Tag Archives: family

Vacation Peach Cobbler

Is it really already Monday? I’m still in post-vacation shock that I have to go back to (rainy) reality today. Wasn’t I just on beautiful Lake Michigan? Oh well. There’s nothing better to start the week than with something sweet, right?

fresh ripe local Wisconsin peaches for peach cobbler on vacation on Lake Michigan

One night on vacation, we celebrated the upcoming wedding with a big family dinner and I volunteered to bring dessert. Here’s what I had to work with: dessert for around 30 people, some great local produce, and an empty rental house with no kitchen staples. The result: a perfect pan of peach cobbler. And my secret weapon: Bisquick.

easy Wisconsin peach cobbler with fresh local peaches

So I can’t take a whole lot of credit for the perfect crumbly crust, but I concocted the idea of everything that I poured into that pan and to my surprise, it all worked out.  And vacation peach cobbler was a success! – Also, I think it’s pretty tough to f-up Bisquick. That’s why it’s great. Oh, and adding fresh whipped cream to anything makes it heavenly. No brainer here.

Peach cobbler and homemade whipped cream on vacation on Lake Michigan

Here’s the thing. Sometimes you’ll have to cut corners. Sometimes you won’t have flour or nutmeg or that special kitchen tool with you. Oh my, sometimes you won’t actually make dessert entirely from scratch. Get over it. What matters is what goes on when you’re eating your semi-homemade (cue nails-on-chalkboard Sandra-Lee grimace) dessert. Celebrating family and joy and outlasting love and the breathtaking I-can’t-believe-we’re-in-Wisconsin Lake Michigan view and sweet ripe summer peaches. That’s what matters.

vacation peach cobbler dessert for a big party

Vacation Peach Cobbler

This recipe will be rough and random. I dare you to concoct your own vacation dessert mess and see what happens. If you share it with fun, smart, beautiful, people – I promise it will go well. (And if not, you’ll be with people with a great sense of humor.)

Toss sliced ripe peaches with sugar and cinnamon. I used about 15 peaches, 1 cup sugar,  1 tablespoon cinnamon. Pour into a large baking dish.

In a large bowl combine Bisquick and milk. It’s roughly a 1:1 ratio, but I felt mine was a little too runny so I added more Bisquick. I used a little over 3 cups Bisquick. Pour this mixture over the peaches.

Bake for 60 minutes. Serve warm-ish and with fresh whipped cream.

Wisconsin Lake Michigan vacation peach cobbler with fresh whipped cream

Holiday: Sorrelli Girl

The ladies of my extended family have been gifting and receiving Sorrelli jewelry for at least ten years. “Sorrelli” is derived from the Italian word for “sister” (the company is truly a fun family affair!) which originally sparked my mom’s interest in the company. Oh yeah and all the colorful jewels too. All of their pieces make fantastic gifts, and I love how the name says something special about your relationship between the gifter and giftee:

“I love you. You are (like) family. Here’s something sparkly and beautiful just like you.”
To further show how much I adore Sorrelli, and really how meaningful this company has been to my family, here’s my collection of Sorrelli jewels…all gifted to me by family and friends like sisters for Christmases, graduations, birthdays, proms. (Ok, and maybe some of them were borrowed from my mom’s jewelry stash too…shhh!) If my mom, aunts, cousins and I all combined our Sorrelli pieces together, I swear we could open a whole shop.

Sorrelli jewelry sparkle color

Below are some of my Sorrelli holiday picks, including pieces from their funky new Mimi line. Each of these would perfectly accompany any holiday party outfit, don’t you think? Although you can find Sorrelli jewelry at many department stores, I’m dying to visit their flagship store in Kutztown, PA!

Does your family have a gifting tradition like our Sorrelli one? I’m curious to hear!

Our Thanksgiving Table

I wanted to share some scenes from our lovely Thanksgiving table. Most everyone asked me what I was baking, but unlike last year, I kept the sugar in the pantry and instead helped with other tasks. (My aunt brought all of the amazing desserts including a fantastic blueberry pie!)

I set and decorated our tables in purple and gold, with a fruit-filled cornucopia centerpiece and shimmering candles. My mom made beautiful “I am thankful” tags, which each person filled out and hung on the chandelier. For a veggie platter, I took a tip from Martha and wrapped glass bowls in cabbage leaves and made dip bowls from radicchio heads. I loved how this spread turned out! We all noshed on veggies while watching my older brother deep fry a turkey. This was the first year we’ve done this and it was a huge hit. We didn’t burn down the house and we had a lot of fun with it too. After the turkey was done, we deep fried some cranberry sauce…yes, cranberry sauce…and those little “pies” were just incredible.

I had a really nice Thanksgiving with family and friends and I hope you did too. So take a peak…

Thanksgiving table veggiesThanksgiving frying fried turkey cranberryThanksgiving table gold purple fruit

Giving Thanks

country road fall wet rainy yellow orange leavesAmid heartache, there is still so much I’m thankful for in my life. After reading this New York Times article about how Thanksgiving actually is one of the most emotionally good-for-you holidays, I even more so wanted to tell the world (and myself) the things for which I’m grateful. I truly believe that this is an important thing to do…to remember the positives and count blessings, even despite the pending holiday. So I’ll keep it short…three things that I’m thankful for today and this week…

I have the most supportive and fun family and I’m absolutely delighted to spend time with everyone this week. There will be so much laughter, great food, coziness and love. My family alone makes me the luckiest girl.

My friends might not all live in the same city, nor have I actually met all of them in person, but they are all super special. Recently, I’ve had the fortune to (re-)learn how caring and awesome these people are. I can only hope that I’m as good as a friend back to these folks.

The open road. Well this one is a pretty scary. For the first time in a while I have absolutely no sense of what’s next. But I’m going to be thankful for it because soon I’ll learn to embrace it. And soon it will be the best thing that’s ever happened to me. (Right?)

{Image thanks to: tilman paulin}

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.