Maple Walnut Bars {gluten-free}


Maple Walnut Bars

I’m a terrible daughter. My dad’s birthday falls on or around Thanksgiving every year, and even though walnut desserts (namely walnut pie and Walnettos) are his favorite, I always bake him a pecan pie instead. The sole reason being that my namesake passed her award-winning pecan pie recipe down to me and the recipe calls for pecans, not walnuts. This is a pitiful excuse, I know. Not this year. Nope – this is the year I turn things around. I’ve got walnuts on the docket and I’m mixing things up with these easy-to-eat maple walnut bars.

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Halloween Jack Skellington Ricotta Olive Tarts


Jack Skellington Tart

Halloween struts in at just the right time. With some sort of time warp, it’s magically the end of October and I’m on the brink of losing my mind. Anyone else with me? I poured a scoop of cat food into the detergent slot of the washing machine at 2am last week. It’s kind of like when you’re driving to the grocery store, but you autopilot to work instead. Except by the time you realize it, the cat’s giving you a quizzical look while you fish soggy cat food out of the washing machine. These are the time’s we’re in. Without hesitation, I’m taking Halloween up on its offer to get silly by dressing up my food with a spooky theme.
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Honey Pumpkin Caramels with Toasted Pepitas


Honey Pumpkin Caramels

With Lucas extending his China trip to finalize tooling at the factory, I’ve been home alone for nearly two weeks. Just me, two extra snuggly kitties, a pound of honey pumpkin caramels, and season one of Transparent (Have you discovered this show yet? I’ve renamed Amazon Prime Instant Video: “Procrastination Station”). Also, should I be telling a bunch of strangers on the internet that I’m home alone? Potential creepers, I’m here with TWO FEROCIOUS HUNTER CATS who I’m pretty sure file their nails into razor blades while I sleep.

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Pumpkin Spice Muffins with Cinnamon Cream Cheese Glaze {Gluten-free}


Pumpkin Spice Muffins

On our flight back from Philadelphia two weeks ago, I found myself in a middle seat caught in a conversational crossfire between Lucas and the founder of at the very moment I’d decided to get some dissertation writing done. If ever there was place to be a fly on the wall. After forcing Lucas to swap seats with me, I threw some instrumental music on my headphones to drown out their animated discussion. Which would have been a solid plan except Explosions in the Sky’s A Song for Our Fathers was the only instrumental song on my iTunes.

So obviously I listened to it on loop for three straight hours. And let me just say: never was I more productive.

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No bake pumpkin cheesecake mousse


Pumpkin Cheesecake Mousse

This no bake pumpkin cheesecake mousse is a recipe for those of us in California wishing we could start celebrating fall desserts, but rejecting the oven in this wicked hot late summer. It’s what you whip up when your air-conditioner-less house is already 80°F in the coolest hallway when you get out of bed at 9am on Saturday morning in October. This pumpkin dessert will still satisfy all your fall cravings with way less effort (and heat) than baking a pie with a fussy crust.

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Lemon meringue s’mores with shortbread cookies


Lemon Meringue Smores

The open call for meyer lemon poachers still stands. No one has yet taken me up on the offer…except for the opossums who keep leaving mangled up lemons in the middle of our weed garden. I’m here to tempt you to come collect a basket of lemons by pulling out the blow torch to make these lemon meringue s’mores. Note: my blow torch has a holster so I look pretty rad.

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Homemade lemon meringue marshmallows


Lemon Meringue Marshmallows

When we moved into this house in March of last year, we discovered a blooming meyer lemon tree in the backyard. Without so much as a wave hello to the tree, it produced ripe fruit nearly 8 months of the year, starting as soon as we moved in. An impressive “welcome to the neighborhood” treat. This year, California produce seem to have gotten a bit confused. Maybe it was payback for my social neglect, but more likely the tree’s growth stunted from the lack of water this season.

Our pear tree should just now be getting ready to ripen in time for November, but after flowering this June, it dropped all of its fruit and now sits bare in the backyard. There might be a Little Red Hen analogy here. I should have shown my trees a bit more love.

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Cherry Garcia cupcakes: Chocolate chip cupcakes with cherry frosting {gluten-free}


Cherry Garcia Cupcakes

Before you start screaming that I’m a month late and it’s not cherry season anymore, just hear me out. Rather than juicy summer berries, these cupcakes get their tart cherry flavor from freeze-dried cherries folded into the frosting – available all year round! I picked up this freeze-dried berry frosting trick from my friend Maryanne (The Little Epicurean) – it’s her smart way of infusing intense berry flavor into frosting without ending up with drippy soft icing that won’t hold its shape.

(At the end of this post, sign up to win a prize pack of these dainty decorative cupcake liners!)

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