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Home Cooking with Dina Crowell

Home Cooking is a regular feature on The Front Burner that offers a peek at how home cooks around the Fredericksburg area work in their kitchens. If you’d like to answer our questionnaire, download it here and return your responses to with a digital photo of yourself, or pass it along to anyone you think would like to participate.

Name: Dina Crowell

Tell us who you are and why you cook.

My name is Dina Crowell and I have had a passion for cooking and baking for as long as I can remember.  When I got married and had kids 12 years ago, cooking and baking became important to me because I wanted the best for my family and I wanted food to bring us together.  Because of my love of baking I opened a cake business called Buttercream that I run out of my home here in Fredericksburg and I also have a baking blog [] to share my tips and recipes with others.

Describe your cooking style in three words.

Fresh, unique, gourmet

How did you learn to cook?

I learned to cook from my parents and my grandma.  I learned to bake from cookbooks and online tutorials.  Of course, practice and trial and error is what ultimately led me to bake like a pro and open my own cake business.

Favorite cookbook?

There are a plethora of online sources for cooking and baking.  I use for most baking and and for everything else.   I also have tons of cake decorating and baking cookbooks that I flip through on a regular basis  Some people like to read novels, I like to read cookbooks.

What is one dish on your menu this week that you’re excited about?

For baking I just made a scrumptious Strawberry Shortcake Pie that you can find on my baking blog.  For a main dish I am making my famous “Sunday Sauce” for my family.  This is a red spaghetti sauce recipe passed down from my Italian Grandmother.  The kids help me gather herbs from our garden to add to the sauce.  The smell of it simmering all day each Sunday will be a memory I know they’ll keep with them forever.

What is one thing that must be in your pantry at all times?

It’s a tie between vanilla, flour and granulated sugar.

What one kitchen gadget could you not live without?

My KitchenAid mixer…hands down!

It’s 6 p.m., the people in your household are hungry and you just walked in from work and need to get something satisfying on the table as soon as possible. What’s your favorite thing to whip up in this situation?

This would have to be spaghetti.  I freeze all leftovers and since my Sunday Sauce recipe makes a huge batch, I usually have this on hand at all times.  I love knowing my family is getting a homemade meal that’s healthy even though it comes from the freezer.

It’s a snowy Sunday, you’ve just done the grocery shopping and have the rest of the day to spend in the kitchen cooking a meal that will bring comfort. What’s for dinner?

On cold days I love making my dad’s homemade chicken soup.  It has to simmer all day and the smell is so warm and comforting.  It takes some time but it’s well worth the wait. Sometimes I will make homemade biscuits and a garden salad to go along with it but the soup is so hearty that you really can make a meal with just the soup.

What is your favorite dish to make for pot-luck dinners?

If I am doing the main dish I would make my BBQ pulled chicken sandwiches.  I use a CrockPot for this so it’s easy to cook it for a few hours and then transport it to a pot-luck.  If I need a side dish, I make my mom’s spicy BBQ baked beans.  It has a lot of sweetness from the brown sugar and maple syrup and packs a punch of heat with red pepper flakes an hot Jimmy Dean sausage.  It’s a crowd pleaser every time.

Do you have a favorite food source in the Fredericksburg region?

I love to go to Wegmans for most of my food purchases.  Sometimes I will take the kids to the farmers market downtown as well.  I also purchase my vanilla downtown at the Kitchen at Whittingham. A specialty foods store that has amazing extracts, rubs, seasonings and kitchen gadgets.  It’s like a small Williams-Sonoma and when I am there, I’m in heaven.

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  • Danelle Strantz

    I just want to add that Dina is down to earth and will do anything to make what ever she is making the best she can!
    She has a natural talent! Her deserts and her food is something we all look forward to having when we visit!
    She’s a great friend as well as a fantastic baker and cook!

  • Trudi Rabak

    Dina’s cakes and cupcakes are amazing!! She is a wonderful mother and great person! Her dedication to her family and business is admirable. She seems to balance it all wonderfully!

  • Lucy Foglio

    I am so proud of Dina, who is my daughter! I never imagined she would be so succesful so quickly because of her four children. But it’s because of her children that she wants to make this business work. I use to tell her to wait ’til all the kids were in school…but she loves to bake and cook so much that it just took off. She makes the best tasting cakes and everyone can see how beautifully she decorates them. She is fantastic and a wonderul Mom (and daughter)…I love you, Mom

  • Tanya Williams

    Dina is my neighbor and good friend. I have never known anyone who could take ingrediants from her pantry and turn them into the most spectactular cakes and desserts you will ever see or taste! She truely is a natural baker and I admire her for how she always makes time for her family but still runs a successful business! Way to go Martha!

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