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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s’mores ice cream sandwiches (you’re killing me, smalls!)

What comes to mind when you think of your childhood summers? Maybe going swimming with your friends, staying up late (cause hey, school’s out!), barbecues, family trips to the beach? I grew up in rural southern Arizona so I didn’t have a lot of options as a kid when it came to fun summer activities. Most often, I think of summers depicted in movies, and no movie better captured that ideal childhood summer than The Sandlot.

How could you have a better summer than these kids? New friends, plenty of baseball, chasing your crush, fireworks on the 4th of July and neighborhood block parties with the smell of grilled hot dogs in the air — summertime perfection. The Sandlot was a favorite of mine as a kid, and I still love it 21 years after it came out. It’s a classic summertime movie!

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¡cinco de mayo!

If you’re not from Mexico or the US southwest, chances are you don’t celebrate Cinco de Mayo. If you do, it’s a great reason to celebrate and have a party! Now’s the time to roll out your best margarita recipe, and definitely your favorite salsa. Looking for a few more ideas? I’ve got you covered. You gotta have drinks at your Cinco de Mayo parties. … Continue reading ¡cinco de mayo!

crispy chocolate peanut butter squares

When it comes to Easter candy, what’s your favorite? Are you a jellybean fanatic? Are marshmallow Peeps more your jam? What about those egg-shaped malted milk balls? 2014-03-24 18.09.13 For me, nothing even compares to the Reese’s Peanut Butter Egg. Can we just talk about how glorious these things are? It’s like a regular peanut butter cup on steroids. Everyone knows the best part of the peanut butter cup is the peanut butter filling. I don’t know anyone who likes that awful, waxy chocolate. The wonderful part of the Reese’s Peanut Butter Egg is the ratio of peanut butter to chocolate. You get like three times the amount of peanut butter filling, and hardly any of the chocolate coating. My favorite way to eat them is to put them in the fridge first so they get nice and chilled. I first made these peanut butter squares at Christmas time cause I needed one more item to round out the jars of sweets that I was gifting to family. They came together in no time, and holy crap, were they ever good. They’re far superior to the Reese’s Peanut Butter Egg, and that’s saying a lot. Continue reading “crispy chocolate peanut butter squares”

spring flower cake with meyer lemon curd + strawberry frosting

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It’s Easter time again! Time for little bunnies and chocolate candy and the smell of vinegar mixing with dye tablets (we always made way too many colored Easter eggs when I was little!). It’s the perfect time of year for a bright, cheerful cake. After most of you have slogged through a winter packed with snow and ice, don’t you deserve a springtime-y cake filled with meyer lemon curd, covered with fresh strawberry frosting and topped with fresh flowers?

Yes, you most certainly do.

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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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cauliflower + roasted garlic soup

Are there some recipes you just can’t get out of your head once you’ve made them? Dishes that you crave and can’t wait to make again? For me, this soup is one such recipe.

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I first made it this past Thanksgiving as a starter for the whole giant meal. I had been looking for a somewhat light soup that was also fall-weather appropriate. When I found this creamy cauliflower soup from Martha Stewart, I knew my search had ended! How could cauliflower combined with wine, cream, roasted garlic and parmesan cheese NOT be downright amazing?

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dark chocolate mousse with rose whipped cream

Another Valentine’s Day is nearly upon us!

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Last year I made these super cute chocolate tuxedo strawberries, which were a big hit for sure! I wanted to create a rich and somewhat fancy dessert for Valentine’s Day this year. I knew I wanted to incorporate chocolate into this dessert, cause what’s Valentine’s Day without chocolate? Chocolate mousse just seemed to be the quintessential romantic dessert, so I had the main part covered. When it came time to think of some sort of garnish or additional element, what’s a more popular romantic combination than chocolate with roses?

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champagne truffles

Man, what a year 2013 has been. I can’t recall a more roller coaster year in recent memory.

2013-12-22 15.54.00I hope y’all can look back on 2013 with at least a little fondness. It had its ups and downs for me, that’s for sure. New friends were gained, old friends were reconnected with, my family grew closer, and there were definitely tears shed and moments of sadness and despair but all’s well that ends well, I guess. If I look back at the past 10 years or so, even-numbered years always seem to treat me better. So, let’s hope that 2014 is a good one!

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