What are you grateful for this Thanksgiving season? Me, I'm forever grateful for two loving parents who raised the four of us to be good people, respectful, kind, thoughtful and giving to others; to always try our best even if we don't succeed; to be independent thinkers who don't follow the crowd; and to make the world a better place.

I'm grateful for my three brothers who always treated me like an equal; didn't tease me when I cried at movies; let me hang out with their buddies and are my closest friends who have always been there for me. I'm grateful for knowing what it's like to have sisters in my brothers' wives who are dear friends and along with my brothers, have shared their children with me and allowed me to spoil them.

I'm grateful for my six nephews who I love like my own; fantastic young men who always make me feel like the luckiest aunt in the world. Two now have their own families and I finally have nieces in their wives, who are like the little sisters I never had. I'm grateful for their friendship and to share in the joy of their little children, my grand nieces and nephews who fill my heart with joy.

Of course, I'm most grateful for my husband, Tom who is my best friend, confidant and loving companion who doesn't mind eating leftovers. He is a wonderful man who has given me the love I waited for half a lifetime. He surpasses my dreams, makes my life complete and brightens my days. He is definitely the best thing that ever happened to me!

Autumn Daisy Cookies
Daisy Shortbread Cookies
Royal Icing for outlining tinted Taupe with AmeriColor Chocolate Brown 
Royal Icing for outlining tinted Dark Taupe with AmeriColor Chocolate Brown and AmeriColor Orange
Royal Icing for flooding tinted with Wilton Ivory
Royal Icing for flooding and detail tinted Dark Red with AmeriColor Super Red and AmeriColor Chocolate Brown
Disposable piping bags & couplers
Squeeze bottles
Wilton Decorating Tips #2, #3
Gold Luster Dust



Outline cookie with #3 tip in taupe icing.

Flood cookie with ivory icing.

Pipe dots on petals with red flood icing. Let sit 30 minutes.

Outline petals of flower with #3 tip in dark taupe icing.

Add detail to center of flower with #2 tip in red icing. Let dry overnight.

Mix few drops of vodka with gold luster dust to create paint consistency.

Using a paintbrush, dab gold luster dust on the stamen. Let dry 30 minutes.







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President Kennedy with son, John Jr  
Hyannis Port, Cape Cod, Massachusetts 
(Source: John F. Kennedy Presidential Library)

November 22, 2013
Unless you’ve been living under a rock you know that today is the 50th anniversary of the assassination of our 35th President, John Fitzgerald Kennedy. Many of you are too young to remember or not yet born, and learned from history books and television documentaries about JFK and this devastating event in American history. I remember that day and the subsequent days very clearly. 

President Kennedy with son, John Jr
The White House
(Source: John F. Kennedy Presidential Library)

In my household we were big fans of the Kennedys. A Boston native and Irish Catholic like my Dad and the first president of their generation, my parents were delighted when Jack Kennedy was elected president. Early in his presidency JFK flew into the small executive airport where my Dad was employed and literally a few hundred yards from our house. Word had not leaked out so there was just my Dad, brothers and me who stood and waited for President Kennedy’s limousine to drive by. I remember his big, broad smile as he waved at us…it was a thrill I’ve never forgotten. Then in the summer of 1963, my family of six went to Washington, DC for our vacation and toured the Capitol, museums, monuments and the White House. Little did we know that only weeks later the city would receive worldwide focus.

John Jr, Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy, Caroline Kennedy, President Kennedy
 (Source: John F. Kennedy Presidential Library)

On Friday, November 22, 1963, I was a second grader and that school day ended with a childrens bizarre in the church basement. That morning my mother gave me and my older brother, a sixth grader, one dollar to buy toys, candy and crafts at the bizarre. I filled my box with nothing but candy. As a youngster with a mean sweet tooth what else would I buy? After the bizarre ended, I remember being on the sidewalk outside the church with my brother when one of his classmates came up and said “President Kennedy was killed.” Everything stopped for the next three days. There were no kids playing outside; no one shopping; the only thing Americans did that weekend was go to church. Like the entire country my family sat in our living room all weekend glued to the television set with a 14 inch tube, rabbit ears and a slightly fuzzy, black and white picture. The news coverage was wall-to-wall, unheard of for that era and with no commercial interruptions. I remember the flag-draped casket on the caisson, solemn drumbeats, the riderless horse, Mrs. Kennedy’s black veil and John-John’s salute. I am the same age as Caroline Kennedy and I remember feeling so sad that a little girl my age was attending her father’s funeral.

President Kennedy with Caroline and Kennedy nieces and nephews
Kennedy Compound - Hyannis Port, Cape Cod, Massachusetts
(Source: John F. Kennedy Presidential Library)

I have visited the Kennedy Presidential Library, read dozens of books and watched every television documentary on the Kennedy's and the JFK assassination. I always well up with tears even to this day at our nation’s loss, and the loss for young Caroline and John-John. I still wonder … what could have been.

JFK Official Portrait on display in The White House
 (Source: John F. Kennedy Presidential Library)

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The maple leaf has significant meaning for my family. My Irish ancestors immigrated to the United States arriving in Boston and New Bedford, Massachusetts in the mid-1800’s and early 20th Century. During the last seven years I’ve been researching my family history and have even connected with second and third cousins, several who still reside in New England where maple trees are indigenous. On a recent trip to my ancestors’ hometown I visited their gravesites in New Bedford, an old cemetery with hundreds of maple trees. Saplings back in 1891 when my great-great grandfather was buried now rise up over 80 feet. Since my father’s roots began in New England and it’s where he was born and raised, his grave marker bears engraved maple leaves. Along the side of our house there are four maple trees which turn a gorgeous red every autumn and serve as a reminder of my New England roots.

This design is inspired by Ali's Speckling with Luster Dust Tutorial at Ali Bee's BakeShop. She generously shares her decorating techniques and her use of gold luster dust created such a cool effect, that I just had to try it!

Maple Leaf Cookies
Maple Leaf Shortbread Cookies
Royal Icing for outlining and flooding tinted Dark Red with AmeriColor Super Red and AmeriColor Chocolate Brown
Disposable piping bags & couplers
Squeeze bottles
Wilton Decorating Tip #2
Gold Luster Dust

Outline cookie with #2 tip in red icing.

Flood cookie in red icing.

With paintbrush flick gold luster dust onto cookie.

See the sparkle? Let dry 30 minutes.

Add detail to cookie with #2 tip in red outline icing. Let dry overnight.


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Were you assigned dessert for this year's Thanksgiving menu? You would like to bring a  homemade dessert but you don't have time to bake? Are you tempted to purchase dessert at the grocer's bakery? Don't fret, I've got an easy chocolate cake that will be eaten down to the last crumb!

My favorite cake pan is my Bundt pan which belonged to my mother. Bundt cakes made a resurgence in the 1960's and this classic shape is an original. Unlike today's pans in an array of colors, this reminds me of the days of early commercial flight before planes were painted. Nowadays, there are all kinds of beautiful Bundt molds but I am content to bake with this oldie but goodie!

I found this fabulous Chocolate Bundt Cake recipe on Pinterest. It's my go to dessert for dinner parties whether hostess or attendee. Everyone raves about this cake ... after all, who doesn't like chocolate cake? The ganache frosting will soothe your chocolate cravings! This cake takes little time to make; no mixer needed, just a wire whisk.

Sour Cream Chocolate Bundt Cake
1 cup Butter (2 sticks), softened
1/3 cup Cocoa Powder
1 tsp Salt
1 cup Water
2 cups Flour
1-3/4 cups Sugar
1½ tsp Baking Soda
2 Eggs
1/2 cup Sour Cream
1 tsp Vanilla

Grease and flour a Bundt pan
Mix Butter, Cocoa Powder, Salt and Water over medium heat until melted. Remove from heat & set aside.
Mix Flour, Sugar, and Baking Soda. Add half of the melted butter mixture to the flour mixture and whisk until completely blended. (The mixture will be thick.) Add the remaining butter mixture and whisk until combined.
Add Eggs one at a time. Whisk in Sour Cream and Vanilla until smooth. Pour batter into bundt pan.
Bake at 350 for 40-45 minutes until cake tester comes out clean. Cool cake on rack before glazing.

Chocolate Glaze
1-1/3 cup Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips
1½ tbsp Corn Syrup
1/2 cup Heavy Cream
1½  tbsp Sugar

In a separate bowl add Chocolate Chips and Corn Syrup. Set aside. 

Mix Cream and Sugar over medium-low heat. Stir until sugar is dissolved.
Remove from heat and pour chocolate over hot cream and whisk until smooth. 
If needed, add more cream to thin glaze for a shiny finish. Drizzle the glaze over cake. 
[This Chocolate Bundt Cake recipe is from Bi Rite Market's Eat Good Food Grocer's Guide] 

Hint:  For Chocolate Ganache, half the recipe makes plenty of icing.




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APPLE COOKIES/ Little Green Apples

There was an apple tree in a clearing in our neighborhood and as a little girl my friend, Mary and I would climb that tree. We would sit on a sturdy branch for hours talking and giggling as little girls do. This tree had lots and lots of little green apples. We would eat one apple after another not because we were hungry but because we thought it was cool they were free!

Today I demonstrate how to simply add sanding sugar to a decorated cookie to create a sparkly effect. Come see!

Green Apple Cookies
Apple Shortbread Cookies
Royal Icing for outlining and flooding tinted Green with AmeriColor Avocado and AmeriColor Leaf Green
Royal Icing for outlining tinted Brown with AmeriColor Chocolate Brown
Disposable piping bags & couplers
Squeeze bottles
Wilton Decorating Tip #2
CK White Sanding Sugar
CK Green Sanding Sugar

Outline apple with #2 tip in green icing

Flood apple in green icing. Let sit 5 minutes.

Sprinkle some cookies with white sanding sugar. Gently shake off excess.

Sprinkle some cookies with green sanding sugar. Gently shake off excess. Let dry 30 minutes.

Outline leaves with #2 tip in brown icing.

 Let cookies dry overnight.



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