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Tuscan-Inspired Panforte BiscottiWell, Christmas is less than ten days away now, and I am happily preparing for the final push of baking, decorating, and celebrating, aren’t you? However, my Christmas presents all seem to be arriving early this year . . .

See those biscotti? I posted about them late in November. They were my submission to the Tuscany Now Cook-Off challenge, which I learned that I had won this past week. This means a weekend trip to a villa outside Florence sometime next spring, and I’m so excited. I always love traveling, of course, but I’m especially thrilled to finally be making it to Italy, which somehow I missed during my first stay in Europe. Gelato after every meal and crusty bread drenched in fruity, verdant olive oil, anyone?

Really, I can’t believe how lucky I am. I’ve been entering sweepstakes and competitions for years, hoping to win a trip for two so that I could take my mother off on a special trip (to pay her back for all the wonderful trips she planned for me and my siblings when we were kids). And Mum is a fan of Chianti, so this is truly the most perfect holiday to have won.

There will be lots of photographs and some Italian recipes up on the blog after that trip, I can promise you!

And as if that wasn’t enough of a Christmas present . . .

Christmas Fruit-and-Nut Biscotti

You see, I also entered the photo of the biscotti in Rosemary and Pork Belly’s festive photo competition.” After receiving word about winning the Tuscany Now Cook-Off, I completely forgot about the photo competition–but I just received word that I won that, too! (Honestly, those hours spent creating the biscotti recipe and shooting the photo have turned out to be one of the best investments of my life.)

Rosemary and Pork Belly are delivering my prize this Saturday: an incredible hamper of foodie delights donated by twelve of the producers that they visited this year. My idea is to sample, photograph, and then review each product here over the twelve days of Christmas. The whole family is looking forward to that! I hope you’ll enjoy it, too.

I know I will.