sweet potato, sage + ricotta tart

Hooray, Thanksgiving is almost here!

For the most food-centric holiday around, I wanted to come up with a dish that wasn’t the usual green bean casserole or sweet potatoes with little marshmallows on top (though I do love both those dishes dearly!), but that still encompassed all the flavors and colors of Fall. I have to give props to one of my favorite Phoenix pizza joints, Federal Pizza, cause they came up with this flavor combination before I did, and I adore it!

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thanksgiving pie tutorial!

Pie is the unanimously expected Thanksgiving dessert. The meal just doesn’t feel complete without a slice of pie at the end! I’m sure most people would argue that pumpkin is the best pie to serve at Thanksgiving, while others might think of pecan or maybe apple. In my eyes, my favorite Thanksgiving pie is mince — meat-free, please!

I have fond memories of waking up the day after Thanksgiving to grab a leftover slice of cold mince pie for breakfast. My mom never made it from scratch, it was always Sara Lee out of a box, but it was delicious to me!

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Do you err on the side of safety (and your sanity) and go the frozen/store-bought pie route during the holidays? Do you consider your pie crust efforts to be a surefire recipe for disaster? If so, I’m here to help! Pull on your aprons and turn on those ovens because it’s time to make some delicious, gorgeous, impressive pies of your very own! I’ll show you how to make an ultra buttery and flaky pie crust, a sweetly spiced homemade mince pie filling, and three different finishing options — a full top crust, a lattice crust, and a pecan streusel crumb topping! Let’s get started, huh?

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creamy polenta with gouda, portobello mushrooms + tomatoes

When I first saw the dish that inspired today’s recipe, I couldn’t wait to make it myself. Kenji over at Serious Eats sure has a way with food! I’ve always loved creamy polenta, and the skirt steak on top with those pretty tomatoes just looked killer.

Go ahead and check out that photo. See what I mean? Doesn’t it just look amazing? I wanted to create it myself, but thought I’d do a vegetarian spin on it by substituting baby portobello mushrooms for the skirt steak. It makes a super hearty, rich and creamy dish for colder weather! Gouda in the polenta lends a nice, smoky quality and the seared mushrooms are the perfect alternative to meat, still keeping that savory and satisfying component to the finished dish. The bright and fresh tomatoes have the perfect acidic twang to cut through all the richness of the cheesy polenta. Make it yourself, I dare you! I know you’ll love it as much as I did.

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pumpkin-gingersnap s’mores

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Happy belated Halloween! I hope you all had a fun, safe time filled with piles of candy!

The days after Halloween always usher in sort of a strange time. Now that trick-or-treating and ghosts are out of the way, it’s time for Christmas, right? Nope. There’s still a while yet. Let’s not get ahead of ourselves, here.

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sweet potato, sausage + apple pot pies

Holiday traditions are a huge deal for me. Growing up, Halloween always meant creating that perfect costume, trick-or-treating with my sisters and the neighbor kid across the street, and visiting the school’s Halloween carnival before going home and passing out in a sugar coma. In the days leading up to the holiday itself, it meant carving pumpkins and watching It’s The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown and the Garfield Halloween special (“I’ll have you know, Halloween is my middle name! Gar-Halloween-field….”) from the video tapes my mom had recorded many years before.

Every year when Halloween rolls around, I still look forward to watching those silly cartoon specials of my childhood, carving jack-o-lanterns and admiring their flickering candlelight in the dark outside my house, and my new tradition — making tasty things to eat. These adorable Fall flavor-packed pot pies are everything a Halloween meal should be, complete with festive orange sweet potato, autumn-appropriate sage and sausage, and the perfect jack-o-lantern face grinning up at you as you eat. Can your Halloween meal get any cuter? I submit that it cannot.

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pumpkin spiced jack-o-lantern macarons

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Going out trick-or-treating for Halloween candy was something I looked forward to every year as a kid. I always hoped to get lots of fun size Snickers bars, and always scoffed at the ever-present rolls of Smarties candies that would accumulate in my pumpkin shaped pail. Come on, those things were barely even candy!

These days, living the life of a gal who’s pushing 31, my trick-or-treating days are long behind me. That doesn’t stop me from still carving jack-o-lanterns to set out in my front yard, watching John Carpenter’s Halloween every year (and It’s The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown – it’s a classic!), and occasionally buying a mixed bag of Halloween candy to snack on hand out to potential trick-or-treaters.

The older I get, the more I embrace those nostalgic Halloween traditions. Living life as an adult, I get the added perk of making my own classier, grown up-friendly Halloween treats, like these adorable pumpkin spiced macarons! Yes, pumpkin spice is everywhere, but I promise you, these actually taste like real pumpkin and spices!

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blue ribbon deep fried cheesecake

It’s that time of year again. Time to grab your friends, buy your tickets, take a ride on the ferris wheel, and scarf down some junk food. Yep, it’s time to go to the fair!

When it comes to fair food, there’s pretty much nothing that can’t be deep fried. Coke, beer, butter, they’ve strangely done it all. Some things lend themselves better to a dip into hot oil, like Oreos or dill pickle chips. And cheesecake? You betcha!

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county fair mini corn dogs

It’s that time of year again. Time to grab your friends, buy your tickets, take a ride on the ferris wheel, and scarf down some junk food. Yep, it’s time to go to the fair!

Though most other fairs happen in late summer and early fall, the county fair where I grew up always came through town in April. I still remember seeing the ferris wheel at night all lit up from a distance, and imagining the smell of cotton candy and funnel cakes galore. And what about those bricks of curly fries? So good.

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As a kid, every year when springtime would roll around, there weren’t many events more anticipated than the county fair. Fun nights spent with your friends, winning some stuffed animals at the midway, and gorging yourself on fried foods until you were sick — it was like a dream come true!

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old school rectangle pizza

Let me just preface this post by saying: high-end, quality pizza, this is not. This is your deliciously cheesy, tasty, greasy, eat-it-in-shame, so-bad-it’s-good sort of pizza. Don’t dive in expecting chewy, crispy, pillowy crust and high-quality toppings.

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Now that that’s out of the way, this pizza totally brought back the nostalgia in full force. Rectangle pizza was the highlight of my lunch week in elementary school! Everyone looked forward to Pizza Day, even if most of the kids would most certainly go on to enjoy much (MUCH) better pizza. I still look back on this pizza with a certain rose-colored fondness. I know it’s not good quality pizza, but it gets the job done and it brings back happy memories of careless youth. It’s the perfect final post in my back-to-school series, and if you ever had this pizza as a kid, I urge you to make it now. Relish the nostalgia and the grease.

You’re welcome.

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classic soft dinner rolls

I can say with extreme confidence that any kid in any school cafeteria in America ate these rolls growing up. At my school, they were ubiquitous with a tray full of mushy spaghetti that, no matter how gross, everyone still seemed to love.

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Here’s something strange that maybe you witnessed during lunch — kids would hollow out the dinner roll and shove the spaghetti inside it, then devour the whole thing. Somehow, this was a thing. Even kids who went to school in other states knew of this! How did this strange method of spaghetti-eating become widespread knowledge? The world may never know.

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