tart cherry crisp with oaty crumble topping

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It’s now September, which means that most kids have already started school. That means new backpacks, dreaded homework assignments, and the school cafeteria!

Wait… do kids still eat lunch in the cafeteria? The last time I did was probably in 1998, so things may have changed a bit! In the next few weeks, I’ll be bringing you some childhood nostalgia in the form of re-vamped — and dare I say delicious? — recipes from those days of eating from plastic lunch trays with your friends by your side.

There were a few dishes served in my school’s cafeteria that I actually didn’t despise. Of course desserts are always high on the list (they’re also kinda hard to mess up), so it’s no wonder that the cherry crisp served at my school was actually top notch.

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monte cristo sandwiches with dijon mustard + strawberry jam

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Until now, I’d never made a Monte Cristo sandwich before (the horror!).

The idea behind this sandwich is a relatively simple yet decadent one – I’m all for sandwiches that basically use french toast for the bread! – but for some reason, I’d not yet tackled one. They’re perfect for breakfast, even though my breakfast preferences tend toward something a little less rich, like veggie scrambles or a quick bowl of cereal. Monte Cristos are a bit involved, but the payoff is so worth it! You can change it up however you see fit, using sliced turkey and ham (or just using your favorite of the two), different types of cheese (I went with the classic, swiss!), and swapping the strawberry jam for blackberry, raspberry or maybe even apple butter. The powdered sugar dusting is an absolute must in my book, though, so don’t skip it!

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mini bread bowl quiche

Sometimes you discover an idea that you wish you’d thought of first. Chocolate chip cookie shot glasses? Guacamole grilled cheese sandwiches? Cake pops? All brilliant, but they’re sadly the brainchild (brainchildren?) of other people.

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And how about little single-serving quiche made in bread bowls? Not my idea, but I love them just the same! I saw them on some random blog back in the day. I adore the idea of miniature food and single serving snacks (for years, I’ve loved the Hors d’Oeuvres Handbook by Martha Stewart, mostly for the pictures inside!). Instead of serving a whole gigantic quiche to your breakfast or brunch guests, why not create individual versions stuffed with all their favorite quiche fillings, adorably crammed into little bread bowls? Tell ’em the idea was yours alone. I won’t be bummed if you take the credit — they’re just too cute!

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strawberry scones with cornmeal + black pepper

I can never resist the combo of strawberry and black pepper. I can’t remember where or when I first heard of pairing the two together, but it’s somehow genius! I’ve done it before with these popsicles, and I had always wanted to apply those flavors to a pastry of some kind. These scones seemed like a natural match!

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baked chocolate donuts!

When my sisters and I were really little, our mom worked for a short time at a donut shop. She would go to work in the afternoon when my dad would get home from work, and my sisters and I were always asleep by the time she’d get home late that night. As if by magic (so it seemed to my little kid brain), every Sunday there would be a pink bakery box on the kitchen table when we woke in the morning, with a donut inside for each of us!

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Lindsey’s favorite was always the raised donut with pink frosting. Jessie got an apple crumb donut without fail. My donut of choice? Chocolate cake with chocolate frosting and those little rainbow nonpareils on top. Always and forever.

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autumn spiced donuts with apple curd filling

You guys. Ohhh, you guys. I can’t remember the last time I cooked something that I loved as much as these donuts.

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Fall and cider donuts go hand in hand. I live in the southwest so they’re not quite as popular around here as they may be, say, in upstate New York or somewhere, so I decided to make my own. I had been wanting to make homemade donuts for a while, and I’m so glad that this is the recipe I settled on. Think of it as sort of a modified, inside-out cider donut.

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pumpkin pie oatmeal with cranberry crunch

The arrival of cool fall weather means a few different things to me. One, it means an end to the dreadfully hot Phoenix summers, and two, it means that I can once again eat things like hot oatmeal for breakfast without sweating over the bowl!

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carrot cake scones

Once the first day of fall arrives, we’re finally allowed to celebrate all things pumpkin without risking a punch in the mouth. We’ll get our fill of pumpkin bread, pumpkin cinnamon rolls, and of course the ever-present pumpkin spice latte. With all this pumpkin overload, there’s another autumn-appropriate flavor that always gets upstaged by pumpkin, and that’s the humble carrot cake.

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rise and shine!

I love a good three day weekend. Aside from the obvious (not going to work on a Monday!), there’s the bonus of having more time to get things done, or more time to be lazy if you choose.

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honey-almond peach crisp

A few weeks back, I was lucky enough to make a trip down to Apple Annie’s Orchard in Willcox, AZ. I’ve been several times in the past to pick my own pumpkins in the fall, but I had always missed out on picking peaches from their orchard in the summertime. I was super excited to go!

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