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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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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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!

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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.

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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!

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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…”.

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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.

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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!

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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!

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