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!

Continue reading “champagne truffles”

white christmas cake

The Christmas season is always my favorite part of the year. The lights, ornaments, decorations, food, music, family time, the tree, the movies and of course snow. Sadly I never get snow on Christmas here in AZ, but it doesn’t stop me from wishing for it!

2013-12-22 09.11.23

Continue reading “white christmas cake”

roasted pistachio ice cream

Several weeks back, Local First Arizona hosted their 4th annual Fall Fest in downtown Phoenix.  It was a wonderful day filled with local food vendors and craftspeople from around the valley. My friend Dusty joined me, and together we got to sample lots of great local food and check out plenty of other awesomeness (like some amazing handmade, vegan and organic soap from Strawberry Hedgehog!). One of the food samples that stood out to me was the pistachio gelato from Grateful Spoon. Up until then, the only pistachio ice cream of any type I’d ever had was the passable version from Ben & Jerry’s. Grateful Spoon’s gelato was thick and rich, with none of the overabundance of almond flavoring so often added to pistachio products. It was chock full of little bits of roasted pistachios, so their flavor was front and center. I knew after I tasted it that I wanted to make my own at home!

2013-12-08 13.55.36

 

Continue reading “roasted pistachio ice cream”

pistachio snowball cookies

One thing I always associate with Christmas is almond extract. More specifically, almond extract flavoring some old fashioned spritz cookies that my mom would make with her awesomely vintage cookie press. Have you ever seen one of these things? They’re pretty rad. Of course you can buy newer, less sturdy options, but my mom’s was the real deal with all metal parts. It belonged to my grandma when my mom was just a little kid in St. Louis.

Every Christmas season, my mom would grab the cookie press from its ragged cardboard box and she and my sisters and I would make red and green spritz cookies flavored with almond extract. Even if we halved the batch, it’d still make what seemed like a mountain of cookies! We’d be snacking on green Christmas trees and red (well, pink) wreaths well into the new year.

2013-12-08 13.09.57

While those spritz cookies hold a nostalgic place in my heart, I think it’s high time I graduated to a more sophisticated sort of Christmas cookie. Enter the pistachio snowball cookie!

Continue reading “pistachio snowball cookies”

crunchy little peppermint meringues

What do you think of when you think of Christmas time? I think of my mom’s homemade cranberry bread, twinkly little lights around the windows, Mickey’s Christmas Carol on TV, and Nat King Cole singing “Chestnuts roasting on an open fire…”.

2013-11-24 18.01.02

I also think of all things peppermint. There’s no better time of the year to break out the peppermint extract! Any other time of year, and you’ll just look like a weirdo. Since it’s December, you’re safe for the time being.

Continue reading “crunchy little peppermint meringues”

minty chocolate puppy chow

I think it was during a classroom Christmas party in the 3rd grade, that I first ate puppy chow.

No, not that kind of puppy chow! I mean the kind usually made with Chex cereal, chocolate, peanut butter, and powdered sugar!

2013-11-24 12.12.58

Its a really tasty snack that only seems to pop up around Christmas time, and when I first heard of it as a wee little kid, I was ultimately confused. I thought that this kid in my class had actually brought in dog food to share with the class. Silly me!

Continue reading “minty chocolate puppy chow”

caramel pears

Pears are better than apples.

There, I said it. I’ve never been a huge fan of apples, they always smell better than they taste, to me. I do enjoy a few varieties that I’ll snack on if the rare mood strikes (Pink Lady, Honeycrisp), but I’d rather eat a pear than an apple, any day of the week. That’s why I decided to create a new cool-weather staple: enter the caramel-dipped pear!

20131019_163301

Continue reading “caramel pears”

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.

20131020_115137

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.

Continue reading “autumn spiced donuts with apple curd filling”

perfect pumpkin lasagna

Let’s talk a little bit about pumpkin, shall we?

Pumpkin is good. It’s good in pie, it’s good in savory dishes, it’s good in soups, it’s even good in coffee as Starbucks would have you believe. Carving pumpkins is awesome, too.

20131019_175423

How about pumpkin in lasagna? No, that’s not a typo. “But wait,” you say, “lasagna is supposed to have meat and tomatoes and lots of cheese! How can you fit pumpkin into all that?” Well, dear reader, I encourage you to branch out from your usual ideas of lasagna, cause this stuff is damn good.

Continue reading “perfect pumpkin lasagna”

spiced apple butter bars

Back a few months ago when I made these Strawberry-Lime Crumble Bars, all I could think about was how I couldn’t wait to make a fall-inspired version! The strawberry and lime ones were amazing, but when the weather turns cool, you just want something with cinnamon, vanilla and warm spices, preferably with some apples included, to ring in the season.

2013-10-10 16.17.24

Continue reading “spiced apple butter bars”