All Saints Day Cookies

To be honest, this was one of the main reasons I bought an icing printer.  Saint cookies have been on my mind for years now.

If you don't have an icing printer, don't worry.  Scan the images you want, format them to fit your cookies and take your file to the grocery store bakery or local bakery supply shop to have your images printed.

These are going to kiddo's teacher.

Here's what you need to make them:
  • cookies
  • an awesome aunt who is sweet enough to scan and email you a zillion saint cards
  • frosting sheets
  • white royal icing
  • #2 or 3 tip and #16 star tip

The cookies look cute plain, but I really like the something extra a little piping adds to them.  I added the border with a #16 star tip.

Did they all turn out perfectly? Well, no.

You might recognize the guy on the left.

St. Marguerite.  When my Nana traced our family tree she found we were related to her.  Which is obvious given my saintly nature.

My favorite saint?  St. Bridget (or Brigid), for obvious reasons.  BUT, when the priest who married us gave me a copy of this prayer attributed to her, well, it sealed the deal.  It's a must read.

Here's St. Lucy...
Yes, those are her eyes on a platter. You guys, the saints are interesting!!!

Do you have a favorite saint?

Who looked FAB-BOO-LOUS?!

We saw some faboolous Halloween costumes over the weekend! But, these by far -- beyond cupcakeMAG approved!

Make-up artist/hair stylist to the stars, Cassi Hurd channeling Madonna circa 1980!

Princess Lolly from Candyland
Our very own writer, Jenny Ford AKA Marge with her hubs, Homer!

Another one of our FAB cupcakeMAG writers, Candace & her hubs as The Queen of Hearts & The Mad Hatter! 

Our pumpkins...

I was inspired this year by the Design*Sponge DIY project, but I'm notoriously impatient and just free-handed my pumpkin with a spoon and steak knife. Maybe next year, I will take more time on it. :) Matt's is the bigger of the two. I like how you can see Indy in the background.





From time to time I run across something that truly tugs at my heartstrings.  Today it is the story of Gloria Vanderbilt’s life. 

The article in Veranda magazine about this genuinely talented and driven woman warmed my heart.  She truly sought a life surrounding by those she loved.  Son Anderson Cooper, in a foreword to his mother’s book The World of Gloria Vanderbilt,  wrote “what’s extraordinary about his mother are her survival skills.”

The photographs below are just beautiful, and I hope that you ENJOY them as much as I did!

Gloria Vanderbilt 1956

Vanderbilt's present living room

Vanderbilt with husband Wyatt Cooper and their children

Patchwork bedroom in Vanderbilt's former townhouse

Vanderbilt's former Southhampton retreat

Aunt Gertrude Whitney's Fifth Avenue mansion

I hope that you have enjoyed this post on the multi talented Gloria Vanderbilt.  To read this heart warming story, pick up your copy of the Nov/Dec issue of Veranda magazine.  It is well worth the coins.

See you soon,

SMS - Goat Cheese, Olive and Thyme Muffins, combines with the Gutsy Cooks Oxtail Stew and Polenta - Plus Some

It is Hanaa's week to host for Sweet Melissa Sundays! Hooray for Hanaa of Hanaa's Kitchen! Such a wonderful baking friend and always helpful with cooking/baking tips and knowledge. Hanaa chose Goat Cheese, Olive and Thyme Muffins. Since I have missed the last two weeks with the Gutsy Cooks, who also post on Sundays, I caught up by making a full dinner by combining the menus from both groups. Hopefully I am not confusing anyone here =).

I stuffed my muffin cups with batter since I decided on baking a full batch. Melissa says the recipe only makes 12 muffins but the last 3 times I have baked this recipe, using the different add-in ingredients, the recipe has made more like 18 muffins.

Melissa's baking time is a little too long, according to my oven. The muffins were done in 18 minutes.

The filling with goat cheese, olives, and rosemary is delicious! I wish I had added more rosemary because the fresh herb seemed to get lost in my muffin.
Thank you Hanaa for the easy and delicious choice. Look at other SMS's bakers twists on the recipe by clicking here or go to Hanaa's blog here for the recipe. Now, ON TO GUTSY COOKS!
I may not have been posting the blog BUT I have been cooking right along with the Gutsy Cooks. My excuse, after looking for work in the Northwest for the last 10 months, I have officially started a new job and what a relief~! I am exhausted getting by at 4:15 a.m. and not getting home till after 7 p.m. but I will take the schedule any day over the stress of job hunting.
Now on toooo this week's menu chosen by Monica as the last week of October: Oxtail Stew with Wine and Herbs over Polenta. The recipes are found in The Illustrated Kitchen Bible by Victoria Blashford-Snell and to get the recipes, you will need to buy her cookbook. The author has not given permission for the host to post the recipe. Dessert is last week's Vanilla Custards.
My first time EVER trying oxtail anything. I went to my local butcher, the only place out of 4 major grocery stores to carry oxtail, and the butcher only had 1 package weighing 2 pounds. They sell out on a regular basis - who knew? I ordered another 5 pounds to be picked up next Friday, encase we loved the stew. My husband and I enjoy trying new dishes and this is definitely new for the both of us. I already had beef soup bones with lots of beef still attached so I made up the difference of 4 1/2 pounds with beef.
The recipe calls for fresh thyme and rosemary, a drizzle of honey, salt and pepper for seasonings.
Chopped onions, carrots, fennel, garlic cloves (I added 4 minced) and 2 hot red chiles are all sauteed until tender (about 5 to 6 minutes) then add with the browned oxtail tail and beef bones. A bottle of hearty red wine Cabernet Sauvignon was added as the liquid base for the stew to slowly braise in.

2 1/2 hours later, the oxtail stew came out of the oven and smelled amazing with all the slow roasted vegetables and meat. The sauce had a deep brown color and the flavor picked up all the fresh herbs, vegetables, and meat to make an amazing gravy, poured over the polenta with freshly grated Parmesan cheese.
I was raised around brown and white rice, potatoes, and pasta for versions of side dishes. Polenta is a newer dish for me, in fact, this recipe will be the third time I have made polenta. We like it but the texture is still an adjustment.
The verdict is we LOVED the oxtail stew. Oxtail meat does not taste like beef and pulling the meat off of the bone takes a little doing. Definitely tender but a different texture and the meat can kind of a sweeter, different taste that I liked but just can not put my finger on to compare with anything else I have eaten. I am curious to see what others already know about the meat so I can get a better idea of what is normal to expect.

Then there is the vanilla custard. I baked the custards in a water bath the same as the coconut custards we tried earlier ONLY this time I baked the custards a LOT longer. The custards baked along with the oxtail stew but only for 40 minutes at 300 degrees F.

What is not admire and enjoy as a true comfort food the a custard whose base starts with a fresh vanilla bean, simmering in heavy cream and whole milk? Whipped egg yolks and honey are whipped into a thick frenzy and the simmered and soaked vanilla bean mixture is slowly added. Pour into 6 oz. ramekins, set in a water bath containing boiling water and slowly bake until set. Did I mention what is not to like? What a relief to have several dishes turn out right.
I feel terrible saying such a think BUT the empanadas and coconut custards did not turn out and I was having a little trouble pushing myself to keep trying the next recipes. Now, I am glad we did! Thank you Monica, the creator of the Gutsy Cooks group, for choosing all the recipes for the month of October. Last night's dinner kicked butt and was delicious!
Here is the photos of the Empanadas and White Bean Soup for the week of October 17. I really added twists to the bean soup. First I did not blend the beans up in the puree. Also, I simmered the beans with a smoked ham hock. I later took the bone out, pulled the ham and added the pulled meat back into the simmered beans with celery and carrots. I omitted the Pancetta, even though I bought it because, well simply stated, I forgot.
I am not sure if this soup counts since I deviated a LOT from the recipe but we loved it.

The empanadas are a different story. I made a big mess trying and we really did want to like these. The dough is what caught us up and I already changed up the filling ingredients. I just could not do Tuna. The thought made my tummy flip-flop.

Maybe I rolled the dough to thick but the flavor was bland and dry.

I used diced pork with the chopped tomatoes and 2 tsp.'s of tomato paste along with a jar of chipotle corn salsa.

The filling was okay but the whole empanada was hard to eat more then one. I pulled out more salsa for dipping, still we did not eat even half of them. I felt bad posting a negative response but I think being part of a group is knowing that we all have different tastes and this just didn't hit ours.

I do want to try empanadas again, with a different dough recipe, since this was also a first for me to make and the idea was a wonderful one. Thank you Monica for widening our horizons in the kitchen!


John Saladino and his talented staff of architects, James Taylor and Timothy Mace, and designer Nicole Hsu redesigned this beautiful east coast home. The result is a stunning estate that looks out onto the Pacific.  ENJOY!

Get you copy of the November/December copy of Veranda magazine.  It is an absolutely beautiful issue!
John published his latest book, Villa, in 2009, and it is certainly on the top of my wish list!

See you soon,

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