based on my current breakfast obsession—Dutch Baby Pancakes—summer style.
If you've seen signs at your grocery store or market encouraging you to grab the peaches and nectarines now, because the season is short—listen to them! They're not lying to you. It's super short.

For about 3 weeks this last month, Trader Joe's had pre-packed crates of 16 of the juiciest, most flavorful nectarines, and I was in heaven. (Normally I avoid most pre-packed fruit there, because they're almost always rock hard. Sorry, Señor José, but when you package your fruit as tightly as a pack of batteries, I see what you're doing there.)

But these nectarines were incredible! There are still some fresh ones to be found, though, so pick some up!
Dutch baby pancakes have been an obsession of mine for a special weekend breakfast for a while. They're SO easy--you can even make the batter overnight—and take no time at all for a special weekend breakfast. Just melt butter in a cast iron pan, pour in the batter and any additions, and let it bake.

And the way the pancake will rise far above the pan while baking is pretty entertaining, I must admit. Sometimes I like to pretend that I actually don't have a ton to do on Saturdays, and I'll grab my coffee, turn the oven light on, sit on the floor, and watch it rise.
An apple-cinnamon dutch baby—a classic that I'll share soon too!
My sister-in-law and I have been sharing creative new toppings we've tried with the base recipe, and this might be my favorite so far--nectarines, walnuts, and toasty coconut!

...based on an idea I saw on the blogosphere somewhere once upon a time and when I finally got around to making it, it was even more amazing than I thought it'd be.
When I first laid eyes on this sweet potato/black bean/cilantro/lime/avocado dish during a Pinterest vortex, I thought--I love all. these. things. But I never would've thought to put them together! Which is also why it took several weeks for me to actually make it... I kept forgetting to buy at least one ingredient. 

This dish was well worth the wait, though. I did a little tweaking of the original (can't not!), and the second time I made it, I forgot to buy a jalapeño—and while it does work without it if you're not a fan of heat, the jalapeño really gives the dressing a bright, fresh bite to it. Ahhhmazing. 
Sidenote on my use of the word dressing: it's not quite an accurate descriptor. Sauce might be? But still not quite. It's essentially a thick, creamy, Greek-yogurt-and-avocado-based topping with cilantro, lime, and jalapeño—but I thought that might be a bit of a mouthful. 
I'm excited to share this recipe—perfect for Meatless Monday—and let me know if you make it! 

...based on my in-law family's passed down recipe, including cocoa and bourbon...
and then some more bourbon.

These bourbon balls are very simple and sooooooooo good. I don't usually type multiple letters in a row to emphasize a word, but that's how good these are.

I remember growing up, my church and whole ne
ighborhood (potato/potahto, hello small towns!) would have an annual Christmas party. Many many treats. Hot spiced wine. Cider. Two beautiful Christmas trees. Lots of laughter and plenty of singing, because it was hosted by our church's beloved music director, and because hello—Christmas music is the bomb. (Are we still saying the bomb these days?) 
Inevitably, there were always bourbon balls at this party.

Also inevitably, there was a toddler in the pastor's family.

I distinctly remember the intense combination of horror and thinly veiled amusement in this jolly bunch of Baptists when they realized the pastor's toddler had consumed four bourbon balls. It's hard to tell if his giggles were bourbon-induced or just from seeing a Christmas party from the eyes of a toddler, which has got to be one of the happiest times in any person's life, ever. (<-- a totally objective statement.)

Probably the latter. But that's probably because they didn't have these bourbon balls. They are strong, y'all. And they're not even baked, so the the-alcohol-gets-cooked-out excuse isn't even an option here. But as long as you're not a 2-year-old, you're golden!

There's a chance we always add a little extra bourbon to them when we make them, too, but I'll never ever tell...

...based on autumn's star flavors, plus healthy additions like spinach, kale, garlic, and ginger, and a little bit of spice.
I'm all for the sweet pumpkin treats during this time of the year. Pumpkin muffins, cookies, pancakes, pumpkin spice lattes, and of course, pumpkin pie. But savory pumpkin dishes are equally delicious, because—you know, it's a squash.

And if you can mix the pumpkin with savory and sweet, it is heaven. For real.

This is one of my favorite soups to make. It's full of so much healthy goodness, it all cooks in one lovely pot, and it makes your house smell amazing. Take that, Yankee Candle. I have pumpkin spice with a hint of cranberry on my stove.

...based on the traditional Thanksgiving side that is often shaped like a can.
Don't get me wrong—I grew up on cranberry sauce shaped like a can. I have fond memories of it, from childhood through college. In fact one of my most embarrassing (but amusing) moments of all time involve Thanksgiving cranberry sauce shaped like a can. This sounds like a total lie, but it's not. (I just tried to summarize the story in a sentence or two, though, and it can't be'll just have to trust me.) 

But! This recipe is so simple, so easy, and takes hardly any time or work—which is always a bonus during the holidays.

The pears do a lovely job of sweetening the ever-so-tart cranberries naturally, and then honey does the rest of the work. Plus a hint of cinnamon, my all-time favorite secret ingredient.

...based on some of my favorite fall staples—butternut squash, ginger, and soup.
This soup is incredibly simple, yet remarkably satisfying. If you've ever seen the movie "The Switch", remember how Jason Bateman's character would unintentionally make "mmm" noises when he was eating? Yeah, I have a tendency to do that too when something is really, really good. It happened a lot when I made this soup. So. So. Good.

As always, this recipe was based on several different recipes that I'd seen. And as often happens, I either forgot to write down what I put in it, or I misplaced whatever I may have written down, and the second time it wasn't the same. So sad! Thankfully, third time was the charm. This is it.
Butternut squash, carrots, garlic, fresh ginger—so many healthy ingredients in this soup, and just in time for cold season! Garlic and ginger are both great for fighting illness and boosting your immune system. And the beta-carotene in the carrots and squash give the soup this beautiful orange hue. 

...based on two of my favorite things—oats and peanut butter.
I think I've already admitted to the internet world that oatmeal is at the very, very top of my list of favorite foods. Sometimes the basics are the best! And when you add natural peanut butter and honey to this particular basic, it makes it even more amazing. Try it!*
Lately, though, I've been on a bit of a granola kick.

Sun coming up  much later + morning run +  extra busy at work = not enough time to cook oatmeal in the morning, apparently.

But granola and yogurt with my coffee at my desk? 

That I can manage. Searching through all the options of store-bought granola—even the varieties you can find in the bulk/natural foods section—are usually loaded with sugar and fat and it's just not worth it.
*unless you have a peanut allergy, then ignore my advice. It sucks, I swear. 

So I decided to try making my own granola. I looked at many, many recipes, and combined various ideas and measurements. Mostly, I wanted to avoid unnecessary oils and sugars, and keep it as raw as possible. 

...based on your (my?) typical autumn kitchen experiment with pumpkin, maple, and all things delightfully comforting.
I based this recipe on a few different recipes I found while I was lost in a Pinterest vortex last week. I just bought a mini muffin pan (somehow my old one got abandoned during a move! How sad) and wanted to use it. During my recipe search, I was intrigued by the use of molasses and maple as natural sweeteners in the same recipe, so I made sure to include them!
Baking is always more difficult than cooking when it comes to experimenting and combining recipes. You can taste as you go with most cooking, but if you taste uncooked muffin batter you'll probably just come to the conclusion that it'll taste like raw egg and a stalk of wheat. Probably not what you're going for, so instead, you cross your fingers and hope it turns out edible.
Thankfully, I had the forethought to make notes as I went (I don't always—many recipes have been lost for this reason...some for better, some for worse, I'm sure), because these turned out exactly as I'd hoped they would. I paired them with this harvest spice tea and was in heaven. 

They're also great to take along to work or school for a midday snack, or if you're the type of person who forgets to eat breakfast (ahem, my husband! Ha). 

...based on a flourless recipe that combines pumpkin and TWO kinds of chocolate.
Did I have you at "two kinds of chocolate"?

Or "flourless"? (No white flour, that is.) Did I also mention there's no oil or butter in the recipe? And it doesn't call for an excessive amount of sugar, either. These are all winning points in my book!
As far as sweet treats go, I'd say these fall on the healthier end of the spectrum.

And they taste amazing. They have a warm, comforting spiced pumpkin flavor, and the chocolate makes them feel decadent. They're at a nice crossroads of chewy and cakey—altogether, so delicious that I'm pretty sure the husband and I both had one or two before I finished taking photos of them.





...based on the salsa my cooking aunt would make on [more than] a weekly basis.
Apparently the aunt I lived with my first year of college (mentioned in the Chicken Salad post) will from now on be referred to as "my cooking aunt". 

Did I mention these relatives live in New Mexico? Salsa is a pretty big deal down there. Chiles are fresh. Tomatoes are fresh from the garden, then canned and kept year round. My aunt would whip up this salsa at least once a week—usually more.
This salsa is very simple. It highlights the essential star flavors of salsa, and doesn't try too hard with unnecessary embellishment. Because the simple flavors are perfect.