Pumpkin Pecan Streusel Coffee Cake

delicious pumpkin pecan streusel coffeecake | jessicagavin.com #fallrecipe

Dare I say, fall is finally making it’s appearance in Southern California? During our walk back from our favorite local breakfast spot this past weekend with my husband Jason and baby James, I finally noticed some indicators of autumn. Leaves are beginning to turn brown on the trees and just barely starting to cover the ground. Some of my neighbors have started to put up some spooky Halloween decorations, and of course pumpkins in their front yards. As we almost reached home and I finished sipping the last addictive ounces of my chai latte, I got a sudden urge to bake…. 

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Apricot Almond Granola Bars

delicious apricot almond granola bars | jessicagavin.com Do you ever feel like apricot season is over in a flash? I love summer stone fruit, especially when apricots are super sweet and tender, yum! Just because summer has come to an end, doesn’t mean you can’t still enjoy some delicious snacks that have summer flavors. Luckily most seasonal fruits can be found in their dried versions, making the flavors even more concentrated and naturally sweet…. 

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Chocolate Pumpkin Pecan Scones

Amazing pumpkin pecan scones with maple glaze | jessicagavin.com

Fall is finally here! This marks the beginning of my baking extravaganza. The first fall sightings were the giant bags of miniature Halloween candies exploding from the aisles in the grocery store. I also can’t forget those adorable mini pumpkins and sticky caramel apples. I try not to go to the market hungry because there are too many temptations right now. But boy, was I craving something pumpkin flavored, so I purchased my first can of Libby’s pumpkin puree. I couldn’t wait to think of a sweet treat to bake! So I decided to go all out and pack these buttery little pastries with my fall flavor arsenal, creating chocolate pumpkin pecan scones with maple glaze, boom!… 

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Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Granola Cups

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Granola Cups | jessicagavin.com

Oh boy, I have certainly been on a snack kick lately! Mostly because it’s a little tricky getting a sit down meal with baby James keeping me on my toes all day. I have to tell you, these peanut butter chocolate chip granola cups saved me from starvation the minute we returned home from the epic delivery of our son James. I had made these granola cups a few days before as part of my “baby nesting” phase, I whipped up a bunch of homemade treats like my no-bake snack bites in anticipation for the much needed energy once baby arrived, and I’m sure glad I did!… 

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Mini Nectarine Almond Frangipane Tart

nectarine almond frangipane tart | jessicagavin.com #sweets

The best thing about dessert is when you don’t have to share! I know, that may sound a little greedy, but sometimes you just want your very own pie. With that in mind, I thought that making individually portioned mini nectarine almond frangipane tarts would be a great way to indulge without going over board. It’s nice not having to give others a nibble of the good stuff, since everyone will have their very own tart…. 

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Rustic Peach and Berry Crostata

yummy peach and berry crostata | jessicagavin.com

Do you love crust? I love it! Who knew that combining butter and flour could be so magical, giving you tender pieces of pastry that melts in your mouth with each bite of fruit filling. Being that it’s still summer why not celebrate the last few days by using ripe stone fruit and berries in a delicious dessert?  My local market has super sweet yellow and white peaches and plump blueberries and blackberries available, so I thought that the combination of sweet and tangy fruit would be perfect for a crostata.

I originally found this recipe in Hedy Goldsmith’s incredible dessert cookbook, Baking Out Loud: Fun Desserts with Big Flavors. Chef Goldsmith is the executive pastry chef at Michael’s Genuine Food and Drink in Miami Florida, where she creates whimsical and fun nostalgic desserts. I was lucky enough to meet her during her book release a few years back and I was so excited to try her recipes and now was the right time! I had brought this rustic peach and berry crostata to our friends fourth of July celebration, and it was a big hit!… 

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Grilled Cedar Plank Salmon Fillet

cedar plank salmon recipe | jessicagavin.com

Salmon is one of my favorite seafood choices because it cooks in minutes and is packed with healthy nutrients like Omega-3 fatty acids. Salmon also takes on any flavors you choose with very little effort. At our house, we still have our lean “salmon mondays” so I wanted to think of a new recipe to put into our weekly rotation. I was really happy when Jason spent a good part of the weekend upgrading our Weber grill with some much needed replacement parts. When he returned from Home Depot he surprised me with a fun new cooking tool to play with, cedar planks! I had never tried this cooking technique before so I was excited to try a grilled cedar plank salmon fillet recipe and add a blend of aromatic herbs and spices to make the fish even more tasty…. 

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Memphis-Style Barbecue Pork Ribs

mopping rack of spareribs | jessicagavin.com Every time I get a rib craving, I hear the Chili’s Restaurant theme song play in my head “I got my baby back, baby back ribs…”, haha. It took me a while to figure out what were my favorite type of ribs, the mammoth style beef ribs or succulent baby back spareribs (pork ribs). I was surprised to discover that St. Louis style pork spareribs are my ribs of choice after becoming addicted to them at our local Famous Dave’s Bar-B-Q restaurant.  I think what sold me was just the right meat to bone ratio and that awesome dry spice rub that adds extra flavor and punch with each bite!

I have a culinary confession to make, I’ve never cooked ribs before! I have been hesitant to make ribs at home for fear of over cooking them and also the intimidating uncertainty of which method to use. It’s easy to second guess yourself with so many cooking methods from boiling, smoking, roasting, barbequing and a combination of multiple methods. I’ve been building up my barbeque confidence this summer, so I choose to give St. Louis style pork spareribs a try. I decided to use the low and slow barbeque method then finishing the roasting in the oven. The result is the most flavorful and meaty home cooked Memphis-style barbecue pork ribs – you’ll never have to go out for over priced barbecued ribs again!… 

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Santa Maria Style Tri-Tip

Santa Maria Style Tri-Tip | jessicagavin.com

It’s barbecue season and instead of grilling the usual chicken, ribs or sausages, why not try one of the more under appreciated yet delicious cuts of meats, tri-tip! When Jason and I attended college at CalPoly, San Luis Obispo, we quickly learned that one of the culinary delights on the Central Coast of California was the famous beef tri-tip cut. Downtown San Luis Obispo has numerous restaurants that offer the seasoned hunks of meat on their menus, often thinly sliced and served on a soft french roll and drenched in BBQ sauce.

I particularly enjoyed to get my tri-tip sandwiches from Firestone Grill or during thursday night’s farmer’s market from restaurants grilling on their huge BBQ pits in the heart of downtown SLO. Since graduating and migrating South over 7 years ago, we haven’t had much opportunity to get some authentic Santa Maria style tri-tip in quite a while, with many BBQ restaurants falling short of the ones we had in San Luis Obispo, I decided to make some right at home…. 

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Sweet and Spicy Barbecue Sauce

Sweet and Spicy Barbecue Sauce | jessicagavin.com What barbecue sauce do you use? At our house the refrigerator is typically stocked with Sweet Baby Ray’s Barbecue Sauce. I typically like a thicker, sweet and tangy sauce, however I’ve been building up my hot spice tolerance (I hope that doesn’t make me go into labor!). Jason recently made some nice upgrades to our Weber barbecue grill just in time for the summer, so I’ve been grilling as much as a can.

I’ve always wanted to experiment with my own homemade barbecue sauce and I didn’t realize how easy it was! It’s really fun to play around with the balance of sweetness, acidity, thickness and spice levels. I created this sweet and spicy barbecue sauce so we can pour, slather and dip it on all of our grilled meats, drool…. 

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Blackberry Bourbon Lemonade

mixing bourbon cocktail drink | jessicagavin.com

Nothing is better than wrapping up a long day by putting on your comfy pants and having your favorite drink in hand. Even though an ice cold glass of organic 2% milk has been my drink of choice lately, my husband Jason likes a more refined and aged glass of whiskey. To spoil the hubs a little bit for helping with all of the baby “nesting”,  I wanted to create a whiskey cocktail made specially for him.

I told Jason that I would make him a gentlemen’s summer drink and needless to say, that put a smile on his face . With Baby Gavin on the way, I couldn’t exactly try the drink once I added the whiskey to it, so I pulled Jason into the test kitchen for a little mixed drink R&D. Together we created a yummy (or so I’ve heard) blackberry bourbon lemonade!… 

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Guinness Corned Beef Stew

Guinness Corned Beef Stew

I can’t believe St. Patrick’s Day is almost here again. Last year I made baked honey mustard corned beef but this year, I asked Jason how he wanted to celebrate his Irish heritage and he suggested a corned beef stew. I always wanted to try a recipe with beer, so I thought this would be the perfect way to make traditional boiled corned beef more interesting! This Guinness corned beef stew has layers of flavor while the meat and vegetables are incredibly tender. There is a nice richness to the stew liquid. You don’t have to worry about dry, stringy and tasteless corned beef with this recipe!… 

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Pumpkin Hand Pies with Pecan Streusel

Cooking rack of pumpkin pies

Some people can look at the leafs outside and say fall has arrived, well in Southern California we go to the grocery store to notice the seasons changing. You know what I’m talking about, in late September the grocery chains start to bombard you with pumpkins, scary ghosts and lots of Halloween candy! Pumpkin is the essential ingredient of autumn, so its no surprise that you can find pumpkin everything… pop tarts, cheesecake, oatmeal, flavored beer and lattes luring you into the holiday spirit!… 

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Cranberry Nut Energy Bars

No Bake Cranberry Nut Energy Bars

Energy bars are a portable and quick snack option for those on the go. There are numerous choices in the market, some of my favorite being Clif Mojo Bar Variety Pack and KIND Healthy Snack Bars. I also enjoy creating my own energy bars at home because I get complete control of what ingredients and flavors I want to incorporate. I like to add flaxseed, fiber and protein packed nuts such as peanut and almond. Then to bind the ingredients together and add sweetness, I use natural sweeteners like honey. Crunchy, sweet, and satisfying, this easy no-bake cranberry nut energy bars recipe is the perfect snack for any time of the day!… 

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Banana Oat Crunch Muffins

Banana Oat Crunch Muffins

What’s a girl to do when she’s left with super ripe bananas in her kitchen? Make muffins! Packed with banana flavor and wholesome goodness of oats, flax, tangy vanilla bean yogurt, this banana oat crunch muffins recipe is a delicious treat to start your day!… 

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Baked Honey Mustard Corned Beef

close-up-corned-beef-slices My husband Jason is half Irish, so I enjoy celebrating his heritage by making an Irish feast each year for Saint Patrick’s Day. Traditionally I make boiled corned beef with cabbage, potatoes and Irish soda bread. This year I wanted to try something different with the corned beef by adding more flavor and tenderness to the meat while changing up the side dishes a bit. So I decided to make a baked honey mustard corned beef recipe…. 

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Persimmon Cookie Recipe

Persimmon Cookie Recipe

As the holiday season comes to an end, it doesn’t mean that the flavors of the winter have to! My sweet friend Amy brought me some gorgeous Fuyu persimmons from her grandparents tree. Amy told me that they were the perfect ripeness for baking, so I was excited to try a persimmon cookie recipe to highlight the honey like flavor from these delicious fruits…. 

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Ginger Crumble and Stone Fruit Pie

ginger crumble and stone fruit pie

The warm summer weather in Southern California has extended into fall, which means you can still purchase summer fruit at the market! In the last attempt to enjoy the flavors of summer in a sweet pie, I grabbed my favorite stone fruit; peaches, nectarines and plums.  I topped the pie with my favorite ginger pecan and almond crumble, and at last, the endless summer ginger crumble and stone fruit pie was created…. 

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Dulce de Leche Apple Pie

Dulce de Leche Apple Pie

There’s something about delicious pie crust, combined with warm apples, then mixed with a sweet dulce de leche sauce that I’ve wanted to create for a long time. With my husband Jason out of town for the weekend, I had some free time to turn the kitchen up side down and experiment with making a dulce de leche apple pie from scratch!… 

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Stone Fruit Crumble with Blueberry and Almonds

Stone Fruit Crumble with Blueberry and Almonds

With summer in full swing, you can easily find ripe stone fruits in most grocery stores and farmers markets. I picked up some extremely ripe and sweet white and yellow varietals of peaches and nectarines from All Green Farms in Orange County, California. I particularly enjoy being a patron of this farmer because they always make great recommendations and are very honest about what is at peak flavor. I requested the kind farmer to hand pick the ripest fruits for the stone fruit crumble with blueberry and almonds…. 

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