Tag Archives: Christmas Cookies

#SundaySnippet 11.25.18

I’m blessed. Truly. In just 2 weeks I’ve got another book release ( and my final for 2018!). CHRISTMAS AND CANNOLIS  basically wrote itself. I typically have a detailed plot outline before I ever write a word in a story. With this book, the characters propelled me forward with just the bare bones of a plan. Regina and Connor’s story spilled out of me in under 2 weeks because they wanted their love story told.

Here’s a little of Regina’s backstory…

When I was a teenager, I used to think the reason I sat dateless on most Friday and Saturday nights when all my friends were out with hot guys was because I was physically repugnant. When I looked in the mirror I couldn’t figure out back then what was so off putting about me. I was curvy, sure, but my brothers assured me guys liked curves on a woman. I wore my waist- length hair parted in the middle and straight down my back after spending hours working on it with a flattening iron. My face was a solid testament to my ancestry with jet-black eyebrows arched above coal-colored eyes. My cheekbones, though, were high, and my mouth, my cousin Gia assured me, was sultry and sexy.

It wasn’t until I was a senior in high school that I came to realize the reason boys weren’t knocking each other over on their way to dating me was due to my father’s ridiculous reputation. No one wanted to be the guy who dated Sonny San Valentino’s only daughter. The odds of something happening to the guy should he cause me any emotional harm were thought to be great, and most boys my age valued their lives and potential futures.

And I know how dramatic that sounds. My father, despite what people believe, is not a violent man or a criminal in any sense of the word. Sure, he knows some wiseguys with reputations, most of whom he’d grown up with, and does business with a few who have been up the river once or twice…or more, for various and sundry charges, but he’s not the gangster he’s believed to be.

Reputations, though, are like rumors. They spread fast and furious despite any semblance of fact.

One nugget of truth to the entire situation that I did discover though, was that my father had been known to talk at the Marconi club where he was a frequent mahjong player, that no boy was good enough to date his little bellissima figlia, the name he always called me by. He didn’t want me dating and when the time came for me to marry, he would pick out the husband for me. My brother GianCarlo heard this from a friend of his and he repeated it to his wife Trixie, who then told it to me like any good Italian cognata would.

Needless to say when I found out, Pop’s little bellissima figlia erupted like Mount Vesuvius. I went out and grabbed the first guy I saw, got pregnant within a month, and married a few weeks later by the priest who’d baptized, communed, and confirmed me.

And, obeying my mother’s wishes, wore a virginal white gown that had belonged to her mother.

The one and only timed I’ve ever rebelled in my life, and the ramifications of that single action still haunt me to this day.

Intrigued? Here’s where you can preorder the book, which releases on 12.12.18 just in time for Christmas. ***These are the links for e-copy. Print copies will be released soon.

Amazon // Wild Rose Press // Nook

And don’t forget the other titles I have out this Holiday Season for the romance-reader on your list – or just for yourself!

Hope’s Dream ( Deerbourne Inn Novella)

DEARLY BELOVED ( A MATCH MADE IN HEAVEN, BOOK 1)

All my titles are available here: Book Links and here

 

 

 

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The Thrilling #Life of a #RomanceWriter…

Yesterday I did a blog piece concerning two cookie recipes from my new holiday release A KISS UNDER THE CHRISTMAS LIGHTS. Then, because I inspired myself ( heehee), after I posted that blog I went and made some Christmas cookies to bring to a holiday party.

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Here’s where my life got thrilling.

While I was mixing cookie dough, my Kitchenaide mixer broke. Like, completely! While it was spinning dough, two of the metal pins that keep the parts together rotated themselves from the force of the spinning, fell out and off the mixer, subsequently putting the kibosh on further dough making. Although I was royally pi**ed, I needed to get the dough done so I went in search of my hand mixer. Only I forgot I got rid of it when I got — you guessed it– the Kitchenaide. I had to stop everything I was doing, turn the oven off, wrap the cookies that were cooling so they wouldn’t harden, put the dough I’d made already into the fridge, and get washed up because I now had to leave the house ( something I hadn’t planned on doing today) so I could get to Bed Bath and Beyond ( or as we call it in my house, Mecca)  and get a new friggin’ hand mixer. I wasn’t going to purchase a new Kitchenaide since I figured tool man hubby would have had a conniption at spending another 300 bucks when he could probably ( hopefully) fix it, and a hand mixer was only, like, 15 dollars.

So…

An hour later, back from the unplanned shopping trip, mixer in hand ( literally!) I started up again only to stop right after  I put the dough in the oven because….and this is the really thrilling part – only not the way you’re thinking – my oven was on fire.

I’m not kidding.

There was a fire in the bottom of my oven. As soon as I saw the flames I realized what I had been forgetting I needed to do these past two busy weeks: clean the oven. Luckily, I was able to snuff it without (a) the smoke detector going off and giving me a heart attack, (b) the fire department being called, and (c) sacrificing any yet to be made cookies.

So…

I now had to clean the oven. It’s a self cleaner so there went another 3 hours of my cookie baking time.

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Around 4-ish I finally got everything done that needed to be done, baked that needed to be baked, and I sat down and made a cup of tea. Only, once the water was ready I realized I had no tea bags. #FML

From now on when I get the urge to bake I’m running to our local bakery and buying stuff. It’s easier, cheaper, and doesn’t involve using the fire extinguisher.

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When I’m not having a nervous breakdown over baking, you can usually find me here:

Tweet Me//Read Me// Visit Me//Picture Me//Pin Me//Friend Me//Google+Me//

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Of #ChristmasCookies and #recipes…

So yesterday I told you about the San Valentino family’s predilection for baking like there was no tomorrow during the Christmas season. Cookies, tarts, sweet breads, cakes and pastries can be found everyday cooling on baking racks, eaten almost before they are sufficiently cooled down. I thought you might like a recipe or two from Francesca and Nonna Constanza’s files, so here you go…and you’re welcome. But don’t say I didn’t warn you: once you make these and the word gets out – you’re gonna be chained to the kitchen making batch after batch after….to appease the sweet teeth of your friends and family.

PIZZELLES –

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first, you need to have a Pizzelle Iron, so make sure you do otherwise you won’t be making anything but batter!

Ingredients for the batter:

2 cups sifted all purpose flour

1 cup sifted granulated sugar

3/4 cup melted and cooled unsalted butter

2 Tablespoon Pure Vanilla extract OR ANISE extract ( Nonna uses Anise only!)

2 teaspoons baking powder

4 slightly beaten eggs

Method: Heat your pizzelle iron according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

Mix all the ingredients together in large bowl by hand using a wooden spoon until you have a pasty batter.

Drop 1 tablespoon of batter into each pizzelle design and close the lid. Bake about 30 seconds or until the cookie is an even, golden brown. Carefully remove from the mold and cool on a wire rack. This recipe makes about 42 cookies, give or take depending on how many you eat before they cool completely!!!

Nonna’s Favorite Biscotti with Royal Icing

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Make sure you have a cup of strong coffee or tea on hand when you eat these. You’ll know why once the cookies are baked!

Ingredients:

2 cups all purpose flour, sifted

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 stick of real, unsalted butter, softened ( not melted!)

1 cup granulated sugar

2 Tablespoons lemon zest ( Nonna prefers to zest the lemon right before she adds it to the batter so the flavor is fresh and pungent.)

2 eggs

1 teaspoon pure lemon extract

4 oz white baking chocolate – shredded or chopped

1/3 toasted and sliced almonds

Method:

Preheat over to 350 degrees

Sift: flour, baking powder and salt together in a large bowl and set aside.

Beat the butter, sugar and zest in another bowl until well incorporated. Then, add the eggs one at a time with the mixer set to low speed. Add in the extract and then the flour mixture. Fold in the almonds and the white chocolate.

Roll out onto a floured surface and dived the dough into 2 equal portions. Shape each into a foot by 1 inch roll/log then place on a floured, greased baking sheet

Bake for 30-35 minutes or until each roll is equally golden brown. Cook for 15 minutes then cut into slices, like bread, using a well sharpened or serrated knife. Once they are sliced, put them back in the oven for another 4-6 minutes until the are darker golden brown and crisp ( like toast.) Once they are completely cooled, drizzle with royal icing. ( recipe to follow)

ROYAL ICING

Ingredients:

1/2 teaspoon salt

4cups sifted confectioner’s sugar

3/4 cup cold water

1/4 cup meringue powder

Add all the dry ingredients together  into a mixing bowl and mix with a whisk until incorporated

Add the water a little at a time,  continually mixing on a very low setting until the water is fully incorporated. Then, swtich to a higher speed and beat until the icing looks fluffy ( like marshmallows). You can either dip the biscotti into the icing, or if you want to drizzle it like Nonna does, over the tops, you need to thin it up a little by adding tiny drops of water until you can put a fork in it, pull the fork up, and have the icing drizzle down.

If you want to read all about the San Valentino and Gia’s Christmas story, here’s where you can get a copy of A KISS UNDER THE CHRISTMAS LIGHTS:

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Amazon // Wild Rose Press//  B&N

 

and when I’m not baking and eating cookies you can find me here: Tweet Me//Read Me// Visit Me//Picture Me//Pin Me//Friend Me//Google+Me//

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Of #Christmas, #Cookies and #The7Fishes

So, my Christmas book A KISS UNDER THE CHRISTMAS LIGHTS is about a large, loud and loving Italian/American family. They love hard, eat even harder, and at Christmastime the women in the family – led by Nonna Constanza – bake, bake, and bake some more. Christmas sugar cookies topped with nonpareils,  cinnamon rolls made with the special ingredient Francesca San Valentino shares with no one but those she gave birth to, yards of sweet breads, and the aroma of rising yeast fill the spacious kitchen almost to bursting, all made fresh daily.

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Warm Christmas cookies on cooling racks fill every line of counter space. Pizzelles made with sweet almond extract; chocolate chip layer cookies filled with cream; colorful and tangy seven layer cookies topped with melted chocolate. And Nonna’s favorite – biscotti topped with royal icing.

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The reason their kitchen resembles a cookie factory assembly line is easy to explain: everything gets eaten every day. There is no such word as leftovers or extra in this household because the family consumes it all. Many times Gia, the youngest San Valentino at 24, wonders why they all don’t weigh five hundred pounds considering the amount of food they eat. The answer is simple, really. Francesca cooks old school, and by that I mean: she makes everything fresh. No processed meats or jarred sauces; pure butter and olive oil, fresh eggs and real milk ( not skim or even 2%!) and cream; real sugar never a substitute. The vegetables come from their massive backyard garden in the summer and the fresh greengrocer in the winter. The meat is purchased from a local butcher, not a commercial superfood store.

In all, eating this clean and fresh promotes health and wellbeing.

The tradition of Christmas cookie baking culminates on Christmas Eve when the family all gather for the Feast of the 7 Fishes.

san3La Festa Dei Sette Pesci, also known as The Vigil ( La Vigilia), is a celebration of eating  fish and other seafood, and yes, there will be a minimum of 7 courses all with one special seafood hightlighted per course. Francesca’s Shrimp Alfredo( gamberetti Alfredo)usually starts the feast. Hundreds of  freshjumbo shrimp purchased from the local fishmonger ( and yes, they still do exist!!) The fish are cleaned, peeled, cleaned again and then boiled in just a hint of salted water until their beautiful pink color emerges. Francesca’s Alfredo sauce is made – of course – from scratch, slowly whisked to creamy perfection. The pasta – usually farfalle ( bow ties) has been hand made and cut using the pasta machine Nonna brought with her to America 75 years ago. When the pasta is cooked al dente, the shrimp and sauce are combined and everyone sits to enjoy this truly delectable dish.

The rest of ethe evening is spent singing carols by the fireplace, playing cards, remembering Christmas’ and family members of the past, and eating another fish/seafood inspired dish every hour.

By Midnight, stuffed, sated, and happy, the family will travel en Famiglia to Midnight Mass at the church of St. Rita de Armada , the family parish.

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The littlest San Valentinos will fall asleep in their parent’s laps long before the last blessing is given to be carried home and tucked into bed, awaiting the arrival of Babbo Natale and his bag of gifts.

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In all, The San Valentino family is the type of clan you would love to be a part of. You’d never go hungry, you’d never be at a loss to laugh, and you’d always be loved totally, unconditionally, and loyally. Buon Natale!

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When I’m not eating cookies and devouring fish you can usually find me here:Tweet Me//Read Me// Visit Me//Picture Me//Pin Me//Friend Me//Google+Me// 

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