December 22, 2017

last minute christmas treats

There’s always a last minute little gift or two that we all need to get. My favorite places to find those are at World Market, TJ Maxx or Trader Joe’s! It’s quick, easy and hopefully painless, especially when all these shop open so early. After my morning drop-off at school, it’s easy to pop into one of these places and grab a few fun treats for a neighbor or friend.

Packaged together with a little bag of coffee or cocoa and we've got a fun little holiday gift. This deer mug is from TJ Maxx and the peppermint candy cane stirrers are from World Market.

These little gingerbread people are such a blast to wake up to in the morning. They bring an instant smile to your face! Both the Rae Dunn Mrs. Claus mug and the cookies are from TJ Maxx. (I'm keeping this mug for myself!)

Even though the series is over, I know a lot of die-hard Downton Abbey fans! This tea by Republic of Tea is really good, and I always have it in my pantry! My kids love the English Rose Blend when they’re not feeling well because it tastes like raspberry. I always stock up when I go to World Market.

Another thing I love about World Market is all the international foods I find there. They have a really fabulous selection of Italian goodies. These are some of my favorites from the last shopping trip. My family will love these, especially my mom!! It's not Christmas around here without Panettone in the morning with our coffee.

ciao! fabiana

December 21, 2017

barclay butera's home at christmas

Happy Thursday before Christmas!

I’m sure it’ll be busy, busy day for us all,
finishing up last minute stuff,

so today I wanted to quickly pop in 
and share Barclay Butera’s home
all prettied up for the holidays,

and featured inTraditional Home magazine.


Barclay is a huge supporter of the
and his home has been on the tour twice!

He’s also been so generous to host our
Home Tour after party for the last twenty years.

Isn’t the tree gorgeous?

Here are a few photos I took yesterday…

Barclay’s home is soooo charming.

ciao! fabiana

photo credit: Ryan Garvin

December 20, 2017

scenic shopping 101

Who wants to go to a crowded mall the week before Christmas?  I certainly don’t! My favorite places to shop are low-key and relatively stress-free. That’s why yesterday I headed down to Crystal Cove, the most beautiful little outdoor shopping center that literally sits across the street from the beach!

I can get quite a bit of shopping done there by hitting Banana Republic, GapJuxtaposition Home, Pier One, Williams-Sonoma and even Trader Joe's, and parking at Crystal Cove is a no-brainer! 

On my way down there, I stopped off at See’s Candy in Corona del Mar to get a few holiday treats and took a little side trip down a few streets to soak in the local charm.  

These two white homes caught my attention with their traditional festive décor... so then I headed down to Crystal Cove. My first stop, Juxtaposition Home! One of my favorite shops to find a little something special.

And their store is sprinkled with festive holiday décor too.

A couple of doors down, a stop at Babette’s is obligatory for one of their fabulous cappuccinos. A girl’s gotta keep goin' and a little caffeine stop is the perfect solution! It's so festive here too!

On my way home, I couldn’t resist another detour in Corona del Mar to soak in the beautiful blue sky and shimmering ocean, and just look at all the gorgeous aloes blooming on the hillside! 

Our favorite Christmas flowers here in Newport Beach!!

ciao! fabiana

December 19, 2017

farmhouse at roger's holiday cookies

Today, I’m sharing a few more cookie recipes with you. What do you think about Melty Chocolate Truffles, Soft Molasses and Danish Salted-Butter cookies this Christmas?

All these cookie recipes are from Chef Mead of FARMHOUSE at Roger’s Gardens, so you know they’re gonna be good!! 


Makes Around 2 Dozen Cookies

½ cup all-purpose flour
½ cup sugar
¼ cup unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder
½ tsp baking powder
¼ tsp salt
2 Tbsp unsalted butter, room temp. and cut in pieces
1/3 cup (about 3 oz) chopped dark chocolate
1 large egg
1 Tbsp vanilla extract
1 cup powdered sugar
1.   Preheat oven to 375° and spray 2 baking pans with a non-stick cooking spray or oil.
2.   Combine the flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking powder and the salt together. With your hands or a fork, rub butter into dry ingredients until mixture resembles breadcrumbs. Stir in chocolate.
3.   Whisk together egg and vanilla. Add egg mixture to chocolate mixture; stir with a fork until mixture is slightly moistened. Form dough into a ball; wrap in plastic; refrigerate 30 minutes.
4.   Shape dough into tablespoon size balls. Roll each in powdered sugar and coat the balls. Place on prepared pans 2″ apart.
5.   Bake until just set but still slightly undercooked, about 10 minutes.
6.   Let cool on sheets 5 minutes and transfer to wire racks to cool completely.
7.   The cookies are best served warm.

Makes About 2 Dozen Cookies

2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 ½ teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
¾ teaspoons ground cardamom
½ teaspoons kosher salt
1 large egg
½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup dark molasses
¼  cup dark brown sugar for rolling
1.   Preheat oven to 375° and spray with a non-stick cooking spray or oil.
2.   Combine flour, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, cardamom, and salt in a small bowl.
3.   Whisk egg, butter, granulated sugar, molasses, and brown sugar in a medium bowl.
4.   Mix in dry ingredients and combine.
5.   Scoop out dough by the tablespoonful and roll into balls and if the dough feels sticky go ahead and chill for 20 minutes.
6.   Place the sugar in a shallow bowl.
7.   Roll the balls of dough in sugar and place on greased baking sheets. Spacing 2″ apart.
8.   Bake cookies and try to turn the pans half way through cooking time.
9.   The cookies should are ready when they look puffed, cracked, and just set around edges. If the cookies are over baked they will not be chewy.
10. Bake about 8–10 minutes and transfer to wire racks and let cool.

Makes Around 2 Dozen Cookies

1 cup (2 sticks) chilled salted butter, cut into pieces
¾ cup granulated sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 large eggs
2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more
1 cup sugar (sanding or turbinado)
3″-diameter and a 1 ½″-diameter fluted cookie cutter
1.   Combine butter, granulated sugar and vanilla extract in a large bowl. Using an electric mixer on high speed and beat until very light and fluffy, about 5 minutes.
2.   Beat in 1 of the eggs and reduce the mixing speed to low. Gradually mix in 2 cups of the flour. Form dough into a disk and wrap in plastic. Chill until for about 2 hours and it should be firm.
3.   Preheat to 350°F. Let disk of dough sit at room temperature until softened. Roll out dough on a lightly floured work space, until about 3/8″ thick.
4.   Punch out rounds with large cutter and continue to punch out centers with smaller cutter. Transfer to a parchment lined baking sheet. Make sure that the cookies are spaced 1 ½” apart. Pat scraps and chill again until needed.
5.   Beat remaining egg in a small bowl with 1 tsp. water; brush cookies with egg wash; sprinkle with sugar. Chill for 15 minutes.
6.   Bake, rotating baking sheets halfway through, until edges are golden brown, 10–15 minutes. Transfer to wire racks; let cool.
7.   Repeat with chilled scraps and remaining egg wash and sugar.

ciao! fabiana

December 17, 2017

weekend wrap up

It’s Sunday morning and while I’m here dreaming of a white Christmas, we’ve got cold and blustery Santa Ana winds blowing again today, with not a snowflake in sight. 

Everyone in our community and in all of California is praying and hoping for better weather conditions for those affected by the California wildfires, which are burning terribly in Santa Barbara and Ventura Counties.    

Right now, my favorite Christmas movie, Christmas in Connecticut, is playing on TCM right now, and I have it on in the background. The farmhouse pictured above reminds me of the idyllic home described in the movie. 

And here’s a lovely shot of two homes from my husband’s hometown of Geneva, Illinois, taken just this weekend. The one in the foreground belonged to the Bogash family and the one behind it is my husband’s childhood home. 

All this talk of nostalgia, really makes me appreciate all our pretty vintage ornaments that were handed down from our parents and grandparents. Do you have ornaments that remind you of your family?

The holidays are also a fun time to honor family recipes. I think it’s fun to go through old cookbooks and make holiday treats like our grandmothers did. I have a tattered little notebook from Woolworth’s filled with recipes that belonged to my husband’s great grandmother.

The handwriting is a killer, but I finally figured out the little quirks in her cursive, like not crossing her T's but kind of accenting them instead?!?

It’s interesting to see how that generation ate. No fresh herbs are included in any of the recipe I found in the book, lol. This weekend I tried her recipe for pralines, which I’ll share soon. After a little trial and error, I think I figured out how to make them the right way, since the directions were not detailed at all!

Yesterday was a busy day for me in the kitchen. In addition to making the pralines, I also made Spiced Pecans for gift giving, this week’s recipe of Chutney from Kate Middleton (so yummy!), and Pignoli Cookies that I remember from my childhood. If you’re Italian, chances are you’ve enjoyed these too!

Every time I want to make Pignoli (Pine Nut) Cookies I never have almond paste, which is essential for these cookies. Well, we found almond paste at Ralph’s, and the cookies came together easily in the food processor. They come out soft and chewy kind of like a macaroon. These are the classic old-school Italian cookies I grew up loving. Recipe found below.

BTW, we served the chutney over cream cheese and with manchego cheese on crackers at a gathering this weekend, and it was a hit! I'll share a few other yummy cookie recipes later this week.

I’m loving my collection of little scrabble tiles. They’re perfect for spelling out names or holiday greetings!

How about a holiday greeting from Dorinda and Ramona from the Real Housewives of New York City? Here they are sharing their Manhattan apartment Christmas trees.

I’m soooo excited that as we speak, they’re at Dorinda’s house in the Berkshires for their annual Christmas gathering. 

Here’s Ramona with the fabulous Berkshires tree in Dorinda’s beautiful blue living room. Could it be a 1920's themed party that they're having for Dorinda's birthday? 

It looks that way! Oh, how I love a good theme party!

I’m also excited for the Real Housewives of Beverly Hills to start on Tuesday night. Even though Kyle has recently moved, we probably won’t be seeing her fabulous new home this season. Here’s a little peek at the beauty from Kyle’s Instagram...

I hope you enjoy the rest of your Sunday,
and are ready to head into this final week before

Here's the recipe for the yummy Pignoli cookies...

Pignoli or Pine Nut Cookies

2 cups pine nuts
1 cup powdered sugar
¼ cup almond paste
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 large egg
½ teaspoon lemon zest
½ cup all-purpose flour
¼ teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Process ¾ cup pine nuts in a food processor with the sugar, almond paste, and vanilla until fine crumbs form. Add egg and lemon zest; pulse to combine. Add flour, baking powder, and salt; process just until dough comes together. Roll dough into ½ inch balls. Roll the cookie balls in the remaining 1 ¼ cups pine nuts and gently press to adhere. Space the cookie dough 2 inches apart on a cookie sheet. Bake until cookies begin to turn golden brown, approximately 20 minutes. Let cool completely on sheets on wire racks. Makes about 2 ½ dozen pignoli cookies.

ciao! fabiana

photos: 1. Country Living  3. Southern Living
Housewives photos: instagram


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