The science behind liberalism and conservatism

Tales from the Mark side: The conservative voice of Manatee County

By Mark Young

We as human beings are similar in so many ways and yet so very different. Nothing defines our divide like politics.

Have you ever wondered why?

I’m sure if you are a conservative, you have probably wracked your brain like I have when trying to understand the black hole that is liberal logic. And I’m sure, like me, you have come away from that experience more perplexed than ever. Well, there is a lot of reading material out there on why liberals are so different from conservatives. I came across several studies that prove areas of gray matter are enlarged in separate brain areas of conservatives and liberals.
Both areas impact the critical thought process and emotional response to information, but both are different in how the process works.

But is liberalism a mental disorder as many conservatives, including me, have claimed? Well, let’s follow the science, something liberals say we should do, but never actually do. I believe it was last year that the Pew Research Center showed a viable link between liberalism and mental disorders, particularly among young white liberals. The Pew study showed 62% of young white liberals were told by their doctors that they have a mental disorder.

The Washington Times, in April of this year did a piece on the study which shows liberalism, “forces its followers to wallow in feelings of helplessness and victimhood,” as opposed to “building resilience against hardship,” which combats depression. That inner working of a liberal brain makes them much more susceptible to things like “white guilt,” and other levels of nonsense.

Pew pointed out that an overwhelming number of liberals believed the false narratives pushed by the left that 1,000 blacks were “murdered” by police in 2019 following the death of George Floyd. In fact, there were 13 black people killed by police in 2019. The liberal Washington Post reported that from 2015 through this year that 1,552 blacks were killed by police compared to 2,962 whites. The number of Hispanics killed were similar to the number of blacks and more than 230 Native Americans also were killed by police, but no ever mentions Hispanics or Native Americans. Conservatives do because we believe that all lives matter, to include police lives. Of course the media likes to push the narrative that blacks are killed more disproportionately than whites based on percentages simply because there are more whites than blacks. It’s an easy argument to make but lacks substance.

The media doesn’t do its job very well, but that shouldn’t be a surprise at this point. If they did, they would take into account the facts surrounding the shootings, the criminal history of those shot and the high-crime areas involving the shootings. They don’t do that. Or perhaps they do and decide it doesn’t fit their anti-police, racist narratives that lead liberals down a mentally dangerous path of white guilt and self-loathing. 

You’ve seen how much these young white liberals hate themselves for being white. It’s beyond comprehension, but once you understand that there is an actual answer to your question of, “What is wrong with these people?” perhaps some level of empathy can replace the frustration? Perhaps just knowing that a mental illness might be causing young white liberals to get on their knees and lick the boots of a black man in a display of asking for forgiveness for their whiteness will bring conservatives some relief. Nah, not for me either.

I grew up an Army brat and then joined myself. I never saw color growing up and I only see it now when it’s forced upon me. When I was battling liberal logic for four years as a columnist in Nebraska, there was a very loud and aggressive group of liberals who attacked me on a regular basis. However, attacks are not the same thing as presenting an argument and they could never dispute my facts or bring a logical argument to the table. The debates always ended with me being called a name and them storming off into their black hole existence. The one thing that would offend them is when I actually called them a liberal.

Back in 2010 or so, liberals were desperately trying to get away from the negative aspects of the word. Instead, they insisted they were not liberals, but progressives. Progressive sounds a lot more appealing until the real progressives actually took over their party and now liberals no longer want to be called progressives. Now they are desperately trying to reclaim their liberal title.

Oh the hell it must be to be trapped inside a liberal mind.

Now, I’m certainly not saying every liberal is mentally ill, but I’d say the Pew Research Center’s 62% is fairly accurate. The scary part is that number will increase as liberalism continues to infect our education system. It has had a firm hold on our universities for decades but as you’ve seen, it is now rampant in our K-12 schools. But I still know moderate liberals and they can still present a decent argument whether I agree with them or not. And it’s a myth that moderate liberals and conservatives disagree on everything.

Conservatives for the most part absolutely believe that we need to take care of our environment. We just happen to also believe that drilling and pipelines can be done safely. Now I do part ways with a lot of conservatives in saying gay marriage is absolutely fine. I just personally believe that everyone has the right to be miserable.

Liberals, the research shows, are highly prone to fear-based media coverage. About 90% of liberals believe that you have a 50% chance of being hospitalized from COVID-19. Only 10% knew that the correct answer is between 1 and 5%.

The research indicates that liberals are much more prone to the misinformation spread by fear mongering media outlets. Just look at how the local media has covered things like COVID and red tide. I know for a fact that my former editors milked public health stories for all they were worth. That’s not to say COVID or red tide isn’t real, but at some point editors knew they were manipulating the stories to get those all-valuable clicks to make themselves look good.

However, because liberals are so susceptible to misinformation, it contributes to the decline in their mental health, the study noted. It’s ironic considering that the actions of the liberal media in Manatee County are contributing to hurting their liberal readers. Ironic, but self-servingly sad.

It also shows why liberal-run states have handled the pandemic so differently and why some of those states continue to suffer the economic pains of shutdowns and ridiculous mandates. But you’ll also notice how many of these Democratic leaders make over-the-top restrictions but never abide by their own rules.

The Washington Times concludes that, “Yes, there’s a lot of drawbacks to believing in liberalism.”

I would have to agree. 

County Commissioners unanimously approve tax reduction without reducing County services, projects

Budget includes largest five-year Capital Improvement Plan in Manatee County history, totaling more than $997 million of investments in infrastructure, public safety, parks and environment over five years

MANATEE COUNTY, FL (Sept. 17, 2021) – Commissioners unanimously approved next year’s budget Tuesday, along with a plan set forth by County Administrator Dr. Scott Hopes which reduces next year’s property tax rate by .20 mills from the Recommended Budget while making significant investments in local roads, infrastructure and public safety. County Commissioners have approved a total annual budget of nearly $2.2 Billion and net spending of more than $923 million includes the County’s first property tax cut since 2008. 

The Board of County Commissioners also approved the largest five-year Capital Improvement Plan in Manatee County’s history, totaling more than $997 million dollars of investments in infrastructure, public safety, parks and our environment. The County Commission is investing  $350.3 million in transportation projects, $80.3 million in parks, and $39.1 million in public safety projects.
The millage reduction is made possible largely by another year of significant increases in local property values. Under the current tax rate, rising values would have resulted in a $21 million increase in revenues over the current fiscal year. Instead, Commissioners unanimously approved the .2 mill reduction which returns $8.3 million to taxpayers. 
  Even with the millage reduction, the budget invests heavily in local infrastructure improvements. Nearly $350.3 million in transportation and road projects, plus significant investments in public safety and law enforcement highlight the $923 million budget. The adopted budget includes new investments in the County’s workforce to respond to increased capital projects workloads and service level levels. Some of the new positions include: 

  • 14 new Sheriff’s Office deputies, one Resource Assistance Program Deputy to focus on homeless issues, one Body Worn Camera Deputy to lead the education and training for new technology, one School Resource Officer for Palm View K-8 school 
  • 14 new positions in the Building and Development Services Department to respond to increased demand for development review and building inspection services
  • 12 new paramedics, several of whom will serve at a new EMS station planned for Moccasin Wallow Road
  • One new telecommunicator for 9-1-1, two Customer Services Representatives for 3-1-1 and a Customer Services Representative for 3-1-1 for data entry

“I think Dr. Hopes and (Chief Financial Officer Jan) Brewer have done a fabulous job in this budget. I’ve got to say thank you for realizing how important it is to make our citizens feel special and we have everything moving in the right direction,” said Commission Chair Vanessa Baugh. “It is wonderful to be working on such a large infrastructure program to help the traffic congestion in our county because of the population growth and to give the citizens a reduction in millage for the first time since 2008.” 

“The exciting thing is, we’re moving forward on Erie Road, Moccasin Wallow Road and Upper Manatee River Road with tens of millions of dollars of investment but we’re still able to deliver a tax cut for the citizens,” said District 1 Commissioner James Satcher. “Dr. Hopes and Jan Brewer listened to the Board and worked tirelessly to deliver a budget that puts the people’s priorities first.”

“With sidewalks planned for Memphis and Samoset, a new pool at Lincoln Park and improvements underway for Washington Park, I’m excited about all the new impact coming to District 2 through the Capital Improvement Plan,” said District 2 Commissioner Reggie Bellamy. “These projects are going to change the face of certain parts of our community and we’re excited about that.”

District 3 Commissioner Van Ostenbridge this summer called the tax cut a monumental vote.“Last November voters spoke loud and clear. They wanted traffic congestion and tax cuts to be our top priorities,” Commissioner Van Ostenbridge said. “Our new, more conservative commissioners listened to the voters and came through. We have embarked on an aggressive road improvement campaign while simultaneously cutting taxes. Major road improvements have been budgeted for District 3.”  

District 4 Commissioner Misty Servia said, “I am pleased with this county budget which will bring stormwater, intersection and safety improvements to South County. I’m also very excited that it focuses on enhancing our quality of life with two new parks and help for the homeless.” 

At-Large Commissioner Carol Whitmore added, “With the increase in property values, we were fortunate to have $100 million more than we did last year. With the values on the rise and all the new construction, we were able to lower taxes and leverage a line of credit to get these roads and critical transportation needs going. This has been in our capital plan, but until values reached this level, we were unable to do that, so we are very fortunate.” 

At-Large Commissioner George Kruse said, “I am extremely excited about this year’s budget. The Board and the Administration gave proper attention and funding to those areas we know are critically important to the citizens of Manatee County. The substantial, and overdue, increases in public safety and infrastructure will dramatically improve the quality of life and safety of our community for many years to come.”

Some of the highlights include widening from two lanes to four lanes the following major roads across Manatee County: 

  • Lorraine Road from State Road 64 to 59th Avenue East ($38.1 million)
  • Canal Road from U.S. 301 to U.S. 41 ($29 million)
  • Upper Manatee River Road from State Road 64 to the Fort Hamer Bridge ($22.7 million)
  • Erie Road from Martha Road to U.S. 301 in Parrish (for $13.1 million) 
  • 59th Street West from Cortez Road to Manatee Avenue ($23.4 million)
  • 63rd Avenue East from U.S. 301 to Tuttle Avenue ($16.2 million)
  • 75th Street West from 20th Avenue West to Manatee Avenue ($11.1 million)

Also part of the adopted five-year Capital Improvement Plan is $8.3 million to improve sidewalks in Memphis, Palma Sola and Bayshore neighborhoods and to invest $4.2 million next year alone for new sidewalks in Samoset, along Erie Road, 75th Street West and four other new areas to improve pedestrian opportunities throughout Manatee County. 

“We have spent a tremendous amount of time preparing for what we have before us both so that we can manage the projects and make constant progress towards completing them but also so we are transparent both with (the Board) and with the public about where these projects are in your districts and in the county in real time,” Dr. Hopes said. “I think you’ll be very pleased and impressed with how we intend to engage and inform you on the progress of massive project deployment in Manatee County. You are seeing things move in the county at a rate in the county that you haven’t seen in some time. We are going to get a lot of things done.”

The largest one-year investment in the budget remains in the areas of law enforcement and public safety. Manatee County Sheriff Rick Wells’ annual budget will increase by $12.6 million to cover funding for the aforementioned 14 new deputies, an additional patrol boat to expand marine responses, one Resource Assistance Program Deputy to focus on homeless issues, one Body Worn Camera Deputy to lead the education and training for new technology, one School Resource Officer for Palm View K-8 school (shared cost with the School District) and one Domestic Violence Unit Detective.

“This budget places a high priority on our citizens’ and visitors’ safety,” Dr. Hopes said earlier this summer. “In partnership with Sheriff Wells, we have identified an increased investment to meet the safety needs of our rapidly growing population.”

God is a Republican

Tales from the Mark side:  The conservative voice of Manatee County

By Mark Young


Oh, don’t worry, I’ll explain the headline in a little bit, but first I would just like to welcome you to this corner of conservative heaven in Manatee County. It’s sorely needed in a community that is largely conservative, and yet surrounded by liberal media outlets. This community has suffered a viral infection for far too long and I’m not talking about COVID-19. The real virus has been spread by the media ever since President Donald Trump descended from Trump Tower to announce his bid for the presidency.

Since that time, and even before, you have been lied to by the media, and trust me, I know a thing or two about it. While the Manatee Herald may be in its infancy, I’ll tell you why I have brought my 25 years of journalism experience to the Manatee Herald. Unlike other local media, the Manatee Herald will succeed as these other outlets in our community continue to sink faster than Joe Biden’s approval ratings. The Manatee Herald gets it, to put it bluntly. I wouldn’t be here if I didn’t believe that. And I believe that because I believe in what the Manatee Herald stands for within this community: The truth and conservative values and we will not shy away from either.

Many of you may recognize me as the former urban affairs reporter for the Bradenton Herald. The BH is owned by McClatchy, designated as a left-leaning media company by nonpartisan groups that study media content. The short story of why I’m a former employee is because I love my country and our military more than I loved my job. Like many Americans, I was shocked and angered at the way the Biden administration botched the Afghanistan situation, which we’ll talk a lot about in the coming weeks. I posted my displeasure on social media and was fired on August 28 after refusing to apologize for stating the obvious: Joe Biden is unfit for office and has spent a half-century on the wrong side of both foreign and domestic policy. We’ll talk about that more in the coming weeks. I’ll just say that I have never been fired from a job in my 56 years of life and I have never been more proud to be fired for standing up for my love of country first and foremost. I refused to apologize and my soul was freed that day. As a man of faith, I believe everything happens for a reason. I am here with you today as part of that process, as God moves me in a new direction. I couldn’t be happier about that. It was a long time coming, and we’ll have some fun with it along the way, but this isn’t the time.

For now, let’s concentrate on the basics of what you are in for with me at the Manatee Herald. “God is a Republican,” is a headline I use every time I start a new opinion column.

Besides 25 years of reporting, I spent almost 10 years of that time doing political humor columns for newspapers in Florida, Nebraska and Wyoming. I was advised by very popular columnists that as a reporter and a columnist, to never discuss politics or religion in my columns. However, I was never very good at bending a knee to mainstream rules, so I ignored that advice completely. My mother is probably nodding her head right about now, saying, “That stubborn boy always was a handful.” My former platoon sergeants would be agreeing with my mother, but I digress.

To take on the taboo resulted in several awards for opinion writing, but blah, blah, blah, who really cares about that kind of thing? Not even I do. The one exception is being voted Readers Choice Favorite Columnist for all four years I wrote an opinion piece in Nebraska. Now that was an honor because what matters to me is you, the dear reader, and that you get the truth without media distortion.

I can promise you a few things along the way. I’m not going to pull punches. I’m not going to be politically correct.

As I said, this will not be a liberal safe space. We will not be silenced by social media Twitter trolls and 30-year-old keyboard warriors living in mama’s basement. I look forward to crushing liberal logic here under the weight of facts. Liberals don’t like that, believe me. Liberals have a long history of name calling when they are losing an argument. The go-to insult used to be calling conservatives Nazis and I was being called a Nazi long before it was cool for liberals to try and insult conservatives over my many years as a columnist. Liberals still cling to that word today, but of course have shifted to calling conservatives racists nowadays, whether they be white, black or brown, and no matter the substance of conversation. Do they even know what those words mean? I tend to think they do not. All you have to do is look at what the New York Times did to Larry Elder who is battling disgraced California Gov. Gavin Newsom in the recall election. Oh, we’ll talk about that disgraceful piece of writing from the Times later as well. 

Seriously though, I could be talking to a liberal about whether ketchup belongs on a hamburger, and if I’m on the wrong side of that argument, I’ll get called some kind of version of being a fascist, another word they don’t have a clue as to its meaning.

Conservatives believe in what our Founding Fathers believed, and for the most part, liberals don’t. 

We believe that the Constitution is the hard foundation of this beautiful nation, and not a document that is up for interpretation and changed to fit an anti-American political agenda.

Not on my watch. Not on our watch.

Debating with liberals can be fun, but also frustrating at times. I put it on the same level as trying to train a cat to do a complicated trick. In the end, and after all of your efforts, the cat just looks at you like you’re the stupid one. Once liberals realize they have no actual facts to move an argument forward, they call you names and throw temper tantrums. It’s their go-to finale as they huff and puff and walk away all self-righteous like, under some delusion that they actually won the debate.

It’s surreal at times, but it fascinates me when I look into their eyes and try to figure out what kind of rodent is spinning the wheel inside their minds. The term “liberal logic” is, of course, the ultimate oxymoron. Even a rat is smart enough to know when to abandon a sinking ship like the Biden administration, but today’s Democrats defiantly cling to the railing as the water rushes in. They say something childish like, “My ship’s not sinking. Your ship is sinking … gurgle, gurgle gurgle,” as you watch them go under with stubborn ignorance. It’s quite the phenomenon if you think about it.

Manatee Herald readers, this is going to be our time to make some noise. You’ll hear my loud and proud to be an American voice, and I want to hear yours. I’m tired of being silenced because I love my country and I know you are too.

I’m running long here with this initial hello, so I’ll close with just a couple of things.

No. 1: With all the news, social media, and other things are thrown at you 24/7 these days, I cherish the fact that you choose to spend a little time with me.

No. 2: Buckle up. You are in for the ride of your conservative life. We’ll talk a lot about Biden’s nonstop blunders, as well as the manipulation strategies of the left and their media partners. And we’ll talk local politics, too.

How often we take this journey together is kind of up to you. So, for now, I look forward to our next visit.

5 Minute Pumpkin Pie Dip

Pumpkin pie dip is deliciously light and fluffy! It has to creamiest texture and the spices bring that pumpkin pie flavor to life! It is something that your whole family will go crazy over!

I love dips because they are so simple to make and I can go crazy dipping whatever I want in them! If you love dips as much as I do, go ahead and try this S’mores, this savory 5 Minute Million Dollar or my favorite tried and true Hot Corn Dip! You will love them all!

Pumpkin Pie Dip is AMAZING!

I love pumpkin pie. I love dips. So of course, the combination of the two is calling my name! Sweet dips are some of my all-time favorite snacks and appetizers! The taste of this dip is incredible! It has that yummy pumpkin spice flavor combined with sweet whipped cream. The spices that are used will totally create that sense of fall and holidays. Dips are a great option to bring to a party and this one will knock everyone’s socks off. It’s all of the benefits of a pumpkin pie without taking all of that time to bake! It’s a win-win!

Dips are so versatile and I love that depending on what you dip in it, it tastes different every single time. This dip is no exception! I absolutely love dipping in fruit, cookies, and graham crackers in. And if I am being completely honest, this dip is so good that I could just eat it by the spoonful. It’s THAT tasty! So go ahead and give it a try! This fluffy and sweet pumpkin pie dip will have your heart in no time!

What’s IN Pumpkin Pie Dip?

If you are looking for a slam dunk recipe that doesn’t take a lot of time and ingredients, then you’ve come to the right place! Using only 5 ingredients, you will have this pumpkin pie dip whipped up in no time! See the recipe card below for a list of exact measurements.

Cream cheese: If you set your cream cheese out to soften beforehand then it will mix up better and create a smooth texture! Pumpkin puree: Don’t confuse this with pumpkin pie filling! Pumpkin puree should be the onky ingredient listed on the can. Powdered sugar: If you use this instead of granulated sugar, then it will dissolve faster and help add to that creamy texture. Pumpkin pie spice: You can buy this at the store but I highly recommend taking a few minutes to make this homemade pumpkin pie spice instead! Because homemade makes everything taste better! Heavy whipping cream: This will add in the sweet flavor and a base to mix all of these ingredients together.

Let’s Make Some Dip!

If you’ve got 5 extra minutes in your day then you have enough time to make this pumpkin pie dip! So go ahead and try it! Because once you do… You’ll be trying to find any reason you can to make it again!

Beat: In a medium sized mixing bowl beat together the cream cheese and pumpkin puree then, add in the powdered sugar and beat until incorporated.Mix and serve: Add in spices and heavy whipping cream and beat until dip is set and stiff peaks form. Once you are done, go head and serve it with graham crackers, gingersnap cookies or sliced apples!

What Can I Dip in This?

This pumpkin pie dip is rich and creamy and the taste is so sweet! It goes with so many things but I thought I would list out a few ideas for you!

Apples: Slice up some apples and put them on a plate with this. They wil disappear so quickly!Bananas: I absolutely love bananas with this dip. Create a fruit platter and add some bananas to it!Gingersnaps: The sweet taste of a gingersnap cookie combined with this dip is to die for! Graham crackers: If you want to have the taste of pumpkin pie in your mouth, go ahead and dip some graham crackers in it! Animal crackers: If I can make a dip delicious AND fun then my kids go crazy over it! We love to dip animal crackers in this dip!Nilla Wafers: Nilla wafers are delicious on their own but add in this pummpkin pie dip and it will take them to the next level! Biscoff cookies: I mean, it doesn’t get much better than this combo!

How to Store This Dip

Because this pumpkin pie dip has cream cheese and whipped cream in it, you definitely want to store it in the refrigerator! So, place it in an airtight container and it will last up to 3 days in your fridge!


5 Minute Pumpkin Pie Dip

Pumpkin pie dip is deliciously light and fluffy! It has to creamiest texture and the spices bring that pumpkin pie flavor to life! It is something that your whole family will go crazy over! 
Course Appetizer
Cuisine American
Keyword pumpkin dip, pumpkin pie dip
Prep Time 10 minutes
Total Time 10 minutes
Servings 6 people
Calories 360kcal
Author Alyssa Rivers


8 ounce cream cheese softened1 cup pumpkin puree1 cup powdered sugar2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice 1 cup heavy whipping cream


In a medium-sized mixing bowl beat together the cream cheese and pumpkin puree. Add in the powdered sugar and beat until incorporated.
Add in spices and heavy whipping cream. Beat until dip is set and stiff peaks form. Serve with graham crackers, gingersnap cookies, or sliced apples if desired.


Calories: 360kcal | Carbohydrates: 26g | Protein: 4g | Fat: 28g | Saturated Fat: 17g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 8g | Cholesterol: 96mg | Sodium: 139mg | Potassium: 171mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 22g | Vitamin A: 7447IU | Vitamin C: 2mg | Calcium: 78mg | Iron: 1mg

Originally found on The Recipe Critic Read More

Here’s what restaurants need to take advantage of digitization

This article was translated from our Spanish edition.

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Jay Wennington via Unsplash

The main barrier in the success of the digitization of restaurants is that it has been half because they have not placed it as one of their priorities: they have focused on the wrong problems or partial solutions, generating loss of data, profitability and the possibility to attract new digital diners.

Although each market has its own challenges to solve, the restaurant sector shares common pains in Chile, Colombia, Peru, Mexico and more recently, Costa Rica and Ecuador, which are the countries where Justo operates, and where – first-hand – we have given the importance of prioritizing the digital agenda in order to offer a complete response to the needs of new customers: from ease of navigation, point of sale, ease of purchase to final delivery.

Prioritize: If restaurants consider that digitization is an issue that can move to second or third place, they may forget to create competitive advantages. According to a sector study in the United States, about 43% of diners prefer to order through the establishments’ own page instead of a marketplace; a trend that will consolidate in the short term.

Forget about the reactive approach: Digitization without strategy and without technological allies that accompany the process in an integral way is the main enemy of profitability. The main thing is to understand digitization as a tool to achieve greater speed of service as well as ease of sale and logistics. Lacking clear digital business objectives and opting for a marketplace that keeps the data translates into the payment of a percentage to a third party and not an investment for the development of proprietary technology for the business.

Regain the relationship with the diner: Restaurants need to regain the connection with their customers: the affection of the diners for their place of preference, empathy and attention to service are elements that can be transferred to the digital experience. It is worth considering that, according to industry figures in the United States, 74% of diners decide their order if they can customize it and 76% on the ease of ordering.

Digitization has been one of the main tools for the restaurant sector to continue operating at a time when almost all countries imposed time or capacity restrictions. Now it must be its own tool to serve a new segment and take advantage of it to revolutionize the industry in a positive way.

Originally found on Entrepreneur.com Read More

Busy Schedule? These 15 Sheet Pan Chicken Recipes Are Your New Weeknight Heroes

It’s the end of September and I’m still transitioning out of summer mode. Does anyone else feel like they can’t catch a break from their morning alarms to bedtime? I’m doing my best to balance school, work, and social, but that doesn’t always leave enough time for the things my body’s craving, like healthy meals. However, if there’s one thing I’ve learned this month, it’s that a healthy dinner doesn’t have to be time-consuming. Of course, I’m dying to carve out an hour or two to make homemade pumpkin pasta, but simple chicken sheet pan recipes have been more my style lately. Luckily, they don’t skimp on flavor. 

Sheet pan recipes are honestly just the best. They make it easy to cook healthy meals for one or the whole family. I personally have never been good at deciding how much food to cook, so these chicken sheet pan recipes are amazing when I’m preparing dinner for all of my roommates. My favorite part about a sheet pan recipe? You do all the prep, and once it’s in the oven, you’re basically done. I have the freedom to work, relax, or catch up with friends while the oven is doing all the work. Once the timer goes off, dinner is on the table in five minutes.   

Save this post for the next time you’re craving a simple and healthy dinner, but have no time to cook. You can thank us later.

15 Easy, Healthy Chicken Sheet Pan Recipes

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1. Five-Ingredient Sheet Pan Chicken Fajitas

Why We Love It: Camille reminds us that the key to making a recipe (with only a few ingredients) taste more complex is all in how you season it. This meal relies on boneless skinless chicken breast, bell peppers, and onions, but the pre-made taco seasoning mix is the secret ingredient that brings it all together and makes these fajitas anything but bland. This spice pack is full of all the same herbs and spices I’d mix up myself but so much quicker.

Hero Ingredient: Taco seasoning. I’m die-hard Tex Mex, people. 

Get the recipe here.

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2. Sheet Pan Hot Honey Mustard Chicken and Crispy Brussels Sprouts from Half Baked Harvest

Why We Love It: While this meal might have a little more prep to it (you have to make the breading and the hot honey mustard), it’s a guaranteed crowd-pleaser. This is one of those dinners that make it look like you spent all day making it when it really comes together in just 40 minutes. The flavors are southern, rich, and hands-down delicious.

Hero Ingredient: Crispy brussels sprouts make my list of top 10 favorite foods, for sure. 

Get the recipe here.

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3. Sheet-Pan Curried Chicken from The Pioneer Woman

Why We Love It: Curry lovers, this is one of my favorite ways to curb my cravings without ordering or eating out. Both the chicken and the green beans get perfectly crispy and taste delicious together. I never knew achieving flavors like this could be so simple. To make this recipe even easier, I use a bag of frozen brown rice instead of cooking white rice, since I don’t have a rice cooker. This one takes about 40-45 minutes to cook, which in my mind means 40-45 minutes to finish wrapping up my day. 

Hero Ingredient: The curry flavor can’t be beaten. 

Get the recipe here.

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4. Sheet-Pan Szechuan Chicken and Brussel Sprouts from Feasting at Home

Why We Love It: I think that I could eat this every night. Making a Szechuan sauce from scratch seems intimidating at first, but I would consider my pantry and spice rack pretty amateur, and even I had all of the ingredients on hand. This recipe is also great for meal prepping because it’s best when the chicken is marinated overnight (although it still tastes great after just a few minutes). I like chopping the Brussels and marinating the chicken Sunday night, then popping it in after an especially Monday-like Monday.  

Hero Ingredient: The homemade sauce is a game-changer. 

Get the recipe here.

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5. Sheet Pan Harissa Chicken + Veggies With Lemon Aioli from The Defined Dish

Why We Love It: I love all of The Defined Dish’s recipes because no matter how difficult they look, they are almost always foolproof. This recipe is no exception, even though it looks straight out of a five-star restaurant. It has carrots, cauliflower, onions, and brussels sprouts, giving you alllll the veggies, but my personal favorite part is the drizzle of lemon aioli on top… I could swim in this sauce. 

Hero Ingredient: Lemon Aioli, because anything with the word aioli in it automatically sounds good to me.

Get the recipe here.

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6. Easy Greek Sheet Pan Chicken Souvlaki and Potatoes from Half Baked Harvest

Why We Love It: I love a good Greek moment. I will never forget my first trip to Greece when I ordered a Greek salad and had my world rocked. They serve it with no lettuce, just all the yummy ingredients chopped and tossed, which kind of reminds me of this recipe. It has all the elements of a delicious Greek salad, which you can also customize to your liking, but has the warmth of comfort food. What more could you want?

Hero Ingredient: The lemon-y, garlic-y, herb-y, balsamic-y chicken. *drool*

Get the recipe here.

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7. Sheet-Pan Spicy Peanut Chicken and Broccoli from The Pioneer Woman

Why We Love It: I’m a firm believer that anything with peanut butter in it is bound to be delicious, so this recipe is really speaking my love language. It also makes my favorite kind of broccoli: simply seasoned, and a little bit charred. When I need a break from basic dinners, this is always a go-to.

Hero Ingredient: Peanut butter, or specifically the peanut sauce.

Get the recipe here.

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8. Sheet Pan Chipotle Chicken Nachos from Spoon Fork Bacon

Why We Love It: Fair warning, this recipe requires you to make the chipotle chicken on the skillet before throwing everything together on the sheet pan. However, you can easily simplify this meal by buying premade chicken or prepping the chicken at the beginning of the week and using a store-bought queso. I’ve never made anything that tastes better than jarred queso anyways. (P.S. Have you tried Siete’s Dairy-Free Queso? I’m obsessed). 

Hero Ingredient: Okay, so, it’s queso. 

Get the recipe here.

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9. Sheet Pan Chicken Piccata from The Defined Dish

Why We Love It: Perfect for entertaining, this sheet pan chicken piccata is a must-try. It’s arguably one of the easiest recipes on this list, but also one of the ones I get the most praise for. My only complaint is that it’s not a full meal, but all it needs is a little extra prep to make a simple Italian salad and a veggie. 

Hero Ingredient: The white vinegar and chicken broth add so much flavor and moisture. *chef’s kiss*

Get the recipe here.

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10. Sheet Pan Chipotle Cheddar Corn Chicken Enchiladas from Half Baked Harvest

Why We Love It: Can you tell Mexican Night happens more than once a week in my house? I love these easy sheet pan enchiladas because the way the ingredients are prepared makes the flavors so seamless. I judge a good enchilada on having a good overall taste, rather than different individual components. This post also has a great video tutorial linked to it. 

Hero Ingredient: I have a salsa verde addiction. 

Get the recipe here.

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11. Italian-Style Sheet Pan Chicken with Vegetables from The Mediterranean Dish

Why We Love It: This recipe is described as a “clean-the-fridge-out” dinner, which is my favorite kind of meal. You can basically use whatever veggies you have on hand and toss them with chicken and this Italian seasoning for a delicious and healthy meal. It’s also delicious when mixed with pasta, as the author suggests. 

Hero Ingredient: The garlic-herb seasoning can make any ingredient a hero.

Get the recipe here.

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12. Parmesan Crusted Chicken Sheet Pan Dinner from Lemons + Zest

Why We Love It: This is a perfect example of a sheet pan dinner seasoning that is delicious on every ingredient. You literally use one bowl to toss and one pan to bake. It’s a winner in my book because that also means… less dishes to do! With one of the shortest ingredient lists, this is one of my favorite easy dinners.

Hero Ingredient: Parmesan, for being the cheese that goes with everything. 

Get the recipe here.

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13. Sheet-Pan Rosemary Chicken Recipe with Vegetables from The Mediterranean Dish

Why We Love It: Before you even dive into this meal, the smell of the rosemary that wafts from the oven is to die for. It gives you all the bright Mediterranean tastes without being requiring too many spices. I personally like to add some sweet potatoes to the mix when I have them on hand, but anything goes.

Hero Ingredient: Rosemary, for the smell and the taste.

Get the recipe here.

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14. Sheet Pan Lemon Chicken and Asparagus from Unbound Wellness

Why We Love It: Lemon and chicken and asparagus are a match made in heaven. They come together to make a light dinner that is both fresh and filling. I sometimes even skip the potatoes on this one and opt for a big side salad to make it even lighter. Plus, this recipe barely has any hands-on time at all.  

Hero Ingredient: Love the lemon. 

Get the recipe here.

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15. Sheet Pan Roasted Chicken, Sweet Potatoes, & Broccoli from Gimme Delicious

Why We Love It: This recipe is both a dinner and a meal prep, depending on your needs. First, you can use whatever seasonings you prefer on the chicken, which usually comes down to what I have in the kitchen. Second, this meal gives you protein, vegetables, fibers, and more. Third, it’s easy to package up for lunch, or delicious right out of the oven for dinner. Totally flexible, customizable, and delicious.

Hero Ingredient: The sweet potatoes… can’t get enough. 

Get the recipe here.

Originally found on Camille Styles Read More

Tips for Acing Your Next Client Meeting

Do you still get nervous about client meetings? It happens to the best of us. Every meeting is different, and you can never be entirely sure what the end result will be. But, of course, you would be a little antsy about that, especially if you’re an entrepreneur looking to build your start-up.

Calendar – Calendar

While we can’t hold your hand during your next client meeting, this article will provide some helpful tips you can implement for your upcoming client meetings:

Do Your Research

It’s important to research a prospective client before your first meeting with them. This is especially important for business-to-business meetings, where two organizations are looking to work out a deal together. Understanding how the other company works will help you gather and present a much more appealing deal to them.

You might be the representative of your company contacting a wholesaler group about a potential partnership. Learn what you can about this supplier before going into a meeting with them. For example, what are their company values? What do they look for in a partnership? This information will be valuable when formulating your offer.

It goes without saying that your research should in no way be invasive or creepy. Stalking a potential client’s personal Facebook page might come off the wrong way. You shouldn’t know the name of their dog or where they went on vacation in the summer of 2014. Instead, research public knowledge that is relevant to the meeting.

Come Prepared

Preparation is the key to success when turning a potential client into a full-time customer. A lack of preparation will present itself in fumbled sentences, unanswered questions, and a host of “uh’s” and “um’s.” None of these things are compelling when trying to do serious business.

One way to prepare yourself and stay organized is through a pitch deck. A pitch deck is a simple, brief presentation that contains all the necessary information a potential client might need. It will help you run through an introduction, company info and history, and details of your offer. A pitch deck can be brought to meetings or used to practice your pitching skills without any additional materials.

Another way to prepare your pitches is to practice with someone else. A spouse, employee, or business partner can run a mock pitch meeting with you acting as a potential client. Afterward, they can provide feedback on what you did well and what improvements you need to make. Small things such as your posture can be easily overlooked when practicing alone. When brought to life by a practice partner, it will make a much bigger impact on your success.

Pick the Right Venue

Not all venues work for every single client meeting. There are a lot of variables that must be considered. For example, the nature of your industry, the size of the deal, and the geographical distance between you and the person you are meeting will all influence your venue of choice.

For example, let’s say you’re a realtor and you just landed a meeting with a potential professional athlete client. Their budget will be much higher than most others, so dinner at a nice restaurant will most likely be a better setting to recommend than your local Starbucks.

Of course, your top priority should be meeting your potential client where they feel most comfortable. If your professional athlete friend prefers to sit down for donuts at a Krispy Kreme to talk about home options, you should do your best to accommodate that.

Arrive Early

If you’re on time, you’re late. It would be best if you did everything in your power to be at your meeting before your prospective client. This will give your client a good first impression and allow you to greet them as they arrive. You can use the time waiting for them to get the venue situated, look through your notes, and practice your pitch.

Practicing punctuality starts by making sure you have the meeting time in your Calendar correctly. Next, add some reminders that help you get ready to go and out the door promptly. Finally, planning your travel route and preparing for unexpected delays will minimize the time spent getting from point A to point B.

Practice Listening

Salespeople love to talk. It’s a big part of how they make a living, after all. However, by putting on your sales cap, you run the risk of talking your potential client’s ear off regarding the value of your products or services. While you certainly need to be eloquent, many deals will be closed due to active listening rather than smooth-talking.

Start practicing listening skills in your everyday life. Do this not only in preparation for your upcoming client meeting, but for all of your future interactions. For example, pay attention to when you interrupt someone else or if you find yourself waiting to interject rather than process what the other person is saying. With enough introspection and daily practice, your soft skills can be put to the test on real clients in important meetings.

Keep the Meeting Concise

Just as you probably don’t enjoy sitting in work meetings for very long, your potential client won’t want to spend too much time in a meeting with you. This is nothing against you as an individual or a business person; rest assured. However, patience and focus simply run thin over time. Even though a meeting might have started tremendously, the initial enthusiasm can quickly fade if you keep drawing the meeting out.

Coming to the meeting prepared, as mentioned previously, will help you get to the point and hold an efficient interaction. You should also be aware of time constraints. If you have 30 minutes blocked off for a meeting, try to pace yourself accordingly, so you don’t get lost on tangents. Ending a meeting when you should also show respect for your client’s time; a great way to conclude.

We wish you the best of luck at your next client meeting. Soon enough, you’ll be a pro, ready to give others the advice that you need to become a superstar.

Image Credit: ekaterina bolovtsova; pexels; thank you!

The post Tips for Acing Your Next Client Meeting appeared first on Calendar.

Originally found on Entrepreneur.com Read More

The Most Important First Step When Starting a Business

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Whether you call it the mass exodus, the Great Resignation, re-evaluating your life, or a midlife crisis, there are scores of people leaving traditional jobs to start their own businesses.

However, the question often asked — whether it’s pondering from behind the desk in the corner office or in a bit of panic having just been let go from your job — is “What’s the first thing I should do to start my own business?”

The answer: Find your unique thing.

What can you offer that is meaningful to you, leverages your strengths and capabilities, and is marketable?

Know that it doesn’t have to be perfect. The truth is, you will likely go through several iterations of this idea before you come close to landing on “the” idea that is sustainable. Think of it as the journey from iteration to identity. Every self-employed business owner I’ve ever asked about how similar their business is from their original idea will say not very similar at all. The original spark may hold true, but iteration is part of the process and it should be expected.

Consider your skillset

It’s possible you no longer enjoy what you’re experienced in. But are there aspects of it you love that you can imagine doing more of? Or, can what you don’t enjoy help you determine what you would like to do? Often what drives us crazy can be a catalyst for innovation to do something different than the way it’s been done before. Acknowledging what you dislike about what you were doing can be just what you need to create something new, disruptive, and very marketable. In any case, applying your skillset can be your marketable idea.

Related: How Do I Know If I Have a Great Business Idea?

Pay attention to compliments

You know those things you do that people comment on that you brush off? The way you simplify complicated problems. Or, have a knack at seeing solutions when others can’t. Perhaps the ability to organize a complicated situation or that you thrive under pressure. There’s a good chance people around you have been pointing out something unique about you that they see value in all along. Think about the pattern of compliments you’ve heard over the years, in the workplace and out. Pay particularly close attention to the feedback you just want to brush off as “no big deal.” Because it just might be a big deal. It might point precisely to something you are innately good at that’s so easy for you, you don’t see the value in it. But others do. And that spark can be the beginning of a great business idea that can catch fire.

Related: How to Test a Business Idea Without Spending a Fortune

Create a thread

Creating a thread from your past to your future can provide credibility to your new venture, an explanation as to what makes you different, and a compelling story to share. While we sometimes see our own lives as a series of doors opening and closing, other people often find the thread that creates a throughline more compelling. Don’t be too quick to shut the door behind you, but rather look for opportunities to continue and share the story.

Again, the important thing to remember here is you’re starting with an inkling of an idea, not the final chapter. Don’t put too much pressure on yourself to get it perfect, or for that matter, even close to right. Far more clarity will come as you progress.

Yes, there’s a lot to do when you consider the first things that need to be done to start a business. But finding your “thing” — that spark of an idea that’s the combination of your skills, value, and story — is the best place to start.

Related: Looking For A Business Idea? Start With Your Purpose

Originally found on Entrepreneur.com Read More

7 Steps to Becoming a Seven-Figure Influencer in Your Niche

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Today, the word “influencer” can mean anything from content creator to speaker, industry icon, author, musician, and even reality TV celebrity. To some, it could mean someone who has amassed a large following on social media. But to entrepreneurs and business owners, it’s the best way to build authority, a well-loved brand, and a strong connection with your audience.

If you’re ready to be a seven-figure influencer in your niche, here are seven steps to making it happen.

1. Share your perspective

You need to be bold about expressing your point of view to build influence and stand out in any niche. By sharing your point of view, you’ll attract people with the same views and values. They’re more likely to be interested in what you do and what you sell. Influencers who have spoken out about the causes and issues they care about create a loyal following and emotional connection.

2. Lead with your personal story

Consumers are now getting savvier and want to know more about the businesses they buy from. There’s a reason Spanx grew exponentially with founder Sara Blakely as the face of the company. Blakely shares her story everywhere and many people know about how she started the company when she was broke and used to sell fax machines door-to-door.

Before I buy products, I go to their Instagram page to check them out and even watch their stories. I’m more likely to purchase if I relate to the business owner.

3. Create entertaining content

So many entrepreneurs are so focused on educational content that they forget that there’s already so much of that out there. People are inundated with how-to articles and videos and get tired of the same old boring content. If you want to stand out, find a fun way to entertain your audience and make them laugh.

For ideas, head to TikTok (where lots of entrepreneurs are finding it easy to grow) or Instagram Reels to look for ways to put a spin on your educational content. You can use transitions, filters, and trending music to capture attention.

Related: It’s Time to Redefine the Influencer

4. Be accessible

One way to really stand out in your industry is to take the time to be accessible to your audience. So many influencers and celebrities are so far out of reach that they’re no longer relatable to the general public.

If you want to build influence, take the time to respond to people’s comments on your post, reply to direct messages, and retweet other people’s content. Every time I do this, I always get messages of gratitude and I’ve met people in person at events who remember these small gestures.

5. Partner with other influencers

To amplify your reach and growth, build partnerships with other influencers. This sounds counterintuitive because entrepreneurs are concerned about competition, but if you can find an expert with an aligned audience, this can be mutually beneficial.

You can see this happening with events, online summits, podcast interviews, and even Instagram Live. This will skyrocket your growth so that you can reach more people.

Related: 10 Influencer Marketing Trends to Keep Your Eye On

6. Have multiple revenue streams

The path to seven figures is possible for anyone as long as you’re focused on serving your audience. Be really clear about the problem that you help people solve and repeat that in your content and messaging until that’s what you become known for.

If you’re just starting, validate your idea by just putting it out there and talking to your audience about it. It could be as simple as “Who needs help with ?” and start a conversation through direct messaging. You could offer a consultation or strategy session and start building testimonials.

If you are already selling a product or service, evaluate which ones are bringing in the most revenue and focus on those. You can still offer more than that on the back end and upsell people into those products and services, but your marketing will be more clear and focused if you’re talking only about one, two, or three problems that you solve.

One way to expand your offerings is to think of it in three levels:

DIY (do-it-yourself), where your customer gets the product and they don’t get any extra help outside of customer support and online tutorialsDWY (done-with-you), where you offer coaching and more access to youDFY (done-for-you), where you offer start-to-finish execution and implementation.

7. Find a way to give back

Influence is really about making an impact. Think about ways to give back through your company by partnering with aligned nonprofit organizations and charities. People are more likely to buy from companies that have a social mission (think of Toms Shoes, Ben & Jerry’s, and Warby Parker.)

Nowadays, consumers are being more selective about the businesses they support. Make it a priority to implement these strategies to stand out in your niche and build a brand that influences in a positive way.

Related: What Marketers Need to Know About Influencer Marketing in 2021

Originally found on Entrepreneur.com Read More

Black Forest Cake

Black forest cake is just as beautiful as it is delicious! Topped with cream, cherries, and beautifully curled chocolate, this cake is a total show stopper! It will definitely get a “WOW!” out of your guests!

This cake offers the perfect mixture of a rich, chocolatey taste with the sweetness of black cherries. It is absolutely delightful! If you love chocolate desserts, try out this Cake, this amazing Pie, and my tried and true Chocolate Lasagna!

Delicious Black Forest Cake

I don’t know about you but I LOOOOVE layered cakes. They look gorgeous but I can’t get over how you get all the flavors in every single bit. I don’t have to scrap the cream off of the top for the bottom of the slice. It’s all there the whole time! This moist and chocolatey cake is perfect for that! It is homemade to absolute perfection and you don’t want to miss a thing! In fact, I’ll explain at the bottom of the post how you can store this! So that if you don’t finish it all at once, you can know JUST how to save it for later and it will taste amazing every time!

Although this black forest cake looks pretty, it’s not hard to make! I have included step-by-step instructions that will help you every step of the way. So if you’ve been afraid to try it because you thought it was complicated… Don’t be! And once you finish it, you will be licking your lips in satisfaction wondering exactly when and what you can make it for again! I love a good chocolate cake or cupcake but this black forest cake well… It’s the next level and something that every chocolate lover will love!

Ingredients in Black Forest Cake

Black forest cake is simple. It’s a moist, chocolate cake that has layers of cream topped with cherry syrup! Once you gather all of the ingredients together and get going, you will be so happy that you made it! See the recipe card below for a list of exact ingredient measurements.

Vegetable oil: You can use canola oil if you have that instead!Coffee: The warm coffee brings out the chocolate flavor in this recipe and won’t taste like coffee at all! But you can use warm water instead if you would rather! Eggs: Use room temperature eggs if you can.Vanilla: The vanilla adds a flavor to the sweetness. Flour: I used all purpose flour in this recipe. Sugar: This, of course, makes your cake taste delicious and sweet!Unsweetened cocoa powder: Make sure that you don’t use Dutch process as this won’t give you cake the same texture. Baking soda: This helps the cake to rise and be moist and fluffy! Salt: Salt will enhance all of the other flavors of the ingredients.

Cherry Syrup

Water: This creates a base for the syrup.Sugar: Adds a sweetness to the tart cherry taste.Cherry liqueur: You can use this or cherry juice!

Whipped Cream

Heavy Whipping Cream: Whipping cream makes it fluffy and light!Powdered Sugar: This dissolves better than granulated sugar! So it’s perfect when you need a smooth and creamy finish to top off this black forest cake! Vanilla extract: Adds in a little bit of flavor to the sweet taste. Fresh sweet cherries: You cherries should be pitted and quartered.

Let’s Bake a Cake!

Set aside a little over an hour to make and bake this black forest cake. It is worth every second and you will love it so much when you are done! The dark cherries add such an unexpected, sweet flavor!


Prep: Preheat the oven to 325°. Spray three 8 inch round cake pans with cooking spray. Add parchment rounds to the bottom of the pans and spray the parchment with cooking spray and set aside.Whisk wet ingredients: In a large bowl whisk together the vegetable oil, warm coffee, eggs, and vanilla until combined.Sift dry ingredients, mix and combine with wet ingredients: In a medium bowl sift together the flour, sugar, unsweetened cocoa powder, baking soda and salt. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and gently whisk together until fully combined.Fill pans and bake: Fill the three pans evenly and bake for 30-35 minutes, until the center of the cake springs back lightly when pressed on, or a toothpick comes out clean. Allow the cake to cool for 10 minutes in the pan before inverting the pan on a cooling rack to finish cooling.Cool: Once completely cooled you can either wrap the layers in plastic wrap and store in the fridge overnight before assembling the cake, or you can assemble the cake once they’re cool.

Cherry Syrup

Mix, simmer and cool: In a medium sauce pan combine the water, sugar and cherry liqueur. Bring to a simmer over medium low heat. Simmer for 2 minutes until the sugar us completely dissolved. Let cool completely.

Whipped Cream

Mix until fluffy: In the bowl of a stand mixer add the cream, powdered sugar and vanilla. Use the whisk attachment to beat until medium stiff peaks form.

Assemble the Cake

Soak layers with cherry syrup: Lay the three cakes out on a cooling rack with the bottom side facing up. Brush the cherry syrup over the three layers, letting it really soak in to each one.Add whipped cream and cherries: Lay the bottom layer top down on your cake plate or cake stand. Spread a nice thick layer of whipped cream over the layer and generously cover with cherry quarters.Stack and repeat: Stack the second layer on top of the cherries and do another layer of whipped cream and cherries. Top with the third layer of cake.Add top layer of cream, top with cherries: Add large dollops of whipped cream to the top of the cake and smooth as much as you would like. Decorate with fresh cherries and serve immediately.

Baking Tips

Black forest cake is a decadent dessert that perfectly balances the taste of a rich chocolate cake with sweet cherries and light whipped cream. Here are a few tips that will help this cake to turn out JUST right!

Vegetable Oil: If you use vegetable oil instead of butter in this recipe, it will give your cake a more tender crumb and keep it very moist. If you’d like to substitute the oil for butter you totally can! Just know that it will change the texture.Use room temperature ingredients: Take some time beforehand and get out all of your wet ingredients. Let them sit out until they are at room temperature. It takes a little thought beforehand but as a result, you will have a much smoother batter. The ingredients will blend better and result in a lighter, fluffier cake!Why sweet cherries? A black forest cake from the grocery store often use the canned cherry pie filling that is made with sour cherries. But… that’s not the traditional way to make the cake. Using fresh dark sweet cherries will add an extra layer of complexity to your cake and take it to the next level!Quartered cherries: Instead of cutting the cherries in half, try quartering your cherries. This will allow you to add more of them to the layers of cream! Not only that but it will really give a bursting cherry flavor throughout the whole cake.No cherry pitter? If you don’t have a cherry pitter, don’t worry! You can use a metal straw or even a chopstick to pop the tie off of the cherry. As a result, you can do this without having to cut each one open and pull the pit out with your fingers.

How To Store Leftovers

Because this black forest cake uses both fresh cherries and fresh whipped cream, you don’t want to leave this out on your counter! If you have any leftovers, here is how you can store them safely!

Refrigerator: Place your cake in a sealed, airtight container and put it in the refrigerator. It can last for up to 2 days!


Black Forest Cake

Black forest cake is just as beautiful as it is delicious! Topped with cream, cherries, and beautifully curled chocolate, this cake is a total show stopper! It will definitely get a “WOW!” out of your guests! 
Prep Time 45 minutes
Cook Time 35 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 20 minutes
Servings 10 People



1 1/4 cup vegetable oil1 3/4 cup warm coffee3 large eggs2 1/2 teaspoons vanilla3 cups all purpose flour2 1/4 cup granulated sugar1 1/4 Cup unsweetened cocoa powder (NOT Dutch process)3 Teaspoons tsp baking soda1 1/2 teaspoon salt

Cherry Syrup

1/3 Cup Water1/3 Cup Granulated sugar1/3 Cup Cherry liqueur (or cherry juice)

Whipped Cream

3 Cups Heavy whipping cream1/3 Cup Powdered sugar1 Teaspoon Vanilla extract2 1/2 Cups fresh sweet cherries pitted and quartered



Preheat the oven to 325°. Spray three 8 inch round cake pans with cooking spray. Add parchment rounds to the bottom of the pans and spray the parchment with cooking spray and set aside.
In a large bowl whisk together the vegetable oil, warm coffee, eggs, and vanilla until combined.
In a medium bowl sift together the flour, sugar, unsweetened cocoa powder, baking soda and salt. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and gently whisk together until fully combined.
Fill the three pans evenly and bake for 30-35 minutes, until the center of the cake springs back lightly when pressed on, or a toothpick comes out clean. Allow the cake to cool for 10 minutes in the pan before inverting the pan on a cooling rack to finish cooling.
Once completely cooled you can either wrap the layers in plastic wrap and store in the fridge overnight before assembling the cake, or you can assemble the cake once they’re cool.

Cherry Syrup

In a medium sauce pan combine the water, sugar and cherry liqueur. Bring to a simmer over medium low heat. Simmer for 2 minutes until the sugar us completely dissolved. Let cool completely.

Whipped Cream

In the bowl of a stand mixer add the cream, powdered sugar and vanilla. Use the whisk attachment to beat until medium stiff peaks form.

Assemble the Cake

Lay the three cakes out on a cooling rack with the bottom side facing up. Brush the cherry syrup over the three layers, letting it really soak in to each one.
Lay the bottom layer top down on your cake plate or cake stand. Spread a nice thick layer of whipped cream over the layer and generously cover with cherry quarters.
Stack the second layer on top of the cherries and do another layer of whipped cream and cherries. Top with the third layer of cake.
Add large dollops of whipped cream to the top of the cake and smooth as much as you would like. Decorate with fresh cherries and serve immediately.

Originally found on The Recipe Critic Read More

Why You Should Stop Meditating and Focus on Your Intentions

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Let’s preface this article by saying: It is not about bashing the practice of meditation. This article’s about why you should also remember to stop meditating and get clear about your intentions.

The benefits of mindfulness and practicing meditation are well documented. Bringing our awareness back to our bodies and the present is arguably a vital tool for survival, especially as an entrepreneur.

If you run your own business, you are pretty much never encouraged to think in terms of the present moment. You’re always looking to future targets while casting your mind back to past successes and failures.

We are constantly projecting ourselves into an assumed future, or a long-gone past — the upshot of which is that we are not living energetically in the present!

Of course, we must have an eye on our future as business owners while learning from the past. But we also have to remember that executive action can only happen in the present. As physical beings, we can only exist and take action in the “now”.

Meditation is a great way to do that, clearly. We shut out all of the pressures of the future, traumas of the past and focus our minds on our breathing, bringing our awareness to what’s going on purely as an observer. But so often people get caught up in the inner work that they never take any action in their outer world. Just as it is possible to lose yourself in the pressures of past and future performance, so too can you become lost in mindful practices.

Taking action is concurrently the most and least important part of realizing anything.

Taking action can be the least important part of realization because blind action will not result in a specific outcome. You have to be specific with your goal and specific with your actions, and that means doing the prep work meticulously! On the flip side, taking action can be the most important because no matter how much preparation we do, taking no action at all will mean that your desires remain in your head.

The actions that we take are also done in accordance with our belief system. That is to say: We will only take actions that we believe will have real-world outcomes.

What’s a great practice for unlocking our belief system? You guessed it — meditation!

What we’re really talking about here is intention.

Using a guided meditation that is designed to open up your belief systems with the intention of being able to take better action in the present is how real growth is done. Meditation that is undertaken without a specified outcome is not useless, but counterproductive.

“Stop Meditating” is not about never meditating. It’s simply a reminder that there should be a point to it.

Clarity of intention is vital to receiving a desired outcome.

We can so often ignore our intentions when embarking upon some new endeavor because we’ve simply been convinced that it’s the right thing to do.

Set your intention for meditating around becoming more conscious and present with what’s going on in your life. Make it about reclaiming dominion over as much of the decision-making that’s going on for you as is possible.

Armed with that intention, you’ll be able to approach meditation (or any other practice) with purpose. You’ll know exactly what you want to get out of it and exactly when it is no longer serving you.

When you think about it, that’s what intentions are — conscious disruptions of unconscious patterns.

So how can we set proper intentions?

There are lots of intricacies and avenues to go down, but really it boils down to five main steps:

1. Where are you now?

Find a way to take an audit of where you’re at right now. Really be open and honest with yourself about how things are, and how you got here.

Don’t sit in judgment of yourself. Don’t see only your failures, but make sure that you acknowledge them and take full responsibility. You can’t get directions to a destination without knowing the starting point. If you are going to create a plan to get you to your end goal, it has to include the first step. That first step can only come from one place: where you are now.

2. Identify your end goal.

Following on from the principle of needing to know where you are before you set off; you also need to know where you’re going. What is your goal made up of physically? What does it entail?

3. How does it feel?

Get totally clear on what your destination is and what it feels like. What sensations will you feel when you get there? How will it affect your general mood, demeanor, or outlook on life?

Understand how it feels to be that version of you, because this will help identify if you really do desire to live this way (you very well might not, and that’s ok).

4. Moving towards our intention.

Get practical. Specific intentions are important, but to bring it back around: Without action, intentions won’t get you anywhere. Armed with the clarity attained during earlier steps, you can now go about creating alignment between you and your end goal.

Identify the knowledge and skill gaps that need filling, then start seeking out the necessary guidance to fill them.

5. Lock in your “why”.

So in step three, I spoke about finding your “why”. This is the emotional connection you have to your intended outcome. It’s who you want to be and the emotional state that you want to live in.

This could be the excitement of waking up each morning, with a full day of your dream job ahead of you. It could be the general relaxation that comes from not being stressed about money. Maybe you just want to live a life where each day is a surprise and you’re excited to see what each one brings.

This is so contextually and subjectively based, that it really isn’t possible to get too specific on your behalf. You need to do the work of making your intended future as real for yourself in the present as you can and start to recognize the feelings that this provokes.

Once you are aligned with a consciously chosen outcome, you create an inevitability. Not that you’ll definitely have all your dreams come true — we still live in the real world. But an inevitability that in your actions, you will be moving towards that outcome, deliberately and inexorably.

Originally found on Entrepreneur.com Read More

How Real Leaders Coach Their Employees For Success

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

The pillar of every successful business is happy employees, and effective coaching is a crucial ingredient to satisfied employees. Effective coaching leads to improved performance, knowledge transfer, skill improvement, and employee retention.

Here are some statistics on the impact of excellent coaching:

77 percent of Fortune 500 employees suggest coaching had a significant effect on performance Executive coaching created a 788 percent ROI for one Fortune 500 company Around 70 percent of employees that received coaching saw improved relationships and communication from their coaching 88 percent of companies saw a strong ROI from their coaching experiences

If you’re running a 100 percent remote technology business, you’ll need to ensure you have an excellent coaching strategy, and here are some ways you can do that.

Invite employees into the conversation

The world’s best technology leaders listen to every concern of their employees. Former U.S Navy Seal Jocko Willink is one example, as he emphasizes decentralizing command during Navy Seal missions. Jocko believes companies can implement these principles into the corporate world with excellent success.

When you listen to your remote employees, you’ll know which areas need more focus. Unfortunately, in many instances, technology leaders make the mistake of debating their employees instead of listening. Yet, when you invite employees into the conversation, they’re more likely to work with you for improvement.

I run my nearshore software development company to provide oversight, leadership, consulting, and continuing education for all employees. As a result, my nearshore software development company builds engaged remote teams that are eager to improve and get involved with the conversation.

Create an effective plan for improvement

It’s challenging, if not impossible, to create an effective coaching strategy without a plan in the technology industry. Therefore, your improvement plan should cover these crucial aspects:

The goal: Technology companies should clearly define the level of performance they want to see from their employees. As a result, the employee will know what you expect and be more likely to rise to the challenge.The action plan: Technology companies need a transparent action plan that sets a clear roadmap. The action plan should define the steps, the process and include unique ideas from employees. The checkpoints: Checkpoints are critical for encouraging improvement and growth. Technology companies should have set dates where they will review employee progress and see where things can improve. How to measure: Companies can’t gauge how successful their coaching strategy is without effective measuring. Therefore, companies need to make their observations and get individual feedback from the employees. Feedback is especially crucial when you run a remote business.

My nearshore software development company creates a plan and strategy to ensure all remote employees are on the same page and ready to succeed.

Show confidence in your employees

Some managers believe that scolding employees achieves the best results, but that’s rarely the case. Some employees will have more confidence in their abilities than others, and leaders need to be aware of that. Nonetheless, when technology leaders involve employees in the company’s future, decision-making processes, and coaching strategy, they almost always encourage employee confidence.

Of course, if the employee isn’t achieving optimal results, you’ll have to tell them. However, that doesn’t mean leaders should disregard an employee’s feedback and input. Research suggests that 98 percent of employees perform better when they feel confident.

Everyone understands the damage of high-staff turnover, and 96 percent of employees are more likely to stay at a company if they feel confident.

Push employees to their attainable limits

The best technology and business leaders will push their employees to their achievable limits. Although it’s critical to employ people with high motivation, you need to ensure you push employees out of their comfort zone. In turn, that will help employees become more engaged.

Employees want to grow and love a challenge. In many cases, they need their leaders to challenge and provide regular feedback to enable growth. Pushing employees is also vital to employee retention when you’re running a 100 percent remote business.

My nearshore software development company offers employees ongoing management and career guidance which encourages growth and pushes employees to their attainable limits.

Let employees work by themselves

Many managers will make the mistake of continually interfering when an employee makes mistakes. That’s understandable because it could affect your business in the short term, but employees need to learn how to succeed through trial and error.

The best leaders will enable their staff to complete the job and learn from their mistakes instead of taking the job out of their hands. Of course, the leader will offer guidance and support through the difficulty, but they won’t take over the task.

Some other crucial methods that great leaders use to coach their employees

Create a team feedback culture: Technology leaders should create a culture based on team feedback. In addition, ongoing dialogue encourages all employees to have a voice and prosper in the workplace.Recognize your employees: When employees perform well, the best leaders will always recognize it regardless of the situation. It will instill confidence, give staff the belief to work alone, and build excellent habits. Build emotional intelligence: The world’s best leaders are excellent at gauging emotional intelligence. Moreover, the best leaders often have high degrees of self-awareness, leading to higher emotional intelligence. When leaders have emotional intelligence, they can understand their employees better. Understand individual strengths and weaknesses: Everyone has strengths and weaknesses, and that’s the same for CEOs of Fortune 500 technology companies. Recognizing strengths and weaknesses allows technology leaders to implement the most excellent coaching strategies for remote teams.

In 2021, it’s highly possible to run a successful technology business remotely through excellent leadership.

Originally found on Entrepreneur.com Read More

Small-Business Optimism About Future Conditions Falls to 8-Year Low, Hiring Difficulties Hit 48-Year High

Overall optimism among small-business owners ticked up slightly in August, although the level of confidence in the six-months-ahead outlook for business conditions fell to an eight-year low while hiring difficulties hit a 48-year high, a new report shows.

The so-called optimism index edged up by 0.4 percentage points to 100.1 in August from July, according to the Sept. 14 Small Business Economic Trends report (pdf) from the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB).

The uptick in overall optimism came alongside a sharp eight-point drop in the six-months-ahead outlook for business conditions. The forward-looking index of future expectations fell to a reading of negative 28 percent, the lowest number since January 2013.

“As the economy moves into the fourth quarter, small-business owners are losing confidence in the strength of future business conditions,” said NFIB Chief Economist Bill Dunkelberg.

At the same time, 50 percent of small business owners reported job openings that could not be filled. This is a one percentage point increase from July and a 48-year record high.

“The biggest problems facing small employers right now is finding enough labor to meet their demand and for many, managing supply chain disruptions,” Dunkelberg said.

Small businesses responded to the hiring crunch by raising wages, with 41 percent reporting boosting compensation in August, up three points from July and also a 48-year high. Ten percent said labor costs were their top business problem while 28 percent said labor quality was their chief worry, with both readings hitting record high levels.

“As the economy moves into the fourth quarter, the big question mark is LABOR, its availability, its cost, and the impact on inflation,” the report’s authors wrote.

Inflation won’t be a problem for businesses as long as they can pass rising input costs, including labor, on to consumers in the form of higher selling prices, the authors argued, “but if consumers become price-shy, then profits will be squeezed and firms will have to adjust costs quickly, including labor costs.”

Upward pressure on labor costs was a key theme in a recent report from the Chicago Federal Reserve on business conditions in the central bank’s 7th district, which painted a picture of slowing growth and record-high labor cost inflation.

The Chicago Fed Survey of Business Conditions, released on Sept. 13, shows that the headline business activity index fell to a reading of minus 2 in August from plus 14 in July, suggesting August growth fell below trend. The labor cost index rose to a series high of plus 42 in August, up by two points from July and the highest reading in the eight-year history of the series.

Meanwhile, the Fed’s so-called Beige Book, which provides a snapshot of business conditions across the Fed’s 12 districts and which was partly informed by the Chicago Fed’s data, shows that many businesses facing input cost inflation said they plan to pass higher prices on to consumers.

Consumer price inflation in the 12 months through August stood at 5.3 percent, 0.1 percentage points lower than the June and July figure, which was the highest annual spike since 2008.

By Tom Ozimek

Tom Ozimek has a broad background in journalism, deposit insurance, marketing and communications, and adult education. The best writing advice he’s ever heard is from Roy Peter Clark: ‘Hit your target’ and ‘leave the best for last.’

Originally found on Entrepreneur.com Read More