Gluten Free Biscotti Bites

Yesterday I posted about our recent cocktail party, where one of the desserts served was a bite-sized biscotti.

Calling these cookies a biscotti is a bit of a stretch, since they don’t have the double-baked technique that makes a biscotti a biscotti.

But the flavor and texture is close enough.

I originally got the recipe from Real Simple magazine, but when I tried to find it online, it was a ghost.

I had to modify the recipe to make it gluten-free, too.

Here’s what I did.

Ingredients: (Yield: about 30 cookies, depending on how much dough you eat)

  • 1 c buckwheat flour (despite the name, it’s gluten free)
  • 1/4 c almond flour
  • 1/2 t baking powder
  • 1/2 t coarse salt, plus more for garnish
  • 3/4 stick butter
  • 1 c granulated sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 1/2 c shredded coconut
  • 2 T grapefruit zest (personally, I think orange would have been as good or better)
  • 8 oz bittersweet chocolate, divided
  • 2 T heavy cream
  • Sanding sugar
  • Flaky sea salt


  • Preheat oven to 350 F
  • Mix together buckwheat flour, almond flour, baking powder and salt
  • Beat butter, sugar and eggs until fluffy
  • Add flour mixture and combine
  • Stir in coconut, citrus zest and 4 oz of chopped chocolate (as chunky as you like it)
  • Generously sample dough
  • Refrigerate 30 mins
  • Continue to generously sample dough during chilling time
  • Roll into rough teaspoon-sized balls
  • Dip into sanding sugar (Turbinado sugar also works well. Steal some packets from your local coffee shop)
  • Bake 15-20 mins, until golden on the edges
  • Let cool completely
  • Melt remaining chocolate with cream to make a ganache
  • Dip cookies halfway into ganache and sprinkle with sanding sugar and flaky sea salt

Ok, these turned out great. Surprise! I pulled it off!


With all of the other desserts at the party, there were a lot of cookies left over. I rectified that problem ASAP.



Cocktail Party

Recently we had a cocktail party to celebrate a milestone for one of my colleagues.

Our work group holds a similar event every year, but we rotate hosting duties and the party style varies by the person we’re celebrating.

This year it was my turn, and the Person of the Hour has great taste and style, so I wanted the mood to appropriately reflect that.

My initial plan was to do a vodka and caviar theme, featuring a retro 1970s caviar pie.

Steelhead Diner

Photo from Cool Hunting

Doesn’t this look awesome?

Since I also recently got totally overwhelmed with life in general, I didn’t get my party preparations in high gear until a few days before the main event.

And then I promptly found out that there is not a single store that sells caviar in our city. 

My next step – ordering online – fell apart when the gourmet food site crashed right as I tried to confirm my order.

A panicked reworking of the menu, lots of back up help from my Mom and sister, and a scramble-to-the-last-second prep brought it together.

Here’s what we served:

  • Whipped feta dip (Always a hit. Ok to make 1-2 days ahead of time, then garnish with lemon zest and a drizzle of olive oil)
  • Baked brie with fig jam (this baking dish is perfect)
  • A cheese board
  • Antipasto tray (prosciutto, soppressata and salami) with roasted cherry tomatoes
  • Chicken satay with mango salsa (Spouse came through and cooked these during the party)
  • Marcona almonds
  • Olives
  • Carrot hummus with pita
  • Terra chips
  • Dipping veggies
  • Baguette

I hired a knowledgeable salesperson from one of the local liquor stores to host a spirits tasting during the party.

He came through with three different vodkas – including a really good small-batch citrus one, an herbal gin, a cognac and an aged bourbon.

I wanted uniform glassware, so I ordered a few sets of small tasting glasses from CB2.



After the tasting, he mixed cocktails for everyone.


And then we had dessert.

CB2 also hit a home run here with these Oliver gummy bear plates.


Aren’t these adorable?

My go-to dessert is always Real Simple’s Flourless Chocolate cake with fresh whipped cream. I doubled the recipe for party of this size. There wasn’t a crumb left. I hope it was good, since I didn’t get any!

The second dessert was phyllo cups with cheesecake filling, garnished with fresh berries and chocolate. These required last minute prep but weren’t too difficult. The shells needed to be baked in the oven, and I’d already made the cheesecake center. Once the shells were cooled, I filled and decorated them – but this was really at the last second.

The third and final dessert was gluten-free speedy biscotti, which was a recipe I modified from Real Simple. I’ll post about that tomorrow.

The best part of the party? Spouse stayed up extra late to get it all cleaned up. Waking up the next day – a work day, by the way – to a house full of clean dishes was absolutely wonderful. Thank you, Spouse!

A few lessons learned and tips for future parties:

  • Consider the person being feted as you plan the details. I think I got this right. Prior parties have featured a full Southern barbecue for a meat lover and a taco bar with a bounce house for a family man.
  • Source out hard to find ingredients ahead of time. Lesson learned here.
  • Invest in partyware. I know there are a lot of interesting paper products now, but I think it’s much nicer to elevate your party with real plates, napkins and glasses. CB2 has great prices on entertaining pieces.
  • Lists, lists, lists. I made menu and a separate timeline for when things needed to be done, which also included things like organizing platters, prepping the grill, etc.
  • Make a playlist to match the party’s mood. I like streaming Songza, too.
  • Hire help. We had our mixologist and also a babysitter to keep an eye on our two kids, even though we were there.
  • Organize your outfit ahead of time. I hadn’t given this any forethought and was scrambling to get dressed as guests arrived. You want guests to walk into the party and feel like all the prep was effortless and the night’s about to start. Instead, there I was, sweating away in a stained t shirt with a ponytail. Argh.
  • Buy more ice than you think you need. And you must buy ice. Your freezer’s version is not going to cut it.
  • Clean up right away. Waking up bleary eyed to a messy house is a huge bummer. Waking up bleary eyed to a clean house still means you’re waking up bleary eyed, but it feels significantly better.

A few resources:





Kid Party, Done Right

MGM turned 8 last Friday.


[Cue Harry Chapin. Oh, the cat’s in the cradle and the silver spoon! Weep].

Another post, but we’ve been working with him lately on his behavior, which, at times, is not stellar.

To be fair, neither is mine. 

I digress.

We decided that on the occasion of his eighth birthday, we would not program a formulaic party, but rather would let him say what he wanted to do, and we’d do that.

He was thrilled.

We asked him what he wanted to do on his birthday, fearing the worst. Trip to Disney World? Personal introduction to Han Solo? A Pokemon as a pet?


It was simple.

His requests:

  • Go bowling as a nuclear family
  • Play laser tag
  • Order Dominick’s (sic: Domino’s) pizza
  • Eat a white cake with chocolate and blue (!) frosting

Now this list, I’ve got.

The four of us went bowling.



Spouse used his preferred moniker:


We played laser tag, Boys versus Girls.

We ordered pizza.

We opened presents.

IMG_6507 IMG_6514


He declared it the best birthday ever.

I’m so glad I let him choose his destiny on this one.

I only get a fraction of things right as a parent, but this was one of them.

P.S. The next morning, we kept the party going by letting him choose two donuts from the local convenience store for breakfast. His mind exploded. This was also a great reminder to me about how simple pleasures matter.

Front Entrace 2015, a.k.a. My Urban Farming Experiment

Last summer I got a late start in sprucing up the front entrance of Fancy Pants Ranch.

photo 1-7

I think this photo was from July.

This summer I decided to be ahead of the curve.

With some valuable assistance from my Mom and $175 at the gardening center, we hit Memorial Day weekend running.

Fancying ourselves as urban farmers, we added some crops this year in the form of a green bean plant, a tomato plant, two strawberry plants, a salad container, and lots of herbs.


Total yield thus far:

  • One salad (picked and consumed the day the planter was purchased, subsequently all lettuces eaten by chipmunks)
  • Three green beans
  • Two strawberries
  • Zero tomatoes (although that plant has taken off like crazy and I am still keeping my fingers crossed)

But the best purchases of all were two solar powered butterfly lights.

Here they are in the day:


Here’s a professional shot at night:


Photo from HomeLava

They change colors every few seconds, which the kids love to watch.

I never really thought about decorating for night until now, but these colorful lights add so much.


Hope you’re having a great weekend!

The One Thing I Bought

Well, dogs and cats are sleeping together, hell froze over, etc. – because I’ve been on a shopping diet.

To be clear: it’s not that I didn’t want to shop, but lately I just didn’t have the time.

My one consolation prize in the recent past is this J. Crew cut off sweatshirt:


I felt obligated to buy it since I had a $50 J. Crew Rewards card that was burning a hole in my pocket. With a 30% off code from a recent sale, I got it for less than my Rewards card was valued. Score!

Some reviews complained that the seams are scratchy.

That’s valid. 

But overall, it’s a cute summer piece that will see lots of rotation.

P.S. Pink was my pick, but now I’m thinking white might have been more versatile. I’ll mostly wear it around Fancy Pants Ranch in the most casual way, so in the end, it’s your call!

Au Revoir, Kindergarten!

Trixie (6) finished kindergarten last week.

<<< Sniff >>>

I digress.

She loved her teacher, Miss K.C., so much that she wanted to create a piece of art for her.


Miss K.C. is a bit of a Francophile, which is reflected in this work depicting her staring at the Eiffel Tower, thinking about the Eiffel Tower (in thought bubble), and being surrounded by her oh-so-French accessories, a ros (rose), bray (beret), and baget (baguette, but you knew that).

I love that girl’s imagination!

Thanks for a great year, Miss K.C!

P.S. While artwork is – of course – priceless, I loved Miss K.C. so much on Trixie’s behalf that I augmented the gift with a nice check to contribute to a real trip to Pair-ee. Bon voyage!


Why I Stopped Blogging For Almost A Month

Basically, I felt overwhelmed.


In every regard.

What was happening:

  • School was in session. In the early summer, I usually teach a course for medical students. I so look forward to this every year! While it’s only about 12 hours of instruction, it takes a lot of work. There is one day where we spend the afternoon practicing delivering fake babies, suturing and otherwise doing doctor-y stuff that takes a lot of set-up, volunteers and general coordination. It went off without a hitch. Whew.
  • It was graduation season. There were several events marking the end of the year at the hospital (official rollover is July 1), including a department-wide banquet (where I also hosted the guest speaker, a fabulous and outspoken OBGYN who is a friend), and then there was this…
  • We had a cocktail party at Fancy Pants Ranch. I might write a separate post about this, but we feted a dear friend and colleague with a liquor tasting and cocktail party for 20 at our house. My divine plan to serve a caviar bar got thwarted through poor planning (I waited to order until the last minute and then the Dean and Deluca site crashed; argh), so I ended up scrambling to make the food myself (with significant help from my sister and Mom). And you all know how much I hate domestic chores.
  • I directed a medical course! For the past five-ish years, I have been speaking at a continuing medical education course that is coordinated by our institution. Public speaking is basically a drug to me; I am a total ham and love a captive audience. This year I got invited to be one of the course directors and of course I immediately said yes. I will post something separate about this, too, but the course was last week in Chicago, which is one of my favorite places to visit.
  • School’s out for summer! For my kids, I mean. Lots of last-minute stuff there, too, although most of it was expertly handled by Ever Patient Spouse.
  • Speaking of Spouse, he really got the short end of the stick lately, since within the last month it was his birthday, our 17th anniversary (which I almost totally forgot. I didn’t even get him a card. I know. I am horrible), and Father’s Day – which I spent at a work event.
  • I fell off the nutrition wagon. That one hurts to type. I was doing so well for about two months and felt fantastic on a super healthy eating regimen, and then the combination of stress, cheese, the opening of a great new Italian restaurant in our city, and leftover wine from the party at our house derailed me.

That’s mostly the gist of things, minus some additional shenanigans.

Thank you to the handful of people who asked if I was ok. That was great, and I guess the answer is yes.

Truthfully, I couldn’t bear to open up the blog because it felt shameful. This has been such a fun hobby for me and I felt like not writing was another area where I was letting myself down.

But something changed this morning.

Maybe it was because I went to bed early and slept well.

Maybe it was because I had a lighter day at work than usual.

Maybe it was because I got my nutrition on track yesterday and went for an extra-long weeknight run.

Or maybe I just got my mojo back.

Whatever the precipitant, I woke up feeling optimistic and ready to be back.

I also got this great new mug with my morning coffee and I think it perfectly summarizes how I’m feeling right now:

happy mug

One more thought:

head above water