Category Archives: Family

Sunday Meatballs and Gravy

This is a meatball post. But it’s also a Thanksgiving post. You wouldn’t think the two go together right?

Cupcakes for Breakfast: Sunday Meatballs and Gravy

My family is celebrating Thanksgiving this year in the Outer Banks. We’ll have two big houses, about 30 adults, and a lot of food. Of course we’re looking forward to the deep-fried turkeys and the corn pudding, but that’s only for one meal, maybe two, if we’re lucky to have leftovers.

But mostly we’re lucky enough to have several amazing meals to look forward to over Thanksgiving weekend. First, let me say, it’s not really about the food. We’re a big happy bunch even eating simple ham sandwiches and potato salad from the grocery store. We’re a big Italian family, so food and family are one in the same. We also happen to be a family where everyone is a great cook and everyone appreciates good food. So the kitchen is really the best place to be during family holidays.

Cupcakes for Breakfast: Sunday Meatballs and Gravy

One of my favorite dishes that my family shares over Thanksgiving weekend are meatballs. I love my Aunt Lisanne’s recipe in which the meatballs are made with white bread soaked in milk and then baked slowly. We make dozens of them and they’re in the kitchen to grab and make a plate or a sandwich whenever you arrive to the house, are hungry, or just want to keep stuffing your face. Games and reading and crafts and football are happening all around. People are weaving in and out of rooms. “Did you see the basement yet?” But the meatballs anchor us. They’re just part of the family. Part of the rhythm. Grab your plate and pull up to the table and catch up with your cousin or in-law who lives 10 hours away. Belly laugh. Go for seconds.

This is the part of Thanksgiving I’m most thankful for.

Cupcakes for Breakfast: Sunday Meatballs and Gravy

I’ve talked to a few friends recently about feeling “Sunday sad.” Maybe we get it because the weekend is over and the stress of Monday lurks ahead. Maybe we’ve been running at full speed for the past six days, that when we finally slow down we succumb to feelings we’ve pushed aside. No matter the reason, we should deal with it. And my favorite way to do so, is to make the food that feels like a hug and I’m surrounded by love. That’s Thanksgiving meatballs. That’s Sunday meatballs and gravy.

I have my own more simple and quicker version of my aunt’s meatballs that I love to make early on a Sunday. (There’s almost as good!) Get them made early, leave on stove, take care of other Sunday duties, take care of myself a little, have some meatballs, watch episodes of Scandal, call home, have a little more meatballs, soak up gravy with bread. Feel the love.

Cupcakes for Breakfast: Sunday Meatballs and Gravy

It goes a little something like this….

In a large bowl combine 1/4 cup grated parmesan, 1/4 cup chopped parsley, 2 minced garlic cloves, 1 egg, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1 teaspoon pepper. Add 1 pound ground beef and 1/4 cup breadcrumbs. Mix gently and form into about 15 balls. In a Dutch oven, heat some olive oil over medium heat. Add meatballs, and cook, turning occasionally, until browned, 8 to 10 minutes. Add 2 large cans of crushed tomatoes and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer, then cover partially, and cook, stirring occasionally, until meatballs are cooked through, about 10 minutes. Leave on stove on low until ready to eat. Serve with crusty Italian bread and extra Parmesan.

Happy Weekend

Cupcakes for Breakfast: happy 90th birthday grandpa don

This weekend I’ll be in Ohio celebrating my Grandpa’s 90th birthday with our entire extended family. I’m looking forward to good food, cousin time, embarrassing photos, and the laughs that will surely come from putting 40 Pinciotti’s in one room together. Can’t wait!

The photo above is one of my favorites from when he played minor league baseball for the Memphis Chicks from 1949-1955. My mom is the oldest girl holding the baseball bat. Adorable, right?

Back to Basics

peanut butter cookies

I’ve been away for a while, but I’m not apologizing for it. Work has been crazy, but I love what I’m doing. Life has been hectic, but I’m having fun. And then I had the best weekend with my family at my little brother’s college graduation. So much love, joy, and pride. With little technology (ok, I snuck in a few instagrams), great food (seriously, Paesanos, you get me every time), and some incredible inspiration (smart Penn nerds and Geoffrey Canada), it was simply wonderful.

Just like this weekend, these classic peanut butter cookies are equally as special. Only three small bites, comforting, nothing fancy, and with traditional crisscross fork marks. Just the kind of simple treat you need on a rainy day like today. They even kind of give you that same warm and fuzzy feeling as laughing uncontrollably with your siblings. (Ok, not as great, but close enough.)

peanut butter cookies

Peanut Butter Cookies

Adapted from Magnolia Bakery – makes 2-3 dozen

  • 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 cup chunky peanut butter, at room temperature
  • 3/4 cup sugar, plus more for sprinkling
  • 1/2 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
  • 1 large egg, at room temperature
  • 1 tablespoon milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  1. Preheat oven to 350°.
  2. In a medium sized bowl, combine the flour, the baking soda, the baking powder, and the salt. Set aside.
  3. In a large mixing bowl, beat the butter and peanut butter together until fluffy. Add the sugars and beat until smooth. Add the egg, milk and vanilla and mix well. Slowly add the flour mixture until fully incorporated.
  4. Drop rounded teaspoonfuls onto cookie sheets leaving several inches in between. Using a fork, indent a crisscross pattern on each cookie. Lightly sprinkle cookies with sugar.
  5. Bake for 10-12 minutes. Don’t over-bake. Cool. Enjoy with a glass a milk and someone you love.

And if you haven’t seen it yet, here’s my favorite photo from this weekend. It pretty much sums it all up!

sibling love

Goat Cheese Cake

Easter is one of my favorite holidays. While I’m not religious, to me Easter, like Christmas, is about family and food. (These are probably the two things that are most important to me, and go the most hand in hand.) I feel fortunate that recently I’ve been trusted with not only suggesting holiday menus but contributing to them too. This Easter I made my lemon raspberry cupcakes and this lovely goat cheese cake. This cake is a little more like a sponge cake than a classic cheesecake. It’s not too sweet, but it’s very creamy and goes so well with fresh berries. I also found it very easy to make.

Watch the cake in the oven very carefully. I left mine in for a minute too long and it got a little too dark for me. So I flipped it upside down and filled the natural well in the top (it sunk in a little) with a sweet berry compote. And even with the little mess up, it was still delicious and a big hit. My whole family and my boyfriend loved it. And really, that’s what holidays are all about.

Get the recipe from Food and Wine Magazine.

Chocolate Bourbon Pound Cake

I thought this post was long overdue. I mean, I made this cake on Christmas Eve. But thankfully, although I wish the photos were better, this post works equally as well for Valentine’s Day. So here’s the story….


Let me start by telling you that this cake is a Pinciotti (my mom’s side of the family) recipe. It’s a holiday favorite and one of the best recipes we’ve all passed along to each other.  I decided to bake this cake for the first time this Christmas, and was the first cousin or next generation to do so. While this cake is one of our heirlooms (and really, food is an heirloom in this family), I heard that it’s a tricky recipe and doesn’t always cooperate. My Aunt Lisanne sent me the recipe with her meticulous notes on each step. My mom watched over my shoulder as I prepared everything, even though I think she knew the cake was in good hands. I first used the wrong kind of pan (only use a bundt pan friends!) and we all gasped as we watched some of the deep chocolate batter spill all over the kitchen floor on the way to the oven. Of course something went wrong! But we quickly fixed it, and we waited the long hour and half while it baked. As that time passed, the other sights and smells of Christmas flooded in and out of the kitchen. But after a while, the cake was the only star in the room. The rich chocolate boosted by the coffee and bourbon wafted through our whole house. Ah, now it’s Christmas. Now it’s family time. And then to everyone’s surprise, the cake came out looking perfect too. Really, everyone commented on how surprised they were on how it came out. I sent the following photo to my Aunt Rosemary with a proud “look how perfect it looks!” message attached.


Cutting into the cake was no disappointment either. I’m a chocolate cake snob, but this one is by far the best recipe there is. This cake is heavenly, especially topped with a dollop of freshly made whipped cream. Thank goodness the next day was Christmas and we didn’t feel guilty eating leftovers for breakfast (along with prosecco of course – that’s how we Italians do Christmas morning I guess.)


Ok fast forward two months to today. You’re looking for something sweet to make for Valentine’s Day. Here you go. Bonus points that it includes the sexy combination of chocolate, coffee and bourbon. (I know my Valentine will appreciate that!)

If you try this cake, take care of this recipe. It means a lot to us. Savor it. Share it with people you love. It will mean a lot to you too.


Chocolate Bourbon Pound Cake

  • 3 cups brewed espresso (or dark french roast)
  • 1 cup bourbon (No need to spend money on a good one)
  • 3 cups sugar
  • 1 lb unsalted butter
  • 12 oz. unsweetened baking chocolate, broken into small pieces
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 Tbs vanilla
  • 4 cups flour
  • 2 Tbs baking soda
  • 1 tsp salt
  1. Preheat the oven to 350°.
  2. Butter a 10-inch bundt pan. Dust with cocoa powder (not flour).
  3. In a large bowl, mix espresso/coffee, bourbon and sugar. Set aside.
  4. In a double boiler:, melt the chocolate and butter. Stir until smooth
  5. Add coffee mixture to chocolate mixture. Remove from heat and set aside.
  6. In a large bowl, beat eggs and vanilla until light and fluffy.
  7. Combine coffee/chocolate mixture with egg mixture.
  8. In a separate bowl, combine flour, baking soda, and salt.
  9. Slowly combine the dry ingredients into the wet mixture and mix well.
  10. Pour into the prepared (greased and cocoa dusted) pan.
  11. Bake for 1 hour 30 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. When it is ready, the top will rise dramatically and almost look overcooked and the edges pull away from the pan a bit. (If it comes out sloppy, it isn’t done.)
  12. Cool at least 30 minutes in the pan.
  13. Turn the cake onto a wire rack or serving plate.
  14. Dust with powdered sugar when ready to serve. Serve also with freshly made whipped cream.