Sunday, September 25, 2011

For a Great Cause

The summer before my senior year of high school, my mother was diagnosed with breast cancer. I remember feeling terrified and then completely numb. No one else in my family had had cancer and at that point, I was lucky enough to never have lost someone I was close to. I was scared that I would lose her and I felt helpless. At age seventeen, on the brink of beginning my own life, I was frozen by the thought of losing the very person who had given me life, nurtured me and taught me what it meant to be an incredible woman.

Now, over seven years later, I am so happy to say that my mother is healthy and has been cancer free for years. A diagnosis is not the end, it's the beginning of a journey for these women and for those who love them. There are many wonderful institutions, hospitals, non profits and support groups that help patients and families through this journey through the sunny days and the dark ones, too.

One such organization is the American Cancer Society. For the past six years, I have walked in the American Cancer Society's Making Strides Against Breast Cancer Walk which brings together thousands of men and women to support an incredible cause, build awareness and share their stories, support and strength. I feel so honored and grateful to have my mother there with me, walking by my side, each year.

If you know someone who has been affected by breast cancer, you know how important it is for the research toward finding a cure to continue and progress.

Please support the American Cancer Society by helping me reach my fundraising goal for this year's walk.

Click here to donate, or if you're in the Boston area, join my team. I'd love to have you!

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Moist Mocha Cake

Sunday dinners with my family have always been hearty. Raviolis, meatballs & sausages. Honey-roasted ham, mashed potatoes, roasted vegetables. Beef Stew with a hunk of french bread.

Today, after another carbo-load meal, I was craving a sweet, equally rib-sticking, sweet finale. Chocolate. Coffee. More Chocolate. I was aiming to create a Mocha Monstrosity....and create, I did.

Moist Mocha Cake 
(Adapted from Betty Crocker's Mocha Muffins Recipe )
2 C. Flour
2 Tbsp. Unsweetened Baking Cocoa
2 1/2 Tsp. Baking Powder
1/2 Tsp. Salt
1/3 C. Brown Sugar
1 C. Milk
1/3 C. Vegetable Oil
1 Tbsp. Instant Coffee Grains
1/2 C. Plain (or Vanilla) Yogurt
1 Egg
1/2 C.  Semisweet Chocolate Chips
1/2 C. Milk Chocolate Chunks
*Extra 1/2 C. Milk Chocolate for drizzle

Recipe continued after the break...

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Pesche - Italian Wedding Cookies

Last weekend, I was a bridesmaid in a wedding that joined two wonderful Italian families. From the bridal shower to the rehearsal dinner, to the wedding itself - Italian culinary fare & culture was ever present & ever delicious.

Being an Italian myself, I was familiar with basically all of it - chicken parmigiana, ziti, fish, risotto, eclairs, macaroons, sfogliatelle. But there was one wonderful cookie that I had never had before.  Pesche (Italian for "peaches"). And boy, did I fall hard in amore with this cookie.

It is an Italian cookie typically made for special occasions, weddings in particular, because of its complex & time consuming nature. They are named peaches, because they resemble the fruit when complete. The cookie actually consists of two individual cookies that have been "glued" together with a chocolate filling, and then dipped in peach brandy and sugar.

After much research, I have found that the exact recipe and filling for this cookie varies greatly. Some people fill this cookie with peach preserves or plum jam, but you know I had to go the chocolate route.

Although time consuming, each step in this process is very simple and overall, the ingredients are not complex. They are worth the work (and the calories).

Recipe & more pictures after the break...

Monday, September 5, 2011

Oh-So-Fudgey Chocolate Crinkle Cookies

This is by far my favorite, all chocolate, fudgey, soft, I-could-eat-a-million-of-these-but-I'll-try-not-to cookie. Eating a chocolate crinkle goes a little something like this: Bite. Close eyes. Breathe deeply through your nose.  Moan a long "Mmmmmmm." Chew slowly to savor every moment. Open eyes. Repeat. It's a natural reaction, really. You'll see.

And as today, Labor Day, the unofficial final day of summer comes to a close, this is the perfect recipe to share.   It represents exactly how I would describe this summer: decadent.

I was fortunate enough to spend more time than usual relaxing with family and friends, soak up lots of sun (although you could never tell from my translucent skin tone), attend several gorgeous weddings, rekindle old loves (for writing and baking, baking, baking), and of course, eat amazing meals, but more importantly, amazing desserts. For all of these things, I am so grateful...and the fun isn't about to stop! There are so many things lined up for this fall that I can't wait to share with all of you & celebrate with new recipes.

Recipe after the break...