almond cranberry biscotti

Biscotti is just an excuse to have cookies for breakfast, and I am 100% okay with that. This recipe for biscotti has no pretenses to anything other than a sweet, crunchy bite. Heck! It even has chocolate drizzled on top. But they are also loaded with almonds and cranberries, which makes them both satisfying and nutritious. They are just tender enough to be eaten on their own without breaking any teeth, but they hold up extremely well--and perhaps are improved--when dipped in coffee, which brings them into the breakfast realm, which, like I said, is fine by me. 

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Family Recipes: Fresh Pasta

As promised, here is the family recipe for fresh pasta. It comes from a little cookbook of recipes from Southern Italy, specifically the town of Roseto in the Province of Foggia. Many Italians immigrated from this town and established a sister town of Roseto, Pennsylvania. This cookbook was created to preserve traditions and recipes for the immigrant relatives and families. In the preface to the cookbook, it says how important Rosetans held their culture to be. Homemade food "prepared in the peasant tradition, yet "fit for a king'" was a dominant part of this. 

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Texas field trip: Newman's Castle

Last week I took the kids to a completely random little town in Texas (it may be that most little towns in Texas are completely random and I just haven't lived here long enough to learn that) to visit an even more completely random Medieval castle.  I knew four things about this place going into it: one, that it was a castle; two, that it was somehow associated with Newman's Bakery & Deli, also in Bellville; three, that the guy who built it actually lived there; and four, that the children get to reenact storming a castle. The first and last things alone justified a visit. I'll admit, the fact of the guy living there puzzled me. I just couldn't imagine what kind of place this was! The puzzlement never really cleared up - this place remains one big (amusing) puzzle to me. 

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decor diy: updating vintage audubon prints

Or my brush with great fortune

Two years ago, I picked up a pair of bird prints at a thrift store. They were nice enough, but more importantly, they were only $2 a piece. We had just moved into a new place and I was 9 months pregnant, so nesting was on my mind. These prints would go somewhere on some wall. But little C arrived later that week and I never had a chance to hang the prints. Every time I hauled them out of the closest, they just looked so....tired. 

This weekend I was feeling all empowered to get on top of the blank white walls in the playroom. I examined the prints again. They were printed on beige paper, offset by a lackluster gray matte and trapped in a boring wood frame with peeling gold paint. How to update them? Bring in a bright color. 

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lemon & lime drops

Like Maria mentioned, we all have our favorite variations of the Joy of Cooking's Sugar Drop Cookies with Oil. The original recipe is perfect, so I don't typically mess with it. At the most, I might add some vanilla bean powder to the sugar that the cookies are rolled in, giving them a pretty vanilla-flecked exterior.  But sometimes for a party I think it's fun to have a whole spread of the same cookie in different variations. Since these are so simple to mix up, and quick to bake, you can churn out a bunch of different variations within an hour. 

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Cloth Diapering

Over a year ago, we made the switch. My husband and I decided to ditch disposable diapers and go to cloth diapering. Since then, many people (including Sarah & Maria) have asked why we did it, how we like it, and if we'll continue. Here are my thoughts and experience so far. 

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A Book that Really Works Magic

A few months back, Maria sent me a book for my daughter. It wasn't my daughter's birthday or anything. Maria simply wrote something along the lines of: "Esther can't get enough of this book right now. I thought Edith might like it too!" 

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Family Recipes: Fettuccine Alfredo

I married into an Italian family. Having always loved bread and pasta, embracing and making my in-law's family recipes took no time. Falling in love with them was even shorter. One of the first dishes I fell for was Fettuccine Alfredo. 

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cakes of the past

I just received a set of Russian piping tips in the mail and I am so excited to try them out! Since it's Fall, I'm thinking of a Chrysanthemum covered cake...stay tuned! 

Thinking about cake decorating got me reminiscing about some of my favorite cakes of the past. I've never taken any cake baking or decorating classes, unless you count Google & YouTube. It is simply a hobby (some might say obsession). I like to think about cake flavor combinations, and I like to think about new ways to decorate cakes, and I like to look up different techniques, and I scroll through Pinterest for extra inspiration. Whenever I see an opportunity to bake a cake for some occasion, I pounce on it. It's selfish, really. My mind is overflowing with cake ideas and I want to try them out. 

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Burritos smothered in Green Sauce

In high school, we had a subscription to Bon Appetit and my mom would menu plan based on the recipes in that month's issue. This method of menu-planning happily led both to some very exotic dinners and to the discovery of some of my favorite recipes, recipes which I return to again and again.  

But four and half years ago I married a man from Colorado who, although appreciative of the finer things in life, really just wants to eat meat & potatoes. After laughing at the kinds of food he would request (hamburger gravy, for instance), I eventually broke down and gave the simple fare a try. Wow. There's no denying how comforting and delicious it can be. 

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3-ingredient peanut butter cookies [gluten-free]

These little peanut butter bombs require three ingredients. I'm serious! Just peanut butter, sugar, and egg. They pack a powerful peanut butter punch, so when I'm struck with a peanut butter craving, these are what I want. 

Because they are so simple to mix up, and they bake in roughly 10 minutes, they are the perfect dessert to whip out when a gluten-free guest shows up unexpectedly at your home. Rather than apologize that you have nothing to serve, just sneak away to the kitchen for a quick break. Come out fifteen minutes later with a tray of these treats. 

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decor diy: plastic Bucket into Jute Basket

When it comes to cleaning, organization is half the battle! I'm thinking back to the summer camp code: "A place for each thing and each thing in its place." At least that's what I keep telling myself. If I just had a place to put everything, the kitchen counters would finally be clear of the clutter...the dropped keys, the sunglasses, the bags, and the mountain of mail.  

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Cream scones

These are not only my favorite scones but quite possibly one of my favorite foods. It is an absurdly easy recipe from Joy of Cooking which I have used a million times to produce delicious scones in just 20 minutes. These aren't like the overly sweet cake-like scones that you find at Starbucks or the crumbly dry British scones that need to be slathered with butter and jam. They're in between, simple and perfect, moist enough to eat on their own but not dense or squidgy. Just sweet enough to be called a breakfast treat but not so sweet as to confuse it with a dessert. 

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