I’ve teamed up with the awesome gals of This Is Our Jam for a fun and festive series this week. Take four parties: girls’ night, family dinner, holiday rager, and a night home alone (yes, that counts). Add thoughtful gifts and a killer playlist. And you’re set to go. Dance, drink, give, be merry!
The Playlist: A playlist is an important part of your family’s holiday dinner… wine will only do so much in drowning out your aunts as they ask for the fifteenth time why you’re not married yet. If these artists existed a couple of decades ago we know your parents would dig them — plus there’s nothing in these songs that might offend Grandma or little cousin Timmy.
The Gifts: Ok, so I already did all my holiday shopping, but if I had more money to spend, I would totally get all of these things for my family. Sparkling wine from a vineyard we visited this year and flutes to match. Fun matching hats for my brothers and the bacon of the month club they ask for every year. A real life Words With Friends and our new favorite game, Telestrations. A cozy colorful throw to match our colorful house. Finally, one gift I can actually give them is making tri-color cookies this year…or at least pick up a box from our local Italian bakery!
I hope you’re not sick of gift guides yet! I’ve teamed up with the awesome gals of This Is Our Jam for a fun and festive series this week. Take four parties: girls’ night, family dinner, holiday rager, and a night home alone (yes, that counts). Add thoughtful gifts and a killer playlist. And you’re set to go. Dance, drink, give, be merry!
The Playlist: Let’s be real, some of the best holiday parties are when no boys are allowed. Whether you’re hosting a cookie decorating party, an annual Love Actually viewing, or pre-gaming before an ugly sweater party, these upbeat jams will be a perfect soundtrack to a fun night with your besties… that we know will eventually devolve into a dance party.
The Gifts: I have gift exchanges this year with my book club and group text friends. We’re planning low key nights with several bottles of wine and plenty of cheese. In keeping with the night, keep your gifts simple and girly. Some sparkly baubles, festive barware, favorite makeup samples, or an artistic ode to their neighborhood. Cheers to girlfriends!
Happy Valentine’s Day, friends. I’m back, with internet, and a brand new look. What do you think? I still have a bunch of tweaks and updates to make – but really, I just felt it was time. What better day than Valentine’s to remember that life is sweet and life is colorful, right?
Also because it’s Valentine’s Day, I couldn’t not share something chocolate. I’ve been making a lot of chocolate recipes recently, and like I described in this post, I’m getting so much joy in the process of melting chocolate. It’s weird, I know. But like I said before. Better chocolate than cocaine.
Even this morning, I woke up an hour earlier to make chocolate mousse for a little VDay party I’m having tonight – the smell of the chocolate melting works just as well as a cup of coffee. Seriously, try it.
Ok, on to these brownies that I’ve been making you stare at. I made a huge batch of them a few weeks ago for a Superbowl party and were a big hit. They’re much thinner than the brownies I usually make, but they’re very dense and fudge-like. I love the crunch of the chopped pecans on top, but you could add any of your favorite toppings to them and they’d be great.
This makes a lot of brownies, so be sure to share. Wrap them up in wax paper and twine and gift them to someone special. They’ll be thinking of you the whole day after. Spread the love.
Valentine’s Fudgy Brownies
- 1 cup flour
- 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
- 3/4 teaspoon salt
- 12 oz unsweetened chocolate
- 1 cup (2 sticks) butter
- 3 cups sugar
- 5 large eggs, at room temperature
- 2 tablespoons vanilla extract
- 1 cup chopped pecans
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 12×18 jelly roll pan/deep cookie sheet.
- In a large bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.
- In a medium sized saucepan over low heat, melt the chocolate with the butter, stirring until smooth. Let cool for 5-10 minutes.
- Transfer chocolate mix to a bowl of an electric mixer, and beat in the sugar, eggs, and vanilla. Add in the dry ingredients and mix until incorporated.
- Pour batter into prepared pan. Sprinkle pecans (and whatever other toppings you’d like) evenly over the batter.
- Bake for about 25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in he center of the pan comes out with moist crumbs attached. Let cool before cutting and serving.
Ok, I think this will count as my one Valentine’s Day post for the week. Both of these things are just so fun yet sophisticated. Now, can I get a bag just to store matching macarons in? Too much?
macarons // clutch
On Christmas Eve, my brothers and I crowd around our granite kitchen counter at home in New Jersey and make pasta. (They weren’t going to do it this year, but thank goodness I was there to make sure it happened.) My mom learned how to make pasta from my Italian Great Grandmother Alma Pinciotti and my mom taught us three. Family, food, tradition, holiday. All the right ingredients to do something great here.
Pasta from the store just isn’t the same as homemade. When you make it yourself, you can taste both the rough and delicate work you put into making it. It’s so fresh that it melts in your mouth. It’s tastes special and it’s one of my favorite things to eat. Even better with my brother’s tomato sauce that’s been simmering all day long. So, let’s make some pasta.
Now wasn’t that fun? Now aren’t you hungry? Thanks to my brothers for indulging in my documenting of this process. Those are my older brother’s hands you see in these pictures. Kneading is a workout. I am lucky to have strong co-chefs. If you couldn’t figure it out from the photos, here’s a basic recipe.
- 4 cups all purpose flour + extra flour for hands and surfaces
- 5 eggs
- pinch of salt
Make a well in a mound of your flour on a countertop or cutting board. Crack eggs into well. Sprinkle with salt. With a fork, begin whisking the eggs and slowly incorporating the flour into the wet mixture. Form into two balls. (add a little water if you need to to help it form). Keep your hands and surfaces dusted with flour at all times. Knead balls for 5-10 mintes. Cut balls into 6 parts. Roll to the size of a pancake and bring to the pasta machine. Roll out the dough at a #2 setting. Then twice more through the machine at #4 or #5 settings. When dough is the right size for you, roll up the long pieces into logs. Slice with a knife. Unroll each piece. Boil water. Cook for 3 minutes. Toss with your favorite sauce or just butter, olive oil, and parm.