world of difference between retro-themed and bona fide authenticity, and a show as painstakingly researched as 'Mad Men' (which premieres its new season this Sunday night 9 ET on AMC) deserves a party with some accuracy. Yahoo! Shine spoke to food historian Francine Seegan, Lesley M. M. Blume author of Let's Bring Back, and Rebecca Federman, culinary collections librarian at the New York Public Library for insight on what a '60s party would have really looked like––all so your 'Mad Men' party can include a few more authentic details than frozen daiquiris and a conga line.

    PHOTOS: "Mad Men" era advertisements

    President John F. Kennedy and Jackie Kennedy attend a White House Ceremony February 19, 1963 in Washington, DC. (Photo by National Archive/Newsmakers) President John F. Kennedy and Jackie Kennedy attend a White House Ceremony February 19, 1963 in Washington, DC. (Photo by National Archive/Newsmakers) What Would Jackie (or Julia) Do?

    "Across the country, Jacqueline Kennedy was huge," says Francine Seegan. "The Kennedy White House epitomized glamour and elegance," adds Lesley M. M. Blume. "Everybody was looking to Jackie Kennedy to see how she entertained and emulated her."

    Related: What

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  • Feast Your Eyes: Irish Recipes for St. Patrick's Day

    By Sarah McColl, Shine staff

    If you're searching for St. Patrick's Day menu inspiration, look no further. We rounded up a rainbow of recipes--including the proverbial pot of gold--all created by super talented bloggers. Feast your eyes on hearty traditional dishes like Irish soda bread and lamb stew, a corned beef and cabbage recipe with a bright, modern twist, and whimsical iterations of St. Patrick's Day sweets (chocolate stout cake, anyone?). And for the grand finale: Who could turn down a shot of homemade Baileys in their coffee? Certainly not us.


    Join the Shine Supper Club!

    Feast Your Eyes: Healthy Quinoa Recipes

    Feast Your Eyes: Chocolate Peanut Butter Pretzel Brownies

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  • Join the Shine Supper Club!

    You're invited to the Shine Supper Club: our real-life, down and dirty blogging community for people who love to cook and eat--novices, experts and everyone in between. Each month, we give you a theme, and you bring your best dish. It's a place to commiserate and encourage, inspire and kvetch. Think of it like a virtual potluck.

    For our inaugural edition of the Shine Supper Club, we're going to take the band-aid approach and jump right in the deep end: What's your scariest dish? What recipe has long intrigued you but has seemed too intimidating? Together, armed with whisks and pot holders, let's stare down that fear. It's just a recipe, right?

    My scariest dish has long been soufflé. With its purported potential for failure, it feels like culinary terrain rigged with land mines and booby traps: experts only. Plus, it's French, and a little fussy, and far fancier than my usual cooking. Every year I say I'm going to make one and every year...I don't. But what's the worst thing that Read More »from Join the Shine Supper Club!
  • Feast Your Eyes: 5 Healthy Quinoa Recipes

    It's hard to muster romantic feelings about winter right about now. Three-day weekends are behind us, our Valentine's flowers have wilted, and some of us can barely remember our new year's resolutions. Coworkers and friends alike report they're all feeling a little puffed-up and run-down. The season of colds and comfort foods has caught up with us, and I, for one, am in need of a little healthy inspiration. You too? Enter the mighty quinoa salad.

    Lynda at TasteFood tosses kale, quinoa, red cabbage and chickpeas with a lemon-cumin vinaigrette. Get the recipe.

    Gillian at Healthy Tasty Cheap (everything we love!) cooks up a big batch of quinoa each week for easy, quick salads and bowls like this one with avocado, tomato and turmeric. Get the recipe.

    Don't you feel better just looking at this Moroccan quinoa salad from Greek Kitchen Stories? The crowd the bowl with fresh, crunchy ingredients like marinated vegetables, cilantro, and sliced almonds and sweeten the whole thing up with Read More »from Feast Your Eyes: 5 Healthy Quinoa Recipes
  • Valentine's Dinner: Splurge vs. Steal

    If you've got a load of cash to drop on V-Day, there's no shortage of store-bought or restaurant-procured luxuries on which you can blow your dough. But a frugal romantic need not fall short in the wooing department. Just look at Lady and the Tramp: drippy candle, table for two, smoochfest. But if you want a touch more luxury than a plate of spaghetti in an alley, a little know-how and imagination can create a Valentine's Day that's more thoughtful, more delicious, and much more affordable than anything you can find in a restaurant, promise. Stay home on Valentine's with our guide of swoon-worthy steals, and you should have money leftover for flowers. Happy romancing!

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  • Feast Your Eyes: Peanut Butter Fudge Pretzel Brownies

    There are a million reasons not to cook: you're tired, the table's covered in mail, you're not in the mood for pork chops again, it's easier to pick something up. Even the most enthusiastic home cook gets flummoxed by what's for dinner. But there's one very good reason to go homemade: food bloggers.

    Five years ago, there were a few stand-out blogs with beautiful photography, great storytelling, and I-have-to-make-this-now recipes. But we live in a brave new world for food enthusiasts: you can't click a mouse without getting inspired (thank you, Pinterest). This means my "want to cook" recipe pile grows taller while my reasons not to turn on the oven look increasingly pathetic.

    So consider Feast Your Eyes a dose of inspiration to tie on an apron, turn on the stove, or just lick your screen. Honestly, the hard part will be choosing.

    Let us first talk about these peanut butter pretzel bars from blogger How Sweet It Is, which caused me to gasp in my cubicle when my 3 o'clock hunger

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