Classic Scottish Shortbread

| by | Cookies, Desserts, Holiday Recipes, Recipes, Seasonal

Classic Scottish Shortbread (aka Great Grandpa Taylor’s Shortbread): Buttery. Crunchy. Classic. So good. This shortbread is all that and more! A family recipe, authentically Scottish, and easy to make, you need this shortbread in your life ASAP. :) 

Classic Scottish Shortbread |

Welp, we’re 2 days away. How do you feel?

I must confess to trying ward off the Christmas blues. And our tree is not helping any. You know what the pathetic thing looks like right now? It looks like Christmas was two months ago. Not only is it droopy, but the branches are so dry and bristle that if a spark were to fly out from the fireplace and hit it, the whole tree would probably burst into flames! I don’t know what we did to it, but it’s been the biggest disappointment of this Christmas season. :(

So not only do I have the stores fighting against keeping the Christmas spirit alive – empty shelves, Christmas items condensed into one space, the arrival of Valentine’s and spring stuff – but our tree as well!

So. Sad.

If I could go out and buy a new tree right now I would.

Ok, so last post I talked about favorite Christmas movies and then mentioned that in today’s post we would discuss music – you game? Here ya go:

Favorite Christmas Work: Handel’s “Messiah” (this recording is my favorite)

Favorite Christmas Composers (i.e. composers whose music best imparts the spirit of Christmas): John Rutter, Michael W. Smith, and Alan Silvestri (check out these albums here, here, here, & here)

Random Favorites:

…and I could go on and on, but I hope you get something from this sampler! What is some of your favorite Christmas music? :)

Since we’re on the subject of favorites, we need to talk about this shortbread. This shortbread is a family favorite and that’s because not only is it a family recipe, but it’s authentically Scottish.


Classic Scottish Shortbread |

My mom is part Spanish and part Scottish, so I don’t even need to tell you which side of the family this recipe came from… ;)

I’ve shared this recipe in many forms, but now I’m giving you the original un-altered version. It’s buttery (but not too buttery), easy to make, perfect for gifting, has the perfect amount of crunch, and yum, yummy!

Classic Scottish Shortbread |

Enjoy, Merry Christmas, Happy New Year, and Cottura felice!

P.S. I’m going to be a little absent from the blog (or at least not posting as much) for the next few weeks to enjoy some baking, family time, and playing travel agent – I hope everyone has a fun and safe holiday!

Classic Scottish Shortbread
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  • 6 C. all-purpose flour
  • 1 C. granulated sugar
  • 2 C. (4 sticks/1 lb) butter softened and cut into 1 tbsp. slices
  • 6 egg yolks


  1. In a large mixing bowl, stir together flour and sugar.
  2. With your hands, knead butter into flour mixture until well blended, about 5 minutes. It will be done when dough forms a moist crumb and there are no visible chunks of butter.
  3. Using your hands, mix in egg yolks. Start with three, mix, and form a small ball. If the dough is too dry and falls apart, add another yolk - you should need no more than 6 yolks total. Also keep in mind that this is a very crumbly dough in general, but it should still hold together when you squeeze some together in your hand.
  4. Preheat oven to 350° F.
  5. Divide dough into 7 tennis ball-sized balls.
  6. On a floured surface, pat each dough ball into a round ½ in. thick and about 5 ½ in. in diameter. You can also use a rolling pin if needed.
  7. Place cookies on an un-greased baking sheet and you can either bake them whole, press in designs with cookies (however, don’t press all the way through), or cut into 8 little triangles.
  8. Sprinkle with decorator’s sugar, if desired (you might need to press it slightly into the round so that it’ll stick better :).
  9. Bake at 350° F. for 15 min, then turn the temperature down to 300° F. and bake for 20-30 minutes, or until firm and light brown. The shortbread should not be golden brown or they will be overcooked (please don't use my photos for reference as you can see my cookies were, um, slightly overdone...).
  10. Remove from oven and let cool slightly on pan before transferring to a wire rack to finish cooling.


You can also cut out shapes and ice these (like gingerbread), if you desire - just make sure the cookies are completely cool before icing. :)



Spicy Slow Cooker Chili with Cornbread Waffles

| by | Pancakes & Waffles, Recipes, Savory, Seasonal

Spicy Slow Cooker Chili: This chili is loaded with meat and packed full of flavor and spice. Coming together in about 20 minutes and cooked in the slow cooker, this a meal that will taste like you spent all day to put together! Perfect for life’s busy moments, the holiday rush, game days, and just because! If you love chili, meat, and spice, this just might become your new favorite chili. :)

Spicy Slow Cooker Chili & Cornbread Waffles | Sempre-Dolce.comHi there! First of all, I hope all is going well with your Christmas preparations and the stress levels are being kept at bay. Second, please pardon the rare break from sweets, but with it being that time of year where we could all stand a little ease and slow cookers in our lives, and with this chili being one of the best you’ll ever have (in my humble opinion), I just couldn’t keep this recipe to myself.

I knew you’d understand.

Spicy Slow Cooker Chili & Cornbread Waffles | Sempre-Dolce.comIf you’ve read my blog bio, you’ll see where, in my list of random facts about me (that I just know the whole world wants to see… not), I state my love for Mexican food. If you would have asked me a few years ago what my favorite cuisine was, I’m not sure that would have been on the list.

It was only in the last year or two, that I noticed my gravitation towards foods which included lime, cilantro, all the good spices, – cumin, chili powder, cayenne pepper – jalapeno (yeah, baby!), avocado, etc. and thus decided that Mexican food had to be my favorite cuisine. Which, come to think of it, only makes sense as there is some Spanish blood flowing through my veins. :)

Lime & Cilantro | Sempre-Dolce.comMaybe it was because years ago I never ate at the right restaurants (uh, Chuy’s, Torchy’s? Where were you??) and didn’t eat a lot of it at home – who knows. But there it is!

OK, now about spice. The short and sweet of it is I love it. I’m the person who does not remove the insides of a jalapeno when using it. I’m also the person who was devastated at Pei Wei removing the “Blazing Noodles” from their menu – even though it was so spicy I could hardly eat it. However, while my spice tolerance is above most people’s (I’m surprised at what people consider spicy – I mean, Rotel is not spicy, in the least), I still like to enjoy my food and therefore try to keep things from being burning bites of fire.

Sometimes I fail, though. Like on Halloween. When making chili for a group I try to keep it from being spicy, especially when my nieces are involved. But the Halloween batch was still a bit too spicy and I felt so bad when my nieces were pushing it away for that purpose! They’ll probably refuse to eat it next time… ;P

Spicy Slow Cooker Chili & Cornbread Waffles |

So, if you are the person who thinks that Rotel is spicy, this recipe is not for you. (But don’t turn away because I have a way you can make this NOT spicy!) This recipe is for those who can tolerate the spice from a jalapeno and like for their sinuses to be cleared.

Now that we’ve covered spice levels, I can tell you how wonderful this chili is. It’s the bomb. You might not think it looking at the ingredients involved – though, bacon! – but the flavors are stellar. And piled on top of the cornbread waffles? Oh. my. Myohmyohmy.

Cornbread Waffles | Spicy Slow Cooker Chili & Cornbread Waffles |

What I love most about this chili is how you can throw it in the slow cooker and have the results making you feel like you’re having a non-weeknight meal on a weeknight. Like, a really good chili shouldn’t be this easy! And if you choose to skip the cornbread waffles, that makes things even easier.

Also, if you’re into the game day thing, this is perfect for that as well. Not only do you have the slow cooker aspect, but it’s deliciously meaty and perfect for the guys in your life – I should know, I have three… #lifewithbrothers.

Spicy Slow Cooker Chili & Cornbread Waffles |

Spicy Slow Cooker Chili & Cornbread Waffles | Sempre-Dolce.comNow that we’ve covered the chili, I have to tell you about this cornbread, which has been more appropriately dubbed around here as corn-cake. I’ve got to be honest, that’s what it tastes like (see? I couldn’t let you go without some measure of sugar)! It’s the best cornbread I’ve ever had and the only one I’ll make. It’s moist and can be eaten and thoroughly enjoyed on its own.

It can also be made three ways: in a pan, as muffins, annd as waffles!!

Spicy Slow Cooker Chili & Cornbread Waffles | Sempre-Dolce.comMy family loves to do the chili + cornbread waffle thing and it’s seriously one of the best ways to eat chili. The waffle comes out crisp but under the chili becomes soft and the perfect remedy to soothe the taste buds from the spice.

Now, go forth and make chili!

Spicy Slow Cooker Chili with Cornbread Waffles
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  • 2 (16 oz) cans light kidney beans
  • 1 (16 oz) can dark kidney beans
  • 6 C. tomato sauce
  • ½ C. sriracha hot chili sauce
  • 2 tsp. ground black pepper
  • 1 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1-2 (depending on your spice tolerance) jalapenos, diced (I leave the insides, but feel free to remove)
  • 2 (1.25 oz) packets hot chili seasoning mix
  • 1 (16 oz) jar salsa (spice level up to you!)
  • 3 lbs lean ground beef
  • 1 (12 oz) package bacon (10-12 slices), chopped
  • 1 large (or 2 medium) yellow onion, chopped
  • Topping options:
  • sour cream
  • chives
  • red onion
  • cilantro
  • lime wedges
  • avocado
  • shredded cheese
  • corn chips
  • Cornbread Waffles:
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 C. milk (I use whole)
  • ½ C. (1 stick) butter, melted
  • 2 C. baking mix (such as Bisquick)
  • ½ C. yellow cornmeal
  • ½ C. granulated sugar
  • ½ tsp. baking powder


  1. Preheat oven to 375° F. and line a rimmed baking sheet with foil.
  2. Drain 2 of the cans of beans but retain the liquid in the 3rd - I usually keep the liquid from one of the cans of light kidney beans.
  3. In a 6 qt. slow cooker, place beans and the next 7 ingredients and stir to combine.
  4. Cover and turn your slow cooker on.
  5. Arrange chopped bacon and onion evenly on prepared baking sheet and bake for 15-18 minutes, or until crispy.
  6. While bacon/onion is cooking, brown beef in a large skillet, breaking up any large clumps. Drain grease.
  7. When bacon/onion is done let cool slightly then transfer to a paper towel lined plate so that extra grease can drain.
  8. Add bacon/onion mixture to slow cooker, then beef.
  9. Stir until fully incorporated.
  10. Cook on high for 3 hours or low for 6.
  11. Serve over cornbread waffles (recipe below!) with desired toppings. This can be pretty filling - I recommend starting with ½ waffle and going from there. :)
  12. This recipe yields enough for 8 hungry people. :)
    Cornbread Waffles:
  13. Preheat waffle iron.
  14. In a large bowl, whisk together eggs, milk, and melted butter.
  15. Sift sugar and baking powder into a small bowl.
  16. Add cornmeal, stirring to combine.
  17. Add the cornmeal mixture along with baking mix to milk mixture, whisking until just blended.
  18. Pour a little over ½ C. batter into waffle iron and cook according to manufacturer's instructions.
  19. Yields: 5-6 waffles


To make this not spicy, use regular chili seasoning mix instead of hot, a mild salsa, omit the jalapenos, and substitute 1/2 C. tomato sauce for the sriracha.


Recipe adapted from allrecipes & an old cookbook. ;)

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Chocolate Peppermint Ice Cream with Peppermint Crunch Marshmallow Swirl

| by | Desserts, Holiday Recipes, Ice Cream & Frozen Treats, Recipes, Seasonal

Chocolate Peppermint Ice Cream with Peppermint Crunch Marshmallow Swirl: This ice cream starts with a rich chocolate peppermint base and features a peppermint crunch marshmallow swirl throughout. Creamy in texture, perfectly decadent, and full of chocolate and peppermint flavor, this ice cream is the perfect cold Christmastime treat!

Chocolate Peppermint Ice Cream with Peppermint Crunch Marshmallow Swirl |

Hi there! I hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving full of food, laughter, good times, and more food. :)

Chocolate Peppermint Ice Cream with Peppermint Crunch Marshmallow Swirl |

As I mentioned in my last post, we celebrated the holiday in Texas this year. However, for me, the fun began on Friday. For a few weeks prior, my mom and I discussed the idea of taking a day trip the day after Thanksgiving for some hiking and relaxation, and to get away from the madness that is called Black Friday. I was happy that the sibs were in favor of the idea (you know, they really can be wet blankets sometimes… just kidding! kind of.), even though there was grumbling about the early departure time involved. The two state parks we originally discussed visiting were a little too far for a day trip so Caddo Lake was settled on.

Chocolate Peppermint Ice Cream with Peppermint Crunch Marshmallow Swirl |

I had heard and seen pictures of Caddo Lake and from what I could tell it looked lovely. Also, the general feedback was very positive; people seemed to love it. Anyway, so on Friday morning (after a two hour delay in leaving…) we headed off. After spending way too long in a Texas-sized-are-you-kidding-me-this-place-is-huge rest/truck stop, three hours of sore bums, and arriving three hours later than planned, we arrived at the park. Let me tell you, drive included, I saw a side of Texas I had no clue existed. If it weren’t for the fact that the people around gave it away – Texans will be Texans – I’m not sure I would have known we were still in the state! It’s a beautiful area and the lake itself is truly magical with the bald cypress trees adorning it. And guys, there were trees all around! Even on the drive there – I mean, I. never. knew. (The area I live in, Dallas/Fort Worth, is not aesthetically pleasing with its many buildings and roads.)

Caddo Lake State Park | Sempre-Dolce.comCaddo Lake State Park | Caddo Lake State Park | Sempre-Dolce.comCaddo Lake State Park |↑ This photo was taken by my mom :) 

The east side of Texas, however, is obviously different (the state park is right on the Louisiana border and the lake actually goes into Louisiana). Trees lined the highway and when hiking around the park, I actually felt like I was on the east coast.

We spent the first bit of our time canoeing and kayaking around the lake (I must say I was disappointed and somewhat relieved at the same time at not seeing any alligators) and the other bit taking a short hike in the park and taking in the beautiful scenery until sunset. I’m so glad we went and am already longing to go back and explore more of the lake (it has over 50 miles of paddling trails!).

Chocolate Peppermint Ice Cream with Peppermint Crunch Marshmallow Swirl |

OK, so now that you have probably been thoroughly bored by the wordy details of my family’s trip, let’s talk about this Chocolate Peppermint Ice Cream with Peppermint Crunch Marshmallow Swirl (< good grief, what a mouthful). This recipe is another in my growing list of no-churn ice cream recipes and it’s the perfect cold Christmastime treat.

I can never say enough about this no-churn ice cream base – the texture is amazing and the flavor possibilities endless. This particular combination is super yummy, perfectly Christmasy, and the flavors are out of this world amazing. The peppermint crunch candy gives it just the right amount of crunch without being overly crunchy. I also loove the way the chocolate flavor shines through, making it rich and decadent. So if you plan on making any ice cream this winter, consider making this one – I don’t think you’ll be disappointed!

Chocolate Peppermint Ice Cream with Peppermint Crunch Marshmallow Swirl |

Cottura Felice!

Chocolate Peppermint Ice Cream with Peppermint Crunch Marshmallow Swirl
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  • 2 C. heavy whipping cream
  • 1 (14 oz) can sweetened condensed milk
  • 1/2 C. unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 ½ tsp. vanilla extract
  • ¼ tsp. peppermint extract
  • 1 C. marshmallow creme
  • ⅓ C. peppermint crunch baking chips (I recommend Andes)


  1. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat whipping cream until stiff peaks form.
  2. In a large bowl and using a rubber spatula, stir together sweetened condensed milk, cocoa powder, and both extracts, stirring until well combined.
  3. Fold in whipped cream, making sure all ingredients are combined (this might take a little muscle! ;).
  4. Pour into a 2 quart container (a freezer safe loaf pan works well)and set aside.
  5. In a small bowl, stir together peppermint chips and marshmallow creme.
  6. Spoon marshmallow/peppermint mixture in 3 dollops on top of ice cream mixture.
  7. Using a knife, swirl marshmallow creme through ice cream (be sure to use knife to break up large clumps) until incorporated.
  8. Cover pan and freeze for six hours, or until firm.
  9. If desired, serve with ganache/hot fudge and/or extra peppermint chips.


Sour Cream Pancakes with Apple Pie Topping

| by | Breakfast, Pancakes & Waffles, Recipes, Seasonal

Sour Cream Pancakes with Apple Pie Topping: these sour cream pancakes are luscious, rich, and melt-in-your-mouth. Topped with an apple pie topping, which adds just the right amount of sweetness, these pancakes are a fall breakfast must!

Sour Cream Pancakes with Apple Pie Topping |

Happy Thanksgiving week, dear readers! Do you have any special plans for the days leading up to and for the holiday? Do you travel? Do you spend it with family/friends? Do you have a nice quiet celebration at home? What do you do??

My family alternates between Boston and Texas every year and this year we’re in Texas. I’m hoping to start baking as early as tomorrow (thank goodness for cheesecakes which can be made ahead of time!), but we’ll see – I don’t have any of the groceries yet. :/

Sour Cream Pancakes with Apple Pie Topping |

I do hope that no matter where and how you are celebrating, and who you are celebrating with, that this holiday will bring much joy and times of grateful musings – even in the midst of possible pain and sadness.

There is always so much to think about, so many things that need to be done, and time seems to quickly be running out. There are times of sadness and anxiety; times when life seems to be nothing but a nightmare and you wonder why you’re even here. However, even in the midst of such times, you can look up and see a gorgeous sunset or sunrise, experience the joy of a sudden breeze, watch the snow fall and the earth become quiet and still, and all of a sudden joy and light creeps into even the darkest of places. You become full of gratitude, and thankful that you should be granted such a gift.

Sour Cream Pancakes with Apple Pie Topping | Sempre-Dolce.comSour Cream Pancakes with Apple Pie Topping |

My mom picked up the children’s picture book (sometimes I think these books are written more for the adults, don’t you?), Penguin Problems by Jory John some days ago and brought it over for me to look at – we both ♥ children’s picture books – and I fell in love. Not only is it a cute and humorous story full of lovely illustrations, but it also contains this quote which I think speaks to what I’ve been talking about. It is delivered by a walrus who is speaking to the main character, a penguin, who goes about the day complaining about this and that.

“Good afternoon. I sense that today has been difficult, but lo! Look around you, Penguin. Have you noticed the way the mountains are reflected in the ocean like a painting? Have you gazed upon the blue of the cloudless, winter sky, my friend? Have you felt the sun as it gently warms your back? Have you simply stood with your penguin brothers and sisters and elders, who adore you?

Yes, some things are challenging out here. Yes, we all have difficult moments, from the walruses to the polar bears, from the whales to the penguins. But hear me now, my new friend: I wouldn’t trade my life for any other, and I am quite sure you wouldn’t, either. I am certain that when you think about it, you’ll realize that you are exactly where you need to be.”

Sour Cream Pancakes with Apple Pie Topping |

I think that about says it all right there! Sometimes we need to stop and look around and see the joys and beauty about us. And occasionally it can be a little hard to make out, but it’s there. It’s there.

Sour Cream Pancakes with Apple Pie Topping |

OK, moving off my Thanksgiving clichés (bless you if you’ve made it this far!) and onto these sour cream pancakes! My older brother is the pancake/waffle maker in the family and has been making them on Sundays for yeeears now. So it’s only natural that he be the one to introduce me to these pancakes, which have become a personal favorite.

These sour cream pancakes are not too thin and not super thick either. They are the perfect middle ground and the flavor is outstanding. They are a richer pancake and out of this world with chocolate chips (I’m drooling over here…).

Did I mention they melt in your mouth?

It is a pancake of many qualities.

Sour Cream Pancakes with Apple Pie Topping |

I’ve been wanting to share this recipe for a while now and am super happy to share this version perfect for fall mornings (or evenings – I’m a believer in breakfast for dinner). What I did was made the original recipe (with a couple of tweaks) and added some nutmeg to complement the apple topping. The apple topping is actually the filling I use in these apple hand pies and I love it as it can double as a topping (my sister just made it as a topping for pound cake) and is so perfect for fall. 

Sour Cream Pancakes with Apple Pie Topping | Sempre-Dolce.comSour Cream Pancakes with Apple Pie Topping |

Now an important thing to note is that if you are making these for 6 or less people, half the pancake recipe. It makes enough to feed a small army, which is perfect if you have visiting guests.

Sour Cream Pancakes with Apple Pie Topping |

I hope you enjoy!


Sour Cream Pancakes with Apple Pie Topping
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  • 3 C. all-purpose flour
  • 6 tbsp. granulated sugar
  • 1 tbsp. baking powder
  • 1½ tsp. baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp. Salt
  • ¼ tsp. ground nutmeg
  • 3 c. sour cream
  • 1¾ c. milk
  • 6 tbsp. unsalted butter, melted
  • 3 large eggs
  • 2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • Topping:
  • 4 C. apples (about 3 large - granny smith work well) cut into small cubes
  • 2 tsp. lemon juice
  • 1/4 C. granulated sugar
  • 1/4 C. brown sugar, firmly packed
  • 1/4 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/8 tsp. ground nutmeg


    For the pancakes:
  1. Turn oven onto warm setting ( about 175° F.).
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda,
  3. salt and nutmeg.
  4. In a medium-sized bowl, whisk together sour cream, milk, melted butter, eggs, and vanilla.
  5. Add wet ingredients to the dry ingredients, whisking until just combined (batter will have small-medium size lumps).
  6. Set aside.
  7. If you are using an electric griddle, set to medium heat. If you are using a stove top griddle or skillet, wait until apples are almost done cooking, then heat over medium heat.
  8. For the topping:
  9. In a medium/large bowl, toss apples with the lemon juice.
  10. In a small bowl, combine the next 4 ingredients.
  11. Spoon mixture over apples and toss gently to coat.
  12. Place apple mixture in a large skillet over medium-high heat, covered, for about 8-10 minutes, stirring occasionally until juices are bubbling and apples are soft.
  13. While apples are cooking, begin cooking pancakes.
  14. Working in batches, grease griddle (or a skillet) with butter and pour ⅓ C. batter (per pancake) onto griddle/skillet, spacing each about 2 in. apart.
  15. When bubbles appear around edges and the bottoms are golden brown, flip and cook until other sides are golden brown, about 4 minutes total.
  16. When apples are done cooking, remove lid and place skillet with topping onto a warming burner or keep on very low heat until ready to serve.
  17. Transfer cooked pancakes onto a baking sheet, covering loosely with foil and place in warm oven until ready to serve.
  18. To serve, transfer apple topping to a heatproof bowl and serve alongside pancakes.
  19. Serve with syrup (maple’s the best!), butter, or whipped cream, if desired.


Remember to half the recipe if making for less than 8 people!

These pancakes can be enjoyed without the topping year-round and are super delicious with chocolate chips!


Recipe adapted from Country Living (pancakes) and Southern Living (topping)


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