Donut o’ the Month for JoJoTastic: Whole Wheat Cranberry Cake Donuts with Whiskey Cider Glaze

November 2014

As one who thrives on the adrenaline rush of working until the very last minute, I prefer the role of hostess in the production of Thanksgiving. This year, however, I feel like more of an understudy to an understudy. I’m not sure which part I’ll be playing, where I’ll be performing or what I’ll be eating.

November Donut o the Month

I’ve been in such a frenzy of projects, Thanksgiving had been hiding in the shadows of deadlines, and it very quickly sneaked up on me. Despite my lack of plans, I couldn’t let the Donut o’ the Month series pass November without a nod to the month’s star holiday.

November Donuts

This recipe draws inspiration from Thanksgiving’s cranberry sauce tradition, fall herb accents, mugs of hot cider, and the shot of whiskey you need when dad digresses into politics at the dinner table.

Cranberry Donuts 05

Check out my original November donut post and all the other fantastic content at JoJoTastic!

Whole Wheat Cranberry Sage Donuts with Whiskey Cider Glaze

makes about 12-15 standard sized donuts

4 1/2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
2/3 cup organic raw cane sugar
2 Tablespoons baking powder
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1 teaspoon salt
1 Tablespoon fresh lemon zest (~2 lemons)
1 Tablespoon fresh chopped sage

1 cup organic whole milk
2 eggs, lightly beaten (organic/cage-free)

4 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup (8 Tbs) organic, unsalted butter, melted

3 cups fresh organic cranberries

Organic, non-GMO Safflower oil for frying (about 1 quart)


In a large bowl, combine flour, sugar, baking powder, spices, salt, zest and sage, whisking to combine.

In another bowl, combine egg, milk and vanilla extract, mixing together.

Add melted butter to the dry ingredients, quickly stirring to disperse the butter and form small crumbs.

Stir in milk and egg mixture, bring the dough together with a spoon.

Before it comes completely together, add in cranberries, mashing some as you stir, and bring dough together with your hands.

Form the dough into a large ball, then roll it out on a floured surface to about 1/2 inch thickness. Cut donuts using a biscuit cutter. Use a smaller cutter to create the donut hole. Repeat with dough scraps until all the dough is used.

Heat oil in a large pot or deep fryer, bringing it to 375 degrees. Fry donuts 1-2 at a time, frying for about 1 1/2-2 minutes per side. After your first donut, check it by cutting into the center and making sure the dough is cooked. Finish remaining donuts, transferring to a cooling rack as you go. Once all the donuts are made, add the glaze.

Cider Whiskey Glaze


2 cups organic powdered sugar
1-2 Tablespoons Hickory Finished Wigle Whiskey
1/4 cup apple cider

For the Glaze

Whisk ingredients together until a smooth glaze forms. If the glaze is too thin, add sugar a few tablespoons at a time, while whisking. if the glaze is too thick, add more water by one very small drop at a time, whisking constantly. Dip donuts in the glaze and set aside for the glaze to harden slightly. Note: You may need to make a second batch depending on the size of your donuts and your glaze preferences.


May your Thanksgiving morning be stress free and donut filled!

p.s: A bite of one of these donuts with a dollop of all natural pumpkin ice cream (and maybe a coffee on the side) is the stuff dreams are made of.

#TBT: Gobble Up The Turkey

November 2014

Do you have any Thanksgiving food responsibilities? Are you nervous about serving a new recipe? Feeling stressed? Allow me to offer a little advice…


Here are six ways to make sure sure your family gobbles up the turkey:

1. Do not serve gravy from a jar (or can!).
2. Do not serve gravy from a jar.
3. Do not serve gravy from a jar.
4. Do not serve gravy from a jar.
5. Do not serve gravy from a jar.
6. Do not serve gravy from a jar.

I might suggest copying that cranberry styling though. It’s so classy!


Here’s to a stress (and gravy jar) free holiday!

#TBT (Throw Back Thursdays) glimpse into the vintage visual feasts in my personal collection of food and entertaining books and magazines.

A Fall Lunch at Out of the Fire Cafe

October 2014

I once stood blissfully in the general store of an old mill. A friendly older couple regaled me with the history of the town, of the brewery where the man worked as a young brewmaster, and of the grains sold in the shop. I felt like I had stepped back in time until I asked for lunch recommendations. “There’s an Eat ‘n Park or a McDonalds if you get back on the main road.” You could hear my idealism deflating slowly and dramatically like a punctured party balloon.

Out of the Fire Cafe

Hence my excitement when a recent fall adventure, through the quiet, misty mountains, resulted in a unique eating opportunity as well. My friend and I had worked up an appetite touring Kentuck Knob, the mountain home designed by architect Frank Lloyd Wright. About halfway between Kentuck Knob and home is Out of the Fire Cafe, a place I had often passed and had tucked away in my memory. This was the day at long last!

Out of the Fire Scallops

Sea Scallops with Butternut Squash Butter, Vanilla Emulsion and Crispy Pork

Family owned and operated, as well as a member of Slow Foods USA, Out of the Fire was just what the day demanded. We dined on seasonal flavors while taking in the view of the Laurel Highlands and a hillside of cows. Unlike my General Store anecdote, this time lunch completed the feeling of escaping the city.

Out of the Fire Cheeseburger

Grilled Cafe Burger on Brioche with Farmhouse Cheddar, Roasted Tomatoes, Charred Onion Jam , Arugula and French Fries.

Out of the Fire Cheeseburger Half

Out of the Fire view

If you’re planning a trip to Falling Water or Kentuck Knob or hiking in the highlands, I highly recommend incorporating Out of the Fire into your route.


Happy Wandering!

#TBT: Magnificent Muffins and Latte Moments

November 201

Professionally, I have one foot firmly planted in the world of editorial/retail, which means that foot is already planted in snow, knotted cords of Christmas lights, and perhaps stepping on a delicate ornament or two (hopefully not!). However, I am intentionally rooting my other foot in the festivities of fall, the crunching leaves underfoot, and the colorful swirls as those leaves hit the ground. In the spirit of savoring fall, this Throwback Thursday offers muffin inspiration, as well as the most romance one can possibly extract from a cream based, instant coffee beverage.

Magnificent Muffins

Thanks so much to my dear friend Anne, of this magical place, who filled my mailbox with a snail mail surprise to keep these #TBT posts coming! Stay tuned for more Thursday autumn magic.


Happy Fall!

#TBT (Throw Back Thursdays) glimpse into the vintage visual feasts in my personal collection of food and entertaining books.

Instagram Lately & Whole Wheat Pumpkin & Chocolate Swirl Bread

November 2014

This past weekend, moments of stress, excitement, fear, sadness and relief all swirled in me simultaneously. Amidst long to-do lists and last-minute rushing, I had to remind myself to be excited about a very thrilling new venture. Once I allowed that excitement to surpass my chaotic nearsightedness, it was like the floodgates released. I had to play It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia quotes in my head to balance the sappiness I was exuding. I couldn’t arrive to our preview with watery eyes!

Opening and Julep

With to-do lists and enthusiasm still swirling wildly inside me, I decided to escape everything and focus on my Julep. Before I knew it, my perfect fall afternoon was a tumble of dogs and human, with one aggressive dog’s jaw fixed firmly on my dog’s neck. These things happen with animals, and I couldn’t blame anyone, but I had a mini breakdown nonetheless. I had expected to see my Julep’s neck ripped open, and though she was still in one piece, my mind had already begun to reel with the worst case scenario. I felt helpless as I watched her in fear and pain, feelings prolonged by a cautionary vet visit. Shaved, injected and medicated, Julep is returning to her normal self, but talk about a reminder to squeeze the ones you love!

Swirl bread

I had reminded myself to be excited for the opening of 4121 MAIN, but in the case of the dog park, the universe had reminded me to cherish all those near and dear to me. Moments of stress, excitement, fear, sadness and relief will continue to swirl. That’s life, and those swirls are beyond my control. That doesn’t mean I can’t embrace life’s roller coaster in a wholesome and delicious way.

Pumpkin Chocolate Swirl Bread

Whole Wheat Pumpkin & Chocolate Swirl Bread
makes two loaves


4 cups whole-wheat pastry flour
1 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
3 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon nutmeg
1 teaspoon ground cardamom

3 1/2 cups organic cane sugar
1 1/2 cups olive oil
4 large eggs (organic/cage-free)
3 cups (24 ounces) canned pumpkin
3/4 teaspoon salt

2/3 cup pure cocoa powder
4 Tablespoons organic milk or heavy cream


Adjust oven rack to middle position and preheat oven to 350°F. Grease (butter or olive oil) and line two 8- by 4-inch loaf pans with parchment paper, allowing edges to overhang. Grease any remaining unlined part of the pan.

Whisk together the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, and cardamom. Set aside.

Whisk sugar, oil, pumpkin, eggs, pumpkin, and salt in a large bowl until combined.

Add the dry ingredients to the batter, and then whisk until completely combined.

Spoon 2 cups batter into each pan.

Spoon 2 cups batter into measuring cup and reserve.

Whisk cocoa and milk into remaining batter, and then divide between the two pans.

Using a butter knife or small offset spatula, swirl the batter a few times, lifting pumpkin batter from the bottom. Then spoon reserved pumpkin batter over the top and swirl a few times more.

Bake until top is just set and skewer inserted into the center comes out with moist crumbs, 60 to 75 minutes.

Let cool in pan 45 minutes, then transfer to wire rack to cool completely.


May your swirls be sweet and chocolaty!

The Case of the Curious Dog & The Homemade Nutella

November 2014

[Most] dogs have it pretty great. Specifically, my dog has it pretty great. She works hard. She plays hard. She eats right. She has a handsome beau. She disconnects intentionally. She nestles like a champ. She has established the window nook as her own, and she gets to eat a minty treat each night to keep her pearlies pearly.

two cups hazelnuts

Sometimes I envy the dog life just a tad, but then I am reminded of this one glaring dilemma: dogs can’t have chocolate! I’d sooner live a life without naps than a life without chocolate.

Mighty Hazelnut

Though my little one is well loved and lives a good life, I do feel a tad guilty about the tortured life she lives smelling grainy goodness after grainy goodness.

Curious Dog

Poor little Julep. This toast would make her heart stop, or at least, that’s what I tell her, because yes, I do have whole conversations with her. Once you go crazy, there’s no going back.

Nutella Toast

But dear humans, this toast will make your heart soar! Happy is the morning that begins with homemade Nutella on a sprouted wheat bread. No guilt or heart stopping there!

Punkin Seeds and Nutella

Homemade Nutella
adapted from Bon Appétit


2 cups (heaping) hazelnuts, preferably skinned (about 10 ounces)
1/4 cup organic raw cane sugar
1 pound bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
1/2 cup (1 stick) organic unsalted butter, cut into 1-inch pieces, room temperature
1 cup organic heavy cream
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt


Preheat oven to 350°.

Spread out nuts on a rimmed baking sheet or in an ovenproof skillet. Roast, shaking sheet once for even toasting, until deep brown, 13-15 minutes. Let cool completely. (If nuts have skins, rub them in a kitchen towel to remove.)

Grind hazelnuts and sugar in a food processor until a fairly smooth, buttery paste forms, about 1 minute.

Place chocolate in a medium metal bowl. Set bowl over a large saucepan of simmering water; stir often until chocolate is melted and smooth.

Remove bowl from over saucepan; add butter and whisk until completely incorporated.

Whisk in cream and salt, then hazelnut paste.

Pour nutella into jars, dividing equally. Let cool.

The nutella will thicken and become soft and peanut butter-like as it cools. Screw on lids.

Homemade nutella can be made up to 4 weeks ahead; keep chilled. Let stand at room temperature for 4 hours to soften. Can stand at room temperature up to 4 days.


Bone Appétit!

P.S: Perhaps one day, when life settles a bit (Ha!), I’ll pen a children’s book of the same title as this post.

A Fall Adventure to Kentuck Knob by Frank Lloyd Wright

October 2014

On a crisp fall day, one of the first, crisp fall days to demand a thick sweater and warm shoes, a good friend and I ventured through southwestern Pennsylvania, to a house designed by a man, a myth and a legend.

Foggy PA

Even those of us with little understanding of Greek mythology have a rough understanding of Zeus. So it is with Frank Lloyd Wright in the realm of architecture. He appears in coffee table books, wall calendars, and in the case of freshman architecture students, he surely appears in at least one Christmas present. Though we students may have mocked how novices flocked to this mythical figure, we also respected the way he revolutionized the field through his Prairie School of design.

From Where I Stand and Wander

Church Path

We in Pittsburgh are fortunate to live near two Frank Lloyd Wright attractions: Falling Water and Kentuck Knob. The latter is my favorite of the two. It draws less of a crowd, making the commune with the architecture feel all the more intimate, and the sculpture garden is the perfect playful escape.


Thus, when the trees were emblazoned, the mountains were misting, and the leaves were crunching underfoot, my friend and I ventured in pursuit of architecture. We meandered through the places picnic dreams are made of, places where I could sip hot cider from a plaid thermos and stare at the sky like some hippy parody.  Alas, the weather was just a tad colder and rainier than my dream picnic temps, but we enjoyed these bonus scenes nonetheless.

Et voilaKentuck Knob by Frank Lloyd Wright…

Kentuck Knob with Skylight

Pathway to Kentuck Knob

I work best with confident, rule-driven types, so Wright’s confidence in his design theories intrigues me. The tour of Kentuck Knob is a walk through his strict beliefs and prescribed rules. So confident (arrogant?) was he in his capabilities, he designed this mountain retreat without having visited the site. Wright said he could “shake it (Kentuck Knob) out of his sleeve at will.”

House and Sculpture

And then there was that time I accidentally leaned on a fertility sculpture (right) in an effort to capture the perfect picture of the balcony. Shit!

Kentuck Knob began in 1953 when the Hagans, owners of a major dairy company, purchased 80 acres of mountain land east of their native Uniontown. Inspired by their friends’ nearby home, Fallingwater, the Hagans asked the Kaufmanns’ architect Frank Lloyd Wright, then 86 years old, to design a Usonian home for them. After passing Wright’s interview process, he agreed to design their home. The house was completed in 1956, and the Hagans lived at Kentuck Knob for almost 30 years. The Hagan brand ice cream is still sold in the gift shop.

Approaching the Kitchen

Usonia was a word Frank Lloyd Wright used to refer to his vision for the landscape of the United States, including the planning of cities and the architecture of buildings, but as a point of departure from previous traditions and styles.

Honeycombed Balcony

Wright designed Kentuck Knob with native sandstone and tidewater red cypress, which blend naturally in the surroundings. The open floor plan, strategic natural lighting, cantilevered overhangs, and seamless expanses of glass intentionally draw in the natural setting.

Honeycomb Windows

A local woodworker created the honeycombed moldings by hand…BY HAND!

Balcony Selfie

Wright’s window design used minimal framing. The result is a seamless view. In many walls, the glass and stone meet directly, enhancing the integration of the home with its surroundings.

View into Kitchen

Alas, I wasn’t allowed to photograph the house interior, but by bending the rules just a tad, I was able to capture the impressive table extension of the dining room. This room was a special request by Mrs. Hagan, who was able to convince Frank Lloyd Wright of several design modifications. Being an entertainer, she objected to the very modest eating nook in Wright’s original plan. He acquiesced, and pulled the dining space from the back balcony allotment. Oh to eat breakfast at that table with those panoramic forest views!

The Kitchen

Today, Lord & Lady Palumbo own the house. Once their vacation home, they eventually opened the home to tours. When your tour is interrupted by four-legged friends, but you’re not allowed to touch anything, you quickly understand the Palumbos are on site. I made friends with both, so by some degree of separation, that makes me… just a crazy dog lady?!?

Palumbo Dogs


From the back terrace, a path leads to a breathtaking panorama of the Youghiogheny River Gorge and the surrounding scenic Laurel Highlands mountains. I can’t imagine the luxury of having such a view at my disposal every day and watching it change with the seasons.


Kentuck Knob Vista


Then there is the sculpture garden…

Apple Sculpture

Claes Oldenburg

Cantilever Sculpture

Berlin Wall

A segment of the Berlin Wall

Red Army

Red Army by Ray Smith

Telephone Boothes and Red Dancer

After architecture, vistas and sculptures, there was an afternoon food adventure. More on that to come!

Jumping Quelcy

All in all, it was a glorious fall day… Hoorah!


Thanks for wandering with me!