This weekend, I had the chance to take my family up to Pembroke, Virginia to the Mountain Lake Lodge for Mixed Conference! McCormick, one of the main sponsors of the event, invited me to the conference, where they were incredible hosts and sponsors.
First up, a tour of our room at the Mountain Lake Lodge. For all of you Dirty Dancing buffs, that’s where some of the scenes were filmed!
The outside of the lodge was stunning! They have extensive grounds of hiking, swimming, tennis, etc. It was a bit too chilly outside for us to enjoy the outdoors this time, so we happily snuggled up by the roaring fire in the lobby.
On the rare time that we did venture outdoors, we bundled up. Liam didn’t seem to mind the cold one bit!
Liam was just a little excited.
We digress. Let’s talk about the conference!
On Friday, we drove all morning and arrived mid-afternoon. After getting settled into our room, I was off to the first three sessions of the conference! Full of knowledge and information, we had worked up an appetite. I met back up with my husband and son, and we enjoyed having a dinner with Lindsay from The Live-In Kitchen.
As if we hadn’t had enough to eat, it was time to indulge in a cookie contest and end the evening watching a movie with friends.
The next morning was a foggy one. Coffee was my saving grace after our little Liam didn’t have the best night of sleep. Of course, the energy of the conference and beauty of the fog was enough to get me going again.
Plus, they set us up with McCormick’s Vanilla and Candy Cane Whipped Creams for our coffee and a whole mess of Hershey’s chocolate.
Here are just a few of the McCormick folks. They were amazing in their organization and demonstrations throughout the weekend!
Here’s one of the crazy good flavor combinations that they shared with us:
It’s a peppermint brownie with chocolate chip cookie dough on top. Never in my life would I think I’d like it, but it was delicious… and I’m not even a peppermint fan!
Throughout the hour and a half long McCormick session, the bakers shared great tips to really wow with color and flavor. Here are just a few:
- Tie Dye Cake – Squirt dots of colored and flavored cake batter into your cake pan and bake!
- Lady Bug Cake – Bake cake batter in an oven proof bowl (for longer than a normal cake pan until cake tester comes out clean). Cover with frosting and paint with food coloring.
- Cut mini marshmallows in half (diagonally) or jumbo marshmallows in 5 slices. Place in sprinkles, shake to coat. Use as decoration for cakes, cupcakes or cookies! Perfect for flower cupcakes.
- Pink Lemonade Cupcakes – Use neon pink food color and lemon extract to make the flavor and color pop. Then, stack with straws!
- Polka Dot Cake – Bake colored cakes in a cake pan, cut round circles out. In another bake pan, place 1/3 of the batter in a cake pan. Place circles vertically in the cake pan. Cover with the remaining batter. Bake as instructed.
- Funfetti Cake – Same method as the polka dot cake, except instead of circles, cut the colored cake into squares and rectangles. To make the glitter circles on the cake, use a rolling pin and roll out multiple gum drops and use cookie cutters to cut out shapes!
- Green Ombre Cake - We learned different icing techniques and then got to try them out on little baby cakes!
- Cookie Cups – Made by baking the different shapes on the back of a muffin pan, then filling with mousse. The bees are made with almonds and chocolate.
- Rainbow Cake – Made by cutting a round cake in half and decorating with frosting! Decorate with marshmallows as clouds.
Needless to say, it was very educational and productive weekend. We had a final closing party in the lodge’s barn, and here are a few photos of me and my friends. (I was so bad about taking photos with people all weekend. We just couldn’t stop chatting!)
Angie from Big Bears Wife
Melanie from A Beautiful Bite
Paula from Bell’alimento
The morning of our drive home, we awoke to a winter wonderland! This was such a treat considering us South Carolinians hardly ever see snow. It was also Liam’s first snow!
Being a southerner, I was amazed that my water bottle from the car was frozen solid.
Mind is blown.