'Tis the Season: A Family Recipe

Ciao a tutti, As baking season returns I thought it would be a good idea to repeat a post from last year, sharing a fav family recipe that winds up to be a huge hit. Enjoy & happy baking! 

Christmas is in full swing at PatriciaG Loves Italy. 'Tis the season to revisit treasured holiday decorations, favorite tunes, tree ornaments, and of course....recipes! Oh yes, the recipes! 

I’d like to share a family favorite with you, in case you’d like to whip up a batch of your own in time for Christmas. (Sorry to my friends outside U.S. you’ll have to do your own converting to grams/kilos. For all the time I’ve spent in Italia you’d think I’d have this down by now. tsk tsk) Baking these cookies, and decorating my home, remind me of the wonderful Christmas’ past, and I send some lovin up to the heavens in gratitude, for instilling such heartwarming traditions. Some of my loved ones may not be here physically, but I feel like they’re visiting me as I recreate these wonderful rituals & start new traditions of my own.

Ok so here goes....drumroll here.......

Walnut Butter Ball Cookies

Ingredients:

1 lb (4 sticks) unsalted butter, softened

1 cup granulated sugar

4 tsp vanilla

1-1/2 tsp salt

4 cups sifted flour

2 cups finely chopped walnuts

1 bag confectioners’ sugar - for coating the cookies

Go for it:

  • Cream butter and sugar with electric mixer until the mixture is light and fluffy.
  • Add vanilla and salt.
  • Beat mixture until it is combined well.
  • Add flour, beat the dough until it is combined.
  • Fold in the walnuts. I like to use a wooden spoon.
  • Chill dough, covered, for at least 2 hours or overnight. (honestly, I do not have time for this chilling biz, so I did it for 1/2 hour and they turned out fine)
  • Roll the dough into 1-inch balls. I use a teaspoon as a gauge. 
  • Arrange balls about 1 inch apart on baking sheet. Note: don’t grease cookie sheet.
  • Bake in center of a 350° oven for 8 - 12 minutes
  • Let cool for 5 minutes on the sheets
  • Toss the warm cookies in a bowl of confectioners’ sugar - coat well

Makes approximately 150 cookies (if you don't eat the cookie dough as you're going along.)

Enjoy, Merry Christmas & Big Love, PatriciaG

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Cortona

If you're like me, this was a pretty tough week. Life kind of turned upside down and left some of us reeling. I am still trying to find a place to put it all, not certain there exists such a place. But for today, I want a bit of distraction. I want to get lost and I have the perfect place for doing so. For today, I am revisiting a glorious day spent in one of the most delicious cities in Tuscany.....Cortona.

It's beauty, charm and pace allow one to get lost in the wonder of just how beautiful life can be. Worries seem small in this grand place that welcomes you with a hug, and gives you light kisses along the way as you navigate the winding and escalating streets, each holding a promise of beauty and deep inhale.

I have been to Cortona twice. This second time was extra special as I visited with my dear friend, Lisa Condie, from Find Yourself in Tuscany. Lisa runs small group tours that allow you to experience Tuscany like a local, and Cortona is one of her special spots. How lucky am I to have her share it all with me so generously! 

Lisa is friends with the locals and as we made our way through the city we visited, chatted, and she introduced me to her friends. One of our first stops was the Galleria Il Pozzo Artigianato/The Cortona Gift Shop where I had the absolute pleasure of meeting Ivan. His shop is filled with handmade papers, books, ceramics and so much more. I particularly loved his uncle's photographs. The best part of the visit was when Ivan asked if he could take my phone, knelt down on the floor and proceeded to take a video of an old Etruscan 400 B.C. well he unexpectedly discovered while lowering the floor of his shop. Yes, this is how life rolls in Italy. Ancient finds on any given day. It was an extremely beautiful and generous gesture and I say Grazie Mille Ivan! I'll let him tell the story in the video below. 

As we made our way up some very steep hills, in dresses might I add (we rock!) we were blessed with more beautiful views and I found myself constantly being thankful for my eyesight. Have you had those moments? They make your heart smile so big. 

When we reached the top we were rewarded with the breathtaking Basilica di Santa Margherita. 

Santa Margherita was an unwed mother who was abandoned by her family and lived in poverty, having to beg for bread and sustenance. She in turn served the poor and established a hospital for the sick and poverty-stricken. She was canonized in 1728 and her body is preserved in a silver casket in the basilica. Read more about Santa Margherita's story here.

We could not leave Cortona without the customary sharing of a meal and were treated to a most delicious pranzo with some great vino at one of Lisa's favorite, the Trattoria La Grotta on Piazza Baldelli, 3. Deliziosa!

In revisiting this day I realize that life is much bigger than what is going on in the moment. Italy reminds us that centuries upon centuries go by, and the world keeps turning. In this moment I see that our current situation is only a tiny blip in the scheme of life and in human history. And somewhere in here I find comfort and a little peace. 

If you would like to find out more about Lisa's Signature Tours go to Find Yourself in Tuscany.

And now for that video I promised. Big Love & Buon Weekend, PatriciaG

Napoli

Ciao a Tutti,

My trip to Napoli was an interesting one. Any thoughts or plans that I had about exploring this city and its environs quickly went awry when I had emergency dental surgery two straight days prior to my departure. I won't share the details on this, but suffice it to say that it was painful, bloody, and for this tough New York broad, admittedly a bit traumatic.

Despite thoughts of canceling, I packed up my shit, got on the train and found myself in Napoli. It is an amazing city, rich in culture, diversity, beauty, great food, grit, and absolute chaos. Anyone whose ever tried to cross the street in Napoli understands the chaos! I mean, this place has got NYC beat times 100. In fact, if I had to compare, I'd say NYC is more like Naples, Florida when compared to Napoli. The people remind me of New York City...tough on the outside and a bit suspicious of you at first, but once you spend a little time letting them know who you are, they are the warmest and most generous people, and they open their city to you.

I had to do some soul searching here. Part of me wanted to hit the ground running and eat up this city. However, I was in a considerable amount of pain and still reeling from the surgery. I had to become comfortable with the idea that maybe I needed to take it slow and easy. This left me feeling disappointed in myself, a bit intimidated (senza bitchy Patricia) and less than adventurous. Inspite of this, I spent some wonderful, delicious and inspiring moments here in Napoli. It was an interesting experience for me; one which I am, quite honestly, still processing. Therefore, I'm going to stop 'talking' and just share the images from my stay with you. I hope you like. Buon Weekend & Big Love, PatriciaG (one more thing...Napoli I will be back!)

Quartiere Spagnoli - my fav

Quartiere Spagnoli - my fav

There are so many of these staircases and alleyways. Love them.

There are so many of these staircases and alleyways. Love them.

Casa Tolentino, my bed & breakfast. A 17th-century restored monastery. More info on CT here.

Casa Tolentino, my bed & breakfast. A 17th-century restored monastery. More info on CT here.

View from my window. Vesuvio in the distance.

View from my window. Vesuvio in the distance.

Hanging laundry is an art in Napoli. It reminded me of my Mom hanging laundry out my bedroom window in Ozone Park, Queens.

Hanging laundry is an art in Napoli. It reminded me of my Mom hanging laundry out my bedroom window in Ozone Park, Queens.

Subway...yea really. 

Subway...yea really. 

Piazza Plebiscito

Piazza Plebiscito

An empty piazza with a closed church and seating for one. 

An empty piazza with a closed church and seating for one. 

Piazza Municipio, Fontana del Nettuno

Piazza Municipio, Fontana del Nettuno

A break in the clouds and I do believe I heard angels sing. 

A break in the clouds and I do believe I heard angels sing. 

Caffe Nocciola

Caffe Nocciola

First pizza in Napoli! 

First pizza in Napoli! 

Pasta fagioli. When I went to Caffe Eccletico to say Arrivederci to new friends Orazio & Salvatore they insisted I eat something before the trip & cooked up this typical Napolitana dish for me. I want some more now!

Pasta fagioli. When I went to Caffe Eccletico to say Arrivederci to new friends Orazio & Salvatore they insisted I eat something before the trip & cooked up this typical Napolitana dish for me. I want some more now!

Orazio e Salvatore at Caffe Eccletico. If you go to Napoli, go see these guys. They are amazing! Located on Corso Vittorio Emanuele.

Orazio e Salvatore at Caffe Eccletico. If you go to Napoli, go see these guys. They are amazing! Located on Corso Vittorio Emanuele.

No surgery was keeping me away from this. It took a while to eat, but I managed to finish every last bite. 

No surgery was keeping me away from this. It took a while to eat, but I managed to finish every last bite. 

The people who made my visit special:

Francesco & Antonella...We met in New York City 2 years ago. Then we celebrated New Year's Day together in Firenze last year. And now I kept my promise to visit them in their hometown. They shared their city with such love and generosity. Grazie cari amici! A presto! 

Francesco & Antonella...We met in New York City 2 years ago. Then we celebrated New Year's Day together in Firenze last year. And now I kept my promise to visit them in their hometown. They shared their city with such love and generosity. Grazie cari amici! A presto! 

Totally unplanned. My friend Nico from New York City wound up being in Napoli the same time as me. He brought me on a tour of the city. I will forever remember the visit to Quartiere Spagnoli. Era fantastico! Grazie caro! A presto! 

Totally unplanned. My friend Nico from New York City wound up being in Napoli the same time as me. He brought me on a tour of the city. I will forever remember the visit to Quartiere Spagnoli. Era fantastico! Grazie caro! A presto! 

San Gregorio Armeno is a Christmas paradise. I thought of my Dad while visiting here. He loved decorating for Christmas & made it so special for us and he would've loved this place. I did a short video of what I am sure Dad would've purchashed to add to his Christmas collection. I'd like to share with you.

PatriciaG's Shop is going on vacation

Ciao a Tutti,

As I look to my upcoming trip to Italia in September, I'm prepping things here in New York. PatriciaG's Shop is going on vacation along with me, so if you'd like to purchase any notecards or prints, please do so by Tuesday, August 16th. After that the Shop will be on vacation (vacanza) until November.

I'm sharing some of this summer's most popular items below, but you can see the full collection in my Shop

I want to thank all of you who have supported me with your purchases. I particularly love your stories of how you'll be using my photos, either to decorate your own personal space, or giving them as gifts to loved ones. It warms my heart! Feel free to tell me more in the Comments section below.

I'll be sharing my Italian journey here on the weekly blog, but for daily pics & tidbits, follow me on Facebook & Instagram. Grazie Mille! Big Love & Buon Weekend, PatriciaG

Hell's Kitchen, NYC

Hell's Kitchen, NYC

Coney Island, NYC

Coney Island, NYC

Liberty Sunset, NYC

Liberty Sunset, NYC

Owls, NYC

Owls, NYC

Chianti Peonies

Chianti Peonies

Sunset, San Frediano, Firenze. (My apartment will be right behind that church in September)

Sunset, San Frediano, Firenze. (My apartment will be right behind that church in September)

Villa in Chianti

Villa in Chianti

Salute! Spritz! 

Salute! Spritz!