December 22, 2018

two cookie recipes and a table

With only two days left until Christmas eve, I wanted to make sure I checked in with you all at least one more time to share a special place setting and two amazing cookie recipes with you all.

These lovely “Indian Tree” plates are probably about 100 years old, and I don’t use them that often, but I thought they’d be perfect this Christmas. The hand-painted colors are amazing and the scalloped- ruffled edge makes these dishes so festive.

To downplay the old-fashioned look of these plates, I paired them with modern Serena and Lily navy blue gingham napkins (in the photo they look black, but they're navy!) I love the juxtaposition of the patterns especially with the natural elements of the raffia placemats, wood charger and runner.

The rest of the table has a modern feel with a bit of Chinoiserie thrown in, just for fun! It’s fun to mix different styles for a sort of unique look.

The tablescape meshes well with the transferware plates on the wall in the dining room too.  

Recipe cards can be printed at Cottages and Bungalows

I just got through a three day spree of cookie baking mostly and the old-fashioned Christmas pudding is done and ready to be steamed on Christmas eve.

Most importantly, I wanted to share this beloved Yankee Oatmeal Cookie recipe with you all. My mother-in-law Joan used to make these all the time, and I’ve never come across a recipe that's anything like these!

My whole family can confess to these being their all-time favorite cookies. They’re light, lacy and delicate and are oh, so yummy!! 

Joan’s Yankee Oatmeal Cookies

1 cup sugar
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup soft butter
2 eggs
1 ¼ cup flour, sifted
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla
1 ½ cups of sliced almonds
3 cups quick cooking oats

Cream the sugars and butter with an electric mixer. Beat in 2 eggs until mixture is fluffy. Add sifted flour, baking soda and salt to the mixture until combined. Add vanilla, almonds and oats until evenly combined.

Divide the dough in half and shape into two separate logs, and then wrap each with waxed paper. Refrigerate until firm, at least 2 hours.

Preheat oven to 350. When dough is firm enough, thinly slice and put on cookie sheet. Bake 8-10 minutes for a chewy cookie and 1-2 minutes longer for a crispy cookie. Makes about 4 dozen.

Also in this photo, at the top, are traditional Italian Pine Nut cookies. These cookies are also light and since they have a fair amount of almond paste in them, they’re similar to a macaroon. 

If you’ve never had these pignoli cookies, they're worth a try! The pine nuts give them a real festive taste that's so perfect for Christmas.  

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 1¼ 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.

Pignoli* is pronounced pēn-yō-lē

So this year, I’ve made three kinds of spritz cookies; one flavored with orange zest, another flavored with lemon zest and little chocolate stars sprinkles with powdered sugar ( the photo above is from last year).

In addition to those, I also made traditional tollhouse cookies, Martha Stewart’s Chewy Chocolate Ginger Molassas Cookies (my family’s 2nd favorites), and a new recipe this year, dark chocolate cookies with mint chip bits.

Well, I think I’m just about done with all my catch-up… that’s what today was all about.

I think I’m officially done with baking, gift shopping, and about 80% finished with wrapping presents. A few are still due to arrive from Amazon tomorrow!

How about you? How’s your Christmas prep going? Are you baking any special recipes this weekend? 

ciao! fabiana

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December 18, 2018

a Christmas photo shoot

The little surprise that I’ve been hinting at over the last couple of weeks was a Christmas photo shoot with Cottages & Bungalows Magazine. It was sort of a bit covert, but I can finally let the cat out of the bag now.

They were here all day yesterday photographing some of the most festively decorated parts of the house.

You may have seen how I styled the mantel with some of my blue and white ginger jars. We usually have a family portrait above this mantel, but I wanted to create a different look for Cottages & Bungalows.

Here’s Bret, the photographer, working his magic and capturing just the right angle that features the Christmas tree and the living room mantel. And of course, we even had some milk and cookies for Santa in this shot!

Over the last 3-4 weeks, I’ve been mentally running myself ragged over styling the whole downstairs of my home for this magazine photoshoot. In fact the day before yesterday, I realized I was turning into a bit of a “blogzilla” after I experienced a couple of mini-meltdowns! AH!!

All I can say, is my husband’s relieved that it’s over, and the whole family is happy that the house looks the most festive it’s ever looked. We can now ease into Christmas gracefully… ðŸ˜

Kris, one of the editors took a silly picture of me in the dining room while we were prepping it for the next shot.

Here’s a little peek at the kitchen table. I wanted to create a sort of foresty, winter look for this table with lots of pine trees, snow and elegant brass details.

You may recognize the Joyeux Noel plates from my feature in Romantic Homes. They’ve become my all-time favorite Christmas pattern because they’re so versatile and fun. 

This pattern pairs nicely with so many different looks.

Here’s a preview of the family room mantle with our treasured portrait of great-grandmother Nelle. Copper accents and glittery details were used to play up the elegant nature of this portrait. I found the beaded garland and Michael’s, and we added extra greenery to soften the look.

As the sun was setting, we headed to the front porch for some dusky, glowy shots. The last picture of the night was in the backyard, featuring the shed, all decked out in candlelight. 

This is a quick capture of the shed from my phone, and I CAN'T wait to see the actual image taken by the amazing Bret!

We’ll have to wait about eleven months until the December 2019 issue of Cottages and Bunglows comes out, but hopefully we’ll see some proofs way before that!

I’ll share a few more of my behind-the-scenes looks
 in the next day or two. 

Check back soon!

xo xo

December 17, 2018


Today was another big cookie baking day!

I just wanted to stop by real quick and 
share my two latest recipes with you all...

and I must apologize in advance if this has been 
too much of a cookie-filled month.

What are your favorite Christmas cookies to make?

I always make the traditional vanilla spritz cookies, but today I ventured out and tried a batch made with fresh orange zest instead of vanilla. The taste was delicate slightly citrusy, and really yummy!   

Orange Zest Spritz Cookies
Makes about 96 cookies

3 Sticks Unsalted butter (at room temperature)
1 cup sugar
2 large eggs
½ teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon orange zest
4 cups all-purpose flour

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Cream the butter and sugar. Beat in the eggs one at a time and then the salt and orange zest. Gradually add the flour, one cup at a time. Beat until well incorporated. Fill the cookie press and form cookies onto an ungreased and cool cookie sheet. Bake the spritz for 8 to 10 minutes or until cookies are golden brown on the edges.

Then comes the fun part, decorating with sprinkles, colored sugars or icing!  

And then I found a recipe for gingerbread spritz… My version features freshly grated nutmeg and ginger. 

I always have both of those ingredients ready to go in a little bowl next to my stove, and I use them both quite often in savory dishes as well as sweet ones like Irish oatmeal.

I also love a little nutmeg grated in the my empanada filling and fresh ginger usually gets grated into most of my rice and soup dishes. 

Here are the gingerbread little darlings after they were dusted with a little powdered sugar.

Gingerbread Spritz Cookies
Makes about 48 cookies

1 cup butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup molasses
1/4 cup packed light brown sugar
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2-3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated ginger

Preheat oven to 375 F. In a large mixing bowl beat together butter and brown sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in egg, molasses and vanilla until well blended. Set aside. In another bowl, stir together flour, salt, nutmeg, cinnamon, cloves and ginger. Stir into creamed mixture until well mixed.

Refrigerate the cookie dough for ½ hour. Place ¼ of dough in a cookie press and press out cookies onto ungreased shiny silver baking sheet and make sure it’s cool for each pressing. Bake for 7 to 10 minutes or until set, but not brown. Cool for 2 minutes and then place on a wire rack to cool. If desired, decorate with powdered sugar.

Check them all out in the first photo

(The fleur de lys is one of my faves!)

Hope to see you tomorrow!

ciao! fabiana


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