dark chocolate cordial cherries

When I was a kid, my grandma lived right next door to us. Some memories of visiting my grandma include playing games of rummy at her kitchen table, watching The Joy of Painting with Bob Ross, her two snorty little Pekingese dogs, classical music forever playing on the stereo, and leafing through her old copy of the Good Housekeeping Illustrated Cookbook. When Christmas would come around, it meant sitting on her love seat next to the artificial Christmas tree while gazing at the Swiss Colony catalog that came in the mail every December.

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Do you remember that catalog? It seems to magically appear in mailboxes every Christmas season, without fail. That catalog was seriously the best thing ever as an 8 year old. It was the closest thing to taking a tour of Willy Wonka’s factory that I’d ever have. The giant boxes filled with rows upon rows of chocolate truffles! All those cute petit fours! Super fancy cakes! Those almond-crusted cheese logs (for those weirdos without a sweet tooth)! There’s nothing like that catalog, man.

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cauliflower-tahini soup with paprika + lemon

You may remember my undying love for Pita Jungle‘s roasted cauliflower with tahini sauce dish? I pretty much order it every time I’m there, and I even made my own version at home so I can have it any time I want!

Recently on a day off, I was craving soup. I was also craving that roasted cauliflower, so I thought I could try my hand at combining the collective awesomeness of a good soup with that roasted cauliflower. Boom, this fantastic soup was born. I now win at life.

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marzipan stollen buns with crunchy sugar glaze

Well, Thanksgiving is over! Time for ornaments, twinkly lights, Bing Crosby Christmas music, and piles of baked goods. Why not start with this one, perfect for wintry morning breakfasts?

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I don’t remember the first time I had stollen, but I think it might have come from Trader Joe’s, of all places. I was hooked immediately! Traditionally made into larger loaf shapes, these little fruit-packed German stollen buns are like a more refined version of fruitcake. All the familiar flavors are there, but instead of a sugar soaked “cake”, the fruits are jammed into soft, lightly sweet buns, sharing space with a sweet center of almond marzipan. Doesn’t that sound good to you? It sure does to me.

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charlie brown weather

CharlieBrownWeather

One of my favorite parts of Thanksgiving (aside from all that stuffing!) is watching A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving. Charlie Brown cartoons were a huge part of my childhood, and I still love them to this day. See that picture of Snoopy and Woodstock? See how perfectly lovely that photo makes the weather look? A light breeze perhaps, scuttling dead leaves across the ground, barely overcast skies, and a comfortably cool temperature. That is always the weather I wish for in the Fall, and what my sister and I so fondly refer to as “Charlie Brown weather”. Any day with a light breeze, cool temperature, overcast skies and mostly bare trees would qualify.

A little bit about A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving — where were Charlie Brown’s parents? I always wondered this. Thanksgiving Day, a house full of Charlie and his friends, and not an adult in sight. Sure, they’re all supposed to go to his grandmother’s house later for dinner, but I find it hard to believe that his parents wouldn’t be around for the entire day.

Witness this bit of dialog between Charlie Brown and Linus:

“I can’t cook a Thanksgiving dinner. All I can make is cold cereal and maybe toast!”
“That’s right. I’ve seen you make toast. You can’t butter it, but maybe we can help you?”

Enter Snoopy to save the day! He cooks up a mean dinner of enough buttered toast to feed an army, pretzel sticks, jelly beans and popcorn. It’s no wonder that Peppermint Patty was having a meltdown, wondering where the real Thanksgiving dinner was.

CHEF SNOOPY PRESENTS THANKSGIVING DINNER AS A CONFUSED PEPPERMINT PATTY LOOKS ON

Looks tasty, but Snoopy was holding out on everyone. After Charlie Brown and all his friends pile into the station wagon on the way to his grandmother’s house condominium, Snoopy unveils a delicious looking Thanksgiving spread complete with giant roast turkey, lots of veggies, and a giant pumpkin pie for dessert. The rest of the gang was stuck eating that weird pink ice cream-parfait thing after their toast and jellybeans.

Eating
So Woodstock is a bird. He ate turkey that Snoopy cooked. Does this seem weird to anyone else? It always seemed strange to me.

Here’s to hoping you have a lovely Thanksgiving filled with family, friends, and lots of good food — no jellybeans allowed!

Wishbone

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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